david lensen


I know the innocents.
They’re the ones to kill.
The ones I want to keep
From the slightest harm,
The cute ones, the sweeties,
Babies and the heartfelt.
That their fires should be warm
And their locks tight,
Their coats brushed
So their eyes fill with love.
Their dignity, always hanging
By a thread, steeled
With enormous Howitzers
Aimed at outer space
Where the death ray focuses.
They’re asking for it,
The cute ones, the sweeties.




Everybody died and I went to town.
It was late when I got there
And their ghosts were already at the bars.

I poked my jawbones and oiled my leather.
None of the fish in the swim of things
Knew I was so dead my head was barely on.

I smelled basements, rot of alkaline
Up through the floorboards, dreamt cracked plates
Trestled behind the boiler with a bent straw.

It was late when I got there and later when I left.
The clock was greasy and running. In dreams
You snort and snort, but the drugs don’t work.




David Lensen, author of the notorious On Drugs, is Professor of Comparative Literature at UMass Amherst, and a former editor of the Massachussetts Review. He has played saxophone with Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, John Lee Hooker, and Junior "Georgia Boy Shaky Shake" Johnson, and is currently with The Reprobate Blues Band.