We’re waiting at the border to drive across this secret state at night
when the roads are wider, cooler, sidewalks rolled up, no cities to go through,
no stop lights, like venom taking the major artery from my ankle to my heart,
i get as far as i can on a single breath enmazed in my pre-programmed history
names try to deny:
I paid for a genetic test and they sent my money back,
saying my sample was contaminated, parts of my dna unidentifiable,
from atlantis maybe, or one of those countries that continues in mind and myth
though hasn’t been on the maps for centuries.
the numbers on my clothes
don’t match my uneven shadow—i only get naked when my transparencies won’t show
cause the constellations in my rib cage arent in any of earth’s hemispheres,
like a large fire on a nearby moon, signal pyres on mountain tops
where a real country becomes a fictional one, where the magic inherent in some of us
is nothing to laugh about, a small box of extra fingers.
The first time i made light
i was blind for two days, learned to spin when i’m spelling to avoid the lines of fire,
the webs that become spiders become a warren of hungry brains
who’d sing if they had mouths, if it could be translated, said in a single breath,
skinning the squirrels carefully to have the largest writing surface.
turning soil into glass to see what’s been buried, forgotten,
places even light won’t go, wiggling geometries my eyes have no model for
so declare invisible, like an arm inside my arm, a sinuous slick of raspberry
in seven miles of river
The world record for species eaten is almost two hundred, more insects than animals,
and the purists who only eat what they’ve killed, their pictures on animal shelter
in the future we’ll add other critters appetites so we can eat trees,
tunnel through the earth faster than we can decide what to collect, digest or swerve around.
Just as trees are symmetrical above and below the surface so are cities,
the stalactite shadows barely visible on the ceiling below my feet.
When we all speak the same language and the whole planet has the same climate
who can tell what country theyre in. when all votings electronic
my favorite representative may be 3 continents away. erase one border
and two more take its place
i buy extra copies of my favorite books, marinate them in industrial rain,
& let the brew ferment with a couple shoes, seasonal flowers, what feral cats
drawn by the aroma leave at my doorstep, not all of it dead, not all of it natural.
You can break into my house and never get in my home. cut me open,
scramble the parts, but soon as your backs turned
“I contain multitudes” Walt Whitman
I am 4 today
yesterday I was 2 feet, 1 hand and a mouth
The days I’m a crowd can be a week long—some of us purely nocturnal
many happy to have a job, to be associated.
Team sports, board games, who am i bluffing
When I act like I’m 1 but know I’m 3
planning what to cook for diner then smelling whats in the oven
Most days mirrors are impossible to focus, like the channel changer won’t stop
Who wants to go outside. One me likes cold showers while another needs to lobster
Not past lives nor any kind of –phrenia
walking for miles in a lifetime of shoes
never question how this got here or what was i thinking when
Crowd days, fraction days, no average average
I could be my own village—some days a democracy, some days chaos,
smooth zen, reluctant tyranny, a plague of locusts in a small urban yard
We stay together, one body, no way to delegate,
Hoping someones job is to pick up and put away, i,
3 grocery lists in different pockets.
when someone calls out a name it could be mine but what if it isn’t
the new mail carrier wonders how many could live in such a small house
not knowing how each door can lead to several rooms
even a crowd can get lonely, can need a new perspective, a joke i haven’t heard before
polyamory, internal jealousy, maybe build a new facebook page
but keeping up what i have is already a part-time job.
the week i was just one slogged in thick monotone,
things i couldn’t find, diminished skill set—
I thought of pills, of a gun surprising me in a drawer;
next morning enough of me we had breakfast all day
No There to Get to From a Here Not Here
Pale gray hole in the medium dark clouds rimmed in white and light
I only cough when i start talking, i only cry when i read shakespeare
or poems that have been translated 5 or more times—english to greek
to mandarin to finnish to french. I no longer pine for an american language
cause that’s the meat of advertising, a language whose only rule is intent,
a content that cons, a con-text where exclamations points are like potato chips
In Goethe’s dyring words, “more light.” When i say her skin glows
i mean subdermal LEDs, a sequin at the corner of her eye recording everything.
All the information collected, stored and ignored will reach a critical mass
of hunger and neglect and we’ll all be talking in binary, a thousand shades of zero
when the electromagnetic eraser comes.
Ants self-identifying as butterflies,
snakes with hundred proof venom spend their afternoons sucking agave
and roasting their bellies like anchos—that slow burn, no flame, no smoke,
til one morning my skin begins to peel off and—whats that smell—
forest fire, old vegas hotel imploding, fourth of july during a temperature inversion,
not a comet but congealed star farts
The winner of the next global lottery will get her or his face on a currency
you need 5 of to buy a can of coke. An insistent ring tone everyone knows isnt theirs,
a keyboard bigger than the palm of the hand leaves most folks silent,
fingers unable to keep up with the mind whos like a hummingbird
in a warehouse full of silk and plastic flowers
We can’t call it “high” school anymore, not a test but voluntary tranqulizations,
numb and number, i’m only comfortable when i don’t want to move.
I know what hour it is but not what month. The window knows if i could see outside
i might do something unproductive, i could frighten the driverless cars
with my ability to juke and tumble, with no credit card proclivity
to predict my heading i become who the phone calls are asking for,
i’m here but i doubt i’m home
When i zoom out on google maps
the labyrinth begins to writhe, streets changing names, the transit system
resembles the nerves in my chest, my legs are suburban ghettos
my arms are hundreds of gated tendons while my neck is a condo
so large visitors need passports, my brains off the map
For four decades, dan raphael's been active in the Northwest as poet, performer, editor and reading host. His 21st poetry collection, Manything, is now available from Unlikely Books. Current poems appear in Caliban, Red Fez, Scarlet Leaf and S/Word. dan recommends supporting KBOO-FM, where most Wednesdays he writes and records a poem for The KBOO Evening News.