FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
This issue is dedicated to the memory of Michelle Greenblatt, poet, editor, and friend, whose beauty, gifts, and goodness were taken from us too soon.
The swans applauded the sky with their wings.
The clouds lifted and took a bow while
The sun felt secretly proud.
—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 other. 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, Paterson 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 fell from high—
pride was my sin.
I was a balloon—
God was a pin.
First Literary Review-East is very proud to be Ren Cristia's "first" (poetry publication, that is).
I know it’s been said before
but the mountains look like a woman resting
her curves seem to breathe before the setting sun
pink clouds hover at her hips, a light flickers
a reminder that these are indeed mountains.
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.
Make Love, Not War
Knowing that one can love
And perhaps be loved in return
It seems a miracle to me
That men still fly
Over mountains to kill.
Ron Kolm is a founding member of the Unbearables. He is a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin and the editor of the Evergreen Review. Ron is the author of The Plastic Factory, Divine Comedy and, with Jim Feast, the novel Neo Phobe. His most recent collection of poems, Suburban Ambush, was published by Autonomedia last year, and a new book of short stories, Duke & Jill, has just been published by Unknown Press. He's had work in Hobo Camp Review, Have A NYC 3. the Too Much anthology, The Otter and the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Ron’s papers were purchased by the New York University library, where they’ve been catalogued in the Fales Collection as part of the Downtown Writers Group.
As if all the sun
of summer is in the leaves.
Or cartoon moon
Cut in shapes of fans
Waving at returning soldiers,
Ribbons of hope on trees
Unfurl peaceful glee; lover
And lover of wind which dallies
Along curvy edges, tickles.
Loose women's golden curls
Cascade to mosaic.
(previously published in Poetry East, Spring 2010)
Mary Orovan is the author of Green Rain (Poets Wear Prada, 2008). Her work has appeared 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....
Man in Bowler
Prattle of double-decked buses
further smudging grainy fog
comforts the man in bowler
clutching newspaper and stick.
London after the war stank
of char and ruin. Dead churches
littered the City. Rebuilding
consumed half a lifetime;
but this bowler can’t wait
to transact necessary affairs
on Threadneedle Street, where bluff
facades buffet each other
in those parodies of manhood
war rendered almost obsolete.
William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e-journals and print journals, and in several collections; most recently, The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013).
and so do I
toward the matted mane
of the Greek Orthodox priest
traipsing through rocks
Sidesaddle the donkey rider descends
to the port town
of cobbled mazes
made to confuse
hearts and plunder
Under my feet
remnants of Atlantis
hold secret worlds
that slip between my toes
Nancy Yeager is the sixth poet laureate of Berks County, PA, where she resides with her husband and oversized cat, Jack. She facilitates a free weekly workshop at the Wyomissing Community Library for the joy of sharing her love of poetry.
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.
Hot Spot Hustle
Under a lavender moon,
erotic Zelus wails a dithyramb,
as writhing Satyrs rub their buttocks
toward the hidden sun.
A black Leda flits across the floor
crying for a bird,
while tight-lipped Sibyls
shut blue-green eyes and sip white wine.
Niobe is stoned and the Gorgons laugh.
—John Lawrence Darretta
John Lawrence Darretta is a former metropolitan New York college professor. He now lives in his "hermitage" on Cape Cod with cats, Koi, and cranberries. He has published works on American literature and Italian cinema. His poetry has been published in The Journal of Pastoral Counseling and in college journals.
As when Augustine of Hippo Undertook a Tantric Delight
Flesh in time scores nine,
on scale of one to ten;
having liked it, the nodules
blend to corpuscles who bend
to slow touch,
as of wrastl'd slush,
picked to mimic, or slunk through;
so if what they say of specific mala
be bound and wound and due,
time to have it out, not amend,
and blanch a mirror to discuss,
and a very fine day to you,
and kids at play shed blue.
Robert Mueller's poetry, essays, and book reviews have appeared in Blackbox Manifold, House Organ, Jacket2 (formerly Jacket), and Spinozablue. His current project is a long essay that draws on authors from far different times in history, and in other languages, as a way to discuss certain contemporary poets, who for the moment are, in fact, New York poets. His own definition of poetry, of a certain kind of poetry, may come out of these studies, which were inspired generally by his experience in earning a PhD in comparative literature from Brown University.
Boy With a Flat Thumb
(for Yehuda Amichai)
Imagine this guy, this poet blazing
when I was a kid chewing crayons at
Mrs. Fletcher’s preschool, Palm Beach,
nestled amidst terracotta tiles crawling
with cabernet hibiscus and champagne
azaleas guarded by concrete royal palms.
