Tag Archives: Joseph D. Reich

(on the hx and deleterious effects of) Advertising

by Joseph D. Reich


1

they appear to glamorize
the flimsy and mediocre
in our tv commercials

2

they always look so alive, satisfied,
and contented over their smartphones

3

who was it phyllis diller the old brilliant neurotic comedienne
ironically said present-day television with its myriad of constant
flashing images (its flooding of sound bites and nonstop
distractions) actually makes her feel agitated and nervous

4

(sound effects and special effects in no way
shape or form special or effective, merely recycled
and formulaic, and diluting the overall baseline for
independent thinking, perception, and imagination

5

turning them all into idiots
keeping the zombies talking)

6

van gogh sliced off his ear
for all the right reasons

7

all the wrong people got famous

8

tesla found muttering to himself on the steps
of the ny public library the night they were giving
out awards to thomas edison and his old cronies

9

likewise the projected and perceived social and cultural baseline
(having been over-exposed, manipulated, and supersaturated)
has backfired due to the fact that everything is so objectified
no longer having the ability towards perceiving or analyzing

10

in the late-afternoon when we used to watch cartoons
now commercials of very earnest down-to-earth women
matter-of-factly explaining their issues during intercourse

11

whimsical caucasian middle-aged couples
and their sweeping scenarios acting all
romantic and liberated as they apparently
found a breakthrough to his erectile dysfunction

12

reality shows deliberately set up for physical
and emotional and histrionic confrontations
and showdowns with contrived shallow
reactions (which got its derivation
from the ghetto) to try and trigger a reaction
as they all have the exact same cookie
cutter gestures and body language

13

5 ways you can cry
(you can sigh
you can lie)

to manipulate the reality audience
so they might sensitively join in
in this life-changing transition
as well as force a catharsis
and boost television ratings

14

they say that clinically, instinctively,
you cannot remain angry for more
than 12 seconds. i beg to differ!

15

a matter of fact would like to perform a clinical study
to exhibit and prove how tv (no longer sure if the pre-quota
of affected and made-up computer-generated violence is for
a movie or video game and if that would even matter) can trigger
post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple forms of retraumatization

16

push ‘the citizen,’ ‘the common man’
over the edge, but they always
refuse to go to the hard data

17

as our great leaders
watch the same tragedies
repeat themselves over and over again

18

the self-fulfilling prophecies, self-deprivation,
self-mutilating, and self-destructive behaviors

19

(so you were in this calm state, feeling great,
trying to get things straight, and literally got
to mute it and turn the opposite direction
so as not to jump straight out your skin)

20

what happened to the ole time exhibitionist
in his trenchcoat (with his sudden and spontaneous
machinations) who tried to turn on a flock of women?

21

fdr used to stand up in front of the crowds
and tv cameras to give a good impression

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Cognitive-behavioral

by Joseph D. Reich


Been feeling so over
whelmed these days
with the nature of
the news and media
ain’t sure anymore
if it’s just some
assassin (out at
the mall) or the name
of some newly-named
storm creeping up
and down the coast
and so turned off
and numb wonder
when it really comes
down if any of that
really matters?

probably both get the most
recent slot for “dancing with the stars”.

A Different Sort Of Manifesto

by Joseph D. Reich


1.
all i can kind of tell you
     is that life & existence
                kind of seems like
                         all that small print
                                i don’t care to read…
 
 
2.
all those tiny creatures
                   from evolution
                           i see in passing
                                        after being pulled
                                                             under the undertow…
 
 
3.
having revelations
              after being tossed drunk
                                        slow-motion
                                                  through the window
                                                                        of white castle…
 
 
4.
never saw my whole life
                    pass right in front of me
                                              but like always
                                                             saw right through them
                                                                                      & their false sympathy…
 
 
5.
scenes from the pharmacy
                           & a food fight
     which suddenly
                 breaks open
at the chinese buffet
                   for no explicit reason
spending the rest of the evening
                                 reading dostoevsky
faintly contemplating
                  all those cornfields
                                         of dusk
which got you home
                           in one piece
                                        as if any of that shit
                                              mattered
                   or was at all relevant…
 
 
6.
(as an addendum & an aside
could never stand the state
of mind of the eccentric
who always came across
or felt like some built-in
excuse for arrogance,
self-absorption & really
poor character & behavior
thriving off rationalization…
 
 
7.
strange & fucked-up thing about human nature
they never ever seem to really appreciate your
confessions always coming from the most
sincere & honest & modest of places
& with this repetition of behavioral
patterns perversely appear to turn
resentful as if you were just making
excuses & were literally baring it all
for assholes who never really deserved
it in the first place & never see them
again & in retrospect thank the lord…)
 
 
8.
   reading all those directions in español
                                            just for the fuck of it
                                                            & still coming up
              with the perfect jumbo jetliner
                                   balanced up on top
                                                  my childhood dresser
                                                                  high on model glue
                      you know the ones
                                   which always went down
                                                       never quite made it
                                                                    & people kept on taking
                                                                                     in that strange decade
                                                                                                         of the seventies…
 
 
9.
all’s you really need
in the long-run is a
window far enough
away from it all
to observe
the passing
the changing
of the brutal &
delicate seasons…
 
