FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST

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JULY 2023

 

 


 

the sputtering
of the crickets —

sleepless night 

                                      —Barbara Anna Gaiardoni

Barbara Anna Gaiardoni is an Italian pedagogist, author, doodler, ex-violinist, and former swimmer. She currently publishes Japanese poems in English in the international trade journals. Cooking, drawing, dancing salsa, and walking in nature are her passions. Her motto is “I can, I must, I will do it.”



A Love Story

you asked do you believe in ghosts

I lied yes
and a shiver ran between us.

                                                                       —Merridawn Duckler

 

Merridawn Duckler is a writer from Oregon and the author of three chapbooks, most recently Misspent Youth (rinky dink press). New work in Seneca Review, Interim, Posit, Plume, Painted Bride Quarterly. Winner of the 2021 Beulah Rose Poetry Contest from Smartish Pace. She is an editor at Narrative and the philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics.


 

Only by Night

To be mad by the moon,

as I dare to delight
in outcast starlight
beyond my time.
For it is true,
we dream of shadows cast
by a greater flame.

                                                           —Tabbytha Spyrison

Tabbytha Spyrison is an aspiring student writer, and a recent Warren Wilson College graduate. Her poetry has been published before, in Briefly Write and she has one short story in the WWC Literary journal.



Information

The foods have their own superstitions. One must never allow a sweet potato to walk across the lawn unaccompanied, must never repeat the song of the string beans after dark, must never paint the image of the mushroom or chicken on the sky, must never listen when the apple whispers its promises.

                                                                                                      —Bob Heman

Bob Heman’s prose poems have been collected recently in the Australian prose poem anthologies Alcatraz and PLAY, and in the anthology Contemporary Surrealist and Magic Realist Poetry: An International Anthology, published by Lamar University Literary Press.


 

Sit Alone  

Ask yourself what tattoo

you have carved
on your shoulder
in invisible ink
says Mountain Sister. 

                                               —Tricia Knoll

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet who most often writes longer poems. Recently she has started the Mountain Sister series fashioned after the inspiration of Tom Montag's Old Monk series. Her newest book, One Bent Twig, came out from FutureCycle Press in 2023. Website: triciaknoll.com 



What you want to see
are the cycles,
the processes,
the universe turning
to star dust,
returning as stars,
the old monk said. 

                                               —Tom Montag


Tom Montag's most recent book is Seventy at Seventy. He is now 75. His current project is The Old Monk Poems, which he doesn't take too seriously, and you shouldn't either.



con sequence

Is said silence
is a sequence
of words that

might need to
be reordered in
order to hear

them properly.

                                    —Mark Young

Mark Young was born in Aotearoa / New Zealand but now lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia. His most recent book is a downloadable pdf prompted by the Cantos of Ezra Pound, XXXX CENTONES, available from sandy press — https://www.sandy-press.com/



Crossfelling Encounter Laden

with stone begins. unladen. ladling porous. punctuation free. curious come nightly timely & unsubscribed. low numbers constitute incline. flies the function. fiery fliers. over there then.


yonder.                                                               

                                                                          —Heller Levinson

The originator of Hinge TheoryHeller Levinson lives in New York. His most recent books are Dialogics (Anvil Tongue Press, 2022), Lure, Jus’ Sayn’, Query Caboodle, and Shift Gristle (Black Widow Press).



At the Museum

Standing in front of an original Picasso painting
that I liked very much, I thought for a moment
of trying to steal it but realized that even
should I make it outside I’d surely get caught,
lose my credentials, spend time in jail,
probably have to move to a brand-new state
to get a minimum wage job, live in a cheap room,
while trying to save for a trip back home
to visit a few friends, who may not want to see me.

                                                                                                   —Jeffrey Zable

Jeffrey Zable is a teacher, conga/bongo drummer who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music, Latin Jazz, and Salsa with groups around the San Francisco Bay Area, and a writer of poetry, flash fiction, and non-fiction. His writing has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies; more recently in Once Upon a Crocodile, Raw, Ephemeral Literary Review, Uppagus, Third Wednesday, and many others.



