This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Freedom, Revolt, and Love" by Frank Stanford

Frank Stanford was a poet Nika Levikov told me about in Flagstaff. She was talking about the poets she had read and dropped his name. One of the problems in talking about favorite poets is that there are so many poets in so many genres that's it's impossible to know them all, or to judge their work accordingly. I try to read "good" poets and desperately try to be aware of them all. Invariably, though, when someone asks "have you ever read ... " we almost always have to say "no." It sucks because we look like flakes only pretending to be poets.

Nika sent me an e-mail today, which included this poem as a attachment. She said it is one of her favorites. I really enjoyed it, in part because it meshes with much of my romantic work which often deals with the dual factors of the play between love and death. A good death, while in love, is worth all the days before it.

Frank Stanford (Aug. 1, 1948-June 3, 1978) is best known for his modern epic poem, "The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You." He committed suicide at age 29 after a reported argument with his wife over his infidelity. Three rounds to the chest, which can't be easy to do, especially after the first two shots. I digress.

Freedom, Revolt, and Love
by Frank Stanford

They caught them.
They were sitting at a table in the kitchen.
It was early.
They had on bathrobes.
They were drinking coffee and smiling.
She had one of his cigarillos in her fingers.
She had her legs tucked up under her in the chair.
They saw them through the window.
She thought of them stepping out of a bath
And him wrapping cloth around her.
He thought of her walking up in a small white building,
He thought of stones settling into the ground.
Then they were gone.
Then they came in through the back.
Her cat ran out.
The house was near the road.
She didn't like the cat going out.
They stayed at the table.
The others were out of breath.
The man and the woman reached across the table.
They were afraid, they smiled.
The other poured themselves the last of the coffee.
Burning their tongues.
The man and the woman looked at them.
They didn't say anything.
The man and the woman moved closer to each other,
The round table between them.
The stove was still on and burned the empty pot.
She started to get up.
One of them shot her.
She leaned over the table like a schoolgirl doing her lessons.
She thought about being beside him, being asleep.
They took her long gray socks
Put them over the barrel of a rifle
And shot him.
He went back in his chair, holding himself.
She told him hers didn't hurt much,
Like in the fall when everything you touch
Makes a spark.
He thought about her getting up in the dark
Wrapping a quilt around herself.
And standing in the doorway.
She asked the men if they shot them again
Not to hurt their faces.
One of them lit him one of his cigarettes.
He thought what it would be like
Being children together.
He was dead before he finished it.
She asked them could she take it out of his mouth.
So it wouldn't burn his lips.
She reached over and touched his hair.
She thought about him walking through the dark singing.
She died on the table like that,
Smoke coming out of his mouth.

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