Joseph Reich

A Manifesto (full of gusto) For The Forgotten

1.   my histrionic plumber weeps hysterically
on hands and knees and leaves a trail of tears
2.   my puerto rican barber to die for with
mad heart and soul won’t stop stalking me
3.   divulging all my secrets and dreams to the boy
in the lumber truck who delivers me to my destiny
4.   while turns out they’re exactly the same as his
5.   too many kids these days busy at self-advocacy
and self-promotion turning themselves into very
measured pathetic politically-correct products
6.  attention-seeking non-prophets with tote bags
and a percaset and painkiller habit and don’t get back
7.  looking back girls i really liked and was passionate
about and didn’t like me back were like nun-nazis
8.  and would have thrown it all away for or courted
or gotten married or put food on the table or robbed for
flown kites and serenaded them to the mamas & papas
9. all these church goers like exclusive country clubs
or coop boards i trust about as much as all those goody
goody kiss asses back in school who were always so
see-through and driven with an ulterior motive and agenda
yet that kid who just couldn’t keep himself out of trouble
and was in detention on a daily basis with a clever
smirk and wise expression i always found ironically
to be so much more consistent (a little misguided)
far more of an independent thinker, holy and honest
10. these days they no longer burn tiki torches but flaming
effigies of the opposing candidate while the backers with
backs from the camera and fragmented phony personalities
and dentyne grins and polident smiles gather around the
barbecue which has become something of a sacrifice
and slaughter and custom and tradition in these parts
11. like an all-you-can-eat buffet at the crucifixion
12. ibid. they say the best way to take off weight is just feast
on things you really like like used to know this girl from fall river
who just ate lobster and think am gonna do the tuna fish and matzoh
13. i think (i can’t) i think (i can’t) i think (i can’t) therefore (i am) not
14. i’d like to do a multi-screen of those early technicolor movies
but this time not through rose-colored glasses yet of landlords
& lawyers & liars & presidents & dummies & ventriloquists
15. of dillinger & kissinger & some swindler on a box of wheaties
16. these days america puts-out/pumps-out too many fake blondes
and assembly lines of perfectly round faux wonder woman bosoms
that regurgitated manipulative expression–‘there are children starving
in africa’ and compare that to the present day baseline of all these
cartoon reality show stars with their downtime who can’t think
of anything better to do but take erotic selfies of themselves
and sending it out to their adoring public on facebook
17. all this imitative shit! all this pasteurized shit!
there are 6 different cookie-cutter ways to meltdown
and cry and artificially manipulate your audience to make
them sympathetic and pretend like you’ve really been through it
18. these days it’s a prerequisite to be a certain race or color
or gender identity disorder (but have no idea how much
you’ve had to suffer all by your lonesome and had to go
it alone with absolutely no support system at all) and if
not, by law of opposites, assume you are not “sensitive”
instantly alienated and develop the standing of a tourist
19. kind of funny and ironic as always hated fucken tourists
and used to try and invent secret sadistic ways to torture them
like raskolnikov going off on those old hags at the beginning
of that psychological crime-thriller–“crime and punishment”
20. civilization 101 is ain’t misbehavin’ and moon indigo
is groucho sneaking a peek at norma jean monroe is really
“the man in the gray flannel suit” getting busted during lunch
in the peephole in hell’s kitchen all cracking-up at the punch
line but how about all the suffering that went into the riddle?
21. people don’t ever want to know about that and why’d
they want to? yiddish was created as a secret clandestine
language to protect themselves from the czar (from the
horrors of the pogroms) when he and his henchmen
went too far and to save and maintain the heart & soul
22. used to go on vacation to the south of france when
ever i got the chance and got cheap plane fare and drunk
on cheap wine hanging out at one of those cheap bars
with all the bums and really bad hustlers (who used to
pretend they were tough and were gonna start up and
would turn the tables on them and fuck them up) after
a day in the sun being engulfed and swallowed by flesh
and bosoms of all different shapes and sizes decided
just to get up and get a better feel of culture almost like
23. a dostoevskian psychological study ‘in the here and
now’ see what would happen if i just happened to have
my aroused id follow all the pretty young parisien ladies
down the cobblestone appearing to know exactly what
was happening even into the beauty salons where they
would pick up their pills and put perfume on and then
24. suddenly realized i could barely speak the language
which didn’t really matter as they felt flattered and
snuck out and staggered back to my motel right off
promenade des anglais like a real-life cluseau without
his idiot kato! filthy swine! ain’t misbehavin’ when
the indigo moon started to rise and shipwrecked sun
sunk over the mediterannean with my broken television
25. and fell fast asleep in the early evening knowing
that was about as content as i would ever be feeling
safe and secure in my supportive role as ‘the stranger’
26. knowing that existence is simply ‘made up’
of fleeting illusions and the soul is a wanderer
27. you wonder what really is the fucken point of postcards?
28. you think they’d be perfect ticklers (social work jargon)
to remind them you are dead and how many heads will
show up for the affair at the buffet at the house of tang
29. you hope all those girlfriends where the relationships
ended bad pay their respects (and disrespect) and that
they somehow made it (whatever the hell that means)
30. you hope your wife and kid once a year leave a dozen
salt bagels for the phantoms and ghosts and petty thieves
31. what are you saying? they’re all petty (thieves…)
32. shangrila (is pure escapism) and the opposite of film-noire
that scene from “the graduate” where dustin hoffman trying
to get away from overbearing parents just holes-up at
the bottom of the pool in his scuba outfit with a mask
and tank and harpoon and blowing muted bubbles
33. just a little later on during the divorce error
when we didn’t know if we were coming or going
would camp-out all day in movie theaters during
double-features called shake & bake “earthquake”
and “the towering inferno” and would just sit back
and make the whole theater tremble and seats shake
34. cruise ships should have cannons to shoot down other cruise ships
35. or at least one of those human catapults when they get sick of it all
of all those romantic couples trying to save their marriage and pretend
it’s not all one big fucken illusion and miserable and petty and trivial
36. there used to be days you could runaway to the circus
and merchant-marine; now gotta be union or know somebody
37. submit resume and 3 letters of reference to human resources
who leave you more deserted and abandoned than the original
reasons and need for such escaping/action-adventure
