Friday, July 18, 2008

Mark Hanna Under Starry Skies

by Gilbert Wesley Purdy.

Rove's dream was to reshape American politics by creating
a durable Republican majority. In the old days, Rove told
anyone who would listen that his role model in this project
was the legendary political boss Mark Hanna.
Jacob Weisberg.

The vague stars loom above Mark Hanna's head.
His cigar smoke wafts a Milky Way.

He stands between two potted palms,
beside Lake Erie, an autumn night.

A darkie porter holds his coat.
Another gathers dinner plates.

The leavings of a modest meal
betray a man of modest tastes.

In Lowell, maidens, full of grace,
trail textiles as they float through aisles.

He sees the yarn-guides in those stars:
the light-beams weaving taffeta.

In San Francisco, Chinamen
press the fabrics made of them.

Their grandfolks sit in state upstairs
and quote Confusions with their tea.

In Pennsylvania coal-mines miners dig;
and, as they do, they sing pure tenor strains.

Up those mountains wind the notes
through woodlands cleared to frame the shafts.

They wind past children safe abed
on linens those bright yarn-guides weave.

The patchwork quilts which keep them warm
show farmyards rich with artlessness.

The miners' wives each light a lamp
to keep their husbands safe from harm.

They dot the hills just like those stars
and touch his heart with their ascent.

He recalls a song his mother sang
as she rocked her babies on her lap.

Before he knows its over him,
the notes rise up to join that choir.

It's an old song of a simple life,
of simple people, simple loves.

A simple beauty fills the words.
His quavering voice is choked with it.

He clears his throat and looks askance.
A single tear runs down his face.

Mark Hanna looking vaguely toward the stars
holds out his hand to have his coat.

Within he holds a brand new dime
as if he reached and pulled it down.

His hirelings track the Bryan train.
They tear the posters down and spit.

His buyers place their orders with
the proviso: 'Should McKinley win.'

The porter thanks him kindly, sir.
'Someone must protect the currency,' he sighs.

Marcus Alonzo (Mark) Hanna was the campaign manager for William McKinley's successful 1896 campaign for the Presidency of the United States. He is generally considered to be the creator, during that campaign, of the modern system of campaign financing which he combined with old fashioned dirty tricks. Hanna was himself a wealthy and powerful Senator from the state of Ohio.

Gilbert Wesley Purdy has published poetry, prose and translation in many journals, paper and electronic, including: Jacket Magazine, Poetry International (San Diego State University), The Georgia Review (University of Georgia), Grand Street, SLANT (University of Central Arkansas), Consciousness Literature and the Arts (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Orbis (UK), Eclectica, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Links to his work online and to a selected bibliography of his work in paper venues appear at his Hyperlinked Online Bibliography. This poem first appeared in Vers Magnifique.

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