FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
They say that April showers bring May flowers. Here at First Literary Review-East, we say that May flowers bring allergies (I hope yours aren't as bad as ours!). The antidote? POETRY (hypoallergenic, that is). We think you'll find that the poems in this issue are nothing to sneeze at. ENJOY!
—Cindy Hochman and Karen Neuberg, Editors
Galoshes in the garden.
A hummingbird inside his heart.
Bob Heman's small poems have appeared regularly in the annual Brevitas event book. Last year one of his pieces was published as a micro-book/earring by Purgatory Pie Press.
spring breeze …
unfurls its story
David He has been working as an advanced English teacher for 35 years in a high school. So far, he has had twenty short English stories published in anthologies. In recent years he has had haiku published in magazines like Acorn, The Heron’s Nest, Presence, Rocket bottles, Frogpond, A One Hundred Gouges, Shamrockm and Frozen Butterfly.
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.
(from I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast)
Robe to the floor,
moon inventing skin, slant
of silver, shaped like you.
Lavender & rose—
Oh, how we paint these dreams
blooming into light.
With feathers, the thing
with feathers, emerging lopsided
from the clouds.
The Soul is Swaddled in Body
If I could do it all over again,
I wouldn’t write a damn word. I’d
just make love to you in the meadow
with the cows watching, and the cats
chasing mice through the straw.
Melissa Studdard is host of VIDA Voices & Views, an editor for American Microreviews and Interviews, and a judge for the monthly Goodreads ¡Poetry! Group contest. She is also the author of the novel Six Weeks to Yehidah; a poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast; and a collection of interviews, The Tiferet Talk Interviews. Her awards include the Forward National Literature Award and the International Book Award, among others. Her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Poets & Writers, Tupelo Quarterly, Psychology Today, Pleiades, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day. Of her debut poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, Robert Pinsky writes, “This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God …" and Cate Marvin says her work “would have no doubt pleased Neruda’s taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry.” Learn more at www.melissastuddard.com.
First thing. No,
a coffee. No, third—
there's a cigarette
in there, some-
where—I put the
contact sheets of
the day ahead
under a viewing
glass & pick out
what I'd ideally
like to happen.
Mark Young is the editor of Otoliths (http://the-otolith.blogspot.com/), lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry for more than fifty-five years. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. A new collection of poems, Bandicoot habitat, is now out from gradient books of Finland.
Stella, gal, lets!
Let’s Jog Around the Zoo Palindrome
A zoo lap all? O lollapalooza!
Fired from Hallmark for writing meaningful greeting-card verse, has currently published 377 poems in 85 journals in 30 states. Work was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2006, 2013, and 2015. His book, A BOILERMAKER FOR THE LADY, has been banned in France , Latvia, and the Orkney Isles. Was recently Featured Poet in Light Quarterly. TO IDI AMIN I’M A IDIOT—AND OTHER PALINDROMES is due out in 2016, followed by a second book of poems, I HATE TO SECOND-GUESS MYSELF, OR DO I?
This is being on a verge
not void, a verge
void is not verge
but sitting on a hedge
or on the languishing hill
I tether, get gooseberries.
—Ananya S. Guha
Ananya S. Guha lives in Shillong in North East India. He has been writing and publishing his poetry for the last thirty years. He is a senior academic in India's Indira Gandhi National Open University.
I know where I am when I come out of the forest, creek bed right-angling toward open ground. Dry summer, deer forage low-lying leaves then shift to graze bits of clover, green in the field. Worn cedar post, rusted barbed wire, turkey vultures on the roof of slow-foundering barn. If I cross to the road, I may hitch a ride back to where I started. One left behind, wild-eyed.
fawn runs up
the rocky stream
Katrinka Moore is the author of Numa, Thief, and This is Not a Story. She is at work on a collection of lyric and visual poems for Pelekinesis Press.
The open concept is stainless
So it has granite
Attitudes and barrel
Feel instead for the little circles
You like to fondle
When you feed.
Beth Seetch was runner-up in the Boston Review/92Y Discovery contest 2015 and was awarded a Pennsylvania Arts Grant in poetry. She installs poems on walls, sets poems in metal type, & makes broadsides and pulp paper.
