FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Here's to a much happier and healthier—and very creative—new year to all our talented contributors and dedicated readers.
—Cindy and Karen
I hide in my shadow
day and night
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, the Poetry Pea, the Haiku Foundation Dialogue.
The necklace is glittering,
brilliant with deceit.
Robert Nisbet is a poet from rural West Wales.
my pillow a pitiful
rudder, the roof: an
inverted prow, winds
are waves, sky is sea
my mind untethered
in the deep night
Jim Pignetti built a specialty metal supply company on his childhood newspaper route from 55 years ago. A painter and co-founder of brevitas, a NY-based online poetry collective, Jim really likes parsley.
[Editors' Note: Both Cindy and Karen are proud members of brevitas]
Tula, the poodle, rises to music,
walks the hallway to what calls,
lies down next to the sound: Brahms,
the only music that moves her.
Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems,” Tebot Bach 2018. More at www.donnahilbert.com
At the grave
of David Hume—
Should I offer
Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. Jon is the author of the poetry collection Words of Power and Dances of Freedom, as well as several novels and short-story collections. http://jonwesick.com
Fingers on the line, elbows straightened like bows
to spring. Head down, hips up, backbone cabling
the body’s span. Knees, ankles bent, toes clutch,
the balls of your feet a burst at the gun, as
shoulders lift, raise the hips, calves erupting,
feet in fury, arms pumping opposite knees,
grand lever assembly like lifting Man to his
heights as he sprints the length.
Jeff Santosuosso is a business consultant and award-winning poet living in Pensacola, FL. His chapbook, “Body of Water,” is available through Clare Songbirds Publishing House. He is Editor-in-Chief of panoplyzine.com, an online journal of poetry and short prose. Jeff’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Mojave River Review, The Lake (UK), The Blue Nib, Red Fez, Texas Poetry Calendar, Avocet, and other online and print publications.
a sparrow sings
a sparrow sings
shreds its message
a tiny pebble
lost in erosion
Patricia Carragon’s fiction piece “What Has to Happen Next” has been nominated for Sundress Publications' Annual Best of the Net Anthology. Her poem "Paris the Beautiful" won Poem of the Week from great weather for MEDIA. Her latest poetry book from Poets Wear Prada is Meowku and her debut novel, Angel Fire, is from Alien Buddha Press. Patricia hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
sparrows one by one hopping past me in the early evening, one stayed close by me, patient, interested, it seemed. returning the bird’s attention, I saw something in her I didn’t see in the others, and, happy, I wrote these verses.
so generous you
pause with me giving me time
to notice at last
the yellow just by your eyes
that small difference everything
Dean Schabner lives on the shore of Jamaica Bay in the Rockaways of New York City. He has a chapbook of poems, surf-body, out from Ghost City Press, and has had poems and stories appear in Juniper, River Heron Review, Witness, Northwest Review, Pushcart Prize and others.
Man on a Horse
Questions that no one asks
Actions that nobody decides
A wild horse
That some man rides
Uncontrolled he storms with the wind
While the crowd sleeps surrendering.
Gabriela Jurosz-Landa is an anthropologist/art critic, writer, and artist. Her recent book is titled Transcendent Wisdom of the Maya (2019). During the Corona pandemic, she created the Zoom-based Writers Salon, a forum for poets to read and discuss their work. As the founder of FORUM OF WORLD CULTURES, she organizes inter-cultural events and edits the cultural blog ForumWorldCultures.blogspot.com.
Self-Portrait of my shadow in the kitchen window
The self part is hidden not
in the body’s shadow
but in the soul’s shadow.
I lift it off the page, then arm
and disarm all it contains.
My life has spiraled through
windows of time. You were
my soul mate. The sun warms
my bare back, saying be grateful,
and I am. The self inside
my soul’s shadow reminds me:
one of us walked away.
—Jan Garden Castro
Jan Garden Castro (www.jancastro.com/): books include The Last Frontier (poems, Eclectic Press), The Art & Life of Georgia O’Keeffe, Sonia Delaunay: La Moderne. Poems in New Letters, Black Renaissance Noire, Konch , Roof, Exquisite Corps, Chronogram; writer for ABR & Sculpture. Awards as Editor, River Styx Magazine; NEH & Camargo Fellowships.
So Love Might Be
Without shout, or scream, or howl,
I spoke my rage to the one who calls
For peace with silence. Hostage still,
She flinches at the memories of old
Recurrent violence, and I, compelled
To bless or blast, pitying her for what
She’s lost, asked only to be heard, not
Believed or surrendered to, but heard,
So my contorted face might soften,
And love might be the final word.
