FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018

 


 

Winter Landscape

                                                after Caterline in Winter, by Scottish painter Joan Eardley

No Christmas card scene,
no virgin drifts,  no stars. Just:
a dirty old moon

with its jaundiced eye
cast down on slush-muddied paths
under winter skies.                                                          

                                                          —Elly Farrelly 

Elly Farrelly lives in Glasgow and works in education. Her  poems have been published in journals including The Glasgow Review of Books, Message in a bottle, and Atrium, and have been included in three  anthologies. As well as writing poetry, she is also a songwriter and performing musician. www.ellyfarrelly.co.uk     

 


  

On the Eve of All Saints’

Through a drawn shade

a candle flame’s halo
sends its smoke upward
like a saint communing
with the heavenly brethren.

                                                 —William Cullen, Jr.

William Cullen Jr. is a veteran and works at a social services non-profit in Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in Canary, Concis, Gravel, Gulf Stream, Pouch, Spillway, Switchback, The American Journal of Poetry, and Written River: A Journal of Eco-Poetics.

 


 
Gravity           

What binds me to this earth
are the hands of my children,
as I hold my mother
holding her mother
back to the mother
who begat us all.
This is gravity.
This is why we call the earth Mother,
why all rising is a miracle.

                                                           —Donna Hilbert

(from Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018)

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, from Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributor to the online journal Verse-Virtual. Her work is widely anthologized, including Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, The Widows’ Handbook, and most recently in The Poetry of Presence. She lives in Long Beach, California. More at www.donnahilbert.com

 



My Love For You

My love for you is tranquil
as a bird quieting its wings
after a flight; a bud shy to
open, nudged by the wind
to breathe in light; it is
a pool so still the touch of
your finger would spark
its only ripple; it will ripen
even under a winter blue
sky, wait for you every
morning to open your eyes.

                                                —Bobbi Sinha-Morey

Bobbi Sinha-Morey's poetry has appeared in a variety of places, such as Plainsongs, Pirene's Fountain, The Wayfarer, Helix Magazine, Miller's Pond, and Old Red Kimono. Her books of poetry are available at www.Amazon.com and her work has been nominated for Best of the Net. She loves aerobics, knitting, reading, and rock hounding with her husband.

 


 

Descending December.

moody parcels arrive

and the settee slumps
into a panic nap
enriched by a dream
of meat cleavers hacking
perfectly roasted clouds

                                             
—Pete Spence

P
ete Spence was born in 1946 and hopes the world doesn't regret it. He is a small-press publisher, artist, filmmaker, and poet, living for it day by day.


 
The Wi-Fi is Jacked In That Part of the House

I heard the sump pump scratch its 
own noggin and roll over 
like a taxidermy duck cracking 
into Humpty Dumpty bones
and clicks in the garage tornado around
even though it's probably just
Mickey Mouse and his long-lost cousins
throwin' droppings at each other.
The kitchen lights dim and
clocks secretly converse,
I choose the pantry winnings,
cat litter dust and expired chips.

                                                              —Alyssa Trivett


Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from the Midwest. When not working two jobs, she listens to music and scrawls lines on the back of gas station receipts. Her work has appeared at In Between Hangovers, Two Drops of Ink, Five 2 One, and others.

 


  

I saw yesterday the road to Belgrade.
It was high.


********************************************


Tulips were burning 

in the wind. 
Light was raging.

                                           —Margarita Serafimova

Margarita Serafimova was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize 2017. She was awarded a merit-based fellowship by Summer Literary Seminars as one of fifty runners-up in their 2018 poetry contest. Margarita has three collections in Bulgarian. Her work appears in Agenda Poetry, London Grip New Poetry, Trafika Europe, European Literature Network, The Journal, A-Minor, Waxwing, Nixes Mate Review, StepAway, Ink, Sweat and Tears, HeadStuff, Minor Literatures, The Writing Disorder, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Noble/ Gas Quarterly, Origins Journal, miller’s pond, Obra/ Artifact, TAYO, Shot Glass Journal, Opiate, Poetic Diversity, Novelty Magazine, Pure Slush, Harbinger Asylum, Punch, Tuck, Futures Trading, Ginosko, Peacock Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Liquid Imagination, and many other places. Some of her work: https://www.facebook.com/MargaritaISerafimova/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel.



