dan raphael


Walk through clear door
lead with the forehead
forgot to take my glasses off
nose lucks out
angle of shards to neck
door firm in its tracks
left shoulder just before the right
enough momentum the rail
i’m over before it gives
9 floors, 8 floors
mathing my acceleration
nothing between me and asphalt

hand of god
muscular wind
as many fishing lines as years
5 or 6 ropes designating who’d care
something of me keeps going
gelatinous sketch
nerves wanting their turn, skeleton free

an unsourced focus of simultaneous vitality
turns the asphalt to foam rubber
eskimos with a blanket
freak storm encases me with enough ice
skin will never recover
2 fewer vertebrae—i wont need to duck for doorways
nub feet
knees like snow globes releasing weather

open door on the ground floor
turbo diesel wheel chair
intention to jet
a re lease on life
training to accelerate
climbing with just my hands & teeth
clothed in anti-gravity
convincing the rain to reverse and take me with it
tangled in redundant cloud

spine jumps through the top of the skull
a flock of neurons
the blood vessels let go of everything but blood
swimming in blood, blood lunch
sniff the unlabeled bottle, swirl to feel if anythings left

What doesnt

poison is a stem, a statue, a star fresh from the vintage shop
stepping around the puddling light, the over-cooked bok choy fluxion
an orange trouble light we pretend to not see—some preparation was skipped,
someone got off two stops early

a thousand postures stream by with one releasing a thousand more
down the rabbit hole of deja-fuck, why’d i let that get away, why didn’t i pull the lever
to open the sidewalk, chemistry predating the city, predating my great grandparents
being thrown out of disparate places—first there is a Poland, then there is no Poland,
then there is
                          one room is all bed, one house is half a door
steam, stamen, menthol inhaler instead of a pancreas, sweating sugar,
the hand doesn’t absorb the glove so much as disperse it with many options
for transit or diversion—if all 5 fingers touch at once i am overloaded,
like a symphony through an ear bud
                                                                      as if our clothes hold themselves up
my reflection stands behind the crowd, seeing only backs, shoulders,
necks like continents from space, a head that’s never known a hat
displaying its history of erosion and luck

poison that protects us, that gives us visions, builds resistance
anything left in a heap, fermenting resentment, exposed to the wind
of escapees and pilgrims: whats edible back home has a killer twin growing here.
how few of us have the name we started with—nick names, erasures,
coz i was given dad’s name I’m called my middle
                                                                                              your names your poison
at the animal shelter i whisper my litany of guardian saints looking for recognition
don’t reward your dog with chocolate.
                                                                          what doesn’t kill me makes me fat
when the fish jump into out boats we fast and pray;
when the rain abrades our windows i let the sun infest my hair,
trickle along the gullies and washes asking for ID & bleaching my card illegible:

i got so hot only blankets, bark and artificial wind could prevent my overcooking
well done but not burnt, expanding in a closed place
til nothing wants to move again

Where we Going

A day in the life, a slice of the mesa, keeping two breakfasts and a lunch in my mouth,
repelling mosquitoes with promises—theyre always lost, always hungry,
looking for a sidewalk to sit and busk their ultrasonic discord,
money too large too lift, wings hidden in eyebrows shaved every Sunday.

We waited half an hour for the wind then left without it
diamond seed, opalescent mascara, we don’t have a mirror just each other—
press two faces together, wait ten minutes then pull apart gently,
a little steam, oil squeezed directly from the walnut that fell in my patient hand—
see a tree and walk towards making enough noise its not surprised

Every morning i take off my pajamas, step out on the deck
and imitate the animals i dreamed of—grizzly, kindergarten teacher,
4 foot tall cabbage with arms and legs that rolls instead of walking..
when i'm pretending to be anything but human the phone never rings,
occasionally a neighbors blinds close, birds glinting from an invisible sun.

