Ann Folwell Stanford ~ Jubilate

The Dog Trainer

Dear Heavenly Holy,
If you are what they say you are, then receive this thanks be, this all praise for the glo­ry of dog who is giv­en unto me, a social dreg caught up behind bars, who is now become sav­ior for this unwant­ed and doomed Canis lupus famil­iaris, left in a kill-shel­ter for his incor­ri­gi­bil­i­ty, next on the list for the lit­tle red shot.  Ah, Great Surpriser, did you know that the doomed are the most fun to save? I con­fess that I grow to like being a god of dog, how my train­ing it to be accept­able for a home that’s not bars and guns makes of my heart a house for strange, warm and liv­ing things, melts rust­ed hinges, pries win­dows open and lets some­thing in that I don’t rec­og­nize.  I see it in the eyes of ye dog who will go away soon, but oh thou Great Thing, the house stays open.  The light does not hurt.

: :

God Answers the Dog Trainer in 4 Voices

Letter received and duly not­ed.  You are twist­ing in the tan­gled bedsheets
of the law and thus the need for dog.  Dismantle cap­i­tal and you erase
the entire premise of crime.

Most sin­cere­ly, etc.

Dude.  Dial it down.
Glad you’ve got the dogs man
but work on your chi.
Shake it out baby.
Find your­self a doobie.
Time’s a spec in that nut­so blue lab
I’ve got you all in.

Peace out,

Dogs were easy.  Getting you
out of there, not so.
The stone of your living
will not right now roll away.


Thou cup of light, thou but­ter­fly and pause
thou stum­bler, thou seedling, thou mine.

Thou igno­rant, thou sweet, you see not
how the breath of you greens the universe

expands it like air in the cages of your lungs
your words strung across the sky like Mardi Gras

O god of dog, O god of god, O very god of very god
to your open and light filled house

amid steel and lock­step and lockjaw
and all that locks you in

I offer thee dogs and the rest of my world
for as long as you stay in it.

: :

Helio Gomes Prison, Rio de Janiero

This lipstick’s just my pret­ty-up. The camisole’s all mine. I’ve got a shard of mir­ror glass, but still my make­up smears and pigeons shit right through the roof, what’s left of it, and so the rain.  That’s why this filthy plastic’s strung up every­where. Try sleep­ing on a bird­shit slab one rainy hell hot night. I know my clothes look tawdry, trash.  My skirts are torn, I’m out of shape.  I once was Queen of Carnaval–I could have kept up ten years more –I’m in this cage for twen­ty-one.  I brought home cash and scars, some food, but now who’s car­ing for my son?  When ten straight men jump down on me from 6‑foot walls, they think it’s fun to fuck the fan­cy queer.  The guards are scarce but still I dance each time one pass­es by.  A march­in­ha.  I’m alive!  Hear that?  I’m still alive.


Ann Folwell Stanford’s poet­ry, aca­d­e­m­ic essays and books have been pub­lished wide­ly. Poetry has appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Southern Poetry Review, Slipstream, JAMA, Artemis, Blue Mesa Review, the Comstock Review and oth­ers. Her work has been nom­i­nat­ed for a Pushcart and she was a writer-in-res­i­dence at the Everglades National Park in 2017.  She was one of 100 Chicago poets to col­lab­o­rate on a book-length pan­toum, pub­lished as “American Gun.” She is a Vincent DePaul pro­fes­sor emeri­ta from DePaul University.