FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
When the dream forgets
to end itself, you will know
you are not asleep
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. 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.
What a gift would I have
to offer this world
could I enchant
like a thrush at dusk
one kindred soul.
Joan Higuchi, with her first chapbook, A World of Small Things Singing (available at Finishing Line Press and Amazon.com) and a collection of poems related to her history as an RN/Treatment Team Leader in the field of mental health about to be published, is the winner of first place in A Writer's Digest competition, a contest sponsored by the WWBA and consecutive annual PPA awards. She has been published frequently over a span of twenty years, most recently in Avocet, The Bard, The Odyssey, The Long Islander, The Lyric, and several reviews and anthologies.
During the night of the pink moon,
the shadow of the sun swims
in front of the light. Crescent gulps
turn the lunar disk black, scaring
the cidadas into stone silence.
—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, Dubai (UAE), the UK, and the USA, including The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Red Paint Hill, Elsewhere, Frogpond, Mudlark, and Counterexample Poetics. He is fond of avant-garde jazz, murder mysteries, contemporary poetry, and travel, and lives in Alexandria, VA, with his bride, two Maine Coon cats, and a Tibetan Terrier named Finn.
Dense leaved trees
at the first cold winds
and do not know
if spring will come again.
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways (Winter Goose Publishing). Perceptions, Displays, Fault Lines and Tremors will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press) Acts of Defiance (Artema Press). Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.
No animals here
no pond frogs croak no deer-eyes
Yet what whispers thrills
Peter Blaxill is a retired theater professional. His poems have appeared in the Riverside Anthology and the Jefferson Market Anthology. He has also had poems published in The New York Quarterly.
In this shell-
words have become
walruses & worlds
the inside of an
igloo & the only
stories that emerge
come out of a hole
the Inuit have
cut in the ice.
Mark Young is the editor of Otoliths, 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.
We woke without knowing
why. A windless night, clear:
stars dove into the lake, hail-
heavy, blizzard-thick, trailing
white-hot streams. Fireballs
burst into colors, lit our up-
turned faces, while the fixed
stars above shone bright
as ever. And the sounds—
rustles like breeze-stirred
cattails, snaps like ice-
cracked limbs. We gazed
till daybreak, then combed
the shore for thunderstones.
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.
43 (from Oscillating Echoes)
I held a lyric of wind’s piano
in the good hand of my promise
to observe and engage
with water’s lack of
a design of gradation, gray
a dangling of notion
a listening pivot
toward body’s softened
redemption of musical
—Felino A. Soriano
Felino A. Soriano is a poet documenting coöccurrences. His poetic language stems from exterior motivation of jazz music and the belief in language’s unconstrained devotion to broaden understanding. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthologies. He lives in California with his wife and family, and is a director of supported living and independent living programs providing support to adults with developmental disabilities. These poems from Quintet Dialogues: translating introspection are forthcoming in book form through Howling Dog Press, later in 2015. More information about Soriano can be found at FelinoASoriano.info.
Dark Winter Morning
I came out with you like when it hurt to part from you.
Breath of a head-bent worker went piping by.
Get in, you said, as if I were naked, not just
outside in a silk robe instantly shot with cold.
You tossed the newspaper to me above barely
visible doves, materializing out of pebbled air.
A pair, they went bobbing along the frozen clods
turned over in the next yard. I wanted to kiss you
the way I used to but they fell into furrows cupped
with ice so sheer their claws cracked water.
I must’ve watched their progress too long—
When I turned back to you, you’d already gone.
Maura Candela lives in Queens. Unless a poem presents itself, she is occupied with writing a novel about “The World’s Borough.”
Darkness coils in the melt field beneath the silver maple.
whose divided trunk extends great limbs
Like the Star of David or a composition for six voices.
The sky it reaches for is plated
With a dull patina like pewter
Or the cheap silverware acquired with coupons.
The old snow oozes into a common element.
Singularity of its crystals lost to an
Embossed drip where icicles incline ragged daggers.
The shallow roots hump like thirsty serpents.
Tonight, the crow moon rises. The dark plain: Sinus Aestuum
Calls to the wolves mating. To the blackbirds hunched on branches.
