FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
The editors of First Literary Review-East wish all of our wonderful contributors and readers a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving holiday (watch the L-tryptophan), and of course we hope you enjoy this issue full of poetic gems that will warm your heart and soul.
Feeling Love from the Universe
Tonight’s slice of moon
smiled to me.
I smiled back.
Mindy Matijasevic writes memoir, poetry, and her comedy material. She was a recipient of a B.R.I.O. Award (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) from the Bronx Council on the Arts, once for nonfiction literature and once for poetry.
i can't find
that fits my
Jan Emerson lives, writes, and paints in New York City. A Brown Ph.D. and former professor of German and Medieval Studies, she has published on Hildegard of Bingen and other medieval visionaries. Her poems have appeared in Brevitas 14–17 and have appeared in previous issues of First Literary Review-East. She can be reached through her web site janemersonartist.com.
Fingers callused from guitar
Hands callused from work
David Francis has produced six music albums, one of poetry, Always/Far, a chapbook of lyrics and drawings, and Poems from Argentina (Kelsay Books). He has written and directed the autobiographical films Village Folksinger (2013) and Memory Journey (2018). His verse and short stories have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies.
dog at the window
his barking loud poetry
Chuck Joy. Poet, Erie Pennsylvania, about as far away as you can be from Philadelphia and still be in Pennsylvania. Fordham University (Rose Hill) 1973, BA, Sociology. Magazine appearances: Medicinal Purposes Literary Review, Rattapallax, 2 Bridges, Red Fez, Pratik. Author: Said the Growling Dog, Percussive, Fun Poetry (poetry collections). Erie County Pennsylvania Poet Laureate (2018–2021).
Like champagne spilled,
you told me
the wine breathed
on its way to the glass.
[previously published in Right Hand Pointing]
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).
4.15.21: 1:46 pm
& its raining
hard. the only ones out,
mostly, the semi-demi
slaves, the grubhub, amazon, caviar, amazon
plastic wrap round shoes, hands, bike-handle guys,
guys mostly, upstairs someone is vacuuming,
just abt out of the question to book
a saturday lap lane, old ship, you, splintered, splintering
not even a thought in a bottle
for the next generation
of fish magical luminescent & deep
tread, treading water
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 CDs, 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!). (email@example.com)
Water and Salt
Water follows salt.
Salt follows other imperatives
leading water a merry chase
in and out of cells,
through blood, lymph, tears.
Water follows like a stricken lover
unable to think past
the longing, buoyant
dreams rippling with the wonder
of beauty lost
Who is water? Who is salt?
or are they, at best,
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.
Facebook: @ccaseypoetry; Twitter: @ccasey_carol;
Each line has five words, the first letters of which spell COVID.
Clusters of velveteen, infernal daffodils
continue to open: vernal, injured, defiled.
Can’t overlook viciousness. I descant,
crowing, “Ovid’s view?” I doubt
crises occur. Violent illness … death.
Contain oneself? Victorious? Idiocy darkens
courage. Observe vacant inscriptions: decay.
Crazed, obscure vermin. Illness drifts,
crawls over vistas in dirt.
Can oblivion’s voice invoke dogwoods?
Convert obscene verses inside. Destroy
counter obsession. Vex instead, “Diabolical.”
Crackle of veins? Impale design?
Come, offer vaccines. Implore Deity.
[this poem is from Dean’s eleventh collection of poems]
Dean Kostos is the author of the book This Is Not a Skyscraper, selected by Mark Doty for the Benjamin Saltman Award. His memoir, The Boy Who Listened to Paintings, was blurbed by Dewitt Henry, founding editor of Ploughshares. He was the recipient of a Rockefeller Innovation Grant.
much too late
to be given the blue leaf
of your gaze. In town
all pubs are now closed
and on this patio someone
left an open umbrella,
although it hasn’t rained
for weeks and the sun set
long ago, at the moment
I should have come in time
to be given
the blue leaf of your gaze.
Ana Doina is a Romanian-born American writer living in NJ. Years ago, due to political and social pressures, she had to leave Romania, during the Ceausescu regime, and settle in the United States. Over the years, her poems have appeared in many US and international literary magazines, anthologies, and textbooks. Two of her poems were nominated, for the 2002 and 2004, Pushcart Prize.
Like somehow seeing your grandparents
when they are young
And feeling happy to see them
Coming full circle
Or else before it.
I am forgetting myself.
