FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Mist ignites first light in a cool blaze.
I manoeuver a creaky rowboat onto a pond
and cast for my reflection.
Heather Ferguson is the author of A Mouse in a Top Hat (Rideau Review Press) and The Lapidary (Ygdrasil: A Journal of the Literary Arts). The Lapidary was translated into Spanish and French and published as The Lapidary / Le Lapidaire (Vermillon). Heather and Jack R. Wesdorp wrote The Bestiary (Ygdrasil) and two thematic sequences (Appearances Green Arts Festival, Provincetown, MA). In 2016, Heather began an ongoing collaboration with Lowell, MA, artist Jeffrey Lipsky. As Petrichor ArtLab, they published a sequence in Experiment-O, Issue 10, and two poems in the May 2018 anniversary issue of Ygdrasil.
On the skyscraper’s
ledge 11 stories
above the asphalt,
inclined to jump.
Joel Allegretti is the author of, most recently, Platypus (NYQ Books, 2017), a collection of poems, prose, and performance texts, and Our Dolphin (Thrice Publishing, 2016), a novella. He is the editor of Rabbit Ears: TV Poems (NYQ Books, 2015). The Boston Globe called Rabbit Ears “cleverly edited” and “a smart exploration of the many, many meanings of TV.”
They unloaded the painted liner that had been positioned at the wrong dock. The port workers carried each painted crate down the gangplank and placed them in a crudely drawn truck that we are supposed to imagine has a working engine. We are told they can feel us watching them, but that they can never fully understand why they feel so uncomfortable. We must use this information to compose a suitable caption.
Bob Heman is full of information. He lives on the west end of Long Island in what was once the city of Brooklyn.
Ink strokes form letters
letters form words
arranged in an order
to form sentences
mark this time on earth.
Poet, what song do you sing?
How do you present your imagination?
I’m studying toe stretching.
I’ve got so much time on my hands.
Linda Kleinbub is the co-host of Fahrenheit Open Mic. She received her MFA from The New School. Her work has appeared in The New York Observer, The Brooklyn Rail, The Best American Poetry Blog, and Yahoo! Beauty. Her first collection of poetry is forthcoming from A Gathering of Tribes Press/Fly by Night Press.
The rings of Saturn
spin in astral decay
Our smartphone’s news
projects global decline
The sunlight spears
a glare off retention pond
Two bikers careen,
on the point of crashing.
Heather Sager is an Illinois-based author of poetry and short fiction. Her most recent writing appears in SurVision, Sein und Werden, Bluepepper, Words & Whispers, Door Is a Jar, The Fabulist, and other magazines.
Liberace was born in the Bronx,
the dream voice informs me,
but Wikipedia tells a different story
citing West Allis, Wisconsin,
as the sparkly pianist’s hometown.
This news shakes my faith
in the rest of the dream:
immortal poodle, talking newborn,
the Nebuchadnezzar connection.
Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018. Her new collection, Threnody, is forthcoming from Moon Tide Press in late 2021. She writes and leads private workshops in Southern California, where she makes her home. Learn more at www.donnahilbert.com
Queen of the night
she's a daughter,
as well as a flower.
petal by petal
under her sleeve
the razor’s kiss
Elisa Theriana, from Bandung, Indonesia, works as a computer programmer. Haiku lover who would like to promote awareness and fight the stigma of mental health problems.
your tongue rolls my
name like coins dripping
from open apples where
a twist of smile feels wet
you’re my dream girl
mottle-mouth slick &
a slack-jawed lullaby
a poem i told you
of my napping hands
D.E. Fulford is a writer and English instructor at Colorado State University. She holds master's degrees in both creative writing and education, and is presently in her second year of her Doctor of Education. Her chapbook, Southern Atheist: Oh, Honey, is forthcoming from Cathexis Northwest Press. Other poems can be found in Blood Pudding Press, Indolent Books, Dreamers Magazine, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Sunspot Literary Journal, and more. She resides on the front range of the Rocky Mountains with her partner, Levi, and their chocolate Labrador, The Walrus. In her spare time, she can be found riding her Triumph Street Twin motorbike.
S is for Sin
Hungry said the girl.
Canned beans said the girl.
Blood said the mother.
Pears and summer. Bare
shoulders in sundresses.
Fire said the father.
Swallow said the mother. Refrain
said the father. Speak
said God. Hungry
said the girl.
—Kristina Andersson Bicher
Kristina Andersson Bicher’s poems and translations have been published in Ploughshares, Colorado Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Harvard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Plume, and others. She is the author of the poetry collection She-Giant in the Land of Here-We-Go-Again (MadHat Press 2020) and Just Now Alive (2014). Her full-length translation of Swedish poet Marie Lundquist’s I Walk Around Gathering Up My Garden for the Night was published in the fall of 2020 by Bitter Oleander Press. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.
By a slight gesture the waitress seats
the kindly lady who’s lonely and not
clever, with the clever woman who’s
alone and not kindly, together. Glad
to talk the gentle one drips kindness
and the sly one wit, omelets a miracle.
