dan raphael

Tango Anywhere

to remain free through general surrender
yet scratched on glass, the tiniest graffiti on pebbles & grains of rice
the jazz quartet of laundry, sitting in, going around ourselves
much stillness with random stirs, a ripple through the room
like a sudden fissure you can’t see but feel, as if a car parked inside my jacket
in january somewhere the satellites arent allowed to reveal.

barefoot I sniff out the bass, squint to see the phosphorescent dust blowing from the inside,
leaving my shoes like fred astaire, changing my shirt like someone you’ll never see again,
train snaking down the trackless street, all the blossoms closed for the night
like the offices and shops though still inside, six teflon feet on garage cement,
where sweat changes colors,where lights take up half the seats,
where the dance floors either rebellious or asleep

                                                                                           I spend one hour being street;
I count a minute of passing cars, divide by yesterday and know where to eat,
avoiding omelets and wraps, preferring visible ingredients, some I cant identify,
like what instrument is making that sound, the room suddenly moving
like a train car and im outside travelling down the elevator shaft,
2 blocks east and 5 minutes north
                                                                            the wall lifts like an old tent flap,
meat has burnt here recently, sex was had even sooner, upstairs if there was one.
I’m dancing in my chair cause I don’t want to sleep on the floor,
walls breathing through multiple blankets, a corner of six legged cats,
down the hall to the real money, beyond barter and speculation,
something you cant beat out of me, my black tears would make anyone run,
hypnotized into hunger

                                              is it a room,     a sponge     or a careless sleeve
a card game,     a cooking show, or several guitars with 2 gallons of coffee
even this deep and off center I know when the front doors used
am surprised when there’s nothing to drive,
with the holes in my cheeks I can whistle like an argentian squeezebox,
in return I smell roses & melting butter.
I cant sleep until my legs have filed their memories and fed on the showers garden
I wake up in the kitchen as a sound track

Octember Moan

Octember dogs roil constantly, salted feathers on a stick, lamps without skin
lighting consensually as personal eclipses lead to bone loss and a weary transparency
excites the subsoil laborers with overtime & finders fees,
visions boiling over in aesthetic isolation as the walls become a robe hung to dry
our collective howling masked by the highway stampedes that never seem to tire

we’re evolving to base 12 with folks paying big bucks for an extra finger or two,
8 string guitars, & why not bi-cameral lips so we can eat and still articulate:
this body is insufficient for the multi-tasking our data-pressured atmosphere demands,
my dreams now record and edit themselves, by the time I get downstairs
I’ve already started the coffee, walls are passé,
the yeast inside my brain can make anything inebriant.

whose city was this—half my height and a penchant for circles, no need for stairs,
I disguise myself as umbrella skin, a 3 inch representation of the pacific ocean
makes me want to get naked and drink with all my surface,
my shovel tongue reaching to my chest.
                                                                                           as if we came here to only eat leftovers:

the votes have been tallied but we wont know what winter we’ll get
until the stores are sold out of what we need. we’ll skip thanksgiving
and go directly to darkness, bone seeds hammered like circus tent stakes
to keep the earth from repelling me when stars breathe again.

its too wet to be winter but too dark to be anything else,
as if we don’t have the technology to disguise the smoldering crater that was australia,
an inverted volcano oozing molten neath alps and tundra,
reviving the earths pH perhaps, nights veined in fluorescent orange,
day made pointillistic by all the smoke     insects     & rain 1/3 not water.

what cant be solved with hammers will need all we’ve learned about corrosion,
long molecules to snare unsuspecting structures,
a novel we cant put down or see through to crime waves de-vitalizing our presents and pasts:
the experiences the cable sends me become the only things I see and taste,
running with my heroes in the near dream we share with our diets,
self driving cars so we never have to stop watching, as if I’m in the commercial,
at the drive up window trying to stuff the cow I’ve won in the backseat of my hybrid..

fire comes easy.     keeping away the hungry is never subtle.
so many ways to symbolize fangs—     gleaming,     viperous drips,
                                                                               jaws that wont open til I say so,
trained by running through a forest where all the tress are paranoid
with low, muscular arms. dont even think of lifting a leg or otherwise exposing the sensitive.
maybe the squirrels are behind all this, learning to communicate when treed:
how can running meat be anyones dinner but mine
                                                                                    plus portobellos, squid ink, miso, stout and dark meat—
becoming nocturnal through my diet, sleeping with fig halves on my eyes,
their galaxies of seeds navigating me through walls and cars unable to stop in time

Cant See Across

in my head     on the land     neath the sky
take off my shirt      flip over the sod
each root is a scroll to be flattened and read
or let the piano do it, give frequencies to spectroscopic content,
I can never see my inhale but often see my ex-
or the light always going out of my eyes—bouncing, activating
a snap of sun, a flare of moon
I cant count the stars coz I never stop moving

a seed head means you’ve gone too far
mucal seed brain containing its own atmosphere
what programs come with, what data sets
in put     out put      through put     stay put
leave it alone & something will grow from      on      with

as if my skin was an tyrant, corralling all my parts,
                                                             claiming to represent them.
each organ free as long as it does its job, no surprises
as dreams are collective: pancreas, thyroid, alveoli z-11, et al
                                              given night shift freedom to fantasize
if only     but couldn’t
no studios in the hive      natures cubicle farm
occasionally smell the honey but never taste
honey as religion     I’ll be so sweet when I die
like tasting the fog in various places—from the tallest tree,
just above newborn grass, down wind from the pulp mill
reading whats to come, whats to be contained
what smoke     what kindling      what unleashable thirst

in my head     on the land     neath the sky

last month set a record for wet, this month for dry
wondering what fog looks like 10 feet below the border
one beings fog is another’s opportunity
looking for lost fur, for claws to strike a spark
shed fog     shredded fog      just 30 seconds in the microwave
at least 4 hours without liquid before you arrive
knowing so much of this couldn’t fit in here

when an echo tsunamis with associations
                               threading out my ears and nostrils
a word taking 6 hours to complete
stories, not names     consequences spawned several physics ago
                what became of dnas fifth strand
                                                             vitamins in other alphabets
no matter how you rotate the characters
light shadow threads clump hump & clamor
take it off     take it off

