David Lohrey, The Queen’s Skin

The Queen’s Skin

I, too, am dying to find out why the Queen’s skin looks so good at 94.
I don’t know. I’m curious.
There are so many questions.
Like Max, the cannibal, I don’t know how a can opener works.

I always wanted to live on Chickasaw Bluff but ended up in a motel
on Summer at $125 per week.
My neighbor is a skinny black kid with tattoos all over his neck.
He runs a couple of white chicks out of his room.

I eat over there at the Sunshine Taqueria, a huge hall diner with 99¢ authentic
Mexican tacos, meat with minced onion, radishes, cilantro; no cheese, no lettuce,
no tomato. I prefer the carnitas. I eat three. On my first visit, I cried so loud
they asked me to leave. I had never eaten anything so delicious.

It has happened before, this act of public weeping, but never before over tacos.
Who can blame me?
I have never cried over spilt milk.
I wept when my neighbor killed my pet rabbit. He set it on fire.

We are all shook up.
We are concerned about having clean underwear.
Beyond that we have little in common.
We are the lost generation. The lost generation…get it?

In Los Angeles, for over a thousand years, poets copied their work on mimeograph
machines. This worked just fine.
They stapled sheets together and dropped them off at the local bookstore.
This was good enough for Charles Bukowski.

Poets don’t eat at Jack in the Box.
We would sit at the laundry for hours with Paul Mazursky. The entire parking lot
on Fairfax and 3rd was our lounge. You just needed tons of hair on your nose
to gain admission.

This was back before café latte was invented. We drank swill.
It took three hours to finish breakfast.
We talked movies.
This was long before people stopped having conversations.

On my twenty-seventh birthday, I received a $16 fan from my parents.
I placed it in my room. My windows were sealed shut. There were
bars on the windows. I could see the hanging fruit, but couldn’t reach it.
And that was when Sylvia Plath came into my life.

David Lohrey’s poems can be found at Expat Press, The Dead Mule School, Terror House, Abstract Elephant, Spillwords, and Dodging the Rain, along with the University of Alabama, Illinois State, and Michigan State University.

Lohrey’s fiction appears in Storgy Magazine, Terror House Magazine, 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 this fall, published by Terror House Press. He lives in Tokyo.

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