Two Poems–Jeff Bagato
They Don’t Call Them Gods Anymore
I didn’t earn any money
today—I sat here,
I wrote, I fought off
the blank page and the blank
mind; I tried to kill
the dullness of the world,
and the deadliness of
the dull, and I couldn’t
watch the mailman
sacrifice his hours placing
junk mail in the apartment
boxes one by one—it was
too deadly, too dull
Egyptians had gods who
told them how to behave,
who to be, what to know—
and you had to know
it after death,
we don’t call them
gods any more
But we have religions and
A Long Sweet Line
In the 50’s, everybody believed
of good jobs
they believed the advertisements
They believed the power
and the hamburger.
Now, people are jaded to the con;
it doesn’t cut it anymore,
and they fall for it
in smaller and smaller
So a new line of con
a better line,
that makes us think
we are not wallowing
in an extra 40 years of garbage,
an extra 40 years of bills
and brain damage
We need a whole new rock and roll,
a whole new Howdy Doody,
the next big cornflake,
some hot new sliced bread.
A better hamburger.
A face must sell the prizes,
deliver the sweet line of con
to young ladies’ ears
so they spread their legs
for the young men and make
them happy—like in
the 60s when the face said
turn on, tune in, drop out
and the hippie girls screwed automatic—
making the young men work
harder, the hamburgers get bigger,
cheaper and easier to afford,
and the space program lift off.
We need a new face
and a long, sweet line of con.
Multi-media artist living near Washington, DC, Jeff Bagato produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music and glitch video. Some of his poetry and visuals have recently appeared in Empty Mirror, Futures Trading, Otoliths, Gold Wake Live, Chiron Review, and Midnight Lane Boutique. Some short fiction has appeared in Gobbet and The Colored Lens. He has published nineteen books, all available through the usual online markets, including Savage Magic (poetry) and Computing Angels (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at http://jeffbagato.com.
Trying to Get It Right
at my desk for hours, staring at page after page of hastily-scribbled poems,
these suitcases of loose paper, immolate my dreams
I haven’t the strength to let go.
notes, stories, books almost started and those almost finished
dissolve the part of me that was saved in those notes
hunched over my work, hours spent
drawing blue flowers, red flowers
black and white lines that should read more important than this.
eyes closed, to feel the rage from moments
fists unclench I know I’m
go through explain this
night after night
the constant questioning of my husband, his family
they all know the secrets of motherhood
they tell me, but don’t tell me anything I can use..
The Silence of the House Without Him
how can I tell my husband how much I love him, how much
every second we’re separated I think of him, think of the way he smells
of how often I think of the day we won’t be together, that I think about
how he’ll look when he wakes up to find me dead
how long do we have to be together before I can talk
about the things I wish would go on without me?
Around in My Head
dream in kaleidoscopic bits,
so hot, unfurls into something I know
what you want, man-child, wolf
almost burning–rip me up, make me know
clutched in its beak, I
love for fractions of seconds, wrap me in sick sweat, wolf
soft flesh beside me,
baby bird above me, wolf
touch the white skeleton man, push it up, I know
this creature, put it in my head, through my head,
take this burning I.
piece of scrap. metal flakes, a thin silver curl
an unconscious sculpture, an arm
moves overhead, a face, a flower, the magnet
still stained with blood, a steering column
sharp as a pin, a razor blade. wheels crush overhead
bending metal pinion around metal pinion
pulls the loose scrap up, a sharp edge
metal scrapes, drags against another metal
one second of realism. wheels
Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Big Muddy, The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies,and Ugly Girl. She has been a featured presenter at Write On, Door County (WI), Northwoods Writer’s Festival (CA), and the Spirit Lake Poetry Series (MN). Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press) and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy (Alien Buddha Press) will be out late 2018.
The Days Are Getting Shorter
“The future is fluid.”
Bricks line the city sidewalks
in protest of impending frost,
trees trashing their décor
in anticipation of the coming
Mornings have grown darker,
afternoons fleeting, evening’s
Night has fallen and refuses to
its stars among the dead and dying.
The forests are stifled into silence.
A collective lack
of energy permeates the landscape
and its sleepy populace,
bleeding life dry of its warmth.
Each breath gains visibility
as temperatures plummet,
ponds freezing slowly in plain view,
Days bringing with them
the guaranteed difficulty
of survival and sanity.
before tired eyes
can fully open,
yet sleep still escapes
the frigid and weary.
(Each sunset is a struggle.)
Plans are abandoned
to prepare for hibernation,
goals of modest grandeur all put on hold.
(To save the world
or to feed a family?)
Off the Bridge
I walk to South Boston in
the pouring rain,
the waterfront spitting in my face,
angels shedding stillborn tears
that erode the aging bridge.
My shoes are the first victims,
soaked in evening’s sweat,
rainwater and ocean air,
puddles engulfing my feet
at every street corner.
The flood continues as I
cross over the to the other side,
droplets dragging me into
cracks in the asphalt, open
wounds that only deepen with
the heavens spill their fluids
over pedestrians, grey clouds
dispersed across the firmament.
