poems by Dan Raphael

Re: Recovery


things can open too fast

I bang the wall just another time and it falls over

so much I’m not ready for

I railed on how the wall was keeping me in, making me less

without admitting my debt for all it was keeping out

letting me avoid


to suddenly get to places, tools and actions

I hadn’t accessed in over a month

seldom gradual switch-backs

or like trails without switchbacks only stairs

with down barely easier than up

after so much time spent level


going just partway up a ladder and finding scaffolding

going from a long juice fast to a global menu of favorites

jumping on the dusty bicycle then hearing its engine

uphill or dark in every direction

I know I can but do I want to




Who’s with Me


my personal ecology/menagerie/workforce

from the clichéd to the never been classified

the continually reproducing, the once a decade flares

the check-in every week or so for clean clothes

and fresh fruit, gone for several months

but now monopolizing the conversation and menu


what prefers windowless, what can’t move without aroma,

what you can set your watch by, what’s so late

i forgot it was coming, the couldn’t be more inappropriate

the we-never-met before that knows the secret handshake,

is this a mirror or a time-machine window, my wallet

but full of yen and kwanza, an ID with the back of my head


i understand English but no one here understands me

architecture i have to duck for, favorite foods

i’ve never seen before, today i know the shortcuts,

yesterday i pleaded with the floor to listen

predicting the weather with a thermometer under my tongue

and a pressure cuff on my wrist, trying to remember where

the exits are and that not every door’s ground level




Not Yet December


is this chill just atop my skin

or right inside it, gently closing the door

separating interior and exterior seasons

a life as a year, a month as a breath


and now wind I can see and hear

not feel inside me, not see the dry field

surrendering summer skin, sudden birds

taunting the wind, somewhere else there’s rain I can feel

as if that newly precipitated neighborhood’s inside me


there’ll be the kind of weather

when the electricity goes out at night

I don’t worry but get quickly dressed

more stars than satellites, so few cars

I smell thunder, my shoes scuff sparks

from the asphalt who thinks no one’s watching


how far in can the wind get—a sky basement,

what does the temperature difference tween my cold fingers

and my busily digesting stomach stir up?


my head the most consistent high pressure front

going from warm space to cold are my bones more surprised

than my skin, less than a breeze but movement

what would move toward me if it could, a wall that wants to stay

while the rest of my house surrenders

siding skin with what little insulation settled & thinned

times the wind goes around me cause I’m no challenge

not even friction to trade




All Kinds of Wind


the wind is a conveyor belt conveying what,

a train that doesn’t stop to pick up or release passengers

pollen, dust, aromas that may be from near or far

changed from the travel, interactions in the closed cabin of threads

within subcurrents within momentum skin, a siren comes and goes

but the  traffic sound is another wind

with soft throbs and  louder gusts


my body’s a wind antenna farm, sensors all over for various phenomena and waves

do the wind and heat need to reach my brain to change my emotions

who triggers what, approximates what, compare & contract

how a temperature feels different if you’re on the rising or declining side of the curve—

the day’s curve, the chain of days as what chain of fronts

moving and working through each other and us, thermal distribution

nowhere near as manipulable as wealth and resources, worth is an opinion

of abstract authority we can’t see or affect,  causing the abundances and deficits,

social and economic storms and droughts. atmospheric rivers and heat domes


as the wind moves the leaves whose shadows fall across my hands and desk

the wind against and through my shirt, to and from my skin

wind drying throat, thousands of throats

drying pockets, inner linings, shy of light

as a tunnel is just an alley with a roof


how can i look at what’s coming down

blinded by physical, solar and societal winds

to what’s waiting in the open, gaining on me

the ground’s own wind shifting me away from




Among Wings


if I was a bird

like a marsh hawk hidden in the reeds

rising suddenly 15-20 feet

then plunging back to where it heard

its next meal scurrying on the ground


as there’s never one crow, seldom less than three

moving whenever someone gets too close, in a spherical sense

though I can’t jump up to the wire or tree branch

you just never know leg strength

wings disguised as a coat


birds who eat other birds

who put their eggs in other nests

gypsy birds, birds who migrate for weeks


fledglings who realize

no matter how much they squawk and chirp

the ground won’t get any closer

maybe the only way to see mom

is to rise up to her


owl feathered like a tree

a bird to blend with each shade of sky

water birds with no breath to hold

clearly seeing rodents too far away to get to

swallows’ mini-vortexes pulling insects from other dimensions

hummingbirds so used to sugar water spring flowers confuse them

moss and lichen attract insects so birds will come and groom them,

spread their spores and gift occasional fertilizer


I’m a bird half denim blue, half dark plaid

summer plumage so random in color and flesh

no external wings, a nest I couldn’t have made myself

when someone says “fly” I look for what to swat

poems by Dan Raphael

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