Chris Stroffolino, p.2


There are some leaves that do not fall,
For whom falling is what flying is
To men whose winged imagination
Has become a cliché since Kitty Hawk,
For whom flying is even to a kamikaze
Whose skin is not the plane.

These leaves may appear as trees
That never fall, at least within the span
Of a human life. Leaves like the sun
Presumably is, if spoken of by a self,
A body already dead, at least to surprise.

But the trees fall gently as leaves,
The sun burns out as gently as the briefest candle,
Not because we’re bigger
Than it, than them, than it,
But because whatever it is that has holes
Is no more us than the capital,
Whether civic or commercial,
Exposed or insidious,
Of the national or global economy.

The patterns on the weather map
Are more beautiful than the stockmarket grafts;
The parody of the mountain range,
The way time takes the form of erosion
To do unto bare outlines exactly what life does
To what they said was you
(or seemed to in toyland,
the chocolate and sugar
that rebelled against
plain old bananas and apples and streets).

A pair of incisors exposes itself
For the camera, not the one for the film
As much as the one used to shoot
The documentary of the film
Which it turns out will be called the same name
As the book on which the film is based
(as if it was the post-Reagan years
that proved you could outlive the apocalypse).

Then the mouth shuts again.
This may have happened in the dying
Factory town of Schenectady,
Which now shares a shopping center
With the civic capital (whose center
got destroyed to make way for the
concrete egg and the highway to the commercial capital)
Of the Empire State, the center that has no center
But that which is found in becoming it
And yes you can bring a lover
Even if you don’t need but merely want
Even if there is a difference,

But maybe it’s just easier
For folks of my generation
To identify with dying factory towns
Than it is for my students.
We may even have more in common
With those older than us in this—
Or maybe it’s just a matter of class.
But I will never pay to be on a boat
With Reich’s “symbolic analysts”
Though perhaps I’ve been, will be, a stowaway
With my orgone accumulator.

It was later than I thought
When I first believed them, and the hunter
Gets captured by the game, a diatribe
Against those who privilege metonymy over metaphor.
A dying factory town is being undone
Like a bodice o’er a bosom.
It’s not too late, to build more stairs
Or let the mountains erode—
What’s being undone was
An undoing from the start.
Thus it expresses its affirmative inaction through us.

The leaves fall like propaganda
Leaving a bare tree outside the picture
Every season but winter paints
As long as we have no more evergreens,
As long as the west wind
Was strong enough to seduce the clingers,
The clip-ons as well as the drifters
To the barren boardwalk of finality, and beneath—
To prove there’s no dead factory towns,
No heads of state but cherries subduing themselves
To the melting (or molten) sundae in which they work,
More natural than heaven or hell.

Thus, the season must be seized
As if it’s a moment, the only moment
In which there are no leaves but trees
And being itself a fruit to be eaten
With no jealous god to offend
By the sound of our mouthless digestion
But the economy I couldn’t live in without opposing
Lustful, yes, for the ecology it calls punishment.