A farewell note is written in the jittery frost
Of a window framed in dimming lamplight.
Written. Written and delivered.
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).
Poetry – Acrostic
Placing your hopes and dreams
On pieces of paper while
Truth hidden within
Realms of yourself that
You never knew existed
—Adam Levon Brown
Adam Levon Brown enjoys reading, writing, and watching the wheels turn in this crazy world. He is a poet/author/blogger residing in Eugene, Oregon.
I am like a child when I am with you
and my imagination runs wilder
than ever before. As in a myth you
cause phoenix-like fires in me to smolder.
I am still dizzy from your smoke and flame,
still dizzy from the wine of your presence,
rendered weak by the mention of your name,
by its suggestiveness of your essence
which is part stone, part lilac, part river
and yet your sum is greater than these parts.
The consequence of this thought makes me shiver.
I do not know the future of our hearts.
I only know that I will suffer while
the sea pours salt in the wound of your smile.
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.
Where land slowly surrenders to water
The edges of worlds try to demarcate.
The spoils and the new born lightly gather
to sketch out a map of memory late.
White horses charge forth to certain defeat
The high valour dashed on the specks of sand.
Seaweed lines the battlefield in sodden pleats
Jellyfish yield easily to broken shell strand.
Back and forth the war seems to ebb and flow
I have seen the casualties form new palaces
But every border is breeched then and now
Even the sky remembers briefly the faces
Glen Wilson lives in County Armagh (Ireland) with his wife, Rhonda, and children, Sian and Cain. He has been widely published, including work in The Honest lsterman, Iota, and Boyne Berries. He won the 2014 Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize.
11AM – November 16, 2015
At the High Street A train subway stop,
a young, skinny soldier, so fresh faced
it looks like he isn't shaving yet,
stands at attention, holding a machine gun
unsmiling, he peers up and down the platform.
Is he frightened? Does he already know
he cannot keep us safe?
Tsaurah Litzky goes shopping for that which cannot be bought by writing poetry, i.e. joy, love without fear, deeper understanding. So far, she has published two poetry collections, Cleaning The Duck (Bowery Books) and Baby On The Water (Long Shot Press). Her twelfth poetry chapbook, Full Lotus, is due out in May (NightBallet Press.)
Boots On The Ground
Not John or Joe or Mack
Just boots on the ground
Not 18-year-olds or 20-year-olds
Not Corporals or Lieutenants
Instead laced-up boots filling with sand
Boots don’t matter because they are not people
No faces to those in the boots
The ones who send the boots to combat
Never see the boots, never see the faces
Never see the tears or the flags on the coffins
—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 has recently been published by Cervena Barva Press. He lives in Chestnut Hill, MA with his wife, Susan J. Dechter.
Lady, You Shot Me #12
He always gave
away the flowers.
If he kept the flowers
& he wore the flowers,
what he touched
could never be touched
by bullets? That is
how we raise
our children. That is
not the reality
of the garden.
Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear, in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, The Louisville Review, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of "As We Refer To Our Bodies" (2013, 8th House), "Temporary Champions" (2014, Main Street Rag), "The Pony Governor" (2015, After the Pause Press), and "Not For Art Nor Prayer" (2015, 8th House). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and children.
I only pretended to be shot.
No one noticed, stuffing all the bodies down a well,
they were one short. A loyalist pulled me away.
I lived the whole century, all one hundred years.
The crazy monk set the tone. It went downhill from there.
Forgive me if I’m bitter.
The strength of the nuclear family
is overrated if you ask me:
nature’s bindings yanked away,
butterflies killed on a wheel.
Too hard to remember my brother,
who bled at any bruise.
His blood became their colors.
I outlived the bastards that killed my family.
I threw them down a well.
Here’s your wish drowned too. Seven kittens in a bag.
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.
He refuses to wear his eyeglasses,
spurning the coercive clarity
corrective lenses would confer
on worldly visions better left to blur.
Seeing everything wrong,
his wisdom runs from doubt to disbelief.
His trying arguments and scoffing wit
impale the torpid and the hypocrite.
Negation is his way,
offending lords and bishops of old rites.
Don’t expect his scalpel, chasing cancers
in old flesh, sweetly to carve new answers.
