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



 

 

JANUARY 2017


 

 

This first issue of the new year comes to you with reflections on spirituality, hope, travel (both metaphorical and literal), humor, remembrance, and of course (because we're poets), death. We are proud to feature talented poets from all over the world, as a testament to inclusiveness and shared values of peace through poetry. The editors wish you a happy, healthy, creative new year.

 

 

You Who Have Been Lost

You who have been lost,
you who have been hated,
you who have been loved,
loathed or glorified, what-
ever your circumstances,
come with me this morning,
into the mist, into the pine,
be at peace with yourself,
the old veil is parted

It is a new sweet morning,
be at peace with yourself
                                                                    —George Wallace


George Wallace is author of 30 chapbooks of poetry, writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, and serves on the editorial boards of Poetrybay, Great Weather for Media, and Long Island Quarterly. A regular on the NYC performance scene, he travels internationally to present his poetry.

 


 

Horizons

W
hen the horizons finally, achingly, spread,
dull daylight leaks in, and that is it and it
must be enough. Breath comes easier.
The days begin to plod out, a randomly
intricate sameness. Notice the traffic
enough to yell, see spring flowers catcalling
each other, and try to be annoyed at the sneezing.

If joy won’t come willingly you must go out
and find it—we were hunters, once, after all—
because Death has blocked your number.
Maybe someone else has a better ass. Maybe you
are as boring as you feel. But Time will take
your calls. Go see a movie together. Hold
hands and talk about change. This is something.
This is something
                                                                                              —CL Bledsoe

 

CL Bledsoe is the author of a dozen books, most recently the poetry collection Riceland and the novel Man of Clay. He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter. 

 


 

stiff as brown paper
oak leaves resist
winter's wind


sidewalk snowcaps
daytime swimming pools
nighttime ice rinks

like floating concrete
ice sheets under
the Manhattan bridge

it's 27 degrees
Brooklyn birds
just as vocal

mid-winter blues
trees having
an icicle meltdown

black ice vs. slush
urban snowflakes turn ugly
groundhog's revenge
                                                                                 —Patricia Carragon

Patricia Carragon loves cupcakes, chocolate, cats, haiku, and Brooklyn. Her recent publication credits include The Avocet, BigCityLit, Bear Creak Haiku, Clockwise Cat, Drunk Monkeys, Home Planet News, Panoply, Tribe Magazine, 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 forthcoming chapbooks are Cupcake Chronicles from Poets Wear Prada and Innocence from Finishing Line Press. She hosts the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology.  Patricia is a member of brevitas, Pen Women's Literary Workshop, and Tamarind. She is an Executive Editor for Home Planet News Online.

  


 

 Order

The white peonies
open first; the red

ones second. This is
the nature of things.

 

***


Taking the Night

Water and darkness
Where the river goes;

where the wind takes
the night.  We have plain

words for this plain world.

We have stillness and

stars and some hope all

this comes back to us.
                                                                                   —Tom Montag

Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013. He is a contributing editor at Verse-Virtual. In 2015 he was the featured poet at Atticus Review (April) and Contemporary American Voices (August), and at year's end received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Review and Blue Heron Review. Other poems will be found at Hamilton Stone Review, The Homestead Review, Little Patuxent Review, Mud Season Review, Poetry Quarterly, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere.



  

Reduction


I’m trying for
the essence of the thing,

a tablespoon or two,
complex and deep.

Now golden,
now a velvet brown,

boil it down,
boil it down,
boil it down

to dark
remembrance.
                                                            —Joyce Schmid 

Joyce Schmid’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Chautauqua, Blueline, Canary, and other journals. She won an honorable mention in the 2016 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation Poetry Contest, and has twice won Columbia University’s Pushkin Prize for translation of Russian poetry. She has a B.A. from Harvard in History and Literature and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and lives in Palo Alto, California with her husband of almost fifty years.

