On reading dan raphael’s "Impulse and Warp"

The first time I took LSD, I thought myself an animal again. It took me back to bonding with trees, like this old cherry tree in the backyard I used to climb as a child. On the psychedelic trip, this small oak on the pedestrian crossing became useful, something to climb, to hide behind, to use as a marking post. I saw myself an ape. Reading dan raphael’s Impulse and Warp (Wordcraft of Oregon, 2010) offered a similarly rooted psychedelic experience into a visual contemplation of the origins of the branches of that cherry tree, to the arm, to the digital keyboard. I say this with delight: one reads this book with one’s glands.

The five chapters of the book suggest an Art of War for the contemporary environment. “Dawn Zone Taste,” the first chapter, or “The Terrain,” becomes an awakening in a city or place. “Raint Meat,” or “The Weather,” becomes the metamorphosis of environmental facts. “Bop Dog,” or “The Way,” a confession of rhythm. “Bones ain’t Trees,” or “The Discipline,” becomes the corporeality of a rapidly changing bio-culture, and “Mollecular,” the final chapter, or “The Leadership,” the engine of our cyborg technology-symbiotic environment (“The five things are the way, the weather, the terrain, the leadership, and discipline” [Sun Tzu, The Art of War]). You’d think Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog was doing a Q and A on Reddit, you’d think you were listening to a rap freestyle through plasma: think time-travel, Illmatic, MF-Doom. Think Columbus, Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas. Think Dead Man.

     The birds were three feet ago;

  the stairs won’t let us sleep, stomachs serene and patient


          the walls

                           ablaze w/ history

                           wise w/ spikes and peelers

      tend us like goatherds w/wings

                                    one valley ahead

                    perched on impossible shale


         long ago

     the ants invented music


                                         half blind

                      is never far from stone


             we are like spiders

                  seeing through our feet

                 eating stored memory


                    a gap of hot silver comes for one of us

                           demanding birth & card tricks…”


                                                                  (“No, The Mayans Live Upstairs” p 15)


Impulse and Warp nobly attempts the impossible: to describe the chaos of time with respect. The poems can’t be rushed and aren’t easy on first impression. The syntax fucks itself, breaks up, then comes back to show that even grammar is relative. Like readings paint lines in a Pollock, the poems in Impulse and Warp are splotches of truth, mystery and physical reality as improvised and intentional, holding the reader accountable for the interpretation, in abstraction and fact, in an extrasensory game of pitch and catch where we decipher the quotidian “of a word used as street-tree for short or broad protective measures…” (from “Azimuth” p22).

In Impulse and Warp Dan Raphael serves a neon jambalaya, a brilliantly humane and funky picture of contemporaneity, where good sci-fi meets poetry and gonzo in a head-on collision of unique descriptions, gifts to the seeking eye, as if to suppose Nietzche as Dolemite or Waldo. “gradually the scenery is flattened and opens like cardboard base/… in the vertex of overheard conversations/… each another corporate bandwidth sugar-shadow/caterwauling…” (from “Oragamin” p59); And as with all that materializes here on earth, all the neon glowing for lack of Sunlight, all the habitats rising, for hate of Sunlight, the promise of a funeral remains, a “Body Held Against The Light” (p86), is “held against the light of an ever widening moon…” 



Darryl / Dadou / Baron Wawa

Darryl / Dadou / Baron Wawa is a Port-au-Prince born Haitian-American who studied Photography and Creative Writing. He enjoys chocolate and good books. That said, maybe a movie is a good book. He loves to work with images and words and their pairing.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Friday, February 14, 2020 - 10:35