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Dan Raphael:

Twenty-Six Books
6735 SE 78th
Portland OR, 97206


The title of this book of poems is especially apt for its new more clearly discursive slant, built on techniques and formal structures Raphael has been developing for some years now. These are large poems, each one filling an 8.5 x 11" page or more, dealing passionately but not simplistically with such large questions as human survival or "purpose", the evolution of consciousness, and social and cultural decay or change, all couched in an intensely expressed surrealist discourse glittering with the "ephemera" of daily life:

     I can see the music in the blood of the guy running 
     down the alley pushing a shopping cart with a tv inside 
     it, repeatedly looking over his shoulder at the miniature 
     cars which like a pack of dogs keep trying to jump 
     & fly into the low-lying clouds of meat teasing
     all below with the threat or treat of carmine rain... 

(from "Shopping Cart")

These poems, which include so much and range over such broad territories, remain rigorously focused on particular themes or qualities of consciousness. This partly explains why their endings seem so convincing, and, although often formally trailing off, provide an amazing sense of closure:

     if only our bodies were aligned 
     not this inexorable clash into himalaya of unresolved momentum, 
     rolling over like dogsdogs inhaling each minute like meat, 
     each om-bark silkily draping the light at the end of 
     the moon snaps open   

(from "Divercity")

No brief review can do justice to these important new poems. Essential reading.--John M. Bennett

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This review originally appeared in TapRoot Reviews #3,
Copyright Burning Press 1993, 1995.

Contact the editor, luigi-bob drake, at Burning Press