My grandparents meet outside Minsk.
My grandparents meet on the Lower East Side.
My parents meet on the ferry.
Everyone is meeting.
Everyone is fishing.
—Stephen Paul Miller
Stephen Paul Miller’s books include The Seventies Now: Culture as Surveillance (Duke University Press) and There’s Only One God and You’re Not It (Marsh Hawk Press). He’s a Professor of English and American Studies at St. John’s University in New York City. His books include Any Lie You Tell Will Be the Truth, The Seventies Now: Culture as Surveillance, and he was a Senior Fulbright Scholar at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.
Donovan tried to mellow it but just couldn't resist
that electrical banana & there's Zappa with his
don't you eat that yellow snow Never just light
& bright because there's the school bus & the yield
sign & the tint of jealousy scattering its weedy
dandelion strands all over the place. Amber
sweetgum leaves outside my office window in fall
prompted me to paint the walls a color a friend
called Tibetan Buddhist gold. Locate the meaning
of yellow & you will find that it blinks & flickers
with intuitive intellect in the REM world of dreams.
Marjorie Hanft taught psychology at Eastern Illinois University until her retirement in 2015. She has grown-up daughters, a geologist partner, a cat named Fuchi (for the goddess of Mt. Fuji) and cares for her dad, who is nearing 100. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Calyx and Persimmon Treeand in the two volume anthology, When We Turned Within: Reflections on Covid-19.
In rapture, running fast
away, as the crow probes
from danger of snare
Dorothy escapes the black/white
red brick corridors
click your heels for technicolor
no clue where to
From: bliss, tied to the gilded lockjaw,
protective pedestal you can’t dance on,
not the way I dance.
[from Mary’s chapbook RE-SURGE from Trainwreck Press]
Mary Newell authored the chapbook TILT/ HOVER/ VEER (Codhill Press 2019) and the forthcoming Re-SURGE (Trainwreck Press 2021), poems in journals and anthologies, and essays. She is co-editor of Poetics for the More-than-Human-World: An Anthology of Poetry and Commentary. A former Assistant Professor of literature and writing, she curates the Hudson Highlands Poetry Series.
What to Do When Attacked by a Bear
Do a liquid-like moonwalk, backwards,
your legs illustrating film industry
Caterpillar yourself up an elm
and hope the bear’s too flabbergasted
or lazy or moronic to figure out
a way to follow you.
Play inert. Dead. A sedimentary rock.
A stove-sized stone that hasn’t moved in eons.
A boulder: gracefully heavy,
bold enough to practice stillness.
Or hoot. Holler. Howl.
Bark. Bellow. Belch brashly, if need be.
Better yet: run, honey. Run.
Austin Alexis is the author of the full-length poetry collection Privacy Issues (Broadside Lotus Press) and two chapbooks from Poets Wear Prada. His poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in Barrow Street, The Journal, Flash Boulevard, Maintenant, Poetica Review (UK), and elsewhere.
A Still Wind
The still wind unseen,
latent in its longing.
But still a wind,|
a wind in waiting.
except the motion;
a wind at rest,
Norman Abjorensen is an Australian journalist, writer and academic and an intermittent writer of poetry. A collection, The Lives of Dwarfs, was published in 1988.
Flood me twice
more than my
I invent you
in my free time,
free reign, free
—Sheila E. Murphy
Sheila E. Murphy is an American poet who has been writing and publishing actively since 1978. Murphy is the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for her book Letters to Unfinished J. (Green Integer Press, 2003). Her most recent book is Golden Milk (Luna Bisonte Prods, 2020). Reporting Live from You Know Where won the Hay(na)Ku Poetry Book Prize Competition from Meritage Press (U.S.A.) and xPress(ed) (Finland). Also in 2018, Broken Sleep Books brought out the book As If To Tempt the Diatonic Marvel from the Ivory.
Our circuits are wired even before we can unravel it.
Cognizant of its temporality, we seek permanence of
sorts. Self-absorption is a constituent of the human
condition. To dismiss the other when it appeases us is
another of its nuance. Tie-ins that never unfold some-
times run hardy sequences in the mind’s kip. Paucity
in my innermore tableau invites me to a tryst with self.
Sky wears an unusual robe; it urges me to recast earlier
Sanjeev Sethi has authored five books of poetry. Hesitancies by CLASSIX, an imprint of Hawakal, in July 2021, is his latest. A month before it, he released Bleb from Hybriddreich in Scotland. He is published in over thirty countries. He is the joint-winner of Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux, organized by The Hedgehog Poetry Press UK. He is in the top ten of the erbacce prize 2021 UK. He lives in Mumbai, India.
