In It for the Carpentry
I thought I saw a goldfinch pluck a lie from an evangelical’s mouth. Perhaps, like the 17 year brood X cicadas, the time for swarming is now. I’d restore my rocks & shells to our lacerated planet but won’t live long enough to return to their origin. To be rescued. Or not. Imagine camels in our Pre-Adamic hemisphere. Eggshell fragments in a dinosaur nest, the terror of that, fossilized remains from Hell Creek, Montana. Calculating how long since attending a wake, I see what may be needed is the cleansing offered by funerals. There’s no confusion facing a suddenly raging arroyo, only a scramble to higher ground. Capitalizing on the lethal virus, six million deaths & counting, an influencer’s line of face masks sold out in hours. Meaning comes later, as Miro said. On Bridge Street there’s forever a fish crow cawing hoarsely by the liquor store. Following a raven over Taos Mountain at the outset of our new century & walking into the Adobe Inn, there was Frank Morgan blowing Monk’s Well You Needn't. A bebop epiphany in a hip-hop world. Of course it’s all madness—I want to be awake when I die!
Letter on New Year’s Day
There’s been no word for months,
December’s long immaculate fade finally reversed,
still it’s hard to see those extra seconds of light
with flocks of finches driven south by winter famine,
the raft of brant gone with the close of open water,
with crinkling stems nodding & waving,
with lockdown slowdown showdown.
When I’m holding a pen like a pool cue,
focusing on the yellow-lined paper,
I see you and when I remember the weather you face,
I think: from feather fall, from wind sway.
I thought it was you but instead
only an echo of childhood foghorns.
I thought it was you but only
a barn owl answering a coyote.
Give the moon its due
is what the ice sang this morning as it shuddered then cracked,
a breaching whale exhaling rainbows,
and I sang back if you’ll be the saddle for my seahorse
I’ll be the breeze for your swelter.
Concussive rain the percussion of the moment.
The husky broke loose on El Salto Road & began
corralling buffalo & the farmer began screaming & shooting
& I thought I heard the dog bark back
If you’ll be the lichen for my tree
I’ll be the catkins for your birch.
Even though I sometimes appear to be drowning please
don't forget to recount my joy at finding love.
Thanks to you we found Jasmine at the insectarium
but between millipedes & crickets I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
I will not miss this when it ends, not with the red squirrel’s passage
to the underworld growing wider & deeper each day, not with…
Let me hear from you
As ever, H
Gate of Heaven
There was a time I walked
up 8th Avenue in a downpour,
shower cap & raincoat on,
then veered off toward the park,
an August gullywasher
that turned me inside out.
Brooklyn in a blizzard
past abandoned patrol car
on Atlantic Avenue,
two kids jimmying the radio.
That was a time,
no thought of death,
lots of thoughts of sex,
seldom considered suicide,
rarely wept except at the movies,
Now I travel along Jacob’s Ladder
where there are no
no angels descending,
where tree roots are exposed
on one side of the trail,
clumps of hemlock ravaged
by woolly adelgid beetles
on the other,
still, I hardly
ever cry though death
does present on occasion
& by the way
as a courtesy
haven’t always been,
loved being a young father,
dog on leash hooked to stroller,
yet admit at my advanced age
I’m still quite inexperienced.
Never wrote a poem like this.
Howie Faerstein’s latest collection is Out of Order (Main Street Press). His full-length collections, Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn and Googootz are available from Press 53. His poetry can be found in On the Seawall, Nixes Mate, Banyan Review, Rattle, upstreet, Verse Daily and Connotation. Co-poetry editor of CutThroat, he lives in Florence, MA. https://howiefaerstein.com