20 Sep

Poetry – His New York by John Brantingham

His New York
by John Brantingham

My father chose
my first and middle names
because they were
the two most popular names
that year, and he never wanted
me to feel like an outsider,
a moment of kindness
from an American man
whose son was being born
in a hospital in the Netherlands.
These were the days
when fathers waited outside
while mothers gave birth inside,
and I imagine him
with the cup of coffee
that was always in his hands
staring out at the rain
and sea or the endless flat fields
that were so different
from his New York,
talking to people who spoke his language
because he couldn’t speak theirs,
and worrying that his son might feel
what he was feeling right then.
Now I’ve moved back to his New York
after having lived most of my life
east of Los Angeles,
and the snow is falling,
and the copse of trees down the road
are all birch, I think.
Maybe he walked these woods
when he was young.
Maybe he liked to wander
out into them and follow
the deer tracks as they wended
through the trees and off along the hills.
I like to do that too.

__________________
John Brantingham

John Brantingham was the first poet laureate of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines and in Writer’s Almanac and The Best Small Fictions 2016. He has nineteen books of poetry and fiction including his latest fiction collection Life: Orange to Pear (Bamboo Dart Press).

20 Sep

Poetry – 3 Poems by Ricardo Moran

Three Poems by Ricardo Moran

 

When Saturn Came Home

He knew I could no longer live in my skin. My feelings
for the body, for the soul of that boy
forced Saturn to descend from the heavens.

But when Saturn tried to come home
on that June night
he got detained at the border,
rescuing my heart from that boy
who had held it in a Loteria card,
and who, with his eyes closed, had lost it in a wager.

And seeing no other way, Saturn found an opening
in the fence, hid his brilliance,
and tumbled into my backyard.

In his embrace, my face
pressed against his warm chest,
quenching his loneliness
with my tears. He lifted my head,
tending to my broken rings, their ends
had seared the earth,
while his breath deflected the shrill voices
who claimed dominion over the holy cosmos.

His hand reached for my fingers
for he needed me just as much
as I needed him. He hurled parts of his rings
to dance, circle, and protect me
until I could ascend the heavens on my own,
until my skin was no longer alien to me.

And with that, Saturn sat with me in the darkness.
Not letting go, he held me as I sobbed,
so I would not collapse into the earth,
so that my world became mine again.

 

 

Trashy Saint

He approaches the altar
and swipes the chalice
because God has the day off
but miracles still need to happen.

Outside, smoking a joint,
he waits at the curb for his ride,
scowling at businessmen,
scratching his balls.

His stubble is thick,
and he counts the wrinkled bills
won in last night’s bet.
The shadow from his red cap
softens his eye to a muted purple.

His ride cruises up the street.
Cobalt Blue. Heavy rims.
With an airplane engine
thrusting the car up,
like a parishioner
pleading to God.

The scantily clad woman
painted on the hood
as a reminder
that even saints are human.

There are miracles to perform today
that only Freon
and a wrench
can do. What a chalice cannot,
what a prayer
can only pretend to touch.

His fingers release the empty cup,
falling
like a lotto ticket
that no one can use.

 

 

 

Blue Light Special

This flat, heat-soaked town
has a blue light,
that spins in a store.

Perched on a silver pole,
fused to a silver cart,
It looks like it could take me
to the future,
but it just sits there.

And in 1981,
I knew of no one like me
who cringed
when he held hands with a girl.

And I didn’t know
I had the right to say no.

As this blue light turns, it draws shoppers
to trinkets in bins, to stacked bedsheets,
their eyes fixed on plastic utensils.

So, I pick up a pack of men’s briefs
because I was 10
and that’s all there was.

My hand traces the smiling white man.
“Does he like boys?”

Staring at his picture, I wonder,
“How long before
I can leave this place
and smile
in a photo like him?”
Or with him,
holding his hand.

Can I hang on?

Can this spinning blue light
save me until then?