Mike Graves is the author of five (5) collections, three books Adam and Cain and In Fragility both from Black Buzzard (2006, 2011) and two chapbooks, Illegal Border Crosser (Cervana Barva, 2008) and Outside St. Jude’s (R. E. M. Press, 1990). A Prayer for the Less Violent Offenders: New & Selected Short Poems was published by Nirala (2018).
For weeks the baby says umm
when I sing hmm-hmm-hmmm in descending scale.
A simple song for a complex world where
every turn of her fair head is discovery,
each stumble a lesson accompanied by tears or smiles.
Pain and joy are hard tutors.
Sometimes there is silence but, like the moonlight,
a thin shining.
Today she sang umm-mm.
Two notes blossoming in her blood.
Gary Metras’s poems and reviews have recently appeared in Ibbetson Street, Wilderness House literary Review, Red Eft Review, Southern Florida Poetry Review, and are upcoming in Gargoyle and Poetry East. His 2018 book of poems, White Storm (Rockford, MI: Presa Press), was selected as a Must Read title by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. In April 2018 he was appointed as the City of Easthampton’s inaugural Poet Laureate.
On the Street
“I told you
never to call me here,”
he says when he answers
becomes a new
kind of place
Wherever you are
Karen Alkalay-Gut’s latest book is A Word in Edgewise: Ladies from the Bible tell their tales (2020) and can be found at karenalkalay-gut.com.
In twisted sculpture;
With scornful eyes—
Inhabit the space of neon galleries
Amused by all the gossip and lies
In the know la de das
Who soak their boredom
In high-class bars.
—Strider Marcus Jones
Strider Marcus Jones is a poet, law graduate, and former civil servant from Salford, England, with proud Celtic roots in Ireland and Wales. A member of The Poetry Society, his five published books of poetry https://stridermarcusjonespoetry.wordpress.com/ reveal a maverick, moving between cities, playing his saxophone in smoky rooms.
New York Winds
send me back to Koreatown.
Friday evening, 32nd just east
of Broadway, release from
the clubs. Crowds of free
and unraveled bodies, all
mouth, yelling, yapping,
the feed is on, 3am, and
we’re all sharks suddenly
Anita Lerek, a Toronto resident, has been published by Verse Virtual (Oct, 2020), Ygdrasil (Sept, 2020), Persimmon Tree, and Split This Rock. She is author of the chapbook of History and Being (2019), and co-founder of ChangeArtists, a start-up online hub for quality poetry related to political engagement and social action. The visual arts, jazz, and social justice are strong influences. She is a second-generation Holocaust survivor. She has spent her adult life juggling business (law), social advocacy, and the enchantment of her most faithful lover, her poetic muse. She has just begun to submit. You can find her at:
City Poem, Autumn 1990
(for Tim Dunn and Diane Call)
Cities are taken into the sky,
avenues are dreaming in amber light...
Let’s dance on the roof,
Let’s dance naked to the waist,
Let’s dance in bare feet,
on wool blankets...
drop turquoise fire
—Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal studied under Stephen Dunn (Pulitzer Prize winner in 2000) in the fall semester 1977 at Stockton State College, Pomona. He currently lives in Vermont.
trails long after milestones
too much stuff, not enough
a perfect gift
is an art
Yevgeniya Przhebelskaya has held a variety of jobs in the education field. Currently, she is a math tutor and a stay-at-home mom, and is working on a collections of Christmas poems. Yevgeniya's poems were published in Time of Singing, First Literary Review-East, Page, and Spine, and other print and online publications. Check out more of her poems at ypoetry.weebly.com
dance is in the present always
unlike painting that becomes past
the instant it’s dried
silent on the page until
some future voice awakens it
Tony Beyer is a New Zealander whose most recent chapbook is Friday Prayers (Cold Hub Press, 2019). New poems have appeared in Hamilton Stone Review, London Grip, Molly Bloom, Mudlark, and Otoliths.
Let’s Be Clear
When she says your book
is interesting, she means
it's odd, and when she says
your poem is brave, she means
it's foolish, and when she says
your story is original, she means
it's bad, and when she says your
play is well made, she means it's
boring, and when she says your
screenplay has potential, she means
it's horrible, but when she says you're
a good writer she means she wishes,
truly she does, that she liked your work.
Bill Yarrow's latest book is Wake Me When the Narcoleptics Arrive.
Sixteen Lines in Sixteen Lines (to the tune of “Sixteen Tons”)
Some people think a poem’s full of nothing but crud,
a wastrel’s pasty rhyme with words like love, death, and blood,
written by somebody with no muscle or bone
and a mind so weak it should leave writin’ alone.
[Chorus:] You write sixteen lines, and whaddya get?
Another day older but no publisher yet.
Pulitzer don’t call me ’cause I can’t go—
my soul is pledged to the fees that I owe!
