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J A C K E T  # 5
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Chris Stroffolino : Three poems
          Speculative Primitive
Can the clothes you have to crawl out of your skin to shed
provide us with a deeper coherence than
the myth of a resume caught in a traffic jam
that threatens to be life, and a reassuring one at that?
Nah. So I step out of the shade that tries to solve the sphinx
but not before ceaselessly analyzing the suburbanites
smuggling out our evaporating sweat in their briefcases.
Without them, there'd be no alternative to them
unless we can leave behind all thought reduced to comparisons
to discredit the urge for justice (in love) as sick
as a standard whose muzak version outlives its be-bop one
in "popular" consciousness. But can we?
Dunno. So I walk the streets with a camera and tell
everyone who attracts me to take my picture until I tire.
It's a rare day. No, it's spring and thus a season
and I'm not living in the moment but in thought
where religion rolls out a red carpet to make
the ground beneath a minefield waiting for
and warding off the pleasurable mischief of conclusion.
Now, if binaries plunged emotionally into emotion
as a present forms around them no longer a point
announcing the arrival of what would only be you
if two negatives could make a positive,
then I'd only love you because I love myself
and I wouldn't have to fall in love with love
to fondle a flower on the way home from work with a friend
to seem a deviation in an information society which
in turn--they say--props it up, as clouds do clear days.

          Shared Dream Bustle
You wouldn't give me the song, only the radio
on which we first heard it. And when the things we hated
began to eclipse the love we hated them for,
what we both wanted was revealed to be safety, the villain.
For what safety can there be but silence
when volcanoes urge us past the point of no return
while the kick we got siding with the screams
that have been unjustly tabooed but still lack
that perfection which wouldn't need to buy
into pure relativism to feel good about itself
is silenced/ by the sight/ of blind speech/
we have to talk/ to be deaf to...
I knew it was not noble to block the windshield
just to be able to block the rearview mirror.
I did, however, "find" it necessary.
It took over a year for the desire for you
to follow you out the door.
That doesn't mean you, er, she
could walk back in without it as a chaperone.
That's why the armored self starts up
and the numbers cease to numb
the changing room, a blur to the blind
there's no one left to envy 'cept
a certain non-mainstream darkness
we liked to think the guitar played
while falling in lust with the love
that has blackened everything but
the truth that never lands on sanity
(still hooked by snores at gunpoint)
without an armful of regrets I only
manage to dematerialize on red-letter days
that happen every hour though not
"on the hour" like the news
that renames the song or the song
that remains the same, declared sane
if no safer than our common silk.
          The Luxury of Sitting
As if life is the box at the wharf
for those who need surgery to feel--become splendid
and grateful as the wave's happy sacrifice.
Ah, the power we have when the water recedes!
No more the voyeur borrowing moon
now that the jackhammers have peeled our clothes
and the rooster's caught redhanded
by the sun that seconds its smile
if you stoop to think about it
near the grass factory where invitations incubate.
On the other side, no one can see you.
The reason: they think it's their duty to be attentive
and cannot live the lie of laziness.
We are animals in search of whiffs or flames.
The precise ants and out of tune bulls.
Dualism sends urgent warnings, reminders.
A fool is a formletter but there's a still hill somewhere
and it takes two or time to find it.

Chris Stroffolino is the author of Stealer's Wheel (forthcoming in 98 or 99, Hard Press), Light as a Fetter (Situations, 97), Cusps (Aerial/Edge, 95), Oops (Pavement Saw, 1994), and Incidents (Iniquity/Vendetta, 1991).

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