38. hobbies: hunting & fishing…
39. light reading: spinoza, wittgenstein
40. excessive masturbation
41. getting involved in self-destructive
relationships with borderline women
42. a rapport with the seasons
43. especially self-soothing chimney smoke
44. rising frothing rivers along the side of the road
45. cute girls to die for in their daddy’s pickups
46. lumbermills & hospitals & victorians
huddled way up on top of the hill
47. chinese in the middle of nowhere
48. still having olfactory hallucinations of my aunt’s closet
and that secret space on top where she’d always surprise
us with gifts pristine and precious in her green velvet split
level house of mirror castle in the suburbs and believe
this phenomenon happens when feeling turned-out with
no one to turn to down-in-the-dumps and poverty-stricken
49. my wife’s showers smell like bubblegum
50. that bubblegum you got from baseball cards
51. from the schoolyard of youth & childhood
52. which truly is a breath of fresh air that only
goes to show & prove memories contain all
53. how to teach my freudian a lesson
he’s never gonna forget thinking he knows it all
54. like some schmuck reading your obituaries
with a trained smile feeling comfortable in
the silence and you wanting to go bananas
55. like my supervisor at the mental health clinic
who takes me into his confidence and asks me
which girls on the treatment team i think swallow
56. some times you wonder on the most primitive
(even sociopathic) of levels if you were to murder
all those devils all those backstabbers & betrayers
57. from your past if you’d sleep any better
like a negative & negative equaling a positive
like some real-life electric shock therapy
of the soul absolving yourself of all absurd
& unnecessary guilt & conflict & erratic
behavior (stuff nightmares are made of)
58. like during one of those life-transitions
with one of those divorcees experimenting
and trying all those kama-sutra do not disturb
positions under the stars till your hearts desire
59. the state bird shows up to the wire outside
your window while the lost pharmacist tracks
back & forth with opiates and psychotropics
60. want to do an empirical sociological study
on starlings or are they sparrows which seem to
go flitting by the thousands on those overcast sepia
days of sorrow to those beatdown industrial bridges
and forming massive sheltering shadows in such
towns like portland, oregon, new orleans and all
those slow sweltering cities in the deep down
south which line those muddy rivers and channels
61. what a strange expression getting ‘bailed out of jail’
sounds like that game we used to play barrel of monkeys
where we desperately tried to latch outstretched hand to tail
62. and don’t know why always have been able to sympathize
so much more with road kill on the side of the road as can tell
by their expressions and body language don’t know what hit them
and tried so hard and can see straight through to their heart & soul
63. like the good ole slapstick comedians d.w. griffith & w.c. fields
charlie chaplin & buster keaton salt-of-the-earth sympathetic misfits
who were far more reflective and representative of this nation mood
and environment than any recent president just cannot connect with
64. likewise is there not just just cause for concern
that rap & rock & roll & grunge no longer exist?
65. “i think i’m alone now…” (tiffany)
66. the life & times of lou rawls
67. like if a tree falls in the forest
or in this case forest falls in the woods
68. the bangles or was it bananarama
pretty much the same claimed they were
gonna’ be the girl’s version of the beatles
gotta be kidding! how did that pan out for them?
69. like that madman slim whitman who just came
on over afterschool television claiming he sold
more records than those lads from liverpool and
never had heard of him only over these commercials
and when he started yodeling instantly got rid of him
70. people just drain the fuck out of you…
71. as the organ-grinder whispers sweet-nothings
in the monkey’s ear who swings in and steals
the loose change from the old lady’s beret
72. and returns back to the welfare hotel
with her accordion exactly as she came
73. graffiti that eternally stays with me
“coney island frankie smooth, shorty
& psycho, eyes of a blue dog…”
74. dreams are like living in some railroad yard
suddenly come to life folding your filthy clothes
in the motel at dawn in the sunup of sundown
the original ‘way we were’ by gladys knight
trying to find a way of getting by; the remake
by barbra streisand hearing the constant rhythmic
melodious roar of the ocean through the burntout
rollercoaster of coney island; tell you is there
anything really more absurd than reality?
75. if it’s all about timing how overrated is humanity
76. while just as contented by the splendid ice cream
stand looking out to the stray rolling fields of corn
somewhere between the railroad & mountains
77. how we used to measure the seasons
by fleeting shadows vanishing under the bridge
78. how the porch lights and leaves flicker
silhouetted against the chilly stoops of brilliant
tenements in the desolate skeleton evening
79. how the hester st. hoods passionately
and playfully slap handball in chinatown
hanging out with their girlfriends at dusk
80. how the sun goes down in the hush
of bleary-eyed blazing brooklyn subway car
81. how the same drag queen and same gigolo
remain eternally stranded in the same park on
the river searching for that one strand that one
moment and remnant leftover from childhood
82. wife’s pocketbook stuffed with wild strawberries & painkiller
83. we no longer look forward to the weather but wildfires
84. for a feast of appetizers chicken wings & tater skins
while shooting hoops with our aerobically-fit girlfriends
85. to be part of the family or team in the workplace environment
and if not, looked at with great suspicion & grave disappointment
86. will even give you an exact script & dialogue & language
87. in order to ‘go in for the kill or make a killing’ (during dinner)
88. when they’re at their most vulnerable or fragile & distractible
89. and if veer off at all with any sort of intimate or personal expression
can write you up and enough write-ups may be grounds for termination
90. stripping of badges & identity & physically escorted off the property
91. as if never existed at all and definitely now not part of the family
92. open to societal & cultural humiliation & stigmatization
93. as if getting the great metaphorical hook without warning
being 86th instantly off the symbolic “ladder of success”
94. not knowing what you did to fall out of their favor
and become ‘the stranger’ as they all suddenly
look at you like a choir of freaks & haters
95. yet paradoxically become sympathetic
to these non-fiction fictional characters
96. as your senses become that much
more sharp & keen & enter the surreal
97. while ironically in the moment
experience the psychological phenomenon
of feeling that feeling you haven’t felt in so long
of freedom & liberation & pang of imagination
and can perversely somehow dream again
98. dreaming with one eye open dead to the world
99. returning to the metropolis with your fishing pole
100. reflective and introspective, soulful and hollow,
blissful, burnt-out, baffled, aimless and anonymous
101. epiphanies: all these images without the verbiage