Let my hands walk through the labyrinth of your anatomy,
let them survey the comeliness of your flesh,
explore the angles of your geometries,
reconstruct the contours of your blemishes,
till you evolve into a city
tainted with the yearning for silhouettes of dust.
Ajise Vincent is a Nigerian Poet. His poem “Song of a Progeny” was a shortlisted poem at the Korea-Nigeria Poetry feast, 015. His works have been published in London-grip magazine, Eureka, Kalahari Review, Sakonfa literary Magazine, Synchronized chaos, AfricanWriter, Indian periodical, Jalada Africa, Black boy review, Tuck Magazine, Harbinger Asylum,and various literary outlets. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
… the Spanish festival of Transhumance,
celebrated since the days of Romance,
when shepherds and sheep shall dance
over the Pyrenees and into France …
George Held likes short poems and chapbooks, of which his latest is Bleak Splendor (Muddy River Books, 2016).
Artisanal anything, of course
She embraced that. Goat cheese,
Stone-milled breads. The hands-on
Curative diet. She never sleepwalks now
In the ebullient cities, exhaling the thinnest air.
When her party attacked Everest, she
Was the single oxygen-free survivor.
She is reminded
Of Grandfather, his rough hands,
The wisdom of his passion. Listen, orphans
Know what it means to be chosen,
To pluck the edelweiss in the
Highest pastures above the timberline
Where everything precious can be touched.
Joan Colby has been the editor of Illinois Racing News for over 30 years, a monthly publication for the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation, published by Midwest Outdoors LLC. She is also an associate editor of The Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press. She lives with her husband and assorted animals on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. Her latest book of poetry is Ribcage (Glass Lyre Press).
Cipriani Bellini as bustling on the trays
and between fingers as the ceilings as
arched and painted as Sistine, without
a hint of Michelangelo’s agony and ecstasy.
What is a soulful conversation like among all
the seeds on a strawberry after all the chocolate
being licked off? Will it sound like anything
being discussed between Adam and God?
What shall we do if we can’t hear the music
blasting from the band? Shall we foxtrot to
our own rhythm and lyrics with no agony,
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.
You chassé in from the kitchen,
and I chassé toward you
until we meet,
run in place,
race to catch the first beat of our song,
Sous le Ciel de Paris,
an instrumental version,
rich with harmonica and accordion,
music we know by heart now,
so as we twist and spin,
braid and unbraid,
your left arm over my right shoulder,
we da-da da-da along,
and settle down
with one last turn,
on the final note.
Carla Schwartz is a poet, filmmaker, photographer, and lyricist. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Fulcrum, Common Ground Review, Cactus Heart, Switched-on Gutenberg, Wordgathering, Naugatuck River Review, Stone Highway Review, Boston Poetry Magazine, Literary Juice, Solstice Magazine, Ibbetson Street Magazine, and 05401, among others. Her book, Mother, One More Thing is available through Turning Point Books (2014). Her poem, In Defense of Peaches, was a Massachusetts Poetry Foundation Poem of the Moment. Her poem, Late for Dinner, was a semi-finalist for the Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Contest. Her video work incorporates poetry, documentary, and instructional videos. Her youtube videos have had hundreds of thousands of views. She has performed and read her work in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Carla is also a professional writer with a doctoral degree from Princeton University. Learn more at her website at carlapoet.com.
Alhambra’s Lion Courtyard
A class trip to the Hispanic Museum added stimulus to her imagination—
lace mantillas, rose-draped balconies, and the lion courtyard.
On display, a replica of Granada’s Alhambra—
red geraniums amid Moorish tiles and the lion courtyard.
A child with unruly ash-colored hair had a secret world
of wandering through gardens and the lion courtyard.
She’d wear a white lace mantilla over black tresses—
perfume would surround her in the lion courtyard.
The love for beauty needed to be remembered inside a box of stationery—
glimpses of red geraniums amid Moorish tiles and the lion courtyard.
But her souvenir narrowed her mother’s pupils—
her mother had no appreciation for Alhambra’s lion courtyard.
