Dan Raphael


Not Even Crows


a silent place:  no ocean, no traffic

no wind, no walking by

no chickens, dogs or squirrels

the light doesn’t use frequencies i can hear

moisture in the air, but not enough to articulate


my feet could write but i sit for hours

can’t walk fast enough for the air to even peep

let alone music, my impatient shadow

my muscles would prefer half the mass

not business or busyness but us- and is-ness


no essence without distillation, without

heat and patience, a soft damp friction

so no spark, no tinder,  just recycled

nesting from elsewhere, surplus and  rejects, 

our LED sun, egg shell moon, 

pre-portioned hours, self-replicating to-do lists


the comfy numbness home assumes

seldom repaired, no maintenance

for its own sake, as walls can move,

as one day the copters and jets won’t stop

smoke detector screaming metal, windows

strung like harps, i realize the thunder’s inside me

worried where the rain will come from


Winter’s never wrong


A tension to details, an attention to surprise

if furnaces were 1/10th as unpredictable

poured on the page as if a swimming pool--full or empty

the decorative float on top of a cocktail, butter rising,

carbonation knows there’s just one way out


A slice of life, the edge of risks, loose thread like partial syllables

where seldom is heard, where the pants could last for weeks

an unexpected waterfall, frozen elevator, who knew

steel could grow from its roots, lost in the foundation

granted sweetness by errant body chemistry, lack of connections

made to be fixed, why monsters and trolls are beneath

with angels and trophies on high


Days are shorter in winter, as in summer days are never long enough

we are light addicts, heat addicts, who chose 98.6 as the average

the standard, though 37’s an excellent number, not how far away 

but how long it takes, i give the doorway plenty of warning 

yet still it hits my head


Though the Sun’s Out


A sudden drop in temperature and gravity

some out of focus wavering along my body’s outline

is there leakage, unforced entry—too soon to tell

no movement just vanishing, no filling in

no pencil of communication to connect loose dots


Am i still all here? at least there seems a quorum

a couple minority voices but feels like a football game

where each team has to stay on their own side of the field

no fans just coaches, cameras and officials watching

on the sidelines and from the air


As if a little warning beeps when i go outside my usual paths 

this isolation’s protecting who from what, what from who

masked or not i’m traceable, even with my phone at home


Like tuning across satellite radio til i find the song

that won’t leave my head for days, so much more music

than news, so much more news than change


A Day Without Opening the Door


as if there was somewhere to go

a venue, an avenue, to venture

or just to vent, to stay where i am

and have unwanteds leave me-- 

this seething emotional plaque,

imperceptible corrosion


as when a tendon’s damaged, when a nerve

loses its connections so cries more loudly

incessantly, essentially, as if one could learn intuition:

i’ll never be empty enough, blindered

the curse of focus, of obligation

no riffle in the habitual context


as the sun continually mutes the moon 

i feel local and global messages passing through me

unseen, unheard, interfering with my reactions

before I can send them out, indeterminate,

anonymous but not blank, vague but not unusual

moments out of sensory range


you can’t have a door without walls

can’t have a roof without weather

how can the sun set when no one saw it rise

every morning there’s another blank crater

increasing the pressure, making my moves

a half-step slower


The pump don’t work

‘cause the vandals took the handle

Bob Dylan


When I look to the sky and the sky looks back,

I see the nearest ridge-line sliding toward me.

cars are useless now, airliners realize they’re not bumble bees 

and can’t fly:  gravity rules, momentum goes stale quickly, 

the only way is the next minute, sun spinning like a pendulum, 

all the gravy draining off the earth’s plate taking us back to 

our root vegetables, to what grows here and will only kill a few of us


New varieties of rain have evolved and they’re not all drinkable 

or skin safe as all that’s gone up is coming down with a purpose, 

just one strand in the earth’s immune system, its chemical

balance sheet as each extinct species is a debt to be paid

interest multiplying as the ice divides into water, as the global HVAC system 

gets erratic, the sprinkler and irrigation systems re-programming themselves


The sun doesn’t just feed us but is our jailer, we can’t escape it

so the rest of the universe can watch in safety 

as the time we’ve been around is just a mini-series 

from the cosmic scale, we’ll never know if 

we’re the first season or a 3rd or 4th sequel

as if each star is broadcasting, cameras within cameras, 

ears becoming mouths, teeth becoming filters

so many extras and so little screen-time


Can’t tell if there’s plenty of food or not enough, so poorly 

everything’s distributed, ‘til oxygen’s no longer free, 

safe water’s anybody’s guess, take whatever’s not nailed down 

or guarded, whether you even know what it is


Dan Raphael has had two poetry collections published in 2020: Starting Small (Alien Buddha Press) and Moving with Every (Flowstone Press). Most Wednesdays, Dan writes and records a political poem for the KBOO Evening News.