FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Crack opens in sky
Miracles rain down softly
Each a prophecy
—Denny E. Marshall
Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry, and fiction published. One recent credit is poetry at Plum Tree Tavern. See more at www.dennymarshall.com.
in the night
the moon has her own dark purpose for you.
—Richard King Perkins II
Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.
Waiting moon’s eclipse
spyglass poised on winter trees
she ascends branches.
Bronchi of the forest breathe
filling up the lung of sky.
Carol Shank is a former teacher living in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and numerous pets. Her poetry has appeared in High Five, Cricket, Ladybug, and Chronogram magazines. She’s written picture books for Capstone Press and Reading A-Z. Carol enjoys kayaking, bicycling, and gardening.
Trench coat of reparation is hard to trim up.
No rain is large-hearted to tip off its reach.
Pinfolds remind me of possibilities. Trellis
postpones execution of pageants forged in
my mind’s pit. Aggregate of all aggression
translates into fine words, I don’t love you
enough. Was there ever a measurement scale?
Bickering on love is a face-off with faith.
Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three well-received books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world: Indefinite Space, Serving House Journal, Better Than Starbucks, Right Hand Pointing, Mad Swirl, Ghost City Review, Boston Accent Lit, The Penwood Review, The Bond Street Review, 3:AM Magazine, Morphrog 14, Your One Phone Call, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.
to release sorrows
to the trees,
protectors, shade, our friends.
Amy Barone’s new poetry collection, We Became Summer, from New York Quarterly Books, will be released in 2018. She wrote chapbooks Kamikaze Dance (Finishing Line Press) and Views from the Driveway (Foothills Publishing). Barone’s poetry has appeared in Gradiva, Paterson Literary Review, and Sensitive Skin. She belongs to PEN America Center and the brevitas poetry community. From Bryn Mawr, PA, she lives in New York City.
Take a Walk on the Boardwalk
My invisible friend Dun Dunt says
Nature is a game of Monopoly—
we land on Boardwalk
thinking how beautiful it will be
with fresh linen and prime rib.
That’s when the temperatures skyrocket
and our beds float out to sea.
Kenneth Pobo has a new book out from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. Forthcoming is a chapbook from Grey Borders Press in September called Dust And Chrysanthemums.
There were more legs on the train than people. But why tell you the obvious. You
can only assume you will find the sky if you remove the roof. The story contained
five wolves except when it contained only three. The caption was of no help at all
and should have been removed.
Thinks the door is more outrageous than the forsythia, that the turnip has more parts
than the pump, that the number for the carrot is the same as the number for the
siphon, that the woman has more hands after she has been described.
Bob Heman's words have appeared recently in New American Writing, Otoliths, and The Other Side of Violet (great weather for MEDIA). An enlarged edition of his Dr. Cone poems will be appearing soon from Poets Wear Prada.
Cue a cold open, the morning spills out,
what can we hope to achieve
from such a frosty beginning?
Look up, the sun is a clever slow riser,
its rays bend together, branches
of light that never focus into flames.
That’s where we need to be,
in that kind of heat, swimming in light
with no worries of ashes in or behind us.
Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, Inwood Indiana, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is looking to publish a novel.
I cut down some trees at the back of my yard. It’s been two years since I opened
up the ominous space. The stumps still bear the scars of the saw.
Every morning, the neighbor walks his dog up to my old stumps.
He hated that I cut down the trees, and guides the dog there.
I watch from the window as I score a mango.
Carla Schwartz’s poems have appeared in Aurorean, ArLiJo, Fourth River, Fulcrum, Bluefifth, Common Ground, Cactus Heart, Gyroscope, Mom Egg, Switched-on Gutenberg, Gyroscope, Naugatuck River, Solstice, SHARKPACK, Triggerfish, and Ibbetson Street. Find her book, Mother, One More Thing, on Amazon.com. Her second book of poetry, Intimacy with the Wind, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her CB99videos youtube channel has 1,000,000+ views. Learn more at carlapoet.com, or wakewiththesun.blogspot.com.