 
10.
separating truth from all those
false truths they try to so
blatantly bullshit & brainwash
you as being reality & virtue…
 
 
11.
                                                     i was the one always found
                                        lost in translation
                      caught between tenses
                          giving great long elegies
         of pillow talk
                   whispering sweet nothings
                               into the ear of my one-
                                                     night stand lover
                                                             cracking one-liners at funerals
                                                                                               predicting the future…
 
 
12.
can’t believe those centerfielders
                                   i grew up with
                                                 & loved & idolized…
                              cleon jones from the mets
               & kirby puckett from the twins
   eventually got nailed for some sort
of sexual perpetration…
 
 
13.
                 “it’s a saturday night and i aint got nobody…”

A Reenactment Of Waking Life: stanzas of the season and notes of a misanthrope

by Joseph D. Reich


1

what if jesus had made it?

 

2

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

 

3

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 back-
up of brainwash mixed-up
from a very subtle more like
awfully obscene and obvious
emotional spiritual neglect
not a put-down perhaps
the reality and criteria
and having to 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

 

4

what it feels like your whole life
to be manipulated and cheated
how can you not help but to be
come something of a thief
romantic criminal
hustler comedian

 

5

when will amerika be run
by a bodhisattva
by some good
ol’ gigantic
holy moly
grand poobah
sacred mock buddha
nodding out on heroin
up on top the mountain
with terrible tourists
going up to worship
and going down as
shaman no shame
man nocturnes
by chopin
and when
the sun
goes down
finally at last
now in shadow
silhouetted
no longer
awful horrible
instant judges
of alienation
while all you
hear are the wind
chimes at dusk
in the hush of
amen alley
haunted
chinese
restaurant

 

6

everything you fought against
everything you railed against
all that resistance and
acting-out and active-
rebellion from juvenile
delinquent childhood
were all the true-blue
truths (used against you)

 

7

on the nature
of culture
& civilization
i look inside
my refrigerator
and it simply
reads “cold
colder…”

 

8

i look into cup
board at all
the shot
glasses and
cocktail glasses
wife has ripped
off from barrooms
and cocktail lounges
and casually mention
“don’t you agree things
stolen have the most
meaning” she simply
ignores me and blows
me off and is the
exact answer i am
looking for as i do
have a past history
and well she is from
the boogie and looking
back at those times
it really does hold
the deepest
meaning
and
greatest
sense of
belonging

 

9

a man must be a man
must be a madman
who wears many
hats to keep up
with his wife’s
moods ‘blue mood,
you saw me standing
alone, without a dream
in my heart, without a love
of my own…’ i always loved
those films and real-life situations
where the main character was faced
with multiple challenges and had to dig
and build and burrow his way to freedom
through some escape tunnel, the twilight
zone, escape from alcatraz, vegas, valley
of the kings, egypt, the holy land of israel

 

10

tv projects an ‘archetypal image’
but what happens when that image
is simplistically repetitive and cookie-
cutter about violence and war and
the end of the world and not sure
if it’s a video game, movie (a film
gone straight to dvd, blu-ray or
hd) a commercial or the news
made to instantly shock you
‘pull you in’ as if any of that
would really matter anymore?

 

11

infamous infomercial man found dead
from an apparent drug overdose known
(never quite known, better seen and not
heard, or vice-versa) as the marilyn monroe
of stain remover & pressure cookers survived
by his fellow spokesmen & telemarketers
for erectile dysfunction, hip-hop aerobics
& late-night cubic zirconia while projected
archetypal image has been flown back to
beverly hills mansion through the static of
not fully-satisfied, guaranteed money back
broadcast towers, blinking & blaring at half-
mast to that fictional, existential, never-never
land, never quite glanced by a woman, child
or man in king of prussia, pennsylvania where
all great ideas & inventions hail from some
where between the sweet smell of success
& stench of failure reeking of that persistent
stray, pungent swathe of cocaine, baking
powder & household detergent, cut, sliced
& diced, broken-down & built-up by those
grandiose up & coming cut-throat entrepreneurs
not too far from the heart of the historical district
of distant hidden meth labs (you do the math)
where residents dare not speak up or speak
out out of fear of retribution or payback some
where between the cracked bell & belltower
in the higher than holy hysteria of these here
united states of america where paul revere
is isolating (perhaps even feening) suffering
from a situational depression & social phobia
being quarantined from the status-quo, having
contracted a very secretive serious case of ebola

 

12

when roosevelt gave those news footage speeches
in a can of peaches in the back of aircraft carriers
used to think what gigantic kid could have put
that together and must have had a hell of a lot
of rubber cement:: f.d.r. always with that long
svelte cigarette reminding you of the penguin
from batman with his sidekick churchill who
resembled the eternal and irrepressible
w.c. fields and how could anyone possibly
beat them tough luck for the other side
as hitler played by chaplin that sad
sack poor little tramp never had
a fighting chance while not by
coincidence sent back black-
listed to his homeland england
by mccarthy and his paranoid
clan of henchmen after everything
he had done for them:: when roosevelt
gave that final rousing speech in his
4th inauguration they said it was as brief
and as brilliant as the forefather of our
country george washington and in my
opinion sounded exactly in rhythm
and timbre and eloquence like
the good ol’ t.s. eliot:: you mutter
your man-made mantras code of
survival mechanisms which has
gotten you through the toughest
of times at your midnight edward
hopper window with the moon
beaming off the geometric lines
of the roof of the barn in your back
yard:: jesus trembles and with all their
betrayals and lies have made a spiritual
connection to know all’s quiet on the
western homefront all been crucified

