dan raphael

So Thirsty my hand absorbs the water through the glass

a thirst for something i cant get to, afford or know what to do after,
subliminal criminals too intent to act, subvocalizing, 
a twitch amplified to a body slam with thousands watching 
what no one knows where or when—

i’ve had sandwiches like that, from the past or cross the country
in the future food will hover, surrender, programmable resistance 
make sure to give gravity a generous tip for turning its back
texting across an acre of transitional earth becomes tornado becomes petrified leaf
about to run backwards into acorn growing into cottage unhuddling into wings, 
carapace, compressed inflammation on such a dry surface 
hot with the friction of constant seeping, interrogation in a vacuum

what pulls loose first, sacrificing red herrings & draft-age pawns, 
both sides camouflaged like sky in a blender, my first hour adjusting
to eyes with 37 facets neath waffle latticed ceiling that’s high enough for a sky
i’ll never be above: 
                                        the energy to obtain a view of landscapes and structures 
my mind cant put together, a fifth dimensions shadow akin to mascara 
tattooed to a continuum more punctual than mythical 
trains where my heart beat needs 3 sticks in different rooms
stretching a skin over milk, kombucha, manhole covers resonating 
the culverts  reverse aorta, the city’s emulsified heart reflected in tree bark 
& asphalt cuneiform, no birds without a hundred parking spaces within, 
where multiple use means my hands and feet rarely speak to each other, 
when i open my door two nearby windows slide shut, tea kettle whistles 
without flames, microwaves or electromagnetic resonance
the water knows what to do in here, every molecule for itself 

Steppin’ Out

The first dance, the newest shoes,
a floor that breathes but never winces
a break in the action while above & all around us
coming across intents, intonation
money they dont make any more
the sun comes & goes as it pleases

Finding warmth in music, steel in smoke
dust as a sandwich, too many burning herbs to follow
a hundred spray paints at once
im alone in indecision

All this table has seen, heard, been drenched in—
blood, friction, unknown passengers. an express elevator 
up the evolutionary condos to thicker gravity
loan shark rain 

I had to change my body to look up enough
not more eyes but unable to be surprised by anything 
outside of me, deception always expected
held until it smokes

One door opens, the other electrocutes
as if my math, my steel toes, my multi-bladed vocabulary
whats coming through my earbuds isnt from my phone


Searching for a roundhouse casino 
where new directions are possible
we removed all the mirrors and doors, 
installed exoskeletons instead of chairs, 
won’t let them know about the fires inside me
how i can tell a deuce from a nine just by the weight
theres a suit for every day of the week 
& the dealer sets the dress code

Raise.   fold.   see.
credit cards, business cards, birthday, sympathy
51 aces of space, these cards aren’t playing
the thinnest screens that might bring up anything
some cards may not show for days
swelling from my sweat and pressure
sticking, notched
the queen who tells me where to kneel
a faceless card, the 3 of mirrors, the 12 of cats
this new deck where the cast of faces is fluid 
in number and rank—the CEO, the beater, 
the ghost of diamonds, the wrath of clubs.

Some cards move like rooks, some like parchment airplanes
thirsting to buck the prevailing wind wanting us homeless,
compass-free on this spinning demagnetized world 
pinning us against the padded walls we were born to escape, 
as if our ingested egg shell fragments would congeal 
into resource processing, passwords turning nitrogen into protein, 
turning frass into visions. even with closed eyes, gloved hands, 
nose stuffed with garlic
                                                  my mind thinks its yesteryear 
in a tv show of dusty saloons and unlabeled distillations, 
ceiling slits just far enough apart no one sees what drops in my lap, 
what rapid landscapes crossing my retinas distorted by 
window-free wind hazy with the unresolved, the escaping, 
the wild about to call and feed

The State Fitness Rehab Warehouse
                                                                            (for mark hartenbach)

inside the blue light, outside the walls you don’t know
will bounce back, electrify, scratch.
run against an invisible truck, bring down hunks of sky
that wont let go of the hands, the hawks are eyebrows,
the mouse an unopened paragraph,
my stomach feels like a blanket used for smoke signals

the brightest light is usually the first to be shot out;
if youre going to pray for a clean slate, why not no slate, no video
no mobile tattoos engraving sand, air & lumber.
when the only writing implement is a bleeding finger—
no fire to burn wood long gone, burning plastic
fumes of past industrial glory off-gassing their phantom nutrition

i’m streamlined, moving before i move, as unison as the winds
billion fibers colliding but never clotting, these constant currents
on a globe 1 block in diameter hovering over a dark distant screen
thar could be sky, confection, fermentation, a window
no one looks through twice

riding my bat suit through manhattan canyons with 5 directional winds
& no stop lights, no anti-gravity taxis to sub-jersey:
the atlantic pedicured miss liberty.
the pacific shaped its battering ram of beachfront mansions
as arizonans drum the earth with their peristaltic stomps.
betting on one disaster to beat another
planting the peel & snorting the seeds.

its my week in the fitness warehouse, aching phantom limbs
on a jimmied treadmill that never comes up cherries,
not a heart monitor but lie detector & credit check
serpenting my core for the approaching squats, thrusts & curls—
who knew sweat held so much oxygen i’m skinned in leaves,
my barking sapless bones wanged by cubist cables of
fluid simultaneity & transit, as if multiple heres are heresy.

all the windows reinforced plexiglas or a designer drug
that hasn't hit the street yet, mirage seductively tossing off
unborn shrunken heads, entrails of tijuana & east liverpool
realigning participatory gravity with genetic debt
through the spinal paradox of my commuting cells
bio-time tithing this particulate evolution
with so much so faster than us each of our bodies
at least a planet, multi-mooned, million satellited

i'm a tripping steadfast beast/tribe leaning into the light
of transformation without falling all the way through,
the event but not the horizon. our bodies were not meant to bake,
separating the tender from the accumulated.

if death was by committee we could live forever and never be alive
waiting in the weight room, confusing exercise with exorcism
when the task doesn’t fit the body, when the mind doesn’t fit the institution
no question what goes what stays

The Closer You Get to Nowhere, dan raphael's 20th book, will be out by the end of the year from Last Word Press, which published Everyone in This Movie Gets Paid in June of '16. Current poems appear in Unlikely Stories, Grasslimb, Misfit, Courtship of Birds and Caliban
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