FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Ode to the Multiverse
A trillion midnights
fit on the end of a needle.
Heath Brougher is the poetry editor of Into the Void, winner of the 2017 and 2018 Saboteur Awards for Best Magazine. He is the winner of Taj Mahal Review's 2018 Poet of the Year Award, as well as a multiple nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Award. He has published eight collections of poetry, the most recent of which being Change Your Mind (Alien Buddha Press, 2019).
on woody stalks
—Jonathan K. Rice
Jonathan K. Rice edited Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015), Ukulele and Other Poems (2006), and a chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. He is also a visual artist. His poetry and art have appeared in numerous publications. Jonathan is the recipient of the 2012 Irene Blair Honeycutt Legacy Award for outstanding service in support of local and regional writers, awarded by Central Piedmont Community College. He lives in Charlotte, NC.
Black Turtle Raisin Bread
Our tiny house of
wind chimes and baking loaves
foggy coastal nights
you build a fire
the glowing logs hiss
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.
in the country
give directions to
the names of trees
must be mentioned
that always seem
left and right to
where you’re going.
Hello folks, We’re Here !
Steve Luttrell was born in Portland, Maine, where he was poet laureate for the city in 2009–2011. He is the author of 6 books of poetry and several chapbooks. He is the founder and publishing editor of The Cafe Review, which began in 1989.
I woke this morning
to what Godot was waiting for.
My socks had not fallen off
while I slept.
Blackbirds count me.
I am thirteen
I never knew.
Hell isn't empty
it's just off kilter. The schemers and the treacherous
and the blood-simple. Here on top we adore our devils,
the ones they keep sending and the ones we engineer
ourselves. We buy them every shade of royal want,
whisper innuendo and a blessing to blackmail.
Today a squadron formation of flying contagion.
Tomorrow a centipede parade.
Sara Clancy is a Philadelphia transplant to the Desert Southwest. Her chapbook Ghost Logic won the 2017 Turtle Island Quarterly Editors Choice Award and she is an Associate Editor for Poetry at Good Works Review. Among other places, her poems have appeared in Off the Coast, Crab Creek Review, The Madison Review, and Verse Wisconsin. She lives in Arizona with her husband and daughter and far too many cats and dogs.
A Teacher’s Old Seating Plans
Jimmy Pappas has been published in over 70 journals. He was the 2018 winner of the Rattle Readers' Choice Award and the 2019 winner of the Rattle Chapbook Contest. His most recent book is Scream Wounds (A15 Press).
Meditations on Red
Cherry. Strawberry. Watermelon.
Ketchup. Sunburn. Radio Flyer wagon.
Cinnamon candy. Santa’s suit.
Stop light. Stop sign. Fire engine.
An F in math. Acne. Embarrassment.
Eyes that cried.
The Grand Old Party. AIDS-awareness ribbon.
The words of Christ in the King James Version.
Power tie. Financial downturn.
Joel Allegretti is the author of, most recently, Platypus (NYQ Books, 2017), a collection of poems, prose, and performance texts, and Our Dolphin (Thrice Publishing, 2016), a novella. He is the editor of Rabbit Ears: TV Poems (NYQ Books, 2015). The Boston Globe called Rabbit Ears “cleverly edited” and “a smart exploration of the many, many meanings of TV.” Rain Taxi said, “With its diversity of content and poetic form, Rabbit Ears feels more rich and eclectic than any other poetry anthology on the market.”
The Stories We Tell
I feel the wings flutter under my skin as I tell them
about my childhood, about how things were before
I had children of my own. I hint at the type of insect I was
make it more beautiful—I was a butterfly, a damselfly
a fluorescent leaf-hopper, something amazing.
Because they’re my children, I can tell they believe me
that right now, they’re imagining me as
a lime-green lunar moth, wings soft as down
not the chitinous beetle I really was
brown and dull and unimportant,
scuttling from one crack to the next.
Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Plainsongs, The Long Islander, and The Nashwaak Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (Cyberwit.net), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), and Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing).
Air Like Poison
Hey, did you see those sea turtles down there? I often see them, though not as often or as many
as I did before there were boats, the bridge, some buildings, even a small amusement park.
Wherever they go, the turtles seem to leave a trail of watery stools behind. The ocean feels a
little sick right now. There’s actually too much sunlight, too much air like poison. And it all
comes from the same place, a collected disarray of memory and daydreams, the millstones that
early New Englanders used to crush Giles Corey to death for being a witch.
Howie Good is the author of The Titanic Sails at Dawn from Alien Buddha Press and What It Is and How to Use It from Grey Book Press.
She paints angels
in the corner of a mural
when she sees him walk
toward her through
the gilded arch.
