FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
The editors of First Literary Review-East are very proud of FLRev's history of inclusion and diversity, in poetic aesthetic, form, and culture. In this first issue of 2018, we are pleased to showcase the work of poets who hail from, among other parts of the globe, Russia, Italy, China, the UK, and many regions of the USA, including, of course, good old Brooklyn, New York (where the editors happen to reside). Although there is perhaps more than just a vague hint of political tumult and ominous rumblings explored in these poems, we, as poets, need to be eternal optimists, and we believe that these poems capture this too. With that in mind, we wish you a very happy and hopeful new year, with the Muse faithfully at the helm.
—Cindy Hochman and Karen Neuberg
One-sentence Story/Prose Poem
To find life's meaning, he crawled to a cliff's edge …
Austin Alexis has recent work in Ginosko Literary Journal, Nomad's Choir, The Lyric, Maymark Press Hand-out Sheets, and Home Planet News On-line. His one-act, one-character play "Do Not Call" was performed at Theater for the New City in May. His poetry collection is Privacy Issues (Broadside-Lotus Press, 2014).
Poem for the New Year
Think, if you can,
Not as a striding, glaring
Fury with an upraised
But as a limping, eyeless
Deserving fear and
Michael Graves is the author of two full-length collection of poems, Adam and Cain (Black Buzzard, 2006) and In Fragility (Black Buzzard, 2011), and two chapbooks, Illegal Border Crosser (Cervana Barva, 2008) and Outside St. Jude’s (R. E. M. Press, 1990). In 2004, he was the recipient of a substantial grant of from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. Thirteen of his poems appear in the James Joyce Quarterly.
Each Day Should Start with Mercy
First I spared the life of a spider,
tiny thing, flicked across the kitchen floor.
Before I finished my bowl of flakes, it was back
at my elbow. How does God do it?
So I use The Selected Poems of Lorca—
Green, how much I want you green.
Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher-Price, and currently as a children's librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook, The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press), and a full-length poetry collection, What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.
saw a man
from the back
of his car.
it looked like
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 in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Contrary, Convergence, Eclectica, The Red Wheelbarrow, and Main Street Rag, among others. She is co-founder of Media Poetry Studio, a poetry-and-film camp for teen girls: www.mediapoetrystudio.com. Please visit her at www.ericagoss.com.
The Chronicles of Nambia
There’s a closet in a white house
with room for stately clothes
the door is gold, ornate and old—
fur capes in double rows
walk slowly to the back of it
it's a path to a secret land
the fabled country Nambia
where news is partly banned—
and scenery is fantastical
where animal pride is king
the foremost vice is being nice
and losing at anything.
S.O. Fasrus has poems and verse in The New Verse News, Snakeskin, Light Poems of the Week, and Lighten-Up-Online. She has written articles for National News and magazines but prefers very short forms. She's a research interviewer and lives in London, UK.
Half of my name looks like the way “Narcissus” is pronounced. In its halves it whispers bows with barbs strewn with narcosis. A portico shades the sleeper, still without his baptismal remembrance. Not even a photo to make the font smaller. Narcissus looks at himself; the rough mountain impends over his shoulders. The elders, and not just they, say that one pain drives out another, that each head (as each body) is nothing but a fixation. After one, another. And so on. There is nothing left but formless noise, of someone who owns soaked hammers.
Writer and Poet, Erika Dagnino, from Italy, has performed in the USA and UE with important musicians. Currently she is writing about public transportation and the rights of passengers.
Carry Me Back to Old Assyria
I’m done, done
with Babylon and its precious gates,
and I’m done, done,
with Rome and defending myself there,
their rivers can have their fill
of others’ blood and tears,
I’m moving away, to Nineveh,
and though Nineveh may sit
in the heart of another rotten empire,
they will hear the word there,
who knows what they may do with it,
but they will listen
Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, Inwood Indiana, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is looking to publish a novel.
Can You Find Your Way?
silence was the noble sound.
Now porcelain slips
cannot hold rain.
If you petition clouds
be aware, their answers disorient.
If you are not home by dark
how old will you be?
Kit Kennedy serves as poet-in residence of San Francisco Bay Times & poet-in-residence of her church. She has published five collections of poetry, including Eating Oysters, published by CLWN WR Books, Brooklyn. She lives in Walnut Creek, CA.