 

_______________
Ricardo Moran
www.ricardomoranwriter.com

Ricardo Moran was one of 12 finalists in the We Need Diverse Books picture book contest in 2017. In 2020, he received the Peter K. Hixson Memorial Award for Poetry. Additionally, he sits on the board of the San Diego Writers Ink, and is also a member of the Nebraska Writers Guild where he often communes with the spirit of Willa Cather at Red Cloud. You can find him at: www.ricardomoranwriter.com

14 Mar

WE ARE OPEN FOR ROLLING SUBMISSIONS

East Jasmine Review is pleased to announce that we are shifting our model to publish almost exclusively on our website. We will still publish anthologies in print on an occasional basis along specific themes. However, in an effort to publish more writers who may be overlooked by more traditional mainstream publications, we have decided to implement rolling acceptances for all submissions. This means that we will have open submissions all year long. 

A reminder: Our main goal is to publish diverse voices that may not have mainstream or traditional access to publishing. This includes but is not limited to LGBTQIA+, ethnic minorities, women, lower socio-economic status, chronically ill, writers and artists with disabilities, those who are older or younger (over the age of 18 for legal reasons), religious minorities, and non-American persons. We are looking to build an inclusive online community and audience for our voices.

Submission guidelines and where to submit: http://eastjasminereview.com/submissions/
02 Jan

BEST OF EJR – Fiction: “Number Six” by Lauren Candia Salerno

Photo Credit: iStock

Number Six
By Lauren Candia Salerno

Content Warning: Mentions of Violence, Horror

Word was the guy stole hearts. A recent slew of murders had everyone on the boulevard talking.  Five girls had been found dead, their hearts neatly cut out but with no signs of any external incision, as if they had simply been born without this vital organ. No one even knew the heart had been taken until the autopsy. I thought the story was bullshit. Still, five girls were dead and maybe I could be next. I asked around about who the john might be, but no one knew what the guy looked like or what he was into. This isn’t the safest job, but the lack of information made me feel more vulnerable than ever. Lots of girls were taking it easy. I wished I could have done the same, but I had a rent check due at the end of the week and not nearly enough money to cover it. 

It was a slow night, and I was one of the only girls out. I pulled the collar of my coat over my nose to keep the cold wind from burning my face. I was ready to walk home when a guy carrying a small duffle bag approached. He looked around nervously as he caught up to me.

“I’m…I’m looking for a date,” he said. 

I uncovered my face and smiled at him and relaxed as much as I could without letting my teeth chatter. “Baby, I’m a sure thing.”

He blushed. “I was hoping that.”

I stepped closer to him, eliminating the space he left between us. We were close enough then that the steam of our breath mingled as we continued the conversation.

“What’s in the bag?”

An incredible shade of red spread from his collar to his hairline.

I smiled. I have a thing for the shy ones.

“It’s okay,” I softly stroked his cheek. “Tell me what we should do tonight.”

He struggled to get through the details, pausing and lowering his voice for words I imagine he didn’t say out loud too often. All he wanted was a night with no talking and no questions. He just wanted me to follow instructions.

“I don’t know, kid. That’s not really my specialty.” 

“I can pay,” he blurted out with an almost frantic look that quickly passed from his face.  “Anything you want. Up front even. Right now.”

I couldn’t refuse at that point. I took care of rent right then and there.

We got a by-the-hour room. He asked that I undress in front of him. At first, I made a dance of it. I imagined a smooth saxophone playing in the background while my body slithered out of my top. I opened my eyes to see what effect I was having on this guy. It pissed me off to see he wasn’t paying attention. He wasn’t even looking at me. He was just sitting on the edge of the bed, examining his hands and rubbing them together. I stopped with the theatrics and shed the rest of my clothes. I waited for his next order, all the while keeping an eye on the clock and reminding myself that rent was due.

He gave my body a quick look up and down before he stood from the bed. He held my face in his hands, brushed my hair behind my ears, and kissed me. His lips tasted bitter and my tongue went numb. I wanted to push him away, but he grasped my head and pressed his lips hard against mine, keeping my lips open. I got my arms between us and tried to get some distance, but he wouldn’t let go. My mind went into panic mode. I tried to scream but I couldn’t make a sound. It felt like my entire body was turning into stone. I couldn’t fight back. When he finally pulled away, I was helpless and immobile. My hands were frozen in front of my chest, palms out. My eyes were wide and unblinking. I became a grotesque statue.