He is all the hope of
huddled generations tired and stale.
His head commands more eager brains than sense,
more curly hair than combed experience.
—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.
The Human Race
Today is a great day for the race. My grandfather squeezes the steering wheel and smiles
like a story about a cat stuck in a tree. There is a boy in the story. The boy in the story
walks by the tree in the story. The tree the cat is stuck in. In a story my grandfather’s
smile doesn’t tell a cat falls on the boy’s face and claws his eyes out. Sometimes boys
grow up, says the boy in the story my grandfather’s smile tells to the boy in the story my
grandfather’s smile doesn’t tell. This sentence is written in the clouds because the boy
sees things in clouds. Today is a great day for the race. My grandfather smiles like a cat
stuck in a tree in a story about clouds. He sees the stray is safe on the porch then backs
out of the driveway to take me someplace nice. Like McDonald’s.
Christopher Shipman is the author of 8 books and chapbooks. Most recently, A Ship on the Line, with Vincent Cellucci, T. Rex Parade, with Brett Evans, Cat Poems: Wompus Tales and a Play of Despair, and The Movie My Murderer Makes. His poems and prose appear in journals such as Cimarron Review, PANK, and Salt Hill, among many others, and his poem, “The Three-Year Crossing,” was a winner of the Motionpoems Big Bridges contest judged by Alice Quinn. Shipman lives in New Orleans with his wife and daughter, and teaches high school English.
Quite early this morning,
Awakening from a dream of my grandmother
As a young and ticklish woman,
I saw my life, all lives, as drops of water
Trickling down a rough, stone wall.
Pulled by the gravity of death, they ran willy-nilly,
Some fast, some slow,
Never knowing, just as water cannot know,
Which way the bumps and grooves in the rock would guide them.
And yet amid this random flow there is a pattern.
For the source, direction and destination are the same,
And though the drops cannot escape the wall,
Their endless play upon it shapes present paths
Into all possible futures.
An avid reader and writer since the age of five, Mark Johnson has been published online, in small haiku magazines “Dragonfly” and “Cicada”, the Australian small press “Radiation From Space” and the New York Times. He is a member of “brevitas," an e-mail workshop of short poems, and appeared recently in their 12th anniversary issue.
My last memory of those old stairs out back is slipping on the top step in the rain, landing on my coccyx. Sure thing, baby you winked when I asked you to build a deck to replace the trivial platform and rickety stairs to the house. You flew in like Apollo, skidding to a stop with two forty-pound bags of cement, and a cement mixer to churn urgent yearnings of burning hearts. Your muscles bulged like the sound of bugles, heralds of loudest light. You wore a skin-tight T-shirt. You filled the footings and stayed the night. We slept with the windows open.
Now the days slip backwards, grow short. Here we are, sitting on our deck, our city laid out like an alabaster carpet before us. The old chairs comfort us. The wind picks up from the northeast, the clouds skid across an endless sky. Through breaks in the billows the sun beats its rhythm into my skin. I shade my eyes with my hand to regard you. Ask myself where did twenty five years go, in what valise did they carry our youth and vigor, so carelessly thrown into the carriage of our wanting.
Anastasia Vassos is a poet living and working in Boston, Massachusetts. She began writing poetry around the age of 9. One of her first poems was a tribute to her father written in Greek. Her work has appeared most recently in "Haibun Today," "Blast Furnace Press," "Right Hand Pointing," and "Literary Bohemian." She is a vice president of marketing for a global engineering firm.
This is the Way the World Ends
A blackened dove without feathers
flew past my window today before
crashing wildly to earth, the start of
the seventh extinction.
Adios fish tacos and chicken fajitas
@ Antojitos de Michoacan. Au revoir
champagne brunches @ Chez Latour.
Its been a great ride through the rodeo of
everyday existence and it ends with a bang
not a whimper, religious fanaticism, nuclear
obliteration, one huge step for Armageddon,
one giant leap for the world to come.
As the cockroaches crawl amidst debris
from verbal bombast, moral braggadocio
radicals that remain march wordlessly
into the abyss.
—Martin H. Levinson
Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published nine books and numerous articles and poems in various publications. He holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills, New York.