 

13

memo: think about it almost every
great modern tragedy happened
(and could have been avoided)
from a certain type of ignorance
and complacency (absurd
and asinine state of non-
urgency) global warming,
the world trade center,
training those madmen
down in the lone star
state, airport security,
school shootings, the
titanic, hindenburg,
all those rum &
coke cruises from
the costa-concordia
to the staten island ferry,
the holocaust, the purges,
korea, vietnam, to our
most recent venture into
the theater of the absurd
out in iraq & afghanistan
like some where’s waldo
search for weapons
of mass-destruction
believing we could
turn a military
dictatorship
into a feasible
& functional
jeffersonian
democracy,
every genocide,
every atrocity,
presidencies,
assassinations
from a to z…

 

14

i’m not sure what’s worse?
(horse dragging a hearse)

delivering them like spam
& sardines in a can

in pan-ams
& amtracks

cross-country
after they whacked
lincoln & kennedy

or long-term
terminal character
assassination
of obama?

who was that other president they took out?
was it mckinley?

what did he do wrong
& what did he do for a living?

did they name one of those
long brick schools
in the late-sixties

in the split-level suburbs
after him?

 

15

where i live up 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 spot
and does be
come some
ting of a
pavlov’s
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
walmart
on top of
the mountain
top and those
other parts
depending
on my base
line of moods
and behaviors
and whatever
kind shape
i find my
self in

 

16

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)

 

17

and know the only thing which ever gets me up
is that big blinding ball of sun which beams
straight through my blinds and goes right
to my soul like some kid who’s
been picked on way too much
and turns into one of those
super heroes smack
dab in the middle
of bleak burnt-out
nowhere postmodern
blasé stripmall america

radar coming in from the t.v. towers
& ancient mythological heroes of old

 

18

what happened to those good
ole elizabethan days when
people threw themselves
onto their swords
like shish-kebob?

“well i used to love her
but it’s all over now…”

 

19

who invented the bugzapper?
the deviled egg platter?
the pie-eating contest?
the pig races?
jellybeans stuffed
in jelly jars displayed
in pharmacy windows
for contests & lotteries?
the flush-faced alchie
running the carousel
down by the beach?
the life insurance salesman?
the bible & vacuum cleaner
salesman showing up
from door to door?

 

20

that expression “extra-marital affair?”
instant divorces lickety-split in vegas?
tassels & sequins of topless dancers
& desperate & pathetic businessmen
both just as lost & faceless
looking to make their
final stand?

 

21

that phrase “all-inclusive”
suddenly turning peasants
into aristocrats no matter
the class or background?

 

22

wonder if man on the moon
ever looked down through
the blinds of my window
searching for faith too
(or more accurately
blues, blessings,
prayers, mantras)
and something
to hold onto?

 

23

that kid who ran away to the circus
how come nothing’s been written
about his return trip or where
he is and his status or was it
just pure david copperfield
and bartleby the scrivener?

 

24

there’s this really weird and fucked-up
paradox and contradiction in america
(used to never be this way) but these
days all those so-called cool and hip
areas are only the people who can
afford to be there; multi-millionaires
and if you dare enter there give you a stare
like who are you and you don’t belong there

starving artists who don’t seem particularly hungry
(who me? you god-duh be kidding! i’ve done and seen
it all and can assure you you are the mistaken identity!)

 

25

don’t know never ever got into the whole poetry performance
thing, not exactly sure why, as maybe just appeared a little too
much of a schtick or who you know, or moreso all in the phony
and flamboyant delivery and emotion of it all as opposed to the
substance and true-blue suffering and experience you had to
endure to get it all down on paper or having to be part of some
kind of conformist culture or group of writers and exclusive
self-entitled collective who give awards and trophies to each
other ‘cause they know each other (of course never having
had to do with any sort of real angst or alienating or pain
or suffering nor having to go it alone in more ways than
not hitting the road) and everyone and their mother and
little clique and group cheering them on so it really was
not so much a conspiratorial thing or having anything
to do with a social phobia just could never get into it
so much, and only imagined doing so like a good ole
young miles back in the day with his back turned from
the audience or something real half-crazed and dramatic
like some old rival or girlfriend suddenly showing up
from my past, screaming something rather absurd and
radical, demonstrative and significant and trying to make
an assassination attempt and me dodging it as have always
had good street instincts, but really appreciating their efforts
and conviction and having earned a whole new round of respect
for them going out for a beer with them after the whole affair ended

 

26

we used to hang out and lean up
against the nuclear plant in winter
smelling the warm bread from the red

brick chimneys of the bread factory
silhouetted in the evening lying flush
against the mountains through the alley

buzzed in the hush
of the halo of breath
of the holy desolation

of muffled lamplight
and intimate friendship
and close-knit conversation

the whole town wheezing
and sneaking back home
along the wriggling river

 

27

gobal wlarming
“i didn’t mean
anything i said”
think that should
be the gravestone
on the planet earth
after everyone‘s
been put to bed

