FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Best Month To Buy a Moped Palindrome
Yamaha? Ha! Ha! Ha! May.
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 Lady has been banned in France, Latvia, and the Orkney Isles. To Idi Amin I'm A Idiot—And Other Palindromes was published by NYQ Books. Another book of poems, I Hate to Second-Guess Myself, Or Do I? is forthcoming.
a lot of people
enclosed by commas
Bob Heman's latest collection isThe House of Grand Farewells, from Luna Bisonte Prods, which also includes six of his collages. His words have been published on every continent except Antarctica. His collaborative chapbook, The Number 5 Is Always Suspect, with Cindy Hochman (editor of this fine journal), has recently been released by Presa Press.
for Cecil Taylor and Max Roach
Columbia University duets
and gentle as sex
Steve Koenig is a Brooklyn-born and bred poet, educator, music journalist, and activist. His poems have appeared in Brooklyn Day Of The Poet, Sensations, Poetry In Performance, Diseased Pariah News, and other magazines. His music writing has appeared in LaFolia.com, Perfect Sound Forever, AllAboutJazz.com, and Signal to Noise.
Wisdom Next Door
Answers to our
questions are hidden
in the pockets of
Stones they have
worn smooth and
held close, waiting
to put them in our palms.
[previously published in the chapbook Tornado Man (Solo Press)]
After a late start, Tom Harrington writes now as if his hair is on fire. With support from the Cambria Writer’s Workshop, and other revered writers, he haunts the muse during his golden years. His poems and short fiction have appeared in If and When, Solo Novo, Askew, Gravel, and Fiction on the Web. His chapbook titled Tornado Man was published by Solo Press. Tom lives in Morro Bay, California.
Ut Pictura Poesis
[Latin: “as is painting, so is poetry”]
My pastels may seem muted,
my stroke often broad,
my brilliants sans luster,
yet still some applaud
what belies the simplicity
a touch of rusticity
with a wry grin
and a smile for the heart
to help carry us through—
it’s a canvas of words
that I offer to you.
Ken Gosse prefers writing light verse with traditional meter and rhyme filled with whimsy and humor. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, his poems are also in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, The Ekphrastic Review, and others. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years, usually with a herd of cats and dogs underfoot.
The Outer Music
In dreams the gods told me that the world is a dreamland
So I forgot the honor and disgrace of life, even believe not day and night
My body began to be emptiness, as if the outer music sounded from another universe
Even the singing of gods roared in my ears like thunder and lightning
And the garden from the kingdom of heaven flashed in front of me
Hongri Yuan, born in China in 1962, is a poet and philosopher interested particularly in creation. Representative works include Platinum City, The City of Gold, Golden Paradise, Gold Sun, and Golden Giant. His poetry has been published in the UK, USA, India, New Zealand, Canada, France, Italy, and Nigeria.
He grows roses,
I grow stories.
There are palms,
there are poems.
—Mary Anne Anderson
Mary Anne Anderson’s poems have been published in Monterey Bay’s Plenitude of Poets collection. The poem “Ocean Walk” won first prize at the Marina Arts Festival, and her first chapbook, The Road Home—a collection of poems and photographs—was published in 2004. The second chapbook, Dreamscapes, followed. She received the 2014 Distinguished Poet Award from the Writers International Network in Vancouver, B.C. Her one-woman show BAR LIES. . . and other tales premiered at the first Carmel Performing Arts Festival. She has also exhibited her photographs from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, which included poems she wrote while she was there to perform a reading of her book Letters to a Love Unsung/Cronicas de un Amor Eternal,” a bilingual love story with an accompanying soundtrack. Mary Anne belongs to the Cambria Writers Workshop, and is also a member of Maui Live Poets. She hosts a Poetry/Spoken word event every month. Her musical memoir, Happy to Make Your Acquaintance, has morphed into a one-woman show at the Cambria Center for the Arts Theatre.
Come to fruition
is an absolute
whose trees can
only offer up two
& one small lime.
