David Lohrey


This is no bugle song I can tell you.
There are no more bugles. There are
violins but no fiddles. The bugle is a tool
not an instrument. Unless one means to say
an instrument of torture. Its use announces
murder, in victory or in defeat.  One blows death.
The bugler summons men to die and celebrates it.

One hesitates to impose on the dying. One doesn’t wish
to presume. Let folks feel about dying as they will. I have 
no objection to chow lines and the inevitable dinner gong. 
I don’t want to be summoned to die. Chapels are silent
for a reason. Few people wish to be corralled in filth and driven 
to slaughter. Camp administrators play a bootleg copy 
of Bridge over Troubled Waters.

Eager executioners are ghouls. Death gives the bored 
something to do. There is so much planning. Gathering one’s
effects; paying one’s bills. We all have it coming; proceed 
to check out, as the hospital administrators direct. “Follow us.”
There is that inevitable rush of adrenaline, an odd sense
of an ending not unlike finishing a good novel. But it is not
a horse race and one doesn’t wish to hear a buzzer.

We may not be human but we have our dignity and deserve
an honest end. The days of bugles are over. Let them blare
music but let it be punk. Not Wagner as Coppola imagined.
Nothing so blatantly Romantic, nothing so pitifully operatic, 
please. Our days of dying are not over but the cheering has 
to stop. It is no time for irony, this. Mass murder is real. 
What we learn is that nobody misses God, but they miss Hell.

If war is not an extrajudicial killing, I don’t know what is.
We careen from one state of emergency to the next. We are
summoned to the semi-circle of self-reproach, an AA meeting
of guilt. “My name is Adam and I am a racist.” We are then
taken to be shot. They dragged my mother out the back door
and burned her body. “My name is Eve and I am starving.”
She confessed to inviting the Devil into her bed.

Play the flute. Consult Snoop Dog. He lives in a war zone.
Like Euripides, we should ask the Trojan women. Nothing
dehumanizing, like that shit pumped into the holding cells
at Abu Ghraib. We want men and women to gain the strength
they’ll need first for here and then the afterlife. Nothing degrading. 
Play the French horns. Cue the oboe. How about one of those 
magnificent boy choirs, chanting, “Farewell, Phèdre.”   

David Lohrey is from Memphis. He graduated from UC, Berkeley. His poems can be found in Expat Press, Dodging the Rain, Otoliths, Dead Mule School, Delta Poetry Review, and Terror House. His fiction appears in Dodging the Rain, Coffin Bell, Terror House, and Literally Stories. David’s first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was published in 2017. His newest collection of fiction and poetry, Bluff City, appeared in 2020, published by Terror House Press. His latest, Low and Behold, will appear next year in January. He lives in Florida and Tokyo.
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