FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST

Submissions Meet the Editor-in-Chief March 2016 Meet the Associate Editor July 2016 November 2015 January 2012 Book Review - Lyn Lifshin's "Ballroom" September 2016 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 November 2014 Book Review: Wright Reviews Gardner Stern Reviews Katrinka Moore May 2015 Hochman Reviews Ross July 2015 Tocco Reviews Simone September 2015 Simone Reviews Cefola May 2016 Bledsoe Reviews Wallace November 2016 January 2017



 

 SEPTEMBER 2015

 

 

Maples

Nothing tops
red burlesque
of early fall

                            —Mary Orovan

 

Mary Orovan is the author of Green Rain (Poets Wear Prada, 2008). She's been in numerous publications, including 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 ...

 


 

Poem to answer a child who

wants a Corvette for his birthday

as his first car

 

No!

                                      —Zvi A. Sesling

 

Zvi A. Sesling, a prize-winning poet, has published in numerous magazines. He edits Muddy River Poetry Review and publishes Muddy River Books. He authored King of the Jungle (Ibbetson Street Press, 2010) and a chapbook, Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva, 2011). His volume Fire Tongue is due from Cervena Barva Press.

 


 

Sussereal

inside

mind less

whispers

harps

slice

strings

sear

Heartbeats

seconds

spare

tongues

long wounds

flat beds

                                —Vashti Puls

 

Mary C. Puls has written since the age of two. She was first published in Cricket Magazine at age 12. She has had the pen name Vashti since age 18. She has been published in a wide variety of media, including Baywindows, Santa Fe Sun, and The Milwaukee Journal. She holds a BA degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

 


 

  

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Thinks semicolons will simplify the rooms the bears must enter, the rooms they leave behind.   

                                                                             —Bob Heman

                                                            

 

Bob Heman remembers the distance but he now seldom leaves the page. He has edited CLWN WR (formerly Clown War) for over 40 years. 

 


 

Serious Confession

 

I launch my skiff of madness onto reflections

of neon philosophies, cotton candy morality,

popcorn logic, these impeccable obstacles to truth.

 

Yet, I row like George across the Delaware.

 

Well, mostly, I row like a recruit from New Jersey,

but I have a serious confession, and my confession

is that I sometimes adore the double negative.

                                                                                 —Alan Britt 

 

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.

 

 


 

Mobservation #1

 

The conditions of the time

made it far more likely than not

that the rich would make their money

the old-fashioned way:

by inheriting it

                                         —Michael Ceraolo

 

Michael Ceraolo is a retired firefighter/paramedic who is the author of Euclid Creek (Deep Cleveland Press) and the forthcoming Euclid Creek Book Two (unbound content press) as well as numerous chapbooks.

 


 

 

A Sonnet for Investors

 

Dare I invest in bonds, invest in stocks?

Acquire CDs, silver, bars of gold?

Buy collectible art or precious rocks?

Go for pecuniary gains untold?

 

Alas, speculation is risky biz,

One that can set a fortune back to naught.

Do not believe markets can upward fizz

Without sometimes losing that which you bought.

 

So what to do to put money to work.

To gain more than interest paid by the bank.

To keep up with rising costs and not shirk 

Unkind and uncertain financial spanks.  

 

Under the bed perhaps safety may lie

But to beat inflation, diversify.

                                                              —Martin H. Levinson

 

Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild and National Book Critics Circle, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published 8 books and numerous articles. His poems have appeared in The Potomac    Review, BRICKRhetoric, Occupoetry, Specter Magazine, WestWard Quarterly, Poets and War, The Prompt Literary Magazine, Boston Poetry Magazine, The Broken Plate, Literary Mama, Third Wednesday, Freshet, Musings, Message in a Bottle, Still Crazy, Mindset Poetry, and other publications. He holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills, New York.

 

 


 

 

Une poesie therapeutique petite

 

The moral of Potiphar's wife

is poor sequence in a life:

Fire out the fine seeds in a forest,

and visit the pine cones,

and then learn how to breathe.