Entering my house you can go four directions—all wings, hub and corona,
the basement rainbows seasonally with daily masons, no calendar but an inventory:
raspberries are red but spiced purees can be any color but blue, blue is like Sunday
when i try to not get caught

One border leads to another, the sun draws tomorrows starting line.
some nights i sleep so placid i might get up with a couple parts still in bed.
some mornngs the first hour is sepia tones, coffee & cream,
fruits from grandmas day dried in 8 childrens exhalations.
in this photograph a 10 year old uncle lefty’s trying to tell me something
each picture a block in my inner city, apartments chambered as nautili,
that secret room in the pyramid where the stellar rays could peel a body
as easily as a banana, evaporate the pulp and send the seeds faster than light
into the mysteries of spontaneous growth, combustion without fuel—
if you cant go through the forest don’t go at all
this seedling followed me home can i keep it, pressing flowers
so they travel, so the uninitiated wont walk their inner labyrinths.

Bees are so thick because of all the tools they contain—skeleton keys, socket wrenches,
pollen detectors, spark plugs. They don’t fly back to the hive just release themselves
from their present location and the queens invisible tether pulls them back,
like i could walk through this mile long mall and not stop at several windows.
in the packed parking lot i whistle and see who answers, which engine revs in anticipation.

At the Corner of River & Street

a street, a river, a corner table
2 hands, 4 eyes, breathing each others exhales
minus wind, minus silence, similar instrumentation but disparate tempi:
walks in a door, through a door, where the wall was 10 years ago,
where rain thought was taboo and never fell, coz you’d be stuck there,
getting deeper and drier

half past money, a quarter til paralysis, 26:30:
the watch grew into my wrist & the band dissolved
the phone grew into my brain but not any instructions
visualize texting, imagine free lunch, traffic snarled cause of 2 dragons

when clouds have sharp edges theyre not clouds,
my chest is a chest, with doors & drawers, unfinished where a mirror could be,
a walk in cooler with built in hammocks, chains for exercise.
these shoes and this burger are from the same cow, the lamb this shirt came from
took its meat to retirement.
                                                     give and go, shake and bake, climb til it rhymes
a smooth surface is best for development, where a river never flowed,
where rain stayed in its lanes, if trees wouldn’t grow there why should a house,
dig til the third shovel breaks, keeping dirt in the air to protect us from the sun:

if i stay naked all summer i’ll have feathers by october and a map seared into my brain,
breathing through my finger tips, cups of water stashed along my back and thighs,
i’m respectful of the wind but go where i’m called, once rain has opened all my doors
it knows better than to ask for dinner, the mushroom god in my heart, my lug nut waist band

each match in this book is a different bird song when struck, fresh nest flame,
most of the stars will never hatch, herds of empty houses wandering the once-paved prairies,
the blackberries spamming every square inch of information.
when knowledge is painful cause you cant jump that many ways at once,
connecting the dots, many of which cant support our weight, may only be shadows of dots,
a package that’s all wrapping paper, a ribbon fanging my hand,
why couldnt my birthday be today, official records change more often than menus

harvest moon, hunters moon, when you see this moon hide in the rockiest corner,
a stream with seven languages, fish who turn the rain into alcohol,
i cast my line and wait for rebuttal, if my hair was worms, mud pies aged in banana leaves,
so much of the equator has migrated even constellations need passports,
the compass shows which way but not what route, north isn’t always up,
when land leaves water tries to take over, ignoring the trees and their residents.

knead til its necessary, bake til immobile, oven holding steam hostage,
never enough border guards to keep yeast from crossing—it can’t swim, hides in feathers—
you think you’re dusting but you’re fertilizing, end table smelling like bread
about to bake in the LED oven quickly turning white into every color,
edible rainbows unevenly digested, as brown is all colors simmered slow,
cloud leopard with star anise and sun chokes on a lava plate not yet cooled,
street so worn and shiny i almost dive in

dan raphael is trying to come to terms with changes in his life, the world around him. Poems keep churning out. Trying to find a publisher for the next book—Everyone in this Movie Gets Paid. Spent most of March at a residency in the Oregon desert.
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