“Jakarta” by Joshua Swainston

Sweet soy soaked chicken thighs sear
over an open flame wicked with equatorial humidity
& the thin man with the patchy mustache spits:
Seventy-five for the scooter. Pedicab pharmacists peddle knock-off




dropping from glass jars, like penny candy, to bloated
white Westerns. The scooter salesman rolls a Gudang Garum
cigarette in the corner of his impatient mouth, checks
his Mickey Mouse wrist watch: Brand new, fifty cc, perfect for you.


A Queen cover band blasts: Weeeeeee
Aaaaarre the Chaaampionnns; past the boundaries of their ex-pat
night club while teenagers, perched on cross-strap platforms,
hustle for rent. Where do you go

when all the dark parts of the map
have been filled in? I followed Pacific
trade routes to rampant post-

colonialism – a willing Far East. Under glowing Budweiser
neon, three crisp U.S. twenties flicker from a leather wallet
& the thin man with the patchy mustache changes his tone:
All sales are final.


Joshua Swainston has worked as a mechanic, merchant sailor, courier, loan shark, club promoter, Ryder truck rental agent, McDonald’s grill cook, taxi driver, valet, coffee roaster, wine distributor, psychologist assistant, UPS man, Disney Store stock boy, and played Santa Claus. His work has been printed in Open Thought Vortex, The First Line, The Seattle Star, as well as others. Find out more about Joshua at joshuaswainston.com.