 


 

So They Can Reap 

Editors, like lawyers,
are the butt of many jokes,
‘cause they seem to make life difficult
For many of us folks.
Yet life goes on in spite of them —
But often, too, Because
And we can’t go on without them,
As if they never was,
So we pay them for their services,
As much as we might doubt ‘em,
Yet abuse them like Grim Reapers —
Though we just can’t live without ‘em.
                                                                                            
—Ken Gosse 

Ken Gosse has a penchant for light, rhyming verse similar to the styles of Ogden Nash and Edward Lear. Heavily imbued with humor and whimsy, his use of commonplace language and subjects makes it more at home on picnics than in Elysian Fields. He has received Honorable Mentions in Mad Kane's Limerick-Off contests (http://www.madkane.com/), and his first published works were accepted for the November 2016 and January 2017 editions of the First Literary Review – East (http://www.rulrul.4mg.com/). A native of Chicago suburbs, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, for nearly 20 years.

[Editors' Note: The editors of this journal can verify that we are "abused like Grim Reapers," but it's all worth it when we can give fine poets like Ken Gosse their first publications.]

 


 

Pretty girls are like vague pronouns

What they do is
not what I do:
keep stepping
off the plank
as they close in.
                                                     
—Jan Garden Castro

Jan Garden Castro's The Last Frontier, limited edition letterpress poems, is now at The Berg Collection, New York Public Library. Since moving to New York, her poetry & fiction have appeared in Chronogram, CLWN WR, Adirondack Review, Literary Gazette, and Winter Harvest. Castro is author of two art books & co-editor of two literary anthologies.

 


 

Perfect Tense

Were it not for what I had thought had been underway since before he had conceived of his plan, I would have had to undertake certain tasks which would have had a deleterious effect on what I had understood he may have had concocted while we both were in the process of having surmised what would have been an evil plot to overthrow what had had to have been a hackneyed, half-assed hatchet job which would have undercut what had otherwise been a glorious achievement.
                                                                                                                                        —Jeff Santosuosso

Jeff Santosuosso lives in Pensacola, FL. A member of the Florida State Poets Society, he is co-editor of panoplyzine.com, dedicated to poetry and short prose. His prize-winning work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in San Pedro River Review (summer, 2016), Illya’s Honey, Texas Poetry Calendar, Alalit, and elsewhere. You can find him on Facebook.

  


  

Cesar Vallejo

Volcanic eyes


Aardvark gait

Soul a chrysalis & also
a papoose to tuck his family
into at night

Poems were fists
squeezing
ridicule from his life

Dreams were scorpions
swirling like
Van Gogh’s Starry Night
                                                                    —Alan Britt

In August 2015 Alan Britt was invited by the Ecuadorian House of Culture Benjamín Carrión in Quito, Ecuador as part of the first cultural exchange of poets between Ecuador and the United States. In 2013 he served as judge for the The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013. His latest books include Violin Smoke (Translated into Hungarian by Paul Sohar and published in Romania: 2015; 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.

 


  

Never Now

Color, light, space and line

Lyric, rhythm, sound and rhyme
Octave, pitch, tone and key
Leaf, flower, bush and tree
Atom, electron, quantum, quark
Spoon and corkscrew, knife and fork
Costume, mask, puppet, doll
Paintbrush, hammer, pencil, saw
Flower, lily, rose, stamen,
Build, create, compose, imagine
Stage, proscenium, curtsey, bow
Birth, death, never, now
                                                                               —Steve Zeitlin

 

Steve Zeitlin is the founding director of City Lore, New York's urban folklife center.  His latest book is The Poetry of Everyday Life:  Storytelling and the Art of Awareness, published by Cornell University Press.

 


 

Done


Six feet deep and still falling,
the obstinate snow piled waist high to windowsills
denies possibilities of crocuses,
their bright splashes
foreign and impossible
in this white glare,
neutralizing everything in
one long note,
a gentle, absolute erasure
                                                                      —Eric Greinke and Alison Stone

 

Eric Greinke's most recent books are Poets In Review and Zen Duende - Collaborative Poems (with Glenna Luschei).  His collaborative poem, Lone Bones (from Zen Duende, published originally in Forge 9.2), was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize. His work has been published in The Aurorean, California Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, Forge, Gargoyle, Ginyu (Japan), The Green Door (Belgium), The Hurricane Review, The Journal (UK), Main Street Rag, New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Poem, Prosopisia (India), Schuylkill Valley Journal, The South Carolina Review, The University of Tampa Review, and many others. 

Alison Stone is the author of five poetry collections, including Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and a variety of other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin award. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. She is currently editing an anthology of poems on the Persephone/Demeter myth.

