dan raphael

           People Walking Every Surface as if the World Escher Lived in    

                       take the boat out of the water, 
                                                   fill your pockets with tomorrow,
                          gently place an unknown village between two slices of bread 
                                            you’d never made before, baked with loud music  
                                  like the 2 hours of dance necessary for fermentation
                               sunshine comes whether we’re ready or not 

                                                           give us this day a few wondrous moments, 
                     as i run my fingers through my hair more fingers appear 
                         like a fan becoming a hat that started as a blade,
          as overnight the land-kelp make the streets too slippery for driving 
              but perfect for stoned sports, asphalt mouths compressing our invectives 
                                     into a puck dense enough to fall through the earth

       close the screen, wash a plate, spend 20 minutes exhaling, teleport
                   the rain needs pruning, the refrigerator must be transcribed,
           small enough to come out of a trapdoor carved through a book
               i’m quickly to regular height,  so grateful i grow extra arms 
                          and a smile that can be seen by satellites:
                                                   tourists open their guidebooks but cant find me, 
                    my lips in constant motion at a frequency the mosquitoes transmit 

               free of my house i’m soon off the charts:
                                            antarctica before the ice,  manhattan underwater, 
           tomorrows time-nibbled  mirror-clouds orbiting worlds not yet congealed

                            i can ask for water or a bathroom in 37 languages. 
               i don’t sit until natives do and usually cant their way.
                                           when everyone is left handed so am i. 
                                      never levitate with strangers  
                                                             leave in the morning

As the street breathes

a river is never the same width, micro pulsations,
                        trees pulling from the ground and putting back
air in the water in the dirt,   softening & hardening,   
                                                                                       blossoms without light
blossoms reflecting other blossoms, not territorial but horizon widening
as i’m on both sides of the street at once, as i’m lining the sidewalks 
as if waiting for a parade, flotillas stuck down side streets,the wild unpaved

loose as a stick, when given the option go straight & parallel
my presbyopia makes the sun a constellation of fire, 
like glass roofed houses seen from above, house on its own island,
 island on a multi-jointed mechanical arm sweeping the border 
tween day and night, tween direct and shadow

the street breathes, puling me to both edges, unclogging my airway
the street coughs to evict me, to remove my footprints climbing out of its lung
that’s the sky, busy with alveolic clouds, soft turnstiles and slow propellers, 
one spin a week, shadow light shadow light dappling micro-switches, coin-flipping turbines

more wing less body, bird sharks inhaling the nuggets of meat without form,
sugar without a crystal to consult,  fence unraveled til i'm cloaked in it, 
a moving fence, leaheless, have no permit to be higher, to interrupt the migrations
 beneath the streets scalp, as you slit the tops of bread before baking 
so those who want to get out can, exhale rain and inhale sweat,
i’m much too young to help the street, 
too short-lived to hear more than a sentence

Close By, in Another State

shadows on the white car—paint trees
caramel rambling like a 3 inch river inside a pulsing city arm
resolute    stubborn    articulate
worming to experience the anodyne of sleep when dreams arent in focus
I want the mirror to forgot those faces behind me singing atonally
as if only I lyric apostle, bent to blend
from prison to church. a self-generating ballot box
why water toom muscles, when we wondered how we could live among all the trees
& not be run into by nightly commuters, those who only see when asleep, 
only move when distracted by plaster  and temperature zones
where veri turn the moons behind me, the winds from my left


house surrounded by taller buildings, no windows in my direction, 
If you come to my door i'm in the phone lines, syncopating electricity 
to turn the wheel away from cars trying to merge with the largest dogs and cats 
who’d bounce before they surrendered,

want to get my teeth around the pain of light, 
that doorway in my throat, so much noise but no one comes through
18 wheeled thunder split by 10 pins vibrating at their own embroidery 
seen in light through a massive colander colder than itself
drawing the heat of our hairs into visionary prairies 
we’re now small enough to coast that perspective
like a coded roll of internal textures unwinding into a rain of white-out 
darkening in any pore mistaken for oxygen,
 take a steak thick brain slice and dare that labyrinth, 
if whats taken out still remembers whats between it, 
an amber rambler with one last exhalation about to


I breathe in a world map, van gogh’s starry night, 
aerial photographs of interplanetary cities
when air dies, when the ax gets a new handle
the message the photon was carrying gets dropped in the dark
happy man in a new woman’s bed
we dance palm to palm, eye to eye, the occasional swivel away
to follow the wandering musicians, as jeans become wide-bottomed skirts, 
a chandelier hung with faux stars, mini-reactors breaking apart the idle rumors 
and day old trivia that usually piles in the corners, discreet & odorless


houses don’t grow, streets don’t bleed
time going backwards, entropy blossoming throughout the body’s terrains, 
growing & softening on the outside, more space within & between,
I hold a monitor to the lumps of a soup I’ll become
never say never, having 7 fingers but only controlling 5 at a time
I bought a third kidney but couldn’t afford new pipes
I wont let the rain that falls here leave

To Be Self-Evident

I hear but can’t see you 
a crowd of aroma, crown of evaporating flame
as if sown around the world of genes
one little twist grows a million iterations
to, through, sewn inside my lips
my hips, radar dish, the pelvis tracking

Who you calling for
no such name/ number/ warrant
wrenched or slit, hammered or screwed
loose as light, right as rain that isn’t all water


Not against the grain but enhancing it, consisting it
so you can’t tell one from the other and every bite’s satisfying 
cause you knew what it would taste like before you peeled off the wrapper
risking my breath, driving through the tunnels of my bones

Only one of my hairs is an antenna, no length, no wave
from sign to signal to order:  
                                                  the strike could be a stroke, 
a fit induced by what no one can hear
into the teeth of meat, electrified platinum floss
i could chew for a year and never digest it all, worn away 
like travel in a vacuum, fine grit rays across millions of miles, 
each breath a mile, each soul a star
collapsing to advance, advancing to feed
i hunger for a tomorrow with no more threats, no less opportunity

How you gonna churn through a thousand foot tsunami of information 
when all the data toilets flush in unison, when satellites decompress all they contain
and swaddle the earth in self-generating layers of cell phone and internet chatter, 
my teeth don’t know what to say but feel their enamel melting like wax 
2 feet from a blow torch, the vast nets our sun welds every day

When i can’t turn off the faucet, the tv,
when the phone’s inside you you can’t not answer,
3 nights in a row i've been interrogated in my dreams in languages i don’t recognize. 


My car has many voices
in the chips, deep fried or baked
so pure we can’t call it water anymore, or silicon
coated with one billionth of the blood to wrest it from the earth
fried with 10,000 clarifying volts

The satellite no longer shows my house, 
my neighbor’s yard doubled to fill that space 
i'm no longer in my yearbook, my driving record says i'm suspended 
between public transit and micro-holography

What’s taking me the next step to gone
doesn’t knock or call, doesn’t need a window

Other places with current dan raphael poems are Blackbox Manifold, Rasputin, Gobbet, Curly Mind and Caliban. He hosts 2 monthly reading series in Portland (OR, US), is the prose editor for UnlikelyStories Mark V, and writes a news poem every Wednesday for KBOO.fm. His most recent book is Everyone in This Movie Gets Paid from Last Word Press.
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