Panic!

The Supper Poems


Joseph Reich


                                            
               I.
  
The Demographics Of The American Family
 
 
i know a lot of families
a lot of couples
who watch tv
while eating
supper
 
i don't know
why don't
they just
look into
fishbowls?
 
 
               II.
 
Town-Statistics
 
 
this year in the subdivision...
there were 2 divorces, 
1 alcoholic neighbor 
who tried to make
the moves on his 
best friend's wife, 
1 suicide attempt, 
1 head of the association 
impeached based on some 
collective paranoia, excommun-
icated from the neighborhood,
and 1 husband who just simply 
took off on his motorcycle 
out to phoenix, arizona...


 
               III.
 
For William Carlos Williams 
 
 
when you 
finally discover 
your old faded baseball glove
 
simply 
resembles a toad 
sitting on the side of the road
 
 
 
               IV.
 
Stanzas Of Summer
 
 
pink motorcycles glimmer on the seashore
like soft-shell crabs with mustard one would want to devour
 
the painters come out after a full day on the job
 
you dream of grilled corn and kielbalsa
 
of her home-made meatballs 
and sweet wilderness
creeping up your nose
 
after a full day's work you head home with a whole chicken
the whole pretty softball team in ponies duck in with grins

 

                V.
 
Television
 
 
tries to placate you with mundane metaphors
as the children of the corn come out from
behind the radio tower creeping through
the industrial brush on an overcast day
and it all comes down on the aluminum
siding of a rambling ranch when the man in
a beard on a tractor returns home in drizzle
 
 
 
               VI.
 
For Some God-Forsaken Reason
 
 
in watching old reruns
of battlestar galactica
you swear this old dude
looking a lot like
lorne greene 
 
sternly earnestly
approaches the
enemy and says
"i have prepared
your underwear"
 
 
 
               VII.
 
For Convenience Sake
 
 
you sometimes just 
wish to slit your wrists
and let it all drip 
into a window box 
of geraniums as it
will be camouflaged
to welcome the hum-
mingbirds and crows
 
you'll look 
forward
to ghosts 
who'll put
everything
in perspective
 
your wife simply sitting
there with the babysitter
in their lawnchairs gabbing
away without a care looking 
a little like nixon and kissinger
 
(later on she'll inform you
that catherine told her 
they almost got busted on
horseneck beach for starting
a bonfire and there were police  
and booze and jumped the fence)
 
sun coming down
on the iridescent
dead-end of
photosynthesis
 
 
 
               VIII.
 
The Himalayan Birches
 
 
you smell her 
shake & bake
& potato latkas
streaming up
the staircase
 
life can't be
as bad as
you think
 
shadows
& breeze
will overtake
the evening
 
 
 
               IX.
 
A Summer Poem
 
 
"erica while you got your sandals on
can you turn off the water outside?"
 
"uh-huuh..."
 
"thank you so much!"
 
you hear the nozzle turn
 
and the birds squeak...
 
 
 
               X.
 
The Unmissing
 
 
after spending a full day
with your boy on the beach
you can't get out of the back
of your head blissfully the song-- 
 
do you know the muffin man?
the muffin man? the muffin man?

 
 
 
              XI.              
 
Song From The Prairie
 
 
where never is heard
a discouraging word...
 
 
 
             XII.
 
Erica
 
  
all her soaps & shampoos & rinses & conditioners
all her pretty pink panties with little bow laces
all her mantras she muttered at the end of the day in the shower
all her sniffles & sobs that went down the drain that followed 
all her farewell kiss final drip from a dramatic draining faucet
all that sorrowful shit you couldn?t get off your face even if you wanted
all those mug shots from mad years of real-life run-down run-away experiences
all those strangers who literally tried to threaten to sick their dogs  
their big brothers their guns their diseases as you never once 
backed down to become something of this fictional fugitive
(sometimes even questioning why you were alive and how you made it 
embracing the mad dogs of brooklyn on the waterfront docks of winter 
who you shared your fried chicken bones with and became your best 
friends after working the graveyard shift hustling a cab in manhattan
all the sadness & suffering & kindness & wisdom
that silently seeped from shut sockets
from man?s cruel character & contradictions)
all the seasons all the shadows all the promises all the betrayals
all those magnificent purple pines that rise from dusk to night
from dark into light from your imagination to the netherworld 
all faith & forgiveness all the times she never gave up 
on you as she?s simply the greatest girl...
 
 
 
              XIII.
 
The Apothecary
 
 
baby please get
ice cream & wine!
 
through the blinds
you spot firelight
 
 

            XIV.

 
Aperative
 
 
sun falls 
like a slice 
of lemon-meringue pie
 
 
             XV.
 
The Supper Poem
 
 
you savor the last bits 
of paprika and sour cream
clinging to your palate and bid her goodnight.



 
 
Ghosts And All Things In Between 
 
 
 
1. Phenomenon
 
 
i don't know, when we get old
it just seems like we get more
shallow, having gone off the deep
end so long ago; the other option
simply to play these stagnant roles
which is even further from the soul...
 
(proof: grown-ups appear disingenuous and full of shit
as though there is some sort of disconnect between
cause and affect, or what's even worse are conscious
and have chosen to be indifferent, almost the antithesis
to descartes famous statement of prove that you exist--
"i think therefore..." while ironically the more you think about "it" 
the more you feel in conflict, crazed, confused, and unconfident
 
if you tell me with the grown-up
all that's left, all they can offer
is common sense, i am not
so sure i necessarily agree
that this is good judgment
 
i'll take the adolescent 
any day who goes with 
his instincts & emotions

 
it is no wonder there is so much more meaning and
substance when we sentimentally reflect back 
to such schoolyard games as "ringo leevio," 
"red rover," and "crack the whip," as this always 
required a certain amount of courage and compassion,
gusto and passion, a constant code of ethics and earnestness) 
 
"uh-oh kenny oh-taka, uh-oh kenny oh-taka..."
i can still recall the smells of all my friends homes
 
have you forgotten as a child all those 
sleepovers sharing with each other all your 
long term dreams and goals, the raids to the kitchen, pool-hopping
drawing up secret maps that would lead you through the darkness?
 