 


  

Paris at 18 

Something to remember
Très Français
I buy Christian Dior bikinis
Beige translucent with a bow

On the way to Roissy
I place them in my purse
Glide through Customs
Onto the plane

When no one's looking
I remove my panties
and slip on the Christian Diors
Stiff, itchy lace

At home, I wash them in Downy
Beat them with a rock
Hide them in my lingerie drawer
for the next 25 years
                                                                                             
—Susan Weiman

Susan Weiman writes literary nonfiction, poetry and vignettes. Her work has been published in First Literary Review-East, POST(blank), Citylore.org, Riverside Poets Anthology, run-to-the roundhouse nellie, and formerly on the Home Magazine blog, Home Team-to-the Rescue where she wrote about art.  Susan is an artist, jewelry maker, and iPhone photographer. She resides in Long Island City. http://scwnynotebook.blogspot.com.

 


 

the room alone

it does not matter where

the walls and ceilings are.
they’ll be much the same
as any old objects at which
we’re left to stare.
skokie, chicago,
timbuktu, the taxi
took an hour and then
home again, in the dark
at night, an empty station,
another time, another place
left behind in inner space.
it does not matter where
so long as it was there.
                                                                           —Michael Foldes 

 

Michael Foldes is an electronics sales engineer specializing in electronic displays and power sources. A graduate of The Ohio State University in anthropology, he has edited and published magazines, poetry anthologies, chapbooks, alternate newspapers, technical publications, and was an editor and columnist with Gannett newspapers in Binghamton, NY. He is the founder and managing editor of the online Arts magazine Ragazine.CC. He and his wife have three grown children and split their time between Brooklyn and upstate New York.

 


 

Greetings from Home
                                                          

Greetings from home came wafting in
with the morning wind,
bearing news of the first snow
from the Taurus Mountains of Mersin.

They dropped by my woolen sweater
lingering in the chest,
a present from my wife.
All the winters it’s been through,
all the weeks of snow and ice!
Through it has been patiently threaded
the warm touch of passing time.

Greetings from home came wafting in,
with the scent of thyme.
                                                                                      
—Ali Bilir
                                                                                          Translated by Jonathan Ross & M. Ali Sulutas
                                                                 

Ali Bilir is a Turkish poet and author. He was born in Gülnar, Mersin, Turkey. He attended the School of Medicine for a year, but graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Istanbul. During his university years, he worked part-time at a tourist youth hostel in Istanbul as a reception clerk and later as a manager. In 1967, as an adventure, he toured Europe and North Africa, mainly on foot. He participated in the student and youth movements of 1968. In 1970, he published 2 issues of the literary magazine called “North.” Between 1995-2005, he was the arts and culture reporter for the local newspapers… His work has won many awards.  Bilir’s poetry book “Migration Ballads” is being granted by the Turkish government as one of the significant examples of Turkish written heritage. Migration Ballads is published by Plain View Press, U.S.A, in 2008, within the scope of TEDA project. Ali F. Bilir is also a member of Writers Syndicate of Turkey (Türkiye Yazarlar Sendikasý), Turkish Authors Association (Edebiyatçýlar Derneði), The European Writer’s Council (EWC), Language Association of Turkey (Dil Derneði), National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS), and Big Bend Poets chapter of the Florida State Poets Association.

 


 

The Monsoon in Bombay

We wait and we wait,
And then it arrives
With endless thunder and lightning
The Monsoon in Bombay

It is its own person
Furious and exciting
Making everything new again
The Monsoon in Bombay

The wind blows all
The sea crashes mercilessly
The rain pours in sheets, during
The Monsoon in Bombay

And yet, we wait and we wait
For those adventurous three months
To take us from our everyday lives during
The Monsoon in Bombay
                                                                                              
—Ritu Saheb

 

Ritu Saheb has found another outlet for creativity through poetry. Writing poems has frequently helped her navigate the difficult times in her life. She has been writing poems since she was a teenager in Mumbai, India; she has dabbled writing in Hindi, Urdu and English. She is an architect by profession, and lives in New York City.

 


 

Tall Trees
   
                    (Pantoum)
 
Tall trees strive to tower over the terrain,
bold branches reach towards the heavens,
sunlight cannot reach each tender leaf,
seeking nourishment is a natural thing.