He carried me over to the bed and laid my body down. He rolled me on my back and pulled my arms down to my sides. I don’t know how much it matters now, but he did all of this with an unexpected gentleness. He was about to push down my eyelids but then he stopped. He hovered over me, studying my face. He stroked the side of my cheek and whispered a name. Something with an A. He left my eyes open. I realized that I would have to see everything as it happened, and the first tear fell. 

 He moved out of my line of sight, but I could still hear him moving around. I heard the shuffling as he moved away from me and the canvas of his bag rustling as he stepped closer. The mattress bounced with the added weight of the bag and I heard a zipper unfasten. When the guy came back into my view, he was still fully clothed and holding a jar. He unscrewed the lid from the jar, and the chemical smell of the liquid inside was so strong that breathing in became another kind of torture.  

He straddled me and stroked my cheek one last time. I was breathing hard as he put his hand on my chest. I wanted to fight. I wanted to make him hurt. But I never got the chance. My chest burned and I felt some pressure as his hand went through my skin. My body instantly went cold and I never breathed again. 

The burning served to both cut away and cauterize the arteries. The heart pulled easily through the rib cage and out of my body. He eased my heart into the jar with such care, making sure to wipe the edges of the jar clean before fastening its lid. He sat there examining the specimen from all angles with a look of awe on his face. He seemed so far away as he twisted the jar around. Then he must have realized that too much time was passing because he returned to my body. A burn scar was the only evidence of foul play that remained. He glided his hand over the scar, and with each pass, the skin healed until it looked as if nothing had ever happened. So there I was, Number Six, and the man who stole my heart got away.

_______

You can follow Lauren Candia Salerno on twitter: @ParanormaLauren

05 Dec

BEST OF EJR – Creative Nonfiction: “The Wind and The Thunder” by Alana Saltz

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Wind and the Thunder
Alana Saltz

When I think of you now, I see trees and waves and stars. I can’t separate you from the places you took me, from the places we discovered and loved together. From the tall sequoias, to the freezing winter ocean, to the impossibly clear night sky with stars and planets pressing down on us, their fingertip sparks mere inches from our heads. You brought me so many places that I had never been before.

We traveled in winter because we both hated crowds. We only needed one another. You told me I was one of the only people in the world who you could stand. You told me people cared too much about things that didn’t matter. You told me that people made you tired. Whenever I strayed into emotion, into irrationality, you saw me as one of them. Sometimes I wonder whether you ever cared for all of me, or if you only liked the parts that made you comfortable.

You loved nature, but you were my nature. I explored you the way that you explored the forests and beaches. The ocean was beautiful like you, but the harsh waves frightened me. They threatened to take my air and carry me away. The stars were lovely, but they unnerved me. Their brightness, their infinity, my inability to comprehend them. Even the trees in the forest hurt my fingers when I touched their rough bark. But you were there, and you were safe, and I understood you. I couldn’t see that your currents carried me away as easily as the waves. I didn’t know that I could comprehend you no more than the stars. I couldn’t feel the roughness of you underneath my touch, but it was there, always there.

You never said much. When you did speak, I could barely hear your words over crashing waves or across snowy fields in the mountains where it was only you, me, and the trees. You spoke so few words that each one mattered. I wanted to learn that from you. I wanted to learn the peace inside that allowed you to spend hours plucking strings on your guitar. I wanted to learn the serenity that let you stare out the windshield for miles and miles without noise.

I was the noise. I came crashing in and made your quiet world loud. I talked and cried and asked. I begged and sighed and laughed. I thought you liked my sound, and that’s why I didn’t understand when you told me you didn’t want to hear me anymore. I thought we’d grown into one another, but I was wrong. You changed because of me, but you hadn’t wanted to. I changed because of you, but it hadn’t been enough.

When you left, you told me I was broken. You said you couldn’t take care of me anymore, and that you never should have tried. I see now that I was broken because my sadness was loud while yours was silent. Your silence caused you to spend hours plucking guitar strings. Your silence made you stare out the windshield for miles and miles and miles.

