The Light the Dead See

Was kindly invited to read at the recently resurrected Dead Poets Reading Series, and I was honored to be reading with some fine and more established poets who are alive at the same time as me: Christopher Levenson (reading Arthur Hugh Clough), Sonnet L’Abbé (reading Ronald Johnson), Fiona Tinwei Lam (reading Muriel Rukeyser), and Russell Thornton (reading César Vallejo).

I introduced the Arkansas poet, Frank Stanford, who was introduced to me in my early twenties, through an lj online community (hey thanks Russel Swensen).  No one had heard of Stanford at the reading (other than my wife) which made me feel good about bringing his work to the attention of a bunch of new people. Here is one of the poems I read.

Hidden Water
Frank Stanford
A girl was in a wheelchair on her porch
And wasps were swarming in the cornice

She had just washed her hair
When she took it down she combed it

She could see
Just like I could

The one star under the rafter
Quivering like a knife in the creek

She was thin
And she made me think

Of music singing to itself
Like someone putting a dulcimer in a case

And walking off with a stranger
To lie down and drink in the dark


For those interested in looking into more about Stanford, I’d start with the well put together Wiki and this great essay by Ben Ehrenreich called “The Long Goodbye.” Most of his books are hard to find, but copies of “The Light the Dead See” and the sprawling epic “The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You” are still available here and there.

Thanks to co-organizer, Rob Taylor, for inviting me to read and for Project Space for hosting the reading.

Here’s another photo of me gesturing too wildly with my arms (it’s not my evangelical preacher routine, it just happens when I’m nervous)


1 thought on “The Light the Dead See”

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