FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
With a very happy, healthy, and creative new year to all of our fine contributors, past and present, far and near, and all of our faithful readers, we are now entering our ninth year of publication. We bless you all!
—Cindy and Karen
Trees have birthdays.
Look, morning is a lit candle.
Kit Kennedy has 7 collections of poetry, including while eating oysters published by CLWN WR BKS, Brooklyn, NY. She serves as Poet in Residence at SF Bay Times and Poet in Residence at herchurch. Kit lives in Northern California. 2019 begins her 10th year of blogging; please visit: poetry bites
city in winter
the dreamy loneliness
of me and raven
frost outside window
the crow sitting on a cable
electric and black
Pawel Markiewicz was born 1983 in Siemiatycze, Poland. He’s formally educated in both law and German studies. Twice, he was the scholarship-holder of the Forum Alpbach: the village of thinkers in Tirol. He writes in Polish, German and Polish; he’s had successes in Germany in many anthologies of poetry. Recently, he has written a collection of 100 haiku in English.
glistening dew frozen
on plump oranges hanging
off a low branch, one orange
falls on my blanket,
which lovingly covers trees
like Grandma tucking me in
—Colleen M. Farrelly
Colleen M. Farrelly is a freelance writer from Miami, FL, whose works have recently appeared in The Recusant, Spank the Carp, KDnuggets, and GonzoToday, among others. She has two novellas and two chapbooks available on Kindle (US and UK).
Pursed in porcelain,
wrapped in night
blue lace, an oval
onyx is a present,
exposed like the
moon in my palm.
(previously published in A Handful of Stones, August 26, 2012)
Bobbi Sinha-Morey's poetry has appeared in a variety of places, including 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.
Leslie Prosterman is the author of Snapshots and Dances (Garden District Press, 2011) and poems in journals and collections, most recently in New Verse News, Fourth River’’s “Displacement” issue, as well as in From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of the American Dream; and FluteBone Song, set to Charley Gerard’s music, now out on CD (Songs of Love and Passion). A former tenured academic, now community teacher of poetry, cultural activist, and dancer, she is also a sometime student of trapeze.
The hand I dreamt of was light brown
it held nothing
it was relaxed and warm
it soothed me to look at it
a small stone
a swan’s neck
(“The Hand” is from the poet’s chapbook False Spring, upcoming from Adelaide Press.)
Gloria Monaghan is a Professor of Humanities at Wentworth Institute in Boston. She has published two books of poetry, Flawed (Finishing Line Press, 2011, nominated for the Massachusetts Book Award) and The Garden (Flutter Press 2015). Her poem “Into Grace" won the 2018 Adelaide Voices Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in Adelaide, the Aurorean, Aries, Blue Max Review, Fox Chase, 2River, and Underground Writer’s Association, among others.
That Lonely Night In Tucson
A dog barked
from so far away
it was like
there wasn't a dog at all
and I hadn't heard
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in The Homestead Review, Poetry East, and Columbia Review, with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, the Hawaii Review, and North Dakota Quarterly.
friable susurrations from what the heart calls the past
more and more i long for women like della street
(the mirror blooms as a flower)
lipped nipple from a promiscuous psithurism
saudade emptying nocturnes bouteilles
Vincent Zepp says: "Arriving at the time in history (including literary history) when I did, I was blessed to have such a rich tradition of poetry, art, music, and culture available to me. This continues to allow my poetry to flourish in a rich loam of influences. The work, I believe, is representative of the best thoughts and intuitions of my generation of writers whose challenge is to move forward with the gifts given to us from previous generation of artists: from Ferlinghetti, who opened my eyes, to Pound and Eliot, through the various significant literary and art movements of the 20th century. Then there was the haiku master Basho, who showed us frogs leaping into the pond of our mind. John Berryman said our poetry should be something no one else could do. I've tried to focus on that idea."
I’m not sure how to use this for what you want.
But I can give you what you need
Flash of a false life
Smile to society
See how happy I am
See how happy
Clare Thompson is a multifaceted artist, based in Phoenix, AZ. She is thrilled for her very first publication to be included in First Literary Review-East. She sends her peace and thanks to her dad who continues to support her through her artistic journey.
[Editors' Note: We are very excited to be the journal that introduces Clare's talents to the world!]