The child wasted her allowance—the child withdrew within herself,
burning the red geraniums amid Moorish tiles and the lion courtyard.
Years laters, she tossed out her capricious purchase—
she downsized her interests—no longer needed that lion courtyard.
Patricia Carragon’s publication credits include BigCityLit, Bear Creek Haiku, Boog City, Clockwise Cat, Drunk Monkeys, Home Planet News, Yellow Chair Review, and others. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press, 2005) and Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press, 2010). Her new book, Cupcake Chronicles, is forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada. She hosts the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. She is one of the executive editors for Home Planet News Online. Patricia is a member of Pen Women’s Literary Workshop, Tamarind, and brevitas. For more information, please check out her websites: http://brownstonepoets.blogspot.com and at http://patriciacarragon8.wordpress.com/.
Ann Marie, at fourteen years,
knows how to prickle Mom’s propriety,
scorch the air with teen vernacular,
has lesbian friends—so what?
To all appearances she rides,
self-confident, the palomino
of her puberty.
Only when I see the carefree way
she lounges on the couch—
knees up, tibias like two goal posts,
torso twisted in a soft erotic sprawl—
do I shudder in the knowledge
of the driven world,
the howl of her future heart,
the harvest of all innocence.
—George H. Northrup
George H. Northrup is President of the Fresh Meadows Poets in Queens, NY and a Board member of the Society that selects the Nassau County Poet Laureate. In the last three years, his poetry has appeared in more than 30 journals and anthologies. His chapbook, You Might Fall In, was published in 2014 by Local Gems Press.
Everybody draws when they are little. We fall into art, get swallowed up then spit out on a sidewalk or a cornfield where some grown up tells us to get to work and put our crayons away. There are more than 64 colors in the universe. There may be more than 640. That’s something you can read on a T-shirt, which is awesome. T-shirt wisdom gets to the point. It’s either profound or sentimental or it makes you laugh as you read and walk away from the person who wears it towards your destination, which might just be a Pepsi or a taco. (Love’s not always around every corner.) Art should be on T-shirts as much as on museum walls. There are a lot more T-shirts than museums. That’s enlightenment. Nothing is important, so everything is.
His teeth bad from ignoring them for books, boys, coffee, and thoughts. No matter. He always smiled when he gave a riposte. The listener, distracted by the bombed-out cathedral of his smile.
Mike James has had recent poems in Soundings East, Poem, Negative Capability, and Chiron Review. His eighth poetry collection, The Year We Let the House Fall Down, was recently published by Aldrich Press. A new collection, Peddler’s Blues, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag.
Thankfully, You Don’t Leave Me In Peace
then some more,
flamed by candlelight,
for now a translucent blue
ganging up on my face
that gray mien—
can't read the newspaper in peace,
dear creamy white—
your touch moves my feelings naturally
like wind does waves at sea—
my eyes are a giveaway—
a faint smile moves my mouth enough
to involve your lips
sooner rather than later.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptionsm and Sanskritm with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Reviewm and the Coe Review.
light, two miles to the
L-I-E—and then the wind
that’s lifting us, whirls breakneck
out toward Breezy Point, deposits us
with backpacks to that bleak
motel. But of the jarring
we’ll save that
Jay Chollick: The word’s most harmless terrorist; shadowy at the open mic; insufferable in print; bookish in slim volumes: Colors; American Vesuvius; 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.
Certain errant feelings have been unleashed,
functional strands loosed in the mooring rope,
you feel the houseboat slipping almost washed
downriver to the North Sea beyond hope …
Charming pastel colors have gotten free
from God’s rainbow that stretched across the sky
gifting such a promise to you and me
and now is lessened like a used-up dye …
Callous rationalizations have reared
their hydra heads and multiply their tongues
with no chance of reason—war is declared:
fear of guilt is used to cover up wrongs …
It’s not for me to say: is your love gone—
I’ve been betrayed and now I must move on.
