This Can’t Be Life

By Dana Ward Dana Ward
Lapo Elkman gazes out from the frame with a
come-hither look. His wrists have soft bracelets
around them & his shirt, black, is open.
Looped on his neck pale strands of beads hang
which causes a ribbon of shadow at his nipple.
His facial hair, bleached by the sun, is brown-white.
Tatiana Santa Domingo wears a floral printed dress.
It is summer where she’s photographed or
warm enough for clothes that light. Earrings
perhaps of three golden hoops or two
hang obscured in the shade of her hair.
Her right cheek is touching the locks of
Bianca Brandolini d’Adda whose own dress
is dim purple satin. It has a
black strap of lace an inch thick
which, at her waist, intersects with another
lace band even thicker & full of arabesques
& Fleur De Lis. This lace
is just above her belly which is pressed
to the belly of Margherita Maccapani Missoni.
White, with faint, almost invisible as
flowers (maybe dots?) her sundress,
exposes her shoulder. The left one
is touching the patterned black stars on the silk frock
partly covered by spilling brown hair, at its longest end,
curled & falling from the head of Alexi Neideliski.
Andrea Stefanowicz Sabrier
lays on his belly wearing Ray-Bands
& is laughing. Beside him
on his back, with arm muscles
slightly swollen, hands clasped behind his head
& eyes closed Julio Mario Santo Domingo III
laughs as well. Both are in blue
jeans & t-shirts. Her blue & black checkered
flannel clad shoulder hovers over
the face of her sister whose cheek is buried
in wildflowers. Each wears a ring, one is
a cylinder of patterned white gold
the other, more baroque, appears Victorian
but isn’t wholly visible.
Olympia & Fiona Scarry are un-
comfortably positioned in these clothes
& rings. Olympia’s eyes are wide,
bright, but Fiona’s are so full of shadow
it seems they aren’t there which gives her
the look of the un-dead. White wife beater,
ample hair in his pits, crotch
the center of gravity here in this picture
Harry Morton is laying on a bed. One arm
behind his head it’s tattooed almost classically,
twice, with illegible symbols. His
slacks have grey stripes, they pour into a boot
pressed on the soft white sheet at the right
at the left sink into a blood-colored
comforter, velvet. The chocolate
toned pea-coat he’s wearing half-way
reveals a hand, it grips the hem
near the satin-coco lining. She has the
the face of a mermaid, & the eyes
Princess in her title, Elizabeth von Thurn und Taxis
looks poised before apporaching the coffin.
Count Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo is giddy & drenched
having waded in the sea in his button up clinging
his smile is one that gods give their children after
hooking up with mortals for the fix. On a half-pipe
ornate with graffiti the honorable Sophia
Fermor-Hesketh rests a skate-board on her knee
in black tights. She wears Docs. Her hair is blonde,
mostly covered by a hat her dress is lycra black this is
Madonna as eternal return. Yellow seal with
ingratiating smile, caterpillar-seal hybrid antennae
blue, markings pink, body yellow, silver
dolphin, dolphin with desert-camo designs &
dolphin dressed for jungle warfare these inflatables are
harbored at the edge of a pool in which Bianca
Brandolini D’Adda is floating on a sting-ray
shaped raft on her belly hands under her chin
three bracelets no bathing suit she’s swimming
in her dress which is soaked & her legs are
raised, ankles crossed this makes a diamond-
shape between with liquid topaz. He has
the cork in his teeth. In his left hand a half-
glass of red. He is looking away at invisible friends & the
ocean is beyond a grey mist with white
bands Carlo Mondavi has hair
that arcs at middle point a frozen cascade
beneath which at right we see his ear half
a sea-shell. The filigree is white, the
buttons white impacted silk, the dots silk
on sheer, on her blouse with short sleeves,
she is blonde, her brother blonde his shirt
white his scarf red she leans back on his chest
his hand over his heart he takes an oath, Alexandre
& Josephine de la Baume their lips closed
eyes cold, unexpressive & imposing. JFK
twice on a monitor his face & his back he
is speaking Jared Kushner looks relaxed there’s
a copy of the New York Observer on his knees
which are bent he sits up against a
wall smiles easily cropped black hair dark tie
& slacks & white shirts by a window in the
city. It’s a beach-house kitchen. Arnie Hammer’s
by the sink. The head of his acoustic guitar
nears its lip, & his ass sits near a rack where
dishes dry there is one tiny elegant hole
in his t-shirt, in his collar which is loose,
low, reveals his long neck & hairy chest.
The Corona in his right hand sweats. There is
white foam all over my face which began in
a canister, moved as blue-gel expelled by
air-pressure then diluted with water was smeared
on my cheeks, between my nose, lip
& down onto my chin. I am shaving naked I
have three rolls of fat each bigger than
the last. Looking in the mirror I cough, draw
the phlegm from my lungs with a suck roll
it onto my tongue stick my tongue out examine
phlegm’s color for blood but there’s none it’s like mud-
infused egg yolk. I spit it down into the sink with
the little hairs spiking the cream. The cigarette
pulls like a kite from her body on a long arm
suspended by wind. Her tea-cup she holds it waist
high & with one finger pins the fabric lightly
to the bottom of the saucer. The cigarette ash
is precarious her dress has five little shoelaces
white at sternum’s end. Margherita
Maccapani Missoni is happy. Sophia Barclay
has a grey cardigan under which she wears a Disney
dress. Hayley Bloomingdale is blonde she has
a kerchief on her head a thin slice of melon
in her fingers a white strand of pearls
her bangs are one soft shard that hook her chin.
She turns like she noticed us following her,
& ready with her smile meets our eyes Ivanka
Trump is moving, carefree, through the city. A young
Thomas Jefferson, Adrea Casiraghi stares proudly at the future
of the world & finds it splendid, brown hair cascading
over his wool grey coat his white shirt reveals his
marshmallow chest which contrasts with his granite
chin & jaw. Dasha Duhkohva reclines on a
marble table outlined by hydrangeas in jeans &
striped shirt a grey trench coat thrown over her body.
In a little row-boat, in a tank-top
across which in marker has been written River
Keeper Amanda Hearst crowned by a loose,
densely beaded tiara. Black rubber fishing
boots swallowed her legs. She’s drawing an
enormous black tarp around her torso
& smiling while her head tilts to the left.

Dana Ward, “This Can’t Be Life” from This Can’t Be Life. Copyright © 2012 by Dana Ward. Reprinted by permission of Dana Ward.

Source: This Can't Be Life (Edge Books, 2012)

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Poet Dana Ward

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film, Social Commentaries, Class, Money & Economics, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Dana  Ward


Poet Dana Ward is the author of a number of chapbooks: New Couriers (2006), Goodnight Voice (2008), The Drought (2009), Typing ‘Wild Speech’ (2010), and the full-length This Can’t Be Life (2012). Influenced by the work of Alice Notley, Jack Kerouac, and others, Ward’s poetry is densely patterned and highly allusive; he is known as a skilled reader of his own work. Ward lives in Cincinnati, where he hosts readings, collaborates . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film, Social Commentaries, Class, Money & Economics, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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