December 3, 2004

To the movie star and his sordid life

Poems by Frank Stanford:

Monk's Dog

You aren't around
Friend I might have been
Looking for you

I could have been beautiful
Like the sound of your running

Tobacco of night when I find night
Sour Mash of misery the star of my calling

You don't have a snowball's
Chance in hell

And you don't have a past

I can go into the woods
And find the river asleep
And the blood under your shack like fog


while my mother is washing the black socks
Of her religion,
I climb out of the washtub,
Stinking clean like the moon and the suds
In my ass,
The twenty she earned last week in my teeth,
My shoes and my pistol wrapped in my pants,
Slip off the back porch
And head down the road, buck naked and brave,
But lonely, because it's fifteen hours
By bus to the capital
And nobody will know
How it feels to nail down a heart
Black as tarpaper.
Mother, when you beat out my quilt tomorrow,
Remember the down in the sunlight,
Because I did not sleep there.
Remember, come evening, the last hatch of mayflies,
Because I won't.
They are evil, mother, and I am
Going to take it all out, in one motion,
The way you taught me to clean a fish,
Until all that is left is the memory of their voice,
And I will work that dark loose
From the backbone with my thumb.
Mother, the sad dance on fire.

Sudden Opera

In Arkansas the liquor costs
The wind lifts a finger
And that is all

You look over your shoulder
When you have a chance
Your bottle is empty

If I could go somewhere
I would go
where the music doesn't have knuckles
And the dancers don't wear boots

I'll never leave here
The creeks are so cold and solo

My tie-rack is a convent
The pool hall is closed


The book is full of my father's eyelashes
He treats the pages rough
like a woman
He pinches the daylights out of them
Mud dries
up between his heel and sole
quick as spit on his thumb
You can still smell
Four Roses bourbon in the morning
through the onionskin
He will not weep He knows
most folks don't keep their word
Anyway the rain
came through like a hitchhiker

* If anyone is interested, I have two extra tickets for the Friday December 10, and Saturday December 11 Yo La Tengo Hanukkah shows at Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey. Email if you need a ticket for either night.


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