Homage to Jacques Prévert
after Nicanor Parra
The truth is we both attended
The same boys’ school.
Reformatory, whatever you want to call it.
You were a big dick—I know you don’t remember me,
Always stealing coins
From the collection for a Sunday matinee.
You used to confess you fucked the young maid
So much, she really had to lay you,
So you wouldn’t lie to the priest anymore.
Then you spent your nights playing with your meat,
Weeping, drinking mass wine,
Listening to the queer monk’s records of the blues.
You ate chicken legs in the alley
With orphans and criminals.
You, dressed fit to kill, your cape,
Your beret, your shorts, all one dark color.
And the ragged copy of Villon in your hip pocket
Like a handkerchief to cough in.
You weren’t like the other boys,
You were like me, but I was too young and ugly for you.
You could play the cello well,
But no one ever heard you,
Not even the whores in the dives
You stole off to on free weekends.
Oh, I can read to numbskulls in the Southwest,
Make a few bucks at a cockfight with a bald-headed poet,
Watch some hillbilly cornhole a mule,
Then go back to Chile, with plenty, on a boat running guns,
But you, you can dream forever,
And still not remember who I was.
Frank Stanford, “Homage to Jacques Prévert” from What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford. Copyright 2015 by Ginny Crouch Stanford and C. D. Wright, Estate of Frank Stanford. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.