FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Editors' Note: After every issue goes up, we always get a curmudgeon or two who complains about the size and/or color of the print. With all due respect, the editors stick to their guns with regard to their formatting choices. Or, as the eloquent Sean Spicer would say, "IT'S SPRING, SO WE HAVE PUT THE TEXT IN GREEN, AND 12-POINT HAS BEEN STANDARD SINCE THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. DID YOU ALL GET THAT, OR DO I HAVE TO USE PROPS AGAIN?"
That being said, Cindy and Karen hope you enjoy this issue. [This press conference is adjourned until we feel like speaking to you again. NOW GO ON—GIT!]
Because the bears did not invent crucifixion. Because the owls did not invent the guillotine. Because the sheep did not invent the iron maiden. Because the snails did not invent napalm. Because the turtles did not invent The Bomb.
Bob Heman has been writing prose poems seriously since 1973. He recently retired from a job in the library of a corporate law firm and now spends most of his days constructing collages and poems.
Alice blue sky
dusk weaves fretwork
—Fay L. Loomis
Fay L. Loomis, a nemophilist (haunter of the woods, one who loves the forest, its beauty, and its solitude), lives in upstate New York. A member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers, her poems, flash fiction, and articles are in print and online publications. Most recent pieces have appeared in Halcyon Days, A Quiet Courage, Peacock Journal, Postcard Poems and Prose, and Watershed Review.
Awake, Midnight [from The Body, A Tree]
a throb of crickets
pours through each window,
sound that takes the weight of me.
Morning, and the squirrels
Morning, and the squirrels
squeak-chuff in the trees —
my waking so clean, I am the air.
Amy MacLennan's work has been published in Cimarron Review, Connotation Press, Folio, Hayden's Ferry Review, Linebreak, Poet's Market, River Styx, and The Pedestal Magazine. She has published two chapbooks: Weathering (Uttered Chaos Press, 2012) and The Fragile Day (Spire Press, 2011). She was featured in July 2016 in The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor and in September 2016 on Verse Daily. Her full-length collection, The Body, A Tree, was published by MoonPath Press in April 2016.
The great seducer
Hides in March
And fondles April
With Don Juan's fingers,
The book of love
In Morse code moans,
All over Broadway
Stuart Fishman resumed writing poetry in 2004 after many years away from it. Since then, he has been a regular participant in Evie Ivy's monthly Green Pavilion poetry events, having once been a featured reader. One of his poems ("33 Dreams") was published in The Venetian Hour: Dinner With The Muse Vol. II. In 2012, he had a poem called "Funeral For A Lesser Self" published in Stars In Our Hearts: Progression, courtesy of the World Poetry Movement (Suzanne Hilary, Editor), and he has previously appeared in this fine journal as well.
word-stealing quiet hidden
strata half-thought words
feather-light bones unruly
feathers left behind relics
land-bound leaves unbound
air-caught lift linger
slow-gathering color fade-
away stars’ slow circle
thief-moon’s light shadow
throwing dark become light
Katrinka Moore is the author of Numa, Thief, and This is Not a Story. Her next book, Wayfarers, will be published by Pelekinesis in 2018.
(if I can mix
the short one.
Mark Young's most recent books are Mineral Terpsichore, from gradient books of Finland, & The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago. An e-book, The Holy Sonnets unDonne, came out earlier this year from Red Ceilings Press; another, a few geographies, will be out later this year from One Sentence Poems; & another, For the Witches of Romania, is scheduled for publication by Beard of Bees.
Dialogue with Aristotle
the use of object
its design …
Inna Dulchevsky spent her early school years in Belarus. She was awarded First Prize in the 2014 David B. Silver Poetry Competition. Inna’s work has been published in numerous anthologies and journals, including Storm Cycle: Best Poetry of 2015, LUMMOX Poetry Anthology, Spark, Otter Magazine, KNOT Magazine, The Cannon’s Mouth, New Poetry, Calliope Magazine, Aquillrelle Anthology, and Antheon, and is forthcoming in Poetry Pacific. In MeArteka Literary Magazine, Inna’s work appeared in both English and Albanian translation. Her interests include philosophy, psychology, meditation, and yoga. The light and expansion of consciousness through the connection with inner-self and nature are essential in the writing of her poetry.
inside the hall
a bamboo shadow
moves across our master's head
and slowly climbs the window
from the bamboo ...
in the breeze
I hear a fairy
sobbing from her heart
David He has been working as an advanced English teacher for 35 years in a high school. So far he has had twenty short English stories published in anthologies. In recent years, he has had haiku published in magazines like Acorn, The Heron’s Nest, Presence, Rocket bottles, Frogpond, One Hundred Gouges, Shamrock, and Frozen Butterfly.
Lady on a Bench
at the subway
station, she’s tapping toe
to a rhythm that’s deep within
cup, what is it
you don’t want? Always you
look downward, or ... is it you’ve lost
Evie Ivy is a dancer/poet in the NYC poetry circuit. She hosts one of the longest-running poetry series, The Green Pavilion Poetry Event, in Brooklyn. Her latest book out is No, No Nonets … the Book of Nonets, available from Amazon.