Lord of the Flies
My cousin sent us the book
and said it reminded her
of our three boys.
(She quickly pointed out
it was "in a good way.")
If there is a good way
to be reminded of the tenuous
veneer of civilization
and the easy devolution into bloodlust,
then I'm glad my boys could do it.
But Golding's thesis
that in our natural state
we're crazed savages?
Personally, I'd rewrite it:
Simon and Piggy would still be on that island.
—Charles Joseph Albert
Charles Joseph Albert works in a metallurgy shop in San Jose, California, where he lives with his wife and three boys. He has been interested in poetry ever since the third grade when he and his brother had to learn Frost's "Runaway." For the past twenty years he has participated in the formalist poetry workshop at eratosphere.com,learning from masters like Alicia Stallings, Alan Sullivan and Tim Murphy. His poems and fiction have appeared recently in Literary Nest, Quarterday, Chicago Literati, 300 Days of Sun, Abstract Jam, Literary Hatchet, and Here Comes Everyone.
I nibble on midnight bark
to taste the thick vein of discontent,
season all my meats with moonlight
so when it changes to boredom
or belladonna, I can ingest that heat
as another moment of inspiration.
I drink deep of the dark sky
and the root systems of thirst
because only our hungers can save us,
only by swilling waters from the ocean floor,
swimming through its pressures of salted
mystery with creatures still unknown
will I survive the limits of what I believe,
and the monsters that wake
when I overturn the rocks.
—Michael T. Young
Michael T. Young’s fourth collection, The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost, was published by Poets Wear Prada. His chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, received the 2014 Jean Pedrick Award. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Chaffin Poetry Award. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals, including Cimarron Review, The Comstock Review, The Cortland Review, and The Potomac Review. His work is also in the anthologies Phoenix Rising, Chance of a Ghost and in Rabbit Ears: TV Poems. He currently lives with his wife, children, and cats in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The Pursuit of Coziness
On our hard gravel roads toward peace in family gatherings
shaded by disarmingly turning foliage, we forget
that the essence of such hearth-worshipping is found in the freezer
garnished with genocide skulls and buffalo shot out of existence
until our magic hour might as well be Stalin
and we meditate ourselves to sleep, little logs that we are,
lying on heart-attack beds, our only places of rest,
while steam engines of sex misfire, eye contact turns into jokes,
and clouds turn into ideological cinema without ideology
except for that lava that pours from lamps during earthquakes
our wordless lips produce, pulled into rising oceans by staring
into space, closing our eyes when the turkeys turn turkey vulture.
Anton Yakovlev's latest poetry collection is Ordinary Impalers (Kelsay Books, 2017). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Amarillo Bay, Measure, and elsewhere. Born in Moscow, Russia, he has also written and directed several short films and is the current education director at the Bowery Poetry Club.
Tramp (from Uncrying Sky, Slam UK, 2007)
Trembling at the train
Of lines and places
In a restraint
(transliteral transliteration by Erika Dagnino
with the assistance of Mark Weber)
Stefano Pastor is an Italian violinist, poly-instrumentalist, composer, and writer. He played both classical and jazz music in his career, collaborating with Borah Bergman, Harry Beckett, and Josè Carreras, among many others, and touring in Europe, Russia, and USA. He published a treatise about improvisation, several articles, narrative and poems for various magazines. He also devotes himself to teaching violin. More information at www.stefanopastor.com
Mark Weber was born October 21, 1953, in Covina, California. He has written poems, short stories, book reviews, and for several music magazines. From 1976 to 1990, he wrote for CODA, the international jazz music magazine. He moved to New Mexico and published chapbooks by ZerxPress, a publishing house he started in Upland in 1983. In 1995, ZerxPress began publishing CDs as well. More info at https://markweber.free-jazz.net/
Writer and poet Erika Dagnino has contributed to literary and music magazines. She has performed in USA and Europe with musicians such as K. Filiano and Satoshi Takeishi, among others. Her musical collaborations include the CD liner notes for Anthony Braxton’s Italian Quartet More info at www.erikadagnino.it
The Geography of Amore
Yes, there exists a reason
to dive and not to surface
from the life's ocean.
