FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
so effortless . . .
of a dead star
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.
for his words
late autumn moon
Maya Daneva is from Canada. Currently, she is a Computer Science scholar at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Her work has appeared in Frogpond, Canada Haiku Review, Failed Haiku, Wales Haiku, and the Haiku Foundation Dialogue, among other venues.
your skin of lightbulbs
no one can ever turn on
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.
[excerpted from verse novel Purple Daze: A Far Out Trip, 1965]
Love is like sticking
your car keys in a pocket with
your sunglasses and thinking
your glasses won’t get scratched.
Sherry Shahan lives in a laid-back beach town in California, where she grows carrot tops in ice cube trays for pesto. Her work has appeared in Oxford University Press, Los Angeles Times, Exposition Review, F(r)iction, Gargoyle, Confrontation, Sci-Fi Lampoon, Critical Read, Mother Earth News, and forthcoming from Fiddlehead. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
[Untitled: The earth is broken]
The earth is broken.
Envy is not green, it is
dry as baking drought.
Freedom is the horizon
wanting nothing but sunrise.
Daniel Miess has recently completed Chapman University’s dual Master of Arts in English/Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. He is also a Middle School Language Arts and High School Creative Writing Teacher at Ridgeline Academy in Anthem, Arizona. When not writing poetry of his own, or reading poetry for TAB: A Journal of Poetry and Poetics, he is enthusiastically reading poetry of others, traveling, enjoying poetry, and spending time with his husband of eight and a half years, Kelly.
Tree branches are calligraphic beings, don't you think? But what of leaves? Each a memory vibrant with joy or sadness. Not to worry, I've always talked to myself.
Kit Kennedy serves as Resident Poet at herchurch and Poet in Residence at SF Bay Times. She has published 6 poetry collections, including while eating oysters (CLWN WR BKS, Brooklyn, NY). Please visit: http://poetrybites.blogspot.com
may day: 5.1.21: 9:50 pm
at the foot
Eve Packer: Bronx-born, poet/performer/actress, appears solo, w/music, in dance and theatre. She has appeared in works ranging from Beckett to Hansberry to Baraka & others. Several grants and awards, including NYFA, Jerome Foundation, NEH, and NYSCA. She has published three poetry books, skulls head samba,, playland poems 1994–2004, and new nails. (Fly By Night Press). Has several poetry/jazz CD’s, the most recent: ny woman: poetry/jazz highlights. Also performs with Heidi Latsky Dance. Spring '18 saw her new chapbook foss park. A proud contributor to many publications, including various Unbearable Anthologies, Tribes, Long Shot, brevitas & others. Coordinates (w/sparrow) a loose collective of poet/performers. Teaches at WCC. Lives downtown and swims daily (if possible!).
Tree limbs twist and sway,
Rush shushing fluster over
Wind’s passing whispers.
Sea remembers Moon
And still feels drawn, still gestures
As if to follow.
William Considine writes poems and plays. His books include The Furies (The Operating System, 2017) and two chapbooks, Strange Coherence (The Operating System, 2013) and The Other Myrtle (Finishing Line Press, 2021). His full-length plays performed in 2019 were Moral Support at Medicine Show Theatre and Women’s Mysteries at Polaris North. His short verse plays seen in NYC in 2020 include Aunt Peg and the Comptometer at Bowery Poetry Club and Persephone’s Return and Odyssey’s End on Zoom from Polaris North. Fast Speaking Music released a CD of his poems with music, An Early Spring (2013). (www.williamconsidine.com)
Hot air ballooning
Her kimono, embroidered with storks,
falls open on woodland flowers.
The burner fills her belly with flame,
hungry. Wicker creaks and strains.
Suddenly she slips her tethers
and soars into the cool morning air.
A tear-stained note scribbled in haste, crumpled and tossed—
I smooth the anguish and fold it neatly into a paper crane.
Be gone! I release the messenger into the blustery courtyard:
a white scrap heading south under threatening skies.
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.
Willow asters dominate
sycamores flaunt golden leaves
cockleburs and spiderwebs
adhere to pants and jacket sleeves.
Common milkweed's gone to seed
Joe-pye weed is bent and brown
snapping turtles bask on logs
chatty squirrels romp around.
Sky and lake are cobalt blue
dogwood leaves have turned maroon
goldenrod now lines the fields
morning sports a daylight moon.