Born in the early morn some place the sun don’t shine,
dug up from the tailings of a fool’s-gold mine;
poured out onto paper from an empty bowl,
they ain’t got wisdom and they ain’t got no soul. [Chorus]
If you see a poet comin’, you should step aside,
for you’d be better off if you just up and died.
And if there is a reading—Lordy! Please don’t go,
’cause they won’t say nothin’ you don’t already know! [Chorus]
[Editors' Note: We appreciate Ken's reference to our line limit]
Ken Gosse usually writes short, rhymed verse using whimsy and humor in traditional meters. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, since then in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, Home Planet News Online, Sparks of Calliope and others. Raised in the Chicago, Illinois, suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years.
Bus riders shout about the plague in America,
how God, family & faith are the ways to get through.
She believes in holy shit & science.
She steps out of the bus without touching anything,
except her venti iced tea, & a paper straw covering
that she twists around & around in her left fingers,
as if it were prayer beads or a Catholic rosary.
Praying for an empty street at Skillman Ave.,
she breathes a sigh of relief; a new day begins!
As she surveys a crammed Queens Boulevard ahead—
the world is still moving along,
even when most people are staying still.
—Carrie Magness Radna
Carrie Magness Radna is an audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, a choral singer, and a poet who loves to travel. Her poems have previously appeared in The Oracular Tree, Mediterranean Poetry, Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetry Super Highway, Shot Glass Journal, Vita Brevis, Home Planet News, Cajun Mutt Press, Walt’s Corner, Polarity eMagazine, The Poetic Bond (VIII, IX & X), Alien Buddha Press, Jerry Jazz Musician, Rye Whiskey Review and First Literary Review-East. Her first poetry collection, Hurricanes never apologize (Luchador Press), was published in December 2019. Her upcoming poetry collection In the blue hour (Nirala Publications), will be published in early 2021. Born in Norman, Oklahoma, she now lives with her husband in Manhattan, New York. https://carriemagnessradna.com
On the other side of this door
it is also me but awake, knocking loudly
to shake the illusion loose that
it’s safe inside the house.
We believe the man on the TV,
and we open the windows as wide
as the arms of the people from
an occupied city greeting the liberation army,
only to realize we simply switch empires,
we were part of an off-season trade,
and the house we cherish is as fragile
as a nest inside a tornado.
On this side of the door it is me
looking at me through the keyhole,
I recognize my face but I don't quite trust me.
After all, someone with an accent like mine
can't be from around here.
—Juan Pablo Mobili
Juan Pablo Mobili was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and adopted by New York, a long time ago. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming, in New Feathers Anthology, Spirit Fire Review, Mason Street, The Red Wheelbarrow Review, The Journal of American Poetry, and the Worcester Review. He also co-wrote a chapbook of poems in collaboration with Madalasa Mobili, Three Unknown Poets, published by Seranam Press.
where we walked into the valley the night before
nested simulation in the valley of scimitars
these dawn highways bled naked through edited eyes
drawn naked from the sun, we speak of the valley of the dead
this mouth numb from glossolalia drinks from the solar equivalence
a lullaby whose words from this panic mouth withdrawn|
eater of the womb whose fruits a panic method voided
of the sun that seeks austerities in the panic nectar
Shiva lingam consumed by invisible tangents
allegiances to a lunar ascension
a nomad guided by a solar declination
from a darkness body a system delusion
an endless night on the periphery of consciousness
these stained escapes a sunshine by morning
wrecked by reverberation learns closed networks with explorers
Alvin Tung is an experimental writer who is currently whetting his teeth on the poetic form after suffering from a decade’s long bout of writer’s block. He is based in sunny Sydney, Australia where he spends his days gazing lovingly into the sunken abyss.
Blue in Green
Slush of snare could be a fragrance
Stirred; elegantly uncoupling from brush
Towards the tapered lip of bronze-bright cymbal;
Smoke-soft sound marks the full distance
Between the arc of light and the lush
Collapse to shimmer; the sudden retrieval—
Bray of a muted trumpet, in this instance,
Hovering outside the ear like an inaudible hush;
Bass bellows, unbidden, and flaunts an escalating scale.
The atmosphere glistens, and young couples dance;
Silhouettes or desultory souls that have been flushed
Like eager moths to gaslight—pink-bright pale
Now themselves graciously uncoupling
Aching for the sweeter discourse music brings.
A life-long resident of Connecticut, John Muro is a graduate of Trinity College. He has also attained advanced degrees from Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. His professional career has been dedicated to environmental stewardship and conservation, and his first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour. will be published next month by Antrim House. John and his wife, Debra, live in Guilford, CT, and they have four children.
THANKS FOR READING. BE WELL AND BE SAFE, EVERYONE!