D.C. Berman reads Frank Stanford

Frank Stanford’s “Hidden Water: From The Frank Stanford Archives” is available here: https://thirdmanstore.com/catalog/product/view/id/1542/s/hidden-water-from-the-frank-stanford-archives/

Poem: Untitled (I bought a ticket to Russia so I could do that dance in the snow) by Frank Stanford
Read by: D.C. Berman
Video by Doug Lehmann
Hidden Water: From the Frank Stanford Archives published by Third Man Books

Born in 1948, Frank 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. Stanford died in 1978. He authored over ten books of poetry, including eight volumes in the last seven years of his life.

David Berman is an American poet, cartoonist, and singer-songwriter best known for his work with indie-rock band the Silver Jews. He can occasionally be found in Nashville, Tennessee, home of the Titans.


I bought a ticket to Russia so I could do that dance in the snow

I saw a calf of miasmas run into barbed wire

I saw a child hang himself at a certain angle

So he could see his shadow a thousandfold

When I was seven I wrote a novel of apples and milk

That lamented the passing of a moonlike character one certain Debureau

And his coughing sidekick the Beast of ice

At night I rowed a blue guitar with swords through the bay

I made my way the gills turning pink in my shoes

Up the fearful symmetry of that stretch of anonymous water

I lent out my broom to the clandestine pollen

I laid my head in the prostitute’s lap

I interpreted the dementia of the cheerleader’s waist

Going to sleep in the dust was my only accomplishment my destiny

Drenched in the garden of slime and mistrusted mystery

I was accused of the odor of vengeance

The only friend I had I could trust froze in the clover

Through the valleys through the shadowy doorways through the merchandise

Of schoolrooms I go luminous a walking disaster

Forever fighting off dribbling flies that smell of mayonnaise and pencils

That whistle like officers of the law

Through the duration I made myself bleed in a gallop

I listened to the noise in the thistle of the dark

I kept moving undiminished and scorched

Holding a light to the egg

Slashed and weaving I pursue the murmuring cinders

I stagger through the familiar juices of the moon

As if I earned my living in a rodeo I ride down each tear

I pierce the ooze with a submerged kiss dug under contempt and despair

I assume the span of the figurehead’s breasts ravished to smithereens

I pass my time in Emily Dickinson’s outhouse

I pace through the dishevelment of the recluse’s lacuna

I scrawl on the mirror and peel oranges in the shepherd boy’s confessional

In the fall of the year I watch the meadows

Shivering like so many sorrel mares in heat

I lurk behind the canvas of the traveling picture show

Smelling of sardine’s Sara Bundy’s boiled coffee

Black is the color of the school marm’s hems pulled up like drapes

I wait my ticket the knife like a Pre-raphaelite suicide

Drunk on the ruined records of Dixie Hummingbirds

The black discs the Negroes sail over the levee

And shoot out of the sky with a hair triggered shotgun