She drops her brush.
The angels can wait.
Beate Sigriddaughter, www.sigriddaughter.net, grew up in Germany and lives in Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), where she was poet laureate from 2017–2019. Her work has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations and several poetry awards. A new chapbook, Dancing in Santa Fe and other poems, was recentloy published by Červená Barva Press.
Straw sandal blistering
the ankle, yellow of summer.
A smile that heals,
not knowing it takes
space to bloom. Wild women
don’t pause their wicked tongues,
yet live against sentences.
Words move like water.
When it is love they shine on,
the day turns into a question.
The rest of the week
closes its eyes to the world,
summer skin grows foreign
pores. Fall becomes a mouth.
Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, she got her MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Her poems and translations have appeared in Ambit, HeadStuff, Waxwing and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other is scheduled for publication in 2019 with Dos Madres Press.
Prell shampoo you
left in my bathroom,
even after I asked you
to take it with you.
I don't know why I’m
telling you this,
now that the green shampoo is gone—
I have to confess,
I saved a lock of your hair
sometimes I take it out
it smells like you.
Linda Kleinbub is the co-host of the Fahrenheit Open Mic. She is Mentor at Girls Write Now since 2013. She received her MFA from The New School and is co-founder of Pen Pal Poets. Some of her work can be found at The Best American Poetry, The Brooklyn Rail, The Observer, Yahoo! Beauty, and multiple anthologies. She is a native New Yorker, lifelong resident of Queens. Her first full- length book of poetry is forthcoming from A Gathering of Tribes Press.
i had a plan
be the first one to show up
don't smile too much
walk slowly back to where the boys were
hiding my wounds
from the innumerable rejections to come
and look as spontaneous as i could
but she said yes
and the slow song suddenly played
i remember my hands barely holding her waist
touching the cotton of her summer dress
my legs forgetting they had knees
but mostly my hands
the feel of her dress
—Juan Pablo Mobili
Juan Pablo Mobili is a poet born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who was adopted by New York over forty years ago, where he still resides. His first book was published when he was eighteen years old, and his second one, a chapbook of poems written with his wife and fellow poet, Madalasa Mobili, appeared after he was already a grandfather. During that expanse, a few poems have appeared in River River Journal and a collection called Write! An Anthology published by River River Writers Circle. In addition, Juan Pablo has published poems, articles, and essays in Europe and Latin America; while aiming, through his consulting firm, to elevate leadership and instill authenticity and imagination in the global organizations with which he works.
The eastern sky looked into the west
as the purple and orange clouds floated
You. You are the most beautiful of all.
The western sky blushed.
The next morning, the
western sky looked into the east
as the sun climbed over the trees.
You. You are the most beautiful of all.
The eastern sky sighed.
The sad moon looked on.
Stuart Gunter is working toward a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling and lives in Schuyler, Virginia. He likes to paddle the Rockfish River and play drums in obscure rock bands. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gravel, Deep South, The Madison Review, New Plains Review, and Natural Bridge, among others.
Canto XIV – from Canti of the eye
From shore to shore the iron hushes if wind hushes. Not a smell of rust not a smell of lips cut by gusts drifting between the skin and us. Yet we can believe in their direction of knowledge. If we don't break any bread we smell and look and listen where it comes to take us. To itself to itself, our only drift of and way and landing and we can hang from that mimed thread for the future of our gestures. And here we throw ourselves already hanging and suspended and underground as if following the same alleys of the same blind animal who blindly sleeps repeatedly and relentlessly collapsing collapsed into a slumber equal to deathly slumber. In fact it is our lack of narcosis preventing the virtues of a sacred wine, of a sacred passage which would come between the fingertips in front of our fingers.
Erika Dagnino: Poet and writer from Italy, she has performed with several musicians. Since 2016 she has been writing about public transportation. More info at www.erikadagnino.it
Live Oak Boughs
Boughs build archways as tips
of trees touch each other. What
was shaded green becomes
nocturnal shadow. A crescent moon
hangs from heaven. Light tracing
foliage falls dropping
dusty deep upon ground.
Secrets lie inside the edged shadow.
Animals hide under darkness
resounding through night
as leaves rustle. All changing
except this pattern of what
is now formed.
Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines, such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Kind of A Hurricane Press Publications have accepted her work. Her latest title is Having Lunch with the Sky, and she has four Best of the Net nominations.
