The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. Isaiah 50:4
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The Little Wretches: VIDEOS


(The Little Wretches)
January 7, 2018
Robert Andrew Wagner



It said in the paper that there was a stabbing right around the corner from where I wait for the trolley, right around the same time I’m usually waiting for the trolley, too. Like, how did I miss it? I was there. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t hear anything. Botched robbery, they think. And here I am disappointed because I missed it. 


So I’d hop on a trolley and go into town and just wander around. I found all the best places to loiter. Market Square. Mellon Square. The Point. McDonalds on Forbes. McDonalds on Wood. McDonalds on Smithfield. Did I say the McDonalds on Forbes? Gateway Center. Ace Amusements. Deluxe Arcade. Smithfield News. National Record Mart. Ralph’s Discount. The alley next to Wiener World.


You know what loitering is? Ever see a sign, No Loitering? They put up those signs because of people like me. And it got to where I knew the other loiterers by sight. I mean, I was normal in that I possessed all of my faculties. But these other people, they were like ghosts. Invisible to the world. Nobody sees them unless they jump out and say, “Boo.” 


Everybody is so busy rushing from here to there, jobs, duties, responsibilities. Then there’s us loiterers. Crazy people. Homeless people. Of course, a lot of homeless people are homeless because they’re crazy. I don’t think there are any crazy people who are crazy because they are homeless. But I’m pretty sure that once you are homeless, the way you’d look, the way you’d live, people would start to assume you are crazy whether you are crazy or not. 


And since I was in the same place at the same time as these crazy homeless people, I think they thought I was one of them. And all the time, I think, like, what would I do if I was one of them. Like, if I had to sleep under a bridge, how would I keep dry, how would I keep the rats away, how would I keep intruders away, like the kind of people who’d try to rob you in your sleep. I mean, can you imagine waking up and your shoes being gone? Or the bag you carry around everywhere, somebody went through it and took all your good stuff. I wonder what would be considered good stuff to a bag person?


One night, I was waiting for the trolley, this was when I was still young and it may have been the very first time I ever saw anything like this, but an old lady, not really all that old, actually, but I heard somebody yelling, and they keep yelling, and then I can make out what they’re yelling. They’re saying, “I’m going to curl up and die and I won’t be missed by a soul. I’m going to curl up and die and I won’t be missed by a soul.” Then, there she is, walking right past me. 


Here she comes. Here she is. Then, there she goes, and she keeps on walking and yelling, walking and yelling. Fades in, builds up, fades out. Like an ambulance or a police siren. 


 WALKED ALONG (words and music: Robert A. Wagner)


Her blouse was dirty

So her coat stayed on

She wore a ball cap to cover her head

Because she had no comb

She wore no make up

So she stared at the ground


She couldn’t stop thinking

So she tried to sing

She didn’t want to be seen singing in public

So she sang inside her head

But still she couldn’t stop thinking

And it ruined the song


She finally looked up

How did I get here?

Ran her hands through her pockets as if bus fare

Would magically appear

Then the song went silent

And her mind went clear


So she took a breath and she looked around

It’s a mighty long way to walk all across town

Waiting at the corner for the light to turn,

She caught a glimpse of her reflection on the side of a car

For a minute, “Who’s that?  Well, I guess that’s me.”

Then the car pulled away, and she stepped into the street.

It was seventeen steps till she made the next curb

Then she put on the face that says “Do Not Disturb”


Her blouse was dirty

and she had no comb

and she wore no make up

so she walked along

she walked along

she walked along