dan raphael

Working Backwards from Eternal Life

when the grand canyon is dripping with the boneless, the radiant pacific
lapping like a violet cheese of increased air pressure across the tines of sandstone
enjoying the sound of its rain in the steel drum nebulae of atoms made flesh.

tell me what it looks like and i’ll tell you the time
figuring earths inside each other
the way I store my socks to peel away a rainbow of blacks from each decade
like a planet so hard in the middle even the sun has to get devious
to enthrall with a one way ticket of i got what you need
and nobody else can break through your smile so teflon cold

from the footprints on the bark, from hair samples in abandoned buildings,
from the letters so decomposed i can only snort their meaning coz my brain is paper too:
if digital is the antitheses of analog the synthesis is too explosive from my body
to not surrender all my marrow and bloods treasury of partial solutions
and see what was on the coin I didn’t think would flip

a plane crash.      a breast too large for my body.
how sunshine is an addiction i just cant shake so i keep travelling ahead of the darkness
sucking fuel through my toes and sparking the fumes with how my balls click
against my wooden thighs.     im here to redefine disposable

all i can say is names—     names of gods,     names of forces,
names of ways to mix water sugar and fat,     ways things continue after death
i open a restaurant and close a town..
if i had 2 thousandths of everyone who walked by on the day before christmas,
a way to get them to do what i want. but if none of them can dance.
if all of them are beautiful as my tears freezing before they hit the beach
if the wind would stop for one second so i could surrender.
no putty, no primer, no 400 watt light.

i run through the cables 43 selections 43 times and hear esperanto in 5 part harmony
meliting shivers of glass like vampire fangs
or eiffel towers of bio-engineered chocolate that birds fall into
and whip a feathered frenzy that smells like lunch and sings like tomorrow on a jetliner
about to slide into an unexpected vein
like an aneurism waiting for a week before the election with internal collapsars
holding a second me in blind orbit the way I could marry myself
when it took a year to find the ocean, where everything tastes like industry

when i get home dinners already in bed.
when the helicopter pushed me through my recalcitrant mirror.
i want to hover. i want to ascend without a runway.
once the number of holes in my head reaches 13 my skull will assume its natural shape,
my brain will grow outside the bones and steer its antennas     to the future colonies
where we sing like buddhas fucking among the galaxies, our fertilized eggs
slowly begin to cluster as stars and planets,
as i get out of my car and scatter like a thousand people sneezing at once

the houses melted into boulders will groan when the tide of a moon manufactured 7 galaxies from here shifts the wobbling planet to tempt the flames of our invisible souls
into the central chasms of eyes feeding micro-memories would touch nipple to battery
or the scene a swiveling desk lamp shrinks 90%
like a bread-bag sail recycled so many times
the polymers break open to a mile-wide footprint never dry but always damp,
like a city with extinct countries in every plaster wall is a spot meat will sear with inescapable garlic

don’t french, don’t thai, don’t bahama--
pour the continents back together and this time the oceans don’t win.
too many volcanoes on one side divides the gap tween venus and mars.
back then we only needed 5 planets. To get beyond 9 would mean the end of everything.
fission is the path. sweeping up what fell back onto the ridge where it sprouted,
if the only thing to walk on is thinner than the space between my pores
I will slide on bone skates trading calcium for energy, folding like a tent
just big enough to keep me in orbit.
even from space i cant get the big picture,
focusing on faces and how they fill their jeans.
what that flickering eye is trying to say.
an unstruck match rubbing against a candle wick.
how many tongues can meet in airless space where our eyes microweave an interrelationship
none of us can splinter     splice     replace

