Bluff City


by David Lohrey
Foreword by Dennis Mahagin

“That was my first lesson as a male prostitute. Prostitutes don’t own things. There’s only a rental agreement, no contract. One needs to get serious.”

Bluff City is also available in e-book format. To purchase the e-book edition, click here.


“That was my first lesson as a male prostitute. Prostitutes don’t own things. There’s only a rental agreement, no contract. One needs to get serious.”

America is a nation in decline; that much is obvious. At what point did America go from splitting the atom to smashing statues, from Southern hospitality to apathetic vulgarity, from conquest and victory to dysfunction and defeat? There’s a lot of ruin in a nation, and the best observer of that ruin is a man who’s spent his life watching the buildings fall down.

Bluff City is a collection of over 40 of David Lohrey’s best short stories, poems, and more. Drawing on his Southern upbringing, background as a teacher, and life as an expat, Lohrey cuts through the white noise of American culture with trenchant observations and dark wit on everything from Elvis groupies to inner-city schools to Japanese porn theaters and more.

This collection includes several stories and poems published by Terror House Magazine from 2018 to 2020.

“Lohrey’s work stands singularly peer-to-peer alongside that of the great Juvenal, imperial Rome’s trenchant satirist of that louche society’s delirium of privilege, which so resembles our own contemporary ‘woke’ American moment. Wading through the fetishistic wreckage of our disordered gender norms, the cant and viciousness of our deranged political discourse, the emaciation of our family dynamics, and just about every other depredation of our present culture wars, Lohrey’s poems and stories take surgical synecdoches and mentonymies to the weird cosmetic body of America, apply jolting electroshock-like litotes to its degenerating mindset, and administer a Huck Finn-like purgative of sane bewilderment to the constipation of its fatuous utopian innards, all in a great lament…and a great head-shaking laughter… at our slipping national greatness. Lohrey’s voice is a commanding one for our time.” — Professor Robert Cirasa, English Department Chair, Emeritus, Kean University, New Jersey

“David Lohrey’s poetry is work dripping wet with wry humour, infused with a sense of mischief. Human nature and science take centre stage in his verse musings, which turn a lens from the micro to the macro. His is work that is not afraid to ask questions. Most of all, it tackles head-on the peculiar experience of modern America.” — Trevor Conway, author of Evidence of Freewheeling and Breeding Monsters

“I’ve only come across a few poets in my lifetime that are so original that their verse is both instantly recognizable and hard to forget. Charles Bukowski was one. Douglas Goodwin was another. David Lohrey joins that club, in my mind. Like Bukowski and Goodwin, Lohrey’s narrative verse projects a stolid exterior as it contextualizes current events to expose the hypocrisy and contradictions inherent in human behavior. Beneath the exterior, though, peeking out from time to time, is a heart that would prefer not to be hardened by what it has endured. That’s ultimately what makes poets like Bukowski, Goodwin, and Lohrey worth reading—and hard to forget. Lohrey’s ‘Solitary Confinement’ in this book says it best: ‘We only get one heart / it’d be foolish to break it.'” — Jay Dougherty, Open Arts Forum

“I grew up reading E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, and poetic gods of old. Today, I am bombarded by poetry that is something completely different. David’s poetry is unconventional; it defines what I call divergent literature. I crafted the slogan for Sudden Denouement, ‘A Divergent Literary Collective,’ never knowing that someone like David would stumble into my life. His poetry should be discussed in the same vein as the poetic heroes of my youth. Discovering the poetry of David Lohrey was an event in my life. There are a million poets in a world of social media, but there are few who possess the poetic sensibilities of Lohrey. Publishing his book will be one of my greatest accomplishments. Machiavelli’s Backyard is an inspired work, a vision that I am proud to have had the honor of putting the SD name on.” — Jasper Kerkau, Sudden Denouement Publishing

“To say David Lohrey is irreverent and provocative is to criminally understate how gleefully he tosses tropes in the tumbler of his inverted absurdist Rockwell diorama, to miss the sobering melancholic notes of world-weary skepticism, the delectably weird two-tone storytelling, the madcap humor and antisocial relishing that characterizes this incomparably human poet. Bluff City is anti-twee, it is pure edge without lifting a finger to strain obscenity. David Lohrey is a lifer who has earned his spurs with no lies left to tell, telling you the bald truth, sui generis. His poetry will endure as long as there are readers hungry for something quite unlike anything they’ve never read, eager to bear witness to words doing what they’re made to do; shock, profane the sacred, induce fits of gallows laughter, and detonate the zeitgeist. It is a vital dose of wild fun through a kaleidoscopic historical lens. David Lohrey is dangerously addictive and infectious.” — Manuel Marrero, author of Thousands of Lies and Not Yet

“Lohrey’s poetics proceeds via disjunction, non-sequitur, and sublime cliche to a thorough beatdown of the dwarves who hold up the four corners of the sky. It’s either a Black Friday sale or a Black Lives Matter™ rally—tough to say which—but the main thing is that the child pornographers and tenured radicals crowding into the theatron are dutifully wearing their masks from Thalia and Melpomene’s Discount Emporium; meanwhile, Jehovah kicks back and binge-watches the umpteenth season of Cities of the Plain, his favourite reality show.” — Jal Nicholl

“Prepare yourself before you read David Lohrey…prepare for a depth of vision and inquiry you may not be used to. Prepare yourself to be challenged and faced with compositions of ideas you may never have considered. Prepare yourself for accomplished writing and life experiences which encompass an extraordinarily broad spectrum of thought, not all of which leave you feeling warm, cosy, and content…on the contrary, David Lohrey is a writer who will make you think, unsettle your comfort zone, disturb your urban cool. David is generous with his writing as well as precise, satirical and eviscerating…there is a thoughtful mind behind every cut and lampoon, and he fills the space with a lot of ideas. I include David Lohrey as one of my favourite narrative modern poets.” — Jenn Zed



Bluff City is also available in e-book format. To purchase the e-book edition, click here.

Product Details

Publication Date: August 21, 2020
Pages: 182
ISBN-13: 978-1-951897-18-5
Item Weight: 9.6 oz/272 g
Dimensions: 6 x 0.46 x 9 in/15.24 x 1.17 x 22.86 cm