Chris Stroffolino

the minimalist

his morning's a dressing room
he really rather wishes
we wouldn't enter

though sometimes the sun smiles
like a soul softened by the lingerie of flesh

there he sorts out what he's been fed
to decide what's to be the night's faces

his process of sifting,
stolen & authentic,
given place in what
the non-existing impromptu actors
call sleep, doesn't pay
(unlike the sleep we call our job)

but that's okay.
he eats far less.

a paper boat gets to the mouth
as quickly as a barge
propelled by a mansion-sized motor

though perhaps
with disadvantages
like having nothing to say
as if nothing isn't needed


you set sail
in the sea of solitude
study for some
for others a stepping stone

here the islands are peopled
and you can see
your reflection in the water
as easily as it would be seen
in a woman's eyes.

it stares you down
fucks things up
splashes waves over your words
as much as a woman could
but can not comfort
as a woman can
even by needing to be comforted

so the sea's the dream
you can never escape being hurt in
without sacrificing the kind of honesty
you want to say you need

and the sun's
trying to sneak under your eyelids
splash waves through words
that can never, for all your trying
be made yours
to wake you open
like a wind that pushes
the cloud you've evaporated into
back over her watery shore

devil when wet

                              for Donald Lipski

it's raining everybody
in sight umbrellas
but only when wet
I see the Bellevue Stratford
for the legionnaire's disease
a critic said your art reminded him of

you're working with this large magnet,
searching for something to put it on
when you notice it's stopped
your cheap digital watch at the number
of a woman you need
to get a special chemical from

back at your phone
these machine messages leave you
an empty feeling so you drill
a hole in a book called "A War in the Mind"
which happens to be the same size
as a rubber tubing thing you've been
carrying around for years like a camera
of water from the sink to the freezer

you open as water falls
in the crack where the plug
meets the outlet to cause a fire
so civil and spectacular your film
wins the festival that can't stop the rain
until an umbrella puts out the fire
that doesn't mean a damned thing

i have a shirt on so you can't stare

gestalt's a trite word, my body
doesn't leak out of my eyes.

i prefer nouns to verbs
when i prefer being buried in a box
to being eaten by a bear.

& you, desperate enough to urge
nor loving to be bored,
want to trade your loneliness
for my (flirty) paranoia?

it's so hip to want nature—
but do you really want
to step over the corpses
lined with maggots where flesh should be
just to get to work

i'm being a bit extreme.
you're just asking
to be able to size up my body,
not to take off my clothes

but i feel your eyes
tearing out the fabric so much
i might as well
flit around naked like that earth
mother you couldn't take straight
without the chaser of private property,

and even though it's cloudy
doesn't mean the shade
isn't even cooler

on the rack

one myth says the kiss turns cold
leaving the ashes of a curse
to warm the winter
in which being bored
is no longer the crisis.

ah, the youth—how eagerly
he runs towards problems
as if he's a happy dagger, bare bodkin,
and they want to commit suicide

if it turns out they were only fooling,
that they were more interested
in filling up the notepad
with excuses for their wit
to impress people with a play
we cannot escape once we enter,
words will start burning grooves
much in the way boats do water.

you have to worry to see the traces,
though it becomes thought by force of habit
as meaning's little mirror of years
begins to blossom on the branches
of something you once wrote
when settling for survival


((((((((( The Alterran Poetry Assemblage )))))))))