Frank Stanford

C E F I P R T W Y [

Circle of Lorca

When you take the lost road
You come to the snow
And when you find the snow
You get down on your hands and knees
Like a sick dog
That’ s been eating the grasses of graveyards
For twenty centuries.

When you take the lost road
You find woman
Who has no fear of light
Who can kill two cocks at once
Light which has no fear of cocks
And cocks who can’ t call in the snow.

Everybody Who is Dead

When a man knows another man
Is looking for him
He doesn’ t hide.

He doesn’ t wait
To spend another night
With his wife
Or put his children to sleep.

He puts on a clean shirt and a dark suit
And goes to the barber shop
To let another man shave him.

He shuts his eyes
Remembers himself as a boy
Lying naked on a rock by the water.

Then he asks for the special lotion.
The old men line up by the chair
And the barber pours a little
In each of their hands.

Faith, Dogma, and Heresy

It was Sunday, before dinner.
My uncles were listening to the opera.
O. Z. and I carried my brother in
And laid him on the table.
The women started screaming.
My brother raised up on his side
With dried blood on his hands,
We killed those goddamn Canale brothers
And nobody is ever going to touch us!
The men shut their eyes and danced.
We drank until morning
When everything was quiet.
They wiped their eyes, kissed us goodbye and left.

Friend of the Enemy

The yolk went down my leg
Like a beautiful snail without a shell,
Went down the hill
To the skillet of water, to the nymphflies,
Into the lips of pond minnows,
Down the long belly of the gar – the hellbenders
Having dived and lost, then into
The paw of the lame panther
Who loped back to her lair with it.
As for the white, it stayed with me,
Mark of the beast, birth, and trade.

In Another Room I Am Drinking Eggs from a Boot

What if the moon was essence of quinine
And high heels were a time of day
When certain birds bled
The chauffeur is telling the cook
The antler would pry into ice floes
Swim with a lamp
And we’ d be shivering in a ditch
Biting through a black wing
There would be boats
There would be a dream country
The great quiet humming of the soul at night
The only sound is a shovel
Clearing a place for a mailbox


We go on and we tremble.
God says we can screw now.
God says to give up all your lovers,
Time to die.

When I was younger I drove a Lincoln.
God said to trade it in.
A tad lovely, then, and terrible,
And sick of my own kind,
I wanted to become a woman.
I wanted to wash the feet of other women
In public, I wanted his eyes
On me, olives on the ground.

I gave you my hand,
Now I go around with my sleeve
Tucked in my coat.

I climb no trees, touch
One breast at a time,
Hold no hands myself.


My father and I lie down together.
He is dead.

We look up at the stars, the steady sound
Of the wind turning the night like a ceiling fan.
This is our home.

I remember the work in him
Like bitterness in persimmons before a frost.
And I imagine the way he had fear,
The ground turning dark in a rain.

Now he gets up.

And I dream he looks down in my eyes
And watches me die.

The Arkansas Prison System

Is like a lyric poem
with seven basic themes
first the cottonpicker
dragging behind it a wagon of testicles
a pair of pliers which can fill in
for a cross in a pinch
then there is the warm pond
between the maiden’ s thighs
next we have some friends
of yours and mine
who shall be with us always
Pablo the artist
the pubis of the moon
Pablo the cellist
panther of silence
Pablo the poet
the point of no return
and in case of emergency
the seventh and final theme

The Pump

There was always a lizard
Or a frog around the pump,
Waiting for a little extra water
Or a butterfly to light.

Jimmy said the pump gave him the worms.
I got the worms under the slick boards.
The pump would bite you in the winter.
It got hold of Jimmy and wouldn’ t let go.

The blades of Johnson grass were tall
And sharp around the pump stand.
I had to hoe them all the time
Nobody filled the prime jar, though.