My Oldest Friend
Year after year your birthdays slide by as tumors
and ulcers tumble. Hot people grace subway walls,
and your voice gets quieter as dictators float past.
Year after year I refuse to hold hands with your proxy.
Some nights I jump out of bed and search
for your obituary. Your last words boom like post-war dolphins.
Year after year it’s more important I give you my final gift,
but it’s an unmade sculpture I must carve from a rock
behind a big No Trespassing sign. The wounded litter the road.
Anton Yakovlev's latest poetry collection is Ordinary Impalers (Kelsay Books, 2017). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Amarillo Bay, Measure, and elsewhere. Born in Moscow, Russia, he has also written and directed several short films and is the current education director at the Bowery Poetry Club.
When I die the world will stop spinning
And die too
The man on the radio said we’d inhabit Mars
I won’t be around, that won’t happen
They need to stop making space plans
I will be a form, a shape, a number, a colour, a sound
All will end with me.
Theresa Ryder was PA to the author J.P. Donleavy for six years, up to 2007, when she began an arts degree in Maynooth University. She graduated with a teaching degree and M.A. (Classics), achieving a first for her dissertation on Ancient Athenian politics. Theresa is currently working on a novel based on the events of her dissertation. She won the Molly Keane Creative Writing Award in 2015. She has had two short stories accepted for publication in 2017.
Holding down the sky
After art by Robert Kobayashi
Small nails pin
ceiling tin slivers
into memory’s frame:
grassy fields rise
to greet scattered clouds,
a train glides over the horizon.
A child’s eye
is holding down the sky.
—Jan Garden Castro
Jan Garden Castro’s poetry collections include: The Last Frontier (Eclectic Press, letterpress) and Mandala of the Five Senses. Her poems appear in New Letters, Exquisite Corpse, Roof, Chronogram, Brownstone Anthology, Eternal Snow: A Worldwide Anthology of One Hundred Twenty Five Poetic Intersections with Himalayan Poet Yuyutsu RD Sharma, and Cover Magazine. See her art writings at http://www.jancastro.com.
There may be water—a good bit of it—deep inside the moon,
scientists at Brown University say. (CNN)
There is new hope for life
after the death of Mother Earth,
that personified blue angel
to which Earthlings are tied
by an invisible umbilicus,
but now that there’s evidence
of water in the moon’s core,
which might be tapped for human
survival once Gaia dries to a husk
and we colonize the cold satellite,
why not accept our self-inflicted fate
and fade out here on besieged Earth?
George Held publishes poems, stories, and book reviews online and in print. His writing has received ten Pushcart Prize nominations, including one each for poetry and fiction in 2016. His new collection is Dog Hill Poems (Seattle: Goldfish Press, 2017).
Blame it on the Higgs Boson
Why have we been inflicted by these intransigent quanta that insist upon
taking the form of matter, on coalescing into the awkwardness of quarks
and electrons that lump up the universe and wrinkle space-time, pushing
us all into the chaos of entropy when we could instead have lived happy
carefree lives as pure energy, serene at the speed of light which would no
longer be awe-inspiring since we would all be there together; a great
democratizer that would guarantee to even the wretchedest being that he
would not be left behind, especially as that most evil of truths, time, would
cease to have any meaning for us and we could forever be pure idea
instead of doomed sluggish masses who only dimly and temporarily perceive?
—Charles Joseph Albert
Charles Joseph Albert works in a metallurgy shop in San Jose, California, where he lives with his wife and three boys. He has been interested in poetry ever since the third grade when he and his brother had to learn Frost's "Runaway." For the past twenty years he has participated in the formalist poetry workshop at eratosphere.com, learning from masters like Alicia Stallings, Alan Sullivan, and Tim Murphy. His poems and fiction have appeared recently in Literary Nest, Quarterday, Chicago Literati, 300 Days of Sun, Abstract Jam, Literary Hatchet, and Here Comes Everyone.
Magnificent: An Anagram Poem
Time to imagine
in a Maine café,
a tame gamine,
a fine Ming
from a giant
David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Third Wednesday, Reed Magazine, Santa Clara Review, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and four chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books, and is scheduled to have From the Limbs of a Pear Tree (Flutter Press) released in the Fall of 2017.
If you set out in one direction you will find another.
