“color ads with pictures of genuine shamans wearing cool hats” (Mark Sargent) by Dan Raphael

Catalogue, dating site, mug shots
every channel i turn to is a face, some in such extreme focus
i think i’m viewing a desert, a mud flat, a long untended parking lot

Occasional flashes of seeing the world in black and white
as if a short in my picture tube, a retsina-soaked retina;
while i’d hoped for a flamboyant, hybrid iris
i got the native iris foetida, aroma bigger than its flowers,
bright orange seeds barely a compensation & more of a threat

Coz i know no matter how often and vigorously i sneeze
a fraction of the cause—things my body either doesn’t know how
or doesnt want to dance with—gets through, usually
without a map or much company:  all these one way doors,
these sluices defying gravity, the constant echoes of that 4-valve piston
mighty in the drum of my rib cage

Whether what we call visions are revisions, disillusions, spontaneous surrealism
i’m never safe from the concrete edge, the invisible glass of beer,
the extra step the staircase added this morning.

When i realize everyone else in the block long store disapproves of me,
when the cars 5 lanes wide  move syrup slow and through each other,
like ourobouros spirochetes. when i need to let something unnamed
but pressurized out of my body and i don’t know what door its closest to
or how many obstacles between me and an outdoors i don’t have to clean later

Where my clothes will dissolve and i’ll be cured like a ham,
obscured by the clouds released when my body turns inside out
clouds that draw the rain, leaves & dust up to them in moiré-patterned stripes
making the horizon a pixelated lego mandala modeling a future space colony
with constantly intersecting, writhing, skin-shedding, micro-express
tube tracks (god forbid the star-hamsters would ever invade) shimmering
like an all-terrain medusa helmet with multi-channel eyes that can makewho sees them
                                                    stoned, edible. compliant, insatiable, repulsed

You not only have to pay to play you have to pay to work, stay hydrated
                                                    and arrive with most of what you left home with.
i fly to the place of organic, pre-lingual magic and sip my bowl of shaman ramen
til the truth comes by with an offer i can barely afford

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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