The tallest thing flat-topped enough to land on

a tall thin glass with ice cubes intensifies the light;
no mist of evaporation, an almost sweat of contact, what will fall in there
from the sky or ceiling, a glass as ignored as clean, a work of time-based art—
those arent ice cubes those are memories or visions, a chance encounter:
he was killing an afternoon while she was going home empty
alone with the bay we multisect to grid the water so none escape or get lost –
seagulls with remote cameras, dolphins sniffing each boat for its address,
im not authorized to swim here unless decontaminated from my inland status,
i cant drive but i can run 30 miles an hour,     for errands and appointments,
to try and find the house i lost last weekend, even though my key fits the lock
some other me’s already there, not the same size but    similar style, having taken that turn
i missed a decade ago,     seeing a blizzard as an opportunity

this west virginia mountain must have its top blown off to realize its full potential,
this river has gone flabby with clarity and needs the challenge of contaminations,.
i cant get to Everest’s peak and whats the point of leaping from anywhere else
close enough to evoke the gods wrath:
i act so strange one of my parents had nothing to do with me,
spawned by an angel or raven flying inside a sudden womb, a mirror bright yolk,
must be opened away from oxygen—rust is censorship, fire is totalitarian

holding seconds like water, when the clocks stop what do you feel, power loss
through how wide an area, conspiratorial signal to scramble the satellite all cell phones are timed to, without windows I don’t know when to wake, I have too many choices and nowhere to go,
72 beats a minute, don’t look too close at the sun or youll see its pulsing like a tornado
stuffed with what its picked up but driven by such an intense spark it cant stop erupting
inverting its point to bring the upper atmosphere and all its refugees
back to the surface that no longer remembers their crimes, thousands of functioning identities
with no people behind them, bank accounts generating their own life styles,
packages that neither arrive or return, remote control delivery trucks guided by rogue satellites programmed by the imagination of those who never turn off the tv

i dream of bicycles so i can generate in my sleep.
show me your closet and i’ll try to respect you.    so few closets with shrines in them:
a wall of shoes,    a wall of vacuum compressed plastic bags where the labels tried to run.
when the basement gets overheated and the attic succumbs to mold.
mice who can gnaw concrete; squirrels who can solder.
a stripe by any other name. a stain from internal hemorrhaging:
hold something back long enough and it wont know what to do when released.

after six weeks of solid clouds the first sun demands we shed our coats and expose our legs
even if its 45 degrees. its not the temperature but the angle of light,
i wont contort my neck for an early start.
if i shower long enough i’ll lose a couple ounces, fit more easily between homes—
doors this narrow are always custom made,
how my car must snake to avoid scraping, puncturing, various wounds with various solutions,
a medicinal rain, sunshine only works if you take off more than youre wearing.
only my inability to play back sounds and images keeps me from being a cellular device.
i hear what youre sending. im a baleen whale immersed in data krill,
penguin clouds, water smelling older, unravelling.

like eating from someone else’s plate far from home. forgetting which hand is which.
here the knife is more important than the gun, the cook has many ways to snare.
hands among the surfaces, spoon to mouth to memory & speculation.
when the heat’s turned off the aromas are peaking and the sun dives below the cloud cover
but not yet the horizon. the meal means different things to each of us,
hours of stories we each could tell, always something someone no longer eats,
something someone hasn’t had for decades. then we reinfiltrate the land in small groups,
connected only through the meal which isnt sure which map to give who. No stars to guide by,
stairs in every direction we look no cars, few people, for a moment an eye in the sky,
a gunshot 3 blocks away.
                                                        release your inner barbarian,     repudiate the poisoning of birth,
draw what you see when your hands are taped over your eyes,
—its better luck to be brokenthan to melt,
when the future falls through my spine i bend my head over completely
so you see me a rectangle, my eclipsed mouth engulfing my heart

dan raphael has appeared in a couple previous issues of Otoliths, and he has recent poems in Heavy Bear, Refined Savage, Knock Journal and Skidrow Penthouse. His book Bob Grit     Storm Cafe, originally published in 1985, was re-issued last December. Besides readings in hometown Portland, have upcoming shows in Seattle, Ukiah CA and Eugene OR.

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