A Poem For Wednesday


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

Tonight, Wednesday, April 9th at 7pm, at the National Arts Club in New York City at 15 Gramercy Park, the Poetry Society of America’s annual awards ceremony will take place, offering emerging and established poets recognition at all stages of their careers. The event is free and open to the public, with details available here. The awards recognize everything from a single poem written by a high school student to the organization’s highest honor, the Frost Medal, which celebrates lifetime achievement in the art. This year’s recipient is Gerald Stern, who published his first book, Lucky Life, in 1977 at age fifty-one and who has since published more than a dozen collections of poems and two marvelous books of essays, receiving along the way the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Wallace Stevens Award, the National Book Award, and many other honors. The sonnet below is from his newest book, In Beauty Bright.

“Too Late” by Gerald Stern:

Too late now to look for houses
to give readings, to flirt, to eat blueberries,
to dance the polka—or just to be in the
Serbian-American club in Duquesne
near that horrible McKeesport, near
that horrible Kennywood Park, and take
a sip, a bite, and half fall off my
stool, and grab her and whirl for fifteen
straight, or just to feel her breasts
against me and to loosen my tie, or just to
drive home slowly, sometimes even
on the streetcar tracks themselves,
that 68 trolley I loved so much, the
love seats and the rattling glass windows.

(From In Beauty Bright © 2012 by Gerald Stern. Used by permission of W.W.Norton & Company. Photo of Stern at the Miami Book Fair International in 2011 by Rodrigo Fernández, via Wikimedia Commons)