FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
The deeper into the forest they travel the more petty the local gods become.
Bob Heman's latest collection is The House of Grand Farewells, from Luna Bisonte Prods, which also includes six of his collages. His words have been published on every continent except Antarctica.
on other planets
earth called by maiden name
—Denny E. Marshall
[Previously published in Scifaikuest]
Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry, and fiction published. One recent credit is poetry in Space & Time #132 Fall 2018. See more at www.dennymarshall.com.
I need to be doing some very basic task
like mowing the graveyard grass.
The air is filling with green and the smell of youth
yellow defused weeds
spirit up from the dark death ground.
[“Cemetery” is from the poet’s chapbook False Spring, upcoming from Adelaide Press.]
Gloria Monaghan is a Professor of Humanities at Wentworth Institute in Boston. She has published two books of poetry, Flawed (Finishing Line Press, 2011, nominated for the Massachusetts Book Award) and The Garden (Flutter Press, 2015). Her poem “Into Grace" won the 2018 Adelaide Voices Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in Adelaide, the Aurorean, Aries, Blue Max Review, Fox Chase, 2River, and Underground Writer’s Association, among others. Her most recent book, Hydrangea, has been accepted by Aldrich Press.
when ant carries a leaf
bigger than an ant hole
head up, head down—
deer continues grazing
yet knows when to run
—E. Martin Pedersen
Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived in eastern Sicily for over 35 years. He teaches English at the local university. His haiku have appeared in Ink Sweat & Tears, Paper Wasp, cattails, Hedgerow, Under the Basho, Chrysanthemum, and others. Martin is an alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.
lingers like incense
adorning a church.
beyond the future
it creates itself,
inhabiting no direction,
echoing without sound.
Austin Alexis has work appearing in the anthology Suitcase of Chrysanthemums (Great Weather for Media Press), the anthology From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of the American Dream (Autonomedia Press), and elsewhere. His full-length book is Privacy Issues (20th annual Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, 2014). He received a Dragon's Egg Artists Colony Residency for August 2018.
A step away
Something small, but
always there. A street-
light amongst trees, the
joy of coming on it after
a time away. The beacon.
It is what we look for. Not
the dark foreboding & the
rattling echoes of an empty
house or the cacophony of
a light-strewn series of
familiar rooms. Too much
to take in in a single bite. In-
stead go for the bouquet,
from outside, a step away.
Mark Young's most recent books are les échiquiers effrontés, a collection of surrealist visual poems laid out on chessboard grids, published by Luna Bisonte Prods, & The Word Factory: a miscellany, from gradient books of Finland. Due for publication are Residual sonnets from Ma Books, & an e-book, A Vicarious Life—the backing tracks, from otata.
and the gander
out for a meander
And In Surrealist News
Vincent Zepp says: Arriving at the time in history (including literary history) when I did, I was blessed to have such a rich tradition of poetry, art, music, and culture available to me. This continues to allow my poetry to flourish in a rich loam of influences. The work, I believe, is representative of the best thoughts and intuitions of my generation of writers whose challenge is to move forward with the gifts given to us from previous generation of artists. From Ferlinghetti, who opened my eyes, to Pound and Eliot, through the various significant literary and art movements of the 20th century. Then there was the haiku master Basho, who showed us frogs leaping into the pond of our mind. John Berryman said our poetry should be something no one else could do. I've tried to focus on that idea.
Music as an anodyne
Before the hot tears,
before isolation and jealousy,
transformed innocent air molecules
into imagined butterflies
(some beat their rapid wings on my clavicle)
and all the ghosts of the great concert hall cooed and sighed,
and we saw the stars again before tonight’s rain.
—Carrie Magness Radna
Carrie Magness Radna is an archival audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, a singer, a lyricist-songwriter, one-time food blogger (The Hungry Librarian, at http://hungrylibrarian.me), and a poet who loves to travel. She won third prize for “The tunnel” (category: Words on the Wall: All-Genre Prompt) at the 69th annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (2017), where she attended workshops taught by the renowned poets Yolanda Wisher and Chrys Tobey, and has hung out with the irresistible and irreverent Mad Poets of Philadelphia, headed by Eileen D’Angelo. Born in Norman, Oklahoma, she is a member of the Greater New York Music Library Association (GNYMLA), and is a member/have read/workshopped for the New York Poetry Forum, Parkside Poets, Riverside Poets, Brownstone Poets and Nomad’s Choir. When she’s not performing classical choral works with Riverside Choral Society or New Year’s Eve performances with the New York Festival Singers, or writing art song lyrics with her choir buddies, or penning her own folk songs for her chorus’ cabarets, or traveling, she lives with her husband, Rudolf, in Manhattan.