An ancient map
might show the route
to the hidden place
where sounds begat
letters which begat
words which begat
sentences which begat
what we began
—Kim Peter Kovac
Kim Peter Kovac works nationally and internationally in theater for young audiences with an emphasis on new play development and networking. He tells stories on stages as producer of new plays, and tells stories in writing with lineated poems, prose poems, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, haiku, haibun, and microfiction, with work appearing or forthcoming in print and on-line in journals from Australia, India, Ireland, Dubai (UAE), England, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, and the USA. He is fond of avant-garde jazz, murder mysteries, contemporary poetry, and travel, and lives in Alexandria, VA, with his bride, a Maine Coon cat named Frankie Malone, and a Tibetan Terrier named Mick. @kimpeterkovac - www [dot] kimpeterkovac [dot] tumblr [dot] com
Leave a place for the formless.
Save a bit of
laughter for the
moment you want to weep.
Keep a shard of
safety intact for
the way you are
way you never want
to be again.
o t h e r wise.
Alex Caldiero is a polyartist, sonosopher, and scholar of humanities and inter-media. He makes things that at times appear as language or pictures or music—and then again, as the shape of your own mind.
Quiet is shaped in irrepressible breaths
of sound: shadows of music, the clink
of a spoon, swish of fan unfurling
ribbons of air. The house breathes
its mid-day languor. A drift of sun
shimmers, settles. Here
are dreams encased, unspoiled
by hurry; here a lace of
light and time and endless
flowers in the afternoon
sigh of almost evening.
Leanna Stead is a resident of Concord, North Carolina, who has been writing since the age of thirteen. Some of her favorite things, in no particular order, include poetry, cats, music, cooking, and tenpin bowling. In addition to poetry, Leanna also enjoys writing reviews of poetry books for Asheville Poetry Review and The Main Street Rag.
Scientists found another earth-sized planet.
New discoveries give me hope
that our days aren’t numbered
on numbing earth—with its too
many people, problems, waste.
I could start over 339 light years away
at peace among the Virgo constellation.
But they say it’s unlivable; sits too close to its star.
Atmosphere’s metallic, hot, dense like Mercury.
How can that be, it sounds like the perfect spot for me.
Amy Barone’s latest poetry collection, We Became Summer, from New York Quarterly Books, was released in early 2018. She wrote chapbooks Kamikaze Dance (Finishing Line Press) and Views from the Driveway (Foothills Publishing.) Barone’s poetry has appeared in Café Review, Live Mag!, Paterson Literary Review, Sensitive Skin, and Standpoint (UK), among other publications. She belongs to PEN America Center. From Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Barone lives in New York City.
My Chance Encounter with Bigfoot
“Listen, man,” I said in all seriousness, “Everyone is searching for you
and when they find you they’re going to put you in a cage and create
a reality TV show with you as the star, but really you’re going to be
treated like freak, and the producers are going to make all the money,
and when you’re no longer a novelty they’re going to turn you out
into the street and no homeless shelter in the country is going to take
you in because you smell really bad, you’re too big for the beds, and
you don’t have any table manners, so if I were you I’d head deeper
into the woods where no one will find you. Keep an eye out for
those lights and don’t be fooled by those fake ape calls. Head out
now and I’ll tell them I spotted you moving in the opposite direction!”—
That’s when he gave me a Bigfoot hug, and tiptoed off into the sunset.
(previously published in Talking River, 2014)
Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer/percussionist who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area, and a writer of poetry, flash fiction and non-fiction. His writing has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies—more recently in The Mark, Ink In Thirds, Alba, Corvus, Uppagus, Defuncted, Picaroon, Lucent Dreaming, and many others. In 2017 he was nominated for both the Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.
Eight Dada Beatitudes
Blessed are those who affirm the opposite of work, for they shall train heart and mind
toward the sensation of cold water.
Blessed are those who make sense of what they think of as June roses, for they shall
forget to pay for the apple.
Blessed are those who breathe on a child’s tiny foot, for they shall find no trace of dog
or cat with an iron safe attached to its ankle.
Blessed are those who labor at coming to be, for they shall be known as journalists
from over 200 newspapers.
Blessed are those who learn to identify a fluttering sound in the chimney, for they shall
let bears and lions growl in the attic.
Blessed are those who possess traits of character, for they shall move like the tiniest
wee girl you could lodge in a tree by the roadside.
Blessed are those who fall on a chicken in the cupboard, for they shall tear each other’s
eyes to get me some good digging potatoes.
Blessed are those who exemplify parents, teachers, students, or children to be models
of anything, for they shall count to a hundred lying on the floor of a prosthetics factory.
John Lawson teaches rhetoric and creative and dramatic writing at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh. His poetry collection, Generations, was published by St. Andrews University Press. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editors' Note: Cindy and Karen hope with all our hearts and souls that you enjoyed this issue. If you did, please tell us (and if you didn't, don't).