dan raphael

What Comes Down

Everything’s a pendulum but some so slow you only see one direction
which way the day changes, clocks within clocks, no message without silence
sleight of hand, speed of sleight, moving across the crusty blank air always is 
but we haven’t the shutter speed, enough flops of memory to overlay & read 
what the birds are texting as they move in and out of sight
with the perfect angle of thinness or through clouds sounding just like wind
which knows its a train needing neither tracks or stations, cloud cars
big enough to hold everything but too excited to hold anything for long
momentum is all, ultimomentum, too fast to eat, too tired to float

I cant be in public dressed in just the color of my skin, the topography
inverted beneath my flesh is insulation and massage 
not my heart but the constant internal patter that keeps my blood moving,
the rooted pendulum of my lungs welcoming a new audience,
replacing their assets with debts then sending them back into the street
which refuses to be level, only when friction can counter lazy gravity
will anything accumulate, never safe from transformed bits of mountains
who think they hover, bringing beauty   floral memories    and a jumblaya
of musics i can seldom find the rhythms of, my ears like slotted spoons
doing the work but never getting the meal, if i don’t practice jumping
how do i know i’ll survive a fall

Another Another

The suns as visible at 8 am as it was at 11 p;
after a couple hours of dawn rumpus 
the birds are shaded & inaudible

Why not feathers for breakfast instead of eggs
milk straight from the faucet, I’m chairbound 
by the interaction of the fog inside me 
with the sky’s reluctance to commit, 
as if it should get a day off since its only a backdrop 
for the clouds which don’t have to memorize lines 
or put on makeup, just appear, cueless & enigmatic 

Not a language we cant hear but silence
as the neighborhood metronome barks once, 
the silver pickup keeps passing my window
not lost but someway telling me what to expect 
before my house evicts me

With only the clothes on my back
the random playlist in my brain, 
shoes with their own GPS and advertising contracts
from places where i would eat if their doors weren’t so small
their menus mostly alive or requiring a dexterity
only chopstick users and knitters have

So I’m hungry as a drummer in the rain
thinking if i can get this pavement to depress into a bowl
something tasty will land there, or a sentence
taking ten minutes to unfurl, buzzing with seeds 
and loose threads to tempt the wind and micro-birds
subsisting on dust and free-range intentions 

When two clouds can fill the sky
when seismic hunger is quelled by a glass of rain
spoonfuls without spoons, immobile rivers
we have no idea how to motivate or use 
knowing if we slow the ground could harden on our hooves
some bipedal predator could use my skin
to redevelop my body’s urban core, removing steaks 
to gentrify the rib cage, so much anticipated traffic
my blood cant get from one kidney to the other
bridges are crutches, shoes are the opposite of wings

Other Times

The wind-driven rain at 4 am sounds like a brook
when all the long buried springs resurrect 
to lose their identities in  a river
as the Willamette loses itself in the Columbia
a typical one way marriage, not pulling out new names
marriage as conversion, where 1 plus 1 breeds fractions

Later the cars parade to school, delivering and departing
most kids unable to walk either way coz never have,
always driven the few blocks strapped in the back seat
mom/dad on the phone as kids go out one door and in another
removed from the temptation of windows 
to where the teacher is the sun—no breeze, no rain, no soil

The traffics heading south with hunger, heading north for better taxes, 
wanting to change the compass so it spells WHEN instead of NEWS, 
i keep looking at my phone to see if its now yet, to see if i have 
a destination, a motive—the key doesn’t fit but the doors not locked
the cat doesn’t care who lets it in, mewling to 
get out of the rain predicted but not yet here

Pressure can wake us any time of day: bladder pressure, fiscal need, 
waves of bodies flicking back sheets and rising, water pressure, 
the heat of rising thermostats and boiling time, as one layer of clothes 
is stacked on another, as doors open and close, air thickening with 
emissions, drive-throughs, news unread and unheard
so many working to focus us—no, these are NOT my glasses

Without Measure

how long thrown, spindled, shut
a facial squeegee
saving only the newest edit

the tides on a multi-mooned planet
who’s orbiting whom
inch-thick light, a ream of beams
color wheel of sunrises 

no mirrors in dreams, no recorders or playback
no matter how well you fill a hole in everyone will notice
not even possums will step there

when the words swim and allemande overnight
whether the page is flipped, stirred, or covered with cheese-cloth
not delivered but made on the spot
i climb to stay level
tools to extend the wrists range

near the burn of the century
as we approach the 98th hour
teach cotton to act like plastic
removing the news from our eyes
if you’re looking for a door you’ll never get in

appetite without measure, hurry 
or apparent goal—whatever’s delivered next
no matter what eyes, nose or stomach say

Spring Makes us Hunger

I majored in hunger with a minor in confusion
practicing with chopsticks ‘til i could pick up
single grains of rice, nothing larger, I boil meat
‘til it’s threads, viewing vegetables as building materials,
ornamental fruits, 
                                 a cookbook without numbers
my intended thesis but i was 3 thousand miles away
before dinner, growing inches, doubling my name
holes in my pockets for seeds to escape through

What sky do we want tomorrow, seeping over the edges
like wild fermentation the menu is fluid
the alphabet of vitamins expressed in a pentatonic scale
one note for each finger, more flute than guitar
a bald tire on wet asphalt, an engine to bake bread on,
windshield wiper metronomes with the horn section
a continent away, it’s the protein gonna cost you, 
modern meat too evolved for anyone without AI to catch
marbled with capsules  you don’t want to open

I don’t believe my teeth when they say they’re hard enough to 
crack acorns and moldy walnuts, fertility must come from within—
inspiration, constipation, movement without borders or wind, 
letting the spine lead before the head appears in the light of bulb, 
flame or constant star:
                                        what are colors telling me,
how can i pay the bees what i owe them, the feathers sprouting
between my fingers itch too badly to let them grow
shoes on hands so we never stop walking
i put a gps in my head and half the satellites fell 

dan raphael writes: "Manything, my new book, is now out from Unlikely Books. A second book, The Closer You Get to Nowhere, could be out by end of the year.. Now in my 3rd year of writing and recording a political poem most Wednesdays for the KBOO Evening News...
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