FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Frat Party Palindrome
Pukee, peek up.
Fired from Hallmark for writing meaningful greeting-card verse, Fred Yannantuono has currently published 364 poems in 85 journals in 30 states. His work was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2006, 2013, and 2015. His book, A BOILERMAKER FOR THE LADY, which can be browsed on Amazon, has been banned in France, Latvia, and the Orkney Isles. Was recently Featured Poet in Light Quarterly. TO IDI AMIN I’M A IDIOT—AND OTHER PALINDROMES is due out in 2016, followed by a second book of poems, I HATE TO SECOND-GUESS MYSELF, OR DO I?
Right on Time
Her red stiletto heels
kept the beat
of her life
right on time.
First Literary Review-East is proud to be the very first journal in which Ms. Cristia's poems have appeared.
unfolding town of dark leaves,
birth my tiny, cosmic tongue.
—inspired by the Remedios Varo painting To Be Reborn
To be reborn,
step barefoot from this world, praying
to be reborn
wild-eyed, seared by life, and graying
already with wisdom, forewarned:
it’s a sad, sweet, brief delaying,
to be reborn.
Green shoot, birth of worlds,
unfolding town of dark leaves:
All is new again.
Melissa Studdard is host of VIDA Voices & Views, an editor for American Microreviews and Interviews, and a judge for the monthly Goodreads ¡Poetry! Group contest. She is also the author of the novel Six Weeks to Yehidah; a poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast; and a collection of interviews, The Tiferet Talk Interviews. Her awards include the Forward National Literature Award and the International Book Award, among others. Her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Poets & Writers, Tupelo Quarterly, Psychology Today, Pleiades, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day. Of her debut poetry collection I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, Robert Pinsky writes, “This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God …” and Cate Marvin says her work “would have no doubt pleased Neruda’s taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry.” Learn more at www.melissastuddard.com. A review by FLRev's editor Cindy Hochman appears in Pedestal Magazine's current issue. Read it here: http://www.thepedestalmagazine.com/gallery.php?item=23834
The streets strut their joy,
the buildings stand on tiptoes.
Today is an important day.
And the people stand at the windows—
today is an important day because
everyone has ceased thinking only of themselves.
Nevena Borisova is a writer and freelance journalist based in Bulgaria. Born in 1987, she has studied Journalism and also Literature and Cinema in the Sofia University of Saint Kliment Ohrydski. Her first book of poems, "Petite Portraits,” was published in 2010, gaining the biggest National debut literature Contest in the country named "South Spring" and also other national recognition. Her poetry have been translated in English, Slovak, Indian, and German, and published in Bulgarian and international newspapers and magazines. She is especially interested in the poetry of Eliot, Pasternak and Auden, as well as the poetry of the Bulgarian poets Alexander Vutimski and Georgi Rupchev. Vutimski, as well as on the poetry of authors like Sylvia Plath, have been the focus of her literary critical research.
faint winter light, filter me;
cell by cell, wash out, wash in
hope & sin, those venial twins,
and you birds, who sound like
you’re crying out ‘yark, yark,'
make me laugh at myself,
my dreary resolutions
flapping by you in the dark.
Maura Candela lives in Queens. Unless a poem presents itself, she is occupied with writing a novel about “The World’s Borough."
I have no verve to ignore
nags at my limbs
and dark makes
me want to arson the edges
I see a hawk in Union Square
rats running scared
hairless dog shivers
apples on the stand look askance
and even they
ask for sheltering sheds
though bright red is the only color that speaks
through shards of snow
Mary Orovan is the author of Green Rain (Poets Wear Prada, 2008). She has been in numerous publications, including Poetry East, 2River View, and San Pedro River Review. She writes many poems about nature, but often they are metaphors for the human experience and the passage of time. And there are some poems which are "just poems," about love, politics, and ...
Walking Home from the Poetry Salon
Friday night. Midsummer.
The city’s palm faces up in surrender.
The air clings, the night prowls.
Hormones trail the air on a veil of cologne.
This is not the time for sleep.
