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Meet our March Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Howard Faerstein

Highlighted by Florence Poets Society

Howard Faerstein’s debut full-length book of poetry, Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn, a selection of the Silver Concho Poetry Series, was published in 2013 by Press 53. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals; recent publications include Great River Review, Nimrod (finalist in the Pablo Neruda Poetry Contest), CutThroat  (featured as Discovery Poet), The Comstock Review, Off the Coast, and Mudfish. Faerstein is a former member of the American Playwright’s Program and of the Naked Angels theatre group. No Sweat and other works have been produced by and at The Westbeth Theatre in Manhattan. He lives in Florence, Massachusetts and teaches American Literature at Westfield State University. 
Poetic Profession "Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn is a collection of poems that derive from and are conjured out of my experiences. My book is one writer’s take on a way of being and surviving as a human being in a beautiful, terrifying and absurd world. I look at poetry as an assemblage. I’m doing carpentry, taking separate pieces and building something whole. One of my favorite writers, Gabriel García Márquez, once said, ‘All literature is carpentry,’ and I think that’s right." -Howard Faerstein


I have not understood the world, and the world has not understood me
                                                                                   Pope Gregory XII

The sun is white and Earth so incomprehensible, so remarkably
obtuse, sunrays refract off muddied homes half in the river.
Until Nancy died, I hadn’t grasped the significance when the flesh
of our feet turns mottled. Minutes after the hurricane
passed through, an inchworm yoyoed from the clothesline.
I heard a man being interviewed say Integrity is an algorithm.
Is that like saying human beings are resilient? That’s so repetitive.
Besides, teratogenic products are widely available in every strip mall
and male frogs convert testosterone into estrogen, spawn
fertile eggs thanks to herbicide-generated enzymes. More news,
the tropopause continues to heat up. Rivers run brown with good dirt.
            But other times, say when night clangs its heavy gate
or when morning’s another step up dream’s lighthouse,
it is possible to understand this world. Except for Herbie,
every man I’ve known remains a man, every woman a woman,
every bull a bull and every cow a cow. Eleven thousand years
into the holocene, summer lasts longer. And still it ends
too soon but even as memory’s rusted chain snaps
we continue to learn. Once, in the cemetery of the abstract
expressionists, a fireball streaked the sodden sky, painting
you into being. I knew then you were promised but not how
long it would take to find you. Even though magnetic north
is wildly unstable, sometimes I try recalling sheep in the middle
of a road, gaunt men wielding wide sticks, high-stepping
through the flock—what the air outside my car smelled like,
how loud their bleating shudder. Within my small circle,
each of us talks in our own way, just as sparrows’ flight differs
from swallows’. We ask more than life will give.
Seeking the story of my life in others, what we look for,
through love and delusion, is ourselves.
Above this unlikely page hovers a fugitive from summer’s finish—
a six legged fly with crossed translucent wings, bluish shell,
narrow reddish head and barrelled at the other end—
earthquake of jeweled flight, dazzle of deepest wonder.
Tomorrow will most likely find it dead. All I want is to recreate it
so you hear its buzzy song amid the plash of rain.
Florence Poets Society was founded in the summer of 2004 by Carl Russo and Thomas Clark so that poets from the Connecticut Valley of Western Massachusetts could promote and share their writing with each other and with the public. Poets meet the second Thursday of every month in the Community Room of Lilly Library in Florence, Massachusetts. We share poems for critique from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Silkworm is our annual publication. Please visit for details and guidelines.
Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each month we shine the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, one of our poetry partners. If you are a partner with a poet to nominate, email
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