FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
A lapse of the mind
An omission in the human utterance
A gathering of feeling
a rope loop propped up with hope
to lasso words running amok
a mouth reshaped, repositioned
to pronounce the roundest vowel
Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan and hosts Happy Yangsheng in Vancouver; credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, and 1,419 others worldwide.
The exponent cries,
And the factor multiplies,
Over and over.
A parameter is born:
—Jerry G. Ianni
Dr. Jerry G. Ianni is a Professor of Mathematics at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York. Besides enjoying haiku poetry, he is also an aficionado of chess. He volunteers as a Church musician and as an organizer of conversational English activities for international students in New York City.
He was unable to translate her socks, her eyes, her tiny machines. He counted the discrepancies that corresponded with frogs, then added them to the bowl full of colors, to the tree that wasn’t tall enough, to the story about the surface of the ocean.
Bob Heman lives most of his life on the page. His words have been published on every continent except Antarctica, and have been translated into Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Italian, and Hungarian.
I remember when your body
was a temple
and I was an atheist
Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College and an editor at Blue Fifth Review, is the author of The Vig of Love, Blasphemer, Pointed Sentences, and five chapbooks, most recently We All Saw It Coming. He has been nominated eight times for a Pushcart Prize. Against Prompts, his fourth full-length collection, is forthcoming from Lit Fest Press in October 2018.
which shadow will i put on today?
that one should have gone in the wash
crumpled up on the dresser ignoring me!
there are some decisions that have to be made
before the light creeps up on you
oozing over everything like a syrup
i think i'll wear the casual one
no need for anything sharp today
Pete Spence was born in 1946 and he hopes the world doesn’t regret it. Small-press publisher, artist, filmmaker, and poet, living for it day by day.
Black horse of desire,
whipped by a blind rider
into our dreams
want and wish and whim—
to have and to hold on
hurtling through the dark,
Antonia Clark, a medical writer and editor, has also taught creative writing and manages an online poetry workshop, The Waters. She has published in numerous print and online journals, including 2River View, The Cortland Review, Eclectica, The Pedestal Magazine, and Rattle. Her poetry collections include Smoke and Mirrors and Chameleon Moon.
Lingo (from Gravity: New and Selected Poems)
In college, I learned new words—
reification, nascent, inchoate—
hard to pronounce, even harder
to slide into conversation.
Ambiguity I loved, word describing
the world to me on my sail out
from the certain harbor of youth.
But ambivalence I made my own—
moving simultaneously toward
and away from what I loved,
fortress of the known unknown.
Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, from Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributor to the online journal Verse-Virtual. Her work is widely anthologized, including Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, The Widows’ Handbook, and most recently in The Poetry of Presence. She lives in Long Beach, California. More at www.donnahilbert.com
One green tree among the seemingly dead ones
bare trees pointing up as if to pray for leaves
Acres of dead cars in scrap yards
As working cars roll by 10 mph above the speed limit
Cemeteries with American colonials under Boston sod
As citizens and tourists walk by looking up
Nude mannequins in store windows stare out
At dressed people who don’t notice them
She lies in a kind bed waiting for her lover
who is making love to someone else in a queen bed
—Zvi A. Sesling
Zvi A. Sesling is the Poet Laureate of Brookline, MA. He edits Muddy River Poetry Review, publishes Muddy River Books and reviews for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene. He is author of The Lynching of Leo Frank (Big Table Publishing Co., 2017), Fire Tongue (Cervena Barva Press, 2017), King of the Jungle (Ibbetson Street Press, 2010), and most recently War Zones (Nixes Mate Books, 2018), and two chapbooks, Love Poems From Hell (Flutter Press, 2017) and Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva Press, 2011).
I need to be near water.
Once, I celebrated city—
subways, libraries, and stores.
That was when I needed less,
and more. Now I need the ocean.
I am tired of the fixed forms of the earth.
I need the patterns of the waves,
of water changing shape
beneath the changing lights and shadows
of a changing God.
Joyce Schmid’s recent work has appeared in Missouri Review, Poetry Daily, New Ohio Review, Sugar House Review, and various journals and anthologies. She lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband of over half a century.
I’ve never been able to put you into words that satisfy me
Everything comes out simple,
without any level of extraordinary.