 

28

you know with what seems
like these days with what
we see over the news with things
& towns constantly breaking down
& an abundance of global warming
& hurricanes & twisters & tornadoes
striking & leveling & knocking-out
the deep & shallow south & bible
belt & heartland & wasteland
along the atlantic ocean
all that neglect & bullshit
& bi-artisan corruption
after the storm hits
i think back to those good ol’
times ancient traveling circuses
with all those misfits & monkeys
& elephants & freaks & runaways
& mad scientists & barkers & soothsayers
& apothecarians as i don’t know just felt
so much more innocent & functioned
& got along so much better on so
many different levels as something
really to be said about the simple
things in life while leaving room
open for the imagination

i mean how running away to the circus
felt like a damn fine way to make a living…

 

29

as such when global warming finally does show
up in all its rare forms and splendor i’m gonna
get me one of those nathan’s frankfurters
….funny i spent a good amount of time and
period of my life out in coney island, brooklyn
isolated, secluded, with my simple, stray, solitary
window on the pounding surf right off surf avenue
after the madness of it all, working the graveyard
hustling a yellow in manhattan (ironic, did survive
that all) but all gotten so damn vulgar and expensive.
they do have another one right in yonkers right next
to yonkers raceway where i used to just see those lights
beaming during the sweltering summer evening right
off central avenue like some insane demented coliseum
and all those little alchie jockeys casually leaned back
in their goggles, like rickshaws to the promised land
so yeah think i’m gonna get me my nathan’s frankfurter
from there when global warming finally shows up in all
its rare forms and splendor, as used to spend a hell of
a lot of downtime down there in my young adulthood
haunting those barnes & nobles when they first came
out, picking out my helping of that madman dostoevsky
and then maybe if i was well-behaved, taking myself out
to movieland to see “the goonies”; those were some of my
most meaningful and profound, sentimental and romantic
of times, and wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in china
and crime and punishment i found myself getting into

 

30

i want to get held up by the pharmacy
with their token stockings over their heads
yet will know exactly who they are as not
particularly swift or streetwise and too
cerebral, as left on their starch-white
smocks with their names on it–“hey
bob is that you? joceyln, angelica…
you’re such cards!” and for figuring
out who they are get a month’s supply
of percocet and xanax and dice and
jacks and hershey bars with almonds

who was it said takes
a wise man to play dumb?

 

31

why
people
develop
a hankering
for heroin
lox & bagels
loose women
with similar
backgrounds
(trauma/damage)
and experience(s)

 

32

the queen leaves
her face at the
puppeteer’s
difference
between
familiarity
& distance

 

33

wife heads out to bring in
the halloween decorations
the brussels sprouts and kale
from the november garden
kindling from the barn
the fire and false alarms
going through the motions
as all just comes down to
going through the motions

 

34

almost every job i apply for
am in so much more need of
like some sorta life skills assistant
you gotta be kidding need myself
one massage local anesthesia
and bong hit and can assure
you every single last one of them
is some all-knowing pompous idiot
good deed-doer straight out of school
don’t know their ass from their elbow
enter you in inputted in their computer
with your treatment plan and baseline
and checklist as the targeted client or consumer
already with some pre-packaged language and
short-term and long-term goals which is required
to be met as audited and accountable to the state

life skills assistant
need me one of those
yeah, forget about it!

 

35

as a kid with the whole dim-witted dynamic
and phenomenon of rock bottom how could
you even know it was rock bottom because
you were at rock bottom and still had not
yet developed the intellectual prowess or power
to know you were down there so did everything
humanly possible to get out of there and acted-
out and were mad and wild out of a certain sense
of trepidation and fear and dipped down to even
deeper levels to try and make a name for yourself

 

36

i know this is gonna sound a bit odd
and something of a bizarre metaphor
(but don’t think you will once you find
out where i am coming from) but every time
i ever got a girl after all the sacrifice and struggle
strangely enough with all those natural feelings
and emotions of guilt and remorse (far more
i am sure than any sort of matador) and eventual
sort of empty bravado and ‘the getting of’ and ‘the
conquering of’ and sacrifice (even a bit of slaughter)
felt just a little less than more ‘the killing of the bull’
(wondering if that mad, coy battle was even worth it;
that inane, futile and fun ‘going back & forth’ testing
of each other’s defenses and identity and ego, seeing
how far each one was willing to go) and instead of
that supposed (and symbolic) red cape, her panties
and her bra and all those other accoutrements
and seductive clothes (meant to attract and
‘distract’ and play possum and hard to get)
found (lost & found) lingering on the floor

 

37

gargle all the gargoyles
all of fate & existence
& the madness of
the world with a
quart of malt
liquor fatal
charm &
pretty girl

cracking yourself up
couldn’t keep your
self out of trouble
becoming a regular
in detention hall

should have gotten my
letter of recommendation
from the monitor who
probably knew me
better than anyone
“awww shucks…”
so says jimi hendrix

 

38

are we all just surviving living and dying
blocking compartmentalizing from some
breakup for no apparent reason just poor
circumstances and timing from a first
love so long go unholy aware of it?

 

39

it’s all one big long pathetic
tragic sigh by gabe kaplan
from welcome back kot-ter
nihilistic version (“i’m putting
dishes away don’t bother me!”)