David Francis has produced four song albums and one of poems. Oilcan Press put out ALWAYS/FAR, a chapbook of lyrics and drawings, in 2010. In 2013, his film "Village Folksinger" premiered at Anthology Film Archives in New York, and has been screened several times since. David's poems and stories have appeared in a number of journals. http://davidfrancismusic.com/
head back, cheeks bloated, wailing. It and the wind bubble
tiny ridges in the pond scum of fat under my scrim,
belly, thighs. My skin, hairless over my dear mons veneris,
that rose, once, like a baby brown seal, and lustrous, humping
the churn waters of billow, slide, and attach.
You. Are you still there now? I would surround you, Hotdog,
I, a slit white bun, would grow mustardy and sauerkrauted.
Don’t. Say. No. I am aroma’d, still. I know it, I sniff it, breathe it in, labial it.
Not now, Dear. OOo,
Pillow my head in owl feathers,
my bush in mushroom and fern.
Let me go bad, like meat, rot and bone.
Let me be forest. Dry and leathery in my nethers, I am the forest of them all.
Alice Weiss’s poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review; Constellation, Oddball Magazine; Soul-Lit.com; Ibbetson Street 31; Radical Teacher, Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology; Poetry Super Highway; Wilderness House Literary Review.com; Muddy River Poetry Review, and Jewish Currents; nonfiction at VoxMom and Wilderness House Literary Review.com, and one is scheduled to appear in Cowboy Jamboree Magazine. She received an MFA in poetry from New England College in 2010. From 1977 to 1998 she was a civil rights attorney and public defender in New Orleans, Louisiana. She came to New Orleans as a young lawyer from the Northeast eager to change things, and Louisiana, dank and swampy and dysfunctional and brilliant, changed her. Now she tries to figure out what that means (change) and where it meets desire and possibility.
Here is one place for the quiet
we carry in our bones.
Here, where we keep hidden,
where we wait. I want to shout,
need to share the sound of all words
left unspoken when she was with us.
But, even now, here, in the blind,
camouflaged the way we are,
you hush me with your eyes.
Small, black marks circle high above the trees,
as if they know what we’ve become.
Something stirs. A clap
of thunder from your hands—
the only sound between us.
Dave DeGolyer writes as Lafayette Wattles in homage to his great-great grandfather and his Sioux heritage.
my stray cat keeps me company, eyes shut, paws curled under
as I sit outside after supper
listening to the May birds through the silence
beyond my lilac bush
the sky's luster and the spring breeze
belying the sadness which has crowded in these last weeks
let me linger here a few minutes more in this chair
the cat settled in the corner of my eye
let me hold back the gloaming of the sky
light deliquescing into darkness
the scent of lilacs and birdsong
closing down for night
let me not make all this into a metaphor
for what is diminishing around me
let me stay in this moment
with just this.
Alice Twombly is the curator and co-founder of the Poetry Series "Thursdays Are For Poetry at the Teaneck General Store" in Teaneck, NJ. She teaches literature at the Learning Collaborative of Long Island University. She was a finalist in the 92nd St Y- The Nation Discovery Competition. Her poems have been published in the New Jersey Poetry Monthly, "The Journal of Everywoman" (a play based on her poems), and other venues. If you would like to be considered a featured reader in our series, contact me through our Facebook page.
14 Things You Can Do If You Have a Hammertoe
Tune a piano.
Hit your thumb instead of the picture hanger.
Dance in HammerTime on the other nine toes.
Sing “If I Had a Hammertoe.”
Play with Jeff Beck featuring the Jan Hammer Group.
Play the clawhammer banjo, while watching the grass grow.
Stock up on baking powder.
Watch a film with the Hammer Army.
Carve your way through the Shawshank.
See Bob Dylan at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
Get an impression of the Hammer Museum.
Tap a villain on Thor’s Day.
Pull a nail out of the wall (do not use teeth).
Toe the line, a little crookedly.
Mark Fogarty is managing editor of The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow and emcees the Red Wheelbarrow Poets’ monthly reading series at GainVille Café, Rutherford, NJ. His poetry has been published in more than 20 publications. He is the author of five collections of poetry: Myshkin’s Blues, Peninsula, Phantom Engineer, Sun Nets and Continuum: The Jaco Poems, and his White Chickens Press has published many local poets.