When Music Didn’t Play Itself by Dan Raphael

”Louie [Armstrong] takes iguana to his lips, and he can fucking see that it’s an iguana,
and thinks, damn, what I do for the music, they have no idea, can’t possibly know
what blowing fucking iguana is all about.” Mark Sargent

Could be a valve, could be a pain meridian
like a bagpipe with the goat still attached, its beating heart the auto-bass
trumpet    crumpet    strumpet
limpets for percussion, conchs for tonal solos, from the nautilus you get aged music
rushing into current air knowing its late for something, knowing collectors are at its door
aslog in a sea of credit, coupons, groupons, groping into pockets
couldn’t be that deep where someones set up camp just a layer of cotton
from the family jewels set to unfurl their semi metallic seeds into this pentatonic wind
made in darkest new york (china)
orchestral grapefruit sections, blow and go,
e-readers with mini windshield wipers to keep the tunes flowing:
foxtrot-polka-waltz, dipping on the exhale, buck-and-winging up the 5 story clarinet,
this waterslide of weekend spit

the pigeons on the wires are almost ravel, the 4 dimensional options
of an orchestra in zero gravity, insulated boots cant conduct,
i want current both direct and alternate, alternational,
we dont have those songs coz that flute doesn’t grow here,
when the seed bursts from the pod make sure its first vision is you,
bonded with what it will become, what’s playing in the background as i’m
forever traumatized and hungry by the mega-bass vibrating the windows of my birth

so rarely is the window singing what i see, the crazed skylights of ornettes loft
til condo growth blotted out the moon, the stars had to leave town, a rent in the fabric,
notating on zebra flesh the hyenic heartbeats, the wilde-beats
enticing me to run where the spiders rain, turning each moan into an octave,
redefining octaves by how many fingers left, one finger of bourbon for every solo,
breathing more hexagonal than circular, kneecap bongos, schizophrenic snares

the muse of the morning after resinous, post-human, transpositional;
the darkest clouds bring coffee, sunshine brings ear worms–no jam without seeds,
how something old played through something new crossing on red and flying on green,
i flex the bow to make dew dance like spontaneous oil on a thousand watt cymbal
sheening to short and feed back, rendering to monk the missing pieces
we have nothing to sphere but music burning thorough our chromatic table
to underground bedrock so pissed off to be wakened it tazes us
with a thousand lab-grown inorganic strings synthesizing nothing,
my trumpet makes the house leak and spasm so i play in the rain,
unsure who just landed on my shoulder


For a couple decades I’ve been active in the Northwest as poet, performer, editor and reading host. Everyone in This Movie Gets Paid, my most recent book, came out June 1st from Last Word Press. Current poems appear in Otoliths, Rasputin, Mad Swirl, Oddball & Unlikely Stories.

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