Dana Ward



from Some Other Deaths of Bas Jan Ader


When we lived near Eden Park I was green & now I think in saying that I might be even more so. I would drink Folger's espresso near a citronella candle reading Mandelstam & then I'd go & visit Mirror Lake. Under the glare of the water was a wonderful pattern, curvaceous & made of spring colors, these children had painted one summer as part of a public arts project, now defunct. But the horror was the way in which the lake was all for me—existence seemed the emblem of a hurt, romantic man exteriority had processed & rendered as material no thought would ever eclipse. The wind styled over the surface of the water, freely, with easy intensity, enough to cause commotion although never any panic. The currents were mild, patterns brief from wave to wave, so I never felt obliged to organize them in my mind as more than sated victims of an uncoordinated surging. The sun was just a paper moon, its warmth an effect of its need for some beloved to believe in it & authorize the venue of its beaming. Slow swarms of dandelion spoors would migrate north from the riverbank & settle on an aimlessness the airflow agreed to. Shamelessly happy I sailed into a parallel universe dreaminess blew into this one’s unbearable completeness.

"As sweet as pain to the saint" as Notley wrote, "is the door to the actuality of those events." I am pushing it open with my nose like a cat, & going blind as the dazzle from its surface hits my eyes I wince & shudder making vague figures out in a room overcoming or eluding crude representations through maneuvers which appear to me, like dancing to a child, as the movement of the real world in rehearsal.

There's a flickering black & white pattern moving over the air & their forms are bleeding endlessly & freely flowing into it, out of it, streams, & sprays untraceable & lost to destination like the most evasive sentiment seeming to come to a critical truth. My eyes loose the thread of this movement in a moment of being bound into it, care like distortion through being enforced or bound inside these audits to the forms of certain persons whose abandonment describes the very limits of existence. Then one of them, another svelte & hurt romantic man, emerges from the overwhelming motion to seek the miraculous, alone, in the dreamiest fashion, as then he went down to his ship, which was already poised, tiny argosy of sacrificial love, where the Venus deer he would become found its headlights, the sea, reached via the streets of a city at night.

The last thing he would see is light on water.

Then Micah stops by & I smoke while he nurses a nicotine lozenge & helps me better understand Laurelle.

Then Kathy moves her shoulder in just such a way so that I can sneak around her through the door.

Then Nancy is working my shift.

Then I shit my pants & a friend of my mother's comes to pick me up from school so I can change.

Then Blake sits beside me on the waterbed talking me down from some harrowing trip.

Then Anne brings me ice in a washcloth to see to the finger I've busted in Overland Park.

Then Jen hangs out with Vivian while I track down my car.

Then Charlie drives me back from the impoundment lot on Sunday.

Then Randy is taking me home.

Then Joey comes to take me to the openings, & dinner.

Then Joe picks me up for the show.

Then Maria gets me home before midnight.

Then Pastor finds some money in the budget.

Then cris hooks me up with a gig.

Then Paul stands me drinks at the Comet.

Then Kasey has me out to Ashland I see all my friends.

Then Brandon is lifting my head with an amulet he's typing up for me against my meltdown.

Then Karen reassures me that she knows it's going to happen.

Then Patricia tells me that the basement's not on fire.

Then Bill recommends this sci-fi book the Starlight Fraction.

Then Jesse holds the baby while I'm smoking at the protest.

Then Thom buys me coffee & a bagel.

Then Jordan gets me high in his terrarium during the noise show that's raging downstairs.

Then John lets me play the piano.

Then Cynthia brings Vicodin, cheese cubes & beer.

Then David sends a line-inducing rainbow in the mail.

Then Chris reminds me shit like this is really no big deal.

Then Rob is introducing me to several of my heroes.

Then Emily's making me laugh on the porch.

Then Stephanie's taking me to buy some stomach pill.

Then Norman is fixing the hole in our floor.

Then Geoff helps me out of the bar to my yard where he leaves me outside to sleep it off.

Then Caroline gives me a drawing.

Then Nat gives me magazines I'd never find.

Then Brandon escorts to some tiny grocery & buys me a vitamin water, granola bar, C-Pak & bottle of Dasani.

Then Charles helps me navigate the trains.

Then Les helps me clear the fallen tree limbs from our porch.