                                                                —Robert Mueller

 

Robert Mueller’s poetry, essays, and book reviews have appeared in Blackbox Manifold, House Organ, and Jacket2 (formerly Jacket).

 


 

Due Piedi

 

due piedi nudi

cercando il tramonto

dimenticando del tempo

ne ieri ne domani

 

Two Feet

 

two naked feet

searching for the sunset

forgetting time

neither yesterday nor tomorrow.

                                                                —Maria Lisella

 

Maria Lisella is an editor and writer specializing in tourism. NYQ Books published her collection, Thieves in the Family, in 2014. Her Pushcart Poetry Prize-nominated work appears in her chapbooks Amore on Hope Street and Two Naked Feet. A charter member of the online poetry circle brevitas, she co-curates the Italian American Writers Association. She was recently named Poet Laureate of Queens.

 


 

Open heart

 

climbing curly    watery heights

a pine balustrade up against,  to the sky any time

 

down the hall love is doing

                                                            —Leslie Prosterman

 

Leslie Prosterman, author of the book Snapshots and Dances (Garden District Press) and other poems in various journals and collections, recently collaborated with composer Charley Gerard to set her poem FluteBone Song to music, now out on CD (Songs of Love and Passion). She is a featured reader/performer in book festivals, libraries, bars, art galleries and vaudeville revues. A former academic, she is also a sometime student of trapeze.

 


 

 

Sky Burial 

 

She is standing against the tree. 

Her robe of moss, pricked with 

thickets and leaves, is caught along 

the hem, specked seeds and soft 

petals in her hair. She is whispering 

to the ravens and her hands are 

full of splintered wood.  She is 

whispering about early mornings 

and how he smelled warm, like 

yeast and dreams.  

                                                                      —Megan Merchant

 

Megan Merchant’s chapbook, Translucent, Sealed, has just been released from Dancing Girl Press. Her first full-length collection, Gravel Ghosts, is forthcoming though Glass Lyre Press. Her first children’s book, These Words I’ve Shaped For You, is forthcoming through Philomel Books. Her future is bright. She wears shades. 

 


 

A Fire in the Heart

 

I shook the ashes from my hair as you covered me

with sack cloth.

 

You would not let me speak nor did you believe

what I had written.

 

I could not hear my foes or see my friends

among the clamoring crowd. 

 

You took the letters of my name and tore them apart

ripping the love from my heart.

 

Together we approached the pit and only then I realized

 you had never known me.

                                                                                                  —John Lawrence Darretta

 

A former metropolitan New York college professor, John Darretta 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.

 


 

 

aperture as a species of flame

 

scintilla scurry roil flame toroidal coils

obsolescent cathedral-fields shimmer post-apocalyptic meltdown

— blurred calendrics

— savage commination

— rotted overtures

 

where in the

hemoglobin

is

valvular

 

            dodge   lodge   porridge   tourist   craft   trade

affinities

wasteland

licorice

 

tramping to Zanzibar rum along the way

                                                                                 —Heller Levinson

 

Heller Levinson lives in New York, where he studies animal behavior. His publication Smelling Mary (Howling Dog Press, 2008) was nominated for both the Pulitzer Prize and the Griffin Prize. Black Widow Press published his from stone this running in 2012. Hinge Trio was published by La Alameda Press in 2012. Wrack Lariat  is newly released from Black Widow Press. He is the originator of Hinge Theory.  

 


 

Slippery When Wet

 

Bridges freeze before roadways

Don’t stand too close to the platform’s edge

Jam on the brakes, slide into a skid

 

But you were slick and charming

And you slipped into my bed

 

When you slid out the door before morning

I slept with no regret

 

Rain fell on the inside

     and I’m slippery when wet

                                                                 —Steve Zeitlin

 

Steve Zeitlin is a folklorist, filmmaker, writer, and cultural activist. He is the founding director of City Lore, an organization dedicated to fostering New York City—and America’s—living cultural heritage. He is a commentator for public radio, and is the author of a number of books on America’s folk culture, including Because God Loves Stories: an Anthology of Jewish Storytelling, City Play, and three books for young readers. He has documented, recorded and fallen in love with carnival pitches, children’s rhymes, family stories, subway stories, ancient cosmologies, and oral poetry traditions from around the world.

