Jeff Bagato, Summer 2017

Imaginary Mind

field of wheat dreams laid
out like canker sore on the mouth
of a bad lover—the guy who gives
but never takes—and there’s so much
to give, so much else after the money’s gone
that you just wish the factory
could reverse gears and take
it all away, leaving pure clear
imaginary mind alone with itself
like a rock mulled by the ocean—
where would you be when mind
salt-washed and nowhere—drifting out without
Barbie doll eyes to tell you what’s garbage
or gold, loose mistakes rising NOW about your
ankles to cover you NOW with something
you shouldn’t have to see—the distractions
good for something after all, coming down
like god to keep the mind away from the worms—
not a pretty visitor in corridors of gray—
and it’s just lucky the world won’t
stop trying to impress us
into boa constrictor isolation,
just lucky we can revel slowly
in supermarket lines that stretch
cereal to forever and soda pop
past consciousness to a maze—
we got dollar to help skip one step
from the grave

 

The People Next Door

Loaded or laid we get mileage from keeping
one step ahead of the guy in the next
building by snorting or squirting something good
where it doesn’t belong, but only talking
or thinking advancement can be so easy,
cause in the mind it never runs up against the hell
that creeps around ankles and numbs the metaphysical—
the people next door just a prayer hedged
against inflation, a cigarette smoked on the firing
line before gunshots in underpants weigh me
down and under; some day I’ve gotta get my gun
and hunt my prayers and cigarettes with different
intention, catch and holler to supermarket delivery
on a theme of absolutely true—I’m not a quitter;
I haven’t gone and started to believe in neighbors who
can’t possibly be true, who haven’t felt real
since grade school napalm scared me straight
to cubicle dominion

 

Lure of the 70s

“Stolen cookies make a snack
for forging bonds,” Ouija remarks
to old lady paying cash for a little
futuristic indulgence; suck ‘em
down with schnapps & tea—old gal
finds tip in her transcendence,
hits corner grocer with the layover pitch—
stoop shoulder camouflage
nearly gives away the play when stoop
slips & granny grabs for pork & beans
support, hustles sherry for cash
quick & easy like Renaissance bath
water, once home springs straight immediate
& flips keeblers from coatback
into quaint lazy susan, dialing Mabel
with an invite for this afternoon’s tea—
cookies drop twins, & sherry fans
the flames; old ladies cackle
magic and refrigerator studs keep
coming back for more—Ouija
sees all, turns away,
disgusted

The Day of the Dreams and Awakenings

The radio’s dead and gone
and I can’t get the dj to sing;
they keep talking
like somehow it will make
them less lonely

If I’m a madman
let it be

I’m content to watch my madness—
my only goal

Heaven help the unmad
because the mad
will see it through

Heaven help
me—I’m not
mad enough

In my dreams
I have broken
off into another
and this one has
taken all my days

The radio broke on him;
for him the doors wouldn’t open;
he took the mail,
all the blows,
and the medicine

He brushed his teeth
and went to bed

In the grocery store, he
slipped all that worthlessness
in his pocket

He found the time, when
it was time,
to die

Was there happiness
in this—he kept
walking

How do you disappear from yourself—
I did it

Now I want me back—music
on my radio

Asleep into the dreams and
struggling to bring
it back alive

This looks
like the economy
of the mad

We are arriving,
the radio on—
driving around to do all those errands
and now back here it’s
like somebody left me and now
he is home

This day of the dreams
and awakenings

The madness now
shudders and I wonder
if it will carry me

 

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