Sheer birth into sheer sight:
Voluptuous death blooms.
X-rayed thoughts: the unseen
perceived. All sculpture
has an armature, all flesh
a spine. Like delicate bones,
a winter forest etched
on the gelatin plates
Dean Kostos’s memoir—The Boy Who Listened to Paintings—is forthcoming. His eighth collection—Pierced by Night-Colored Threads—was released in September of 2017. His previous collection—This Is Not a Skyscraper—won the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award, selected by Mark Doty. He is the author of the previous collections: Rivering, Last Supper of the Senses, The Sentence That Ends with a Comma (which was required reading at Duke University), and Celestial Rust. His poems, personal essays, and reviews have appeared in The Bangalore Review (India), Barrow Street, Boulevard, Chelsea, Cimarron Review, Mediterranean Poetry (Sweden), New Madrid, Southwest Review, Stand Magazine (UK), Western Humanities Review, on Oprah Winfrey’s website Oxygen.com, the Harvard UP website, and elsewhere. He has taught poetry writing at the Gallatin School of New York University, The Columbia Scholastic Press Association, The City University of New York, and Wesleyan. Also, a recipient of a Yaddo fellowship, he has served as literary judge for Columbia University’s Gold Crown Awards.
in different waters,
I reach for you.
Edward Lee's poetry, short stories, non-fiction, and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England, and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen, and Smiths Knoll. His debut poetry collection Playing Poohsticks On Ha'Penny Bridge was published in 2010. He is currently working towards a second collection. He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Lewis Milne, Orson Carroll, Blinded Architect, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy. His Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/edwardleewriter
I am secluded,
a sea wreck
drifting on Dantes’ sea,
hot as hell,
after a blow.
A derelict ship.
I make ripples
in my wake,
my mast tilted
yet she stands.
Austin Stevens' interest in poetry started at a young age when he began reading Longfellow and decided he'd like to be a writer. He loves to cook, enjoys the company of felines, and currently lives in NYC. One of his poems has appeared in the online publication Shot Glass Journal.
His Family of Glass
You cross the bridge from one side
and he begins his walk from the other.
Exchanging secrets or an embrace is
anyone’s guess. And wasn’t this the bridge
near Salinger’s place? His family of Glass
falling apart before his eyes? The locals are dodgy
as locals are wont to be. McCarthyism starts with a short date
on a single loaf of bread and grows from there.
An outsider may as well be from outer space.
No one is talking to you and god forbid your car
breaks down. They want you to leave, but nobody
will help you get there.
—Ryan Quinn Flanagan
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Literary Yard, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.
This land takes no guff from the wind.
Not anymore. It’s stripped down
to bedrock and scrub brush
deeply committed to its roots.
An unexpected peace here, contentment
where not much remains—
where everything that can be has been
Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com.
The Halfway Point
From a far distant future, something looks back
At the artifacts left of our scant civilization.
The fraught knowledge we stored religiously
Unembarrassed by the lack. Remnants
Poorly understood the way we misconstrued the red
Handprints on cave walls. Evolved from what we
Thought to achieve, you scan us down the lost
Centuries wondering (perhaps) how we made do.
Joan Colby’s Selected Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage was awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her recent books include Carnival from FutureCycle Press and The Seven Heavenly Virtues from Kelsay Books. Her latest book Her Heartstrings was published by Presa Press in 2018.
I’ve walked these halls before, seen the dimmed faces
of those destined to die because they were born Jews, “Juden.”
Time-tattered images of people frozen in time,
matted on walls like cheap paper.
Eyes of the innocent open.
Eyes of the world shut.
And here we are again, parasites churning
forgotten nightmares into recurring fears.
We cannot ... must not ... forget
those who now live only on walls.
[Reprint from Ekphrastic Review based on a picture of the National Holocaust Museum]
Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland, where she and her husband fill their empty nest with three cats and a dog. Their two sons live in Texas and New York. After a career in journalism and public relations, she spends her time making cards and memory books, refereeing pets, and pursuing her first love—writing poetry. Her work has been published in a number of publications, including Silver Birch Press, Ekphrastic Review, Whispers, and Social Justice Poetry.
The trees are full of prayers,
each leaf a wish, a warning.
Driven by gentle winds
that nudge the branches,
an early autumn
arrives in the Delta.
By glint of dawn
its brilliance emerges
in myriad colors and motifs—
from sullen swags
to thinning treetops
light with twitter.
Leaves more dead than alive,
as many gone as present,
and all of them radiant
in the purple sparks of dawn.
