dan raphael

Cubistic Renaissance

Wondering how many mouths in this cubistic renaissance
water still as lacquered, the resonant crackling a babel of dance
reaching into trees restricted by native arms, the prairie pulls
daubed thickly with what argumentative ground
delicious in the foot, cursing at the spectroscopic rain
moons scattered like cottage cheese

Somber hillocks hunker obscure, a colony of plastic pipes
& roofs of pressed bird—hot day dry corn, next week 
drugged chickens, hands cupped like an auditorium. 
A laxative fleece embroiders the face with edible circuitry, 
cellophane chitters in burrows til the power snaps
fatigued from being in hydroelectric cucumbers 
braiding the air a musty dioxide

The panic aware i’ve forgotten how a missing tooth
in the starter mesh, valley busy with eroding potatoes
where clouds only inhale, the mud anxious to spell

Dancing on the River in June

the strings in my breath refract like the smoke of rapid growth
calcium frying, neurons ungirdling into moats of lost days 
when neither sun or moon is watching, on & off ramps 
intertwined continua, involuntary escalators inside my 50 story body 

the smokestacks, logging roads, and nuclear waste tracks curl around 
behind and through me, this glowing dust could be my sweat but winged, 
stump antennas unable to articulate but so much to talk about
in the hurried, harried and honey-dipped shadows of this monsoon city 
with colorful scarves flying from the faucets, light bulbs long eaten, 
streets wet with anticipation where dozens of us dance, 
gliding across cars not alarming, turning or trying to brake

i’m an airbag of love, a cupholder of understanding
we arrive at an empty lot in a future suburb, six trees 
like guitar strings plucked by blind relentless woodpeckers 
exploring the cavities where pestilence simmers like dough 
eager to be punched into itself and rise again

no time or profit to watch or record what we ruffle and rend, 
the microns of flesh we trade with every step inaccessible 
without a torch and several passwords from liquid movies 
we swoon into a choreography of masks and vanishing dancers, 
the street is a river full of genetically engineered water we can breathe 
and see through, the gills that withered in our wombs cauliflower open 
like the fresh green sun rising in the south, sinuous lines of  
migrating birds certain our dance floor’s the rumored buffet 


(Inventory) On Demand

I want to let out more than I’ve taken in
lock the doors and open all the windows
let the walls inch closer together
let the roof fly to where it’s needed

the heat never left, but my attention cooled
I step up but nothing’s closer—am I taller 
or hovering a couple inches off the floor
my breathing makes nothing move

I’m lost in many acres of sunflowers without flowers
a multiplicity of suns disguised as bees
the darker the hotter, the smaller the faster
take off and point to

with most of me on the way out I am clearer
before the proteins have time to combine
out of lines, beset with  curves, soft rippling
where I walk, a bubble that settles into skin

I’ve been counted so I can blend in
either too early or on the wrong block
the taste of space, aroma with all the room it needs
weightless but complexly anchored

I hold up what the light shies away from
a tendency to have many nodes, no center
the only number I need to call
given a message before I can leave one
stripped down for a cyclone of information
dancing for a hot wind of surprising recipes
so hungry I must almost be here

Until the Next One

what if everything i see out my windows starts folding my way
like a 3 dimensional paper-cut,  would the schoolyard between me 
and the cars houses trees and all be cushion enough

all i have is more questions, there’s so much that probably won’t
and just enough you never know, to have no solace, 
maybe when an out of the blue hankering
some remembered flavor in the breeze, i rub my eyes 
and that no- it-couldn’t-be’s still here

like a tv weather person i could improvise tween last week & next
with no responsibility but to encourage folks to spend money 
either stocking up or buying equipment to recreate with
but I’m not on the market, of the market, though there are submarkets 
for all of us—the three legged, the compass challenged, 
those who need to free every clock from its prison, 
none of the above or all of the below, the ways of sides, 
aglance    akimbo    asymptotic    asphodelicatessan—
so few sounds can take us so many places but only a fraction of every

i want spontane to be recognized as a verb, as in i just did this
which doesn’t mean totally unguided, whatever the booster rockets 
peeling back so we can escape velocity and get into orbit 
which is tethered speed, staying in touch but being so out there
vulnerable and radiant
                                               each of us a payload, a great concentration 
of expense, care and triple redundancy except for the never experienced before
spatio incognito,     chrono incognito

like a newborn who won’t stop talking from day 1 
eventually learns silence, its alphabet, scales and topography
a book so large yet light i wonder why til i open it 
blinded by all that’s flying away, how they smell like
all they’ve been through, fermented through, cycles
of impatience, numbness and visions, dreams deferred
dreams with copyrighted imagery, dreams as bait, anti-motivation
the only things fresh enough to eat
the only organic left to eat

               (for Larry Smith and Caliban)

This Dis-LocationBut then I entered into a phase that travel psychologists
  refer to as ‘I Don’t Know Where I Am’”
                                                                                   Olga Tokarzhuk, Flights

Carving out an airport, flattening trees to fields
lined with roads followed animal paths, scent trails 

Native plants replaced by eager émigrés, land as medium, 
a language read through time, how soil’s built or given away
not enough time to make here here
no maps, just numbers with their margins of error
and appetite to multiply, divide and subtract


Time zones
land masses
latitude effects attitude
longitude either shrugs or wants to be elsewhere
shades of time, partial places
re-minded of else-when and -where


Some people feel birthed in the wrong century 
i was born at the right time but perhaps on 
the wrong planet, in the wrong body

Are you an early bird or a night owl
going somewhere just cause i haven’t ever
if a place i haven’t been for decades is so different 
i don’t recognize it, have i been there 


In transit
Out of breath
Steady state
A one man nation
Little else
Wide open
Up to here
Movement without anything moving
As you wish
Just in time


Went direct from plane to train to bus
& almost panicked when my feet hit sidewalk
a couple seconds to translate gravity
seeing the sun without knowing the time
buildings too close together to cast shadows
i can only see 5% of the cloudless sky

How far can i go until needing to turn
can’t be early or late, not lost 
though no idea where i am
heard 5 people on their phones, 5 different languages
my phone was holding our breath

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