 

40

see marriage as something sort of delusional
draculian, dr jekyll & mr hyde-like; husbands
and fathers like some leftover wheelbarrow
water-logged in the rain weighed down
with wet soaking leaves by the barn

 

41

think that famous psychologist erik erikson
may have gotten it all wrong or too much of a
good thing and left out a stage from his stages
of growth & development when friends of mine
a little post pre-pubescent started to just naturally
with no apparent precipitant event become bullshit
artists and very driven and single-minded, opportun-
istic and goal-oriented, pretend like you and your
relationship never even existed at all preparing
themselves perfectly for the grownup world

 

42

“cry uncle! cry uncle!” never understood the origins
and derivation of that statement and why cry uncle
as most uncles i grew up with i liked a lot. was it
that uncle who drove a truck for the new york times
out of canarsie, brooklyn who we were always fond of
and always just sat silently alone, modest and humble
in the corner at family get-togethers? was it that uncle
we never knew what he did for a living, probably a bookie
and whenever we saw him, had a transistor to each ear
listening to the mets and the yankees? was it that uncle
from oceanside, long island who made a killing and ended
up becoming the district manager for la-z-boy down in hot’lanta?
was it that uncle who started out by sweeping flour off the floors
of the bialy factories and ended up becoming a multimillionaire
and owning a string of pants factories up and down the east coast?
i never understood that statement cry uncle and whenever some
overly-physical imbecile or schmuck on wheels or family member
had you in a headlock, twisting your arm behind your back, was
sitting right on top of you, kicking the shit out of you, practically
killing you, bullying, demanding cry uncle and finally flush-
faced completely out of breath just decided to give in and
go uncle and for some strange reason like some miracle
when they heard that catch-trigger phrase just got right
off you. who’s that uncle they were always speaking of
and suppose like almost everything in life never really
find out but discover what it is that will get you through
and simply allow you to survive and function and move on

 

43

families (immediate/extended) are political
often of a dysfunctional configuration
with their unfair, token scapegoat
and set-up alliances and broken

or established lines of
communication; why i
have always been apolitical
and run as an independent

 

44

manhattan’s always been something
of a long-lost brother to me, long-lost
family member or myself unbeknownst
lost & alone & longing spending days
embraced in the grace of the gritty
ancient 1950’s green plateglass
harcourt-brace building; its
different levels like some
contemporary castle
of antiquity losing
& finding myself
in the anonymity
of the madness
of the hustle & bustle
of the garment & diamond district
when it all becomes clear & keen
working a second job swingshift
on the weekends as an assistant
manager at the art movie theater
on 57th st. masturbating in the balcony
to foreign movies to give myself a little
relief, release from reality all by my lone
some deliberately giving myself vertigo
disequilibrium looking out for kong
on the tippy-top of the empire state
building spending all day hanging
out in that park not too far from
the chelsea making small talk
with the starlings & secretaries
at lunch hour outside the flatiron
building spending a whole day months
years in alphabet city chilling in tompkins
square park with brilliant black scholars
who used to be artists & had their hearts
broken by white girls having had given
exhibitions at the guggenheim & whitney
spending all day studying at the new york
public library waiting for my scroll to show
up lit-up like numbers on the big board at
aqueduct raceway & then taking it back
to those long mahogany waxed tables
under the opaque cathedral windows
with the seasons squinting through
becoming smarter & wiser with
bums & winos, young girls to
die
for
mad
woe
man
aban
done

 

45

‘somewhere over the rainbow’
now a long empty railroad
apartment with nowhere
to go & sudden explosions
& episodes in the lower east
side on ludlow & orchard
after their boyfriends
just up & left them

& now do time & bids
(biding their time)
with respites
at bellevue

 

46

back then i remember i used to sleep
with a switchblade under my pillow
as i guess it just used to make me
feel more safe & secure living on
ground floor of that long railroad
apartment right off the courtyard
in the lower east side right below
the swallowed-up stars & sagging
clotheslines, good & decent puerto
rican pals of mine who i used to
play ball with kept hidden nines
in their converse sneaker boxes
in their closets in the projects
simply just for protection
so yes i guess it all worked
to our advantage cuz don’t
remember ever having night
mares surviving off thomas
wolfe & t.s. eliot & cold
miller genuine draft beer

 

47

“you had to be there…”

man i always hated that expression
cause i can assure you if i was there they’d be
saying the exact same tired old thing about being there

 

48

i want to be taken hostage
by one of those anonymous
handkerchiefs with knockout
potion in it and wake up in
a land i always dreamed of

 

49

sometimes it just feels like we’re
being taken hostage by the hostages
(or maybe just were taken
hostage a long time ago
as they’re miserable)

 

50

martyrs going at it
playing mind games
with each other

accusing each other
of murder of being
more of a martyr

 

51

in my melancholia, i keep on forgetting i’m a happy man
stuck in the interrogation room with all those mandated
judges and buffoons, and for the first time in so long
feeling settled and at one, while they grill me and try
to throw their weight around, getting more angry and
frustrated that i take it all in stride and not intimidated
and turn the tables on them and beat them at their own
game hearing through the gated windows of the prison–
“come out with your hands up! we got you surrounded!”
i tell my interrogators–“tell me something i don’t know”

i look forward to fish sticks and sloppy joes
slow trains through chicago
high on liquid methadone

