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Dan Raphael


Drunk on Bacon

sitting in a claustrophobic, slat-sided shed for several days
in a world of clotted smoke
where meat falls like rain
no one dies    no one inhales    no one churns
to love is to have whenever the appetite

pigs are born small
trees are smaller than grass but singularly thicker
from sun to fire
                                fire retards time
when the sun goes out our clocks will surrender to gravity
my wrist is a video portal
since i am so many places its always breakfast somewhere,
always the first drink of the day

when i smell myself approaching, swallowing lit matches, stealing firewood
my flame will never stop
                                               every night another tree falls, three more sprout
when stars turn green they’re moving sideways


Outta Here

gonna move to another orbit where the sunlights younger, upwind from my past
less oxygen, a broader spectrum for the skin to mistranslate.
until new fingers grow this is the math I’m stuck with, a dollar per hour, a penny a breath,
monthly blood tithing and maintenance.

if i could be the man who gets first pick from the filters, who walks into a bar
and doesn’t leave alone—its friday night, go sleep somewhere else.
new doors, new walls, new colors—is this still my house?
suddenly I’m the one with the accent. stuttering a pidgin that’s three movies ago.
if you bow to the wrong person you could be in debt.
the fluid gesture that brings great insult and possible payback
this is a test, but therell never be a graduation

a guardian angel made of light blinding a corner of my eye like im a mango tree invaded by parrots
keep scooping at the side of my face with a warm spoon and anesthetic tongue
aiming to carve a tea cup handle into my forehead, caffeinated shampoo, soap with tiny legs.
looks like a gem but glues itself to flesh, knocking on every visible door til someone lets the words in,
i didn’t know my house was on stilts til the beavers came. i learned to open cans with my mind.

since the planets moved so many constellations altered. stellar hide and seek,
corporate logos are proclaimed in the daytime sky, clouds trained to spell and pixilate.
so where im froms no longer where it was, a shift in climate and socioeconomic standing,
cleaving the air like a teflon hatchet, the starlings think im one of them
spreading our wings to burn with the new suns light, whittling me back to a meat sapling,
better rooted than boughed, multilingual where the sun don’t shine



my inner countours drowning in light
from a new periodic table molecules cant get back to
where hands and feet are barely acquainted, capable only of pointing up or down
yet slinging particulars in a forest train (slam?) of sunbeams
revealed by the finest dust, the most complex dried & flaked,
like a thousand fish in a spoonful

                                                                               going where we can
                                                                 swinging and pointing the much heavier bat
                                      to the horizon of red lips ive tasted the butterfly within,
                                              the silicon hummingbird holding half a library of momentum and biology
           dive til we’re rich w/ whatever the heatflash seals inside
                                                                             the new house on a 10 foot strip
                             helicopters raising questions that may not be ripe for weeks

we’ll never be rich enough, wanton, mobile enough
or is crossing this street my days labor, gathering car parts,
assembling holographically on the worldlet of my multi-jointed carapace
my eyes behind 16 screens im supposed to fold into concentric cubes
as sunrise from a new direction, sun suspended in mercury

the meter is running in each of us, fingering beads to accelerate the horizon wide train
my chest cant open enough to bind or bridle.
doesnt take long for wings to atrophy

i always walk like im playing racquetball, confident i’ll smell the flames before the heat,
more than concrete can bear, steel on a sweaty vacation—
this time metal will grow direct from the ground rooted in every spent battery since world war I,
my hands cant concentrate, cant follow instructions from when I was just a pair of gloves
with a narrow but powerful fragrance causing me to stamp the ground as if hooved,
bringing sparks of complaint from the 100 story condo of my femur—say it with me—
all our lips pressed to the windows and wailing our personal pitch.
i predicted the weeks weather across my ribs and belly, stagnant fronts, hallucinatory isobars

eventually i realized that is a mirror but my face keeps altering,
even in solitary im floating on faces, a jellyfish mattress w/ sheets of fused sand,
losing its spin as the drain collapsing itself frees the oceans to claim the final third,
getting high enough to escape into space and water the moon
so resistant to bathing and personal hygiene it wont even turn around
and taste the galaxies lighters of affirmation, strike and don’t let go
until the gas pressure brings us to our knees, humming with prosperity,
the warm magnet of comfort food, a steaming mass, seldom dark.

waking up isnt the finish line.
cartography is the fastest growing religion, connecting the dots
in the night sky, i never travel without a template,
re-entry is always the most dangerous part, like the first six hours of a fast,
the third night when all dreams are self-digesting,

after years of precise brushing my remaining wisdom tooth became buddha
or an incomplete snowman; a dog turns around with my face on its neck, its ears,
industrial halitosis from all the distilling milling and grilling done inside me,
almost ready to split open and be the mold for a future dilemma:
when the news comes only in our sleep. you must be fully sedated to vote,
able to wake up anywhere in the world and get home on a dead man’s passport

ten thousand silvered wings i could swallow at once and escape to the only home i remember,
one i could have drawn in 3rd grade with trees inside like its always christmas