Interruption


the story a tattoo inked along a woman’s arm
is interrupted by the doctor’s knife—
arbitrary just what part of it is cut
changing the outcome the person 
wouldn’t have chosen, and what
she tries to make sense of
and finding none, decides that now
is as good a time as any to end

the story of her life

                                                              —Linda Lerner

Linda Lerner’s latest collection is A Dance Around the Cauldron, a prose work that consists of nine characters during the Salem witch trials brought into modern times. (Lummox Press, September, 2017.) Recent publications/acceptances include Café Review, Trailer Park Quarterly, Wilderness Literary Review, Maintenant, Cape Rock & Illumination Magazine. Taking the F Train is forthcoming by NYQ books in 2019.  

 


 
Gypsy

She saw the end before it happened, like the ancients reading bones. Mercurial hazel eyes glimpsed it, glinting in the sea green beryl stone. She divined it through tarot, heard it in a midnight owl, felt it in Black Forest nettles, though more so in a villager’s scowl. She tasted it in mandrake’s sweet sting. Images in the sea green beryl stone.
Omens tingled through her, mystical powers of the moon, stirring her like the tides.  Yet what could she do?  Her foresight sickened her till she refused to believe—what the wind makes moan—It simply couldn’t be.  Silver skulls dancing, shining, laughing.  Bodies burning in the sea green beryl stone.

a silver spoon
to measure the sea—
lamentations
 

                                                      —Anna Cates

Anna Cates is a graduate of Indiana State University (M.A. English and Ph.D. Curriculum & Instruction/English) and National University (M.F.A. Creative Writing). Her first collection of poetry, The Meaning of Life, was published by Cyberwit.net, and her second, The Darkroom, by Prolific Press. Individual poems by Anna Cates have appeared in Abyss & ApexCodex, Blueline, FrogpondSpecsYarn ReviewMatter Press, and other avenues.  She lives in Ohio with her two beautiful kitties and teaches education and English online, including graduate courses in creative writing. Visit her at her Amazon author’s homepage: https://www.amazon.com/A.-Cates/e/B006TGBCT2. Poems by Anna Cates in the “Living Haiku Anthology”: http://livinghaikuanthology.com/poet-portfolios/290-c-poets/anna-cates.html



Night Flight

In this dark blue
loss of control
entitlement brings
to a million other lives
at any one time
in separate skies
like tired stars
in the midnight hue
witnesses to a demise

I’ve gotten used to
the fact that
most of the good
in me has died.

                                          —Michael C. Seeger

Michael C. Seeger lives with his lovely wife, Catherine, and still-precocious 16-year-old daughter, Jenetta, in a house owned by a magnificent Maine Coon (Jill) and two high-spirited Chihauhuas (Coco and Blue). He is an educator (like his wife) residing in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, California. Prior to his life as a middle-school English instructor, Michael worked as a technical writer for a baseball card company and served as a Marine infantry officer during Desert Storm. Michael considers poetry a passion and writing generally a way of life. Some of his poems have appeared recently either published or included in print anthologies like the Lummox PressBetter Than Starbucks, and The Literary Hatchet and as Finalists in several Goodreads contests.

 



Absence

Long after news of your death
I keep up the quarrel, still
waiting for an apology.

A bird falls out of the sky, 
or maybe a plane. It’s gone.
But I can’t stop watching.

                                                         —Antonia Clark

Antonia Clark, a medical writer and editor, has also taught creative writing and manages on online poetry workshop, The Waters. She has published in numerous print and online journals, including 2River View, The Cortland Review, Eclectica, The Pedestal Magazine, and Rattle. Her poetry collections include Smoke and Mirrors and Chameleon Moon

 


 

Island Cities

The silence between us is eloquent and fluid,
like a river between two cities.

Each word a touchstone
an arrow, a shiver, spanning two cities.

The night is moonless,
an amber light washes over our cities.

How many stars remain,
my giver of stars, between our cities?

Through the jasmine scented night
there is a quiver inside our cities.

So many miles and mines and nights
in the path hither between our cities.