I am every book, on every shelf
with the pages ripped from the spine.
I have written verse after verse
about longing, about the isolation
that anchors me like a pile of
toppled bricks. I want to write about
you with colored markers on the bedroom
walls, give each inch of you a space
on the kitchen ceiling, but there is
only a whitewashing, a candelabra
coated in old wax, a blackened hole
—Kendall A. Bell
Kendall A. Bell's poetry has been most recently published in Philosophical Idiot and Work to a calm. He was nominated for Sundress Publications' Best of the Net collection in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015. He is the author of twenty-three chapbooks. His current chapbook is called Until The Light. He is the founder and co-editor of the online journal Chantarelle's Notebook and publisher/editor of Maverick Duck Press. His chapbooks are available through Maverick Duck Press. He lives in Southern New Jersey.
On Plum Island
From my fingers
you taste the dark plum
with its yellow and red interior.
The sun is poised to set
as the birds return—
egrets and gulls—
to the marsh.
is pale lavender
as the sun lowers herself gradually—
then all of a sudden—
pouring herself onto the horizon.
[Editors' Note: "On Plum Island" was previously published online in Muddy River Poetry Review, Fall 2016]
Deborah Leipziger is an author, poet, and professor. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013). In 2014, her poem “Written on Skin” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on human rights and sustainability. Her poems have been published in Salamander, Voices Israel, POESY, Wilderness House Review, Ibbetson Street, and the Muddy River Poetry Review. http://flowermap.net/
Delight in Discord
I’ll have a starling ...
– 1 Henry IV
What a clamor, this twilight chorus
staged in a ginkgo, almost leafless,
dark birds that meld with dusky branches,
a rowdy crowd, a murmuration,
murmur as complain, accuse, though
I hear voices full of spunk, delight
in discord — chatter, whistle, purr
that rises into rattle — boisterous,
brash as Hotspur’s rants, his taunts,
cavils for the sport of squabble.
Katrinka Moore's latest book is Wayfarers (Pelekinesis, 2018).
Gacela of Moonshine
I want to dance
generations of dark matter
flame my feet burn through
dance like a raven perched on a sand dune
refuse to numb my dragon heart
do not want to please like lotus
do not want to be a fingerprint
on your thigh
dancing ends at midnight
if the red snake bites your neck
while pomegranate cheeks still burn
you might never get home
—Tanya Ko Hong
[Editors' Note: "Gacela of Moonshine" was previously published in Two Hawks Quarterly, 2012]
Tanya (Hyonhye) Ko Hong, poet, translator, and cultural curator, has been published in Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, Entropy, Cultural Weekly, Korea Times, Korea Central Daily News, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently, Mother to Myself, A collection of poems in Korean (Prunsasang Press, 2015). Her poem “Comfort Woman” got honorable mention in the 2015 Women’s National Book Association. Tanya is an ongoing advocate of bilingual poetry, promoting the work of immigrant poets. She lives Palos Verdes, CA. www.tanyakohong.com
O Ratchety Raving Flavius Fubar*
from ominous descent in escalator etched
in ore you ride the road to royalty
in desert dumpsters, resist policy police,
ignore injunctions to desist—acrimonious
insults spill forth from stubby fingers unchecked
amidst smarmy smirks of fascist typhoons.
Do your worst—the German wurst held sway
until pigs knuckled under and slaughter abolished
the day—raven tresses rising to adorn a shaven shore.
*Fubar: Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition
Elizabeth Burk is a psychologist who divides her time between a practice in New York and a husband and home in southwest Louisiana. She is the author of two chapbooks, Learning to Love Louisiana; and Louisiana Purchase (Yellow Flag Press). Her forthcoming collection, Duet–Photographer & Poet, will be published this spring. Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Rattle, Southern Poetry Anthology, New Madrid, Naugatuck River Review, Earth's Daughters, NELLE, and elsewhere.
Morning sunshine paint smears
on my driver-side mirror.
I’m waiting for the postal carrier’s
boxcar to trudge along.
The City came to finally
get rid of the tree stump.
And Wednesday morning is
as Wednesday morning does,
spitting coffee at me in
Super Soaker-size proportions
as I marathon outta here.
Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from the Midwest. When not working two jobs, she listens to music and scrawls lines on the back of gas station receipts. Her work has appeared at In Between Hangovers, Two Drops of Ink, Five 2 One, and others.
Caught in the W.E.B.
Relaxing in my private place,
I feel the fire, warmth, and depth—
Connected to the Internet,
Multitasking to my heart's content.
A smartphone gentle in my palm,
Is fast and causing no alarm.
A million answers it provides,
Without judgments it replies.
Conflicting answers are displayed,
My brain and heart now overwhelmed,
I hit DEACTIVATE and stop
All apps, all emails, and all noise.
Addicting, helpful, and discreet
This tool is dangerously sweet.
Yevgeniya Przhebelskaya is a founder and facilitator of Bergen Poetry Workshop, and an Administrative Assistant at Leonia United Methodist Church. She earned a Master’s in Education from Hunter College, CUNY and Bachelors in Comparative Literature and Creative Writing from CUNY BA Program. Yevgeniya hopes that her experience of suffering and healing will encourage people around the world. Yevgeniya’s poems were published in Ancient Paths, Anti-Heroin Chick, A Blind Man’s Rainbow, Time of Singing, and The Penwood Review. Check out her poetry page at https://leonia.church/2018-arc hive/poetry-by-yevgeniya-przhe belskaya/
So it is all behind us:
You’ve gone. I’ve stayed.
Your beard has grown, the children aged.
The storm windows need mounting again.
I clean the frames. You screw them in their place.
Our conversation flows like wind
We glaze another autumn.
Alice Twombly is the co-curator of Thursdays Are For Poetry at Classic Quiche, in Teaneck, NJ. She is a photographer and a new member of Brevitas. Her poems have been published in The New Jersey Poetry Monthly (first-prize winner), The Red Wheelbarrow Anthology 13 and 14, and Brevitas 14. She currently teaches at the Learning Collaborative of the New City Jewish Center, and lectures on literary topics at the Teaneck, NJ, Library, for the Friday Morning Group.
Marbleized in the white glow
of the phosphorescent box,
transfixed by its drone, we two
conspired to have thin men (with
turned-up collars and black hats
pulled down over one eye)
running through the darkness of
while the shadow-hidden
of our mother was couched
knees-to-her-chest in the darkness
of our living room.
—Judith Lee Herbert
[Editors’ Note: “Film Noir” was previously published in Long Island Quarterly’s 25th Anniversary Edition]
A graduate Cum Laude in English Literature from Columbia University, Judith Lee Herbert returned to poetry after a successful career in another field. Her poetry has been featured in print and online publications, including the Bards Annual, the Long Island Quarterly, The Ekphrastic Review, and motheringinthemiddle.com. Her poems will be included in the upcoming Silver-Tongue Devil Anthology and the electronic summer volume of These Fragile Lilacs. Her chapbook was chosen as a finalist in the Blue Light Poetry Prize and Chapbook Competition in 2018. One of her poems received Honorable Mention in the Nassau County Poet Laureate Society’s 2018 Poetry Contest.
A Little Drama
The sun was shining through the window while I was taking a bath.
My cocker spaniel opened the door and said, “Guess what?”
To which I responded, “Your ex girlfriend FiFi just became president
of the United States. I already know about it!”
With that, he told me he was still in good favor with her
and she could probably find us a bigger and better place in Washington,
if that was something I’d consider.
“I wouldn’t mind Washington for the nightlife, "I admitted,
“but I would never make it through one of those winters,
and neither would you!"
Acknowledging this with a nod, he reminded me
it was time for his walk and that if I didn’t mind
he’d rather have chicken for dinner instead of beef.
Then he licked my arm, which was hanging over the side
of the tub, turned, and while walking out the door
said he’d meet me in the foyer …
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 MockingHeart Review, Colloquial, Ordinary Madness, Third Wednesday, Rasputin, Fear of Monkeys, Brickplight, Soft Cartel, After the Pause, and many others. In 2017 he was nominated for both The Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.
