FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST

Submissions Meet the Editor-in-Chief January 2018 March 2019 May/June 2021 Meet the Associate Editor July 2021 November 2019 January/February 2019 Book Review - Lyn Lifshin's "Ballroom" March 2020 September 2016 May 2020 Book Review: Amy Holman's Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window July/August 2018 Book Review: Kit Kennedy Reviews Heller Levinson September 2012 Book Review - Patricia Carragon Reviews Leigh Harrison November 2012 January 2020 March 2013 Book Review - Dean Kostos "Rivering" May 2013 Book Review: Hochman Reviews Ormerod Summer Issue 2013 September 2020 November/December 2018 McMaster Reviews Szporluk January 2021 July/August 2014 November 2014 Book Review: Wright Reviews Gardner Stern Reviews Katrinka Moore May 2015 Hochman Reviews Ross July 2020 Tocco Reviews Simone September 2015 Simone Reviews Cefola May 2016 Bledsoe Reviews Wallace November 2016 January 2017 May 2017 Wehrman Reviews Dhar July 2017 September 2018 March 2018 May 2019 July 2019 September 2019 November 2020 March 2021



 

JANUARY 2021

Here's to a much happier and healthier—and very creative—new year to all our talented contributors and dedicated readers.
—Cindy and Karen

 


 
winter blues
I hide in my shadow
day and night

                                       —Maya Daneva

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. 

 


 
Glitter

The necklace is glittering,
brilliant with deceit.

                                                      —Robert Nisbet


Robert Nisbet is a poet from rural West Wales.



2:22 AM

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

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]
 


 
Aimez-vous Brahms?

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

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems,” Tebot Bach 2018. More at www.donnahilbert.com


 

David Hume

At the grave
of David Hume—
atheist, skeptic

Should I offer
a prayer?

                                                                                                                                               —Jon Wesick

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

 



First Steps


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

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 ReviewSan 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


unhappiness
shreds its message

& serenity

a tiny pebble
lost in erosion

                                    —Patricia Carragon

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

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

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.  
www.Gabriela-Jurosz-Landa.Jimdofree.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

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).

 



Hum

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

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
his cellphone

And here
becomes a new
kind of place

Wherever you are

                                          —Karen Alkalay-Gut

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.




Metal Mania


Metal mania

In twisted sculpture;
Welded gods
With scornful eyes—
Inhabit the space of neon galleries
Amused by all the gossip and lies
Oozing from
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
come alive.

                                                   —Anita Lerek

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:
https://www.facebook.com/Poetry-and-Thought-of-Anita-Lerek-492464424841589/ 
https://www.instagram.com/anitalerek.

 



City Poem, Autumn 1990

(for Tim Dunn and Diane Call)

1.

Cities are taken into the sky,
avenues are dreaming in amber light...


2.
Let’s dance on the roof,
Let’s dance naked to the waist,
Let’s dance in bare feet,
on wool blankets...


3.
...The stars
drop turquoise fire
around us…

                                                     —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.



Lost art

hideous clutter

trails long after milestones

too much stuff, not enough
thoughtfulness, time

a perfect gift
is an art

                                                          —Yevgeniya Przhebelskaya

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



Ars longa  

dance is in the present always 

unlike painting that becomes past 
the instant it’s dried 

unlike poetry 
silent on the page until 
some future voice awakens it 

                                                            —Tony Beyer

Tony Beyer is a New Zealander whose most recent chapbook is Friday Prayers (Cold Hub Press, 2019). New poems have appeared in Hamilton Stone ReviewLondon GripMolly BloomMudlark, 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

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]

                                                                                                                         —Ken Gosse

[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 stop  

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 CornerPolarity eMagazine, The Poetic Bond (VIII, IX & X), Alien Buddha PressJerry 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.



Chrysanthemum

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

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.

                                                                                                    —John Muro

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!