Yes, my daily vacation
takes me to your sleepy arms.
Your mountains. Your shoreline.
Oh yes, your fishing village,
I can smell again and again.
Pink waves in the sun line.
See, how a journey begins
when destination is already reached.
Kushal Poddar, widely published in several countries, presently lives at Kolkata and writes poetry, fiction, and scripts for short films. He is editor of the online magazine ‘Words Surfacing.’ He authored The Circus Came To My Island (Spare Change Press, Ohio), A Place For Your Ghost Animals (Ripple Effect Publishing, Colorado Springs), Understanding The Neighborhood (BRP, Australia), Scratches Within (Florida, USA) and Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems(co-authored).
under a full moon
we follow the jutted road
horse harness jingling
Balanescu String Quartet
pitter patter rain
caught in a shower
two lovers run for shelter
customs form filled out
her thoughts wrapped in memory
scarf, hand-knit (1)
Neal Whitman lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife Elaine. Neal was born in Boston and has been heading west his whole life … Pacific Grove is his last stop, as he and Elaine have two spots picked out in the Carmelo Cemetery across the street from the Point Pinos Lighthouse. A granite slab tablet greets visitors on the garden path to their cottage home, incised with the words of Thoreau: ex orient lux / ex occident frux.
Holiday: a Mid-Wales Street Market
Within the family, her walks are
patronised, like her art, her charity work,
her creative writing class. This holiday
walk takes her to a street market,
where they sell fruit and veg, deep
rolls of cloth, hot tea, brash beads, fat
wallets, replica shirts and Scouting shorts
and sheepskin, farm tools, sharp blades,
brown handles, a harrow. A clarinet.
Many of these Powys men are tanned,
love patter, have the odd ear-ring, grin,
show teeth which glitter with suggestion.
Behind the stalls, long skies to South
and East lie between her and home, and
here the Brecon Beacons, mountainside,
piled cloud, the chance of stormy weather.
(First published in Weyfarers 103)
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who lives in the Dylan-Thomas-country part of West Wales. He taught in British high schools for 30 years and on college courses in creative writing for a further 12.
That Delicious Day …
the sun kissed hills and swaggered
Over the valley
Cows mooed a low, skatty tune
While lilacs flooded the air
An alabaster kitten tangoed
With a tortoise
In three-quarter time
A cocker spaniel
Chased a dove
Which flew to the moon
A bronze owl
Rallied rabbits to abstain
Everything was mellifluous
That delicious day
Juanita Torrence-Thompson, a Pushcart-nominated poet, is also a playwright, short story writer, events producer, former college professor at the College of New Rochelle, and former Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of lauded MÖBIUS, The Poetry Magazine. Her second play, The Place, was performed in Manhattan in 2015. She has read in Singapore, Switzerland, South Africa, Canada, and extensively in the U.S. Her award-winning poetry has been translated into 15 languages. She holds an M.A. from Fordham University. She will read from her ninth book, When Morning Comes, and others. www.poetrytown.com
At twilight, pondering eternity
Enhances the grandeur of the night
As this soul tries to grasp infinity,
Noting that the heavens above aren’t quite
Of my understanding, and neither is
The Infinite; I consider the stars
And their distance, listen to passing cars
Thinking about all the millions on this
Planet and what’s beyond the ruin of thought.
The Gordian Knot of our existence
Cannot be untied, can’t even be bought;
Depends instead on faithful persistence.
Michael Seeger is a poet and educator residing in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, California. Prior to his life as a middle-school English instructor, he worked as a technical writer for a baseball card company and served as a Marine infantry officer during Desert Storm. He considers poetry a passion and writing generally a way of life. Michael’s poems have recently appeared in US poetry journals/publications like the Lummox Press, Better Than Starbucks, The Mindful Word and as finalists in several GR contests.