Mark Young's most recent books are les échiquiers effrontés, a collection of surrealist visual poems laid out on chessboard grids, published by Luna Bisonte Prods, & The Word Factory: a miscellany, from gradient books of Finland. Due for publication are Residual sonnets from Ma Books, & an e-book, A Vicarious Life — the backing tracks, from otata.
To open a door
to a future—
a port worth sailing to—
and to land there, ecstatic.
To dine on a surplus of eloquence
regular and plentiful as wind.
To stand outside of Time
amid an ecstasy of energy
Your arm hairs rustle.
If you have whiskers, they rise.
Austin Alexis has work appearing in 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.
Those 2 tears tattooed blue beside the eye,
angel, are equally celestial in the sky of your face,
its pallor of down my hand glides above with each
sterile capful of water I pour past your lashes
to wash their dry desert red back to gentle green.
Then comes the cloth, a Magdalene sponge
to bathe your mouth.
Bite down, suck, these very moments our own
Shroud of Turin lifting lightness up
as my hand, gloveless dove,
just rests still as the tattooed tear
on your cheek
A resident of New York, Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he's been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance.
The Days Pass Like Blue Wheels
Each day in blue darkness
a lonely girl
with small but strong limbs
rises out of bed
thinking that the trees,
which are green, have
powers in themselves to perhaps lift secrets
from their cluttered and knowing branches,
oh caress, caress and tell
what parts of the sky you have touched.
[“The Days Pass Like Blue Wheels” is from the poet’s chapbook False Spring, recently published by Adelaide Press.]
Gloria Monaghan is a Professor of Humanities at Wentworth Institute in Boston. 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. She has published several books of poetry, including Flawed (Finishing Line Press, 2011, nominated for the Massachusetts Book Award) andThe Garden (Flutter Press, 2015). Adelaide Press has just published her book False Spring, and her most recent book, Hydrangea, has been accepted by Aldrich Press.
Up from night's tomb I climb
sleep’s rags on reluctant bones
eastward of my window
beyond night’s worn fogs
waken bedded hills
breasts which rise
to their lover’s reaching hand
sluggish breath quickens
perception’s tinder flares
to the matchstick of desire
sun's first rays
kindle this cavernous heart
Darrell Petska's writing has appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Bird's Thumb, Chiron Review, Star 82 Review, Tule Review, Verse-Virtual and widely elsewhere (see conservancies.wordpress.com). Darrell has tallied a third of a century as communications editor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 40 years as a father (six years as a grandfather), and almost a half century as a husband. He lives outside Madison, Wisconsin.
An Old-fashioned Grandma
You dropped out of the vanity marathon with relief
"let yourself go"
and wore faded cotton house dresses with sturdy hose and comfortable shoes
cut your own hair and bought drugstore eyeglasses
your dahlias the neighborhood’s color spot, a pantry filled with Mason-jarred homegrown
nectarines, a Texas chili that simmered all day, the thick tomato cayenne air drawing us so we
hung around the kitchen like ravening waifs
until we could dip in with saltines
burn the roofs of our mouths
you ate yours with onions
Shera Hill was born in Wichita, Kansas, but now lives in Baywood Park, California. She has always been an avid reader, with most of her working life in the book world, first as a student assistant in the California State University of Long Beach library, later as an employee of a small independent bookstore, and then as a page for the San Luis Obispo Library system. She retired in 2014 as a library branch manager. She has written poetry, short stories, and novels since she was a child.
They live in shadowboxes, each perched as a rare bird in her domain
to be admired from afar, never approached or touched.
Exclusive personas cultivated in crooked girlhoods, curated over years—
the souvenir princess, the freak, the erudite scholar, the honey pot …
They could be thimbles all—intricately painted in porcelain flourish,
calculated allure, hollow caverns yawning underneath,
never to be your friends.
