October 4, 2006

fiery pianos wash up on a foggy coast


Albert Oehlen, Song X, 2004

Freedom, Revolt, and Love
-- Frank Stanford

They caught them.
They were sitting at a table in the kitchen.
It was early.
They had on bathrobes.
They were drinking coffee and smiling.
She had one of his cigarillos in her fingers.
She had her legs tucked up under her in the chair.
They saw them through the window.
She thought of them stepping out of a bath
And him wrapping cloth around her.
He thought of her walking up in a small white building,
He thought of stones settling into the ground.
Then they were gone.
Then they came in through the back.
Her cat ran out.
The house was near the road.
She didn't like the cat going out.
They stayed at the table.
The others were out of breath.
The man and the woman reached across the table.
They were afraid, they smiled.
The other poured themselves the last of the coffee.
Burning their tongues.
The man and the woman looked at them.
They didn't say anything.
The man and the woman moved closer to each other,
The round table between them.
The stove was still on and burned the empty pot.
She started to get up.
One of them shot her.
She leaned over the table like a schoolgirl doing her lessons.
She thought about being beside him, being asleep.
They took her long gray socks
Put them over the barrel of a rifle
And shot him.
He went back in his chair, holding himself.
She told him hers didn't hurt much,
Like in the fall when everything you touch
Makes a spark.
He thought about her getting up in the dark
Wrapping a quilt around herself.
And standing in the doorway.
She asked the men if they shot them again
Not to hurt their faces.
One of them lit him one of his cigarettes.
He thought what it would be like
Being children together.
He was dead before he finished it.
She asked them could she take it out of his mouth.
So it wouldn't burn his lips.
She reached over and touched his hair.
She thought about him walking through the dark singing.
She died on the table like that,
Smoke coming out of his mouth.

I'll Just Bleed So the Stars Will Have Something Dark to Shine In
-- Frank Stanford

I was riding with the man called Dark
he smelled like alcohol that had been asleep and his smoky clothes
that he hadn't changed for months were like ship wood
when he spoke which was seldom
his voice carried over the fields and the bogs and yet it was not loud
it was deep like a wound or a cool well
when he sang like a blue hole with no bottom the words made no sense
at first but if you looked
out of the corners of your eyes without looking you saw what he was singing
about there might be a night snake choking to death
with a chorus frog
there might be a women with big breasts walking at the turn now
there might be water for the hands spilling
out of a barrel on the back of a blue school bus
it will be many years before I can tell about Dark before I can remember
that low down song
as the sleepy mule swayed back and forth down the road
the dust curling under his wet belly
I was rocked to and fro like a careening boat
the violinist and the juggler thinking about stretches of sea
through their windows where they were born
I saw them in time I saw them going to sleep at their work
I saw them as children before the wars with extra spending money
along a coast in Europe
climbing cliffs and talking about he days to come
the handkerchieves tied around their necks and the sea below
I felt like the wounded man being painted by the drunken artist
in the picture show Odd Man Out
I felt like he did when he remembered the words from the bible
and he stood up amidst that stares of the living paintings
and said his piece
I felt the two words Power and Dominion had been betrayed by lawyers
of property I dreamed that these days the union carpenters
in the suburbs have joined the same houses for the sake of joining them
in the subdivisions
and I dreamed the cathedrals built by the unknown

-- lines 7300 through 7327, of The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You the book length poem written by Frank Stanford. The poem, which contains no punctuation throughout the 20,000 lines, was likely written between 1968 and 1971, but was not published until 1978, following Stanford's suicide at age 29.

Sparlkehorse's Mark Linkous has said that the album "It's a Wonderful Life" was inspired by Frank Stanford.

The Gentle Man
-- William Carlos Williams

I feel the caress of my own fingers
on my own neck as I place my collar
and think pityingly
of the kind women I have known.

Thursday
-- William Carlos Williams

I have had my dream--like others--
and it has come to nothing, so that
I remain now carelessly
with feet planted on the ground
and look up at the sky--
feeling my clothes about me,
the weight of my body in my shoes,
the rim of my hat, air passing in and out
at my nose--and decide to dream no more.

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