Bold branches breach the heavens,
they yearn for life-sustaining energy,
seeking nourishment is a natural thing.
root systems spread like warm maple syrup.

They yearn for life-sustaining energy,
sustenance is absolutely essential,
root systems spread like warm maple syrup,
every last molecule of nutrients is utilized.

Sustenance is absolutely essential,
sunlight cannot reach each tender leaf,
every last molecule of nutrients is utilized.
tall trees strive to tower over the terrain.
                                                                                          —John A. Todras

John Todras started writing poetry in ’89 when his ex served him with divorce papers after nearly 20 years of marriage. He took poetry workshops, got the Babette Deutsch Poetry Handbook, and studied formalist poetry. He won a Shelley Society first place prize in ’95 for a humorous villanelle about family. He served as the Assistant Editor and then the Associate Publisher of NYC’s now-defunct The New Press Literary Quarterly. He performs humorous cabaret songs with his wife and reads his poetry at many venues, including Brownstone Poets, Nomads Choir, and sometimes the Green Pavilion.

 


 

3:00 AM

Snow sky outside, heat wave in here,
I throw off the blankets and call my parents,
but the line to heaven is busy.

Sip of water, bathroom shuffle,
pursued by the remnants of a dream
about music and mayhem.

Back in bed, I lie awake,
waiting for the first
flakes to fall.
                                                                   —Rosalie Calabrese

Rosalie Calabrese is a native New Yorker and management consultant for the arts whose poems have appeared in publications ranging from And Then to Cosmopolitan, Jewish Currents  to Poetry New Zealand, as well as The New York Times and other newspapers, several anthologies (including the 1997 Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry) and on the Web. A writer of short stories and books and lyrics for musicals in addition to poetry and press releases, she is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers as well as various versions of Who’s Who.

 


 

A Kaddish for my Father 

The Hudson was a misty
broad sheet of placid water
that enveloped the fine, powdery
spray of fallible flesh and
brittle bone—all that
was left of the man.

The river slowly dragged him downstream
past the worn, world-weary Bronx tenements of his youth—
Then passing the teeming city he loved, left, but always returned to—
the very city he cut his baby teeth in.

Finally he was flushed out
to the wide mouth of the open sea
his essence, where he always wanted
to be.
                                                                                
—Doug Holder

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press, and a lecturer of Creative Writing at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. He has run poetry groups for psychiatric patients at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. for over 30 years. His poetry and prose have appeared in The Boston Globe, Boston Literary Magazine, Rattle, Caesura, and elsewhere.

 


 

Moth Ball Patrol

They come to see someone
behind the counter, little old ladies

wrapped in fur that reeks
of months under moth ball security

from a closet in a spare room where
few can survive the protective odor

The fur hangs like a lynching
their faces under an avalanche of makeup

lipstick thick and cracking red
hair once blue or orange now ratty gray

old ladies come in with moth balls
surrounding them like the Union Army

but oh they are someone’s mother
another’s grandmother — those who relish

the warmth of chicken soup and matzo balls
and for that they put up with moth balls       
                                                                                                   —Zvi A. Sesling

Zvi A. Sesling is a prize-winning poet. He edits Muddy River Poetry Review, publishes Muddy River Books, and reviews for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene. He is author of King of the Jungle (Ibbetson Street Press, 2010), Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva Press, 2011), and Fire Tongue (Cervena Barva Press, 2016).

 


 

Noms de Guerre 

My mother’s name was Sadie.
She preferred Sydelle.
Her sister, Sylvia, went by Sandy.
Their brother, Sidney, answered to Red.
At times my mother lovingly spoke of
My father, Daniel, as Donald.

That generation faced Nazis, hunger,
Joblessness, enforced bigotry.
They had to quit school, support families,
Ship out to war.

A first-name change could render you
Glamorous, removed from
The fight-over-chicken-backs,
Sit-in-the-back-of-the-bus,
Four-siblings-to-a-bed
Hell you lived.
                                                                  —Iris N. Schwartz

Iris N. Schwartz is a fiction writer, as well as a Pushcart-Prize-nominated poet. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Algebra of Owls, Bindweed Magazine, The Flash Fiction Press, FutureCycle Poetry, Gyroscope Review, Jellyfish Review, Pikeville Review, Pure Slush (Volume 12), Random Sample Review, Silver Birch Press, Sweater Weather Magazine, The Tribe Journal, Vernacular, and Writing Raw. 