 

52

they met at the physical restraint class
for group homes and fell madly in love.
she was the dummy or he was, no matter
pretty much interchangeable, and made
a connection on a physical and emotional
and spiritual psychological level both living
real damaged lives and had the need to be
held or held onto or held tight. there’s this
phenomenon during these types of dynamics
and training exercises, you know you can
only let go once they actually start crying

 

53

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

 

54

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

 

55

boy
hood
be that

margarine
&
marmalade

masturbation
real window
to the soul

mar
i
gold

 

56

that pyramid
table of elements
of 8 essential vitamins
on the back of a box of cereal

 

57

the medication
on the kitchen counter
simply reads “monster”

 

58

we lived in a better world
when we had the munsters
and the addams family never sure
who was who and what was what?
who had who? was it wednesday?
it? lurch? that pretty promiscuous
milf lady with the long spanish pet
name (reminded me of best friend’s
mother from argentina as if any of that
would really matter?) and seemed like
everybody just resided under the stairs

 

59

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

 

60

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”

 

61

tracing the figure, texture
of your first lover

midnight revelations
in pre-dawn basements

 

62

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
deserted
by friends

 

63

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

turned
silent
old

 

64

blue turning the color of red
and then scarlet and indigo

 

65

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

 

66

chants of
the desperate
passionate restless
silent and stirring soul

 

67

exactly like those
windy whispering trees
feathering your window

 

68

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 (greco/roman
wrestling) & egyptian times
to freud to hitchcock to sub-
lime brilliant & self-destructive
howard hughes to jean-paul
sartre & his counterpart
camus franz kafka

 

69

being shot in that schmaltzy
romantic champagne cup
capsule from the canals
of venice to the straits
of the nile seeing
baby moses
drifting by
on a piece
of matzoh

 

70

don’t get back to you ‘cause they think you’re
dangerous. me dangerous? that’s some of the
most hilarious absurd shit i’ve ever heard!
have always been one of the most innocent
romantics on the face of the earth. believe
the same way they treated tupac, and so off and
mistaken. as a kid me and a good buddy of mine
bought one of those wine making kits at a yard
sale and thought if it actually worked would be
able to use it to ask out all the pretty girls we
had crushes on in town, and put it under his
sink in his kitchen secretly wrapped in towels
but heard it ended up exploding from all the
pressure…david birnbaum in his basement
rolling sushi waiting for the second coming

 

71

my son became friends with the boy
who my wife bought the coat from
and said–“that used to be my coat”
and now hang out with each other
lifelong chums and his name is ryan
and today she and dylan saw ryan
in town with a big horse’s head on
and gave a great big wave and said
“hey dylan!” he’s also not recently
been wearing socks with holes
in them to bed as claims
they give him nightmares

 

72

the first time you tried marijuana
the first time you touched the soft
skin miraculous flesh of her bosom
the first strand of pubic hair down there
beneath the silk panties to her vagina
the first time you got laid walking on
cloud 9 like jesus walking on water

 

73

ibid: where is the milky way
factory?
three musketeers?

the first time
you got laid
& made a name

 

74

ap: 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 fly-by-night
fiancée as we had all been
through thick and thin trials
and tribulations in trying to
get though and getting
our masters 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 half-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-compulsive
after work in the wee hours when
in her sleep cycle 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 quite was (even better than them)
but impossible to fight the stereotype
and so just didn’t and just said fuck it
ironic all those ultra-orthodox girls
used to come on to me and call me
in the middle of the evening (even
slightly obvious and obscene 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
without receiving any kind of recognition
as still like that image and idea and notion
of meeting a blind date at the bowling alley
(maybe them not even showing up and getting
to know myself better…) 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

 

75

sacrificing a virgin, what the hell was up with that?
i mean where did they come up with shit like that?
like what? were just hanging around the campfire
or around the pueblo, and were thinking, life’s
pretty fucked-up out here and we want our crops
to grow so out of respect to the gods we’re just
gonna snatch up the prettiest girl in town, that
doe-eyed girl with the rosy glow and strip her
down to the bone (had to be something little
sexual as well) and then will all be good
to go, no questions asked, better to be seen
and not heard, wonder how she felt about all
this? her parents? her extended family? that
boy who had a mad crush on her? third cousin?

 

76

the puerto rican girls
to die for precious
as pearls sitting out
on summer stoops
their proud mothers
putting hangers
around their
bellies to
see how
much they
have grown

 

77

sheets swinging beneath
tenement windows
welcoming home

older brothers
from prison

having robbed
a string of friendly’s

mama having kept
her humor about her

 

78

gangsters from the neighbor
hood strutting with tokens
in their ears towards
the pool on pitt st.