                                                               —Deborah Leipziger

(Previously published online in Soul-Lit, Spring 2013 and in the poet's chapbook, Flower Map, 2013)

Deborah Leipziger is an author, poet, and professor. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013). In 2014, her poem “Written on Skin” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on human rights and sustainability. Her poems have been published in Salamander, Voices Israel, POESY, Wilderness House Review, Ibbetson Street, and the Muddy River Poetry Review. http://flowermap.net/

 



What the Sky Said

I tried to fly. The sky said no.
You’re meant to walk on earth
among the feet of redwood trees.

Brown is your color, though your dreams
are celadon and jade. The clouds
would never bear your weight,

the weight of women who give birth
and feed their babies from their bodies.
Wait. The years will lighten you,

and when your bones are dandelion puffs,
a wind will come and gather you.
You will be lighter than a bird.

                                                                          —Joyce Schmid

Joyce Schmid: Other recent work has appeared in Missouri Review, Poetry Daily, New Ohio Review, Sugar House Review, and various journals and anthologies. She lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband of over half a century.

 


 
Walk with me through the boneyard

of each abandoned script that we've left
to yellow in the basement. Unearth the 
photo albums of fake smiles and uncover
the shells of bodies that once held us,
throw them in a box to keep us from the
head shake, the deep sighs. We trip over
the minute and hour hands, feel their
heaviness in our chests, send our flares
into the night sky for someone who never
comes, who never understands the blueprint
in our heads. We walk the magnetic field
and always find there our familiar shapes—
a comfortable balancing act.

                                                                       —Kendall A. Bell

Kendall A. Bell's poetry has been most recently published in Philosophical Idiot and Work to a calm. He was nominated for Sundress Publications' Best of the Net collection in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015. He is the author of twenty-three​ chapbooks. His current chapbook is called Until the Light. He is the founder and co-editor of the online journal Chantarelle's Notebook and publisher/editor of Maverick Duck Press. His chapbooks are available through Maverick Duck Press. He lives in Southern New Jersey.​

 



What it Means to be Round

A plump purple grape
drops to the subway floor
ricochets like a pinball
off of 5 o’clock shoes
rolls, stops, settles
on speckled linoleum floor

 

**********************************************

Subway Ethics

You are civilized. Follow the rules. Then one day it happens to you. The train is coming. The MetroCard machines don’t work. The subway attendant says he can’t help you. You have to make a 3:30 appointment and have no cash. It suddenly enters your mind and then your body. Before you know it, you jump the turnstile.

                                                                         —Susan Weiman

Susan Weiman writes literary nonfiction, poetry and vignettes. Her work has been published in POST(blank), Home Planet News Online, the Brownstone Anthology and the Riverside Poets Anthology, and other journals. Susan is an artist, jewelry maker, and iPhone photographer. She lives in Long Island City. 

 



Seeking Enlightenment

Her gown golden, trimmed with brown embroidered brocade,
she stands and lights the amber lamp. Aglow with warmth,
her delicate Chinese face and silk garments luminous,
sheer rich Mandarin red drapes billowing behind her,
she adorns the wall of my dining room.

           I turn to look out the window.
           Ice floes drift down the East River,
           uneven jagged frozen shapes afloat,
           formed by nature, movement and destiny.

I turn back to look at her countenance,
moment of harmony and grace captured by oil paint.
There is fleeting solace in stillness.

                                                                                     —Judith Lee Herbert

A graduate Cum Laude in English Literature from Columbia University, Judith Lee Herbert returned to poetry after a successful career in another field. Her poetry has been featured in print and online publications, including the Bards Annual, the Long Island Quarterly, The Ekphrastic Review, and motheringinthemiddle.com. Her poems are included in the Silver-Tongue Devil Anthology and the electronic summer volume of These Fragile Lilacs. Her chapbook was chosen as a finalist in the Blue Light Poetry Prize and Chapbook Competition in 2018. One of her poems received Honorable Mention in the Nassau County Poet Laureate Society’s 2018 Poetry Contest. 

 



Poem in a Burlap Sack

Starting is the best.

As I hold the sack waist high
a foot in each corner
for the race ahead
I catch all the odour
from the resin of jute
think of a Kennebec, Kerr
or King Edward—
how Russet Burbanks
make the best hash browns
while others
in a bunch of hops
go for Yukon Gold.