This guy splitting verbs into complex
emotions and injecting life into tragic
adjectives while I sat in a corner
lamenting the prohibition of Crayolas
with my best pal, Stephen, at the time,
the infamous boy with a flat thumb.
Alan Britt served as judge for the 2013 The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. He read poetry and presented the “Modern Trends in U.S. Poetry” at the VII International Writers’ Festival in Val-David, Canada, May 2013. He read poetry for the 6x3 Exhibition at the Jadite Gallery in Hell’s Kitchen/Manhattan in December 2014. Also, sponsored by LaRuche Arts Contemporary Consortium (LRACC) he read poetry at the Union City Museum of Art/William V. Musto Cultural Center in Union City, NJ in May, 2014. His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013. A new interview for Lake City Lights is available at http://lakecitypoets.com/AlanBritt.html. His latest books are Lost Among the Hours (2015); Parabola Dreams (with Silvia Scheibli, 2013); and Alone with the Terrible Universe (2011). He teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.
If I Wear Long Pajamas, Will My Sleep Be Long? (A song)
Being an ecstatic
isn’t always easy.
like nothing I can think of.
About what we say
About what we do
It’s how we fill the boxes
That’s really the question.
If I wear long pajamas
will my sleep be long?
Will my sleep be long? (Will my sleep be long?)
If I wear long pajamas, will my sleep be long?
(First published, in Stained Sheets (Fall/Winter 2002) in a slightly different form.)
Mindy Levokove is a multi-media performance artist who discovered that writing poetry can magically transport you. In second grade, at PS 104, she wrote: “I like to swim/ with the lifeguard, Jim.” She has been writing poetry ever since. A few years ago, she wrote and produced an all-female a capella opera called Obama: At the Table. The next year, she co-wrote the story and music for Swans’ Song, an outdoor Musical Mask and Shadow Puppet Show about immigration. (They would love to perform this piece again, soon, but unfortunately, all the masks moved to New Mexico! And she likes to swim.) Currently she is working on Global Water Dances, going into its 3rd production year. They dance for water!
rear window 2
the girl across the sunlit alley
stands naked by her window
… the sparrows are elongated & aggressive
it is late afternoon
she is wrapped in a towel
the curtains stop fluttering
she rests the towel on the window ledge
the towel says LUCKY STRIKE.
—Steve Dalachinsky (Paris 8/01)
Poet/collagist Steve Dalachinsky was born in Brooklyn after the last big war and has managed to survive lots of little wars. His book The Final Nite (Ugly Duckling Presse) won the PEN Oakland National Book Award. His most recent books are Fools Gold (2014 feral press), a superintendent's eyes (revised and expanded 2013—unbearable/ autonomedia) and flying home, a collaboration with German visual artist Sig Bang Schcmidt (Paris Lit Up Press 2015). His latest cd is The Fallout of Dreams with Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach (Roguart 2014). He is a 2014 recipient of a Chevalier D’ le Ordre des Artes et Lettres.
In the Dissolving Moonlight
Naked between flannel sheets,
Camille watches bloated, trouble-maker moon.
It taunts, makes her restless,
hangs above pulsing bay.
She misses the curve of his body,
warm within her arms,
against thighs and breasts.
Her empty room mocks as she aches,
unwanted, untouched, unable to sleep.
He is disconnected, adrift in this silver night,
with somebody else.
Jennifer Lagier has published nine books of poetry and her work has appeared in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. She taught with California Poets in the Schools and is now a retired college librarian/instructor. Jennifer co-edits the Homestead Review and maintains websites for Ping Pong: A Literary Journal of the Henry Miller Library, The Monterey Poetry Review, and misfitmagazine.net. She also helps coordinate the Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium’s Second Sunday Reading Series. Visit her website at: jlagier.net
The Poem is a House
I move into the poem
as if possessing a house,
opening doors to each room
where both light
and shadow hold dominion
and lines are both sharp and soft
like end tables and easy chairs,
the deep pile carpet
a comfort to my feet,
the kitchen bright and yellow,
the tiled floor gleaming,
the screen door opened
wide to the backyard,
letting in sunlight, letting in air.
Walter Worden is a visual artist who has been writing poetry for decades. Born and raised in New York State's Hudson Valley, his recent return to the region has inspired a focus on nature as a means to comment on the human condition. His poems have appeared in various publications, such as Anthology, Chronogram,The Literary Review, and The Huffington Post. Worden is the former host of a reading and performance series, and has recently published his first chapbook, This Land and Every Stone.
