Joseph Reich
Friends Never Friends

hey, let's make a day of it...
to visit newly buried spirits
beautiful blood-sucking teens
the hasidim and drag queens
the bums of the bowery
the deserted dolls of alleys
the zucchini bread lady
the home-bound doctor
who once made
now bound up
suddenly coming down
with a case of the social phobia
the catatonic child on his rocking
horse rocking in winter window
the husband trying to get rid of
wife and daughters puttting them
out on the lawn with fellow tchtchkas
the weathervanes and widow-watches
the bird on a wire eavesdropping
on extra-curricular phone calls
the crosses and the crows
the coyotes and stray dogs
the piano tuner indisposed
in his self-imposed seclusion
the sleepwalking neighbors
on tractors and mowers
the curmudgeon and ex-convict
and clockmaker and coal miner
the kleptomaniac mothers
who feel betrayed and cheated
the timekeeper and housekeepers
the psychotropic pill pushers
the exhibitionists and projectionists
the perverts and perfectionists
the empty aimless businessmen
drifting to stray sleazy peepholes
muttering to themselves some
time during lunch hour
in the prime of their life
prime rib to go
the suicide girls
like tarnished pearls
who couldn't take it
no more now left to howl
down hellish e.c.t. halls
hollow dolls forced to
cleanse their souls
with highball shots
of chalky charcoal
having been discovered
trying to catapult their
bare naked figures
over barbed-wire
right into the east river
who's plaintive calls
now resemble
professional mourners
the elevator repairmen
and panhandlers
the exterminators
and window washers
the filthy-mouthed tug boat captains
and phantom tow brige operator
the dope addicts in boxcars
in trainyards under the stars
and birds-eye peek-a-boo
views of shattered
shipwrecked skylines
in the western night
the alcoholic painters
surviving off wine, suicide,
poor punchlines, prison,
women who left them
and road kill sandwiches
the dead-end kids of dusk
of ghosts of wilderness
the delinquents smoking
blunts trying to make little
to no sense of existence
by the railroad
by the river
by the foghorns
by the phantoms
the ice fishermen
fishing for old friends,
family and acquaintances
for clues, for redemption
somewhere between hell and heaven
the cliff divers and contortionists
having entered a deep depression
feeling deserted and abandoned
when tourists leave them
in the off-season
the old-timer with transistor
stuck to each ear, trying to
drown out despair, listening
to staticy ballgames with a
queer soulful stare, shirt off,
strands of silver hair, bald bronzed
head, wandering down the boardwalk
settled and sure, as though involved
in some strange dress rehearsal
for the afterworld to meet his maker
the lord the sun sand and sea's roar
the willing widow still in her beehive hairdo,
paint-by-number clothes, jigsaw puzzle bones,
content making her rounds to a gigolo husband
finally buried underground, washing it all down with a
bowl of borscht, bagels, fish eyes, and chopped liver on black bread,
lower east side sunsets, old grand dad, and beer straight from the keg.