Poetry from Jeff Bagato

 

One a Day Rides Again

 

Wood is as indifferent as love to human

emotions, whether feeding the fire, reaching

for the sky, or poking its nose

where it isn’t wanted by Puritan

deliberation—that altarboy instinct of the

hypocrite for sacramental wine,

Mary Jane’s buds, or the forbidden

fruit, handmaiden to the love

of old Saint Pete, clandestine

shoving match of a turd from

one anal cavity to another—

and thus One A Day steps in, drunk

as a lord to greet condemnation; Mae

West on his arm in glory to the highest

titters in her feather boa and puts

mettle to her petals, sending that dummy

some cue from her belly he’s all too

happy to receive, being pleased

to please:  “A little bit lower to the

left;” of course he gets to a point where

bees write their own laws

of pollination, ignoring Pope

Pius gesturing in the background

like Moses at the backwash of the Red

Sea—inattention he can stand less

than abomination—and as inquisitors

rush in to show them the door,

Dummy looks up to find Mae alert

and sending furiously, “How are they

gonna stop people from putting

holes in the wall?”

Setting bells

ringing in the bellfry like vampire

bats from the hump of Quasimodo

in a gypsy heat—

stirring up the fear,

disappearing in the dawn

Acapulco Beach Down Midnight

 

Experience has taught me

the tooth fairy carries a scythe; don’t

invite cold lady touch to your pillow to

pay the confidences of man,

woman and child, like a lawyer following

an ambulance to the fresh

high grave dug by tooth fairy hands

one fistful at a time and you

chucked in there tooth by tooth, paid

back in little trinkets, no more

a foundation for life than hair

from a blowhole—and look

yonder—that old one tucked on the bus

stop bench, holding on

for dear petunia—Old Pet—

crooning in her cups like novocaine

bit her on the lip, tooth fairy’s favorite

kiss—better than the Acapulco

Cling—calling out for her boys, and if

Danny or Jeremy were here,

she wouldn’t even have to have

car fare to get her old melon ass

around—Who’s holding? you ask;

We don’t know

 

Let God Alabama

 

there are stars and then

there are the cries of owls over

panther burns in the Alabama

forest primeval, banjo picking

like the last angel visitation in gold

rhinestone rocket, coming down

from God’s own acre, His coon

hunt going on forever, cracking

roasted peanuts by the light of a flaming

checkerboard manned by the Holy

Ghost; God resurrects each pawn,

each Queen comes back as a rook;

the knights and bishops interchangeable

in cosmic retribution—so who

can beat that white army?

How can you resist the smell

of woodsmoke and the tumble

into five thousand miles of flame,

staring down into embers like a

mirrored pool, having caught the sun,

like a grey spider who trapped

a wasp in monofilament delivery

can only hold on and pray to live,

counting his legs—

singing sadly

 

Noman on the Run

 

nobody wants a man with no identity,

bit of the raw, bit of the natural,

who can pass from loser to lost,

from tears to insubordination, flaming

off and then on, one if by

land and two by sea, questionable

morals unpinned from lapel or cuff

guard; he’s got jade between

his fingers, hot rocks

for toes from walking the coals

on a dare, and it’s a cold stab

in the dark that brings scuff to the boot

and lips aquiver to old high queen—

not a pretty sight, this chanteuse glowing

like a dim silkworm with painted

legs running for its life, running

from the whip, from the tender

smear of lover’s oil, lover’s smack

on the whispered cheek of pink

plush pater familias, sunglasses

drawn at the rage of overdone

loyalty or the undeveloped smirk

of the spoiled child, the begging waif

who wishes there was someone

to go home to

 

Thunderbird Has Landed

 

He’s in love with her and can’t get enough

of her helter skelter rainsong, tripping

through daisy like last boy and girl

absolutely on the corner, and it rained

laughing like Christmas lights in a fog

for dope and mayor the only guy who’s

holding, like accidents will happen,

like broken teeth, like stainless steel

rolls on rusting for her heart

killing softly for so long, reaches

up into the sky and tweaks Sunny Boy

to play “Stormy Weather,” while umbrella

opens black and broad like a chalkboard

once marked: “what is remembered?”

Another way of telling: Another way

of slicing words away from beef

tongue as cider and brandy lovers leap into clove

hole numbness shined up all green like

cantaloupe whispers in a falling

mist; Thunderbird has landed,

been here all along for grab bag

and you