Vacance de Soleil

Lily pads calm and green at Giverny
Dark waters thick with weeds
not listed on the calendars of plants
sold online or in nearby shops

While at the Luxembourg
crimson Tulips stand tall and incandescent
fragrant row by rigid row

Gendarmes march behind them
machine guns at the ready
on each man's hip                                                                           

                                                                                    —Martha Deed

Martha Deed's short poems have appeared in CLWN WR, The Skinny Journal, Mason Street, Grand Little Things and elsewhere. She’s published ten books (poetry, mixed genre, history) and ten chapbooks. Two Pushcart and one Best of the Net nominations. Her collection of 80 syllable poems, Haunted by Martha, her third poetry collection from FootHills Publishing, is forthcoming Spring 2023.



The Dead Fleet

The engines at the graveyard rest
killing
time, waiting for the elephant’s walk
freedom
to dance a cha-cha slide on rails across the prairie
ghosting 
through tall grass with meadowlarks whistling
sweet calls
of dwindling  dusk, history made to
forget                                                                                       

                                                                                               —Barbara A. Meier

Barbara A Meier moved home to Kansas, where she cherishes the fields of wheat and sorghum and little boys and girls in John Deere tractor shirts. She has three published chapbooks, Wildfire LAL 6, from Ghost City Press, Getting Through Gold Beach, from Writing Knights Press, and  Sylvan Grove, from The Poetry Box. https://basicallybarbmeier.wordpress.com/  https://www.facebook.com/poetwholivedbythesea/



Town Without Voices

When the new light flushed through the room, and our faces reddened with warmth, when you touched me as if touching a cloud, when I touched you as if you were not leaving, when our cells commingled as if we could come together, when a sudden wind swirled around us, and the dust hovered, when you praised yesterday as if it had born in the stars and bowed your head, and the dead stars still clung to the dawn sky, when you clutched me as if I already were a memory, a miracle occurred: a sudden dissolution of fog, the vision of a life in a drop of water clinging to the window pane, the small bird that flew into the room and sang its crazy love song—then hit the window trying to get out.

                                                                                                             —Jeff Friedman

Jeff Friedman’s tenth collection of poetry and prose will be published in September 2023 by Madhat Press. Friedman’s poems, mini tales and translations have appeared in American Poetry ReviewPoetry, New England Review, Poetry International, A Cast-Iron Aeroplane That Can Actually Fly: Commentaries from 80 American Poets on their Prose Poetry, Flash Fiction Funny, Flash Nonfiction Funny, Fiction International, Plume, Dreaming Awake: New Contemporary Prose Poetry from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom and The New Republic, and Best Microfiction 2021, 2022 and 2023. He has received an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship and numerous other awards and prizes. https://poetjefffriedman.com



The Duet

Tonight the city 
sky is clear, Orion has 
set to the rhythms 
of a guitar duet on 
rooftop café, the streets are 

quiet of traffic, 
the plazas void of souls, and 
in this rooftop room, 
my fatigued soul sets, drifting 
on rhythms of that duet  

                                                                  —Lorraine Caputo

Lorraine Caputo is a wandering troubadour whose poetry appears in over 400 journals on six continents, and 23 collections of poetry – including In the Jaguar Valley (dancing girl press, 2023) and Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022). She also authors travel narratives, articles, and guidebooks. Her writing has been honored by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2011) and thrice nominated for the Best of the Net. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful knapsack Rocinante, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her adventures at www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer or https://latinamericawanderer.wordpress.com.  


 
Notice of Intent 

Our band plays entirely on instruments of our own devising.

The Conundrum.
The Springroll.
The Dichotomy.
The Transitive Verb.
The Himmelmeister.
The Zaubersax.
The Aesthetizer.