[Editors' Note: We thank Mr. Seeger for his service to our country.]
The Farm, State Route 82
Sometimes, I'd weave my hair into two thick braids spinning down my back,
Sometimes, I'd ride the Arabian mare, bareback, through the timothy,
Sometimes, we’d pitch bales of hay from a flatbed truck into the loft till after sunset,
Sometimes, after sunset, we’d eat grilled rainbow trout with our fingers by the fire,
Sometimes, his mother would fingerpick James Taylor songs on her acoustic guitar,
Sometimes, I’d smoke his mother’s Benson & Hedges menthol cigarettes,
Sometimes, he’d steal his mother’s prescription Benzedrine from the medicine chest,
Sometimes, he’d wash a couple bennies down with a pint of Wild Turkey,
Sometimes, we’d spy wild turkeys, eyeing us from the pasture’s edge,
Sometimes, the eyes in the walls would chase him around our bedroom till sunrise,
Once, he chased his father around the barn with a felling ax,
Twice, I slept in the barn on a bed of thick straw beneath a Mexican blanket,
Twice, I slept beneath the stars at the thicket’s far edge with the Arabian mare,
Often, I’d dream of wild Arabians galloping through the spray of some far sea’s edge,
Often, I’d dream of an Indian man, riding bareback in a sea of waving timothy,
Always, he wore his hair in one long braid, weaving down his back.
Kim Noriega is the author of Name Me, published by Fortunate Daughter Press. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including: American Life in Poetry, Paris-Atlantic, and The Tishman Review. She was a finalist for the 2017 Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize. Kim grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and still loves apple-blossom showers in spring and Hungarian nut roll at Christmas. She lives in San Diego, where she heads the library’s family literacy program.
For All I Knew
There I was sitting as still as can be
considering my options when a bee flew
into my left ear and lodged itself in my brain.
From there everything I looked at was some kind
of flower in bright reds, purples, and yellows.
I had a desire for honey that was almost insatiable.
And when I spoke, people said there was an aftereffect
that was almost like a buzz. My first child had wings
that allowed her to fly through her first grade classroom
and visit me in the garden where I lay day after day
drinking nectar from the flowers like one of the gods
no longer afraid of living or dying but being in the moment
which for all I knew would last an eternity.
Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro Cuban Folkloric music for dance classes and Rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Recent writing in Dime Show Review Journal, Drunken Llama, Jokes Review, Third Wednesday, Futures Trading, Tower Journal, Chrome Baby, Brick Plight and many others.
The Gingerbread Boy Turns 40
Last night’s love carries me
back across the river.
I hurry the kids for school,
replace missing gumdrops,
straighten crooked faces.
Fox grumbles that our life
has grown stale.
Sometimes I hear
the farmer’s wife. Tempting.
Sweetness is no longer an issue.
In dreams I run as fast as I can.
Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children's librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook, The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press), and a full-length poetry collection, What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.
Chimes tap against our
windowpane. This evening
becomes starry sapphire
as seagulls rise in
flight over rooftops.
Winds wrapping around
trees tossing leaves.
The courtyard is full of
aromas from dinnertime.
Shadows growing longer
each minute. Lights go
on and I wait for you.
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. Three 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.
Where Optic Nerves Emerge
I do not need the aegis of another dream.
I'll see your seven states of grace,
of grief, of rages at the lack of light,
and raise you. I'll give benefits
of doubt out and I'll be considerate
of lilies even as they spin.
I do not need the aegis of another dream.
The moon is in its stationary orbit
and has next to no momentum so
it doesn't irk the lunar users
as much as the mention of it does.
Some questions can't be slept on—
they can have no memory
of where the body was.
Heikki Huotari is a retired professor of mathematics. In a past century, he attended a one-room country school and spent summers on a forest-fire lookout tower. His poems appear in numerous journals, recently in The Journal and The Penn Review, he's the winner of the 2016 Gambling the Aisle chapbook contest. Forthcoming books will be published by Lynx House, Willow Springs and After The Pause.