Dixon Hearne writes in the American South. He is the author of seven books of poetry and fiction. His work has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, as well as the PEN/Hemingway award. His latest book is Plainspeak: New and Selected Poems. Other poetry appears in Poetry South, Tulane Review, Big Muddy, New Plains Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, The Southern Poetry Anthology, IV: Louisiana, and elsewhere. He is currently working on a new poetry collection. www.dixonhearne.com
Tears that well, but cannot fall
From branches hang rain-pearls
Donned in moonlight capes
One side of a coin
We toss too willingly
Into the air
What could sprout
A beautiful thing to behold
The carvings of tears and rain
David FauntLeRoy lives in Spokane, WA with his wife and two dogs. He enjoys their company greatly.
In the Halfway House
All outcasts should grasp
the last fallen pollen
before leaving, as softly
the sky expands like a woman
releasing you from sorrow
after you deny having sinned.
Houses creak out inert shadows
for your eyes to black out in,
though seeing the cool forever
no one abides there for long.
Overnight your watchdog
leaps into a painted void
I'm the only curator of.
In an eternal absentia
no one is hurt by animals
where only spirit-fossils remain.
Peter Magliocco writes from Las Vegas, Nevada, where's he's been a longtime resident and periodic small press contributor. Recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net in poetry, he has work in Poetry Life and Times, The New Ink Review, Degenerate Literature, Midnight Lane Boutique, Ariel Chart, and elsewhere. His latest poetry book is Poems for the Downtrodden Millennium from The Medulla Review Publishing.
The hills and sky surround …
There’s no one else around
(not even God, it seems),
and for a sudden, still moment
frozen in time—
I harbor the belief
that I neither want
to be found.
—Wil Michael Wrenn
[This poem is from the author’s book Songs of Solitude]
Wil Michael Wrenn is a poet/songwriter living in rural north Mississippi. He has an MFA from Lindenwood University and is a songwriter/publisher member of ASCAP. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has published a book of poems. His website can be found at: http://www.michaelwrenn.com/
It was the 5AM misty figure of a woman
her hair waving in the wind—
a melodic line.
I found scattered sea glass in her wake,
shards that reflected me
in fractured moments.
An old crab followed me
we were both in our shells
suspicious narrow slits of eyes
he was some lifelong crony
it could have been Jim.
A Greek Chorus of gulls
squawked at me to go on.
I finally reached her
and the crab and I watched
as they disappeared in the mist.
Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. He teaches writing at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston and Endicott College in Beverly, MA. For over 30 years he led poetry groups at McLean Hospital—a psych hospital outside of Boston.
Side roads took me where
I had not meant to go.
My night was a kitchen table
Cleared of mealtime plates,
Stacks of books to be read.
There can be no lift-off
Without screams and torment;
Conflict’s roar, or a long, slow
Sit-down with demons.
Angelo Verga has been widely anthologized and translated. His seventh book is a new & selected volume, Long & Short, including The Street in Your Head (2016). Available on Amazon. He is a former owner of The Cornelia Street Café, where his inventive programs (1997-2015) created a home for both poets & audiences.
The first threat comes from the book on the defeat of beauty;
the second from the noisy war.
In between, everything settles around snowfall,
silent anguish, the mute and the deaf man.
How is any of this possible?
Where did the first snowflake land?
How did music begin?
When did the ape pick up the first weapon?
The man imitate the ape? The woman cheer?
The soft fragrance of mist against flurries,
a thickening of ice against tree and grass,
a hardness of nothing important but so important
we must die for its cause,
the final moment when the ape decreed he was god.
Nothing else could smell that bad.
—Michael H. Brownstein
Michael H. Brownstein's work has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, After Hours, poetrysuperhighway.com, and others. He has nine poetry chapbooks, including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and The Possibility of Sky and Hell (White Knuckle Press, 2013). His book A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet's Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia was recently published by Cholla Needles Press (2018).
Last Shot’s Echo
One winter in Korea a violin went awry.
sound waves thin as tracers or wires cut
loose, snipped from redwood stain, and
danced over snow fields, up the mountain
holds, shattered wet air with heart’s recovery,
tore stiletto quick in snow’s embalmment,
feather down’s triple blanketing and brawn.
Some player played defilade, urged deft hands
and arms into the spelling, matched awed sounds
in his heat to passage of fingertips, as another finger
squeezed trigger’s tantrum and Billy Pigg died
in my arms just as one high note froze on frigid air
visible forever, his last eyes on my face. song-less,
hearing but a single note.
Tom Sheehan is in his 91st year, has published 36 books, has 16 Pushcart nominations, served in Korea in 31st Infantry, ’51–’52, and graduated Boston College in 1956, and his myocardiologist has made his next appointment for mid-year 2019.
THAT'S ALL, FOLKS. I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS ISSUE!