As I was reading Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems edited by Susan Grimm, I came across a Cher reference in the essay "Order & Mojo: Informal Notes on Getting Dressed" by Beckian Fritz Goldberg:
...the best order for a manuscript is one that suits the personality of the work. If you're Cher you can wear a sequined Bob Mackie gown. If you're Willie Nelson you'd better try jeans and T-shirt. So you wouldn't necessary put your ms. in a tight dress if you are an expansive poet like Larry Levis or Gerald Stern and you wouldn't wear blue jeans and an old T-shirt if you were, say, Anna Akhmatova.
Cher in sequins and Cher in jeans.
(from "Winter Stars")
I stand out on the street, & do not go in.
That was our agreement, at my birth.
And for years I believed
That what went unsaid between us became empty,
And pure, like starlight, & that it persisted.
I got it all wrong.
I wound up believing in words the way a scientist
Believes in carbon, after death.
Tonight, I’m talking to you, father, although
It is quiet here in the Midwest, where a small wind,
The size of a wrist, wakes the cold again—
Which may be all that’s left of you & me.
When I left home at seventeen, I left for good.
That pale haze of stars goes on & on,
Like laughter that has found a final, silent shape
On a black sky. It means everything
It cannot say. Look, it’s empty out there, & cold.
Cold enough to reconcile
Even a father, even a son.
(Note: it took me a looong time to find a Gerald Stern poem that didn't give me a headache. This is the best I could do.)
Behaving Like A Jew
When I got there the dead opossum looked like
an enormous baby sleeping on the road.
It took me only a few seconds – just
seeing him there – with the hole in his back
and the wind blowing through his hair
to get back again into my animal sorrow.
I am sick of the country, the bloodstained
bumpers, the stiff hairs sticking out of the grilles,
the slimy highways, the heavy birds
refusing to move;
I am sick of the spirit of Lindbergh over everything,
that joy in death, that philosophical
understanding of carnage, that
concentration on the species.
--- I am going to be unappeased at the opossum’s death.
I am going to behave like a Jew
and touch his face, and stare into his eyes,
and pull him off the road.
I am not going to stand in a wet ditch
with the Toyotas and the Chevies passing over me
at sixty miles an hour
and praise the beauty and the balance
and lose myself in the immortal lifestream
when my hands are still a little shaky
from his stiffness and his bulk
and my eyes are still weak and misty
from his round belly and his curved fingers
and his black whiskers and his little dancing feet.
"I Was Born In the Right Time..."
I was born in the right time, in whole,
Only this time is one that is blessed,
But great God did not let my poor soul
Live without deceit on this earth.
And therefore, it's dark in my house,
And therefore, all of my friends,
Like sad birds, in the evening aroused,
Sing of love, that was never on land.