[“Man is so afraid . . .”]

By Frank Stanford 1948–1978 Frank Stanford
Man is so afraid, he look down at cock, long ago many
centuries ships land on the enemy’s beach, take down
mast in the dark, climb up cliffs in the fog, ram
enemy’s door, do bad things in castle, oh yea, man
go crazy play in blood like baby with duck in bathtub,
man think about favorite dog, got worms in heart, takes
dog to field trial, dog sniffs out man’s lies, point
at fool in frozen water, fool man, dead dog, man look
at leaf frozen in pond, man think about woman in new
cabin beside fire, walls bleeding rosin, man forget about
dog, man want son, boy strong, call boy elephant, man
cannot sleep right, have bad itch in butthole, man think
cancer maybe, man wake up beside woman, moon come
in window, man glad he has no city, city can die for all
he cares, man smells fingers, smell bad, man gets up
to wash fingers, man steps on broken glass, sits down
on commode and sucks his foot, man thinks about God,
man says to God If I eat right will You take away cancer,
God no say, man flush pot, man decides go to India,
study other God, other God take away cancer, bring back
dog, make women go crazy, man go visit little
naked man on mountain, man give him all his money,
little naked man say go back home, stand on head with
fresh egg in asshole three times a day, man does what
he says, oh yea, man think about troopships, man is so
afraid, man take chill, man get old real quick man nobody,
everything dark, man spit in papersack, man look at medicine
on table beside bed, man look at TV, Tarzan movie already over,
so sad so sad, man call doctor, say to make him young,
doctor look at secretary pulling up panties, say oh yea,
take man’s money, man get young, man decide go to
Africa, man think everything swell when he get back
home, put many heads on wall, many skins, first night
wife run off, fool man, so man read book, man like,
so man read another book, soon man read book all time,
don’t care about money, don’t care about woman, only
thing man remember is what he read, on weekends
go to old cabin, look at pine knots, think about what he
read, think about history, look down at cock,   
man learn, once was another man become king, but king
had no sons, king get old, get sad, king get so afraid, look
at his cock, oh yea, one night king run everybody out of
castle, have private dinner, just with family, and favorite   
dog, tell daughter to hop up on table, king takes pheasant
gravy, pours on daughter, rubs daughter’s thighs with   
gravy, picks up dog, tells dog lick daughter, king tells daughter
not to be afraid, not be sad, tell daughter be strong, daughter   
strong, daughter looks at mother, says watch, daughter
takes dog by the mouth, breaks jaws, king says daughter strong,
man know lot about history, man afraid, man go crazy on
street one day, man go jail, man call lawyer tell lawyer shoot two women
save my life, man give lawyer lot of money, lawyer go out
to eat, talks about man, man get out of jail, oh yea
man like imagine too, man like to clip cut back of magazine,
man like sendoff, man also like guns,
life strange,

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, Nature, The Body, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Gender & Sexuality, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

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, Nature, The Body, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Gender & Sexuality, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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