Two by


dan raphael





With Dancers All Around



Stainless angles, porthole opals

hands can scoop like melons, multiple

temperatures and as many scents

as rainforest plant-life sealed in some

semi-porous eyes only a fraction

can be seen of


Mutual revelation, time-elapse acknowledgement

of our wobbling white-steel sun,

a million missing rivets

weaving blankets of whisper

where wind won’t enter

cause the ground is too corrosive,

moisture with too many questions


The spongey nonchalance of soil

too complex to be touched, unlocked

as time flows, compact, astringent

fertilizer in half the capillaries,

little wings on heels & temples,

hearts calloused but silky


Stripping away the thousand skins

of this rich blue water

that disappears when stopped or cursed,

continues when drunk, impelling the throat

onto a highway of unspoken conversations

as rapids query & inform

each rock & dead tortoise,

eyelets of greening information

allergic to light-catching thought


Germ and husk removed,

fat rubbed into tiny circles

like those irrigating a desert

so what can explode on riverbanks

as everything burnt fattens somewhere

leaving the living water tears approximate

enveloping personal gravity





“You’ve been making the wrong mistakes”

                                   —Theolonious Monk



got a moon in my pocket, not sure which one,

maybe Demos, maybe Pan, lighting up a night

i’ll never get to, exhausted by corners, uncontrollable intersections

this city’s scalp parted so many ways

fashion falls flat when the wind skips town


not gravity holding everything but inertia,

lack of agency, agility, tripping over time,

scratching boredom’s abrasions, internal clefts and cliffs.

more lines than structure, strutcure


when the door unlocks but the window’s stubborn

boxcars at my feet, reconstruction in my future,

a double digit chord rivuleting the ambiance

the way no smoking clipped light’s indoor pallet


can’t wait for hearts to align, for lungs to agree

on what to filter, what to tithe, how anything can be

held too long—its value, its integrity—

a slow bus of nuance, the express train of wow

as many folds as possible, a festival of doorways

atomizing direction and definition, bottles go by on bicycles

without friction it’s all slide,

when walls are allowed to choose

denying our freedom to vague and shrug


everything i cook has a little ash in it,

from paper     herb     or desiccated phrase

start at the middle and send out questions, bait, one bar of melody

steps that go neither up nor down, a panorama 95% obstructed,

sun enclouded so long its throat’s too dry to even whisper


what can i turn on to make things darker, a chess-like game

where 1 side has lights, the other has columns and mirrors

by the time i could see i’d forgotten where i was

walking the back beat, dancing beyond measure


start with iron instead of wood

from swamp to smelter

gleaming without fire

a sky without light, a street without a city

diaphanous complexity

when every device needs to be recharged

but no outlets, input swelling the windowpanes


my uncorrected eyes find letters in asphalt, between trees,

the calligraphy of neglected furniture, when everything’s played

and nothing works, i take off my hat but soon there’s another one there

i’m not clothed but laminated, my doctor says the pearl in me

must be removed and no i can’t have it back









dan raphael feels most fortunate to have had two poetry collections published in 2020—Moving with Every from Flowstone Press in June, and Starting Small from Alien Buddha Press in October.  Most Wednesdays dan writes and records a current events poem for The KBOO Evening News. 



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