The Inkspots

By Gerald Stern b. 1925 Gerald Stern
The thing about the dove was how he cried in   
my pocket and stuck his nose out just enough to   
breathe some air and get some snow in his eye and   
he would have snuggled in but I was afraid
and brought him into the house so he could shit on
the New York Times, still I had to kiss him   
after a minute, I put my lips to his beak
and he knew what he was doing, he stretched his neck   
and touched me with his open mouth, lifting   
his wings a little and readjusting his legs,   
loving his own prettiness, and I just   
sang from one of my stupid songs from one of my   
vile decades, the way I do, I have to
admit it was something from trains. I knew he’d like that,   
resting in the coal car, slightly dusted with   
mountain snow, somewhere near Altoona,   
the horseshoe curve he knew so well, his own   
moan matching the train’s, a radio
playing the Inkspots, the engineer roaring.

Gerald Stern, "The Inkspots" from American Sonnets. Copyright © 2002 by Gerald Stern. Used by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: American Sonnets (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2002)

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Poet Gerald Stern b. 1925

Subjects Music, Pets, Relationships, Arts & Sciences

 Gerald  Stern


Gerald Stern has been called an “American original,” “a sometimes comic, sometimes tragic visionary,” and, by his friend Stanley Kunitz, “the wilderness in American poetry.” Over dozens of books, and decades of teaching and activism, Stern has emerged as one of America’s most celebrated and irascible poets. “If I could choose one poem of mine to explain my stance,” Stern told Contemporary Poets, “it would be ‘The One Thing in . . .

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SUBJECT Music, Pets, Relationships, Arts & Sciences

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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