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Keith Allen Daniels

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Salt Lake City, UT, US

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Flashback in Traffic

by

Keith Allen Daniels

When traffic grinds to a halt,
is there freedom on the freeway?
Where are the keys to the ka?

A cobra wraps itself around my ankle,
chafing at the sandal crushing its head.
The boat rocks in the khamsin,
listing on the river, shudders against
the sunken apex of a block
meant for the pyramids, now doing time
as the curse of the pharaohs.
The hull is breached and the dinghy
ships water like a thirsty camel.
As the Nile pours over the gunwales
we snag some oddments of flotsam,
papyrus and a palimpsest or two,
contemplate the absurdity of this life
and dive head-first into inscrutable waters

even as the geese begin honking in protest.


Author's note: The ancient Egyptian concept of the ka is best approximated by the modern concept of the alter ego or spiritual double, present in the body since birth. It is thus distinguished from ba, the soul.


The Unhauntable Man

by

Keith Allen Daniels

Ghosts have given up,
and spirits despair
when they speak of me:
How can we haunt a man
who never stays put for a haunting?

Always wandering, wandering,
wondering: Perhaps it is I
who haunts the world,
dead but embodied, itinerant,
searching for comfort
among the sessile spirits
a zombie with no sense of place

migrating endlessly

with the short seasons

of a lost soul.


Return of the Haruspex

by

Keith Allen Daniels

Haruspex: a low-ranking priest of ancient Rome who used the entrails of animals for purposes of prophecy and divination.

"Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red."
-- Clive Barker

Sometimes a poem, pulsing like a heart
beneath the skin, a sanguine twist of truth
uncoiled by divinatory arts,
augurs more than visceral volumes can.
Life’s unbound galleys, rarely in demand --
a kind of codex in the proper hands --
cry out for readers from the vault of ribs.
Behind each frontispiece a story lies
that never lies, however convolute
and raveled by the years beyond the crib.

Have all the tales been told? Is all reprise?
Your new editions stacked like Babel tower --
but all I find are weak anthologies,
their pages warded by a grim disease,
and novels only Dahmer could devour.