FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Aeschylus Keeps Throwing Himself
—John J. Trause
Note: The epigraph comes from Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound and may be translated “seeing the ship sailing on badly equipped with dark sails."
JOHN J. TRAUSE, the Director of Oradell Public Library, is the author of Exercises in High Treason (great weather for MEDIA ,2016); Eye Candy for Andy (13 Most Beautiful… Poems for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, Finishing Line Press, 2013); Inside Out, Upside Down, and Round and Round (Nirala Publications, 2012); Seriously Serial (Poets Wear Prada, 2007; rev. ed. 2014); and Latter-Day Litany (Éditions élastiques, 1996), the latter staged Off-Off Broadway. His translations, poetry, and visual work appear internationally in many journals and anthologies, including Rabbit Ears (NYQ Books, 2015), the anthology of television poems. Marymark Press has published his visual poetry and art as broadsides and sheets. He is the subject of a 30-on-30-in-30 essay on The Operating System, written by Don Zirilli, and an author of an essay on Baroness Elsa at the same site, both in April 2016.
Novels about people doing the same things over and over again without ever realizing that they did them before. The word “centipede” sometimes applicable, or the word “green.”
The game including the pieces of the sky that fell. The game including the three hats that were left behind. The game including the rabbit and the bear. The game including the word “thus.”
They boarded the perfect word and sailed it into the forest made of bears.
BOB HEMAN is a poet of the imagination. His cut-outs ["participatory cut-out multiples on paper"] and drawings and collages have appeared in a small two-man show at The Brooklyn Museum, in a one-man retrospective of the cutouts at BACA's Downtown Cultural Center, and in group shows in Toronto, Los Angeles, Chelsea, DUMBO, Williamsburg, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, Brooklyn Heights, and the East Village.
One day all of the elephants disappeared.
that they are hiding
inside the unused umbrellas
in the closets
all across the world.
HEATH BROUGHER lives in York, PA, and is the poetry editor of Five 2 One Magazine. His first chapbook, A Curmudgeon Is Born, is forthcoming from Yellow Chair Press. When not writing, he helps with the charity Paws Soup Kitchen, which gives out free dog/cat food to low-income families with pets. His work has appeared or is due to appear in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Chiron Review, Mobius, Crack the Spine, Main Street Rag, Otoliths, Gold Dust, Of/with, eFiction India, and elsewhere.
In the dawn
GREG BELL has been writing poetry all his life as a matter of exploration, and he’s (heretofore) made little effort to present his work to the public. It took a critical illness and near-death experience to renew his dedication to what he has to say via the written and spoken word. He now facilitates the Green Poets Workshop at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center. Says he, “We are the witnesses, the Jiminy Crickets of conscience, the agents of change, and we have a deal of work yet to do!” Publications include: Looking for Will: My Bardic Quest with Shakespeare, July 2015, Ion Drive Publications include: Looking for Will: My Bardic Quest with Shakespeare, July 2015, Ion Drive Publications.
“Boston house cat selected for jury duty,” says the newspaper.
I went out and showed this to Tiger.
I asked him if he would ever go to jury duty.
He was staring out at the street, thumping his tail lightly
On the grass, when he slowly turned his head,
Looked at me through his narrow-slit eyes and said:
"Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt euis."
I asked him what that meant. He said “You
Won't learn anything like that,
Go look it up.” So later
I found out it's Latin for
Kill them all and let God sort them out.
Stepping away I thought, that's one mean cat!
UDO HINTZE is an ex-mudlogger and poet. His poems have been published in The 21st Century, Bewildering Stories, The Criterion, and Inkling. He also works as Associate Producer for Tiferet Talk, the monthly radio program from Tiferet Journal.
—Sheila E. Murphy
SHEILA E. MURPHY has been writing poetry all of her adult life, and has more than thirty book titles to her name. Her work appears in anthologies, and she actively creates visual poetry and drawings. Her upbringing was comprised of flute performance and literature. She has lived in Phoenix for many years.
The New Millenium
I want to throw myself into a wild gray sea, swim to St. Jean de Luz,
get out dry.
I want to get my laundry back on Thursday, sheets ironed, warm towels folded, socks
aligned precisely by color, each arriving home together.
I want to smear caramelized butter on his nipples while he sucks my toes, slowly,
one by one by one by one by one.