Breathing Like

like i could get just only
        only get just                enough air
              for this static office job
circular body-track
                                     not expansive
of what kind of air                my lungs so small
hundreds of locked doors like a big hotel—
don’t go to that part of town, especially when excited
which night can do to anyone,
the heaps of used, untraceable aromas
like a spider in my face

i reached peak oxygen without realizing it
my diaphragm no longer attractive, maybe leaking
as gaskets, bushings, flexibility in a tight line,
get dependent on hard air and pliant walls
like seeping into someone elses apartment
my subtsance-light goes through the window
without the strength to jump between triple panes
as airs invisibility is a myth, a percentage, mistaking frequency
                                                  you don’t know the contents of
cataloguing breath
                                   trance or sleep like
a choice between wearing down or flabbing
assuming new will be made, the wind wil breathe salty phosphorescent air for me
pulling along the ping pong moon im trying to keep aloft in my ribs
                                     whining like a buoy you cant hear inhale
                                                                                 warning      defining
                                                                                                                       a breathless flow
neither fight nor flight but air so subtly among pores
                     i could be a tree or a hibernating power plant sucking through a sieve
              netting the unaware     making a mold of my body and filling it with a muddy stream:

when the winds like this I need more mouths
                                            my nostrils can never feed me
                                                 diversionary caverns with constricted outlet
redundancy in air supply settles in my pocket—not the one i called—
                                                          a flaw in the flow
the longer the howl the sharper the teeth


city abandons me
                                 lung city      capacity      no smoke i recognize
                                                    leaves crumble to themselves
too dry for the earth to swallow in spite of its thin wide mouths
                                   spackled like rain where everyones walked
increasing circulation       converting to friction
                                without the heat to slow or distract
rub              til the bones say stop
                                                                check inflation and tread depth
a way around inhaling
replacing storm windows with screens        our shutters of clothes and hats        crucial scarf
able to whistle no matter how cold, how fast or deep
sending one breath after another into nightly winter, the breeze at my back
                                                                   antennas and talismans
we keep making we dont know what
                                                                       so the skins not at risk
remembering my lips to part        cheek slits maybe
the difficulty of ventilation when walls ascramble with flow and function
                                            removing nothing but airspace
as each car slowing down slows several others

                                                  i cant breathe quietly enough
im hungry for and addicted to air,       to breathe more efficiently, gracefully
                i can tie this breath in a knot with just 1 lung
we fill our teeth to keep the air out:
                              breath could tarnish the outside of our organs:
the new skin rising to the forefront almost timed-out.
a sharp gust when i pound my chest or applaud
naked in the solar wind        muscle wind

if traffic became spiritual so could we
transmutation instead of a yoyo string commute
when my job is at home where will I live



how long can you hold your
see it near freezing
                                    implying density
making rings and planetary configurations
puts me into orbit       safe space
                                                            pulling taut and giving slack
a hazy transpiracy
                                    the sky inside
who’ll provide my coastal flow,      my arctic surge
humming ½ a chorus over and over, as if each composition reduced to a tweet

lung riff     lung fire     hanging gardens
      intricate etchings on cliffs too sheer to have been on
a flag saying where to jump
a door behind the cobweb dreadlocks smooth as clouds
          released from some flying giants intestines
pure as the driven sky, filtered & thickened,
organic shaving cream wiggling like ohio river mounds
                      where so much was stored & lost, unable to sprout
like the microscopic acorns & maple wings i couldnt stop inhaling

                                                       where rain and dust fuse to synthesis

earths lungs constant stream through the poles, spun out
like direct from sheep to yarn, unspooling meatless
wonder where the oil went
not filtered out, escaping into rivers and hillocks,     pockmarked pastures
disagreeing on which sun to follow
a sigh is surrender, letting the lake’s silt in
like a ½ mile round contact lens that fell eons ago and shimmers with air fish and water birds
so many thirst-driven worms crashing its underside almost to tremors

a cough becomes echo-flesh
hiccupping in a vacuum
dry cleaner bags with suits and dresses printed on them
moxify and inhale      demon lungs:
lungs should work so well 24-7 we never notice them
eroding what cant be got rid of
offering cruises and new identities
when all the islands share the same wind and ocean
ocean like a flounder only thinking in two dimensions
once my air starts escaping I’ll never get it all back




Impulse & Warp: The Selected 20th Century Poems, which contains work from Dan Raphael's first 13 collections, came out last September. Current poems appear in Rattapallax, Otoliths, Unlikely Stories and Radioactive Moat. Children of the Blue Supermarket, a CD of live performances with saxophonist Rich Halley and drummer Carson Halley, came out February 2011. Contact author.

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