Literary Orphans

Three Poems
by Bud Smith


dear baby bird

grown my hair long and half silver
disowned all art, thrown the books away
fed the record player to the wood chipper
the shirts I used to wear  are flags now
protesting whatever shows up in my newsfeed

I dunno

there’s a rumor that everything we do
is meaningless and one day the planet
we live on will be crushed flat
like a grape in the hand of a kid like me
who never went to college
think I read that on a patch
sewed on someone’s daughters jean jacket

dats fine, open the wine, dump the sauce over the steak
inflate the basketball, slip your world-famous red dress on
take off your red dress, shoot every bird out of the sky
bake a fucking pie, walk in the park fully chemically spun
and eyes beyond cartoon wide, all the flowers
and specs of garbage on the ground, life confirming

dear baby bird
let’s live to 135.

O Typekey Divider


the night ticks on
exit ramps

list of wishes:
1. the floral wallpaper
peels back
2. I finally find the secret door
3. lost friends step from shadows
4. a brittle envelope
with a golden invitation
is slipped through a window
plopping on my bed

a dew slick dream
jewels forgotten
off there glowing
and here, goddamn
these sharpened rocks
discard all useless pebbles
feed the fire
my flip flops

from the bedroom window
watch train cars passing
far off
certain walls must be hollow
tap on each one
with the tip of your sword

and in our sour yard
there are no doves
dropping navel oranges
or opportunities
to catch said fruit
Wille Mays-style
fingers laced in a basket
“thank you!”

elsewhere, elsewhere
the dawn shows up
phones ring-a-ding musical
“go back to sleep,”
a boss commands
“not needed today
stay home, with pay”

still, trapped here maybe
without perfumed money
no cake, all candle
bunk beds akimbo
praying for a
Caddy to swing
into the driveway
honk twice
grab your things
bright corsage
and mint leaf suit
a free ride to the party

the cool kids graze
but a minor breeze
can ruin everything

I saw the bomb
splash down
in the pale park fountain
but it never went off
some kids concentrate
on adolescence
chewing confetti
channeling celebrations
held in distant hotels.

O Typekey Divider

Threat of Rain

during the jet black
uneven sundown talks
I’m not listening, I’m just nodding
thinking about golden bullets
piercing diamond hearts

let’s have no discussion
our teeth get dull, that way
just chew gum
it’s not the 4th
of fucking July

silence is golden
silence is golden
streets on fire
the night is an ocean
I’m putting shoes against the door
so the door won’t open
zipped the mouth
fed the only key that works
to the cat that’s fled
from this place, this noise

ask your favors through the brick wall
avoid straight forward contact in the mine field
our love song was non-prototypical
neither of us tolerated instruction manuals

one promise, now
under no circumstance
will I lie about the threat of rain

I like the sound.

O Typekey Divider

Bud Smith grew up in New Jersey, and currently lives in Washington Heights, NYC with a metric ton of vinyl records that he bought at Englishtown flea market for a few dollars. He is the author of the short story collection Or Something Like That (Unknown Press 2012), the novel Tollbooth (Piscataway House 2013), and the poetry collection Everything Neon (Marginalia, 2014); he hosts the interview program The Unknown Show; edits at Jmww and Uno Kudo; works heavy construction in power plants and refineries.


O Typekey Divider

–Art by Ezra Letra