Chris Stroffolino, p.1


The mountains were alive for a second
Then they started making promises again.
Clouds got low enough to rain themselves into the clear
Where every circling bird refuses to make bathing
A question of need; some of the circles are small
But some are bigger than the sky so you think
Fragment, silver, island, environmentally sound flatness
As if imperialism was simply a symptom
Of the trauma of roundness when the sun occupied
The empty center and history was a weather report
That made no room for you amidst its bubbles
Where ocean was air to the thrown.

And the mountain takes longer to cook than to eat
So the horizon widens like ripples to the shore
Of what wouldn’t be a mirror were there not graffiti on it,
Sayings that give you pause and charge for development
Because the night’s more a darkroom than a theatre
Or the stage is the action of rehearsal.

The floorboards are trembling so you’d think we’re outside
among shaking leaves and heaven is no roof
So you have to jump out of your skin with the muscles
A materialist would call the soul.
The sunbathing barometers you mate with
Huddling by the fire in a medieval winter
In tarantula coasts, shaggy as a plantation owner
Without slaves or inheritance, having to use animals as friends
To climb their sides in a phone wire’s clearcut runway
Where there are so many channels to choose from
They will never be changed unless you feel like your
Whole body’s bungee jumping when your fingers
Run slowly down a salt shaker, are just let slip like that
In absentmindedness as you offer your hikemate “advice”
About the virtues of self-consciousness as long as you think
You know someone better by not putting them on the defensive.

The figure grows but the ground doesn’t shrink
For the sky doesn’t have to take the mountains with it
In the absence of clouds that would be a single city to you
Did you believe that sublimation’s starring role in civilization
Was your favorite form of shaving in the boiler room
Where everybody puts on boars’ heads and pretends
To fuck their brains out until the light’s turned on
And the cockroach form of the soul calls off the hunt
For the less visible nuisances that keep you awake
Well into your thirties, and you’re ready to call the whole thing off
But the truck has many wheels, all spinning at the same speed.
You lie between the larger ones, tremble to the marrow
And not only remain unscathed but are replenished,
Clean and vibrating.

You get rid of furniture by becoming it. A window
Blows its horn. Somewhere there are muscle spasms, sushi.
If life wouldn’t be an ache you wouldn’t have to spend so much time
In death. Call it a circus. No one cares. I come bearing quicksand
To slow the thing down so it seems faster than it did
When it wouldn’t stop, but some wall of sun
Steps between my eye and the sky. The sun is
The sunglasses the night wears so it can keep the sky to itself.
The white, blue, and gray paintcans flit through it
Like meteors. Night is honest until it becomes a darkroom.
You can rub against the mountains in it until they become promises,
Till they become visible, till they become threatening.

Their many moods stain each crag with a lumberjack’s
worst nightmare. Onions and peppers, even salami.
He made his lover a crust of bread in public
In hopes of finding the stone as watery as the water was stony.
Some moments seem to be a wider opening
Until they seem like years. Forceps argue without fighting.
Without love you may be nothing, but without nothing
There is love. Nothing is extinct, if nothing is.
It could be black, could be blue, could be fat free enough
To make you want to chew. That’s why I didn’t know
You were air until we made love, why time was a circle
And the present no green hub the decaying brain takes longer
To cook than to eat so an old man on his escaped deathbed
Feels more of the future in front of him than the young intern
Trying to synchronize his watch to hospital time.