 


 

And then, another

 

Suppose a thin-skinned Arabian

trapped among quarter horses

wild-eyed nostrils flaring,

sniffing for river wind

bruised by skirmishes  

wary of collision, collusion

shies away…

 

And then,

another

Arabian …

                                              —Mary Newell

 

Mary Newell, Ph. D. lives in the lower Hudson Valley. She has taught literature and writing at the college level, most recently at West Point. Her publications include essays and reviews, and a few poems published in Jivin’ Ladybug and Howling Dog Press and forthcoming in About Place. Her poem “The Traffic in Old Ladies” will appear as an honorable mention in the Best of 2014 Anthology of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

 


 

Love In the Time of War

 

My only love,

let’s beg for moonlight

and a quiet place.

We’ll lie on wretchedness

and make it holy.

And if we hear a scream

from out the window,

we’ll say it was

a bird; and if

we hear another, more piercing,

scream, we’ll say

it was a bird being slowly

slowly bloodied

by the cat

                                                      —Jay Chollick

 

Jay Chollick is the word’s most harmless terrorist; shadowy at the open mic; insufferable in print; bookish in slim volumes: Colors, American Vesuvius; and FiveO The Stately Poems; prizes & awards but not the bluest ribbons; big mouth on the radio; a TV pipsqueak, for which only his one hand claps.

 


 

You Can Start!

 

You can start from creatures:

Alligators, jackdaws, pumas or crows

 

You can start from vegetal forms:

hyssop, willow, oak or primrose

 

From directions:

north or south, east or west

above, below

 

From night, from day

any month or moment

(ringing like shimmering bells!)

 

Continents, countries, counties, towns - 

or wide as clouds

 

Planets, stars—even galaxies around!

From a universe—You can start!

                                                                              —Mindy Levokove

 

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 about how she'd “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'd 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.  She dances for water!

 


 

 

rear window 1



she is in her underwear
she is fixing the curtain
she just took a shower
she is vacuuming the house
she is talking on the phone
finally that stool is occupied
she smokes with her left hand
while doing the dishes with her right
she has a tattoo above the left cheek of her arse
she has blonde hair
dresses well
has a bicycle
stays up late
it is hot it is august
the room is empty
                                                                —Steve Dalachinsky

Steve Dalachinsky was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946. He has been writing poetry for many years and has worked with such musicians as William Parker, Susie Ibarra, Matthew Shipp, Roy Campbell, Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen, Mat Maneri, Federico Ughi, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Rob Brown, Tim Barnes and Jim O'Rourke. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife, painter and poet Yuko Otomo. You can read his full bio at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Dalachinsky

 


 

Reminder

 

When you have no buttons or zippers,

your garters are snapped, your mind zapped

and all they have on tap is paint remover,

when your cat no longer respects you

and even the Salvation Army doesn't want you,

remember you're an artist, you can do anything!

When you throw a birthday party for yourself and no one comes,

when you are asked to explain what the poem you just read meant

or someone suggests you delete the whole last section, 

when you lose your job because you have no teeth,

when your Siamese twin won't let you sleep,

when they've clipped the wings off your feet,

remember, remember, remember

you're an artist, you can do anything!

                                                                   —Tsaurah Litzky

 

Tsaurah Litzky is a writer of fiction, erotica, creative nonfiction, memoir, and commentary. However, poetry is her heart. She has published two major poetry collections, Baby On The Water (Long Shot Press) and Cleaning The Duck (Bowery Books) and fifteen poetry chapbooks. Her most recent, Jerry in the Bardo, (NightBallet Press - 2014), is in its third printing.  