On those rare occasions when
some radical injustice
set me off my even keel,
my mother would comfort me.
She’d murmur something
about silver linings
that I’d silently translate
to mean that weighty clouds will
drop rain, recuperating
Mary Newell, Ph.D., lives in the lower Hudson Valley. She has taught literature and writing at the college level, most recently at West Point. Her poems have been published in Earth’s Daughters, Chronogram, Written River, About Place, Jivin’ Ladybug, First Literary Review-East, Avocet, and Kind of a Hurricane Press’s Best of 2014 Anthology and are forthcoming in Spoon River Poetry Review. Her poem "Just a White Girl" is a finalist in the Poetrymatters 2017 contest.
we protect each other without knowing how. It has become second
nature. Still there are moments in question when we are wary,
suspicious or fearful. We try to overcome these peninsulas of fear. We
wrap our arms around each other's knowledge of suffering. We understand
the intimacies of protection. We breathe in the loam of earth. When
trees fall we try to bear up under stress and understand each other's
silences among phrases. But how do we protect each other without knowing
why? The snow has vanished. There's a dead squirrel on the path. It
is death we fear and we allow ourselves the medications of strange
ballads to overcome the future.
Judy Katz-Levine is an internationally published poet. Her books include When The Arms Of Our Dreams Embrace, Ocarina, and the chapbook When Performers Swim, The Dice Are Cast. Poems have appeared recently in Salamander, Ibbetson Street, Muddy River Poetry Review, Ygdrasil, Miriam's Well, and Soul-Lit. Her poem "Stark Light" was the featured poem for The Sunday Poet, edited by Doug Holder. She is also a jazz flutist and at readings peppers her poetry with original flute melodies.
I'm spending Saturday washing my sheets
and also missing my mother.
I'd rather not do either thing
but when laundry clamors for attention—
and my mother is dead—
what else is there to do?
Loud as wailing,
the medicinal-smelling machine
spins the sheets around and around.
Finally, the noise stops; the movement ceases.
The white sheets have stilled
but have not settled.
Austin Alexis, author of Privacy Issues (Broadside Lotus Press, 2014), has poetry and fiction in the bilingual anthology Poets 4 Paris, Home Planet News, The Journal, Barrow Street, The Pedestal Magazine, the anthology Rabbit Ears: TV poems, and elsewhere.
Chickory, Clover, Queen Anne’s Lace
And she fed the tiger swallowtail
when it attached to a marigold
And the breeze took its wings, black
and yellow, and its antennae stood erect
And it was itself a butterfly
as she herself was a girl
And when it dropped from my hand
the child said It always falls like that
Pollen on her fingers
Nectaring her wounded love.
Howie Faerstein’s full-length book of poetry, Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn, was published in 2013 by Press 53. His poetry can be found in numerous journals, including Great River Review, Nimrod, CutThroat, Off the Coast, Pirene’s Fountain, Rattle, Upstreet, Mudfish, and on-line in Gris-Gris and Connotation. He is Assistant Poetry Editor of CutThroat, A Journal of the Arts, and lives in Florence, Massachusetts.
High Tea at Buckingham Palace
Pre-dawn dream, April Fool’s Day.
with jeweled crown and ermine robe
invites me to sit with her for tea.
I am wearing flip-flops and pajamas,
a snarling bobcat on my shoulder.
Her manners are impeccable,
my epidermis blushes to a burn.
Earl Grey himself is pouring tea.
"We have black current jam
from Scotland,” she offers.
I nibble on a scone,
trying to seem at ease.
"And for the bobcat?
Some Devonshire field mice?”
—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.
Carved in a limestone mountain
my wishes are withering whims
But I do not complain.
Empty windows in computer darken
and turn into terminals, and idle
mind writes codes instead of
The void is much deep.
Draped in blue, the wallpaper
turns into the sky, and
the handkerchief folds into a cat.
Waves lash on my face, and retreat.
I lie between.
Suvojit Banerjee is from India and the United States. He started writing early, but found his niche in his early twenties. His works have been published in many Indian and international journals and magazines and featured in several anthologies. He currently works in a software company, and has worked as a lead writer/reviewer for a technology website.
Rome’s tunic could no longer cover
high towers. Forbidden emeralds
took away the cat’s sight
guarding the queen’s chamber.
This is how the men entered.
Barging in with virility hanging
on the hems of their opulent robes.
This is how the queen seated.
Morals lacing the toes she pointed
at her quests. This is how the kings met:
in villages at sundown drowning
their spleen in a gypsy potion.
By sunrise was carved their noble
intents on pillars for worship.
Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in a variety of magazines, both online and print, including several anthologies by different presses. More about her can be accessed on her blog sheikha82.wordpress.com
Lovers in a Painting
Deep magenta for my coat.
White slivers of drizzle,
Shades of lavender as air.
You touch the purple bench
With your violet shape,
Looking down at your blue shoe.
