Jeff Bagato

Puppet Master in Polka Dots

A polka dot dress has a life
of its own, leading its mannequin
through the routines of the day,
out of the subway and onto the street
for a cup of coffee and stale 
dipping stick; the office opens
like a box of prunes, shrivelled
old husks all stuck to their chairs
smelling sweetish and soft
like old urine or fresh death;
they each put coffee to their lips
at the same time, exact
motion repeated like a puppet
orchestra plays the national
anthem on a hundred kazoos,
blowing this patriotic fury
across fruited plains,
oil rigs pumping corn fields
like porn stars on a back lot,
their fluffers’ hands sore
but proud of the effort,
all flagpoles raised high
over apple pie and cheesecake
for breakfast, bacon on the side;
the music plays sweet,
brushing tables in the diner
like the smoky perfume of a meatloaf
on fire;
              the world begins
with spreadsheets on stun,
grinding down lives into numbers
and rules till the polka
dots form in your eyes,
in your brain, like a disco ball
explodes all over the crowds,
over the walls, and smothers
the world with illusion

A multi-media artist living near Washington, DC, Jeff Bagato produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music and glitch video. His text and visual poetry has appeared in many journals including Empty MirrorOtolithsSlipstreamChiron Review, and Gold Wake Live. Short fiction has appeared in Gobbetand The Colored Lens. His published books include And the Trillions (poetry), and The Toothpick Fairy (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at