1 poem | Joseph Reich

Sweet millie from the borough of Brooklyn

With water tumbling down
I collapse in the shower
like Brando intoxicated
Jack the Ripper
Van Gogh
maybe even a young
Paul Newman in his
clawfoot tub in the
back of the carousel
in gangster Chicago
and think of sweet Millie how
I hugged her buck-naked shivering
solitary and secretive in the shower
in the bleak morning at the industrial
midtown Manhattan hospital overlooking
The East River with all the foreign and
familiar huff and puff tugs and barges
when all the down-in-the-dump buildings
were just getting up silhouetted in the holy
fog and smog of ole time New York and
all the know-it-all nurses, psychiatrists and
interns didn’t have a clue and got one over
on them breaking every regulation and rule
but didn’t give a fuck ‘cause was desperate
and needed her and she needed me (this was
our therapy and in retrospect the best therapy
and only thing which held meaning as without
us even knowing, rebelling against all forms
of present and previous absurd oppressive
‘institutionalized’ authority, asserting our
independence and individuality and within
that one single glazed, dazed, bleary-eyed
moment becoming complete) sneaking
in there and hooking-up, hugging and
soaping each other up before every-
one got up; my excited cock rubbing up
against the smooth olive skin of her butt
before the day’s daily routines and rituals
of mandated monkey mileau therapy
beautiful stunning Puerto Rican
Mami who was in her early-thirties
taking care of her boy in a brownstone
out on Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn
and all the other patients returning
dazed and disheveled like zombies
in bathrobes to supposedly heal
deal with do or die depression
a shock of frazzled hair looking
like they had smoke coming out
of their ears having been given
the ultimatum against their own
will and volition of electric shock
treatment or a visit and extended
stay behind shadowy foreboding
gray bars of Bellevue being scraped
off the fence trying to make a mad
dash for it to the manic rapid racing
East River blood-curdling zombie-like
primitive anguished plaintive howls as
if just coming out of it and suddenly
realizing it all being escorted down
distant damaged far from home
tragic halls feeling she let down
everyone and worst of all herself
like some self-conscious self-loathing
fragile shell single solitary funeral
procession after being deserted
and abandoned by Lower
East Side boyfriend
young pretty Irish
girl trying it once
again from The
Hell’s Kitchen
section of
adopted feeling
unwanted void and
vacant seeing way too
much of her brothers
in the Irish Mob
maim and murder
and take out
and all coming
back to haunt her
the guilt and torture
having to drink down
charcoal concoction
so she was there
for safety and
myself sorrow
seeing way too
much of the world
at way too young
of an age my best
friend jigged to death
small intestines hanging
out laughing hysterical half-
crazed afraid on sidewalk
pal shot down execution
style and trying to hold
brain together hysterical
picked up hitch hiking
trying to be molested
and taken advantage
by pedophilic
yet eventually
we had to leave
and face the world
again as it all comes
back a little later on
somewhere between
the near and remote
future as soulful and
sentimental solitary triggers
when taking midnight baths
in Lower East Side apartment
with a sweltering summer window
open looking out to all of beatdown
lower Manhattan like some liberating
revelation like our version of freedom
and switchblade bridges which crossed over
to Brooklyn with wildly-lit flashing carousel
from the traveling carnival when all those
Chinese gangs returned home homeless
brooding beaten and defeated
heads bowed with girlfriends
feeling just as lost and cheated
and imagine Tony Perkins
and his sudden surprise visit
and kick the crap out of him
and meet Maria in the schoolyard
and we light out to East Orange
on some bus from Port Authority
in some deep muddy brown
second-hand passed-down
suit passed-out from nodding
out on heroin as we all apparently
need a place to escape to at times
behind shower curtain of old time
black & white silverscreen stars
staring into the drunken
bleary eyes of W.C. Fields
up the skirt of Marilyn Monroe
scrub the back of my earlobes
run my fingers through my hair
over cheekbones and hard-on
I’m not ashamed to think of her
of her tiny tits and trembling fears
then releasing tears between real
sweet red pussy hair alabaster
milky soaking thighs said she
got turned on by my small talk
watching juices semen vaginal
discharge flowing like all the
world all the cobblestone
after massive storm
letting it all go
wondering why should I go
I could stay in here for days
and no one would know
like John & Yoko
only I’d be
in the shower
getting reborn
I’d have revelations
but it’s a cold-water
flat and gotta get up
past Hepburn and Chan
best vacation I ever had
imagining it was childhood
without walls or obstructions
and suddenly hear the cops
rapping at my door only I’m
wrong  the blockbuster show
Real Stories of the Highway Patrol
throwing a black man to his belly–
“You have the right to remain silent”
one of the only true rights afforded
the broke black man in America
and think damn right the right
to remain silent you’re telling
me after just contemplating
coming out of the tub
The right to remain!
The right to remain!
The right to remain?
All’s any of us trying
is to find some place
to remain some hiding
place some secret hideaway
some safe & secure sanctuary
to once more finally catch up
and reunite with our sanity
to ‘serve and protect’ our
self-respect and dignity.

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