Gerald Stern


Who can resist the lovely words of Alessandra Lynch
and who says who’s the master and whom and whither and which
and if love is an airborne thing
and we leave doors and windows open
and the rooms are adrift with pollen-druff
and beetle-husk and skullock-motes,
and where the Daisy is that donkey
and who does she belong to
and would she be good enough to ride
in my homecoming down Wylie Avenue
and should flowers be on her head or mine
and if it’s decent enough to bring her into the Gaslight
or for that matter into the Crawford Grill.


As my cousin Norman used to say
Jerry always had the brains in the family
though I think it was the interest rate was high
and Stern’s Realty was just a desk at twilight,v so let me take you back to the meadow
where the sidewalk suddenly became a river
as one street rounded a bend and then another,
and thank your Hebrew stars
there wasn’t an Automat there to drool over
or a soft-shell crab dinner that cost
only two seventy-five a plate
just before everything went sky-high
and everyone had a sideline, trapping crows
to get at their blood, wearing
a tape measure over your shoulders for a shawl.

At Last

Time was getting shorter every year
and we broke into sound the slightest lash of the
feather duster and we had bricks up our sleeves
you can’t imagine and climbed three steps at a time—
though one of the versions was we never got there
or one of us got there first by banging the dashboard,
though I’d say it was getting there and not getting there
and banging had nothing to do with it
except it was Etta James if that means anything
and it was a kind of reunion after twenty
minutes of silence and we
sang together though they were different songs.