I Love You, Door on the Lawn
sitting there without
backstory, with no
house clearly attached
to you. Instead
you lie on an anonymous
front yard I walk past
with no violence
marked on your front, simply
waiting for someone who
might give you a
Zeke Jarvis is a Professor of English at Eureka College. His work has appeared in Bitter Oleander, Moon City Review, and Posit, among other places. His books include So Anyway..., In A Family Way, and Lifelong Learning.
Saint Trash Collector
Blessings on you, massive green truck,
Hydraulics lifting the putrid vessels,
The sorted papers or cans.
Rumbling the streets to tidy
The world of vegetable peels, scraped bones,
Litter and clutter, coffee grounds
And plastic bottles. Saint of Mechanical
Hands gripping, hoisting and dumping.
Once-a-week governor of boulevards
Taking away what we waste.
Joan Colby’s Selected Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage was awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her recent books include Carnival from FutureCycle Press and The Seven Heavenly Virtues from Kelsay Books. Her latest book, Her Heartstrings, was published by Presa Press in 2018.
Hunters in the Snow (1565)
We have all come back from the hunt
the watermill frozen over
bony starving dogs pulling up the rear
and what is that in the foreground
cheeky Bruegel? The tracks of a hare
that has escaped the unsuccessful hunt
so much closer to home.
And those hills. There are no hills in Holland,
what were you thinking?
Perhaps this is not your people at all.
What a slippery little trick
—Ryan Quinn Flanagan
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Literary Yard, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.
Transit of Life
… if you don’t
know where you’ve been, you can
never know where you’re going
—from “Black Hole," by Charlie Brice
Forget the past
no idea of the future
Life is a circle going around
not knowing where it stops
It starts in Brooklyn or Stockton
does it end in Youngstown or Detroit
It is in between where the story is
where the poem rises where it counts
The place where no bombs drop, no guns fire
no thieves’ hands in someone’s pocket
—Zvi A. Sesling
Zvi A. Sesling is the Poet Laureate of Brookline, MA. He edits Muddy River Poetry Review, publishes Muddy River Books, and reviews for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene. He is author of The Lynching of Leo Frank (Big Table Publishing Co., 2017), Fire Tongue (Cervena Barva Press, 2017), and (Ibbetson Street Press, 2010), and two chapbooks, Love Poems From Hell (Flutter Press, 2017) and Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva Press, 2011).
Dejected City Dialogue
Your dirty weather’s on my bridge,
a wet mustache on the east end sky.
Your dirty guitar’s on my radio waves,
the only bridge I'd jump off these days.
Her fire escape … Touching my floor …
I'll watch a little, wait a little, burn a little more.
Girl! His dirty hair’s so knotted
it, like, gets stuck in the studs of his jacket
and he smells, smells nasty like smog,
like boiled dog.
What? Like hot dog?
Where my mask meets my face is the apple core,
when my mind and heart shared a sliding door.
You don’t have to do this.
Shantal Saborio was born in Los Angeles and has lived throughout California. She publishes poetry and micro-fiction in various styles. She has two turtles and loves yellow flowers.
My dentist was a rightist
“Depends on what thou bitest—
Dental purviews whitest
Matter not the slightest.”
Then he flipped to commie.
Like a left-wing swami.
“Teeth are origami.”
Goddamned, gosh-darned balmy.
Years passed. Then he mellowed
While my smile has yellowed.
Now that he’s a bent wrist
My dentist is a centrist.
Fred Yannantuono: Fired from Hallmark for writing meaningful greeting-card verse, has currently published 415 poems in 85 journals in 36 states. Was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2006, 2013, and 2015. Widely considered one of the greatest poets to ever come out of northern Bronxville (population 32), his book, A Boilermaker for the Laddy, has been banned in France, Latvia, and the Orkney Isles. To Idi Amin I'm a Idiot—And Other Palindromes was recently published. His latest book is I Hate to Second-Guess Myself, Or Do I? Paul Newman once claimed to have known him for a long time.
The family flees my bedside
when vertigo turns to vomiting
But the new stray cat stays
Stares in hair-ball camaraderie
Watches with what seems
to be unconditional incoherence
As I continually decline
comfort foods and favorite snacks
Before she executes comprehension
with dead center precision
When I return from the doctor’s
to find a bloodied mouse placed on my pillow
(First published in Chiron Review)
Ellaraine Lockie is widely published and awarded as a poet, nonfiction book author, and essayist. Tripping with the Top Down is her thirteenth chapbook. Earlier collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England, and the Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. She teaches writing workshops, frequently judges poetry contests, and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine Lilipoh.
