Visit from Mars

Nostradamus generally predicted the
future but he also shined a clear
light into the past and lived to
regret some of the visions he had
because they weren’t precise enough
and could have been used for nefarious
thoughts or perilous judgments since,
after all, he was a prophet though
he could have been called a false
prophet in the sense that both
Ezekiel and Isaiah speak of them
though I have to say that
he predicted the visit from Mars, orchestrated
by Orson Welles in 1938
in the town of Grover’s Mill, near Princeton
where everyone seemed to turn on
the radio five, ten, minutes after the
show started including my father and
mother who were packing suitcases
for a quick ride to the bluff
and a cave my father knew from
his early years nor did he ever
forgive Orson Welles for the broadcast
and wouldn’t talk to me about Touch of
Evil—the greatest—nor Citizen Kane,
mostly a little boring though
if you were a film buff you could
study it forever especially if
you hated Hearst for all the good reasons.
Einstein himself was interviewed
while walking the mulberry streets, especially
the right-hand side of Great Road, going south,
where the houses are windy and overpriced,
and he was so full of denial that anyone
with a radio antenna sticking out of his head
had been seen in any diner or hardware store,
Einstein whose bushy face had rubbed
many a pair of reddened lips,
Einstein whose famous name they stole for bagels.

From Galaxy Love: Poems by Gerald Stern. Copyright © 2017 by Gerald Stern. Used with permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.