A Contemporary Hx Of Ancient Culture In America

Joseph Reich

in getting stuck at the drive-thru 
of dunkin donuts i imagine myself 
in one of those old staticy sci-fi silvery shiny 
secret spaceship crash helmets blasting off

(there's a part 
of me a lot of me 
almost all of me

that wants to just be 
left alone, like orville 
& wilbur getting away

flying away from it all 
way up above to the sun 
the woods of connecticut

the first words 
of the pilgrim 
immigrants

the saintly kids 
from the end 
of the dead

end collecting 
stones to hurl
at the shut in)

upon taking off driving home 
with my cup of joe i close my 
eyes while cruising, humming-- 
"i met my old lover on the street..."

while deep in 
the holy streets 
in the hole of the city

lost souls 
long gone 
in publishing 
& advertising

on their lunch- 
break sneak 
to peep- 
holes

to try and un- 
cover and ex- 
cavate ancient 
souls and bones

(the signs read 
such things-- 
"real butter 
live women"

middle-aged men 
hiding behind sports columns 
getting their thinning hair trimmed 
at the barber shop at the train station

eating cheeseburgers and raw onions 
anonymous, alone, left alone, contented 
on top stools in the magazine stand of the subway 
as you always felt most comfortable at the magazine

stand of the subway amongst black men and the arabs 
behind the counter, eating grilled cheese & bacon, minding 
your own business, head pleasantly buried in statistics, trying 
to figure out your present and dreaming of the future, or, vice versa)

you think out loud if back in the day 
of great mythological heroes they 
used to say--"you can't teach 
an old dog new tricks"

bullshit like-- 
"patience is a virtue" 
bird baths frozen over 
and mothers all fed up

kids coming in 
in the dirty buses 
after a day for some 
godforsaken reason

dissecting frogs 
studying algebra 
photosynthesis 
and osmosis

time on 
coffeemaker flashes. 
chinese & capers left 
over in the refrigerator

static on sports radio 
and a back-up and 
bump'da'bumpa on 
the g.w. & gowanus

"skating out of 
the blue zone 
with 3:08 left 
in the period"

hearing yourself finishing 
up the song--"still crazy after 
all these years" in blue steel 
wool sky-blue timex radio

slicing hotel bar butter 
into the boiling water 
for the yellow saffron 
rice from the carolinas

(almost every evening 
you imagine yourself 
picking up and moving 
out to the carolinas)

streaming out those 
nice slim packages 
and will add a clove of 
garlic and golden raisins

pouring gold's foy sun
jung cantonese-style 
duck sauce 
into the pot

of chicken wings 
along with mustard 
seed, fennel, sea salt, 
black pepper & paprika

later on you'll add 
dark jamaican rum 
to generic cola and sink back solo into 
your easy chair for ohio state vs michigan

notes on the island 
read--"water st. location 
all the way to bishop stang 
take second set of lights to union"

your beautiful and cute wife 
with her list for your kid's birthday-- 
"spinning contest, special prize, simon sayz, if 
you're happy and you know it, beading, freeze tag."

with fresh warm clean steam 
streaming from dishwasher 
filling up the kitchen 
you reminisce

that beautiful red head 
you had sex with and made love
to with the mosquito breasts self- 
conscious who got taken advantage

of by some spoiled college kid 
and when you saw her next 
a ghost of her former self 
taking off with her in your

midnight summer car 
from connecticut 
all the way 
through

the babbling brooks 
of the berkshires up over 
bleak bridges to the state 
of maine to hideaway motels

sanctuaries where damaged 
insane naked frames framed 
in muted technicolor 
westerns

on the silhouetted staticy 
ocean made love then breathed 
real sighs of relief and collapsed 
made promises and invited her

to stay with you 
as long as she 
wanted forever 
in your beat-

down beautiful 
brownstone in brooklyn 
on your dirty futon on the floor so we 
could both try to make sense of it all

tuft of snow
on top the 
blue bird box 
in the swamp

and stray band 
of bright sunlight 
sliding down banister 
of twilight backyard porch

last stand 
for ladybugs 
and dreams & nightmares 
kitchen candles & old girlfriends

and for all those old phony 
baloney friends you could 
have even killed yourself 
had some sort of rebirth

and none of 
any of this 
would have 
mattered

like a tree 
falling in 
the forest

(think i want to die
and be discovered 
with head rested

on one of 
those long honey 
mahogany tables

at the n.y. public library 
during the mercurial season 
of autumn best time for anonymity

hiding away & escaping 
in the damp cool brisk streets with 
crimson & scarlet leaves encompassing 
engulfing all the bleak brilliant city draping

its anatomy over secret paths & 
parks & palpitating buildings 
dust-filled sunlight 
streaming

peeking through the great 
big cathedral windows 
dusty bindings 
dusty bifocals

and after a couple 
hours passed out 
with my skull 
balanced

on a wholesome stack of scholarly books 
having already entered the netherworld 
that mystical resting place somewhere 
between the mortal and immortal world

instinctively having discovered all those 
absurd forms & images of culture 
& civilization is simply one great 
disconnect to the human soul

which magically & transcendentally 
stirs in early childhood and rises above it all 
then when they pick me up with no observable 
pulse simply remark--"he didn't seem to make it")

the beatific men with 
the great big gray 
beards show up 
in oil trucks

and you wish them 
wish yourself 
all the best
of luck


About the Author

Joseph Reich is a social worker who works out in the state of Massachusetts: A displaced New Yorker who sincerely does miss diss-place, most of all the Thai food, Shanghai Joe's in Chinatown, the fresh smoothies on Houston Street, and bagels and bialy's of The Lower East Side. He has a wife and handsome little son with a nice mop of dirty-blonde hair, and when they all get a bit older, hopes to take them back to play, to pray, to contemplate in the parks and playgrounds of New York City.