The Arkansas Prison System

By Frank Stanford 1948–1978 Frank Stanford
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
of this systematic poem
is the systematic way
death undresses in front of you

Estate of Frank Stanford © C.D. Wright

Source: Smoking Grapevine (Unpublished Collection, )

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Poet Frank Stanford 1948–1978

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment

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 Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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