FIRST LITERARY REVIEW - EAST

Submissions Meet the Editor-in-Chief March 2014 Meet the Associate Editor January 2012 Book Review - Lyn Lifshin's "Ballroom" March 2012 Book Review - George Held's "After Shakespeare: Selected Sonnets" May 2014 Book Review: Amy Holman's Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window July 2012 Book Review: Kit Kennedy Reviews Heller Levinson September 2012 Book Review - Patricia Carragon Reviews Leigh Harrison November 2012 January 2013 March 2013 Book Review - Dean Kostos "Rivering" May 2013 Book Review: Hochman Reviews Ormerod Summer Issue 2013 September 2013 McMaster Reviews Szporluk January 2014 July/August 2014



 

SEPTEMBER 2014

 

In the Jewish tradition, the number 18 ("chai" in Hebrew) is significant—it means LIFE.  So it is particularly fitting that at this time of the year, the Jewish High Holidays, we have 18 poets whose poems are full of life (yes, even when the topic is death).  FLRev extends a wish of long life to poets (and readers of poetry) of every race, creed, religion, and nationality, and to those of the Jewish faith, we say L'Shana Tova.  

                                                                   —Cindy Hochman and Karen Neuberg, Editors

 

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Night Sky

Canvas.
Starlit painting
reflecting an array
of splintered promises; grand scheme.
Opus.

                                                           —Cristine A. Gruber

 

Cristine A. Gruber, a Southern California native, is a registered caregiver and a devout vegan. Her poetry reflects her view of the human condition in all its pain and beauty. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines, including: North American Review, Writer's Digest, Foliate Oak, Full of Crow, Leaves of Ink, The Old Red Kimono, The Penwood Review, Poetry Now, The Poet's Haven, and The Tule Review. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Lifeline, was released by Infinity Publishing and is available from Amazon.com.

 

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Her Silence

Her silence
Melts space
Smothers souls
Splays light
Passes in time.

                                                             —Zev Torres

Zev Torres' poetry has appeared in numerous print and on-line publications including Estrellas En El Fuego and Maintenant 6. Zev runs the sporadically occurring Skewered Syntax Poetry & Pub Crawls and, since 2008, has hosted Make Music New York's annual Spoken Word Extravaganza.

 

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Grief so raw

the only way to hold it
is to wrap it in the heart's
black wings, listen,
ears bleeding,
let it sing
itself
whole.

                                            —Peg Robarchek 

 

Peg Robarchek is a published novelist and poet living in Charlotte, NC. Her first collection of poetry, "Inventing Sex," will be published in late 2014 by Main Street Rag. Her poetry has been published most recently in Naugatuck River Review, Prime Number, Blast Furnace, and Iodine Poetry Review.

 

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With Apologies to Mary Oliver

All I know of trees
Is they make me sneeze.
Same thing goes for flowers,
Countless itching hours.
Then we come to grasses
Allergenic gases
Terrorize my nose.
Not that I oppose
Poetizing Nature—

Who says no debate, sure!
Who says nothing doing,
You, sir, I'm eschewing.

                                                      —Fred Yannantuono

 

 

Fred Yannantuono’s book, A Boilermaker for the Lady (www.nyqbooks.org/fredyannantuono), has been banned in France, Latvia, and the Orkney Isles.  His work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2006.  He has been a featured poet for Light Quarterly. His latest book, To Idi Ami I’m A Idiot And Other Palindromes, is due out very soon.

 

 

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Apples in Seattle

I
smell like an apple
today just for you
only you're not here so I

smell my apple scent
myself and imagine you
smell it instead of I

                                                          —Joy Leftow 

 

[Apples in Seattle took First Place Blue Ribbon Prize in the Kitchen Poets 2012, Minnesota State Fair 2012.]

 

Joy Leftow is a double alumna at Columbia University and has a second Master's from CCNY in Creative Writing. Her honesty and openness may floor or embarrass you but she promises not to bore you. Relish her work at http://joyleftowsblog.blogspot.com

 

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ABOUT GRAPES & nothing else

Call them by name:

Cabernet Sauvignon   Merlot   Grenache
Pinot   Grigio Chardonnay   Viognier

In the crush of skin
tartness   a bit of bitterness

to seed   experience concentrates,
antidote to fog's boundless pressing

to which the astute hand brings structure
works tannin   blends signature

Nothing left on vine
for icy imagination's sear

As you leave take note
how the finesse of science melts on chance

how harvest releases
abandonment

                                                —Kit Kennedy

 

Kit Kennedy has published four collections, including while eating oysters (CLWN WR BKS, Brooklyn) and INTENTIONS (Co-Lab Press, San Francisco).  Kit lives in San Francisco and is Poet in Residence of SF Bay Times.

 

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Sister on the Windowsill

 

This will go unspoken between us,
just like the prayers of our childhood,
thin smoke rising from our bodies
to the open window.

 

I used to hold you in the air,
your small legs scissoring the light.