 
 
2. Soul Survivor  
 
 
tonight i broke down while listening to mahler
for he was able to evoke in only a couple simple notes
birth & death & life & childhood more so the core soul
key notes of childhood the earth & dirt river queen lit on fire
parked in the wilderness outside my window all of the bronx &
brooklyn & the berkshires rambling as a poet-philosopher-social-
observer from paris to italia to the coast of africa watching the terrible
slapstick comedians doing their song & dance acts on a ferry to sicilia  
watch out or i'll wash your mouth out with sarcasm 'cause i'm a soul-survivor 
combination of raging bull & brando love my blessed child when all that's left
is buddha brother of bodishivatta kentucky-fried dhammapada mama always 
told me i was born at harlem-valley psychiatric behind the barbed-wire 
on our way to pick up pumpkins stopping off at the red rooster...
 
 
 
 
3. Earnest
 
 
my consciousness
my active-conscious mind
is an ice maker making ice at night
 
they said with hemingway before he wrote each new novel 
he had to somehow be romantically involved 
and interestingly would take on a new wife
 
widow 
with her curtains 
parted just right...
 
 
 
4. Shakespeare 


 
it is my contention that it is true
that the (good) actors got it right and
had all the right answers yet the one loophole 
to the equation is there are so many out-of-work actors!
 
 
  
5. The Neptune Carnival 
 
 
freud at the end of his life
claimed he devoted his whole
career to working with women
and was convinced of one thing
 
that he still does not 
know a thing about them
 
this is kind of how i feel
about the state of america 
but my problem is i've gotten
 
way too familiar...
 
(with a complacent consumer
culture hooked on cellulars
and computers)
 
i have always relied
on the instincts 
of imagination
 
spying a giant mermaid
in stilts and sequins 
returning home
 
through bleary-eyed
windows of coney
island at dawn



6. Spanish Bombs In Andalusia  (~from a song by the clash) 
 
 
they say when bertrand russell, the great english scholar-mathematician-professor 
asked wittgenstein when he first met him to write down just any one philosophical 
sentence, he knew from what he penned right there and then, he was a genius... 
i have always wondered what it was that he said. i think if i was asked the same 
question i would have simply said--"correct me if i'm wrong...correct me if i'm wrong." 
it just sounds so constructive and reflective and paradoxical and perverse, and self-
effacing and deep and demure, and opens the door to learn and absorb almost 
everything that has not been taught before, and in some ways, even thought... 
correct me if i'm wrong, the opposite of what everyone purports to know 
(the rare, ideal poetic and philosophical and psychological phenomenon 
of anti-narcissism) i have not found someone in so long to correct me 
if i'm wrong. i have always found someone to love me and to love, to 
criticize me when i really needed support, to give me advice when 
i never asked for it, to talk when i just needed to be heard, to take 
advantage of my kindness, to treat me like a madman when i really 
was some kind of mystic, who saw through all their masks and 
machinations and bullshit, to take me for a clown when i was 
about as compassionate and sound as you can get, to hate me 
for doing it right and love me for getting it wrong, to flatter me and 
wish i had never been born, yet never ever to really quite sincerely
 
...correct me if i'm wrong
 
 
 
7. The Jack London
 
 
when i used to exist as something of a "vagabond"
out in portland, oregon i used to hustle the streets
all day long to try and make ends meet even working a
couple jobs at a time then at night haunt the bookstores
literally camped out in aisles reading books on mathematics
and science and philosophy and poetry even the biographies
of people like the stooges and brando and galileo and michael 
angelo and remember reading how baudelaire was so disgruntled 
by one of the translations most likely le fleur du mal from french 
into english he retorted how he had only hoped there might be
 
someone just as intelligent to translate it back into 
his native language and although this may appear quite clever 
and humorous i believe there is a whole hell of a lot of meaning 
behind all this as well as something quite accurate and realistic 
as he really appears quite ambivalent and acerbic and even to be questioning 
the overall integrity and truthfulness of 
the ridiculous perverse quality of human existence
 
i often find myself worrying about semantics like this on a daily basis 
how there are so many self-righteous passive-aggressive acquaintances 
who will make your existence miserable by simply being disingenuous
 
 
 
8. Call Me...
 
 
there was a jew who escaped one of those concentration camps
or labor camps during the horrific period of the holocaust and he ran 
back in great haste to his village to try and warn his neighbors and they
all treated him as though he was some kind of an overzealous madman
 
it is a pity yet it feels as though you got treated much of 
your adult-life by your "gaslighting" family 
in a similar fashion as your heart and soul 
went into hiding and you became the ultimate
"stranger" becoming the personification of the 
"self-fulfilling prophecy" constantly having the need 
to defend yourself or to run away and become a thief 
of society just in order to sculpt an identity 
 
(a convenient clown who got taken for granted 
as whenever they were in crisis
you were the first one they contacted for 
unconditional support and wisdom then
when they worked through it it was 
as though you once more no longer existed and 
they were critical of you and 
nailed you to the cross the fake cowards that they were)
 
they used to use such obvious and obscene catch-phrases 
as you're exaggerating the situation, 
you take things too personally, you're over-sensitive, 
as they appeared to thrive off a pathetic 
and malicious simplistic sort of false ethic of glib 
justification of indifference from their safe 
and secure ivory towers of contradiction in which 
nothing could make you feel more frustrated 
lost and lonely yet interestingly when i started to 
show a little success they ironically and 
hypocritically were the first ones to absurdly claim--
"we didn't know you had it in you"
 
as though conveniently forgetting and forgiving themselves 
(excusing themselves simply continuing their phony and 
guilty acts from anna freud's famous defense- 
mechanism of reaction-formation) while simultaneously striking everything 
from your hard earned-record of sorrow and suffering similar to baudelaire 
with the cruel and quixotic phonies of humanity or that jew who 
came ranting and raving trying desperately to warn and rescue
 
 
 
9. A Companion
 
 
the ladybug has finally perished 
on my carpet finding herself unable 
to get back out the window...
 
