David Lohrey, The Arithmetic of War

The Arithmetic of War

The arithmetic of war,
That’s why Americans are poor at math.
The peacekeepers can’t be trusted.
Charles de Gaulle and Thomas Mann had it right.
This is what I see and hear, pa rum pum pum pum.

The arithmetic of war can’t be taught.
This is how the people live.
There is nothing you can do about it.
You don’t expect death; it’s indiscriminate.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all.

We will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us, God.
He wants to make it new. Every Sunday
is a picnic. It’s the most wonderful time
of the year. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.
It is time to make the journey, me and my drum.

New gardens must be planted –
raised beds, no pesticides. The rose is obsolete.
There are no threats the ladybugs can’t handle.
The men will arrive tomorrow. There’ll be much
mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing.

The planting must continue. Cotton is wrong
at many levels. Replace the radishes with books.
Melville, Faulkner, and Hemingway
were the first Harlem Globetrotters.
This is the recipe for a better world.

The nation has nothing to do with territory.
Love’s got everything to do with it.
There will be no victory parades.
We’ll have to go into hiding.
There’ll be scary ghost stories.

The men must be told to stop crying.
Women will have to take up arms.
Half the population may be annihilated.
People will once again learn to make fires.
There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting.

Silent night, holy night.
All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.
Do you see what I see?
I have no gift to give that is fit to give a king.
Do you hear what I hear? Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

David Lohrey is from Memphis. He graduated from UC Berkeley. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, the Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Quarterly, and Terror House. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Literally Stories, and Storgy. David’s first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in 2017. He lives in Tokyo. 


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