Cold wind is unapologetic, assaulting
neck, face, cheeks, splashing innocent
passers-by with relentless fury.
Hair on my head: the mane
of a wet dog lost amongst gutters
Eyes strain to see
through the storm
but to no avail.
Showers blind pedestrians,
the downpour continuing on
with no plans of ever
Cars toss waves onto the crowded sidewalk.
The umbrella is of no use,
but I couldn’t care less.
This is the best part of my day.
A Passing Storm
by modern industry:
millions seek technological salvation.
Christ weeps again.
(We are the unloved neighbors
whose domestic disputes can be heard
through the walls.)
The global village
has been introduced to force
women and children
scour the landscape for sustenance.
swarm the subways
while worlds away
are torn apart
in a frantic and desperate search
for order and certainty.
Cloud cover provides conversation
at the local street corner,
the entire Earth and its inhabitants
in a carnival of momentous occasions
and minor inconveniences,
a spectacle whose stories are carried on
by partial observers who believe
they’ve seen it all. The sky signals
rainfall. It darkens beneath rumors
of a benevolent creator.
By the time we can take it all in,
before we can make any sense of it,
the day has passed.
Listen to the requiem.
A slick layer of ice
coats the sidewalks,
thrown to the wet, cold concrete
after a single misstep,
an unfortunate lapse in judgment
regarding the next move
towards the semblance of stability.
I manage to avoid such fate
as others curse the Season,
blasphemies flowing like sweet
wine from their lips>
(I, too, have been guilty of this.)
The frozen ground does not respond
to its furious victims,
their expletives evaporating into the ether,
each obscenity as visible
as the breath it travels on.
Witnesses offer hesitant consolation,
the obligatory helping hand
outstretched towards a broken
provides no comfort.
With each collapse,
a shout of frustration,
all too familiar and sadly relatable.
(I, too, cry out for warmth.)
Clothing torn, ruined
by the remnants of the storm.
The day is off to a rough start.
But in the midst of tragedy,
a lesson learned:
a peculiar camaraderie
to be found in each minor misery.
Through the Fire
I will live to see another day.
I will wake in the morning
with passion in the window,
the sun striking my eyes
with light and love,
an honest will
enveloping the dark days
of this year’s winter.
I’ll bask in the glory of frigid moonlight,
howl at the dying stars,
lungs bursting with frost,
melt the frozen crystals
with the warmth
of an ambitious
I’ll stroll leisurely
into the future,
dive headfirst into every
embrace the fleeting
comfort of an ever-
rejoice in the shelter
of a lifeless forest,
spark a flame amidst
snowfall and barren limbs.
I’ll pass through the fire
of another sullen season,
sulk with satisfaction
through countless inevitable epiphanies,
drive each and every point home
until all notions have nowhere left
I’ll welcome the uncertainty of new paths,
float along the wind and waves
in search of fresh views,
hidden treasures to pass the time.
I’ll stumble across discoveries
yet to be realized,
indulge in the unexpected,
savor the unique sensation
that comes with deeply breathing.
I will live to see another day.
PJ Carmichael is a writer, noise musician, and outdoors enthusiast from Wakefield, Massachusetts. He finds himself alternating between immersion in the forestry of New England and observation of the sights and sounds of its cities. He is currently working on finding the balance between vice and virtue.
It Can’t Happen Here
The pundits and talking heads
The chaterati classes
All assure us
That it can’t happen here
Fascism will never happen here
Our democratic system
Superior to all others
Check and balances
Power of the media
Will prevent fascism
From taking root
In the American soil
And talk amongst themselves
And laugh some more
Meantime the darkness
Continues to descend
As our President becomes more erratic
And frankly shows signs of insanity
The fascists supporting him
And one day
They strike back
When the powers that be
Try to remove the President
He mobilizes his army
His army of deplorables
And they mobilize
And his fascist supporters
In the government
Demand law and order
And restoration of the Leader of the people
As they have started calling the President
He comes back into power
Unspecified emergency powers
And so, the cycle ends
And fascism wrapped inside a Christian flag
Comes to America
As they take charge
And the chaterati classes
Are all arrested
The first to be rounded up
America has fallen
The media stars
The leader is great
America is great
And all who oppose him
Must be terror sympathizers
Or Tersymps for short
And deserve to be rounded up
Public protests are forbidden
Muslims must register
Atheists must be fired
Alt media is shut down
The internet is censored
And I weep
As I see the once great American nation
Descend into a fascist nightmare
And I wait for the midnight knock on the door
Knowing that I am on the list.