                                           —Neil Leadbeater

Neil Leadbeater is an author, editor, essayist, poet, and critic living in Edinburgh, Scotland. His short stories, articles, and poems have been published widely in anthologies and journals both at home and abroad. His books include Hoarding Conkers at Hailes Abbey (Littoral Press, 2010), Librettos for the Black Madonna (White Adder Press, 2011); The Worcester Fragments (Original Plus, 2013); The Loveliest Vein of Our Lives (Poetry Space, 2014), and Finding the River Horse (Littoral Press, 2017). He is a regular reviewer for several journals including Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement) (USA) and Write Out Loud (UK). His work has been translated into Dutch, Romanian, Spanish, and Swedish.

 


 
Kamiak Butte

In the great wheat-farming country
called the Palouse, an Inland Empire,
stands a pine-covered butte, high peak
of an old mountain range, elsewhere buried
by topsoil blown east by the constant wind.
The rim of the Blue Mountains far to the Oregon south,
the western promise of Idaho Rockies rises
on the eastern horizon.

I want to climb that butte, crash about like a black
bear in the underbrush, watch wheat seedlings break
through the earth on the ocean of bare hills everywhere.
I want to breathe the soft air at the tail end
of the melting Chinook, watch
a hawk ride the updraft, simply
sit with my back to a sheltering boulder.

                                                                                 Mary Wescott

Mary Wescott is a retired Head of School with 30 years' teaching experience. Before she started teaching, she wrote poetry. Now that she has retired, she finds that she is writing poetry again. Her poems “The Same River Twice” and “Inspiration” have been published on the website Writing in a Woman’s Voice.

 



For Wild Animals

The Arctic warms, methane slops free,
and sea levels rise.
Polar bears, caribou,
almost gone.

Just last week we saw large turtles
at the edge of a woodland road.
Some drivers aim for them,
want to see them dead—it’s fun.

Does the poem shake a fist and ask
how dare you? What does that do?

Language moves stealthily,
finds those who listen,
who need words, hope.
When silence feels permanent.

                                                              —Kenneth Pobo

Kenneth Pobo has a book of prose poems forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. He is currently reading Our Mutual Friend by Dickens.


 

Retreat Wounded

We made the best of a gray day, playing explorer
on a riverbank, not far from the road. You hunted
heart-stones, ones that I’d fill in a bamboo bowl,
music floated down from a camp further up,
reminding us we weren't alone. You called to me,
I went to you, to look at the blood on the rocks.
Some attack, some fight, some animals survived
and retreated wounded into the forest. We followed
a ways, until I said that we should go back, concerned
about us, about you, and where we were wandering.
You wanted to go forward, concerned about hurt,
wanting to repair. I won, letting nature take its course.
We returned to the car, returned to the hotel. I ordered
wine and massages. Late that night, you spoke your truth
in your sleep: “you should have let me help.” Your stones,
sink-washed, dried on a towel in the bathroom.

                                                                                             —Brendan McEntee

Brendan McEntee was born and raised in Queens and received his Master’s in English from Hofstra University. He has a forthcoming book of poetry being published by Alabaster Leaves. His work has recently appeared in 
Plainsongs, Loch Raven Review, Main Street Rag, and Subterranean Blue Poetry. He also served as editor ofTriggerfish Critical Review and as a reader for Now Culture.

 



A Man Walks Into a Window

let me be          little       
let me be          moan              
let me be          gin

let me be          friend                   
let me be          lie                 
let me be          grudge

let me be          get                      
let me be          cause              
let me be          wail

let me be          jewel                     
let me be          smirch                     
let me be          speak

let me be          reave                    
let me be          ware                   
let me be          guile

                                          —Bill Yarrow

Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College and an editor at Blue Fifth Review, is the author of The Vig of Love, Blasphemer, Pointed Sentences, and five chapbooks, most recently We All Saw It Coming. He has been nominated eight times for a Pushcart Prize. Against Prompts, his fourth full-length collection, is forthcoming from Lit Fest Press in October 2018.

 

CINDY AND KAREN WISH ALL OF OUR CONTRIBUTORS AND FAITHFUL READERS AROUND THE WORLD A BEAUTIFUL AND PEACEFUL HOLIDAY SEASON.