Then Anselm is walking me home on his arm.

Then Kathy is lending us money.

Then my brother takes me to the Greyhound station late Thanksgiving evening where a friend has been stranded for hours.

Then Sarah down the street makes me her kissing doll one summer. This mints a pendant inside me the luster of which runs aground in my skin.

Then things are slow at the store & I'm sent home. I nap alone in our bed, which is floating on pure lover's hideaway feeling both illicit & supremely domestic.

Then we're snowed in against some family obligation. We fuck & sleep & drink surpassing Christmas in our bodies.

Then the sun, the cab goes so slow into midtown I'm moving further up the little island, & it's setting. We could ride into the river or sound I don’t know the names of these bodies of water I want everyone to drown in my enormous teenage dream.

Then my new mordancy & boring paranoia are swallowed by mouthfuls of smoke & sangria. "Obliterate all this sudden inwardness" I think "obliterate this useless fucking fear."

Then I'm unwrapping the copy of Purple Rain my brother bought me on a balmy summer evening. There are lavender doves in the lindens, illegible stirring of sexual focus in me.

Then I'm on my way to Taco Bell & I know the inhabiting song of the world is omnipotent. It surges through illuminated tacos on the menu, buzzing, as it does, with an "I heard a fly buzz" sort of buzz & mixing in frequencies of Ginsberg's interventionist OM. Were the Pentagon with me it would float the fuck away.

Then I somehow get sleep on the plane & I dream of Mary's grace & an autopsy wherein the bodies of believer’s are dissected revealing strange 'faith organs' common to all pious souls. In the dream this scenario augurs a war that concludes with the end of the world.

Then I get to go to Art Basel Miami. I buy drugs on the street & we drink by the surf & eat 15 dollar grilled cheese.

Then there's a beer garden just down the street when I feel like my legs will give out if I don't have a drink & read poems until we're set to meet. By the time I see your face I'm Jesus Christ through transfusions of lush shade & happy hour lager.

Then I'm hung over our daughter who never sleeps into the morning wakes up I bring her from her crib to our bed I can't fathom doing more than maybe reading to her there. At some point during one of her books she nods off as do I by the time we come to I'm recovered.

Then I seem that year in Maryland to lose weight by the day we're broke & eat mainly these stale bags of popcorn a friend of ours brings from the cinema's trash. When we have the money for a meal it's Ruby Tuesday's, a matinee of Clueless & a pint of Southern Star O the way Alicia's Cher informs our decency forever Bel Air of her reign, & the city of this poem.

Then Floyd plays a glorious set at the party. I'm weak from dancing, hoarse from singing, spent (in perfect health).

Then after days of rain a cloudless dawn greets us in Destin. The tropical depression blows away.

Then I catch sight of some painkillers fallen between the kitchen counter & the oven. I lower a USB cable into the crevice brush the pills into the open & get high with sunglasses on because life is brutal, our friends die, & sunglasses rule.

Then I worry for hours you hate me, then you write me. I'm convinced then that no matter what happens you'll love me forever I bury myself in that ground walk away leaving no trail of crumbs to return by.

Then my father cures chronic insomnia. He turns my radio on in the dark.

Then the way I can tell that you know what I mean almost purely, built from years of our agreements. That look of not another word is needed.

Then I'm sobbing & I can't remember why now the supermodel colic in the willows just goes on throughout the years. My touchstone music is your reassuring voice.

Then my mom lends me 25 dollars. I order the second Grove edition of the Sonnets.

Then Joey turns me on to Bas Jan Ader when I (unwittingly) need it the most. The elegance, mystery, & bluntness of the work appeals directly to my sense of things as always disappearing; lost either in circular discourse, or the sea.

Then Megan writes forgiving me for missing her reading. She says "being an adult with responsibilities is stupid I suffer from that too."

Then Sylvie, with her sunbrella, draws us a little path back to the house through sand pocked by razory shells & bordered by dunes where rare plovers are hatching. The frantic babies scatter as we pass them in the morning.

Then Venus passes over the sun one afternoon. It's like Madonna's mole has been restored to its beauty mark pre-eminence claiming the face of the world.