I want to sing elk song in the Tetons. I will be the cow that chivvies the harem,
sex content unspecified.
I want every gun in America destroyed. Citizens will have the right to bear bows and arrows, non-motorized. Crossbows not allowed. Large rubber upper limbs may still be carried and presented at military revues.
LESLIE PROSTERMAN, author of the book Snapshots and Dances (Garden District Press) and other poems in various journals and collections, has collaborated with composer Charley Gerard to set her poem FluteBone Song to music, now out on CD (Songs of Love and Passion). She is a featured reader/performer in book festivals, libraries, bars, art galleries and vaudeville revues. A former academic, she is also a sometime student of trapeze.
Georgia O'Keeffe's: From the Faraway Nearby
She painted her first skull
from a barrel of bones
the cow’s head
against the blue
“I like the shapes
they have no
thing to do with death”
mountains thru the
holes in a bone
bones and moons
bones and flowers
a reddish bone with a yellow sky
LYN LIFSHIN has published over 130 books and chapbooks, including three from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It's Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize winning book about the short lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness. NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press, Paintings and Poems, from Tangerine press and The Silk Road from Night Ballet, alivelikealoadedgun from Transcendent Zero Press.
The Hudson Valley School in the Time of RMN
Only in Esopus does morning spill
just so, puncturing dense skies and denser
stands of oak with random spears of day
that drop upon the iced remains of summer,
falling to earth precisely where we lay,
improvising blessing and escape
from failing light. Only in Esopus did
cryptic valley rays select for targets
flat, gray monuments and secret parts
of your endless capacity for drawing,
in midstream, moonlight and quick conclusions
from the night. Only in Esopus could
taut, bright chords from a breathy canticle
take on the shape and taste of stars settling
soft in the whiteness of your prairie hands
“The Hudson Valley School” originally appeared in Medicinal Purposes Vol.I, No. 5.
KENNETH SALTZMAN is a writer and poet who lives in Woodstock, NY, and Ajijic, Mexico. His poetry has appeared in Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers, Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude, Rattle, The New Verse News, The Comstock Review, and elsewhere. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
August 29, 2011
Afternoon of Hurricane Irene Montauk Point, NY
The storm has passed
Now a continuous swooshing of leaves
Accompanied by subdued ocean surf roars
Interspersed by an occasional
Distant handsaw rattle and
A fierce breeze heavy with negative ions
Swaying through my window
Lifting the spirit
NYC Native Peter Bové currently resides in Texas working on his documentary about the Peyote Ceremony of the Native American Church as practiced by The Comanche. His recent Solo Exhibit of Fine Art at the Alliance Francaise received rave reviews. A collection of 57 poems titled Souls Weep in the Ekphrasis style will be published this summer. Although a writer/director/producer of film television and documentary, including 2003 Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner: Capturing The Friedmans admits he is in actuality a raconteur poet adventurer.
A Refrain of Sailors Returning Home
Fog, fog is blinding our sight.
It won’t let us see through
the panorama ahead.
There, it’s all dispersed.
What a superb view!
No, no way it could have been the same!
Or maybe we didn’t take a proper look
back when we set sail.
translated by Arben Latifi
ALISA VELAJ was born in the southern port town of Vlora, Albania in 1982. She has been shortlisted for the annual international Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in UK in June 2014. She was also shortlisted for the Aquillrelle Publishing Contest 3 in January 2015 and was the first runner up in this contest. Velaj’s full length book of poetry A Gospel of Light was published by Aquillrellle in June 2015. Her works have appeared in a number of print and online international magazines, including: Blue Lyra Review (USA), The Cannon’s Mouth (UK), The Missing Slate (UK), The Midnight Diner (USA), Poetica (USA), Time of Singing (USA 2014 and 2015), Canto (USA), Enhance (USA), Ann Arbor Review (USA) The French Literary Review (UK),SpeedPoets (Australia), Erbacce (UK), FourW twenty-five Anthology (Australia), Poetry Super Highway (USA), Knot Magazine (USA Winter 2014 and Fall 2015), and many others.