For People Like C. Bukowski

The ones who always make promises they are going
to call you back and never even asked them to promise
(because know in fact they’re not gonna call you back)
and honestly couldn’t care less if they called you back
or not as the types who always give themselves too much
significance and credit while honestly couldn’t give a shit
(as know in fact they’re just trying to fulfill like some sort
of obligation or moral contract like some final step from
alcoholic’s anonymous or some church or institution after
they have a history of keeping on letting down their wife
and children, and neglecting and cheating on them over
and over and over again) and then exactly of course when
you’re spending some really good and fun time with yours
and feeling good in don’t know how long that’s of course
when these assholes always at their own convenience with
their own convenient disconnects decide to give you a call
and leave nonstop messages on your answering machine
and know not even a primal scream could penetrate the
phoniness of reality and just want to put a bullet in their
fucken brains while those times claim lucky I don’t own
a gun and know it’s not really so much about if God exists
or if you exist or even for that matter if any of this exists
because you know in the long-run and the here and now
it’s all bullshit as no one ever keeps their promise and
wouldn’t even know what a promise was if they came
across one and keep on making promises over and
over and over again like some honor to be in their
presence and hear their fucked-up well-mannered
patronizing unconvincing proclaiming broken record
when you weren’t even asking for that in the first place

Those times when you get motivated to escape
over the border with your family for the weekend.