 


  

When The Rest Disappears

I’m not a child anymore
Making angels in the snow

The folds in my mother’s skirts
Swallowed my deepest sorrows

The ant winding up my green wall
Stealing a life of sound sleep

I don’t know which pieces own me
I thought I had time to find out

But the angels and ants and my
Mother’s skirt dip below the sea

My perch on Everest gone, where
We pretend we got engaged

The madness has arrived: it’s time
To see what we are made of.
                                                                        
—Tammy T. Stone 

Tammy T. Stone's work has been featured in publications including Page & Spine, Grace Notes Magazine, orion headless, dairy River, The Broken City and The Plum Tree Tavern. She contributed to and co-edited the anthology Poetry as a Spiritual Practice: Illuminating the Awakened Woman. Her first poetry book, Formation: Along the Ganges and Back Again, was published by Prolific Press in 2015.

 


 

A Yogurt Poem

Today I’m writing a poem about yogurt
I’m not going to describe the yogurt
Or the taste or smell of yogurt
Not even a mention of the texture
Of yogurt
And certainly not its color

Instead I’ll tell you where I sat
And what I was wearing
And who was with me
And what they said
About you
When I had the yogurt
And how I didn’t say anything
But thought the light is strange.
And I hardly know you at all
                                                                     —Alan S. Kleiman 

Alan S. Kleiman is the author of GRAND SLAM, a Collection of Poems published by Crisis Chronicles Press. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Blue Fifth Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Verse Wisconsin, and The Criterion. Fine Line Press and Red Ochre Press have anthologized his poetry, and it has been translated into Spanish, Russian, Polish, Norwegian, Danish, and Ukrainian. He appeared at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as a featured poet in the performing arts series. Alan lives in New York City and works as an attorney when not writing poems.

  


  

As Your Bell Tolls

As the bell tolls sounding the clocks of time,
We tell some things wrong, while some truths we find.
How much time will be time that is enough?
How much time until we find the right stuff?

What do clocks measure? Would time not still pass?
If we did nothing, only sit steadfast?
So, what makes time and the clock so crucial?
I foolishly ask if the clocks are useful.

Slaves only have to know the light of day.
Those jailed have no use to rush time away.
Clocks tock, so, time won't stop or have begun.
Controlled, ordered, manufactured, and spun.

At birth, we do not know of a bells toll.
At death time literally we don't know.
Why are clocks here? It's for a place to go?
Then, clocks aren't important as we are told.
                                                                                       
—Jeffrey V. Perry

Jeffrey V. Perry has been writing since he was seven years old. He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MS at Colorado Technical University.

 


  

The Language of Snow

Snow is silent in the air,
floating down to muffle the earth;
swirling in visual cascades of hush.
But once earthbound, snow develops language.

The whisper of shifting drifts
swept into pyramid forms.
The crackle and crunch of footsteps
breaking through crusted surfaces;
the snap of branches fractured.

The steady drip and trickle of transition,
melting from trees, bushes, eaves.

The sigh of shift, as foundations fail,
slipping adrift with a muffled scream ...
then the grumbling, rumbling roar of avalanche in flow.

Snow is serenely silent in the air ...
hiding the truths that the earth will hear
                                                                                         
—Sharon Anderson


Sharon Anderson received a 2014 Pushcart Prize nomination for her poem Priorities, and placed first in both the 2015 PPA Poetry Contest, and the 2015 and 2016 PPA Haiku Contest. Sharon has two publications of her own poetry, Sonnets Songs and Serenades, and Puff Flummery, with a third book, Chutes and Ladders, scheduled for publication in late 2016 or early 2017.

 


  

how much of
good people
doing
bad things
is
mixed up

 

* * *

 

tenebraed to

seepage

to the vertebrae of disappearance


disparities columnize in lopsided disarray

densities convulse

calibrations formatting the well-heeled wither in inebriate

perambulation

from these halls of cirrhotic séance

loams the

first heard

a pedal’s reminiscence 

                                                                   —Heller Levinson

H
eller Levinson is the originator of the Hinge Theory. Please check him out at www.hellerlevinson.com.