Knock Knock knock
Open it is homeland security……
Masters of the Universe
The earth has been invaded
By hideous blood sucking vampires
Disgusting vile alien creatures
Devoid of all compassion
Lacking any human empathy
These so-called Masters of the universe
These psychopathic monsters
They even took over the White house
And to these vile creatures
Everyone is nothing but a commodity
These alien monsters
Worship the god of the market
While proclaiming that they serve Jesus
Jesus would turn over in his grave
To see these people in action
The airlines in Florida
Facing the worst hurricane in world history
Decided that the expeditated thing to do
The MBA approved thing to do
The profit maximizing, screw the public thing to do
Was to raise prices 600 percent
Without prior notice charging 3,000 dollars
Instead of doing the right thing
The compassion thing
The human thing of offering free flights to all
These executives, these so-called Masters of the Universe
thus, demonstrated that they are no longer human
But greed driven monsters
As are all the other soulless automatons
Who have taken over the world
Perhaps some day
Jesus will come back
And smite these motherfuckers
Send them to the hell they so richly deserve
We can only pray
For our deliverance from such evil
From the soulless evil masters of the universe
Who have taken over the planet
Idiots in High Places
Many years ago
I was amazed to find
So many idiots in high places
All over the world
All were idiots
People who should have known
A thing or so
because they should have seen a thing or so
and yet these idiots in high places
would reveal their total ignorance
every time they opened their mouth
or tweet or email their profoundly wrong thoughts
and it never ceased to amaze me
that few ever challenged these idiots
few ever said but you are wrong
or you don’t have a clue
and these idiots caused so much damage
to those around them
to the country and the world
and now we have the idiot in chief
in charge of the richest most powerful country
the world has ever known
and I wonder how in a country of 350 million people
we ended up with such an idiot in charge
But the idiots in high places phenomenon
Corporations made stupid decisions
Countries make incredibly bad decisions
All traced back to idiots in high places
And these idiots in high places
Can’t hide their ignorance and pure stupidity
They can’t pretend anymore
In a world of 24/7 constant news
The idiots every pronouncement
Fills the airways 24/7
And the only people who know better
Are too afraid to say what they know
That the idiot in high place
Is an idiot
and is destroying the world
and so, we doomed to die
due to the idiot in high places
John (“Jake”) Cosmos Aller is a novelist, poet, and former Foreign Service officer having served 27 years with the U.S. State Department in ten countries – Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Korea, India, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent, Spain, and Thailand. Prior to joining the U.S. State Department, Jake taught overseas for eight years. Jake served in the Peace Corps in Korea. Jake has been an aspiring novelist for several years and has completed four novels, (Giant Nazi Spiders, “the Great Divorce” and “Jurassic Cruise”, and is pursuing publication. He has been writing poetry and fiction all his life and has published his poetry fiction in over 25 literary journals He speaks Korean, some Spanish and Thai. He grew up in Berkeley, California but has lived in Seattle, Washington DC and Stockton California. He has traveled to over 45 countries and 49 States.
A mirror serves a purpose,
strives to remain constant
despite the changing faces –
sometimes someone new,
sometimes the same one
but a day older.
It’s not just
the one gray hair,
the blemish on the chin.
It reflects everything.
It’s up to us to pick and choose.
A mirror is okay with lake water
doing the job for it,
rippling a face
like a snake casting off slough.
Or even a window,
both in the glass family
even if the unwitting pane
can only accommodate parts of people
and, even then, its accuracy is disputed.
A mirror is not devious.
merely holds to the two dimensional doctrine:
return all that it is given
It has no interest
in where we go, what we do,
after we’re done looking.
For a mirror has no inner life,
is content to stare at a wall
until we return
A mirror can’t tell ugliness from beauty
though it assumes, on some level,
that, if we stare into it long enough,
we’ll make our own judgment.
A broken mirror, they say.
brings seven years’ bad luck.
But only if it’s the seven years’ bad luck
we already had coming.
The lady is idolized.
Forget the accomplishments.
Her perfect figure
warrants preserving after death.
Love the fantasy.
Skin stops at the edge of our inquiry.
Her eyes say
you’ve come far enough…
wallow in the color.
She had a child,
She wed a man.
She even has a delicate scar
beneath her skin
from a minor car accident.
But her breasts don’t believe
in life stories.
And her hips have nothing to gain
from how she pays her bills on time.
The lady is in our heads
posing for our thoughts.
She can’t be in her head.
Her face won’t allow it.
Blame the lack of stimulants in the air.
Call me an effigy made of stone.
But my blood refuses to be wooed
despite your come-hither gesture.
The moonlight lies like a sheet
on your spotted body.
Your language is a brighter shade of pink.
Lamp tries to warm
but the background music is frozen.
It’s your leopard-skin that’s at fault.
It prods my sensibilities like a pistol barrel.
What’s next? An ocelot coat?
You’re pushing a rock up a hill
if you imagine I can love you in that.
No, make that fighting a big cat bare-handed.
My ideals are clear on the subject.
I‘m so like the leopard,
searching for that justice we seek
but will never find.
And, despite your sexy winds blowing my way,
I will not waver.
For necrophilia, bestiality –
that is the love and sex you offer.
So here we are in the living room –
a man and a corpse
that’s embalmed by pretty green eyes
and a flash of shoulder-length black hair.
But the shadows under those eyes are pits.
Those tresses are a form of tallow.
Really, your insinuations arc beginning to sicken me
Sure, you insist your leopard-skin is really a fake.
But a fake’s the real thing in this light.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.
“Everyone knows that the dice are loaded,
everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.”
(L. Cohen & S. Robinson)
He said ‘I lend you love’
which meant – lease:
on spent tourmaline.
The attache of indifference
the meteor fall
or how she aggregates