Pedestrians shove time in their pockets.
The streets slip with the sweat of not having.
Desire leaks into the air like cigarette smoke.
Put a match to my skin. It catches
like paper. I smoulder.
Anastasia Vassos is a poet living and working in Boston, Massachusetts. She began writing poetry around the age of 9. One of her first poems was a tribute to her father, written in Greek, in iambic trimeter. Her work has appeared most recently in "Haibun Today" and "Blast Furnace". She is a vice president of marketing for a global engineering firm. She thus follows in the tradition of notable poets who once had day jobs like Dana Gioia, Wallace Stevens, and Ted Kooser.
Yes and No
You are the bright thing in my mind that refuses to fade.
I can't say yes. I won't say no.
You are so far from me, telling me there's a robin outside your window.
I am not free to fly and wait with that robin.
Even if I were, you couldn't let me in.
—Jessica Wiseman Lawrence
Jessica Wiseman Lawrence lives in rural central Virginia, and received her liberal arts education at Longwood University. Her work has been published, or is currently upcoming, in Third Wednesday, Origins, UNTUCKED, and The Activity Report. Her work focuses on images, current events, motherhood, poverty, and nature. She also has an interest in earth science and biology.
The Size of Things
Night hangs heavy on their shoulders
burden and shell, shell and shawl.
Shall we kiss, again, a bright kiss?
eyes unsettled, looks around for a fissure
to sneak through, a fracture to snake out,
exit to freedom in a larger cage.
step away, step light, glide, consider the stars,
how the world shift-shrinks with a kiss.
Marie-Andree Auclair’s poems have appeared in In/Words Magazine—which released her chapbook Contrails in 2013—The Steel Chisel, Bywords, filling Station, and other publications, and are forthcoming in Structo and Contemporary Verse 2 in 2016. She earned a Certificate in Creative Writing (poetry) with the University of Toronto Continuing Studies in December 2014.
The Silk Road to the future is around the corner.
The map is imprinted on our palms.
The stream is imprinted on our lifelines
And flows inevitably into the ocean of love.
The Silk Road of the past is gone forever.
The sap floods from amputated branches.
After we row through the waters of regret,
The misty shore appears, like the day we met.
—Eric Greinke and Glenna Luschei
Eric Greinke’s work has appeared in the California Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Ginyu (Japan), The Green Door (Belgium), The Journal (UK), the New York Quarterly, the Paterson Literary Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Poem, Prosopisia (India), The South Carolina Review, The University of Tampa Review and many others. He is one of twenty American poets included in the new international anthology The Second Genesis: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry (India, 2014). His most recent book is For The Living Dead—New & Selected Poems (Presa Press, 2014).
Glenna Luschei’s poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Chiron Review, Fox Chase Review, Patterson Literary Review Pembroke, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and many other journals. Her most recent book is The Sky Is Shooting Blue Arrows (University of New Mexico Press, 2014). Glenna’s work is also included in The Second Genesis: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry.
I wish you were more of an optimist
I wish you wanted to install solar, plant vegetables,
let violets overrun the lawn,
march against racism, go out to a movie.
I wish you would drink less, lose the belly
take walks with me, write with me.
I wish you liked poetry more, could sing,
had more money. Okay no that’s not true.
I wish you were just you in my dreams.
Lori Desrosiers’ debut full-length book of poems, The Philosopher’s Daughter, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2013. A chapbook, Inner Sky, is from Glass Lyre Press. Sometimes I Hear the Clock Speak (a second full-length collection) will be out from Salmon in 2016. Her poems have appeared in New Millenium Review, Contemporary American Voices, Best Indie Lit New England, String Poet, Blue Fifth Review, Pirene's Fountain, The New Verse News, The Mom Egg, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish-American Poetry and many other journals and anthologies. Her work has been nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize.
Back to the Box
I’m thinking inside the box again.
It got too crowded and noisy outside the box
Traffic stuck for miles beyond the sign that says “Exit Box / |Left Lane Only"
Go, and leave me to my square thoughts.