Nathan Whiting has performed contemporary dance and Bhutto in New York theaters and Japanese mountains, completed races longer than 100 miles, and studied witchcraft and meditation. He has nine books of poetry and has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Antioch Review, Best American Poetry, CLWN WR and The Virginia Quarterly.
Looking for a Complete Meal - Reality Included. And history. 2/23/21.
No soda. Maybe soda. Reality included: ironing boards, seagulls, the sound of seagulls, water. Water moving. The sound of water moving.
Birds, sparrows in bushes. Their cheeping. Cars on expressways. Garbage piling. Complaints and poetry. Medicine. Groceries. Waves of light. Dancers dancing.
Dead relatives. Ferries on the East River. The sound of a printer. Prayers for blessings. Offerings. Mourning. Changing. Alive. Alive, oh! (... Cockles and mussels: alive, alive, oh!)
Mindy Levokove is a multi-media performance poet, She dances for water, sings for peace, and writes poetry to help her to clarify the world around her. Most recently, Mindy danced on a beach, for CIDA, and in front of glass windows, on Astor Place, with Dance Rising. Last fall, she published Mount Eden Avenue, a poetry collection (available through Alien Buddha Press and Amazon). But now, the shouts and ravaging of politics: inequality, fear, and consumerism are increasing exponentially. What will we do?
Comes from a long line
of thieves steals moments
sun warm on her back takes
her own time Whole days
plundered in pursuit of nothing much
Air circles fluff and feathers float
Cadged hours overdue returned
wrinkled smudged torn
Dust up bandit bounds
through the tall grass she’s lifted
the shadow from the sundial
Katrinka Moore was a semifinalist in Terrain’s 11th Annual Contest.
I Was a Dancer Once
paid attention to the high grass,
learned to dance that dark rumba.
I take my time—choose the right
partner with the utmost of care.
Softly hold my weapon in my palm
to feel its oily hardness to smell it
a stench, a tang, that only
another soldier can sense.
Come dance with me in the wood line
under the moonlight—take your position
open your black wings.
Dayl Wise was drafted into the US Army 1969. Vietnam/Cambodia '70. His poems have appeared in numerous publications. He is the co-founder of Post Traumatic Press (PostTraumaticPress.org) and is the author of Poems and other stuff (PTP, 2004) and Basic Load (PTP, 2009).
[The editors thank Dayl Wise for his brave and patriotic service]
If Only I Could Be A Clown Like Harpo
I’d be smiling all the time,
tooting the hypocrites.
Like Harpo, I wouldn’t need words
to tell the truth—
reminding everyone to not
take themselves so seriously.
I’d pantomime the voice of my heart,
and erase all worries with a toot of my horn.
—Milton P. Ehrlich
Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 89-year-old psychologist and a veteran of the Korean War. He has published poems in Poetry Review, The Antigonish Review, London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Red Wheelbarrow, and The New York Times.
[The editors thank Milton P. Ehrlich for his brave and patriotic service]
The island sparkles in the morning,
Grasses nodding, leaves waving,
All alive and moving, yet still rooted.
The day passes in sunlight and shadow.
Billowy clouds blow across the sun.
What seems like silence
Is full of sound.
Rocked by gentle waves,
I float between deep blue sky
And dark blue sea,
Bathed in endless waters
That are cold, healing, and bitter.
Anne Whitehouse’s poetry collections include Blessings and Curses, The Refrain, Meteor Shower, and, most recently, Outside from the Inside (Dos Madres Press, 2020). Ethelzine published “Surrealist Muse,” her poem about Leonora Carrington, last year; her poem "Escaping Lee Miller,” is forthcoming. She is also the author of a novel, Fall Love.
In a glass-enclosed room
nibbling on ocean fare
we sit at this clothed table
where the land meets the sea
to the yelp of seals
weaving about the mouths
of hunter dolphins
and just before their last gasp
I wonder who decided
on the perils of the food chain
and where it begins—
on the plate before me
or in the ocean’s shimmer
blinding my green eyes.
(Previously published in Poetry Nook Magazine, October 2013)
Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is an award-winning Santa Barbara author of nine books. Her work has been published in numerous journals and publications. Raab blogs for Psychology Today, The Wisdom Daily, The Good Men Project and Thrive Global. Her latest books are Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Program for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life and Writing for Bliss: A Companion Book. Her latest creative endeavor is Conversation Cards for Meaningful Storytelling. Visit her at: dianaraab.com
Every day that I’m with you
I know that I’ll miss you
if one of us leaves or dies.
But stupidly, each day,
I point out that the way you
peel carrots is wrong or that
I had expected something else
about something else and
I may not hug you at night.
Celia Merlin was born in Lexington, Ky., raised in Buffalo N.Y., and has made her home in Israel. Her poetry collection Of This Too came out in 2017.
Oh dark bone, place the weight
of your love in my hands.
I promise I’ll not take my teeth to you;
most of the time my tongue behaves.
