"Property Values," "Falling fast," and "Going Down for Air"

Property Values

The many ways cities shed their skins, as the earth clears
the decades old warts of houses, so much we don’t let decay
like streets, so much we try to control but have no agency—
like rivers, weather, or how does money
defy the gravitational myth of community
 
There’s wind but i have no sail
there’s plenty of water but like an iceberg only 15% of me is above it
the rest soaking, being nibbled, wondering which side we should be on
 
Rare the city not on water, in the way of water
 
While here and now a bicyclist road-rashed avoiding an hallucination
earlier we were flooded with traffic coz of freeway repaving
while nearby in johnson creek otters and eels are working out
traffic patterns while some rocks are talking about salmon
but with rocks you never know if they’re talking past or future
as creeks don’t distinguish between up and down, winter and summer—
the water moves but the creek stays the same, the sides overflow
or wash away and yet there’s always mud, something moving near the bottom
if you squint, hold your breaths
if my feet can remember how to dig
fields of european weeds who’ve made themselves at home so long
who can say what continent this is, what’s native or invasive
 
As my long-time neighbor who went to the school across the street,
like her parents and her sons, will be dying soon
and who knows what’ll be built there
but I’m sure we’ll have to put back the fence originally between us.
whether development’s more tsunami or earthquake, very slow ‘til it’s next door
a couple dams could break, a volcano could sprout and spew
 
As the oceans rise there’ll be fewer places to go
and more trying to get there, more washed away
when the stories that only exist digitally are dispersed
when i know about the 4th grade spelling bee
but not yesterday, poke a finger to the writhing digital globe
and tell me where i am, when all the mail’s e-
who needs a physical address
there’s no rent just bandwidth
home is where i recharge

 


 

Falling fast

Pedestrians crossing in the middle of the block
big pickup bullying his way into my subcompact’s right of
construction delays popping up faster than fall mushrooms
3rd shirt of the day, 3rd shot in the 3rd bar
more clouds in my head than the sky
 
When i feel comfortable enough to talk politics it’s time to leave
sunless sky confusing my compass, 2 crows almost collide
either i walked here or my car was stolen
how could i know the bus was a food truck with seats
i want gravy, not sauce; stew, not soup; a small bread melting butter
 
3 months from now the main differences are colder and darker
higher utility bills, holidays stormfront approaching
i move the clock ahead 6 hours but nothing changes
i wonder about freeways made of pasta, poisoned rivers
diluted enough to just give you a buzz
 
Do i melt like the snow falling elsewhere
stars breaking through the clouds in all the colors of
christmas tree lights,  we gift-wrapped the turkey
stuffed small presents into large ones and baked them
it’s last call and the sun’s barely set

 


 

Going Down for Air

The sky’s more an ocean than a street
as we slowly harden the first while swelling the second,
abrasive sky with billions of tiny full pockets
while the ocean’s clothes are unravelling, sinking
with sodden confusion while in between i’m engaging
my hand-held horizon, an earth that’s flat but everywhere
networked but not all connections are equal
direct or two-way, like having dozens of lungs
changing synchronicity, circularity, outside accounts
 
What scans your retina can blind you like that
a burp of electrons, broken chain of commands
why shake your head when you can shout in an unforgettable way
the NO of a hurricane, a bullet, the wrong move at the wrongest time
reversing the solution so you know the recipe
flexing with this impish, indecisive gravity
 
There’s no place like now, when we’re rid of roads and rods
by the time we can measure it, place it on the grid of others
ready to dissolve or burn through, taking nitrogen for granted
then what, heavier non-metals, krypton decoded
elements gone beyond rare to endangered
no one’d thought to dig this deep here
 
Breathing may soon become an option, warming only yourself
not the house and contents, bodies through mountains,
hands into blood streams, a sun retendrilling inside me
enflames the spectrum of my blood

 

 

dan raphael

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.

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, October 14, 2019 - 22:50