i grieve and lament this 
as she was so much more a companion 
than anybody else during days of loneliness
 
 
 
10. Borderline Personality
 
 
the girl in which i had the most wild and 
passionate intimate relationship
used to say when she got real blue and 
down-in-the-dumps that it was a fact
that as much as you try to tame a wild horse 
it was impossible and couldn't be done 
and then would simply look off lost and hollow 
as this was the same one who claimed
that she loved me 'cause she knew 
there was a place she clearly could not get close to
 
 
 
11. An Aphorism Called "Innocence Lost"
 
 
imagine boys stranded in the windows
of group homes looking out to beautiful
young girls tanning in bikinis next door
 
there must be a metaphor for this all...
 
rabbit scampers through hole in stone wall


 
 
12. Old Man Goirot   ~In 5 Stanzas

 
 
                         I.

i still have the heart of a little boy in me
and want to know all their visions and dreams
and never to leave. i have never quite grown up thankfully 
 
all these geometric shapes and primary colors 
still beaming, clattering in the breeze 
is there really something so... 
 
 
                         II.
 
god, remember that short-cut
which rambled through trees, through pachy-
sandra, through streams, through boyhood dreams?
 
 
                         III.
 
upon getting into a fight with my wife today
because i was acting all o.c.d. she left me 
and told me she went down to the sea, and
to the apothecary to read some magazines.
in many ways i consider myself pretty lucky
 
 
                        IV.
 
when all that matters is what lays scattered
what lays tattered what lays stranded
in the fossils of the bones of the soul 
of the song of a seagull in the sun 
 
a boy and two girls stroll into the restroom 
on shore to explore the mystery of flesh & bones
and when they discover it's not open decide instead 
to open a red umbrella in their car in the sun-drenched parking lot

 
                         V.
 
mom, you had asked what we planned to do this weekend.
we decided to take little man down to newport, no not to be 
with the terrible tourists who mock history and culture, but 
to see the sea and see if the carousel was open. it was not 
so he decided to stroll with the seagulls and we rolled his 
dungarees all the way up to his knees and when the tide
 
came rushing in then decided to turn back out to sea, he seemed 
so happy and free amongst the pretty old homes, the edward hopper 
houses, and spooky dimly-lit mansions and sandcastle cathedrals, 
trying to make sense of silhouettes of ships in the distance, and 
when he seemed to get a little cold i would scoop him up and put 
my big hands over his tiny feet, as with that big mop of blonde hair 
and big blue eyes, he just sat way up there and seemed to dream 
 
and fantasize in some kind of secret sea side subliminal semantics
within the rhythms and motions of pure brilliant holy silence, of which 
i savored this rare moment, even a bit of babbling as though he was 
imitating the sounds of the ocean, swear he even said the word dolphin 
and when he appeared to get a bit tired erica took off his damp overalls 
and he fell fast asleep in the back of the car and went back to dreaming 
in his diapers drifting home though the wind and vineyard and orchards
 
one can talk about all these scholars...









  
Domestic Living  
 
 
 
          *
 
Junk Mail
 
 
the new neighbors move 
in and they welcome you 
with barbecues and rumors
 
the first day you move in
the hag next door stares
your wife down because
 
she is young and beautiful
because she is not and has
a poor marriage and feels in-
 
secure and knows her husband 
will be all over her and she'll
feel even more...
 
she tries to get you on her 
side with fresh-baked
brownies and past
 
battles happening 
to casually mention a little 
later--"did you hear the dog?"
 
like some really bad build-up
to a terrible, futile riddle...to me
the ultimate parable to the suburbs
 
you knew right there
and then the first
day you moved in
 
 
 
          *
 
The Defense-Mechanisms
 
 
why is it  
that we always get
blessed by the hypocrites
 
like being forgiven
by the devil for 
malicious tricks
 
 
 
          *
 
The Flight Of...
 
 
peculiar i am so much more fond
of the crow simply strolling up 
and down these sleek purple roads 
than any of my neighbors who will
rat on each other and call animal control
 
 
 
            *
 
Secrets You Wouldn't Want To Know
 
 
the suburbs unfold
like a banana peel
yet unlike those
wonderful & weird
slapstick comediens
these lack the humor
the wit and sex appeal...
 
 
 
           *
 
Couplets
 
 
fly lands on a dandelion
like an umbrella on the mediterranean
 
fire-setter kid next door
does a rather out-of-control burn
 
can you
blame him?
 
when i used to lay out on the ocean
on dead-ends used to have grandiose visions
 
reality-based
that when totally undisturbed
 
in the days of the clash &
the who & the doors & dylan
 
 
 
          *
 
Your Wife Creeping Into Bed 
 
 
angrily in the morning 
is dirty ribbons
blue frog escaping the red lawnmower
sparkling ships of old san francisco
bumpa'da'bumpa on bustling bridges
cemetary cider
papers from philadelphia
every true quintessential queen
in the meat market when bagel
shops open in the cobblestone of dawn
mathematic equation on a blackboard
that will forever go blissfully unsolved
paper routes
the movement of lagoons
masks from venicia
crows with disco moves
swooping down to purple pungent lawns
blood orange sun rising falling awakening
does it ever rain in london?
in coney island?
a far cry from far rockaway...
 



          *
 
Ground Zero
 
 
alarm 
awakes 
us to-- 
 
"10 are dead 
from tornadoes 
in a texas border town"
 
 
 
          *
 
Queer Commentary  
 
 
while waiting outside walmart on some weekend morning 
for my loved one to return (a matter of fact, she was in there 
for tiki-torch lighting-fluid) i spy a whole bedraggled culture, 
obese and repulsive, not scoping a thing around them, 
addicted to their contraptions, such weak see-thru souls
 
a high school slash college girl sporting her sweats 
which she has spent hours on to sculpt & mold in her own 
private mirror aimed to perfectly accentuate her asshole and 
then when she gets her targeted audience for her superficial
seduction (pretends to be offended and feign indifference) 
like they're all a bunch of perverts and don't exist at all
 
(ultimately, what she has captured is "the illusion"
for adolescents and the young-to-middle-aged males, 
for the raw and primitive status-quo, becoming a slave 
to her fantasy world, of which she has become the ultimate
"consumer," and which the opposite gender desires to consume,
yet who's (de)formed superego knows there is a huge price 
in order to pay for this item, and thus heretofore 
becomes an out-of-reach idol for them to log 
in their frontal lobes for when 
they get desperate and down-in-the-dumps at home) 
 
then goes casually to her cell phone...
which has become a part of her absurd and 
acquired conscious-body-language-protocal
guys walk out with guns and fishing poles...
 