Naggin' at My Noggin
I have found a profound funk
wearing no rare reward
My mattress is flattened into matted subject matter
Sleeping pill, pillows piled sloppily
in a den of denial and self-denigration
loads of loathing and loafing
I shuffle stuffed and short-shrifted
not gifted or lifted, drifting
befitting little, unfit for guests
second-guessing counting the seconds
to minutes in minute, finite detail
derailed and railing at my failure
uninspired, tired, mired in gloom
glomming at the gloaming
on the negative, re-neging my happiness, niggardly niggling
naggin' at my noggin
foggy and logy old fogey
Jeff Santosuosso is a business consultant and award-winning poet living in Pensacola, FL. He is Editor-in-Chief of panoplyzine.com, an online journal dedicated to poetry and short prose. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in San Pedro River Review, The Lake (UK), Red Fez, Stories of Music, Vol. 2, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, Texas Poetry Calendar, Avocet, and other online and print publications.
They trace the glory,
they itemize the wealth
and then in a predictable curve
as subtle as a seesaw thud
they build with a delicious stealth
(the cruder hacks use sheer verve
for the same story
of cultured pearls sinking in mud).
Observing the Aristotelian mold
of a beginning, a middle, and an end
the laundry is taken out, hung, brought in from the line
with tags, brands and trash served up as facts.
Aha! you chafe: Peruvian fool’s gold,
subsiding hopes, the loss of each true friend:
the actual death is an anticlimax
after the lip-smacking decline.
David Francis has produced six albums of songs, one of poems, and Always/Far, a chapbook of lyrics and drawings. Since 2013 he has written and directed the films Village Folksinger, Projection, and Commercial for Cassette. His poems and stories appear in a number of journals. http://davidfrancismusic.com
I live in the pauses and edits. You lived fully, and so I’ll never be able to tell your story
the way it should be told. I’ll never be able to tell her story, the sleeping woman
in the pale green summer shift and white wrap, falling off her shoulders, curled
on a hotel divan, her ankles crossed, her rhinestone sandals revealing well-formed feet,
just as her smile revealed well-formed teeth in an embarrassed grin
when she realized she wasn’t alone. I’m lost to composition and excavation,
and can only tell how her smile became a concerned frown, how she kneeled
in front of a crying man in front of a sun-drunk room down by a mountain
much like the one where your remains would one day be cast into the golden glow,
or how she hesitated, before wrapping him in tentative arms, offering coos of comfort.
Born and raised in Queens, Brendan McEntee received his Master’s in English from Hofstra University. He has a forthcoming book of poetry being published by Alabaster Leaves. His work has recently appeared in Plainsongs, Loch Raven Review, Main Street Rag, and Subterranean Blue Poetry. He has also served as editor of Triggerfish Critical Review and as a reader for Now Culture.
The times that don’t happen
Inspired by Niall Campbell’s "The Winter Home”
Darling, give me the times that don’t happen
snuggled under the red blanket
while the sea walks away to the sunset.
Darling, share with me good dinners
brought together with friends
while our children busy themselves building
their towers of balanced stone
thrown as black silhouettes
against the yellow-red of the fire.
Darling, let our laughter come in cold breaths
clouding upon the horizon,
let us play the game of no-jobs-to-do.
Let us snuggle while the red blanket
keeps us warm and the moonrise
lights the underside of our breath.
—Cara L. McKee
Cara L, McKee lives on the West Coast of Scotland with her young family and works in her local library. She's had poems published in various places, including 404 Ink and The Interpreter's House, and has more coming soon in the forthcoming anthology (Some Kind of Stupidity) from Dove Tales (Scottish Artists for Peace), online at Ink Sweat and Tears, and in The Bitchin' Kitsch.
A Plot Without End
Most writers hope their thoughts are told
in publication, and they're sold
before the final hand they hold
is duly trumped, and they must fold.
They feel diminished, thoughts unfinished,
incomplete while they’re replete
with more to tell before their bell—
they sense a cheat in this defeat!
But long before all’s said and done
and written, and their final one
has smitten (though yet not begun);
they're hopeful for another run
while verse and stories still unfurl,
for time they yearn—there's none to burn.
Their story’s done, and in that one
they meet their final plot or urn.
Ken Gosse prefers using simple language with traditional meter and rhyme in verses generally filled with whimsy and humor. First published in First Literary Review–East in 2016, verses have been accepted by The Offbeat, Pure Slush, The Coil, Parody, and Home Planet News Online. A Chicago native, he has lived in Mesa, AZ, for twenty years.