“Paradise in 6 Easy Installments” by Joseph Reich


Suburbia is never quite cracked
up to what’s it’s supposed to be
whatever that it’s cracked up to be
while it’s never ever really quite real
which is what gives it all its charm and sex
appeal living happily ever after; deal of a lifetime
and guess can be just fine but for the most part not
that’s why throughout our life-cycle we order things
from the back of cereal boxes, catalogues, marvel comics
i.e. charles atlas so we won’t get picked on or made fun of
and now able to pick up all the girls in their bikini-clad bods
with those x-ray glasses that can see through clothes straight
to the bone of all those milf moms; those seahorses poured
straight from the packet who become a lifelong companion
and grow and develop and come to life right before our eyes
while when you grow up and become profoundly more lonelier
drunken with your clicker somewhere in the wee hours pick
out your favorite color of ring from the tv which is made up
of 100% genuine topaz and gem stone sent straight to your
door at your own convenience as a substitute and far better
version of any man along with a vita-mixer and the latest
state of the art vacuum cleaner whose sleek design
allows you to get into the filthy grime of life in a far
more efficient manner and rapidly clean everything
up lickety-split in one fell swoop and get you
closer to god whenever you might feel uptight
or neurotic while a little later on in those golden
years when mortality creeps in and you are
all alone finishing off a vanilla cake for
the grandchildren fulfilling your quota
of slipping on the linoleum right below
that kitchen counter able to press once
more one of those zapping–‘fallen
and i can’t get up’ buttons which will
alert and bring back together a reunion
of those immortal superheroes in a flash
and drop of the mask straight to your door
to complete that fictional suburban life-cycle
or the hyperbole and caricature and real-life
commercial of some 100 % satisfied final call


You wonder if heaven will be
like one of those psychotropic
commercials with no side effects
where they’re blissfully romantically
strolling through some fair or garden
or along some ocean what middle-aged
couples apparently love to do while
eternity will be endless prime rib


Every Sunday morning it was “tarzan”
and “abbot & costello” and looking
back could anything have been more
elevated, liberating, and sentimental?


Shortcuts, delicate, fragile, secretive and sacred
translucent, verdant, iridescent, laden with angels
and delinquents, declaring their love for each other
romantic and reflective, time immemorial, transcendent
with moments which seemed to last forever, tinctured
with dappled pools of palpable sun and tender multi-
color leaves of scarlet and golden dripping in the bright-
eyed breeze of breathing autumn, mercurial in the magical
hush of the whisper and gusts of introspective seasons
singing, disappearing within the solitary stir of spirits
not caring a wink when you reached your destination


Growing up in new york you went out with mafia princesses,
cuban bombshells, the daughters of korean diplomats to die for,
girls whose fathers were the cult leaders of the moonies with security
always ominously perched on the roof of very posh private schools,
jewish girls with borderline disorder and such insecure identities
who never could live up to the unrealistic expectations of overbearing
domineering parents left feeling eternally empty and guilty, constantly
in between something suicidal or blaming you for all their problems
as this to me is what true diversity was all about, trying to survive
and cope and save others when you couldn’t even save yourself
while at summer camp or trips to ski slopes where they always
came back either drug addicts (former ghosts of themselves)
or no longer virgins (promiscuous coke whores) pretending
like they never knew you now mandated to see a freudian
after feeling so damn lonely and they stole everything from
you (including your innocence and all previous, apparent truths)
from connections from other opportunistic manipulative parents
who similarly, ironically, completely brainwashed and screwed


Today my wife and son and i went out to a roadside stand
in the drizzle to get a couple of burgers which triggered
me to this facebook photo of some old friend of mine
from childhood who i hooked up with just recently
and just knew after chatting for a little while it
could only last for so long and actually did go
a bit longer than expected; him being like every
male on the face of the planet just talking about
his family and kids and existence but the pattern
as always with the male of the species being
self-centered and incomplete, never asking
any questions about me (every man in reality
is ‘an island unto itself’ his own self-made
megalomaniac trying to steal his wealth).
he moved out to some ‘exclusive’ suburb in
pennsylvania and had a pool and 2 daughters
and a wife who was a lawyer and eventually
changed that photo which he had up for like
months on end; what i guess he thought made
him look handsome or what he believed represented
what it was to be content in his tank top and health
club muscles and had a sleazy coy smile with a beer
in a brown paper bag after they had just got off
one of those miserable cruises, and to me that
simple image seemed to just sum up everything
about the absurdity and superficiality and pettiness
of reality, even our time here on earth; moving to
the suburbs going on one of those cruises, pretending
you’re not miserable with a wife and 2 children still nursing
that beer out of a brown paper bag trying to convince others.


Reich foto.tif

Joseph Reich 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, “A Different Sort Of Distance” (Skive Magazine Press) “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) “Scenes From The Dynamite Stand” (Bedlam 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 Rituals Of Mummification” (Sagging Meniscus).

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