 
 
          *
  
Toy-Representative 
 
 
today i got transferred all over the place
when i simply wanted to ask a question
about a swing-set for our two year-old child 
then got put on hold for what seemed like hours
to the song--"these boots are made for walking" 
by the late-great psychedelic nancy sinatra 
and when he decided to make his return 
said something crazy in this mechanical 
man-made voice as these days they find 
it necessary to formally train them like 
automatons all for the sake of political-
correctness and for litigious reasons--
"is this the customer who had the question
about the dorado swing set?" as i instantly
got defensive and over the phone (in)visibly 
shaken and said something along the lines of--"huh? 
what the fuck, i have a question about a swing set?" 
(you know those husbands who just lose it all 
and decide to drop their pants and take a dump
right on the lawn or those college coaches you
hear about these days over the radio getting 
busted for driving intoxicated as well as naked?)
as these days they have these wonderful ways 
of formally sedating and placating and patronizing  
while this mechanical micro-manager during this period 
had turned me distant and indifferent you know the part 
about waiting all this time and being treated like some 
kind of statistic when i just had one simple question 
about a swing set me and my wife wanted to get 
for our rambunctious two year-old son as the song 
these boots are made for walking which i was really
starting to get into was constantly being interrupted 
by some man-made mechanical-moron--"thank you 
for your patience...the next toy-representative..."

 
 
          *
 
Chick Logic
 
 
my wife finally confesses to me
one of her secrets that one of her 
daily traditions is to go to super stop 
& shop with the baby and steal a cookie 
from the bakery section. i told her they most 
likely in the most wanted room have a mugshot 
of her with crumbs on her face. she simply shrugs
her shoulders and in a very casual way mentions "ok"
then picks up the conversation right where she left off
 


 
          *
 
What The Day Said
 
 
i love thunder
it's like moving
furniture on a mildewy day 
and knowing something
interesting's happening
 
my wife articulates--
"i won't be your
beckon call girl"
got to love her
 
 
 
          *
 
The Natural Ecosystem
 
 
our babysitter arrives in her old retro red volvo 
and plants it in the middle of our cleveland pear 
blossom with her windows rolled down and a purple blanket 
from the beach still strewn out and some sun-scorched starfish having 
baked in the back with great crooked diamond arms casually flung about 
 
the only substantial thing i learned in college was 
about the concept of regeneration and how for example 
the starfish can lose one of its appendages and how it will 
instantly grow back and remember how i got myself lost those days 
in all things that existed within the natural ecosystem of the ocean 
 
(i think i was more so deflecting, trying to subconsciously and even
consciously escape all those things i was tragically discovering about 
the terrible hypocrisies of human nature, and was almost in a state of 
shock about what a friend or even brother were capable of doing to one another, 
and literally, nihilistically went into a state of denial, 
unable to fathom, so dipped down to other levels, and 
similar to some abusive cycle, took it on myself like, "did i deserve?"
 
you know that old expression if a tree falls in the forest and 
no one is around to hear it? more precisely i think this applies 
to the human condition during periods and phases of 
depression feeling profound emotions of desertion and 
abandonment if you kind of get...
 
one wonders if when you die you take with you all your fantasies and fixations
or simply go back to that innocent moment right before they were created)
 
was also fond of how the beautiful babysitter probably was spending her days 
seducing helpless pathetic boys on the beach and how she simply parked 
her beautiful old retro red volvo in the middle of our pear blossom with 
her windows open and big crooked starfish and sandy purple blanket
 
 
 
          *
  
A Cultural And Didactic Study Of The Beach 
 
 
trancendently engaged in games of seducing
rearranging bikini strings, primping ponies,
pussies; laughing, levitating (the high school 
and college girls with their pearly-white skin, 
with olive complexions) ever since then i guess 
the name of the game has always been 
to get the ball in the hole; i suppose
the other option something like
complacency killed...absurdly still
staking their territory, diametrically
opposed to the rhythms & motions
of the ocean (is there jealousy &
envy beneath the sea?) wars still
being fought overseas, the school-
yard bully making the world safe for
democracy, blues from brooklyn, you 
settle instead for a piece of sun-scorched 
driftwood, for the starfish and seagulls, for the dunes,
for the boy and girl drifting to the restroom in the ruins
(the helicopters come like drunken spiders from the sun)

 
 
          *
 
Sundown
 
 
you look to the top 
of the lagoon 
for your soul.



  
Stanzas From The Road   
 
 
 
                                              1
 
state-cop chowing down t.v. dinner with his wife in the front seat of his squad-car 
 
 
 
                                              2
 
gigolos playing dominoes in the back of hearses
 
 
 
                                              3
 
batman & robin on suicide-watch barreling to horizon when lights go on at the stadium
 
 
 
                                              4
 
lucky buffalo-head nickel windows of cities glimmer in the distance
 
 
 
                                              5
 
alabaster angels escape brutal boyfriends in pick-ups from the mountains
 
 
 
                                              6
 
why is it people always mistake courage for a lack of compassion?
 
traditions established from pretty shallow superstitions
 
 
 
                                              7
 
boxcars rattle through farmhouses 
 
through beautiful broken birches
 
 
 
                                              8
 
motorcycles parked outside antique shop
 
within shattered heart
 
 
 
                                              9
 
(pet-names you have started calling loved-one
 
angel topping, angel bones, angel stock...
 
all discovered while she was in her dream-world
 
 
 
                                              10
 
why does fantasy-world 
 
seem to exponentially grow in marriage?
 
the things you can and "can not do..."
 