Too many don’t serve the purpose directly.
There has to be a short or long cut to sever the ties.
Thousands of chalky white stones
In Arlington cemetery.
But I mean come on, Mr. Clean.
These are the distortions of which war informs us.
You could call it beauty as easily as the next guy,
Girl, or other object.
But father knows best, a sixty-six year old schoolyard bully
Sticking his tongue out at my chin.
What are you doing, or running about, in your pajamas?
At least I had the decency to respond to their communiqué.
The more you succeed the more you fail.
I imagine the cat watching from a corner
Whereas in fact she’s in the other room fast asleep.
Ian Ganassi's poetry, prose, and translations have appeared in over 100 journals, in print and online, including, most recently, Sonic Boom, Pif, Otoliths, and New American Writing. His poetry collection Mean Numbers was published by China Grove Press in September of 2016.
The Prehistoric Giants
I live in the very eyes of the stone
I am the light of the light,
The core of the universe.
Out of water and fire I emerge
Yes, churning water, turning fire.
There was a time, in black and white, when
The space of the galaxy was resplendent with colours.
The world is a book of dreams
The city of the future is above the clouds.
The prehistoric giants thence I saw
They are solemn as mountains
Living in the city of gold, transparent in body,
Synchronous with the sun and the moon and the stars.
Hongri Yuan, born in China in 1962, is a poet and philosopher interested particularly in creation. Representative works include Platinum City, Gold City, Golden Paradise , Gold Sun and Golden Giant. His poetry has been published in the UK, USA ,India ,New Zealand, Canada, and Nigeria.
Wish immersion this version of ritual
romance scantily fits my delusional directory
as I finger the fate of Kings lingering
on the flick of a pen-knife in the service
of Worcester alibis smiling from a Pliny pulpit
I hear the drizzle of the rainbow radical
to an antic sky harpooned by mourners
chirping godspeak as we the blinking public
putter under the thorny scent
of thunder-roses, bent knees knocking
Fissure river a roar or a pouring
indebted to the lay of the lamb in heat
A walking canvas of lasting ephemera:
bemused at the variance
Mitch Corber is a New York City neo-Beat poet, an eccentric performance artist, and no wave videographer. He has been associated with Collaborative Projects, Inc. Colab and is creator-director of cdable TV’s long-running weeikly series Poetry Thin Air in New York City and its online poetry/video archive. He is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship grant (1987) in the field of emerging artforms.
Shoulders aligning the sack of you,
then tumble down the day’s hillside,
your jagged bed. What accompanies you?
a water strider, light and shadow, all
before hurrying on their way. You
to be discouraged by gravity, instead
to the daily plummet. At the end, you
trusting your soul
Devon Balwit writes in Portland, OR. She is a poetry editor for Minute Magazine and has five chapbooks out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); and The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry). Her individual poems can be found in The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and more.
Devoted Daughter of the Moon
The devoted daughter of the moon
revels in starlight
Sweet to the touch, the taste
She dances around an eternal campfire
The night wears on—still she dances!
She will dance this way until dawn
when the bright rays of the sun
will send her looking for shelter
One million dawns and one million
She'll awaken to cast her glow
upon our epoch
which is in sore need
of tinsel and starlight
Matthew Anish is a poet/writer who lives on New York's Lower East Side. He has had work published in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Alura, Aim, and many others. He also writes a monthly column about collectibles. He has been teaching ESL at BMCC for the last 17 years.
The Woman with a Thousand Heads #5
The excitement, oh, it starts
when the top flies off.
The whistle blows. The poet
leaves her farmhouse
wearing a flowered hat
and little else.
The stealth bomber’s blip
slips into the circular sweep
with a honey bee’s outline.
It sucks pollen from the pin
that only pretended to center
the radar display. Today,
it engages the floral
world atop Miss Emily’s head.
Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters.
How to Write a Poem in Eight Steps
Eat a banana
If you don’t like bananas, then one ripe Haitian mango
Call someone on the phone.
Doesn’t matter who.
Do not do your laundry.
Look for your favorite pen.
Put it somewhere easy to find.
Wear a necklace if you have one.
Think about the day of the week.
Monday, for instance. Or Wednesday.
Play a piece of music.
James Brown often works.
Say the word poem three times.
Esther Cohen writes a poem a day most days at esthercohen.com