Stern writes with a gruff, seen-it-all knowingness and with the distillation, leaps, and pivots acquired over a long life of poetic practice. His eyes are drawn to the muck and dust of the trampled world, the aging machinery of progress, the sagging porch, the dying tree, the fog and mist of confusion and fatigue. Stern unabashedly loves beauty and all of creation, but in his fifteenth collection, even the animals are aggressive, needy, or suffer pointless deaths. Stern is funny, mad for life, respectful of death, and jazzed by shared ideas. In the long, gnashing, reorienting dialogic poem “The Preacher,” a response to the book of Ecclesiastes, the poet and his friend Peter consider Stern’s vision of a hole in the universe, and his poetic process: “My figures / always start with the literal and the spreading / is like blood spreading.” His wound is our propensity for lying, killing, and destroying the living earth. In his vision of the future, love will be found in a sewer, winds and waters will rise, the poet will sing, and we will dance on. --Donna Seaman
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“Stern writes with a gruff, seen-it-all knowingness and with the distillation, leaps, and pivots acquired over a long life of poetic practice.” — Booklist
“With a deft though sometimes mischievous hand, [Stern] crafts scenes that are at once exotic and familiar.” — Library Journal
“[Stern’s] strongest, strangest poems.” — Publishers Weekly