 

Now you are a woman,
or the spider that strolls across the wall sideways,
black, small.

 

The stars are dead. We both know it,
but we suck at their fingers, clutch for their light
that hovers around the open window.

 

The door has been left ajar.


                                      —April Michelle Bratten

 

April Michelle Bratten currently lives in North Dakota. Her work has previously appeared in Stone Highway Review, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and Waterhouse Review. Her book, It Broke Anyway, was published by NeoPoiesis Press in 2012. Her chapbook, Raw Dogs and Other Metaphors, was published by Maverick Duck Press in 2012. She edits Up the Staircase Quarterly.

 

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ANOTHER WAY TO SAY YOUR NAME

 

She read the last card near the hill as men came to stare at the shadow between us. It was this darkness. The cause and the effect of ghosts—what she carried in her hand: an apparent stillness, sunlit contrails, intimacy. The milk-gray sky. Late, her voice


inside the snow. My loveliness remembered north. The meadow


—as if a portrait of a storm—betrayed the dream we carried.

 


[A FEW FACTS ABOUT THE NAME MAUREEN]

 

Without intimation I record collusion's temporal heat. So you go wither. Gloam of the hawthorn horizon. Mid-dusk flattened to moss.

 


DIMINUTIVE, MO

 

I take the crumpled pages that I love from the book of love and I must love them again and again.

                                                    —Maureen Alsop

 

Maureen Alsop, Ph.D., is the author of two full-length collections, Mantic (Augury Books) and Apparition Wren (Main Street Rag), She is the winner of Harpur Palate's Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry and The Bitter Oleander's Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award. Her recent poems have appeared in various journals including The Laurel Review, AGNI, Blackbird, Tampa Review, Action Yes, Drunken Boat, and The Kenyon Review. Maureen is an associate poetry editor for the online journal Poemeleon and Inlandia: A Literary Journal. She presently leads a creative writing workshop for the Inlandia Institute, the Riverside Art Museum, and The Rooster Moans.

 

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dark of the moon

for ta

 

1
I swim
through my teacher's haunted house
while other students on the surface
dangle their hooks

 

2
we need to discuss
the waves you brought to lunch
& by the way

 

3
here's my triptych
you clutching a black violin
me standing in a pool of ammonia
usarguingwhiletreadingarazorbath
feel free to rebut the captions

 

4
this ain't my father's math
the wet graves calling & calling my name

 

 

let's say

for dyh

 

I'm working as fast as I can
insufficiently compensated for my labors

 

there's summer's death rattle to consider
dawn slower to stretch darkness impatient
talk of hurricanes & christmas

 

I don't mean to alarm my friends
but I understand why
someone might want this experience to end

 

pinning my name to plotlines
praying for a dust pile to move

 

each morning before the soldiers arrive
I say to anyone who's listening it's our nature to suffer
I know this is a lie
                            

                                                            —John Amen

John Amen is the author of four collections of poetry: Christening the Dancer, More of Me Disappears, At the Threshold of Alchemy, and The New Arcana (with Daniel Y. Harris). His work has appeared in numerous journals nationally and internationally and been translated into Spanish, French, Hungarian, Korean, and Hebrew. He founded and continues to edit The Pedestal Magazine (www.thepedestalmagazine.com).

 

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Writer in another town

 

The mouth ordered using a mundane syllable
choice, a cup of cappuccino—

 

no sugar, no cinnamon, non-fat milk. Nothing
out of the ordinary like pink
polka dots on Maya's dress stained with tomatoes.

 

But the clouds of boredom vanished
once the beverage touched
my lips. The mind flooded
with a stream of downpour—

 


words sailed, pen swam, ideas fluttered,
like fireflies in a jar flying, through
sheets of paper, challenging
the blunt edges to cut through the day.



Same coffee, same recipe, same block.
But I forget, a writer is a different person
                                                               on a holiday

                                                        —Sweta Srivastava Vikram

 

[previously published in Journal:  The Literary Jewels, 2011]

 

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is an award-winning writer, two-time Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, novelist, author, essayist, columnist, and educator.   Born in India, Sweta spent her formative years between India, North Africa, and the United States. A graduate of Columbia University, she reads her work, teaches creative writing workshops, and gives talks at universities and schools across the globe. Sweta lives in New York City with her husband. Follow her on Twitter (@ssvik) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Words.By.Sweta). 

 

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All Ye Need to Know

 

Beauty is truth.
Strike "is," replace with "might be."
Beauty might be truth.
Strike "might be," replace with "is sometimes."
Beauty is sometimes truth.
Strike "beauty," replace with "truth."
Truth is sometimes truth.
Strike second "truth," replace with "beauty."
Truth is sometimes beauty.
Strike "sometimes."
Truth is beauty.
                                  