In a Forest
Amid a hullabaloo of leaves
swirling in a wind gust,
an ant somehow manages to continue
crawling, horizontally crawling
along the rough bark of a fallen aspen.
At the south end of the tree trunk
the busy insect makes its way down
till it reaches soil,
the way we all escape chaos
to revel in the peace of dark earth.
Austin Alexis has work appearing in Dash Literary Journal, the anthology Suitcase of Chrysanthemums (great weather for Media Press), the anthology From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of the American Dream (Autonomedia Press), and elsewhere. His full-length book is Privacy Issues (20th annual Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, 2014). He received a Dragon's Egg Artists Colony Residency for August 2018.
Praise the Creators of Dreams
Open the book—take a trip
to lands that exist only in imagination
Splintered light from a thousand suns
shines down upon your fragile form
Sit down with a hot cup of green tea
and prepare to visit other worlds
As you continue on your way
you will become royalty for a few hours
Praise the literary dreamers!
Praise them with great praise!
For the lands they have shown us
will open our souls to wonder and joy!
Matthew Anish is a widely published poet/writer. He has had work published in Aim, Beyond Bree, the Amulet, Voices Israel anthology, The New York Times, and on poetrysoup.com. A graduate of Brooklyn College, he has also studied poetry and ESL at the New School University. He has sold many articles about deltiology. He lives on the fabled Lower East Side of NYC. He welcomes any comments on his writing at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has had a paying "gig" for many years at BMCC.
May the winds
protect you from
the noise of calendars
May you breathe
the moon’s pewter
waves of clouds
May you scrawl
on pages of remembrance
as remembrance tapers
& may you in your coracle
Dean Kostos’s memoir—The Boy Who Listened to Paintings—is forthcoming. His eighth collection—Pierced by Night-Colored Threads—was released in September of 2017. His previous collection—This Is Not a Skyscraper—won the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award, selected by Mark Doty. He is the author of the previous collections Rivering, Last Supper of the Senses, The Sentence That Ends with a Comma (which was required reading at Duke University), and Celestial Rust. His poems, personal essays, and reviews have appeared in The Bangalore Review (India), Barrow Street, Boulevard, Chelsea, Cimarron Review, Mediterranean Poetry (Sweden), New Madrid, Southwest Review, Stand Magazine (UK), Western Humanities Review, on Oprah Winfrey’s website Oxygen.com, the Harvard UP website, and elsewhere. He has taught poetry writing at the Gallatin School of New York University, The Columbia Scholastic Press Association, The City University of New York, and Wesleyan. Also, a recipient of a Yaddo fellowship, he has served as literary judge for Columbia University’s Gold Crown Awards.
A Man Praises the Sea
Along the prom in a small university
town, a man praises the sea. The
vestiges of waves drift and sink upon
the brown-ish sand. Beyond them,
horizons on, the noise of bird and storm,
but within that noise, silence. Through
ocean and the Irish Sea, those marathons
of silence. Ashore, the beach, the prom,
and children paddle, students posture,
holiday people drink and talk. Here
are the gulls’ yell and the rattling
tills of happiness, the man praising.
(This poem first appeared in Orbis (UK), No. 153)
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who writes each Sunday morning in a large-windowed room looking away towards the coast and the Irish Sea. His work appears fairly regularly in San Pedro River Review, Red River Review, and in Panoplyzine, which made him one of their Featured Poets in their Fall 2017 issue.
Saturday’s snowy swirls were of little consequence.
Streets refused to get wet, last week’s rock salt
now pulverized into fine powder, covering each trotted inch
the tourists had creeped upon the city in the New Year—
The last confetti and balloon pieces were swept away overnight,
the salty streets remained cold, with invisible ice
only the natives could take heed of.
The air smells like salt.
It chills the lungs instantly as we tread on,
never pausing, never daring to remain glued in one spot
lest we become pillars;
we should never look back, keep on soldiering ahead.