(previously published in the brevitas anthology)
Mick Stern has written two books of poetry: "Of All Places" (Maria Flophouse, 2010) and "Fifty Thousand " (Maria Flophaus, 2012). In addition, he has written a book of short stories: "Get Out of Town" (TheWriteDeal, 2011), He has also written plays, screenplays, and songs, and he draws and paints. Indeed, he rarely does anything useful. He has a PhD in Renaissance English from New York University, and lives in New York City.
Lady, You Shot Me #10
make it mean
to make it
I caught the bird.
I opened up
the box lid.
When the bird
chose the box,
I lost my heart
in the process.
I couldn’t fire
Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear, in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, The Louisville Review, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of "As We Refer To Our Bodies" (2013, 8th House), "Temporary Champions" (2014, Main Street Rag), "The Pony Governor" (2015, After the Pause Press), and "Not For Art Nor Prayer" (2015, 8th House). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and children.
Fragment (from Movements in Recovery)
When I least expect it, for instance when I'm dragging dead weight
and hope of any kind seems foreign, a screen opens and the winds blow through
for a moment ... gone as quickly as they come. Some call them moods, gods,
aspects of personality. I don't know what to call them. Psychology
is far too tedious for me now; and adjectives, like all fictions, are merely
lame attempts to name that which cannot be named. Nevertheless,
those brief breezes are blessed indeed, and I'd most certainly perish
David Klugman is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Program, and has been a practicing psychoanalyst for the past 25 years in Nyack, NY. His poems have recently appeared in Foliate Oak, Crack the Spine, Linden Avenue Literary Review, Empty Sink, Postcard Poetry and Prose, and Black Fox Literary Magazine.
Backs in History
Napoleon has a bad back. Buddha
has a bad back. Columbus
and Magellan, both with bad backs.
Napoleon has French tailors
wrap him every day. Buddha
does yoga and breathing exercises.
Columbus ignores his spine, always
at the telescope ... while Magellan
lays dead on a Filipino beach.
Thousands of famous and powerful people,
and everyday joes, suffer with back pain.
You're not alone.
Jim Pignetti is a metals dealer who writes poetry and makes wine. He is the co-founder of the popular NY-based email poetry group brevitas.
In the Codeine Hospital
This place is as large as the universe, and full of snakes.
Two doses of codeine and I am wandering
Its halls, shaking with the chill, memory clear
But blurred, somehow, webs at the edge of windows.
Yes I was here in previous years, and there,
And no, I am not defective so why am I here?
I am waiting for someone to claim me
And walking, walking, walking
Through the snaky spaces,
Slowly, hardly able to walk.
The chill is in my bones and more may come.
One step in front of the next, careful.
I am not defective. Soon I will come
To the door where I first entered.
Mark Fogarty is managing editor of The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow and emcees the Red Wheelbarrow Poets’ monthly reading series at GainVille Café, Rutherford, NJ. His poetry has been published in more than 20 publications. He is the author of five collections of poetry: Myshkin’s Blues, Peninsula, Phantom Engineer, Sun Nets and Continuum: The Jaco Poems and his White Chickens Press has published many local poets.
The beguine begun
In his lonely
room he sings
the songs of
Cole Porter to
the wall. 24/7
in the modern
tongue, night &
day in the old.
Mark Young is the editor of Otoliths, lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry for more than fifty-five years. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. A new collection of poems, Bandicoot habitat, is now out from gradient books of Finland.
where is the melody
of the mother's
initial whisper? a
carries a memory
of awakening near softened song
a serenade of
pivoting, always toward
where warmth folds its
preferential song, always
—Felino A. Soriano
Felino A. Soriano is a poet documenting coöccurrences. His poetic language stems from exterior motivation of jazz music and the belief in language’s unconstrained devotion to broaden understanding. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthologies. He lives in California with his wife and family, and is a director of supported living and independent living programs providing support to adults with developmental disabilities. These poems from Quintet Dialogues: translating introspection are forthcoming in book form through Howling Dog Press, later in 2015. More information about Soriano can be found at FelinoASoriano.info.