Sometimes I still stop and listen to the wind make the music you spoke of when we first met, that rustling of leaves akin to the most beautiful sonatas. Natural, soft, smooth. You were my wind, and I was the thunder your breeze blew in. The night our storm ended, I remember stepping outside and looking up at a clear summer sky. I knew that now the red moon above me was mine, and only mine.

_________

You can find Alana Saltz on twitter: @alanasaltz

25 May

EAST JASMINE REVIEW NEEDS YOU: Open Volunteer Positions

East Jasmine Review is still a fledgling publication, so all staff positions (including the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher) are unpaid. Because we are asking for volunteer labor, we only require a minimum commitment of 6 months (the duration of one publishing period), after which point the Editor-in-Chief will check in with existing staff members as to whether they would like to continue in their roles. We would like to note that we do hope that staffers will stay for at least a year. 

CREATIVE NEEDS

Fiction Editors
⁃ Read submissions, make notes, vote to accept or reject submissions in a timely manner.
⁃ Uphold magazine mission to highlight writers who do not traditionally have access to literary representation.

Creative Nonfiction Editors 
⁃ Read submissions, make notes, vote to accept or reject submissions in a timely manner.
⁃ Uphold magazine mission to highlight writers who do not traditionally have access to literary representation.

Poetry Editors 
⁃ Read submissions, make notes, vote to accept or reject submissions in a timely manner.
⁃ Uphold magazine mission to highlight writers who do not traditionally have access to literary representation.

Graphic Narrative (Webcomics/Art) Editor
⁃ Read submissions, make notes, vote to accept or reject submissions in a timely manner.
⁃ Uphold magazine mission to highlight writers and artists who do not traditionally have access to literary representation.

Book Reviewers/Recommendation (for Books and Events) List Writers
⁃ Read and review assigned books highlighting writers that do not traditionally have access to literary representation. in a timely manner.
⁃ (or) Write themed book recommendation lists in a timely manner— highlighting artists and creatives that do not traditionally have access to literary representation.
⁃ (or) Aggregate and write list of recommended literary events by geographical area— highlighting artists and creatives that do not traditionally have access to literary representation.

 

ADMINISTRATIVE NEEDS

• Assistant EIC
⁃ Main task is to follow up with EIC on tasks that EIC needs to see to.
⁃ Sounding board for EIC in planning for creative direction, events, and development.
⁃ Must be on same page as EIC and should be able to bridge any gaps in EIC’s duties if the EIC is overwhelmed.
⁃ Helps EIC build relationships with literary and creative community for collaboration.
⁃ Requires regular in-person or video conference meetings with EIC and Managing Editor

• Submissions Manager
⁃ Sort submissions from Submittable
⁃ Forward submissions to relevant editorial departments
⁃ Send acceptance and rejection letters. Includes revise and resubmit notices.
⁃ File and database all editor’s notes, acceptances and rejections— includes revise and resubmit notices.
⁃ Requires in-person or video conference meetings with administrative staff.

• Web Manager
⁃ Format and post pieces in a timely and consistent manner.
⁃ Requires in-person or video conference meetings with administrative staff.

• Social Media Manager
⁃ Manages social media accounts and consistently posts content across our platforms.
⁃ Requires in-person or video conference meetings with administrative staff.

• Events
⁃ Works with EIC and AEIC to plan events and collaborate with creative community orgs to organize and lead events.
⁃ Requires in-person or video conference meetings with administrative staff.

• Development
⁃ Come up with fundraising ideas.
⁃ Work with managing editor distribute fundraising tasks amongst any volunteer staff.
⁃ Grant writing.
⁃ Collaborate with community orgs for fundraising opportunities.
⁃ Requires in-person or video conference meetings with administrative staff.

CLICK HERE TO APPLY

06 May

ANNOUNCEMENT: “Tell Me More” — New #MeToo Writing Contest

Sexual Assault Awareness Month may have come to an end, but the editors of The East Jasmine Review strongly believe in keeping the conversation going year-round. Being a literary magazine that prides itself on representing diverse voices, we are excited to announce our first Tell Me More contest of “Me Too” stories. We are asking for submissions encompassing the spectrum of sexual assault, including not only of the act itself, but also of the healing process and aftermath of such an event. Submissions in fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry will be open from May 1st until June 24th. Winners will be published in an electronic and print version of our inaugural anthology series. We will not accept nor read submissions where sexual assault is treated as a “joke” or from the perpetrators point of view.