                                                   I don’t exit but evaporate
when we’re busy applauding so much goes on behind our brains
the chairs disappear so we have to leave     we’re already homeless
I see by my barcode     stripe search
so much light on so much immovable and blind
I turn off the headlamp, the street light illuminating asphalt from within
bioflourescene is infectious
                                         shooting up a rainbow      snorting several continents
how coastlines get so jagged transacting with the never still ocean,
                                                                                           the never falling moon

while we swim in our microwave sea
as if you need tech to pick up the messages
more distracting than an earworm    a phone ringing where no phones
a swarm of january bees in my kitchen—
if my feet touched the floor I’d worry
rain free for 27 days
all the screaming thirst vibratory tango
tectonic junction of torsos and hands
realigning mirages from satellite jump ropes

I’m pro pulsion, pro ximity, want mo mentum,
many folds in this daily bread, beaten to rise, covered & chilled
like from a sauna to a garden hose but in reverse
if cows could eat methane and emit grass
if the suns insistence didn’t curdle the cheese clouds
where the fog has many rivers as sponsors, advertisers
up stream     up wind      up a tree without reversible claws
my skin turns red every autumn but never falls off
the blue in my eyes only froze a couple times
when window covers made you suspect, police with skeleton keys
I’m third or 4th at my paychecks table, a majority but still leftovers,,
dollars like fruit so varied in flavor and quality
dollars to eclipse the sun, dollar that convince the rest of my wallet to revolt

the best things in life are what you make them, every breath a payment,
each thought potential interest, fan boy flames, groupie accountants,
practicing my quick card draw, never sitting with my back to the ATM.
honoring every window with what other window have told me,
when fog is not the sky,     where air’s not what we walk through
in our co-op free-range no comparison bodies
I don’t fit the pants the pants fit me, air eager to ride my lungs coaster
returning where we got on, filled with one thing
and emptied of another, like a midnight leap from bed to dinner
                                                                            fill a bottle with sour joy mash

                               Opening Monologue for an Imaginary Late Night Talk Show

                Some people can ignore the weather, but not me. I can ignore red lights, screaming babies, sniper fire, the sulfurous aroma of long term politicians. But I’ve always had a weakness for weather, sometimes mercurial, stormy, sunny. As Tom Waits sang, “the forecast is hot tonight, cold tomorrow, and precipitation is expected.” What precipitates precipitation?
                My personal hell would be an equatorial desert, where the sky and temperature never change, where the lengths of day and night never vary. Nor could I live at the north pole—there aren’t 365 days in the year, just one—the sun goes up in march and sets in September. How could that possibly be the planet we live on?
                So it seemed impossible that I wasn’t aware of, nay a founder of, the new trend here in the northwest of naked rain yoga, becoming one with weather, opening all the charkas and orifices to the onshore flow. Of course the classes can’t be scheduled exactly--who knows when the rain will gift us—you get a call at 3 am or have to leave work early—to be denied would be against your freedom of religion.
                Being near the ocean is being near an edge, and if you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up to much room. Sometimes I’m so compact I appear two dimensional, but which two? time and space? salt and pepper? upriver and downwind.
                Weathermen base their predictions not on the future but what hasn’t happened in a while,
when people start looking up rain on Wikipedia, dial 1-800-get-rain, miles of clothesline flapping with what seldom sees the sky. If you think of clouds as clothes then the sun is our flesh, and this explains our flesh’s need to expose itself to the sun. It’s not just vampires who flock to the much beclouded northwest, but also those solar devotees who would not being arrested for public nudity or other socio-political infractions
                With cut backs in road crews more drains clog in autumnal torrents detouring more
cars onto fewer streets, creating more jaywalkers and general pedestrian anarchy. As long as the cyclists can get through we’ll be all right. As long as the rain doesn’t become hallucinatory so I want to evaporate, join the cloud like the mass of information that I am, 'til its time for my transformation in the nirvanic stillness of mountaintop snow. A white-out of the imagination where the brain’s forest hasn’t yet been clear cut for memory.
                To see nothing is to see everything. You can drown in a teacup, you can smother in a lungful of nitroglycerine, What stops the heart starts the rain. What starts the lawn mower make me feel like a god among puppets. The rain pulls tears, drool and pee from me, some leakage I cant identify but still feel responsible for.
                Tonight I am the sun and the clouds, I am a clear night with 2 of 3 moons visible. The rain that eventually comes out of the faucet is the love and revulsion we all feel for each other, odorless and transparent. We have nothing to hide, no matter how many layers of clothes we wear in tonight’s shower stall of entertainment and insight.

dan raphael is giving up his 30 year day job & planning to put more time into writing and encouraging creativity, among other things. Recent poems appear in Caliban, Mad Hatters, Shadows of the Future, Spittoon and Big Bridge. Looking to publish the next book, As if There’s no Tomorrow.
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