We make beautiful and unexpected music
Never automatic or easy
Some more, some less harmonious
Than the yowling of tomcats after a female in heat
No one can play the Think Tank yet so that's what we call our jam sessions
New members join when they can bring a new instrument to the mix
The Aurelion, the Tapestri, the Asteroid belt await
The mind and finger that can play. Our standards are meticulous. Beware!

                                                                                                  —Martin Heavisides

Martin Heavisides has published in FRiGG, Mad Hatter’s Review, Feast of Laughter, The Linnet’s Wings, Sein und Werden and numerous other journals of discerning taste. His play Empty Bowl was published in The Linnet’s Wings and given a live staged reading at Living Theatre, New York. CSI Grandma’s House was produced by Quarantine Players and is available on YouTube. He has published one full length novella-in-flash-and-verse, Undermind.


 
My Healing Friend  

You honor my deep feelings and thoughts, even when I ignore and disrespect them. You nudge me to believe in myself, carve out time for myself, nurture my dreams, nap when I’m bleary, eat when I’m hungry. You say, Have a cup of coffee, already! Have a beer, if you want; you will still be fine and yourself. It’s OK that you got old and gained weight; you are still beautiful. Write a poem, read a book, play your flute. Get off that computer, you already worked too much. Maybe you are just crabby or irritated by my imbalance, yet your compassion melts my lies and foolishness, like brushing lint from my coat, straightening my tie, or wiping chocolate from my lips.  


                                                                                                                   —Ann Wehrman

Ann Wehrman is a creative writer and musician living in Northern California. She teaches English composition online for the University of Phoenix and the University of Arizona Global Campus. Ann’s poetry has appeared in print and online journals, including Tule ReviewBlue Heron ReviewMedusa's Kitchen, Pirene's Fountainand Poetry Now, and her literary reviews, in The Pedestal Magazine. She can also be found teaching yoga, reading, cooking, and playing her flute.



Sand Castles

Castles of dreams, of golden sand,

Turrets, moat and battlements,
Defying the battalions of waves to attack,
the flowing tide to advance.
Decorated with empty shells,
thrown up by an angry sea.
Banners of wet seaweed,
proclaim children's sovereignty
Their heroic but futile defiance
of Neptune's ancient powers,
ends in watery defeat, final surrender.
Only to be re-created
on tomorrow’s sunlit beach.

                                                                               —Sarah Das Gupta

Sarah Das Gupta is an 81-years-young teacher from Cambridge, UK. She has taught in India, Africa and UK. Her work has been published in magazines/ journals, from the US and UK, Canada, India, Mauritius, Croatia and other countries. She is interested in everything except computer games.



It’s True I’ll miss the Rain

All the wet things really.
The rivers, the blood—
not just sweat, or the damp earth
but longing, I guess. All the warm
skinned memories. And thirst—
which brings me to the dry leaves—
and the songs I’ll miss when they turn.

                                                                               —Roy Nathanson

Roy Nathanson is a saxophonist/poet/composer. He has written 2 books of poems: Conversations and Other Songs from MadHat Press (2020) and Subway Moon from Buddy’s Knife Editions of Hamburg (2008. ) His poems and stories have appeared in Commonweal, 5AM, Natural Bridge, Maggid, The Brooklyn Rail, Plume. and other publications. Roy has written songs for Mavis Staples, Jimmy Scott, Elvis Costello, Debbie Harry, Jeff Buckley, and others and has recorded 10 CDs with his longtime band The Jazz Passengers. His most recent record, Small Things (NYXO Records), features Nick Hakim singing Roy’s poems. When the pandemic started, Roy played sax from his Flatbush balcony for 82 straight days at precisely 5pm and now runs a porch concert school there.. He teaches courses in poetry and music at Gallatin College/NYU.  and is the recipient of Bessie and Joseph Jefferson Awards and grants from Chamber Music America, The Rockefeller Foundation, and 2 NYFA grants.



The Ibis Returns 
 


and somehow I sleep
first in an oak then down
to shallows for the fish
lulled indifferent under 
cover dreams between 
around water plants in
angled pollen-hazed 
waning light. 