Poetry:

  • Submissions may encompass the spectrum of sexual assault including the trauma, anger, or healing.
  • Between 1-3 poems per submission.
  • Submission not to exceed 1500 words.
  • Only 1 submission per author.

Fiction:

  • Submissions may encompass the spectrum of sexual assault including the trauma, anger, or healing.
  • Submission not to exceed 2000 words.
  • Only 1 submission per author.

Non-fiction:

  • Submissions may encompass the spectrum of sexual assault including the trauma, anger, or healing.
  • Submission not to exceed 2000 words.
  • Only 1 submission per author.

CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT

02 Jul

Poetry – Andrew Navarro

Spanish
by Andrew Navarro

My mom often tells me
how as children
for a while
we were good friends.

But that was before
the first grade.
Before the burnet
speech therapist
clipped the tip
of my tongue
like a
bird’s wing.

Because you stopped
playing with me Spanish.
Said it was because I couldn’t
roll my r’s and couldn’t say
your words the same anymore.

Yet, I tried. Every night
my angry tongue struck
the roof of my mouth
clenching flint stone
to try to reignite the pit
filled with ash covered bones
of my ancestors behind my teeth
with orange flames again

But I only managed to reopen
my oral scabbed wounds
and I learned every night Spanish
how your words taste of blood.

 

 

Drowned Children
by Andrew Navarro

A sea is the best way
I can describe life
to my students.
A large dark blue body
of uncharted opportunity
that we gotta ride through
in order to build our
separate worlds
atop islands of stability
sprinkled all over
the cold flesh of salt water.

And man believe me when
I tell you It’s cold. So don’t
teeter too close to the edge
of conventional wisdom
keep your head about you
and you’ll soon find
dry land to build a home on.

But there have been those
rare few who don’t
seem to care about drowning.
Who question if you
could really grow a beautiful dream
in dirt. Rare
few that I’ve lost,
that chose
to dive into the waters
in search of treasure
of gold, and jewels.
To wander the jagged
ocean floors of the abyss
with all the other drowned children.

_________________
Andrew Navarro is a lifelong resident of the Inland Empire, a teacher in Moreno Valley, married, and has a passion for writing.

02 Jul

Poetry – Corinne Shearer

Drafts
by Corinne Shearer

They ordered you like new furniture,
picked out your delivery date by jabbing a finger at a pocket calendar.
You came out unclean. Offended by the fluorescents,
you were subjected to the airy speculations of the doctor
that ended up being true- those limbs were made for movement.

The family cat did not like you.
He avoided your sticky, probing fingers and the gaping
vacuum that was your mouth- a door always left ajar
which let loose from its basement a human’s cry ancient
as the ribbon corridors of bowels.
But someday, sooner rather than later,
the crotchety Maine Coon would entrust you with its sorrow-
cast up at you its dying gaze that flickered on and off,
like the orange porch light you will kiss your high school boyfriend under,
as the maggots set up their suburbia inside its lower intestines.

When you were one there was a snowstorm.
The world welcomed you with ice and a full body
rash, made you wait years for the luscious little girl hair
you would become known for. When you were three
you unlearned how to breathe, began turning blue when overly-excited.
They told them your clothes were too tight, but it’d be years before you’d have
the weight problem, and subsequently the eating problem, but much later
you’ll invest in Thich Nhat Hahn and the inspirational tags
on Yogi tea, realizing how “just fine” you grew up to be.
You’ll remember too nostalgically the timbre of self-hatred,
the illusion that clenched fists can feel like a grip
on a wheel you know doesn’t exist- but you hold your hands
at ten and two anyway, just on the off-chance there is a God.

