The Cortland Review

Gerald Stern
Five poems by Gerald Stern.

Christopher Buckley
Michael Burkard
Jeff Friedman
Ross Gay
Jack Gilbert This marks an author's first online publication
Linda Gregg
Jane Hirshfield
Tony Hoagland
Joan Larkin
Dorianne Laux
Jan Heller Levi
Anne Marie Macari
Ed Ochester
Alicia Ostriker
Kathleen Peirce This marks an author's first online publication
Peter Richards
Ira Sadoff
Jean Valentine
Arthur Vogelsang This marks an author's first online publication
Judith Vollmer
Anne Waldman
Peter Waldor
Michael Waters This marks an author's first online publication
"The Final Vocabulary of Gerald Stern" by David Rigsbee.

Book Review
"Save the Last Dance" by Gerald Stern—Book Review, by David Rigsbee.

Gerald Stern

Gerald Stern was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1925. He is the author of 15 books of poetry, including, most recently, Save the Last Dance (Norton, 2008) and Everything is Burning (Norton, 2005), as well as This Time: New and Selected Poems (Norton), which won the 1998 National Book Award, and a book of personal essays titled What I Can't Bear Losing (Norton, 2003). He was awarded the 2005 Wallace Stevens Award by the Academy of American Poets and is currently a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He is retired from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.
Gerald Stern – Poems



How in the movie version the parsley religion
was all de Mille and Eddie Cantor jumping
between two dishes and making eyes in his
plaintive way and all there was to know
of taproots reaching down to hell and farther,
since plants like that were only used for garnish
though there was still an echo of the great rebirth
we sang and moaned about on Saturday morning.



I Who Lifted a Car    

My lips say the words too slow
but I am a drop in the bucket
and my body will never catch up
for I am going in reverse
and my slow mind has ruined me;

and pound for pound the fleabane
weighs the same as iron does
and one of my obsessions
is guessing the weight of bridges,
I who traveled by car,

and I can guess the weight
of a woman I am so good
though my lips says the words too slow
and my heart goes out to a woman,
I who drove a car.

But I am a drop in the bucket
and my body will never catch up
for I am going in reverse
and my slow mind has ruined me,
I who lifted a car.




What's he going to do, mourn the sperm
he lost six months ago or the money he
gave her as her belly rose, is there money
every time the prick rises, did going to the
whores in Homestead, did sitting there watching his
sisters pin the satin tent spoil him
once and forever, what about his oldest friend
hiding half his money, what about
forcing his wife at 80 to live without heat,
where was the unlicked prick then, oh impotence!




for Gilbert
In the way Ovid lectured a green grasshopper
and all the grasshopper did was spit up tobacco,
in the way he begged for food for he was the first
bohemian, though he detested the brutal word
gracehoper, see James Joyce, and when two ants
ran around the corner when it was dinner
and how the gracehoper wept and it was cold
on top of the cold stone wall though dinner cost
at most, say twenty cents, and how the ants
reasoned, and how the gracehoper, and what the    
were, and what the dream was, see Aesop.



Like Fools    

Like fools we waited to hear the tomatoes, we knew
what greenness meant on the vine and we were able
to bypass the peppers, green and red and stop at
the wall where nothing wet between the stones
gave them their shape to start with since they were
flat and heavy and it was a vocable
so pure I almost froze and it was a guttural—
reaching out to the pines—the small rouge came from.



© 2008 The Cortland Review