 
 
                                               11
 
white girls try out silly seductions when they got too much time on their hands
 
and will follow through if you're some kind of stud they always wanted to land 
 
and can satisfy their wish-list from their acquired, pre-planned "fantasy-world" 
 
 
 
                                               12
 
or even worse, know you got the ends to support them...
 
pretty gross, vulgar, transparent, and passive-aggressive
 
 
 
                                               13
 
their affectations are developed from articles they read in magazines
 
on "how to please men;" from the television, and the things they do are quite
 
horny, even hornier; things they have always dreamed and things you could never
 
dream of, as you become the "control" for their experimentation, 

their innocent-victim... their lust somewhere down the road 

strangely turns to love and more times than not ends in drama
 
 
 
                                               14
 
when your were single 
 
you were always able to escape
 
to places like spain & sicilia
 
escaping past girlfriends
 
literally running at dawn
 
for ferries that read
 
"sicilia," "e. africa"
 
 
 
                                               15
 
spying from tiny tiled rooms
 
within olive mountains
 
through weather-worn shutters
 
onto the great & grande mediterranean
 
and make sense of it all knowing there  
 
was really no sense to make at all)
 
 
 
                                               16
 
what men will talk about 
 
when they got nothing left to talk about                                            
 
weather...  and...  sports...  and...  women...   
 
 
 
                                               17
 
(ibid.)
 
cornfields...      &       graveyards
 
gravefields...     &       cornyards?
 
 
 
                                              18
 
they say you should put aside money for a rainy day 
 
for your offspring for their college fund 
 
 
 
                                             19
 
i wish i was rich enough 
 
to put aside a little for all those on the road 
 
who helped me when i was down & out & on-the-run)
 
 
 
                                              20
 
when is it that we may start to stroll like horses?
 
when candles go on in the widow-watches?
 
when silhouettes of wild waitresses go out 
 
in the hills & lakes & lagoons &  oasis'? 
 
 
 
                                              21
 
when freaks on the beach sneak a peak from carnival trailers 
 
onto the great red ball of fire going down dancing in the distance?
 
when great geometric shapes of the village go down on the horizon?
 
when weeping willows finally protect our eyes from the hypocrisies of existence?
 
 
 
                                              22
 
the next day you try to recover from the road
 
as you shut your eyes and take a deep sigh
 
in the wild winds of your backyard
 
 
 
                                             23
 
a tiny rabbit scampers
 
through a hole
 
in the stone wall
 
 
 
                                              24
 
the whispering whistle of birds reignite your soul
 
and dream of those days when you and your loved one
 
literally ate cream puffs & champagne for breakfast at buffets wandering 
 
through catacombs of ancient andulucia to the verdant vibrant courtyard
 
 
 
                                               25
 
in closing your eyes you can hear from so long ago
 
from the other side of the state in the berkshires
 
the rippling rocking buoys beneath the boathouse
 
 
 
                                               26
 
the butterflies & dragonflies 
 
resting on secret & mysterious 
 
weather-worn wood of rowboats
 
 
 
                                               27
 
this is the year the crabapples won't come out
 
replaced by luminous lacy snow-white blossom
 
 
 
                                               28
 
you wonder when the ice cream stands will open
 
and cute high school girls will smile from the shadows
 
 
 
                                               29
 
when the goats might return to the rock farm
 
and fishermen with their great big bushy beards  
 
and traps stacked up on the back of their flatbeds      
 
 
 
                                                30
 
you have finally shaken off the road

and take a deep breath... 


 
 
 
The Art Of Sublimation   ~In 15 Hard-To-Assemble Stages  
 
 
 
1. Manual For Mummification
 
 
 
               *
 
ladybug leftover from spring
on lace doily of dresser
in bleak light of winter
 
 
               *
 
i have never trusted pictures 
of families who appeared 
all ecstatic and elated
 
 
               *
 
to me they always seemed
so troubled and wanted
to punch their teeth in
 
 
               *
 
the fakes and phonies
who the only thing they 
do genuine is alienation
 
 
               *
 
that kid from high school
who you thought you had 
a really good relationship
 
 
               *
 
then whenever he got around peers 
would treat you like a stranger 
through tactics of humiliation
 
 
               *
 
(no wonder why 
you used to fall in love 
with proofs and logarithms)
 
 
               *
 
i want to be the 
mad embalmer
tickle monster
 
 
               *
 
and stick my finger right up 
the gut of empty orifices and leave 
a sign which simply reads "vacant"
 
 
               *
 
when you grow up
you find there are
so many like them
 
 
               *
 
long beautiful mists of seaside mornings
bring out the tulips quite early...
witch must have had a good night on broomstick
 
 
               *
 
where's the skyline?
trains rush by
in the distance
 
 
               *
 
as dusk turns to night 
to imagination 
to radiance
 
 
 
2. Visions
 
 
some secretly sewn path
which rambles through a patch
of pachysandra off the sideyard
right up to curtains of an old colonial
where your phantom holds a candle slurring 
languages hidden behind weather-worn shutters
 
one might call him a raconteur or provocateur
not really a storyteller yet more so a jokester
the overturned tractor-trailer jackknifed on the
george washington and when they stick their
heads in to poke and probe you have some know-it-all 
expression which tells all about the core of civilization
 
some spirit lurking from behind lattices 
which spots crows hanging from branches 
like the top hats of tricksters of drug addicts 
gods and devils rolling bones against tom
and huck factory fences where fate and
chance mingle as though everything
as though nothing ever existed 
 
you had always had visions in the ribbons
of sundown splashed out wrapped around
the sacred sides of mountains 
 
in the country towns 
full of factories and rivers and
old hotels and covered bridges
 
in the dusks and dawns
when all was silhouetted
and mystical and mysterious
 
in the ribbons of sweet chimney
smoke where it seemed like everything
was enveloped in an eternal plume of paraffin
 
you had always had visions 
which in childhood were kept hidden 
in suppression in subjugation translating 
into detentions and suspensions of running away 
as a delinquent cross-country writing poetry in the back of buses 
 
