Pictures That Were Songs


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 the rain.

Now he gets up.

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

Frank Stanford (1948-1978; from What About This: The Collected Poems of Frank Stanford, Copper Canyon Press/Third Man Books, 2015)

The Shivers

Remember Everything

Weariness of Men

My grandmother said when she was young
The grass was so wild and high
You couldn’t see a man on horseback.

In the fields she made out
Three barns,
Dark and blown down from the weather
Like her husbands.

She remembers them in the dark,
Cursing the beasts
And how they would leave the bed
In the morning,
The dead grass of their eyes
Stacked against her.

(From What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford, Copper Canyon Press, 2015. A songwriter’s poet. Buy this book. But it now.)

Ralph White