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

1.
Trainer,
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.

2.
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,

3.
Captive,
Dogs were easy.  Getting you
out of there, not so.
The stone of your liv­ing
will not right now roll away.

Patience,

4.
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.