of which lovers later on said they got turned on 
and even asked me for their hands in marriage 
of which family and friends a bunch of doubters who felt threatened 
used to like to use words like "hypersensitive" or "your exaggerating" 
constantly changing their allegiances and points-of-view in a second
 
funny how you used to keep
all the convicts all the psychiatrists laughing 
as bosses used to say they used to like to simply 
hang around me 'cause they liked to just hear me talking
 
when they fired me and security escorted
me to my locker out would spill out novels by
jung and camus and ezra pound and dostoevsky
 
you could see their startled expressions
often of a self-effacing and sympathetic 
even a tongue-in-cheek modesty
 
the traveling carnival which budges
which buzzes over bridges
and decides not to stop 
in town all the giraffes 
and clowns 
 
sick of the vanity 
and contradictions
and hypocrisies 
 
of man and settle instead 
for signs which read-- 
karate, honeydew 
drive-thru, tap room 
 
chords of freshly-chopped
mettalic-gold wood rattling
past gingerbread cathedrals.
 
in bum-pa
da-bum-pa
you'll catch the
baseball scores
 
would you
believe me
if i told you...
 
 
 
3. The Stranger
 
  
all's you 
ever'd imagine
was visions
of travelin'
 
leavin'
every-
thing
tragic 
 
in the mist 
of magic
 
on the hudson
on the housatonic
 
all the trauma
and traintracks
 
diss-ass-sociated
diss-gruntled 
 
diss-family member
diss-membered
 
forgiven
and
forgotten
 
coming  
up simply
out of nowhere
 
to some silver
mailbox with
black letters
 
which simply
reads "west" 
 
the pumper-
nickel
express 
 
and seeing it 
all vanish over
your shoulder
 
all the promises
and betrayals
 
the red-roofed
snowy colonials
 
the snowy schoolyards
the snowy cathedrals
the snowy brooks
 
babbling through
snowy pachysandra
 
the smoking chimneys
coming up finally feeling
 
through snowy pines 
rising up to heaven
 
for good-
ness sake
 
what it really means 
to be a runaway... 
martyr sole-survivor
 
(not one of those
phony loud-talkers)
 
the last lover amongst
a pack of losers and liars
 
every breezy screen door
smacking on the horizon
every crow and seagull
windchime and attic 
 
the ex-addicts
both full moon 
and full sun
 
falling and rising 
at the exact
same time 
 
in your cigarette rearview
evaporating regenerating
 
against beautiful silhouetted
candle-lit mills and factories
 
banking hard-working miraculous 
new england rivers which simply read-- 
 
"don't do 
denver 
who-
satanic
 
paper 
i'll be
your
savior"
 
every
fare
girl
you
 
once
loved
 
you 
once
savored
 
who 
whispers
 
woon-
socket
 
paw-
tuck-
it
 
pat-
her-
son
 
montana
 
st louis
central-
lock up
san francisco
 
your demure 
angel partner 
patiently waiting
 
in shadows
sniffling at dawn
in your tippy-toe kitchen
 
the night
before
asking--
 
"baby, did you take something?"
"yeah, oranges...
sleepy, i'll speak with you tomorrow"
 
a strange security man
rattles his moped
through fog
 
they sweep up
the square dance floor 
with a view of the mountain
 
for cowboys & truckdrivers
lumberjacks & hustlers
biscuit & gravy
 
revelations
on-the-run in
portland, oregon
 
 
 
4. Thieving A Land Of Caucasia
 
 
after a life full of torment and torture
from a munchausen mother
and narcissistic father
 
from a life of survival
of supression
and denial
 
a hole life of feeling guilty
always explaining all
ways defending
 
he finally asks no more questions
taking to the art of conning
taking to the art of taking
 
the thieves who he met on the bus
escaping from back east looking down
from the tiki room with mai tais
 
after a long
hard day of hustling
watching the evening
 
settling reflectively
taking a sigh of relief
looking down on some
 
bleary-
eyed
city
 
(always feeling lost
always feeling lonely
always feeling nothing)
 
and knowing inherently
they'd never be given
the opportunity
 
nor of course
the proverbial key
so decide instead
 
to pick
the lock
to the city
 
to be
to see
the torsos
 
of trees
moving
serenely
 
downstream
and begin to
start breathing
 
 

5. Working Methadone 
 
 
both me and the good
ol' fishermen trying to get clean
mutally agreed while loosely laughing--
 
"who are our
super heroes?"
 
that seemed 
to sum up
everything
 
 
 
6. After The Party 
 
 
a purple fox sticks his
head out the wilderness
 
a blue slate path leads from 
the mysterious to indifference
 
while with confidence and conviction
without self-doubt or conflict you are
 
convinced people are so full of shit
this obnoxious step-mother who 
 
was the 4th in which he cheated with 
and deserted his angelic daughter 
 
and now has the nerve to pass judgment 
and to spread gossip and rumors
 
remember those cars you used to see 
stranded on the side of the road in the bronx 
 
when heading to manhattan and got stripped 
within a couple minutes and all that was left 
 
was an empty carcass
that's how you feel
 
after all the bullshit
what they do to your
 
heart & mind & soul
your gut & gizzard
 
to your
consciousness
 
(everyone wants something from you
as you conveniently become the culprit
 
while no proverb seems more apropro than--
"an opinion's like an asshole everyone's got one")
 
no wonder why sometimes you want 
to be an exhibitionist to fantasize  
 
about babysitters to be 
some kind of abolitionist
 
(you wish before one of these shin-digs 
they'd play the pledge of allegiance as 
 
you'd simply put your hand over your 
chest and mouth the mantras--
 
"can i get
a witness")
 
winter settles on the russet 
leaves of autumn
 
old-time knocker sounds
on the purple door
 
it's anne-marie and the 3 kearney
boys--"sorry we couldn't make it
 
john's 
in japan"
 
the piano-tuner and animal control
make their way down the road...
 
