"The Last Saturday Night," "My Own Private Climate Crisis," and 'So much treasure in my intestines I knew...'

The Last Saturday Night

 

1.

The DeadToe Quintet launches with Lizard Men from Deep Time
in two sips all are in different keys and signatures
the drummer has a chair leg in one hand and a dead basenji’s femur in the other
alto smells like lighter fluid;  albino bass player begins to testify
like Genghis Khan discovering Jesus

Some dance sock foot; some have shoes they never walk in.
why a floor this inflicted with friction, bulk and arrhythmia
doesn’t melt or collapse proves the durability of hope and habit,
the joy of swimming in heartbeats not our own.
sweating someone else’s blood, eager to see how far that fabric
will stretch, if what’s underneath is pastry, meat or petrochemical

Whats the price of Yes? is that a camera or a short fuse
breathing heavy in the next stall:  there’s not enough anti-bacterial in town
to reverse tonights consequences, all that’s left is to hit a stranger or the floor       

These three hours tween last call and bacon-cheddar-jalapeno, hold the eggs.
the buses are in church, the cabs are too drunk to drive
the clubs will constrict again til Friday night:
                                                                  get home, shower ‘til the waters cold,
think about a nap inside the frij, certain the approaching sirens won’t get past my door

 

2.

When the evangelicals take over every day will be Sunday, every sin
will be somebody’s profit, the Heavenly Bureau of Investigation
trading pornography for bombs, blackmailing for stock tips and votes,
treating all Muslims like Palestinians, treating atheists as non-white

Without evolution you can’t have extinction,
if god didn’t want us to destroy this planet
he wouldn’t have put oil in the ground,
would have given uteruses a two child warranty
& inclined us to keep our bone-crunching & and savor human flesh

 


 

My Own Private Climate Crisis

The sun’s stuck in traffic

Time’s taking the weekend off so we can’t get paid or find new things to watch;
       if i go out the door i won’t be able to get back in til Tuesday

Even breath gets boring, the same sandwich, mayo but no mustard,
       ketchup made from tanker cars. We learned to turn paper into meat
       then stopped reading newspapers and books

Crows don’t usually fly that high so it’s either an african american superhero
       or a dark silent drone:  All this information gathered from our cells
       proves we can live even closer together

When the electricity stops flowing how sweet will be the view from your 8th story condo
      with immovable windows, & how even more beautiful your legs will become

To protect my house i’m camouflaging it to look derelict & dangerous;
       every week i put the same empty shotgun shell package in my recycling

My stomach’s been remodeled from a single family dwelling to 7 studios;
       every hour of the day someone’s sleeping, someone’s peeling back the curtains
       to see if their window can be touched or seen through

I didn’t realize i had glaciers in me til they started to recede and melt

As if those prehistoric giant ferns percolating near my brain’s core would remain undrilled,
       burning memory for temporary escape

As my inner coastlines rise, my accumulated indigestibles huddle close enough
       to spontaneously erupt

More of my ambitions have become refugees, camping on barren ground with a million others.

I’m unaware of my internal pentagon but know i must have one; my personal gaza
       is somewhere i can neither reach or see.

When i take off my clouds you see no nations, no structures, maybe the andes of my spine,
       the himalayas of my stomach

Instead of tattoos i’m having chlorophyll producing cells implanted wherever i can afford;
       fashion-wise, green is the new black and earth-firsters the new goths

Whoever thought snow globes would become both precious anachronisms
       and cult meditation tools

Cool is warmer than ever

When I’m happy i can almost believe the constant smoke and dust is a 20% chance of rain;
       when i weep my eyes get so dry i can’t keep them open

 


 

”Every now and then I know it’s kinda hard to tell
  but I’m still alive and well”   — Johnny Winter       

 

So much treasure in my intestines I knew someone would eventually come looking for it.
when the mountains shadow spreads like a happy vulture, when the hospital hallway
is as long as the grand canyon and I know better than to look up, to try and find the water
i hear roiling nearby like an interstate of mumbling baleen.

Your health is your wealth, your illness is international business’s coffee card 
your death could be a college degree or vacation home—
cash it in, plow it back, ignore the smell & the flies in expensive suits

I have nothing else to grasp but grasping. when the floor opens,
when my walls are carried away and i have to pay the freight;
all those empty apartments in central china calling to the disenfranchised,
the dead, those who don’t know what real chow mein tastes like,
how chickens in beijing are all dark meat because of the air, the coal, the history:
our ancestors could afford to be sloppy with fire but were miserly with shit
and secrets that have little value in a  big city in a bigger country—

As a nation evaporates, populations evacuate
the lucky viruses fly trans-continental
while the mediterrenean returns to its historic role as graveyard

Can a gated community secede,
the first rocket cars hopping from enclave to enclave
lakes turned into golf courses, people who’ve never seen cash
or vacuumed a floor, while soon the only clothing i can afford
comes from a 3-D printer fed with tanks i don’t want to know the origins of—
we’re cycling & recycling as fast as we can but can’t get there in time
for the job, the damaged free stuff, the barbed assignation,
and usually need to replace something by the time we get home—
a tire, a lens, an ankle.

Would you give up your arms to have wings
would you give up your teeth for an affordable liquid industrial diet—
take two of these every hour until you can’t take any more,
remain a moving target and never stop circling the take-out window
while the chameleon-gened soylent becomes what the jingle inspired

My house has been replaced with a medical bill
my mirror’s obscured with clouds while the sky is garish with advertising
how does the machine draining my bank card make me feel grateful & pleasured
while everything i eat leaves me hungry and slow

 

 

For over three decades, dan raphael’s been active in the Northwest as poet, performer, editor and reading host. Everyone in This Movie Gets Paid, his 19th book, came out in June of 2016.  Current poems appear in Across the Margin, Caliban, In Between Hangovers, Phantom Drift and Great Weather for Media. As well as being the Prose Editor for Unlikely Stories, he hosts the monthly Fo Po Poetry series in Portland, and once a week writes news stores and writes and records a news poem for KBOO community radio.

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, December 19, 2016 - 22:50