The train used to drop us
off at that very desolate
spot right across from
Harlem Valley Psychiatric
(where mother mocked
she gave birth to us)
with big brooding bars
over pick-up stick portholes
barbed-wire to keep in the juveniles
who were deemed and determined
to be a threat to themselves or others
as every so often you’d imagine
on some warm day in Winter
how they might just air out
the electric-shock tables,
ping pong tables,
paper back novels,
paint-by-number murals,
ships in a bottle,
cigarette stands,
hanging plants,
adirondacks,
flyswatters,
firefly jars,
windy shutters,
the wild bird feeders,
even spooky silhouettes
spread out on drizzly benches
like drunken spiders dazed and
disheveled in the remote distance
(footprints and fingerprints
of coyotes and con-artists)
boxcar diners where over-medicated
and sedated sons would have explosions
on know-it-all fathers (who apparently didn’t know
a thing about them) having treated them like possessions
now out of control and dangerous, stealing anything
they could possibly get their hands on
as everything would instantly
turn uncomfortable and
awkward, deathly silent
(after all the defiance)
heavy heart would drop
yet it was kind of ironic
as whenever they picked
you up to go out to their mansion
on the frozen lake in the mountains
things felt just as detached and distant,
desperate and despondent, dysfunctional
and indescribable; One might even
say unfamiliar, tense and hostile
after we had finished up
with all our small talk about
the ride up, and the sports
and weather, then like ghosts
would blank out, as we simply
did not have a thing to say to each
other, making our way through
slow-death, well-to-do towns
of The Berkshires, passing the
old ancient stone clock tower
where you felt like you could
hear the clear muffled murmur
of its mysterious internal organs,
its languid tick and tock, wasted,
wired, thinking a coo-coo clock
might be more in tune, coo-cooing
on the hour; perfectly manicured lawns
with no one ever on them,
higher-than-holy spas
high up on the hill
to hope to heal
psychological scars
of drama and trauma
of millionaire daughters
who had been wronged
by boyfriends who were
supposed to be father-figures
there to somehow save them; perfectly
piled-up piles of wood which can only
be acquired by workaholic Wall Streeters,
the wealthy New Yorkers and Bostonians,
old money who appear like ghosts and phantoms
never home, just there for appearances, to simply make
an impression with wives with no expression and plenty
of room(s) to make excuses, priceless pieces of precious antiques
put out on display never moved an inch out of place to provide
some self-absorbed, distorted (non)sense of time and space,
control freaks, curators, trying to keep it all perfectly
sane and in the effort to overcompensate, turn
even more mad and crazed, blessed barnhouses,
covered bridges covering snow-capped rivers,
libraries and factories draped at the base of bare
birch mountains with silent snow-white towns
stapled to the horizon and creeping thyme
citizens somehow missing-in-action
(Your old passive-aggressive pals who
used to loved to push buttons at formal
wine and cheesy get together wheeler
and dealer philanthropic fund raisers
and sarcastically pose the question–
“Prove that you exist” as the guests
instantly got defensive, turning void
and vacant, even parasitic and pissed
literal, ridiculous, clearly not getting it)
returning back to the meticulous museum
and mausoleum where they always had
purchased some brand new contraption
rare and exclusive one of a kind tctchcka
with dozens of dead ladybugs passed out
on their backs on wraparound porches
in the pall of a sacred and solemn sun
beginning to melt snow in the perennial garden
like a bastard child landing butterfly kisses on the alabaster cheek
of his mama, petrified pines hovering high, as though windswept
branches got suspended in action from a last blast of winter;
the creaking floors and crackling fire, crows in branches
like the top hats of madmen, rippling rocking lake house
weighed down with weather-worn oars and paddles
whose aroma smelled like the lost lilypad lichen
of lagoons passed down from generation
to generation, regenerating rotten core
of civilization, as the hypnotic haunted echoes
of seaweed skeletons shimmered through shattered
mountains; a shaker table whose fragile fissures got
bigger, expanding or contracting due to the change
of seasons and triggered and started to feel all those
old feelings begin to creep in again (dribbling siblings)
of a deep and desperate sadness and anger, of which you
could never ever get control over, some muted howl, eternal
existential sigh where you just wanted to break down and cry
and started to find if you tried you could take great comfort and
pleasure regressing a little to those bizarre and peculiar images you
had just recently visited in your stopover at Harlem-Valley Psychiatric.

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