 

79

that pool when
ever it emptied
during the season
filling up with leaves
would read haiku
till the evening

 

80

then pick up those
warm plantains
with chopped
meat in them

 

81

how life back then just seemed
like some long pleasant and patient
plan having created your own private
and intimate kingdom from everyone
and everything which had been taken
and abandoned with some secret scarlet
señorita cigarette of a sun curtain sinking
over the spanish-chinese restaurants over on
delancey dipping down along the manhattan
bridge and connecting n.y.c. to brooklyn

 

82

the wild boys from the westside
playing softball in the asphalt park.
it’s mother’s day and he sarcastically
remarks–“i see you’re spending the day
with your moms!” he slides into second
base and they all pile on him. a sole-survivor
scales the center field fence searching for salvation

 

83

it was not until much later
you remember those times
some of the roughest times
like a crime or nonstop riddle
without the punch line
always on the road
searching for a home
always getting stopped
by a state cop on the side
of the road with a license
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

 

84

those great big homes of the very
wealthy suburbs always with no
one in them silhouetted with that
dim din of brilliant opaque light
spilling in melancholy bleakness
strangely enough perfectly
synchronized with the
changing season

 

85

as the silence of those
distant rattling trains
rushing in and out
the radiant antiquated
anonymity of the station

 

86

living at that welfare hotel
in the mess and madness
and thick of it all my
lit matchstick room
you could scope
from the road
set right in
the corner across
from that department store
where they would change
the window displays and
scenarios during the holiday
season to best suit a certain
strata of population made
it all seem snug like a bug
safe and secure that dichotomy
and juxtaposition with the freaks
i was living with all holy half-crazed
and those higher than holy smug
stuffy citizens was so surreal
always kept hidden in the back
of my consciousness deepest
recesses of my soul allowed me
to get to know and understand
the superficialities (texture and
configurations and vain and
shallow injustices) and bullshit
of culture so much more the empty
and rotten core of folklore where
it all absurdly came from ghostly
lit phosphorescent purple elevator
going up the evening movie theatre
in the desolation of bleak melancholia

 

87

spent my days on the weekend
taking buses to the outskirts
of suburbia out of the city
over industrial bridges
where millions of birds
planted themselves
up on top girders
and felt i was
really able
to relate
to them
in mind
body
and spirit
with glistening
logs rolling down
rivers through
the mystical
lace cobwebs
of slick & sacred
verdant mountains
imbibing all
the universe
almost feeling
the seasons
change right
in front of me
to the two dollar movies
where i got picked up by older
women just as deserted as me

 

88

spent whole weekends feeding me chinese
while bathing me and going down on me
as if nothing mattered but that moment

everything
and everyone
who had left them

 

89

then dropping me back off
to the burlington northern
and making my way
back to the jack london

(made sense
and this to me
was real culture
and civilization)

 

90

that haunted house is really not so haunted at all
with its gorgeous monstrous sunflowers in front
and radiant river which runs through the back
of the backyard babbling beneath the white
birches to the mountains; dance steps on
the floor to billy joel’s–“i love you just
the way you are” cha cha cha cha cha
the sugar maples have finally started
to pop in their blazing yellows on
the roundabout to the steeples
of the cathedrals lying flush
up against the mountains
where they keep the used
car lot and campground
and girls sipping at cock
tails out to break hearts

 

91

self-starter ghosts
aggressive self-winding ballerinas
a winding staircase going nowhere
young hooker virgins kissing in the barn
a whole town closed down due to drizzle
the only signs of life the delicious scents
and silhouettes at the diner and belfry of the cathedral
young boys and bums hanging out outside the barroom

 

92

your best companion the train tracks
running alongside the river and both
rambling away off into the mountains

in the long run everything vanishes…

 

93

in every perceived orphan and criminal
is a kid just looking to be rescued
(naive, innocent, wild, and blue)

 

94

first love in the language of yiddish…

meshugenah! meshugenah! meshugenah! meshugenah!
to be repeated much quicker meshugenah! meshugenah!
meshugenah! meshugenah! meshugenah! meshugenah!
train leaving station…”baby, you’re the greatest!”

 

95

“when was the last
time you got the mail?”

she looked beautiful
after she shampooed her hair
blow-dried it and didn’t comb it
looking out for the first snow of winter

 

96

every childhood
ended in candlelight

a certain kind
of suicide

 

97

satisfied (pleasantly stubborn)
you only listened to one side
your death bed will finally
be listening to the other
with a final sigh
walking wobbling
on the high wire
to the other side

 

98

home at last, home at last,
holy man, hallelujah, amen

 

99

i think in the long
run in the end the great
massive sky at twilight
all inky & violet is gonna
just open up and turn into
a mess of starlings and take
off to the horizon no more pain
no more suffering–“know a good
place around here to get pad thai?
fried calamari?” draw bridge
opens on its own volition

 

100

i just need some place
to escape like some
bleary-eyed 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
shimmying in out
like some holy
and sacred
security blanket
intertwining the
skeleton and spine
of the jack pines
and sugar maples

 

101

every
one
needs
a place
to escape
like the path
the mist and
fog make snaking
down the mountain.
evaporating into day.

for e.e.

by Joseph D. Reich


tasteful nudes
& some
not so tasteful

of old girlfriends
scattered all over
the walls

of the haunted house…

there is absolutely nothing
haunted

about this home
just how he simply
chooses

to live & die & get by
in his life & feels
far more apropos

than waking up
to the same awful
routine & ritual

of the morning paper
& cup of joe & keeping
an eye out on the weather…

On The State Of The Union: your fireside chat with some firestarter in two equal parts

by Joseph D. Reich


1.