A Not-So-Still Life, With an Umbrella, Traffic Cone, and Lamp Post
Broadway, Astoria, Queens
with no handle
across the sidewalk
like a black turtle
into a phosphorescent
Con Ed traffic cone
with a single dead eye
in a serpent-shaped head
GIL FAGIANI is a translator, essayist, short story writer, and poet. His latest book is Logos (Guernica Editions, 2015). Gil co-hosts the Italian American Writers’ Association’s monthly readings in Manhattan. In 2014, he was the subject of a New York Times article by David Gonzalez, “A Poet Mines Memories of Drug Addiction.”
Standing in Line at the Post Office
We wait & wait & wait & wait
just to buy a couple of stamps.
Curt postal clerks infuriate—
dawdling—while we wearily wait.
Cool deportments disintegrate
as feet & legs throb with cramps.
We wait & wait & wait & wait
just to buy a couple of stamps.
DAVIDSON GARRETT is the author of the poetry collection, King Lear of the Taxi, and two chapbooks, To Tell the Truth I Wanted to be Kitty Carlisle and Other Poems, and Southern Low Protestant Departure: A Funeral Poem. He has work forthcoming in 2 Bridges Review and the anthology, Meta-Land: Poets of the Palisades 2.
Facing the IRS
The Great Paper Chase goes ever on,
without help from king or elf or dwarf
to find Mount Doom and meet Destiny.
Alone, the path is not straight, but twists
and winds through offices of no name.
Low-walled cubicles, phantom folders
and floating toll booths line our Progress.
So we create ever more paper
demanded by those who are in charge.
Faceless, we know them from letters
sent with deadlines and threats for reply.
Now, unknown and hidden as they are,
We seek closure and try to burn the
reams we have collected, or at least
file them until next time.
—Edwin S. Segal
EDWIN SEGAL has been writing poetry since college (late ‘50s). Fortunately, everything before 1974 has been lost. Some of his published poetry has appeared in Poetica Magazine and Verse-Virtual; a lot is out of print. He is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Louisville and has conducted field research in Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa and Kyrgyzstan. Apprentice House Publishing has just agreed to publish his chapbook, Heritage.
Sky where large clouds race,
A car, tape deck on the roof,
We dance. Her hair flies
In the wind.
I am throwing my head back,
Two stepping, twirling, bucking—
Interrupted by sobs—
Circling, extending my wings,
Beating the air.
From the steps a stranger threatens.
I have left your stony, joking, partially forgiving face.
The bed you thought a throne. The Dead, The Grateful Dead,
Are playing, “I Know You Rider.”
Joyous, the skeleton, roses blooming from its skull,
Rides the jacket’s back.
MICHAEL GRAVES is the author of two full-length collection of poems, ADAM AND CAIN (Black Buzzard, 2006) and IN FRAGILITY (Black Buzzard, 2011), and two chapbooks, Illegal Border Crosser (Cervana Barva, 2008) and Outside St. Jude’s (R. E. M. Press, 1990). In two thousand four (2004), he was the recipient of a substantial grant of from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. Thirteen of his poems appear in the James Joyce Quarterly.
kissing backwards as we did drift
out the window—our shoes, still intact
alighting on the western wind
how we sailed clearly above
the city's din—trailing colors left
in our wake—without words we
flew above the huge aspens,
the shallow lake—no mistake
then we flew back in reverse—
like an upside down tarot card:
no worry, no curse--how the evening
light loomed, and did serve
several cups of jasmine tea—
along with borscht and blinis savored—
just how we painted the town red
KATE LAMBERG, BA, LMT (licensed massage therapist) has been writing poetry forever! She hosts a monthly open mic poetry/music event at the Port Jefferson Free Library. Kate also loves composing music for the piano, and performing her folk and blues tunes out and about on Long Island. In addition, she runs a healing center, where she shares her love of healing massage, yoga, and meditation.
Fish Gotta Swim, Birds Gotta Fly
The garden in the Fisherman’s Inn is made
a young new place by the summer evening.
Shoals of mackerel shift in the bay and above them
the gulls’ cries sing with the same melancholy
as the juke box and the blues singer’s love song.
These two, the boy and girl, feel a nervous wonder.
It is evening on an August day and the boats are at anchor.
(previously published: UK online journal Snakeskin, Issue number 217, April 2015)
ROBERT NISBET is a poet from Wales who taught creative writing for many years in Trinity College, Carmarthen, where he also acted as professor to exchange students from the Central College of Iowa. He has over 200 poems published in Britain and publications in the USA in journals like Main Street Rag, San Pedro River Review, Clementine Unbound and Constellations.