                                                   —Kim Peter Kovac
 

Kim Peter Kovac works nationally and internationally in theater for young audiences, with an emphasis on new play development and networking. He tells stories on stages as producer of new plays, and tells stories in writing with lineated poems, prose poems, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, haiku, microfiction, and three-line poems, with work appearing in print and on-line. He is fond of avant-garde jazz, murder mysteries, contemporary poetry, and travel, and lives in Alexandria, VA, with his bride, two Maine Coon cats, and a Tibetan Terrier named Finn. www.kimpeterkovac.tumblr.com

 

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The Phrases

 

 

The phrases that used to flit
Unbidden into mind and itch me

To jot them down, then take dictation,
Verse after verse to make a poem,

Now just flicker and burn out
Before I can jot them down and make

Something out of them:
so I do the unthinkable

And write this lament: I am unable
To make a poem.
                                                           

                                                              -George Held

George Held, a 6-time Pushcart nominee, often has work online or in print at such places as The Pedestal, Confrontation, New York Quarterly, and Rattle. His most recent book is CULLING: NEW & SELECTED NATURE POEMS (Poets Wear Prada, 2014).

 

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Compost

 

 

Words and ideas

 

 stew around my brain

 

like scraps of fertile leftovers

 

in a steamy compost pile

 

They sift and brew together

 

formless

 

like people on a crowded summer’s lawn

 

waiting for the concert

 

ripe with perfumed sweat.

 

When the music starts, the heap of soil

 

rich from man’s beginnings

 

 and his ends

 

begins to dance

 

Life sprouts once again

 

A poem is born

 

                                        —Jean E. Taddonio

 

Jean E. Taddanio is a Native San Diegan, a retired Hospice nurse, and an ocean lover.

 

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Dance of the Torches

                                             [from Mirage and Selected Poems]

 

 

Far, far away, the flames do play,

Leaping in the far distance.

Across the way, candles turn,

Doing their reckless dance.

 

 

Stars glitter, then fall, in the sky;

Hopeless realm of night.

Falling, falling to our green realm,

Into our fading sight.

 

 

Memories, mere dreams, rise in the dark,

Blind eye of the mind.

Dreams of death, memories of fleeting love,

All, all of a single kind.

                                                           

                                                               —Jerome Brooke

 

 

Jerome Brooke lives in the Kingdom of Siam. He is the consort of Jira, a princess of the lost Kingdom of Nan. He has written Mirage and Selected Poems (Amazon) and many other books.

 

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Going to San Anselmo

 

Always it is Sunday with its attendant weight  

First the ferry   If not raining   then the fog

never lifts   We know the shore by touch 

the piling’s nudge   Next   the electric train 

We pay with tokens wafer thin   The conductor

never says Good Day  or anything   Seven stops

to San Anselmo   the school where the boys board  

Too far to come home weekends   We go for the day

 

 

They wait outside on the long white porch  

We go directly to the meadow   picnic   no matter

the weather   An hour or more passes before

the little one lets loose my hand   goes

to watch his father  brother shooting cans  

I wait in the field   when their father takes them back

 

                                                      —Margo Mensing

 

[This sonnet is from the poet’s series, which traces the lives and work of Dorothea Lange, photographer, and Maynard Dixon, painter. ] 

 

Margo Mensing has been published in Tupelo Quarterly, Thoughsmith, and The Bridge.

 

 

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Je Ne Parle Pas

 

My daughter says I don’t have an ear

for language, should not speak

 

 

in foreign lands, not even

        simple words,

no shalom, no scusa

 

 

I hold up two fingers,

           nod

 slip into small places

 

 

an insect, insidious

           gesturing

 my way in and out,

 

 

sometimes stinging in

           Spanglish

sometimes landing on a

 

 

stranger’s arm,  fluttering

 a kiss to my existence

 

                                                  —Mary Leonard

 

[Previously published in the poet’s chapbook, The World That Is, published by RedOchreLit.org.]

 

Mary Leonard lives and works and writes in the Hudson Valley.

 

 

 

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R.I.P

  

Beyond the grave
they say all is quiet
till you reach out
and poke them with flowers
and sprinkle some salt.
Then they stagger up
from unfinished dreams
of a forever sleep
and mightily bellow … Go away!
and you remember it is time
for the downtown bus

 

                                                    —Reena Prasad

 

Reena Prasad is a poet from India, now based in Sharjah. She has poems published in English anthology collections and also in online journals: Carty's Poetry Journal, Indian Ruminations, Indian Review, Angle Journal, The Copperfield Review, The Indian River Review, The Rainbow Journal etc.

 

 

 

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Nocturne

 

When last light is gone,

that nuanced light when stars die,

a maddening cry follows —

 

 

From earth?

From the endlessness?

From everywhere and nowhere?

 


Here comes recovery—

the grief of grasses;

the forgiveness of emptiness.

                                                    —Martin Willitts Jr.

 

Martin Willitts Jr. has 6 full-length collections of poetry, including national contest winner "Searching for What is Not There" (Hiraeth Press, 2013) and over 20 chapbooks including contest winner "William Blake, Not Blessed Angel But Restless Man" (Red Ochre Press, 2014).