Once—so long ago
that only the eldest of the turtles
might remember his name,
and then only if turtles cared
about names, which they do not—
a man loved a tiger lily.
It ended, as these things must.
I won't say well or badly.
What beautiful thing could happen
between a man and a tiger lily,
except an ending?
James Owens's newest book is Family Portrait with Scythe (Bottom Dog Press, 2020). His poems and translations appear widely in literary journals, including recent or upcoming publications in Grain, Dalhousie Review, Vita Poetica, Queen’s Quarterly, and Honest Ulsterman. He earned an MFA at the University of Alabama and lives in a small town in northern Ontario.
Flashback: Before the Dinner Party
Dear black lace Balenciaga flamenco
dress I found in a second-hand shop
Thank God for the old couture,
more fun than getting newer versions
as presents from wealthy men
with large expectations, so decadent,
the cost of clothes. Dear memory
that never fully leaves, of the crowded
family cabin where Mother died
in the West Virginia hills, the roof
leaking, the steps down from the porch,
creaking. Dear beaded velvet shoes,
to go with the dress. To rough it up,
dear side-swept pixie hair, dear pills.
—Susana H. Case
Susana H. Case is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Dead Shark on the N Train in 2020 from Broadstone Books, which won a Pinnacle Award for Best Book, a NYC Big Book Distinguished Favorite, and was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award.
I am frightened by the way that time is running out. The shrieking buildings and broken dishware. Louder, louder than appliances; louder than planes. Much, much louder than all the billions and billions of beating hearts. Parking until the meter has gone. The concrete crumbles, the asphalt — soup. This rave and rage of planet becomes an old joke. And what about the frequency?
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?
When I am no longer
Able to write your name
At the beginning of a poem,
The dust above my grave
Will gather of its own accord
And form the word.
—Michael La Bombarda
Michael La Bombarda is a poet and fiction writer.
A Day in the Life of the Night
An ethereal tapestry,
Filtering out dissembling light,
Siphoning radiant heat
From the stepping stones,
In full view of those exiled
To open air domains.
To the perils of its descent,
Against decay and disintegration,
Stoic, or humble, while in wait,
Silent, as daybreak pierces its tender skin,
But only to those who ignore its lament.
Zev Torres’s work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including great weather for MEDIA’s anthology Escape Wheel, Athena Review, Breadcrumbs, Three Rooms Press’s Maintenant 6 and Maintenant 12, and in several previous editions of First Literary Review. Zev has been a featured reader at many New York City spoken word venues.
had truman carried on
we had heard of an extant horizon
over the infinite glacier, where
even odd rivers fork even
at the edge of brittle earth,
and mother empyrean flickers
mercy on our mortal soil—
with eyes on a glassy surface that
conceals an electric core
and a shortfall of
I remain in cold, awaiting
stillwater’s rumble instead
that beacon’s glimmer makes
way for herded void, and
an uproot of lost purposes that
must only cling to themselves
—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.
Fog is My Weakness
It isn’t rain. It doesn’t soak roots
of great trees or fill reservoirs
or fall to earth in sheets. It billows
wet gray into the day
then dissolves, submitting
to the sun. I’ve prayed for fog
the way I pray for sleep, needing
to stop the storm in my brain
to go mute in morning sleep-drifts
as clouds mass at the horizon,
while cars slide by outside,
headlights haloed like owl eyes.
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 holiness of the morning sun,
bathing the stalwart neighborhood
trees with light,
The holiness of the sleepers—
those heavily-breathing beings
you oftentimes forget to adore,
The holiness of your very bed,
and the colorful, soft blankets
you choose and were able to afford.
The holiness of the airplane,
travelling across the sky, now,
marking the quietude of a winter morning—
the motion in the stillness
of your dwindling days on earth.
A nonprofit grant writer by day, Karen Friedland’s poems have been published in Nixes Mate Review, Writing in a Women’s Voice, the Lily Poetry Review, Vox Populi and others. Her book of poems, Places That Are Gone, was published in 2019 by Nixes Mate Books, and she has a chapbook forthcoming in 2021 from Cervena Barva Press called Tales from the Teacup Palace. She lives in Boston with her husband, two cats and two dogs.