At first, you made the bobbysoxers swoon,
the biggest crowds the Paramount had seen.
My mother's secret passion at sixteen,
she cut her classes just to hear you croon.
You always seemed to sing the perfect tune,
and any time that love was on the scene,
that's when you sand the sun, you sand the moon
and all the stars that glittered in between.
And when you conquered Vegas with the Pack,
my mom would fly there just to hear you sing.
You were her secret lover on the side.
She'd sneak away behind my father's back,
your magic voice, the object of her fling,
a flame she couldn't put out if she tried.
FRANCINE WITTE is a poet and flash fiction writer. Her latest chapbook, Not All Fires Burn the Same, has just been published by Slipstream Press. She lives in Manhattan.
when she asked me
if we could get engaged
once she began grad school
so she could wear a ring
to fend off other men
from hitting on her,
I was somewhat shocked
while sitting across the table
at The Olive Garden;
and in that brief
moment of hesitation
before saying yes,
our fate of no
was forever sealed
—Scott Thomas Outlar
SCOTT THOMAS OUTLAR hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, and essays can be found. His chapbook Songs of a Dissident was released in 2015 through Transcendent Zero Press and is available on Amazon. His poetry collections Happy Hour Hallelujah (CTU Publishing) and Chaos Songs (Longsword Press) are both forthcoming in 2016.
A Boy in Islamabad: Circa 1977
He sits dirty, unkempt
by the red dusty roadside
as tourists gawk
and drop silent dollars
into a makeshift wooden bowl
His mother crouches
over a fire nearby cooking dinner
The little boy looks
with moon eyes at strange faces,
while silently rubbing his foot,
his dusty foot,
that has a quarter-sized hole
JUANITA TORRENCE-THOMPSON, Pushcart nominated poet, Short story writer, playwright, events producer. Former Adjunct Professor, former actress and former Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of award-winning MOBIUS The Poetry Magazine for 7 years. MOBIUS and her books were Small Press Review “pick”. Awards for poetry, short fiction, feature articles, children’s poetry. Short fiction & poetry published internationally, Poems translated into 15 languages. Latest poetry book, The Secret Life of Scrambed Eggs. #9 forthcoming. Her 2nd play, “THE PLACE,” was recently produced in New York City. Holds M.A. Fordham University. Reads prose and poetry in Singapore, Switzerland, South Africa, Canada, U.S. www.poetrytown.com
(When I saw the Jallianwala Bagh)
Along with friends
as I made my way in
a roofless podium did I see
riddled with bullet marks
It is still there, next to it,
an abandoned well
Don’t be amused
This isn’t the well Joseph was cast in
Joseph was lucky that he was alone
As I neared the well
the sound of gunshots and screams
grew louder, unbearable
and I traced my steps back
—Dr. Santosh Alex
Author of 18 books, DR. SANTOSH ALEX is a bilingual poet and widely published translator and a poetry curator. He is the founder of India’s first e-journal devoted to poetry alone, Rithupoetry. He is an invited poet to different poetry festivals in the country. He has two poetry collection Dooram (2008) and Njan ninakku oru ghazal (2013 )in Malayalam and one poetry collection in Hindi Panv Tale ki mitti ( 2013). His poems has been widely translated into Hindi, English, Telugu , Odiya, Bengali ,Nepali and German Language. His poems have been published in Sunrise from the Blue thunder(International Poetry Anthology), Hudson view ( International Poetry Journal), Indo Australian Poetry Anthology, The Enchanting Verse, Muse India, Pratilipi, Seven Sisters Post and Indian Ruminations.
Fear Tells a Story
I’m afraid that if I rip myself open for you
Everything I am will fall in a heap on the floor
Not at your feet, of course you’re not here by now
Like two kids fighting over an ice cream cone
One ending up with the sharp and cracked end
And the other, the space between her fingers
I need to write something everyone will understand
I need to write myself into every crack of every wall
This way we can all live in one world, which is hope.
What I’m saying, of course, without knowing how,
Because almost everything gets lost in the saying,
Is that let’s hope let’s love let’s not let everything die.
—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.