She leaves extra space between knit loops
in his blanket, the friable colors of fall,
so when he cowers from the inevitable
clumps of dark dream that soak his hair
like damp feathers, his breath can cross
through the stitched opening, the fog of it
rising against night. Even with his face
covered, his cry will reach her—
like a wingspan of willowy bones
Megan Merchant’s poems have most recently appeared in publications including Red Paint Hill, Rat’s Ass Review, Mothers Always Write, and Crack the Spine. Her book, “The Dark’s Humming,” was the winner of the 2105 Lyrebird Prize (Glass Lyre Press, 2017). She is also the author of Translucent, sealed (Dancing Girl Press, 2015), In the Rooms of a Tiny House (ELJ Publications, October 2016), and Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, Spring 2016). She has a children’s book forthcoming through Philomel Books.
facsimiles of an isolated tree
arrive in an oscillating version
of an elder echo, awakened
though modular in sustained
quietude, a grayer green
stands amid the autumn
annual decision to obtain
circular syllables, drawing
prosaic movement toward
winter's system of the tree's
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 supports 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.
I wear the butterfly pendant you gave me, Mumma. I pull at it, hoping the wings will set me free. I want to get away from the thousand rotten faces. I want to know how to reach you. I don’t want to live in the absence of your voice. I wonder what you would say if I said these words. Suddenly, I hear your whisper in the summer breeze. Never lose courage, Beta. You’ve always been strong. I swallow my angst. Words, I tell you, they stay with you forever.
—Sweta Srivastava Vikram
Sweta Srivastava Vikram, featured by Asian Fusion as “One of the most influential Asians of our time,” is an award-winning writer, three times Pushcart Prize nominee, Amazon bestselling author of 10 books, novelist, poet, essayist, and columnist. Her latest book, “Wet Silence,” is a full-length collection of poems about Hindu widows. Sweta is also a certified yoga teacher who shares the love and power of yoga with trauma survivors. A graduate of Columbia University, when Sweta is not doing yoga, cooking, traveling, writing books, or posts for magazines, teaching creative writing, or giving talks on gender equality, she works as a digital and content marketing consultant. Sweta lives in New York City with her husband and can be found on Twitter [@swetavikram] and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Words.By.Sweta)
Bewail the Dead
Caskets appear, lined up and open on my bed.
One is filled with lies. One is full of silence.
My last husband is in a pine box,
and the diamond is with him. It rainbows the ceiling.
The platinum keys of education are entombed in marble.
They remind me that my words will die.
I bewail the dead and drag the coffins down the hall.
I take them out to the backyard and bury them again.
I grow more clover on their graves.
The next day the caskets are back where they were,
and I do it all over again.
—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.
Kiss of the Phoenix
I was born in the heart of a fire
to come forth with lips aflame
and kiss your apathetic smile
with a reminder of the Apocalypse
which we can dance in together
as it rises to a high peak
during our brief respite on Earth
before we both return to ash
—Scott Thomas Outlar
Scott Thomas Outlar survived both the fire and the flood—now he dances in celebration while waiting on the next round of chaos to commence. His words have appeared recently in venues such as Dissident Voice, Siren, Section 8, and Mad Swirl. His debut chapbook, "A Black Wave Cometh," is forthcoming from Dink Press. More of Scott's work can be found at 17numa.wordpress.com.
57th St luminous yet not clamorous in Christmas glow,
Madison Ave subtle yet not subdued with holiday allure.
All the streets are under the veil of what cannot be veiled,
which has instinctive lucidity, even under a reticent night sky,
and transmutes my consciousness, even if not discernible,
into something warm yet unfamiliar, hardly detectable,
already gathering buoyancy, and initiates a signal that sways
synchronously with the way my sentiment sways …
What I remember is the caress of your hands left on my face
and beyond my face.
Olivia Wu’s poems have appeared in Aberration Labyrinth and Shanghai Times. She is a member of brevitas, an invited community of poets. She is an active participant in Poetry Society of America’s weekly workshop on poetry writing. Olivia resides in New York City.
The wompus cat carved a pumpkin on Easter and declared himself the devil. That much
we could tell from the length of his claws. But we had to call in a translator to tell us
what we couldn’t comprehend. The translator said the wompus cat wanted to tell us that
he’d be an evil rabbit for us to skin for dinner if only we could catch him with his pants
down. We still didn’t understand. The translator said it meant we’d lost our faith. The
game of chase that followed lasted for years. We thought we had the wompus cat trapped
once, stuck under the Christmas tree with nowhere to go, but it was only the housecat
scratching the family gift we give ourselves every year—a new board game. So we all
went to bed hungry again.
Christopher Shipman is the author of eight 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.
MAY EVERYONE HAVE A SAFE, JOYFUL, AND POETIC HOLIDAY SEASON. WE'LL BE BACK IN JANUARY 2016.