Little Joe Gould #6

Devon Balwit


“n.b. ye twang of little joe(yankee)gould irketh
sundry who are trying to find their minds(but never had any to lose)”
                                                                                                     e.e. cummings 

“The Oral History is a great hodgepodge and a kitchen midden of hearsay, a repository of jabber, an omnium-gatherum of bushwa, gab, palaver, hogwash, flapdoodle and malarkey…”
                                                                                    Joseph Mitchell

little joe gould tricks his belly with sourballs
and catsup on a spoon.  toothless, he prefers

to chew the fat, bending your ear with his
great work, his oral history of everything.

ever in progress, grubulous chicken-scratched
copybooks squirrel away in closets all over

town.  those who’ve peeked swear it’s the same
four chapters iterated and re-, a tangle of trivia.

they humor little joe, keeping him in paper and
pens, afraid of seeing their own future reflected

in his rheumy conjunctiva, him a harvard man,
after all (for if the old ivy can’t rope a man

across life’s ravine, what hope is there?).  little
joe scratches—lousy, scabrous, and scaled—

without complaint, preferring a flophouse
to any mattress gotten by honest work.

if he could, he’d charm his way into the bed
of a lady bohemian, some soft-hearted belle-

lettriste.  barring that, a jiggling subway seat
will have to cradle him until morning

when he pulls himself from his own hat once
more, like athena from zeus’ brow, sui generis.



Listen to the writer read “Little Joe Gould #6”:

Provenance:  Submission.


Devon Balwit is a teacher/poet from Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press) & Forms Most Marvelous (forthcoming with dancing girl press). Her work has found many homes, some of which are: The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Red Earth Review, Timberline Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Inflectionist Review.




Homeless Man, Overtown Miami” by Jamesy Pena is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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