Literary Orphans

On Flatbush at a Lone Table by Joseph Wade

bird_congestion_by_Jan Rockar

On Flatbush at a Lone Table outside a café,
Writing up my bills in a notebook, I flipped a page and…

Drumroll on the sternum, drumroll-and-drumroll-and-drumroll-and-drumroll

down the ribs—right here, low in the empty gut,

this twists:

creaking and creaking,
slow(ly) and tight(ly)—the creaking

of braids turned into each other,

always wound

against each other. Choked

red and raw—slow spin—saw

and saw into the throat,

all themotion dead


swing at the apex, now

so far from the rest

of this time.
Blue stones, bubble gum
flattened black, concrete
and cracks, errant grass
by trash: brown
bags, glass bottle bits
and cigarette butts, even orange peels,
gum foil and a metal glint—I’ve found

it at last—have I?

This is trembling: point of white light,
sun-spots-day-stars. Feet,
kick fast, scatter, right-zig-left-and-zag,
cattycorner in the fat black borders

of this single square of sidewalk but

so much confetti in(periwinkle,
grey and yellow, red,
white, and those sparkly

purple heels)shoes of confusion:
smack, slap,
and crack, jarred

kneecaps shredded red

and smeared, a pulpy-skin-papier-mâché

and mountainous-shoe avalanche.

Spark! It rolls

flash, flash—flashes on the sidewalk—
Yes, even that way. They kick and march all over

Spark, clang, clink—it is moving again,

square to square, always another square,
eyes blurred and fingers shaking at the end

of their expanse into the air

of Creole-English-French-and-Spanish

organs erupting with Babylon wildflowers

that sing. Deafening, the noise and never-

still feet—crunching and scratching

paper bag and concrete,

weighted-rope-cry, in the gut cry,

and flap of flag Pawn Shop (yellow and red)

ON SALE flag. Snap over Easy Pay-Day Loan

and Five-O sirens and Five-O bullhorns. Five-O,

but B-U-Z-Z! SELL GOLD!BodyFREEquakingFREEandquakingandbreaking—FREE(if you buy it)! Gold! ON SALE! Flag snaps. We

BUY. FIVE-O bullhorns and FIVE-O

sirens and ON SALE! The Flag Snaps







Clink and clang—sunflash thereandthere—but over
there. Prick of the fray and rash around the neck—
feels exactly like knifepoint just pressed to the carotid(bare it),
breathe deep as if through plastic(bare it),


. . . . . . . . . om

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . theground(bare it)
. . . . om

theblackout(bare it)oneinchfrom…(breathe!)swing left and right, spin three-hundred-and-sixty degrees in the fullest rotation of a full circle seeing those faces smiling and frowning and lip flapping and buying and eating and selling and yelling and moving and smiling!(but really just baring)And…SMILING! And all you want to do is breathe(but you can’t through plastic(I once saw a(bare it)movie(I hated the movie)where a killer duct-taped a plastic bag(which is really easy to break(but you have to(bare it)think of it)with one poke of the finger)over the head of the victim who just clutched at the duct tape that(bare it)secured the simple plastic bag to his neck and died),but you(bare it)just keep spinning with frayed points pricking your rashed-neck-blood-bulged-at-the-head-of-drums(bare it)in the blackest night of black only there is(bare it)a pin-flash(bare it)dying on the edges. S-h-h. S-h-h. Stop!!! Sounds of the city(gone), all the big horns(gone), all the shrill brakes(gone), bus diesel rattle(gone), and shoes and people(gone)with miraculous chatter(gone)(bare it)…nothing at all. Nothing, just—(breathe)no thing

is like this but this: pure dot
of light ringing out—flash-

banged eyes, and this is what returns:
blue stones, bubble gum
flattened black, concrete
and cracks, errant grass
by trash: brown
bags and glass bottle bits,
and cigarette butts, even orange peels,
gum foil and a metal glint

tap, tap tapping the concrete rhythm

and bouncing and chiming and rolling and spinning on its endless edge, ringing
the-hot glow neck under nooseline-thecreakingthepopping


Pop! See it? See!

Over there, it is clinking and it is spinning and it is pulsing

all the colors everywhere—on bricks

and faces–it ricochets through hands, and into this palm. Now,

stopped and gripped, (sunfall soaks into all

these hands raised against the sky

and its revolutions of day and night

poured into eyes that spark now and ignite

wildflowers tangled in the avalanche of shoes

over the sidewalk and the street—the cars honking, the bus rattling, and everywhere and even right

here the people singing)
the hard grooves of change pressing into fingerprint and thumbprint,  so easy to hold

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. right here, right now, 25 cents.

O Typekey Divider

Joseph Wade is a poet who grew up in the rust belt in Pennsylvania before joining the Army at the age of 17 and then the Navy at the age of 20. He has recently graduated with a BFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College and has won fellowships, scholarships and awards for his poetry which can be found in many places including Grey Sparrow Journal and Wilderness House Review.


O Typekey Divider

–Art by Jan Rockar

–Art by Plamen Stoev

–Art by Joel Hohner