Light Blue

By Frank Stanford 1948–1978 Frank Stanford
The white clothes on the line put the man to sleep.
He was sitting on a soda case
Leaning back on the porch.

He rolled down his sleeves with his eyes shut.
He could feel the sun going into the trees.

He wanted to catch the evening ferry
And meet someone across the river.

He dreamed about her
Putting polish on her nails.
He was in the woods and many women
Were walking around him in a circle.
He thought about crosses in their blood.

As it got to be night he could feel the heat in his face.
He was going to open his eyes.
And look up at the moon.
It was like the light blue handkerchief
She gave him to go with his dark suit.

That’s when he felt the hot salt all over him
Like broken glass.
He was afraid to open his eyes.
He wondered if he could use any words on it.
But the big woman in the black dress
Was already in the backseat of the car
Rolling the window up with one hand
And making a sign on him with the other.

She was in the car, too.
He saw her biting her nails when they pulled away.

There was a dead snake on his shoes.
He knew there would be a circle
Of little beating hearts in his bed,
And before he could get home
They would be dry and still.

Estate of Frank Stanford © C.D. Wright

Source: Flour the Dead Man Brings to the Wedding (Unpublished Collection, )

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Poet Frank Stanford 1948–1978

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Relationships, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Born in 1948, Stanford was a prolific poet known for his originality and ingenuity. He has been dubbed “a swamprat Rimbaud” by Lorenzo Thomas and “one of the great voices of death” by Franz Wright. He grew up in Mississippi, Tennessee, and then Arkansas, where he lived for most of his life and wrote many of his most powerful poems. He attended the University of Arkansas from 1967-9 and studied engineering while continuing to . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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