Dan Raphael


              It occurs to me that I am America.
                                                                —Allen Ginsberg

A hand pressed on top of my mind, a hand pressed against my palm,
a hand larger than my face, a hand I can sit on for hours,
hands all over the sky, highway full of hands.

The refrigerators empty, the stores closed, I went down five flights of stairs
and was back where I started as if the street had never existed
as if I’d never been outside but where did the bank get my promises.

I have extra kneecaps, I have thighs like desert mesas.
I dont need a country this big to represent me but I need more than one state;
I need to touch both oceans and have my borders patrolled.


I Never Could Move Like This

when I lower my face below another’s surface
                                                                                    the oceans never inside
                       where grass stops exhaling

night in thin blades—fleshy night,       almost december night
rain in domelets and ziggles       waffle rain

as the moon corrodes so slowly—we’ve never weighed it
       as the tree was split into tongues       as the waves were bigger than our boats
the fish so busy with each other the flying bears surprised them


when we sing like hearts at triple speed,       if only one percent of my pores are singing,
looking down at the sky,       seeing clouds with so may crags and pointers
                           clouds under construction,       clouds designated wilderness

there’s gold in what’s been thrown away
the nascent rock inside each fertilized egg,
the whispers of mountains,
how slow spreads the stain of continents and their thick incongruous roots

as if the solar system and I had reversed positions and scales,
my skin thick with planets of all vibrations,       open comet gashes,
dark matter moods,       indigo sluices of time-flux,

\all songs are soup and bread,       all bread is heat and secrets
                                     good yeast,       bad yeast,       yeast from across the sea,
                           yeast following our family like a swarm of savory angels

as if the borders waiting for me to stop before it draws its line


when I drew without lines and eight colors—one for each finger
                                                                   as the thumbs erased and rainbowed.
how all the five-legged creatures unable to decide which way to escape
                               were quickly eaten despite bright colors and exotic chemistry,
occasionally a biceps would erupt, water rising in the rhythms of seasonal breaths—
                                                         the slant of the sun,       the salt of the moon,
as clouds shed their skins and we cant stand the smell of what remain,
our noses go mad and lose all the legends passed on forever,

my arms lashed by internal whips, droplets of frozen red rain, spontaneous currants
regardless of season or hour, fruit of the moon, fruit of leaked dreams,
dreams they couldn’t house train, wouldn’t come when called,
I had to move and the new apartment doesn’t allow dreams,
as the buildings nuzzle virtual property lines, saving windows and volume,
as if a difference between house walls and body walls—

are you still paying off the mortgage on you?
my knees and back were in such bad shape I had to re-finance to fix them


get some ground you can keep digging,       shoring,
             aligning with a recently emigrated moonlet—trailer moon,       highly processed moon,
                                                                    moon that spends most of the month eating
                         and only comes out when ready to burst with the seeds of divergent futures

as a 40 story long humpback slices the oceans rippling dance floor
inhaling the chasm of the earth opening the whale eclipsed in its plankton doppelganger shadow,
                                                   night like crust,       gravy water dreaming stew

some want to be rockets.           some rather be birds–
                                                                                                 hawk on fencepost,
                                                             magpie dealing blackjack.
                                              eagle pulling fish from the river with her mind


Dan Raphael has been active in Portland and the Northwest for a couple decades as writer, performer, editor and reading arranger. His most recent books are The State Iím In (nine muses books) and Impulse & Warp: The Selected 20th Century Poems (Wordcraft of Oregon). Current poems appear in Unlikely Stories, Big Bridge, Shadows of the Future, Snow Monkey and Caliban.


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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014