Then snow flurries caught on long grasses are lit up by headlights left on up the street. I get the mental antihistamine of Larry Eigner valentines at night & stay awake with my notebook.

Then I see the fox turds laced with pips so I know that I can eat the cherries in the orchard they taste like mini-sugar bombs of badly welted flesh.

Then someone informs me a blowjob is not exhaling streams of air onto a lover's nipples. I'm grateful that I learn this just in time to not offer such a service to my earliest girlfriend.

Then we have a February heat wave, a San Diego March, a Monte Carlo April. The disaster at the edge of this beauty somehow hits me only later when it rains too much in May.

Then Vivian plunges into my arms after I've been away & relief fixes my equilibrium into an icon of itself. Absence, travel, art, & care become a prayer flag made of densely woven ribbon.

Then Dr. Kress is moving the stethoscope (oddly its warm) on my chest she's telling me my lungs sound fine.

Then all I can think of are emails from Mike. They express a type of sadness that's corrosive to its type in that their loneliness is modified by politics that gives them definition, a sense of deeper solitude through shape. They collaborate with nothingness by saturating absence with faith & thus they offer me a pilgrim's love of god.

Then Sarah is driving, with the baby, in the middle of the night, for an hour, all the way up 27 past the farms & dozing bulls to find me slumped over in front of the station, waiting in tears after being arrested for driving after drinking too much wine.

Then John is guiding me, by phone from San Francisco, in the dark through unfamiliar parts of Brooklyn. He's giving me directions to his place & I relay to them driver, who delivers me safely. He moves me through the glut of keys assembled on his ring & the locks fall one by one like little kingdoms.

Then the illusion that things merely work. The toilet flushes with a whoosh. The tap expels water, hot & cold both, with all the pleasing gradients between them. The soap dispenser puffs out foamy soap in a soft cone of white into my hand. The paper towels crank out as scrolls of fresh parchment. This table's too small & yet everything fits.

Then when I want to chill in a Shellyian vapor cube connected to the internet by starlets in a rope line cradling physical summations of 'the cloud' as supreme fetish object with the metabolic engine of a racehorse I can do it. I'm the embodied global north!

Then I see everyone's anthemic photos on a day when our era's auto-narcissism manifests vertical phantasms; hentai drones circling statues of Zelda that evanesce while playing Fur Elise. The heads of the town are awash in this correlating rapture of age-reversed pictures.

Then the largeness of my claims & my dreams are revealed in their diminishment to be the petty figments of a charred communal logic. The content I'd masked for myself, out of fear, goes rushing through me then asserts a new resilience that is cozening even as I speak.

Then there are new forms of empathy designed by an impulse to vanish yet stand against death. Everything forced to appear & report can partake of these forms as the YOLO script skywrites itself as a herald to the Whitmans of this mystical condition.

Then my QR reader moves over spectralised black & white code at which point I'm redirected to a video of giant French poodles galloping toward a battalion of cops they topple as flash bombs explode.

Then I conquer Call of Duty: Lacanian Ops. When you defeat the Real you get to see its human face by which I mean you see a cat that is forever readjusting the vanishing point of a menacing abstraction while prancing around on your grave.

Then in some immersive dulcimer sound-world a semblance machine describes likenesses of auditory sunset for those who are blinded by the moneyed look of dusk.

Then from each according to ability to anyone according to their need can be heard on the play grounds & in the ruined cities sung by children as mysterious & rich as the Rosey was for Duncan, Billie Holiday to Weiner's perfect ear.

Then we all fall down, are pushed down in ashes ashes as our circling retains its prized mirage of ambulation. The circle sighs & whimpers, sings & cries, becomes human itself, rises up in rebellion against its creators, makes stuff in its image, goes beyond the arborescent, projects astrally, overcomes time by consuming it, forages for other circles far in the universe, finds them, goes to war, forms a unity government, flames out in a moment of over-exposure, goes into hiding, dies in southern California, circles back around through all of that this time backwards then we all fall down again are all pushed down in ashes ashes.

Then mercy & forgiveness as acculturated treacle are converted to hard gem like flame it's this candy-painted beacon in the new tricked out person-esque being made of pure exteriority.

Then Mirror Lake is drained in Eden Park leaving only the a-symbolic swirl those children painted in its basin. When I look for my face that's what I see.