                                                      —L. Ward Abel

L. Ward Abel’s work has appeared in hundreds of journals (Rattle, Versal, The Reader, Worcester Review, Main Street Rag, others), including a recent nomination for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he is the author of three full collections and ten chapbooks of poetry, including his latest collection, The Width of Here (Silver Bow, 2021). He is a reformed lawyer, he writes and plays music, and he teaches literature. Abel resides in rural Georgia.



All We Remember is Now


You bring the string, I’ll bring the sky, and we’ll make kites of our fears and failings. We’re both too old to act like grown-ups and the childish things we put away are calling from deep in the wardrobe, soft and warm for the touching. The homes we once had are long broken, so we’ll straighten their twisted sticks and skin them with Sunday best silk scarves once worn by our dapper granddads. You bring breath, I’ll bring balloons, and we’ll blow our stumbles and stutters into primary colours to tie to open gates. We’ve way more words that anyone needs, so we’ll spark them into firecrackers to hound off stray devils and wake the loved and lost protagonists of all those Saturday cartoons. We can bring what love we’ve kept in its colours, pressed and preserved in hand-me-down books. We can read to the stars in the voices our mothers left us.


                                                                                                       —Oz Hardwick

Oz Hardwick is a European prose poet, whose latest collection is A Census of Preconceptions (SurVision Books, 2022). He has won many prizes, mostly in fairgrounds, but some for poetry. Oz is Professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University (UK).



Seventy
 

Hooray for old knotty pine, sinking into the earth of its seventieth year 

for aged limbs, sketching the past, present, and what’s left of the future

for ancient throats, struggling past clogged breath in the sun-dazed morning

Hooray for trembling hands, which stroke the sunflowers open every day 

gathering up dropped petals, rubbing them like tonic into wrinkled skin—

for withered feet, carrying bunions like turtles’ softening shells

Hooray for moving slowly toward the river to be cleansed

Blessed is the flesh, reborn in a blaze of fire and water

                                                                                                                —Alison Carb Sussman

Alison Carb Sussman, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has garnered numerous awards and publications throughout her writing career. Her first full-length poetry book, Black Wool Cape, was published by Unsolicited Press in 2022. Her poetry chapbook, On the Edge, was printed by Finishing Line Press in 2013. Sussman won the Abroad Writers’ Conference/Finishing Line Press Authors Poetry Contest in 2015. Her poem “Dirty” was a finalist in Naugatuck River Review’s 11th Annual Narrative Poetry Contest. Her poem “Anhedonia,” now “Anhedonic Woman,” was a finalist in the 49th Parallel Award for Poetry in Bellingham Review’s 2016 Literary Contests.  Her poems also have appeared in Atlanta Review, Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts, Gargoyle, The New York TimesRattleSouthword (Ireland), and elsewhere. She lives in New York City. 



Night’s mystery

Night’s silent invitation draws seductively into the unknown, a lure toward secrets, a hint from the dark is whispered when crickets sing, frogs serenade and pooches bark at shadows, the dark feels soft on the skin, kisses ever so lightly with surprised bliss

oh, but oh!, silken joy of early morning is another altogether, the mixing bowl of dawn breaks open eggs of creation on the edges of earth where nothing can match that moment of emergent golden light

when light becomes movement and hums the whole of creation to stretch its arms out purely for the pleasure, feeling the natural silence of early light, the harmony and rhythm of earth waking, and the coming day’s living that wears time like a protective shawl

stepping into morning draws new breath from deep within the caves of
earth’s wrinkles, while along the flash of ocean’s heartbeat, the desert
bows, and the morning lark invents a new melody to the sun


as does light, i too, may, if i’m brave enough, break through dark into the
slow graceful ballad of vanishing melody at the horizon.

