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Portrait of Gerald Stern
by Paul Hostovsky

There’s a poem in Gerald Stern’s mouth.
If you’ve ever gone to see him read
you've noticed that thing he does
with his lips, pursing them, flaring them,
wetting them like a pair of water birds
come to drink and mate in the middle
of his face, preening themselves between
the words, making love between the lines.
And between his two front teeth that big
caesura shining down on us from inside
the poems—it’s always there, like the sun,
which brings us to his eyes, which blink a lot
perhaps from his habit of looking directly
into the poem, where it lives, in the mouth.



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