dan raphael

Start with Sonnets

the sonnet of the husk: i get wet but never green.
the wind blows through me but I get no smaller.

sonnet sliding on ice, hitting a parked car but escaping casually..
cold a state of mind, not skin.
cloth I neither wove, sewed, nor refined from petro-chemicals
for decades of captivity, holding in the off gassing & evaporation

i thought the only death i had to worry about was my own, not the planets.
the media heads and voices say focus to be worthy,
work for more, be happy with less,
fear the government, love business,
wealth is how god shows his love

we had exceptional decades of prosperity and exploration—they’re over.
time to normal, though the pendulums may take a while to center:
acid oceans, gone glaciers and ice shelves. ecosystems migrating into turf wars.

if we looked up at the earth.
if every step across the sky demanded full attention

mother earth, mother sky, mother ocean,
us men came from another world and convinced the women they couldn’t breed without us.
we had nowhere else to go, leaving behind planet husks
and gods angered by their own naïveté, their love,
which is always taken from us so we move on, as hunger follows the rising sun.

eat the rich.     love the trees.     have few babies.
a sonnet for the death of democracy; a sonnet for the triumph of capital.
the world cant support this many people
but it takes cheap labor and urban strife to ensure the wealthy’s survival
until cyborgs and nanobots replace us
and who’ll need the earth’s husk—the scavengers, alchemists and dung people;
fermenters, carpenters, sculptors and those who like tearing down.

when a car can fit in my pocket, plastic pressed into bricks
but don’t stand downwind, wiping the past from my hair,
getting new words for the varieties of haze & dust falling & rising.
the short straw has to go out in the new weather:
does it burn or stain, have messages translatable or not.
my skin is an almanac, taking core samples of the oldest fat

a world that once was green and fresh is not the place for meat
as if isolated tribes and feudalism was the best we could do

Dexterity and Stimulus

told me to hold out both hands but i only had one:
3 ears, 4 legs, 87 names, 2 coins to rub together,
a nest on my head with eggs i couldnt see to count, each beat of my heart
a tuba neath a brass sky thick with the patina of winter,
compact car dangling from each ear, a wheelless folding bicycle for a rib cage,
hunger on the hour, hearing what im about to say as ringtones madrigal,
                                                             as the doorbells backed by a hundred twenty watts

last night everyone on the bus traded business cards, let phones take pictures of each other,
driver steering with her knees to keep with the text flow;
i went to someone elses apartment after we traded pants and purses
& curse my luck to now be de-caf & sober for the last 3 years,
a limp to remind me, a bruise no one else can see.
the time is altered every month & after each election,
which come as often as the free pharmaceutical pizzas:
if you’ve never been level how can you know you’re not down?

look for a window without a combination lock
beating like the heart in the middle of each mountain.
little doors on my heels where fluid can be exchanged.
after a little practice i could hold my breath with either hand.
before erupting the alarm clock shuts down my dream
where a faceless deity juggles the planets with two of its 8 arms

i need more acres than i can count and almost as many animals,
somewhere i can sleep outdoors most of the time, smelling like a diesel-fueled coyote
haunted by the gps in my brain trying to lure me across the border:
that’s not a flock of birds its warrants, yearning for completion,
ink running in the rain that’s two days late.

the faucets turn themselves on and fog the air with yellow steam I wish was opium.
Im small enough to go under the door but smart enough not to
the 3rd toe on my left foot belongs to the CIA.
a clock without numbers or arms but pictures to represent the passage of time,
                                              pictures that havent repeated yet
ive taught my heart to skip every hundredth beat so I can more easily track it.
diagnostics say the batterys getting low so time to recharge the backup.

food interferes with drink.     light encourages darkness
if someone doesn’t talk soon im raising the thermostat to 98.6
to count the walls sweat, feel my 3rd ear bumping against my pony tail.
for each chew at dinner I’ll walk 10 steps, making a circle on a grid
without going through anyones yard or riding on the backs of birds.
to help me sleep I count buddhas floating over the horizon.
some nights the earth wants to spin faster, going from single to long play,
revealing the hidden compression of everything we step on—
new earth wont support me, feeling im too foreign to be kin,
eating from a refrigerator instead of growing leaves,
assembling an orchestra from body parts I didn’t eat—
this music must be performed on an empty stomach by a fuss free omnivore
not counting calories,     checking the time,     or answering anything but curiosity

a handful,     a headful,     a pant load,
if we tilt down the backseat thisll fit,
surprised by the swimming pool where the living room used to be
we’re laughing so hard the sun goes down before we know that dinners burnt
and the smoke alarms sent wireless messages to red, green and yellow fire trucks
sprouting like daffodils after a volcano of numbers spews cost benefit analyses
and the radiant bar codes I now read like braille
so im never surprised by price and softly inhaling value when it falls in my drawer
at first trying to escape then recognizing the comforts ive accumulated with
               all this time on the job,
as personal gravity eats away at the macro-,     even time gets a little too relaxed,     now and again, when i think im walking not driving and want to avoid the overweight seagull
               falling with a message
as the light turns green before the pedestrians turn invisible
and the fumes I was riding on surrender to inertia:

only the grayness of my car gets me through the indecisive rainbow of shopping carts
who forgot which direction home was, vengeful herds returning to this prairie
               that was underwater
decades before my house sprouted in this mycorrhizole pressure cooker of
so many hungry people with so few incendiary ideas

dan raphael's Impulse and Warp: The Selected 20th Century Poems has recently been published by Wordcraft of Oregon. It contains work from his first 13 books and 30 years of writing.
previous page     contents     next page



Post a Comment

<< Home