 
 
7. Redemption
 
  
i take great pride
in planting myself 
inside my garage 
seeing trees i planted
growing up and down
the drive with proud
torsos stuck out
bulging beneath
autumnal sunshine
awakening nourishing
my withered soul which
may once more turn ripe 
as i head inside after all the battles
and fights and alas by no flip of coin-
cidence or chance finally feel alive
 
 
 
8. The Sexes 
 
 
tonight i asked our babysitter
while taking her aside as she
instantly turned paranoid thinking
i was going to fire her for constantly 
being late all the time but rather
inquired if she knew any clowns 
or if she had any connections
to clowns or happened to 
hang around any clowns 
for our kid's second birthday 
party as she was one 
of these real avant-
garde artsy-fartsy
types and for some 
strange reason almost 
seemed to get a bit defensive 
maybe even a little insulted 
or offended and even articulated 
how she thought her old boyfriend 
might juggle and there was a chance 
she knew someone who possibly swallowed 
fire but definitely unequivocally did not know 
any clowns as though this had touched on 
some sore spot or hit a raw nerve or this is 
what i thought of her and the people of with 
whom she hung out with and thought even 
a little further that if some male or female had asked 
if i knew any clowns i would feel flattered and honored 
as this for me would not be too much of a stretch of the imagination 
and might even if the price was right throw my hat and suspenders 
and exploding shoes and squirting flower right into the ring 
and don the role of king's...yet i don't know that is just me
 
 
 
9. The Functioning Of The Male Species
 
 
there is a reason why we all need
to escape the dysfunctional existential
routines of everyday living to either become
the "fiddler on the roof" or the other alternative
for the male species which always seems to be 
 
to become something of a thief and slip 
on a sky-blue suit with powder-pink rose 
traipsing up and down delancey to secretly 
meet your doe-eyed darling. any which way 
this appears to be some sort of existential 
escape or what freud's daughter might deem 
to be how the male species chooses to acclimate 
or extricate with maladaptive techniques and traits 
or even better yet the defense-mechanism of sublimation
 
we always talk about these martyrs
on a historical and spiritual level 
but how about the women
who had to live with them
 
"your mountain view 
motel representative 
will be right with you"
 
 
 
10. Frigidaire Is Passive-Aggresive
 
 
tonight my wife came in our bedroom
and i hollered--"get the hell out of here!"
i was doing something stupid in the mirror
and she proceeded to pull down her pants
and give me the ol' stink hole then i heard
her little girl giggle in the hall as these are
the little perks of marriage then her echo 
in the bathroom--"elmo's using the potty! 
hooray!" a tea-light the smell of seashore 
sputters on our dresser and you wonder-- 
 
where's paul revere? 
frigidaire's passive-aggressive
 
 
  
11. Contrition
 
 
always seem to just miss 
the sprigs of daylight
sprigs of moonlight
and can't help but 
to feel a slight bit contrite
in this cruel and absurd life 
somewhere around midnight
of how much i truly love my wife
 
 
 
12. Mid-Life
 
 
you find yourself falling in love so quickly
with some young charming portuguese girl 
who's a secretary with a great bubbly personality
so nice and kind and holy ironically in the lobby 
of the "briarcliff nursing home" where you flirt 
in your old wool coat waiting to be interviewed 
by the heinous head of nursing for a social work 
position that will offer you the world right below 
the poverty level while all you really care to recall 
is this beautiful young portuguese girl who you 
are convinced can really offer you the world 
where one of those mechanical pianos plays 
by itself all alone all the way into the netherworld
 
 
 
13. Been Driving Home These Days
 
 
down the highway like some mad 
crazed doctor making house-calls 
some solemn and solitary stranger 
as all you hear over the radio is 
some spiel about "irregular dandruff" 
wondering what's the hell's the difference 
between 'regular' and 'irregular' dandruff? 
 
these days you're hearing alot
about college coaches getting
arrested being picked up for driving 
intoxicated while at the same time naked
 
there is a knock at the door
of the moby dick motel...
 
(your mind wanders
to girl scouts
and the law)
 
 
 
14. Case Study
 
 
if the scapegoat
the pawn
can possibly
stick to his guns
if he can
simply hold on
he'll shed
the skin of
rat-bastard
to become
something
of a good 
son if you
kind of get 
where i'm 
coming
from
 
 
 
15. The Transcendent Soul
 
 
you stand on the corner
in the hot sun of 7-11
with nothing to do
and nowhere to go
just your pocket
full of pop rocks
assorted bubble
gum-smelling
baseball cards
and slurpie in hand
where like some dream
like some brilliant nightmare
you hear the rattle of trains
and miraculous brook mur-
muring beneath the land
(right there and then
you felt something
of a cross between 
hamlet holding the 
skull of the king's 
fool in the air and
an incandesent 
jack-o-lantern...
in blowing-off 
homework a certain amount
of guilt and hope and fear)
could anything from
a buddist point-of-view
be more brilliant and sad?
nothing has really changed 
much for me and you 
feel grateful and glad.
 



 
Quartet/All Things Whispered Between The King And Queen 
 
 
  
Auto-biography  
 
 
spying through a deep keyhole
you spot your shallow soul
 
which is still a scared little boy
trying desperately to cope
 
everything learned, all that's been stolen
stuffed in your back pocket with a simple note
 
brought up on the old
big boys don't cry
 
and am now a big boy
and don't know where to go
 
running from the law
running to the lord
 
punchlines in a puddle
in a radioflyer at dawn
 
wake up call--
we have be need

always loved the smell of... 
pussy, the beach, burning leaves
 
looking out to the high seas lost & empty 
content & solitary with sea-spray wings 
 
sunups & sundowns surviving off pigeon crumbs 
of fake aristocratic families who no longer speak
 
who no 
longer wink
 
lost my 
skate key
 
through the mist
you spy sicily...
 