Marjorie Hanft studied literature, composition, and classics at Beloit College (BA) and poetry and translation at Brown University (MA, Graduate Writing Program). She also studied counseling at the University of Oklahoma (MA) and taught psychology at Eastern Illinois University (1988–2015) following work in university counseling and community mental health. Her poems have appeared in the journals Calyx and Mississippi Valley Review and translations from ancient Greek poetry (melic lyrics) were published by Brown University.
When I Had Previously Seen Red:
Fire trucks, lollipops, my mother's lipstick,
beets, candy apples, balloons, certain bird feathers,
costumes at Carnival, my toe when I tripped over the floor fan,
the Zapruder film, and now lacing my skates at the rink, there on the ice
where it didn't belong. The whispered rumors chilling: a cracked head, a split shin,
and now that narrow blade that was supposed to support me no longer looked so shiny.
Betsy Mars practices poetry, photography, pet maintenance, and publishes an occasional anthology through Kingly Street Press. Her second anthology, Floored, is now available on Amazon. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Sky Island Journal, Sheila-Na-Gig, One Art, Gyroscope Review, and Verse-Virtual, among others. She is the author of Alinea (Picture Show Press) and co-author of In the Muddle of the Night with Alan Walowitz (Arroyo Seco Press).
Girl Tries to Speak
down the dark knot
of her throat
tear out the ball
the boat the bird
and the brick
a wave comes
her voice shadowy sliding
—Kristina Andersson Bicher
Kristina Andersson Bicher’s poems and translations have been published in Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Brooklyn Rail, Harvard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Plume, and others. She is 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.
Wind gallops up the mountain
sunlit morning barrels
into forest Flash and
shadow sweep and splash
with every gust with each
Limbs and boughs thump
down Skinny saplings
pitch rebound Full-leafed
branches shimmy reel
Pine spires careen Wildwood’s
inner life spills open
Katrinka Moore was a semifinalist in Terrain’s 11th Annual Contest. The poem “Unbridled” is contained in Ms. Moore’s upcoming poetry book Diminuendo.
My Silent Place
If I look for a silent place within myself,
it won’t be hard to find.
It is a place where there is no internal voice,
no voice telling me how everything is wrong.
On the other hand, it is hard to silence that voice,
the voice that is always driving me
to fix things, to make things better.
But some things can’t be made better.
When it comes to those things
I should just turn off that voice,
cut the power, and hope for quiet.
Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of seven books, most recently Tricks of Light, a poetry collection. His novel Haywire won the Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s members’ choice award, and his memoir Guess and Check won an Electronic Literature award for multicultural fiction. He teaches at Medgar Evers College and received a fiction writing fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Felt like I was in Walt Disney’s Fantasia.
The six dancing mushrooms and me:
the little mushroom out of step,
the reluctant boy soldier.
I remember the helicopter engine noise,
the backwash that blew off the roof.
Then I looked back and the women were dead.
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 of First Literary Review-East thank Mr. Wise for his brave and patriotic service]
mature say less
a substitute for
Individual entries on Richard Kostelanetz’s work appear in various editions of Readers Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers, Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature, Contemporary Poets, Contemporary Novelists, Postmodern Fiction, Webster's Dictionary of American Writers, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Directory of American Scholars, Who's Who in America, NNDB.com, Wikipedia.com, and Britannica.com, among other distinguished directories.
How to Raise a Poet
Mothers, fathers—listen. You’ll need
an abnormal amount of nerve.
Her questions will startle and hurt you,
her thirst for risk, for agitation.
She needs recipes, old jewelry to untangle,
some dirt to tend, animals crippled and wild,
fractals, insects, the cracks in oil paintings. When she
disappears at a bus station or within a circle of trees,
you’ll find her hours later in her room, fast asleep.
Kidnappings fascinate her. Hauntings too.
Mothers, fathers—you’ll know something’s up
when she asks if you like the poem she just wrote,
the poem about death. She is seven. You’ll gulp
and say, yes, yes, we like it, very much.
Erica Goss served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA, from 2013–2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award, Wild Place and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets. Recent work appears or is upcoming in North Dakota Quarterly, Redactions, Brevity, Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Cider Press Review, The Pedestal, Slant, and Rise Up Review, among others. She is the founder of Girls’ Voices Matter, a media arts program for teen girls, and the editor of Sticks & Stones. Please visit her at www.ericagoss.com.
The cliché is my shepherd;
it gathers the sheep of my memory
from the scraps of their ingeminate
power, plodding through
the green pastures of averted
reflection and restoring certainty
to fixed points of recognition.
And though I walk through shadows
that are breaking down the solitary
self in the midst of its mummery,
the repetitive old rod and hackneyed
staff—they comfort me, and cram
the void with intermediary structures
of stereotypical stability.
