Photosynthesis and four other poems by John Raffetto

PHOTOSYNTHESIS (without equations)

Photosynthesis reveals
a meditation
dreamscape of fossils,
a cosmic crawl
toward life force
past and present.

Photosynthesis reflects
a solar glow of
watery inhalation
breathing dark matter
a disjointed pigment
of a blue green ghost.

Photosynthesis offers
a folly
of burst molecules
electric in a swampy skin
an ephemeral ocean
of death and decay.

Photosynthesis proclaims
a dazzled synthesis
of sugary
an emerald glow
measured time,
the end and beginning
in an eternal web.


I asked Sun Ra,
is space really the place?
He turned his head from the keyboard
his sequenced cape and skull cap
sparkled into cosmic fury,
“Crazy man, the place is space
nothing but infinity”.
He was hitting notes
beyond the range of human sound.

His accompanying dancers were
melting intergalactic ice caps
station to station.

I sipped my scotch
as he played,
he glanced at me once or twice
as the nightclub
began shaking and vibrating
without percussion.

I looked out the window,
lights were flashing
and Rush street began to fade
becoming more distant
as we bolted away
from the foundations
into orbit
the place is really space,
Crazy man.


2 am
lying motionless
eyes closed
mind soars
to my private night museum,
to wrestle
a lurking force
upon winding galleries
as hallways extend
beyond vaporous rooms
as blank faces
watch my
slumberous mirage
as a clock ticks.

2:30 am
A cacophony of silence
follows moonlight
as sleep misses the final exit
no one to hear the fury
and witness
an apparition of
grandfather spirit.

3 am
Time sputters
a Magritte silhouette
floats past
I recognize
yet don’t recall,
vague light offers hope
through musty shadows
a pornography of memories.

3:30 am
I converse with dead people
alpha and beta ghosts
who pace back and forth
eyelids never close
a rapid heartbeat
a shortness of breath
as vacant eyes of
gray faces
scold me good-bye.

4 am
Tears engulf childhood streets,
moonlight fog of
willowy figures who
disappear and reappear in
mirrored arcades,
barkers call the dead
who laugh a cold laugh
at insomniac dreams.


You know it’s coming
a rattled breath
an unexpected fate
accosted on you
or a loved one.

You hope it’s not soon
or maybe never happens
but dust to dust
suffer into the grave night,
sitting at a wake
or shiva
pacing the carpet,
glance at the clock.

You fear the fear
where there is no hope
reflect on past love
and marvel at
those glorious days
when there was
no time
or need to ponder
of this
brilliant morning.


Walled city
of tight streets
Arab shops of pastel clothes
chess sets
and jewelry

heads covered
tourist scatter
into cafes rising upon Roman streets
Persian sandals and
Egyptian stones.

exodus to Western Wall
separated from ancient children
and nations.

A golden mosque
closed mid day
suspicious and guarded.

Lines extend into Church of the Holy Sepulchre
where Constantine wrote fantasies
for the masses
Via Delarosa never saw a bleeding man
the Emperor’s sleight of hand
a snicker through the ages
the joke is on all of us,
defending what never was
hot sun
blinds covered eyes
on the masks of Abraham
lacking water and food
twisted visions
the kind and pious.
The desert needs restoration
from the dogmatic oasis
replant and
open the path
remove the wall.

Yes the sun is delirious.


JOHN RAFFETTO – A lifelong resident of Chicago. Some of his poetry has been published in print and various online magazine such as Gloom Cupboard, Wilderness House, BlazeVox, Literary Orphans, Olentangy Review & Exact Change. Holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Northeastern Illinois University. Worked as a horticulturalist and landscape designer for many years at the Chicago Park District which was a rich environment for drawing inspiration for poems concerning nature, people and the city. Was recently a Pushcart nominee. Currently a adjunct professor at Triton College. My poetry has evolved from a mix of nature-oriented, ironical observational and personal pieces into a collection of fanciful, abstract, third person observational and speaking-from-a-different-voice poems. Most poems are concise with few longer tomes. Most of the poems, in one form or another, touch on the foibles and mysteries of existence.

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