Dana Ward: “God Only Knows That I Can’t Look Away”

God Only Knows That I Can’t Look Away

for Sarah

Valentine is still my favorite word.
But really ‘and’ is.
‘and’ & ‘or’,
as well as ‘anyway’
like ‘anyway…’
& ‘so,’
As in ‘Anyway,
my favorite word is
Valentine so
I’m writing one to you
& I’ll die if I don’t
so you’ll know
& I’ll know
that I love you”
Words I love
are the words
that let my love go on
connecting speech
to the heart that
love survives through
When I speak of love
I don’t know what I mean
and I do
keep speaking of it
for that reason
or you are that
reason & anyway
what’s come of Reason
except our dead love
Not yours & mine
but death transposed
as ours. I think
about “God
Only Knows.”
That figure of speech gets really harsh
if I can take it.
Like what I would be
without you is what god is
as knowledge our knowledge
of god is love’s absence
un-knowable & figured
in speech that keeps trying
to connect by saying ‘and’
saying ‘anyway…’
& ‘or’
and/or god
only knows what I’d be
without you I’d be
like god’s knowledge of love
in that prettiest of songs it is the ribbon of
an ampersand
unspooling through forever
that can never
touch the thought
of not loving you god
can have that I can’t bear it
I give it to god
though between us
I know what I’d be
without you I’d be freezing
in the same bereft conditions
that we all are with no way to stay
or be warm
So that’s all god is
the unbearable knowledge
of the absence of
your love
like a cold day in hell
with no connection
is still my favorite word
though god only knows
what it means



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). Ward lives in Cincinnati, where he hosts readings, collaborates with artists, advocates for adult literacy, and is editor of Cy Press books.