—Carrie Magness Radna
Carrie Magness Radna is an archival audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, a singer, a lyricist-songwriter, one-time food blogger (The Hungry Librarian, at http://hungrylibrarian.me), and a poet who loves to travel. Her poems have previously appeared in the Oracular Tree and Tuck Magazine, and will be published in Nomad’s Choir and Muddy River Poetry Review. She won third prize for “The tunnel” (category: Words on the Wall: All-Genre Prompt) at the 69th annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (2017), where she attended workshops taught by the renowned poets Yolanda Wisher and Chrys Tobey, and has hung out with the irresistible and irreverent Mad Poets of Philadelphia, headed by Eileen D’Angelo. Born in Norman, Oklahoma, she is a member of the Greater New York Music Library Association (GNYMLA) and is a member/has read/workshopped for the New York Poetry Forum, Parkside Poets, Riverside Poets, Brownstone Poets, and Nomad’s Choir. When she’s not performing classical choral works with Riverside Choral Society or New Year’s Eve performances with the New York Festival Singers, or writing art song lyrics with her choir buddies, or penning her own folk songs for her chorus’ cabarets, or traveling, she lives with her husband Rudolf in Manhattan.
Ultimatum for an Old Love
Listen. The mercury is resolved. Beneath
my hand, the Earth passes a quick shadow,
recollects breath’s distinction. A new feather
finds a warm wing to grow from.
The cup and the juice, Earth and the seed,
are one. The secret is the grip. By the finger
nails if need be, mostly by a corner of the mind,
edges where roots strike, curl like a rattler.
Sometimes the heart is enough.
Later, past the next tense of mind, we will think
of now: grass clearing its throat, ground cover
ballistic-ripe, your hands at introduction.
You will be a poem, a voice on a page, a leaf
rising from the ashes of a winter tree.
If never comes, we shall never forget: grass ripe,
you rich, me urgent.
Tom Sheehan is in his 91st year, has published 36 books, has 16 Pushcart nominations, served in Korea in 31st Infantry, ’51-’52, and graduated Boston College in 1956, and his mycardiologist has made his next appointment for mid-year 2019.
[Editors' note: We thank you for your service, Tom, and God bless you!]
not the most promising verb
for a nonagenarian,
who’s happy just to wake up
to begin another day,
to learn the day’s news,
to marvel at the president’s new tweets,
to take the prescribed meds,
to check the new emails
for a prompt like “begin,”
and then to try to begin
to cast some light on it ...
aware that any beginning
might need more time than she
has left to truly make a poem.
George Held writes poems, stories, translations, and book reviews for such periodicals as American Book Review, Home Planet News, Two Cities Review, and Transference. A winner of three Performance Poets Association haiku contests, he has also received ten Pushcart Prize nominations. His new children’s book is Under the Escalator (2018), and his 21st book will be Second Sight (2019).
I was raised a good Protestant girl
but I used to pray to Saints in cobalt robes
Guadalupe, Guadalupe help me. Make me a mother
Guadalupe Guadalupe give me a child.
Saints with golden halos.
Saint Barbara, patron saint of gunmen
Steady their fingers, keep them from killing more of my people.
And I’m not the only sinner with Saint on the brain,
Leonard Cohen wrote poems in fever dreams of Katerine Tekakwitha
And last year when he died I thought, he’s in her arms now.
Nasreen teaches college English for a living, and writes poetry to stay sane. She grew up in West Africa and Indonesia and has recently moved to the wide and gritty American Midwest by way of New York City. On a Friday night she can be found cooking various organ meats or chasing down a stellar mint julep.
If I ever took a step onto one of the hawk's fluttering wings
and stayed there unperturbed, until the height dazzled open
with successive popping sounds the windows that contained
within the crawls and flights of human chatter, no matter
if what awaited me was a kiss, the entrance to an inner chamber
that belonged to a flower inside a Georgia O'Keeffe painting,
or a confession stall, where a bowlful of blackberries greeted each
and every smiling passerby, fresh and in contrast to the broken
electric clock on the wall that sizzled every time it attempts
to squeeze a verb into the spoonful of icy-white rocks fed
to the infuser, I should don a hemp sack, for I had become
a recyclable, having emptied the syrup and the pickle to be rained
down like the dissemination of chorus lines among newcomers,
and lie upon the trimmed bushes, alert and agile for next
escapes to take place, and take root, by an abandoned rail.
Yi Wu lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in The New Verse News and indefinite space, among others.
MAY WE HAVE A YEAR FULL OF POETRY! KEEP SENDING US YOUR BEAUTIFUL WORK.