 
 
  
Of Marriage   ~the abbreviated version
 
 
you go down the highway
and spot this beautiful blonde
with hair blowing from the window
of her mg convertible and follow her
into the parking lot with your station
wagon like some low grade james bond  
and strip her down to her bad girl panties
and when you bend her over the bed whisper 
such strange taboo requests like do you mind 
if we nap a little and we nap for hours and you tell her
thanks that's the best deep sleep i've gotten in i don't 
know how long leaving the motel with a big wide grin 
and head back down the highway to your marriage
 
 
 
America 
 
 
people just want to get home for supper
watching their backs for state troopers
 
escaping from the ocean
from the sideshows
 
from the flesh & bones
from human nature 
 
past miniature golf & cathedrals
& exotic dancing & ice cream
 
past the mulch
& dairy queens
 
gymnastics
& karate
 
past the big billboards 
of corny phony news-
 
teams smiling insincerely 
before they reach the big city 
 
clowns & vampires delivered to tragedies 
way down deep in the lagoon of the farm
 
o-psued-o
-call valley
 
port-o-sans rushing
down the highway
 
horses in the back of trailers holy 
well-behaved and breathing deeply
 
through the peep-
holes of reality
 
the chimney sweeps are out on blind-dates and 
reunions are in full swing at hospitals & factories
 
when they reach the traffic jam white boys 
from the suburbs stick in rap from the ghetto
 
they glamourize this and have no concept
of what it's like for survival on a daily level
 
they head 
for the stripmall
 
(yet with all this bumpa-da-bumpa it's finally discovered
much to the chagrin of the inquisitive rubberneckers
 
that in fact there is no accident at all yet rather 
a blonde muscle-bound stud in his ten-gallon
 
standing guard over a stranded swan
who has strayed and has carefully
 
placed orange cones around his poor pecking body
while disappointed blood-thirsty commuters 
 
race off 
indifferently
 
and go back to tailing
in the rat-race of rush-
 
hour in the holy land
of providence 
 
rhode 
island)
 
sun finally falls
& lights go on
 
on the ballfield
as all is well
 
in the weird 
& wild land
 
of the ker-o-
sell of america 
 

  
Where Columbus Got His Start 
 
 
leather-clad killers & lovers of the dunes
 
convicts escaping in hot-air balloons
 
a ruined boy & girl giving each other shots 
 
exchanging nightmares & neglect
 
& the rest of what they got
 
objects of temptation
 
christ & used-car lots
 
scholars reading dime-store novels
 
wild holy girls somersaulting, seducing 
 
doing handstands & cartwheels 
 
exposing it all with sex-appeal along shore
 
this scene the only thing worth fighting for
 
on the horizon, long bridges, clouds & islands
 
chaplin shuffles like seraphim
 
all seraphim like chaplin
 
god bless chaplin
 
god bless the children
 
the stooges making a nuisance  
 
exposing masks of civilization
 
at the wind-swept, drunken 
 
hamburger stand of creation
 
god bless the stooges 
 
god bless their victims
 
the old rickety whale bones of w.c. fields holding up the boardwalk
 
bonnie & clyde in origami rowboats
 
here comes the bread & butter
 
the butterfly nets
 
the burlesque to the fellini buffoon set
 
cigar-smoking lawyers & red-neck witnesses
 
sailors taking cat-naps in the parking lot of desolation
 
you wonder what they dream of
 
you dream of what they dream of
 
slaves who work for the state driving in big pick-ups
 
thinking closing off souls is what makes them studs
 
you have so much more to live for
 
the nurses & winos
 
conch & seashells
 
watching your child shuffle along shore
 
you hope your wife will follow you to all ends of the world
 
the church bells & foghorns
 
where columbus got his start and then fall...







Of Marriage 
 
 
                         I.
 
for ernest hemingway or any other man 
who suffers from a beautiful woman...
 
 
my baby won't let me lie next to her
when she takes a nap or goes to sleep
at night (for one reason or another; don't
know? wasn't this the best part with  
other past lovers? well i really do know, 
she's a bit of a princess, of which i had 
been warned several times by her mother; 
maybe i should have thought twice 
before i tried to get back at that bitch 
from yeshiva) well, i don't really care, 
i'm much older and will die much earlier, 
and one day, she'll learn her lesson, o no...
hey, wait a second, do i have that backwards?
 
 
 
                        II.
 
learning colors
 
 
you look out your window
to the tops of tall windy
pines and dream 
of treehouses
 
of the pine cones 
which have fallen
 
soon the leaves 
will come 
in from 
 
great weep-
ing willows
 
 
 
                        III.
 
fantasies
 
 
(you dream of being one of those
rich eccentric englishmen escaping
to the south of france during winter for 
fresh mozzarella for naked french women)
 
 
 
 
                        IV.
 
aside
 
 
sometimes when i act up
she threatens to give me
the zu-zus which is some
old yiddish wive's-tail which
she told me she once gave
an old boyfriend for breaking
up with her and when she saw
him a couple years later he was
working at burger king and had 
broken out and wanted to get 
back together and simply dropped 
the burger right in front of him on 
the floor and danced out the door
 
yet suppose i really do love her because 
when retrieving pine cones and lichen
from the lawn smelled the sweet scent
of me and my son's clothes streaming 
from the laundry room to the sideyard
 
the delightful sound of tree frogs
through screen window of bathtime
 
to avoid nightmares at midnight 
you eat bagels & peanut butter 
downed with tall glasses of milk
 
on the refrigerator reads 
"toe jam puppet band"
 
 
 
                         V.
  
words that came out of my wife's mouth 
i can't make sense of: finding a babysitter
 
 
"i had a cow paper
and i gave her the utter part
and she was like you gave
me the utter part... 
 
that's funny!
 
i literally gave her
the number on
the cow's penis"
 
 
 
                         VI.
 
the shape of wind
 
 
what the poets & philosophers have still not been able 
to explain are those days when you're simply hanging... 
(maybe in a field or near a body of water or even the city) 
 
& some great mythological shadow 
suddenly creeps & greets you out of 
nowhere & before you know it disappears 
 
out of the clear-blue & then 
having nothing to do with language 
or folklore, you feel saved, absolved
 
 
 
                        VII.
 
love her like creaking floorboards
 
you creep through the house
and she calls out--"joe, joe?"



(2007)





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