i Always Liked The John Adams

​i always liked the john adams...
i liked the fact that my older sister 
had an apartment in the john adams
i liked the fact that the john adams 
was an all white brick building
i liked the fact that it was supposed to have a doorman 
and i never saw him and he was never at his station 
i liked the fact that it was on 12th st and 6th avenue
i liked the fact that they didn’t put a 13th floor on it 
‘cause back then they were superstitious and none 
of the buildings around those parts had a 13th floor 
i liked the fact that it was lined in lonely linoleum
literally surviving a whole summer off milk 
and seltzer and gizzard and fried chicken
i liked the fact that it had a tiny little terrace 
and swear read all of “finnegan’s wake” and “ulysses” 
just didn’t understand the gaelic or shakespeare references  
so turned to kerouac’s ‘subteranneans’ which helped my insomnia 
i liked the fact that i could hear the constant wild and mad throng 
of faraway cop cars and fire engines holy and histrionic doing 
their emergency rounds which always seemed to ground me
and strangely, perversely, brought me closer to humanity
somewhere between hell and heaven no longer abandoned 
done-in and able to make a real down home connection
i liked the fact that i had an on and off relationship 
and ghostly rapport with the late-night soft whooshing 
elevator doors in the hall which welcomed all freaks
and foreigners just as lost and lonesome as myself  
i liked the fact that it had one of those self-soothing 
air-conditioners in the window keeping me cool 
during the brutal sweltering season of manhattan 
i liked the fact that i could jerk off in silence
i liked the fact that it had that odd and peculiar 
after-hours cable for those bachelors not getting 
any; the strange sex channels and midget wrestling 
i liked the fact that it felt like an all too sane single’s sanctuary 
for those half-crazed aristocratic daughters in publishing 
or advertising or turning to high finance or lowering 
their standards and marrying their psychiatrists
(having had it after the blind date circuit left them  
dazed and distant with meltdowns psychotic episodes 
and suicide ideations doing respites being transferred to
bellevue ‘when they’re fed up and can’t take it anymore’)
i liked the fact that there were absolutely no facts at all 
when avenues and those long transcendent wanderings 
in starving soulful streets and the sawdust meat market 
on the river criss-crossed always ending up 
smelling or stirring into one delicious aroma 
which provided an instant panacea to deliver  
and awaken the senses in the warmth and stray 
scents of cobblestone and chicken bones 
and bums having given up on the world
and you feeling just as lost and alone 
measuring your mortality between
that moment in time when you felt 
eternally stranded and so damn 
deserted with absolutely no one 
to turn to somewhere between 
the asphalt in the park and the solitary 
stars still somehow stark alive breathing beating 
blaring through some silhouetted swathe of smog 
i liked the fact that i didn’t care (matter of fact looked 
forward to it) from the stifling heat impossible to escape
the steamy streets if i passed out right there on the spot 
getting all woozy and dizzy and blacked-out and 
if i did drop dead god bless would finally die 
a happy man right there on bleeker & 7th
and just drop me off right where they 
drop off the morning papers right 
below the glowing streetlamps 
where all the hustlers from 
the neighborhood the winos 
and prostitutes were taking 
whore baths below the cascading 
flow of fire hydrants with soap 
and shampoo making jokes 
and cracking up as if the first
and last day of the world as if 
all reborn all within the moment 
i liked the fact that i felt like kafka 
still not sure of what i was being 
accused of alienated at a loss and alone  
and the john adams always made me feel right at home
i liked the fact that it was chock-full of artists and dope 
addicts and geriatrics and college students which at 
the time felt like most of the population of manhattan  
i liked the fact that it always fell in between different
phases of my existence, life-transitions, thus putting 
it all in perspective, having revelations, and trying 
to make it last as long as i can, like someone 
who does not take their freedom for granted  
i liked the fact that it felt like the core nucleus
to the empty vacant radiant glowing soul 
like some porthole to all things palpable  
you did not care to be nor wish to know
i liked the fact that it always felt like some sort 
of beacon or a place where you could stagger home 
when you were really in need of a place to stagger home 
i liked the fact that you could smoke blunts and drink bottles 
of merlot from that liquor store on the corner and finish it all 
off with leftover tortellini chilling in the refrigerator 
i liked the fact (this one not so much) that i used to 
wake up to her cat plopping right on top of my head 
and so upset picking him up and flinging him across 
the bed for some buffoonish brutish reason repeating  
this routine and ritual over and over and over again
and for that i feel slightly sad and this is an apology 
letter to both you randi-jo and your cat spencer 
i liked the fact that it felt like the land of one-night 
stands but was always a diehard romantic and 
perhaps just overcompensation for something 
at the time that i knew i just could not have 
i liked the fact that it helped to escape ‘the act’ 
and seemed to survive a whole summer off 
one pull-out sofa one towel one suicide
note love letter and one long-lost howl
i liked the fact that me and my pals 
(i guess what the know-it-alls would 
call oppositional-defiant and acting-out) 
used to toss eggs at young couples talking 
corny to each other during candlelit suppers 
in courtyards way down below and then 
all of a sudden look up bewildered 
trying to find out where it came from 
i liked the fact that the john adams 
just felt like some blissful spiritual 
hangover and even though i know 
nothing really did felt like something 
liberating and magical had happened 
having all burdens lifted the night before
i liked the fact that it had a killer view of all 
of lower manhattan (the secret rooftops of drag 
queens and scholars and mothers and madmen all 
seeming passed down from generation to generation 
between clotheslines and watertowers) the confluence 
of the east and hudson rivers and world trade center 
and the lady in harbor feeling it all subliminally spiritually 
stream together like when the lower east side immigrants 
in rags to riches black & white schmatas came tumbling 
in on a mission through fog & mists to make something...
i liked the fact that i liked the fact that i liked the john adams
which stands like some keen memory of a loyal and lifelong 
companion, rock-solid, reliable, and responsible, eternally 
etched in my desperate and fragile consciousness forever. 

JOSEPH REICH is a social worker who lives with his wife and eleven year old son up in the high 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, 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), 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),  Taking The Fifth And Running With It: a psychological guide for the hard of hearing and blind (Broadstone Books), and The Rituals Of Mummification (Sagging Meniscus).
The Adirondack Review