Originally from Ukraine, Askold Skalsky has had poems in magazines and online journals in the USA, as well as in literary publications in Europe, Canada, and Australia. A first collection, The Ponies of Chuang Tzu, was published in 2011.
How to Give Up Poetry: A Broadside
[from the poet’s book Cheapside Afterlife (April 2021, Longleaf Press at Methodist University]
Sleep in weeds flush with rodents, climb
the web of oaks to conspire
with an avaricious crow to wrest
a worm from the tree of would-be heaven. Interrogate
the page till snowlight clears our palate, and crack
the gut to catch what matters—if we lose
sleep to catch a feckless word, just figure it’s worth
its weight in lust. Try a hand
at novelettes, or the stage perhaps to feed
a phrase to another’s maw contorted in plagiarized
emotion, grease paint dripping
pale; to cease just give yourself
to life, patient as the carnivorous pitcher plant
that lies in wait so near the hive.
George Rawlins has recent publications in Chiron Review, The Common, New Critique (UK), New World Writing, and One Hand Clapping (UK). He lives in California. His most recent poetry collection, Cheapside Afterlife (April 2021, Longleaf Press at Methodist University), reimagines in 57 sonnets the life of the 18th-century poet Thomas Chatterton.
a miniature castle
into stone nest crested cliffs
would crown itself
away from the perception
of its own morningside glint
averting its stained-glass eyes
from a godsent moat
of urgency and wreathed limbs
of wood and bone
we could not miss this chance to gaze.
—Brian J. Alvarado
Brian J. Alvarado is a Puerto-Haitian Bronxite with pieces published or forthcoming in Squawk Back, Trouvaille, Alien Buddha, Beliveau Review, Cajun Mutt, and The Quiver Review, among others. He holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Susquehanna University.
This black & blue sherd
Men made from the earth
By heating sand, potash, lime,
And iron oxide to form
Millions of black glass vessels
Filled with inebriating
Liquor; then an inebriated
Sailor tossed an empty bottle;
Returned to its origins
In sand and sea, transformed
To this black & blue glass
Sherd, a sign of this harbor’s past.
George Held, a contributor to various periodicals, has received eleven Pushcart Prize nominations and published or edited twenty-two poetry books, most recently Second Sight (Poets Wear Prada, 2019).
Anti-cancer Janus Machine
The robot’s built to cut it out, and with
that cut to part me for a while from death.
But nothing comes so singly beneficial:
blades the clever-crawling engine slipped
between my guts and groin severed nerves
as well, paring love to just a word
without a deed, its intimate intent
intact, its mechanism disconnected.
—David C. Meyer
David C. Meyer holds several advanced degrees, half in writing/litereature and half in religion/theology. He has had about 85 poems, a few essays, and one play published in a range of magazines and literary journals. The work appearing here comes from an as yet unpublished chapbook called Chronicle of an Obsession, poems addressing the experience of prostate cancer and its aftermath. Though the poems (this poem?) may not be enjoyable, Meyer hopes they (it?) will be moving, and perhaps even enlightening.
The euphoria of success starts withdrawal
a day or so later. Suddenly I don’t want
to go back to being that person who strives,
reaches inside, walks barefoot on the path,
grateful for fragrant breezes, knowing that
opening to is better than glory’s gaudy infusions,
that in the end, greatness may not count as much
as kindness, a hand held out, a listening, an ache
soothed. Some things are worth losing, worth
losing for. The key is knowing what will restore
the soul and what will numb it into the empty,
careless violence of the champion’s stance.
Carol Casey lives in Blyth, Ontario, Canada. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Prairie Journal,The Anti-Langourous Project, Please See Me, Front Porch Review, Cypress, Vita Brevis and others, including a number of anthologies, most recently, We Are One: Poems From the Pandemic and the TL;DR Hope Anthology.
Who could foresee?
That a rash across the bridge of your nose would become a sign
So Much Is Possible.
Get down on your knees.
Touch the small things—tiny stones. moss, grains of earth.
It's dirt. It’s beautiful, rich and soulful like we are.
Sticks and stones earth, air, fire, water,
Stuff in any order.
The riches of the universe are what we are.
Lie down and put your face in the grass.
This is what we are.
Su Polo is a poet, writer of vignette stories, and singer songwriter playing dulcimer and guitar. Su is also a watercolor painter. Her two chapbooks are Turning Stones and Beauty. Su is host and curator of the long-running Saturn Series Poetry Reading and Open Mike in NYC for 25 years every Monday night, currently on hiatus. Her website is supolo.com