                                                                                                                         —Sharon Lopez Mooney

Sharon Lopez Mooney, poet, is a retired Interfaith Chaplain from the End of Life field, living in Mexico and the USA. In ’78 Mooney received a CAC Grant for rural poetry; co-published an anthology; co-owned an alternative literature service. She was a “Best of the Net” nominee, chosen “Editor’s Choice”, and “Elite Writer’s Status” in 2022; and facilitates a poetry workshop. Mooney’s poems are published nationally & internationally in journals such as: Glassworks, The Blotter, Umbrella Factory Magazine, MuddyRiver Review, Revue {R}Évolution, Avalon Literary, Ricochet, Ginosko, California Quarterly, Galway Review, Roundtable Literary Journal, Existere, CALYX, Cold Lake, Smoke & Myrrors” (UK), amongst many others.



A Bumblebee in a Jam Jar

It’s getting pretty loud weather in here.
It’s getting hard to stop thinking in here.
It’s getting morbidly obsessed in here.

I’m going to find a front page and hold it.
I’m going to skip lunch to try and undo forty years of shame.
I’m going to become perfection on three legs.

It’s so quiet I can hear death clear her throat.
It’s so quiet, death shushed me for clicking a pen.
It’s so quiet, death’s smile shone like the moon.

All I need is a chance to have another chance.
All I need this week is last week.
All I need is to stop needing.

Queue the lightly edgy music.
Queue the barely audible dialogue.
Queue the brass and drums and then tell them to shut up.

                                                                                                              —CL Bledsoe

Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than thirty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, The Bottle Episode, and his newest, Having a Baby to Save a Marriage, as well as his latest novels Goodbye, Mr. Lonely and The Saviors. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.



Acceptignation

                                                                                                  Left behind instead of


                                                                                       being

                                                                                       forgotten,

                                                                           The sun will still rise and set,

                                                               Death’s Brother will still visit.

                                                     Happiness as an act of

                                          defiance,

                               I will place pebbles upon your grave.

                   Panta rhei.

                                                                                                                            —Ashley Holloway

Ashley Holloway teaches healthcare leadership at Bow Valley College in Calgary, AB. She is a nurse with a Master of Public Health, a graduate diploma in Global Leadership, with further studies in intercultural communication and international development. Ashley’s work has appeared in the Short Story DispenserThe Nashwaak ReviewThe Globe and Mail, Magna Publications, The Prairie JournalCARE MagazineFlash Fiction Magazine, Canadian Dimensions, Lead Read Today, WELL READ Magazine, and Reckon Review. Ashley has co-authored three books (Create & Curate: 500 Ideas for Artists & Writers, 2023; Living Art; and How (Not) to Lead, 2023), reads manuscripts, writes book reviews, and is an editor for Unleash Press. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.



7:13 Train Whistle                              
 






Crow on branch like television antenna painted by Salvador Dali, come on.                       

                                                                   

 

 

 

 

We need to confirm from you if it's
really true that you are dead and If we did not hear from you it
automatically means that you are actually dead and the information
passed to us by Mrs Shelly Gligor and Paul Harris are correct.You are
to contact me as soon as you receive this message so as to know the
true position of things with you so that we would not make any mistake
in remitting your out-standing payment to a wrong person/account.

 

 

I was living on non-alcoholic beer
in a dream with God.
It was two o’clock
and I was still in my spiritual bathrobe.


                                                                                  —Leonard Gontarek


Leonard Gontarek is the author of eight books of poems, including The Long Way Home (2021).His poems have appeared in Field,Verse Daily, Fence, American Poetry Review, Joyful Noise: An Anthology of American Spiritual Poetry, and The Best American Poetry(edited by Paul Muldoon).He coordinates Peace/Works, Poetry In Common, Philly Poetry Day, and was Poetry Consultant for Whitman at 200:Art and Democracy. He conducts the poetry workshop: Making Poems That Last. His poem, 37 Photos From The Bridge, selected by Alice Quinn, was a Poetry winner for the Big Bridges Motion Poems project and the basis for the award-winning film sponsored by the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.

http://movingpoems.com/2015/10/thirty-seven-photos-from-the-bridge-by-leonard-gontarek/