My fingers are dancing apsaras
on your six-mooned barrel.
I am awash in sweetness
devouring your trembling moan.
Tripura’s bamboo, dried in the shade
of ancient frescoes and sculptures,
you steal my breath and leave
a hive of shrutis in my throat.
Flood me with undulating tones
and play me all the way to the end.
Ami Kaye’s poems, reviews, and articles have appeared in various publications, including Kyoto Journal, Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, Cartier Street Review, and Diode. She is the author of What Hands Can Hold, and received nominations for the Pushcart and James B. Baker awards. Her new book, Flutesongs of Tanjore, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2022. Ami is the publisher at Glass Lyre Press, and editor of the Aeolian Harp series.
No amount of lira will matter to the literatus
I've lived among them, they won't accept us
They will never let you in their inner circle
The incantations turn to recantations
turn to verbal tradition, meaningless in message
The reciprocate action to insult is indifference
The rhizosphere's roots could tear up the tectonic plates
and throw them like a drunken domestic fit
I ignore it to collect crocus for sale at the spice market
The monocle monopoly men in the art galleries
who bluff their faux fovea; their eyes seeing no more than yours
Art expert is a conundrum, a very brief joke
John Maurer is a 26-year-old writer from Pittsburgh who writes fiction, poetry, and everything in between, but his work always strives to portray that what is true is beautiful. He has been previously published in Claudius Speaks, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, and more than forty others. @JohnPMaurer (johnpmaurer.com)
Roger Stone Prepares His Back For a Richard Nixon Tattoo
To build your deltoid and latissimus dorsi muscles,
weigh down your arms with heavy iron bells.
Lean forward as if you had a good friend behind you,
bend at the knees like a woman in a birthing squat.
Dangle the weights as low as you can, to the floor of your cell,
then pull up and away like an angel, like an eagle—
Inhale long, suck as hard as you can,
make your shoulder blades kiss.
Do this for five Presidential terms,
until your back is a canvas: blank and speckled as your republic.
Jennifer Martelli is the author of My Tarantella (Bordighera Press), awarded an Honorable Mention from the Italian-American Studies Association, selected as a 2019 “Must Read” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and named as a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. Her chapbook, After Bird, was the winner of the Grey Book Press open reading, 2016. Her work has appeared in Verse Daily, Iron Horse Review (winner, Photo Finish contest), The Sycamore Review, West Trestle Review, Cream City Review, The Bitter Oleander, and Poetry. Jennifer Martelli has twice received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for her poetry. She is co-poetry editor for Mom Egg Review and co-curates the Italian-American Writers Series.
She has become the woman who finds
any kind of plastic bag in her purse, pockets
filled with dog biscuits, toys, tissues.
She has become a woman at the age of fifty
only to figure out she found the world
quite the same as before, her mind more
unharmed though still shaken when a stranger
borders, and touches. Safe sound in the desert,
sounds safe at seas. She has eyed a woman
to find examples of self, symbols of food and life,
given her own perfume casket, velvet bead-flowers,
stale aromas in staled bottles, ambered like how
she became her nan's jewelry, a box filled
with brooches, nowhere to go but to walk
the dogs in desert suns, biscuits at hand.
Kate Copeland started absorbing stories ever since a little lass. Her love for words led her to teaching and translating some dear languages; her love for art, water, and writing led her to poetry ... with some publications sealed already! She was born in Rotterdam some 51 years ago and adores housesitting in Spain at the moment.
The Quick Key
Ever-shrinking path to glory’s kennel,
sunset’s corsage smudges the Hudson.
Cormorants command black pilings.
Loneliness spreads grape kush wings.
Who says you have to work late?
Who insists you flirt with posterity?
Time races on in a black Thunderbird,
ashes knocking at the fire door.
Who says you need to guard the EXIT?
A burning submarine fingering the sea.
Fun melts away as you polish light,
chasing the hounds of fame.
Razor-thin euphoria is a wake-up call.
The party is here—inside these cells.
—Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright is a publisher, critic, eco-activist, impresario, and artist, best known as a New Romantic, Surrealist poet. He is author of 17 books of verse, including Blue Lyre from Dos Madres Press and Party Everywhere from Xanadu. Currently he publishes Live Mag!, a journal of art and poetry. He recently produced a film highlighting his puppet shows called “Pandemic Puppet Jam,” on YouTube.
What is presently present lingers awhile. It endures in approach and withdrawal. —Heidegger
loll luff breach perdure
in the fascination of extract this length whiling
Everything that lingers awhile stands in disjunction.
arrears frisson lacunae
presence presences when linger is meted out
when the moist of early shear destines expenditure, lit retrieval, botched heresy, . . . adumbrated cast
from precipitate frottage →
Heller Levinson is the originator of Hinge Theory, Heller Levinson lives in the lower Hudson Valley. His most recent book is Seep (Black Widow Press, 2020). His upcoming Lurk is scheduled for a Spring 2021 release (also BWP).