As the horn blows
(From a photograph of Chet Baker and wife Halema Alli by William Claxton, Redondo Beach, 1955)
I feel her blue notes ripple Jazz
beats crackling from the turntable
shaking beside the bed, so simple;
brushes like eye lashes guitar licks
every goose bump and her dimples.
Feeling our bodies grinning no words
just trumpets resounding, saxophone lips
exposing as the horn blows, feel our groove
sweat closer, our feet causes a skip scratching
of skins, vinyl in darkness when needle drops
tasting her nipples, so smooth I love slapping
her softest bass drum, each spark unites, repeat
the groove with this album. Our voices, musically
reaching the sweetest of rhythms, sleeveless our
breaths ignite, as the horn blows, nakedly
rediscovering our lips—the beat welcomes.
—Adrian Ernesto Cepeda
Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is an L.A. poet who is currently enrolled in the MFA Graduate program at Antioch University in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and their cat, Woody Gold. His poetry has been featured in thirty-five different publications and journals, including The Yellow Chair Review, Thick With Conviction, and Silver Birch Press.
How to Write a Poem (from the series Writing Lessons)
Or over there.
First words matter.
Start is better
than begin. Where
you go is up to you.
Try to go
where you can find your best poem.
sit right there.
Esther Cohen teaches Good Stories at Manhattanville College. She has published five books, and frequently poems. She is a member of brevitas, and writes a daily poem on esthercohen.com.
The wompus cat loves to play Clue on family game night. It’s the knife! He always blurts before it’s even his turn. When the wompus cat is proven wrong the wompus cat whines: the lead pipe, the revolver, the rope, the wrench, the candlestick. He only guesses weapons. And when he has guessed all the weapons in the game and realizes he can’t win by only guessing weapons, he guesses weapons not included in the game: the lawn ornament, the drunk driver, the school shooting, the lunatic grudge, the news reel, the car bomb, the barstool, the brick, the businessman fallen from the sky, etc. He only guesses weapons. He guesses every weapon not made of claws and teeth—any weapon that doesn’t directly tell his story. But still the wompus cat keeps guessing the wrong answers, so the wompus cat takes elaborate notes on his iPhone as the family members maneuver across the board. His notes eventually turn into elaborate tales, which always end with him confessing: I did it. In the kitchen. With my story. He doesn’t know how this happens. It just does. We don’t know how he ends up right every time. He just does.
Christopher Shipman is the author of 8 books and chapbooks. Most recently, A Ship on the Line, with Vincent Cellucci, T. Rex Parade, with Brett Evans, Cat Poems: Wompus Tales and a Play of Despair, and The Movie My Murderer Makes. His poems and prose appear in journals such as Cimarron Review, PANK, and Salt Hill, among many others, and his poem “The Three-Year Crossing” was a winner of the Motionpoems Big Bridges contest judged by Alice Quinn. Shipman lives in New Orleans with his wife and daughter, and teaches high school English.
Memorizing the Future
Hold tight to the sun’s mane.
Practice what you love.
Our job is to level the playing field.
How to get better at beginner’s luck?
We all get a “surprise” in the finale.
Rattle the clock.
Plane the day’s burl veneer
’til paper-thin curls cover your tracks,
your voicebox humming on a lathe
burning song into the grain.
No more will I maraud mirages
sauntering along the shoreline.
This isn’t really how it ends.
—Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright is a poet, artist, critic, eco-activist, impresario, and publisher. He initially studied with Ted Berrigan and Alice Notley at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, where he also served on the Board of Directors. He then received an MFA in Poetry after studying with Allen Ginsberg. From 1987 to 2000 he ran Cover Magazine, the Underground National. He is currently the art editor of Boog City and for many years was poetry reviewer for The Brooklyn Rail. In 2014 he won Theater for the New City’s poetry contest. His book Triple Crown was published by Spuyten Duyvil. His 13th book, Party Everywhere, is out from Xanadu. Wright currently writes criticism for White Hot Magazine and ArtNexus. He also produces his own art and poetry showcase called Live Mag!