[from Women in Parentheses, upcoming from Aldrich Press]
Catherine Arra is a former high school English and writing teacher. Since leaving the classroom in 2012, her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous literary journals online and in print, and in several anthologies. She is the author of Writing in the Ether (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and three chapbooks, Tales of Intrigue & Plumage (FutureCycle Press, 2017), Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015), and Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014). Her upcoming books are Women in Parentheses (Aldrich Press) and Her Landscape, poems based on the life of Mileva Marić Einstein (Finishing Line Press). Arra is a native of the Hudson Valley in upstate New York, where she teaches part-time and facilitates local writing groups. Find her at www.catherinearra.com.
we sit in twilight
hands in plain sight
buttons done up
your suit and tie
"I see; I see"
your legs crossed, languid
your eye holds me
your door ajar
darkness surrounds us
night birds call
night watchman prowls
Ann Wehrman is a creative writer and musician living in Northern California. Ann teaches English composition online for University of Phoenix and Ashford University. Ann's writing has appeared in print and online journals, including Tule Review, Blue Heron Review, Medusa's Kitchen, The Ophidian, Rattlesnake Review, and Poetry Now. Rattlesnake Press published Ann’s broadside, Notes from the Ivory Tower, in 2007 and her chapbook, Inside (love poems), in 2011.
I stop wandering among the hours
See them fall to pieces
Time clocks and shadows—
Dripping bird chatter
In a dream, the world settles its arguments
The desert blooms roses
We cannot change much anymore
Not the scenery; not even our secrets.
Dd. Spungin hosts monthly poetry events for the Long Island poetry groups Poets In Nassau and Performance Poets Association. Her poetry can be found in anthologies and in print and online journals, most recently Maintenant 13, isacoustic, and Fearless. Several of her poems have been set to music by NY composer Julie Mandel.
Some things you will never know …
… about me, and while I would like
To hold this season back
So intermingled as it is with death
And the divine missing, I inch
Forward, cock my ear
To the near silence but for
The echo of your breath on my neck,
Cheek, murmurings of longing
Flesh stirring flesh with just
The right accent, the urgent
Start of spring after mourning.
Maria Lisella is the sixth Queens Poet Laureate 2015-2018 and the first Italian American to be so named. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Poetry Prize, her collections include Thieves in the Family (NYQ Books), and two chapbooks, Amore on Hope Street (Finishing Line Press), and Two Naked Feet (Poets Wear Prada). A charter member of the online poetry circle brevitas, she also co-curates the Italian American Writers Association readings, contributes to USA TODAY, and the bilingual La Voce di New York.
beautiful Asian lady
and held up in a sling
carrying her self
stealing around a corner
arm held beneath her neck
beneath her chest
sling pressing against her breast
wine red fabric skirt
white on white
broken Asian lady with poise
Hister Grant has been writing poetry since he was 14. He has published one book: Suspend, and has written two others. He currently lives alone and measures his days out in cigarettes.
My hamstrings tore, like picking splinters with
a chainsaw. Somewhere in the caves inside
my knees, I felt an asphalt agony.
Achilles tendons like piano wire,
no stairways heavenward or elsewhere, just
clinging to railings like an ivy vine.
I tripped like Jesus with his heavy cross,
unable to forgive the ones who sinned.
Oh let my knees alone!
For each was made for this.
As long as I am smaller than
the Earth, I’ll take another step.
Jeff Santosuosso is a business consultant and award-winning poet living in Pensacola, FL. His chapbook, Body of Water, is available through Clare Songbirds Publishing House. He is Editor-in-Chief of panoplyzine.com, an online journal of poetry and short prose. Jeff’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in San Pedro River Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Mojave Dessert Review, The Lake (UK), Red Fez, Texas Poetry Calendar, Avocet, and other online and print publications.
You took me
To the Moon
Mars was great.
Venus more so.
If you leave
This solar system,
I’ll Mach five
As well be
—Michael La Bombarda
Michael La Bombarda has two books out and a third to be published any day. The first is called None Other Than You, and the second and third are called Steady Hands and A Lover's Complaint, both published by Chez Michel Press.