Two Poems by Dan Raphael

These two poems by Dan Raphael apply imagination, vision, and intricate wordplay to anatomize a city intersection and the various openings we encounter…

by: Dan Raphael

Mirage in the Street

light changing when I'm in the middle
trying to decide, declaim or decline
I empty my pockets and leave them there
to affirm and drill or deny and harvest
a cloud no wider than me and half a mile high
car grills opening like lilies who missed easter

when walkers and drivers trade  places
sidewalks impassable with free goods and throwaways
neon fissures in the asphalt
fruiting bodies of boarded up windows

it’s called complywood, barrierrors,
the signals of trafficking, porking spaces
who’d rather commute than commune, impose than create
my back up against the gas meter
do I want a badge or a uniform
an accordion arm or a clarinet throat

turn the key, floor the pedal and a deluge of percussion
windows can’t decide to popcorn or melt
signs take wing, addresses add up and demand payment
I go for my wallet but a hand’s already there
A Door of One’s Own

if boxes weren’t meant to open
they wouldn’t have lids
as an octopus can open a screw-top jar
from outside or in
some people can open a bottle
just by looking at it
some people automatic doors
won’t open for

elevators without doors
rooms that know how much is in them
trap doors, dutch doors, doors that slide into walls
look here to open
if you knock you can’t come in

a room with a zipper
velcro instead of nails
walls meant to dissolve in the summer
and grow back when leaves fall
doors that dare you to slam them

i’ve walked past that door for decades
& have no idea where it goes
or that door in the wall 20 feet
above the indoor swimming pool

rooms for rent by the hour, day or week
room for one less
i’ll never see this room again
a room of time, not space

sometimes you keep digging
cause you don’t want to go back
as if no tunnel has just one end

Dan Raphael currently lives in Portland, Oregon where he has been active for decades as a poet, a performer, an editor, and a reading host. His 26th book of poetry, Out in the Wordshed, will be published this Fall by Last Word Books. He has contributed poems to Caliban, Otoliths, Yggdrasil, Basalt and Rasputin, among other notable publications.

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