The Path The Fog Takes: stanzas for the surreal season

by Joseph D. Reich
-for Andrea


what if jesus had made it?



i want to be buried in a casket in the shape of the fetal position



i want to go
down as one
of the greatest
mad scientists
of all time having
found and discovered
when they open me up
really got the soul of an
angel suffering from mounds
of self-destruction and a back-up
of brainwash from what appears
like a münchausen mom and
clinically narcissist dad not
a put-down just simply
the reality and criteria
and having had to
constantly act-out
just to assert and
figure out my identity
and ego without even
knowing it on-the-run
from lord knows what
looking over my shoulder
for that pot of gold
at the end of
the rainbow



where i live on top
of the mountain
top is a walmart
and what it means
to reach the top
of the mountain
top is going to
that walmart
and does be
come some
ting of a
dog every
time i got
to head
up there
they also got
a new psych
iatric hospital
and emergency
room and howard
johnson and t.g.i.f.
so whatever mood
i’m in or whatever
shape i find myself
in seems like
the perfect place
to take myself
out to that
on top of
the mountain
top and those
other parts
on my base
line of moods
and behaviors
and whatever
kind shape
i find my
self in



the hardest thing is rolling out of bed
in the morning without hitting the floor
trying to figure out ways of rolling back
in (suffering from bouts of melancholia how
come they don’t use expressions like that
anymore? seems so much more apropos)



i had a weird idea and thought what if we tried to survive?



an idea to invent one of those body cleansers
just called “whore bath” for those with pasts
romp around my kitchen in birthday suit
in childhood holster with toy pistol
and a ten-gallon cowboy hat



be that


the real window
to the soul




believed lived in better times when we had
the munsters and the addams family
and seemed like everybody
just resided under the stairs



how life was just like some long
eternal surreal game of truth or dare
some strange affair between virtue and vice
that fight or flight syndrome unable to decide



spending whole summers reading the buddhist
bible, irving stone’s “passions of the mind”
and sherwood anderson’s “winesburg, ohio”

dostoevsky, jean genet…
kerouac’s “desolation angels”



tracing the figure, texture
of your first lover

midnight revelations
in pre-dawn basement



returning home (in love)
stoned, buzzed, bleary-eyed,
bronzed, handsome to a place

you couldn’t anymore
really exactly quite
call home, feeling

done wrong
by friends



not knowing what you did
and a family you would
never ever quite know

who could never possibly
know a thing about
you and suddenly




blue turning the color of red
and then scarlet and indigo



seeing feeling
all the senses
of the seasons

through a crisp chilly
contemplative keyhole

how it all smelt like
delicious burning woods
whispering prayers mantras



chants of
the desperate
passionate restless
silent and stirring soul



exactly like those
windy whispering trees
feathering your window



that exact moment
in time when obsessive-
compulsive behavior sets
in as a substitution for all
the madness & conflict
between instincts
& passion & that
nagging super-id
that split from
reality to fantasy
to archetypal being
invention of mythology
& superstition & taboo
& routines & rituals
all the way back to greek
& roman & egyptian times
to freud to hitchcock to
the brilliant & self-destructive
howard hughes to jean-paul
sartre & his counterpart
camus franz kafka



ibid: wouldn’t that be totally insane
half-crazed to hook-up for a blind
date at a bowling alley and think
in most ways would really get to
know what they’re about and their
personality. i remember after my
wife and i had just been engaged
we met up with a good buddy
of mine and his fiancée
as we had all been through
thick and thin and the trials
and tribulations in trying to
get though and getting
our master’s degree
in social work at
yeshiva university.
he was an orthodox
jew and a relatively
decent dude from
brooklyn and a couple
years later i had called
him up to see how he was
doing (in many ways too to try
and figure out things and how
i was doing) and turned out
as he told me semi-embarrassedly
had a couple of kids and going through
a divorce and now living in his sister’s
basement as his wife had repeatedly
caught him obsessive-compulsively
after work in the wee hours when
sleeping as had asked him to stop
doing semi-porn over the internet
and guess just didn’t want to
stop it and enamored by the concept
of speaking to completely anonymous
girls and moms who would turn him on
while their kids were around; sort of
ironic cuz he always got special
treatment and favoritism over me
cuz was always seen as a nice
jewish boy and i was something
of a bad boy, something i never
really was but impossible to fight
the stereotype and so just didn’t
and just said fuck it; ironic all those
ultra-orthodox girls who used to come
on to me and call me in the middle of
the evening (and used to claim higher
than holy boundaries to however it best
suited their needs, having something
to do with their religion which was also
my religion) as was very convenient for
them (cuz guess seen in the same ‘light’)
and of course i was some kind of rebel
and used to i imagine provide them all
this real-life support and compassion
and guidance… i still like that image
and idea and notion of meeting a blind
date at the bowling alley as suppose
in more ways than not without even
being aware of it tells you a lot
about people and how it’s all
about instinct and how it all
lasts in the moment i think



I remember those times…
were some of the roughest times
always on the road searching for a home
always getting stopped by a state cop
on the side of the road with a license
and registration and insurance
from three different states
but always keeping it real
and humble and being
sympathetic and schmoozing
with them able to relate to me
letting me off with a warning
with winter blizzards falling
down all around me just as
abandoned and despondent
and down in the dumps asking
me about the social work field
not much i could say to them
and asking about police work and
the family and wishing them the best



i just need some place
to go to like some good
old fashioned diner
on the corner where
it’s constantly raining
and the waitresses
are nice and young
and kind and pretty
and after i’ve spent
way too much time
with my polish platter
and cup of tea gently
kick me out by the seat
of my pants and with
a slight chuckle and
wave say–“see you
next week” and you
reciprocate and just
naturally wave
silently heading
towards the falling
leaves and mist slipping
over the steeples of the
cathedrals and mountains
disappearing in the distance

the mist and fog
sifting and settling
dipping in and out
delineating the jack
pines and sugar maples

everyone needs a place
to escape like the path
the mist and fog make
slipping down the mountain
and evaporating into the day

Iota Difference

by A. N. Irvano

I am sitting here
on cam girls
watching people
how they are
watching me
“you ok?”
comes up on
the chat screen
“you look paler
than usual”

As a little girl
I drew lines
on my thighs
whispering to a God
“this is where
I want my body
to be gone”

As a little girl
I told someone I was anorexic
they asked how many
meals I ate
a day
two meals a day
was too much to them

I eat no meals now
one of my customers said,
women have better orgasms,
I ask if they know
that men
have better opportunities
so who wins

Rendered Antediluvian

by A. N. Irvano

They say
no person
could make the choice
to push the
every person
on this planet
I say,
“Clean slate.”
I learned in biology
—i did learn, i promise—
a man that came
before darwin
thought the same thing
that scientist just proved
animals can evolve
in one lifetime
my teacher mocked the idea
she laughed
we laughed with her
only one can be
only one can
the fish—
they always win
they’re simple
they’re like amino acids
they’re the building blocks
they aren’t laughing
they are doing what
I can’t do in one lifetime
and that is

Meandering/ Maundering

by A. N. Irvano

In these warm days
are a little looser
not quite as willing
to brawl or yell
groan or grunt
—even better—
as the days get longer
the air stops moving
holds the cologne of
spanish men
joining conversations
smells travel
grilled meats
hot spices
what you want to smell
carried longer and farther
on atoms of oxygen
that must be bigger
to carry that
many aromas
on doorsteps people talk
people that just days ago
were huddled in
their own
massive spheres
are saying
everything they know
to one another
with no expectations
no hidden guilts
walking away smiling
elated moods
buoyed ideals
in the warm days