Howard Faerstein – Switchbacks

Howard Faerstein


Windmilling woodpecker wings
and shimmering shadows
coat moonrise over coastal scrub.

Odor rising as steam
spices the fog
in camphor, cedar, bay.

Water distant,
always approaching,
each second the sweep.

South of Arch Rock
eel grass drawn to consonance
lifting beyond White Gulch.

Patches of white,
patches of mustard,
how to say what’s equal to what?

It’s the unequal composition of California—
arrangements, the form of things—

where everything’s whispered,
nothing promised:
pockmarked rock, tide-pool lagoons,

white-faced cows
held in a surround of auburn hills
lowing from terraced golden grass.

Water close,
always approaching,
each second the sweep:

the form of things.


Howard Faerstein’s first book of poetry, Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn, was published in 2013 by Press 53. A second collection, Googootz and Other Poems, came out in September, 2018. His work can be found in numerous journals including Great River Review, Nimrod, CutThroat, Off the Coast, Rattle, upstreet, Mudfish and online in Gris-Gris, Peacock Journal, and Connotation. Considering himself an “adjunct emeritus,” he presently volunteers as a citizenship mentor at the Center for New Americans and is Associate Poetry Editor of CutThroat, A Journal of the Arts. After living in Brooklyn for fifty years, he now lives in Florence, Massachusetts.

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