The American Greeting Card Company Dana Ward

from The American Greeting Card
Dana Ward
The 4th of July
Every hour means one hour less of this
American day
every hour means one hour less of this,
Every hour means one hour less of this
thought of hours, this conceit of days every hour means
one hour less of loss
conveyed as time. The fear I feel when I say ‘we’ I’ve never
known less what to say
about this. Every hour means one hour less
of me, & who am I, & you,
I’ve never known less what to say about that,
art, I should say less I think
go away more, disappear more pointedly
in time as a holiday fades into bodies made mainly of water, America,
you’ve given me a nothing
made of everything, a self, a Roman candle
made of water Atlantis each
hour more merely the ocean, a tall drink
of time after time.
Each hour means one more unknowable
animal suicide should I
come closer each hour I’m spinning my
wheels, I put my shoulder
there, no, I see now, it’s your shoulder
more beautiful & fierce than
any nation, a bearing of the ocean, a holy day, as the occasion of it, fades,
as we do. As we know. So very little. 15
All Souls' Day
In the Prince song “Purple Rain”
the first chord is a wing
whose sound is dampened
in a light of letting go
It brushes by the cheek as if to heal awhile while
on its way as if to let you know
you too belong to that elect whose special company is premised on no more than being kept in mortal fact or having died of lovelessness
or love already countless times & breathing, still. His fingers flutter
through the wing’s electric down both
fast & slow it’s on its way to violet
clouds to rend their soft indifference;
heaven’s hands, almost stigmatic, needing just the gradual upheaval of evangelistic
fervor for the puncture to commence,
like a necrotic through the stuff of them, to spread, & make the whole thing
shower down. That’s what
the song does later on, but now,
it’s suave & mournful, stirred
awake again to be the point of no return it is content to be the vanguard convocation of the sad, & thrilling, future composition it announces
solemn-halo first in strums that hiccup on the swanning neck
& world in new regard of all
the souls beyond whose consolations are refreshed WASHINGTON SQUARE
in waiting clouds above the song
as he remembers how he meant,
& failed, to love as all the souls beyond are now forever loved.
Presidents Day
I visited Washington Square for the first time in October of 2001. I
met up with Aaron there who then, as now, had the look of a trim,
handsome lion. His legendary face was in another of its beautiful
eras. His hair was long & black with silver filaments. Then they
were special in the mix, as now I’d guess they’re common. His hair’s
feeling was country & western & rock with a city-like poetry free
school attended by classic fluidity & sex in its structural protest,
degrees of which grew down the day to look mortal & pretty. He has
that complete kind of soul that’s both a challenge & the loss of
consolation. It made me think I was a little cheap & needy. His
torches laughed & sighed about advancement. He was pretty much
cool to be heard & to hear. A few weeks before, one of the planes had
made the roof above his bed shake. He lived near the top of a building
in Manhattan. The next fall I walked through the park with Natasha. One new war
begun. Another on the way. After the park we went to the Bowery
Poetry Club for some coffee. We saw Al Gore there. He was like us.
Drinking coffee. We did several double takes, whispered & scribbled
discreetly, trying to determine if he was who we were nearly sure
he was. An employee told us he had stopped in there more than once.
Apparently he was into poetry. He was wearing a pair of red socks. The next year, or perhaps the year after, I was there with Karen
in the spring. I had Chris Nealon’s book The Joyous Age in my
bag, & we read some of that aloud. The ideas that so warm & so
harm humankind were sprawled around us: students making out, a
building’s altitude of cloud, the sun, & the conceptions of the sun, the
moneyed school like love with bordered grounds, the sound of verse
read aloud between friends. Conrad’s hair was getting longer then.
He’d vowed to let it grow until the wars came to an end. Our books may
one day be composed by kissing his bare scalp.