FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
of early fall
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
—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.
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.
Thinks semicolons will simplify the rooms the bears must enter, the rooms they leave behind.
Bob Heman remembers the distance but he now seldom leaves the page. He has edited CLWN WR (formerly Clown War) for over 40 years.
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 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.
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 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’s poetry, essays, and book reviews have appeared in Blackbox Manifold, House Organ, and Jacket2 (formerly Jacket).
due piedi nudi
cercando il tramonto
dimenticando del tempo
ne ieri ne domani
two naked feet
searching for the sunset
neither yesterday nor tomorrow.
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.
climbing curly watery heights
a pine balustrade up against, to the sky any time
down the hall love is doing
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.
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’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
dodge lodge porridge tourist craft trade
tramping to Zanzibar rum along the way
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 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
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
by the cat
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
north or south, east or west
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 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
has a bicycle
stays up late
it is hot it is august
the room is empty
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
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 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.
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.
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).
The cold enters the blue
day without snow.
I want the bush, berries,
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 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.
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 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 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.