Like an indigo water bed
Sibilant as my desire’s grays.
Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Rattle, Anglican Theological Review, Poetry Kanto, Spirit Fire Review, Carbon Culture Review, Penwood Review, The McNeese Review, Pedestal Magazine, GNU Journal, Penmen Review, and Bangalore Review. He has two chapbooks, “Pictures of the Floating World” (Kind of a Hurricane Press) and “The Freeflowing All” (Black Poppy Review).
Soft, hydrangea-blue sweater
spiced by your cologne—
Collapsed across the chair,
Braille to the touch,
but, still, a feeling.
Conceding to life
and the rigors of time—
a tea-stained memory.
its final bouquet,
leaving me holding
Julianne Palumbo’s poems, short stories, and essays have been published in Literary Mama, Ibettson Street Press, YARN, The Cracked Spine, Poetry East, Rust & Moth, and others. She is the author of Into Your Light (Flutter Press, 2013), and Announcing the Thaw (Finishing Line Press, 2014), poetry chapbooks about raising teenagers, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her YA poem “Stuffing Bears.” Julianne is the Founder and Editor of Mothers Always Write, an online literary magazine of motherhood writing.
The Girl Who Made Them
In the closet of my room, the long slanted roofline
plastered white was a perfect canvas for sunflower suns,
psychedelic peace signs, mottled self-portraits & mindscapes.
The walls, tablets for tortured free verse
on teenage love, existential loneliness, fists against
Vietnam & Kent State.
E. Cummings, Ferlinghetti, Peter Max & too much
Van Gogh influenced, all in oil-based pastels that
“No matter how many damn times I painted,”
“it all bled through.”
Eighteen years later, a sixteen-year-old
in my creative writing class says,
“We’re renting this house. In the closet of my room there’s all
this cool stuff, art & poems like frescoes in an old church,”
and she writes a poem to the girl who made them.
Catherine Arra lives in upstate New York. A former English and writing teacher, her recent poetry and prose appear or are forthcoming in The Timberline Review, Boston Literary Magazine, The Naugatuck River Review, Gloom Cupboard, Peacock Journal, and Sugared Water. Her chapbooks are: Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014) and Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015).
The truth of hatred secretes itself
They stare at you, beautifying the
And no weapons needed, you are
of the peace, the beliefs, whatever
has kept you sane
There, escaping from your window—
oh why did you leave it open—
is the life you mourn today
Did it ever exist
And on the street, anger graffitis
Dd. Spungin, a host for Poets In Nassau and Performance Poets Association, writes a monthly poem for Brave Hearts (St. Francis Hospital) and has had poems set to music by NY composer Julie Mandel. Spungin’s work has been published in both online and print journals, most recently PPA Literary Review, Nassau County Poet Laureate Society Review, Maintenant 9, and Syzygy.
The Dating Game
Some attract with charm and looks
Some appeal with a love of books
Some will spend frivolously
Most will choose Door Number Three
(originally appeared on the Hello Poetry website)
Vernon Waring's third e-chapbook will be released in July 2017 on the Poetry Repairs website. The 24-poem chapbook will be titled The Universe Tilts and Other Poems. Four of his poems have been awarded prizes on the Winning Writers' website, and Ascent Aspirations Magazine has published 19 of his short stories.
Submersed in the green pre-storm atmosphere,
The quilted air heavy with feathers
Of exhalation. Birds suddenly
Silent, the blacktop shining like a parable.
Enigmas of distilled light as the rolling
Sea-lions of cloud descend, fleshy and
Bulbous. Everything portentous.
The woman says Mark Strand
Signed her book and died a week later,
Then Philip Levine. James Tate. Same thing
Uncanny. Every poet she takes
An interest in. Asks for my signature
On the title page of Bittersweet. I make the
Crossed fingers sign against the evil eye.
I’m interested in your work, she says.
Rain begins pelting the windows
Joan Colby has been the editor of Illinois Racing News for over 30 years, a monthly publication for the Illinois Thorougbred Breeders and Owners Foundation, published by Midwest Outdoors LLC. She lives with her husband and assorted animals on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has been published in many journals, and is the associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.
The Big Bucks
It has a name but it’s easily forgotten.
The paper still damp, still smelling of the dog’s clever mouth.
The one before and on the floor.
The best part of most science fiction movies is the beginning.
That’s why he makes the big bucks.
Which doesn’t make the pain any easier to take.
I wanted to reply to your response to my response to your response ...
Laugh all you want, I’m serious as hell.
You have infinite choices but not much time.
Nothing is so firmly believed as what is least known.
Give him his fire iron.
A panther rampant on a field of ragweed.
The Knights Templar are coming, carrying a Platonic ideal.
I keep wringing my hands but nothing comes out.
There is more to be endured than enjoyed in the general condition of human life.
Ian Ganassi's poetry, prose, and translations have appeared in over 100 journals, in print and online, including, most recently, Sonic Boom, Pif, Otoliths, and New American Writing. His poetry collection Mean Numbers was published by China Grove Press in September of 2016.