 


 

 

Sacred

 

I see Papa sitting in a car with red lights;

four others follow behind him.

There are cops in uniform,

an entourage saying Namaste to us,

more vehicles than people or luggage,

just the way you would have liked.

Surprise us.

Show up,

give a wave of approval, Mummy.

Take a seat next to the urn

the pot in which we hold you and your wishes sacred.

                                                                                              —Sweta Srivastava Vikram

 

Sweta Srivastava Vikram (www.swetavikram.com), featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” is an award-winning writer and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Amazon bestselling author of 9 books, novelist, poet, essayist, columnist who currently lives in New York City with her husband. A graduate of Columbia University, when Sweta is not doing yoga, dancing, cooking, traveling, writing books and posts for other magazines, teaching creative writing, or giving talks on gender equality, she is working as a digital marketing consultant. Her latest book is Wet Silence: Poems About Hindu Widows (Modern History Perss, 2015). Connect with her on Twitter [@swetavikram] and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Words.By.Sweta).

 


 

At 42

 

The cold enters the blue

day without snow.

I want the bush, berries,

dirt underneath

rich with worms.

Tell me something

about the topography of the soul.

I want chocolate

wrapped in silver,

love that sucks on you

like ten puppies until

all that’s left is the dried teats

of having known it,

the milk and bread of us

where did that go?

 

 

Father Turns 80

 

My father said he once saw Eleanor Roosevelt

wearing a big hat

hurrying along 42nd Street.

 

He also saw Winston Churchill getting out of a cab.

He said his eyes were so blue,

blue like he never had seen.

 

He also talked about his Paris days,

when he was a student at the Sorbonne after the war,

and how they loved Americans, especially him.

 

Father said these things one Sunday afternoon.

I looked at him and wondered

what will my children believe were my moments

 

stretching out behind them?

What will they hold up and say,

“That was my mother’s time?”

                                                                             —Sarah Stern

 

Sarah Stern is the author of But Today Is Different (Wipf and Stock, 2014) and Another Word for Love (Finishing Line Press, 2011). She is a four-time winner of the Bronx Council on the Arts' Poetry Award. She lives in New York City and is a senior associate at the EastWest Institute. Visit her at sarahstern.me.

 


 

Remembering

 

For us it was not to be.

And the fields went

to flower anyway.

And the willows shaded rivers.

And the wildlife of the winter woods

came out into sun.

And as always the elderly hills

in their gray scarves rose

with courage to kiss

the curved cheek of August sky.

And I have not forgotten you.

                                                                 —Walter Worden

 

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.

 


 

Calling down an avalanche.

 

Clenched in your fist: the avalanche you’ll whisper down when I am no longer useful to you. I am biding my time, biding my time, trying to bring down my own rockslide. In the snow, we follow the unmistakable tracks of your next meal. Your voice, curved as a kama, informs me that you are my home now—tenderness and brutality balanced against the self-sharpening edge of the blade. When you release my hand, I pick out sharded bits of glass. I exist in a perpetual state of asphyxiation. I lower my eyes to pass through your doorway. Night inhales the ashes of daytime and licks the shadows you leave behind you in place of footprints. An invisible metronome is tick tick ticking away the seconds I have left until you decide time of death, calling down an avalanche.

 

Death sings across a selenocentric wire, no time left to start a stopgap fire, every night you festoon me with silk ready to be set aflame…and one night soon you will douse me in gasoline                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                     —Michelle Greenblatt

 

Michelle Greenblatt is the poetry and music editor for Unlikely Stories. A two-time Pushcart-Prize nominee, Greenblatt’s third book, Ghazals, was co-authored with Sheila Murphy. The poems in this issue are from her fourth full-length book, ASHES AND SEEDS, a collection of prose poetry, free verse poems, and post-modern haibuns that combine Greenblatt’s love of surrealist imagery with story-telling through themed avant-garde explorations.