dan raphael

System Don’t

When the system
we don’t understand
the wrong word
When so many
ignored like the first fly
the bite of an invisible mosquito
2 drops of blood stain my shoe

Microscopes in the sky
knowing the sun must be somewhere
to thread the eye of another dimension
A way of seeing inside your own body
catalogues from internal decorations
function & sway
clam pillows

Spin the plug three times before re-inserting
hand through a mirror
light with a child proof lid

When plastic rebels
When the boulevard refuses to take the blame
but the back streets have too many stop signs
lights away from windows
burning like lasagna

A sandwich large enough for gravity to notice
flying deep into the crevasse widening with sparkle
Why arent more of you in bed, off the street
a third of these cars havent moved all month
Go so far
fever collapse
water, sunshine and carbs

A crack so sudden you don’t see til almost stepping
connections work loose over decades
a house as old as me would be on roof 3 or 4
My bodys getting blow-in insulation
so i can be warm and naked anywhere
In the middle of the street i pretend i'm swimming standing up
the sun’s shining—one of 5 pre-requisites for action
Changing skin color means i’m part mercury

Bake and Quake

A hole in my kitchen pond as if something was thrown in,
is the mixer planetary or spiral, as the stillest pond continues breathing
with the suns warmth, exhaling beyond midnight, mindnight,
when my dough immediately springs back when pressed its time
to keep me from developing any further—bake me stiff, cage the C02,
a fertility engaging all that fly above it
                                                                            bread with sausage,
                                                                        bread with evaporated cod,
a loin of pork rolled in rock salt to clear a path through the snow of hunger,
this mountain pass so steep you can only carry water and a cloak
with many empty pockets
                                              i see her exit the café twice in five minutes;
i see five men in the same suit and tie, coffee without coffee beans,
the neighborhood camellias threatened by the tea embargo,
so many unidentified plants steeped in hot water then given to strangers
with honey and an automatic smile

bakery used to be a warehouse—indoor soccer, testing grounds for paper airplanes
hurled by the weightlifters in the basement gym powering the ovens with their treadmills.
where do they hide all the pumps that hold up the taller buildings
why does no one say the next earthquake will be caused by all the extra weight
on the land around here, the former delta of large rivers negotiating a mutual surrender

the equilibria of entertainment—as many restaurants fold as open new,
money spent on legal pot means so many pubs and breweries closing,
finding new ways to cook, new gardens to raid.
                                                                                           after a billion years of yeast,
tectonic dough folding toward the seethe while permanent icing and seasonal convection,
our ovens beginning to heat and who knows what crystalline lattice,
what heavy metal musculature, inert and anonymous gasses
releasing their eons of coreography as the dance floor unzips everythings genes
we have no idea what the stores will be selling or how we’ll pay for them

Stalking River

to town
where in
our mind


how rain sprouts
what rains made from
wont come when called


a time of hand
close to the ribs
sticks to now
i smeared my cheek


breakfast all day
this coffees going nowhere
no birds no eggs
if tobacco smelled like bacon


what vehicle 4 or 6 of us could be
a flock of 7th graders in frequent collision
glancing blows     swaying pelvises
what goes in the ear evaporates how


calling in the ships
one last supplication
one sail can shelter a village
dig until water     fence with hard feet


i only wear white at night
thunder on a clear day
hunger before supper’s done
deer between the trees unauthorized shining


hoping the sun gets lost on my chest
i pull a 3 year old hair and savor it
my left foot has an appointment tonight
almost enough pennies for an hour of moon


by dawn the village had moved
new shoes     a pack stained enough for emergency lunch
the black cat points west
the river hears me coming and holds it breath


When the body’s afoot in dreams, the weight of sheets, intestinal dormitory
shifting allegiance, rooms nested in hallways, get through to get into.
one shoe has holes, socks too tight to get on, cross the street when i can
but not too soon, filtering pedestrians into chaplinesque machinery
powered by cyclists who need ten miles to know who they are,
through cars and over trees, winged guardian mountain bikes hovering our shoulders.

atmosphere thick with oil from steam from speed or could be the oven of bricks
from where we used to live, boards charred with age, doors whimsical incompliance
since we’re not cops but with the body cameras of our brains seeing childhood streets
dusted and grayed with cars that move like chess pieces rejected
coz of the complex inconsistency of their movement that could be spelling something
in time elapse aerial as the finish line nears, as the building that swallows us,
the long pants left at home, sweat as ID card, the door wont open if it doesn’t smell you.
no need to look up, we’re all leg and no wing though we’re told the breast is best,
white meat deep fried, boneless skinless, feet not touching the ground,
beaks that never come back from the shop

sandpaper sheets so i don’t have to shave, every time i roll over i add a little to the windmill,
get the electric meter confused about which way to turn, adept at the math of profit,
generously equipped for all condtions, like bicycle pants that are floatation devices,
through the gate, past the dog, a reel of dental floss snagged on my foot,
no sky, still air, only traffic when plan to cross, as if every driveway its own street,
people coming out of underground, cars sprouting instantly like jacks beanstalk
already populated and revving.
                                                             street widens as i cross, river grey as asphalt, median islands,
the pigeons are gulls are drones with cameras and the ability to increase gravity,
feeling 400 pounds with muscles only used to half that, like suddenly jupiter but temperate,
fuzzy shadow chills from temporal arms of giant windmill clocks generating energy
as time flows through. the air feels processed, not what i breathe at home, fast air,
commissary air shipped in blimps from industrial air farms so flights take a little longer,
almost none of kansas we can fly through, air compressed to take less space,
3rd lungs to wear on our backs like flying camels.
when we didn’t have to think about breathing or crossing streets or what came out
of the faucet and why it makes that noise at night when the reservoir shuts its thousand doors,
makes sure everythings in its place, no special orders, no take-out.

i’m learning to weld so i can make my own air-still freeing oxygen from logs
and abandoned buildings, all the air in tires memories, in fallen leaves
whose transpiration engines so cheaply made they barely last a season,
all this ramping up from winter where we don’t hibernate but our labor constantly monitored
cause cold air is slow air, wishing our feet could breathe without freezing,
snow chains for bicycles, magnifying lens helmets to warm our spines,
when time goes slower do we get more of it, cleaning times conduits,
huge cities develop where time zones change, where every night clocks are reset,
tuned to the internet muzzeins, 5 times a day we prostrate toward now,
toward langley almost washington

we chose a satellite to be our king, we chose the bible as our constitution,
all books are on the web, updated after each election,
the only version is today, since the lights always green we never can stop,
never charged for obstructing commerce or resisting profit, jail cells equipped with bikes
to earn our grits and maggots, to keep the ceiling from lowering.
certain i’m late but never knowing for what, cant dock pay i don’t get, cant stay
in the apartment i cant pay for but property management cant afford to evict.
people using money from selling brain time to apply for rentals they’ll never see,
i’m not buying this house just borrowing it from the mortgage company
til wall street magic creates a newer math where they give us the answers
and deny the existence of questions. our moneys not money,
3 hour commutes are part of what we pay so they might pay us, pump water to our house,
maybe put a fire out if it starts to burn & everythings so dry these days

dan raphael continues thrashing around with language in the Oregon rain. His 18th book, Everyone in this Movie Gets Paid, will come out around 6/16 from Last Word Books.
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