Flies on Shit

By Frank Stanford 1948–1978 Frank Stanford
To the gentlemen from the south   
to the tourists from the north
who write poems about the south   
to the dumb-ass students
I’d like to ask one lousy question
have you ever seen a regatta of flies
sail around a pile of shit
and then come back and picnic on the shit
just once in your life have you heard
flies on shit
because I cut my eye teeth on flies
floating in shit

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Source: Smoking Grapevine (Unpublished Collection, )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 Nature, Animals, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagery


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 Nature, Animals, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagery

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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