Thursday, April 3, 2014, at 7:00 pm, poets Howie Faerstein and Barry Sternlieb will continue the seventh season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)
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, Mudfish, and on-line in Gris-Gris, The Pedestal, Connotation Press, and The November 3rd Club. He’s a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize (close but no cigar). Faerstein is a former member of the American Playwright’s Program and of the Naked Angels theatre group. His plays have been workshopped and produced by and at The Westbeth Theatre in Manhattan. He lives in Florence, Massachusetts and teaches American Literature at Westfield State University.
Barry Sternlieb is the author of four chapbooks, the latest of which, Winter Crows, was awarded the 2008 Codhill Press Poetry Prize. His work appears in Poetry, The Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, Commonweal, Alaska Quarterly Review, Southwest Review, and others. He is also the recipient of a 2004 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in Poetry. Finally, he edits Mad River Press, specializing in the very slow creation of handmade limited edition letterpress poetry broadsides and chapbooks since 1986. He lives in Richmond, Massachusetts.
IN THE NARROWS / Howie Faerstein
We sifted the contents of one plastic bag into another,
saving some of her for our missing brother.
Then we spilled her ashes into the sea,
into the atmosphere, onto our shoes,
and then we ate of her.
We fed our mother to the eels and crabs
and mermaids lurking behind the rocks along Shore Road
across from the traffic of the highway.
We fed our mother to the tidal strait
linking Upper & Lower New York Bay.
Her ashes spilled into the shallows,
clumping into the wholeness she lacked–
black headed gulls with darkened wingtips
shrieking above her form.
Coming together after seven years we fed
our mother’s ashes to the wind blowing
five feet above the deep
while we leaned on the railing of the pier
watching waves carrying out to sea,
widening, then compressing,
returning her to Odessa.
We emptied mother out of a plastic bag–
only a name left, her journey just beginning–
but I see her as my children will see me
when I am powder mixed with earth
and as she prayed each sabbath to three candle-flames,
for she was her father’s daughter,
haltingly we recited the mourners’ Kaddish
and then we ate of her
for we are our mother’s sons.
(Originally published in Great River Review. Used with permission of the author.)
SOLE IMPRESSION / Barry Sternlieb
No matter how far over the hill
we get, this workhorse press
and I are still on the same page,
throwbacks lying low, bound
by the cause of words.
In the basement shop,
where centuries become hours,
to ink the plate, crank the lever,
then handfeed sheet after sheet
while rollers rasp across type
lays down a beat I can grasp
as if lastingness flows
like current through muscle
and metal, each clearly
moved by the other. Here,
like gnostic gospel, solitude
stacks up against talk,
tapping a cast-iron vein
of tradition whose bottom-line
is the obsolete, what doesn’t
change, changing hands.
Behind the scenes, priorities
hinge on problems solved
with pure tinkery luck, with
a bond between machines,
one living, one not, but
when bed and platen meet,
when I see the sole
impression of every letter
catching light, it all seems
somehow human, especially
at the end, collating done,
signatures sewn, as we go our
separate ways: this press and I
toward yesterday, to start again
from scratch, the handmade book
toward tomorrow, a newborn
relic, grandfathered in.
(Originally appeared in Sewanee Review. Used with permission of the author.)