Gerald Stern


We were surrounded by buttercup and phlox
so you know what the month was, one of us had
Sarah Vaughn in her inner ear, one of us
Monk, who put a table there we didn’t
know but we were more or less grateful nor was it
even chained to anything and the eggs we
ate were perfect, I cracked them on my head
as I always do and shattered them with my fist,
the grape tomatoes which only cost a dollar
a pint were almost acid-free, the tire
was growing softer but I was a veteran
of real tires, and bumper jacks, I even go
back to steaming radiators, I could
tell you things, I said to Monk, I walked
two miles once with a half-gallon of gas
leaking out of an orange juice carton, “In My
Solitude” he said, “September Song,” said she.

Gerald Stern
“Shouldering” is from Everything is Burning (W. W. Norton, 2005).