The Convenient Store

dear, did you remember to pack my suntan lotion with the paba?

hey, what the hell’s paba anyway?

i think to stop the alpha-rays…

hey, what the heck’s alpha-rays?

i think what turned dr. banner into the hulk

and may have just turned her off to me

and like the rest of them all ended up going for the wrong schmucks

causing me to turn to the talmud, dostoevsky, jean-paul sartre, and freud

hey think what i heard paba is supposed to protect us from the madness of living

who’d want to stop the madness of living, the pills, the pillow talk, the insanity?

i’m so much more frightened and fear the constant sanity!

the shit that’ll kill any mere mortal and menial madman in his kingdom

so the paba, o yeah the paba, i got pabst-blue ribbon on my mind…

what the hell?

where we wrecked that motel on central avenue

and unearthed and exposed every issue and crime

hey baby, did you remember to pack the suntan lotion with the paba?

yeah, to bring back all those memories of first love and past romances

yeah, i guess something like that…


Greatest Hits

there should be a disorder in the dsm
for younger brothers falling in love
with their older sister’s best friends


1. intellect
2. intelligence
3. opposition-defiance
(defiantly opposed
to opposition defiance
and asking them to
explain their diagnosis)
4, prodromal to possible
tourette’s disorder
5. self-destructive
acting-out behavior
constantly finding
self in detention
and the principle
schmoozing and
with charm some
how getting to know
them and their whole
family keeping them
in stitches and hysterics
6, the phlebotomist inviting
you over for christmas
and taking several
cross town buses
in portland oregon
and arriving with
a thank you gift
of all of rossetti’s
love sonnets
7. winning awards and
not being able to
afford to get to
the border of
alabama and
georgia over
to chicago or
eastern iowa
8. feeling ignored
after they tell
you they love
your work and
after getting
back to them
falling off the
face of the earth
9. like sister’s best
friend from barnard
who falls for the
wrong guy and
becomes a dope
addict herself…

rule out: feeling redeemed
and reborn in the arms
of one-night stands

clinical conclusions: nun


The Daughter Of A Diplomat

1, in your midlife you decide to track down
and get in touch with the girl you had
your first crush and wet dream to

2, you will supply motel room no charge included

3, all scenes from the dreams will be included

4, of course a number of rendezvous

5, you will not feel guilty and rationalize to wife
if finds out had nothing to do with me as originally
came directly from the recesses of my subconscious

6, will also justify she ironically came onto me the last months
of high school in a.p. history, knowing exactly what she was
doing deliberately rubbing her erogenous zones up against
me while studying and taking notes about the cold war

7, how it was all strategic and planned
and pleasantly taken advantage of

8, pillow talk ironically will pretty much cover
civ. 101 and the social/cultural hx of the world

9, will get full closure with full life cycle and die a happy man…




Joseph Reich is a social worker who lives with his wife and twelve year old son in the high-up mountains of Vermont. He has been published in a wide variety of eclectic literary journals both here and abroad, been nominated six times for The Pushcart Prize, and his books in poetry and cultural studies include, If I Told You To Jump Off The Brooklyn Bridge (Flutter Press), Pain Diary: Working Methadone & The Life & Times Of The Man Sawed In Half (Brick Road Poetry Press), Drugstore Sushi (Thunderclap Press), The Derivation Of Cowboys & Indians (Fomite Press), The Housing Market: a comfortable place to jump off the end of the world (Fomite Press), The Hole That Runs Through Utopia (Fomite Press), Connecting The Dots To Shangrila: A Postmodern Cultural Hx Of America (Fomite Press), Taking The Fifth And Running With It: a psychological guide for the hard of hearing and blind (Broadstone Books), Scenes From The Dynamite Stand (Bedlam Press), The Hospitality Business (Valeveil Press), The Rituals Of Mummification (Sagging Meniscus Press), Magritte’s Missing Murals: Insomniac Episodes (Sagging Meniscus Press), and How To Order Chinese During A Hostage Crisis: Dialects, Existential Essays, A Play, And Other Poems (Hog Press).