What the hell to say about a nation
with a whole party who refuses
to show up to the party or do
their job and always taking
off early to go on vacation
some secret service who is
supposed to protect secrets
and make things more safe
and secure and keeps on
getting busted for doing shit
undercover and in secret making
things more unsafe and insecure
whole police squads who keep
the tradition going up north down
south shooting down black boys
with their hands up a bunch of
overpaid multi-millionaire players
who are supposed to represent
our clean-cut heroes constantly
being brought up on using illegal
substances abuse and domestic
violence charges dragging their
fiancées unconscious out
of atlantic city elevators
a television full of competitive
dating and cooking as thought
these things were supposed to
calm and assuage with a whole
mess of silly reality show cartoon
characters going head to head toe to toe
I need a midol and a multi-vitamin
where the hell is and what happened
to mighty mouse just over my shoulder?

Who was it said? i think it was biggie–
“i got lawyers watching lawyers…”

2.

Imagine meeting
your loved one
your soulmate
the one you’re
gonna walk
down the
aisle with
perhaps at
one of those
airport hotels
where they
claim to have
like those
starving
artist
art shows
and sales
at specific
times like
1:00-3:00
on sundays
like church
confession
to pick up
those horrible
portraits and
pastels they
sell in bulk
to put up
on the walls
of chain motels
it all hangs in
one of those
sweeping string
panoramic sky
lines hanging
over your
headboard

Who was it said? think it was biggie–
“i got lawyers watching lawyers…”

3.

I want to live
in the old dead
woman’s home
fully furnished
dead woman
included
with all
that drab
opaque
furniture
going
through
the same
daily activities
and routines
and rituals
those little
portholes
in which
to catch
every
season
watching
the build
up of clouds
and downpour
of rain and drizzle
observing every
last leaf fall
one by one
by one
by one
helping
myself
to tea
and scones
and at day’s end
turn off that lamp
stashed in the corner
which will be that old
antique tourist souvenir
fisherman looking
like he’s eternally
winking giving him
only a slight tug
at the noggin
as your dreams
will be all those
old time reel to reel
home movies before
they had sound
to them which
made them
and all its
characters
proportionately
that much more
animated with
everything
in the world
to look forward
to without all
the bullshit
and betrayal
and drama
and damage
all those fake
and phony
bastards
constantly
feed you…

Who was it said, think it was biggie–
“I got lawyers watching lawyers…”

4.

I want to do a case study
on the rate of real blondes
to fake blondes in america
break it down to the rate
of real blondes to fake
blondes of those supposed
movie starlets or supposed
reality stars, the rate of real
blondes to fake blondes
in the republican party
in the united states
of america

Who was it said? think it was biggie–
“i got lawyers watching lawyers…”

5.

One wonders how a resume
would look for one of those
male strippers? suppose it
wouldn’t be much different
then the resumes i send
out for all my experience
in the social work field
and hospitality business
and far less bullshit
and paperwork
and politics
and can assure you far
more gratifying and far
less thankless, am thinking…

Who was it said? think it was biggie–
“i got lawyers watching lawyers…”

6.

Was watching the tv
and it showed some
sort of cream and it
said–“be the man you
always wanted to be”
and it showed some
middle-aged dude
scaling a mountain
and reaching the pinnacle
then spreading his arms spread
eagle hugging some chick at sunset
and thought man after thirty years
of suffering can finally be the man
i always wanted to be and thought
what would that look like and who
would that be? arnold schwarzenegger?
dick cheney? liam neeson? then
thought again and decided really
didn’t want to be the man i always
wanted to be but boy can you just
imagine receiving that cream and
it just showing up in the mail and
know with just a couple squeezes
and applications…side effects of a
middle-aged alpha-male where wolf?

Who was it said? think it was biggie–
“i got lawyers watching lawyers…”

A Letter To Obama

by Joseph D. Reich


I don’t know but i really do like you and the job you are doing
and the job you’ve done as have felt something like job or jesus
having to keep your wits about you and faith and sanity and
self-preservation fighting all the devils and for that should win
a nobel and somehow managing to keep your marriage afloat.
So barack here is my resolution for all of those wars half way
across the world, and know this sounds awfully simplistic
(and please do feel free to steal just a little or as much as
you choose from this basic idea and concept and configuration)
as thus if in fact we really do consider ourselves to be in the po-
sition whereas we feel obligated to police other nations then why
not really actually follow through with it in practice from the point
of view and perspective of this idealistic as well as practical belief
system and play the role, and for the first time ever actually serve
and protect and for the very brief interim enter into these conflicted
regions of iraq and syria and rescue every poor soul, the infirmed
and old and every man, woman, and child, or every individual who
does not find themselves embroiled in this barbaric battle and just
for the very short while, go in there and literally get all of them out
and leave the rest of the fighting to all those involved in the struggle
then reserve a certain part of the desert and land like those tribes
of bedouins and set up camp for all of this displaced population
and give them a place to thrive and function, while we actually
provide them the proper protection and once the victor has been
determined we can then decide and figure out from a more intelligent
and intellectual and intuitive perspective with a joint commission
and them having the final say with a sense of self-determination

If the only apparent inevitable solution is to have it divided
into separate nations of sunni and shia well then so be it…