But before all that you turn six and learn what momentum feels like.
You beg to be spun from anywhere on anything
until your vision and stomach flip on its side.
You’ll crave disorientation all your life,
you’ll make a career out of falling.
At eleven you understand what it is to be lonely,
filling her absence with self-sufficiency,
and quiet, and a hunger for excellence.
But this is around the time you grasp the concept
of mortality and nothing can make you forget the imminence of death.
Even when you visit the expensive sunlit café you can’t shake off the dread,
can’t look at your mother’s face without seeing it white-lipped and dead.
You’ll feel something similar at thirteen,
lying awake in amber shadows (you still use a nightlight,
not subscribing yet to the salvation of ignorance)
suffocated in equal parts by the way people can break one another
and the irony of existing at all.

Looking back you’re still transfixed by your first kiss
At fourteen during truth or dare at dusk behind a half-
crumbling historical site. You hone your love of contradiction,
betting the Moravians would never guess that their meeting house
would someday be reborn as the place where
your tongue met Dominic Fetter’s, which was too big
but impossibly warm and soft like bubblegum.
At sixteen you get high.
The scope of your existence is as narrow as the creek
where you will negotiate barefoot between rocks as you search
for a glimpse of those iridescent tricks of the eye- fish.

You fall in love somewhere along the way,
you will break each other’s heart at more distinct points.
Almost twenty, you leave on a plane
fourteen hours and a horizon away.
Home dissolves in your wake
but you will still cling to those few months as
a glittering gift; sweet, dense and messy like mochi.
You come to know that he needs you to say it more than
you need it to be true, and how not all loss feels like losing.

When you return
you’ll move away, following through on a threat for the first time.
You hide out in a city of 8.5 million,
dissolving into the rusts of the Harlem skyline.
You learn how solitary a thing freedom can be.

At twenty-one you write poems.

 

 

Villanelle
by Corinne Shearer

Your palms like valleys catch the rain.
These hands turn over empty,
there’s no refrain.

These are the things that remain:
The tenor of your voice and labyrinths for fingerprints,
your palms like valleys that catch the rain.

You waited but I never came,
too preoccupied with speculation, why
there’s no refrain.

You are this thing I scrub out over and over like a stain,
but I’m not one for self-restraint; I visit this place often just to watch
your palms like valleys catching the rain.

It’s not well maintained,
all the houses are overgrown, their insides spilling out across the lawn;
there’s no refrain.

What did I gain–
the blaze of this city pales in comparison to
your palms like valleys that catch the rain.

 

 

______________
Corinne Shearer is a recent BFA graduate from SUNY Purchase. Freelance writer, dancer and choreographer currently based in NYC.

02 Jul

Poetry – Iris Litt

THE DOG AND THE STREAM
by Iris Litt

When my neighbor told me
that his sweet dog
was seriously sick, I was sad, very sad

but when he told me
he takes her to the stream
that runs through my land
and she gratefully lies down
as the rushing water soothes the itch and pain

I moved beyond sadness. Something about
how the stream washes away all pain

and I pictured her dog dream:
the stream, cool against her hot skin,
will carry her to a dog heaven where she can
romp eternally with her kind and devoted friend
and catch the Frisbee again

 
SNOW IN THE COUNTRY
by Iris Litt

Snow, which is supposed to hide, reveals
the bootmarks in my woods
and tiretracks which, like fingerprints,
can be examined by the curious one.
Snow in its phony white innocence
serves loud testimony in this incredible silence.
Whereas summergrass cooperates,
bounces back conspiratorially after walkers,
snow in its alleged peace
squats on my land and, in ungrateful betrayal,
shouts of the inevitable unpeace of my life:
the friends who’ve fled to the central heating
of cities and tropical suns
and the one who stayed
yet examines the tracks of the suspected ones

until I, at the many-paned window
by the voracious woodstove, ask:
In this deep mountain winter with its hundred snows
does it matter who comes and goes?

 

_______________
Iris Litt had two books of poetry published: What I Wanted to Say (Shivastan Publications) and Word Love (Cosmic Trend Publications). Her poems, short stories, and articles have been published in many magazines, including Confrontation, Onthebus, Central Park, Pearl, The Ledge, Earth’s Daughters, The Avatar Review, Bryant Literary Review, Poet Lore, and Hiram Poetry Review, as well as the Saturday Evening Post 2016 Great American Fiction Contest Anthology. She won first prize in the Virtual Press Annual Writer’s Contest and honorable mention in the short story contest of Writer’s Digest.