Poetry from Dan Raphael

3/7, 7:10 am

choose your week, name your month
can’t stick a label on time
my breath won’t bring anything closer
the floor tries to influence my direction
     doesn’t trust stillness

if the light could switch itself off
the faucet would rather chant than sing
i almost forgot the stove, the subtle differences
     of the flames’ shapes and colors
a dozen or so sparkling vibrations
     orbiting my skull’s bald plain

thin fog no match for the sun
the sun never sleeps
always a car moving somewhere nearby
as my walls expand incrementally, unsure what to do 
     with the space tween interior and ex-
like the surprise of a line of jam
     tween two volumes of cake

as long as i cover my hands, feet and head
if my mouth skips a breath 
     something else will catch it up
whether my heart is bass or drums
     my eyes violins or flutes

take the time to make space
my internal compass searching for its sun
sky so vacant the stars can’t sleep

What If Sun and Earth Are Ovens

A hole in my working pond as if something screamed in
resolving spin, momentum, heat and appetite
as the stillest pond continues breathing
with the sun’s warmth exhaling before midnight, mindnight
when the dough immediately springs back when pressed it’s time
to keep it from fermenting any further:
                                bread with sausage,
bread with fermented cod, a loin of pork rolled in rock salt
to clear a path through the snow of hunger, this internal mountain pass
so steep you can only carry water and a cloak with many empty pockets

since I’m next to a bakery I like I’m hungry and must go in
used to be a warehouse, indoor soccer, testing grounds for
paper airplanes hurled by the lifters in the basement gym
powering the ovens with their cardio

where do they hide all the pumps that hold up the tallest buildings,
keep Miami above water, why does no one say our major earthquake 
will be caused by all the new weight on the land of this
former delta of two large rivers negotiating a mutual surrender

after a billion years of yeast, tectonic dough folding toward the seethe
with permanent icing and seasonal convection above, our subductions
beginning to overheat and who knows what mutant crystal lattices
what heavy meatal muscles, inert and anonymous gases
releasing their eons of choreography as the dance floor
unzips everything’s jeans we have no idea what amazon will be selling
or what we’ll pay to stay here, the imaginary numbers of address,
the lack of  durable seismic surfing gear, the temperature
when I’m hungriest, the shopping lists in solar flares

When Time Could Dance and Stutter 

hollow as the breeze
  take the skin off my arm 
and see a busy neighborhood
    storefronts to live above
how many years of path 

window reflecting what’s several blocks away
who gets to scent this late morning

two dogs walking each other
because chocolate melts, cause oats
won’t leave the bowl voluntarily

last day of May, and June was stopped at customs
sent back to wherever the future is
like an underground spring not caring 
which way’s downstream, the cat 
who’s a different species each night 
drilling at dawn’s door

clothes demand to be worn
clocks don’t need to think about moving
news breath,    traffic breath
my lenses fog despite the temperature
I pour a little coffee into my milk
all the chairs are full,  no one’s home

waiting for the rain to set the agenda for a dry week
striking my finger against the sidewalk
as if a match
becoming a mini-sun
a transformative flashlight

on the tightrope of noon
no one is ready to roar
with more days unseasonable than seasonable
what do we call this time
as if ‘June’ means anything out of context
out of habit, out of frustration


suddenly sepia, watching myself
the air is frictionless, thin, breathable as normal
or have my lungs acclimated

so many feet in this crowd—which are mine
in the event of the inevitable 
camera catching car, everyone gets out
and the car keeps going
I’m not in the road but on a the porch of a plantation
now a care facility, or a banquet hall
where is this

walking into empty places
clearcut 20 years ago and nothing’s changed
the doorknob comes off the door stays closed
window shutting like an eye
a chimney three miniature people are escaping from
the chimney of my neck:
is my head smoke or a stork’s nest

I’m running on the inside, trying to inflate,
the sunlight’s picky about which windows 
to shine through, one window nudging another
the street too dry to reflect, mind wiped
by weeks of rain, not racing the earth’s rotation
but never wanting the day to be dry enough
to go out in, driving without windshield wipers
the air smells like gasoline, I doubt the existence of stars

rising from my fetal curl cause this is my stop
either the stairs up or the stairs down
like a parking garage with more birds in it than cars
staircases remind me of bow strings, of bass strings
notes the ears can’t hear but from chest to groin can

after dinner all the lights and walls go away
an on-shore  breeze, a deep orange full moon 
just clearing the ocean’s border
not sweat but salty rain from inside me


if rain fell as one thin sheet every couple minutes
would wind cooperate.
drive for a slice, cut for tomorrow
lean out the wall where a window should be

how do i shift gears in this living room
a 27 inch rear view
dialing 911 gets me helicopters

outside two o’clock is riddled with potholes
a million clocks step backwards at once—
no one wants to be now, ready but not willing, 
clinging to the recent past coz it’s still edible 
so many garden hoses migrating toward the ocean

i only wear shoes so i don’t root
if i was naked i might photosynthesize
and what would that do for the economy

i’m feeling retrospeculative
is the future north or east
would it take a billion staying up all night
for the sun to hesitate, whether out of curiosity
or self-doubt

like china, every continent should be a single time zone
no more of getting there before you left
a day no one remembered to experience
even the calendar goes right from 22 to 24
it’s usually Wednesday who complains

people used to be able to assemble clocks
but time could never be fixed
space is constant but room keeps shrinking
as do lots and apartments
not a walk-in closet but a studio
soon be a world where those over 5’ 10”
will either stay outside or develop back problems

i was once able to see the future
but my vision got corrected
i can’t decide which of the labels in my pantry
is my name, how to know which can wants to open

what i think is outside is a warehouse
i can’t see the other end of
one path is red, the other is slippery
there’ll either be a place to lie down
or a place to swim, the mice and fish
are slow enough to read but their
evaporating language, how a couple of my muscles
want to break off and fend for themselves

when i get this far inside
when the right direction’s not the answer
if i can get a majority of my parts
to believe they’re someone else
we just might reassemble