FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Welcome, literary buffs, to the first issue of 2024. The editors are happy to bring you some poetic warmth for these dark and wintry days. Believe it or not, First Literary Review-East has been publishing fine poetry for 14 years, and we continue to be grateful for the excellent submissions we receive—and for your continuing support. So make yourself a steaming cup of tea ... and ENJOY THE ISSUE!
—Cindy Hochman and Karen Neuberg
Budding from still earth,
Snowdrops waken and whisper,
“Join us in new life.”
Allison Liu is an emerging writer currently studying in the Boston area. She can often be found working on her novel, photographing the unusual, and conducting bioengineering research. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Yellow Arrow Vignette, The Violet Hour Magazine, The Foredge Review, Crashtest Magazine, Cloudy Magazine, and elsewhere.
of our dreams,
this weightlessness we are
Mark Jackley's poems have appeared in Fifth Wednesday, Sugar House Review, Natural Bridge, and other journals. He lives in northwestern Virginia.
Mornings follow us
Yellow lines paint the driveway
We are still talking
[Editors’ Note: Christina stated in her email submission that this is the first time she has submitted a poem for publication. We are honored to publish her.]
Christina Makris is a Greek American undergraduate architecture student at Wentworth Institute of Technology studying architectural design. She currently lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and is on a track to pursue her masters in architecture. In her free time, she enjoys writing songs as well as singing and playing guitar and violin.
becomes a desert
silent winter woods
still the background hum
in my head
Kevin Browne lives in Wisconsin. His writing has appeared in Frogpond, The Heron's Nest, Akitsu Quarterly, Book of Matches, and other publications. He gets inspiration from walking the streets and fields near his home.
from To See What Rises, CW Books 2022
Morning’s mouth opens,
or is that my cats: Feed us.
So many hungers.
Tapping at the windowpane,
bare oak waiting for a bird.
Alison Stone has published eight full-length collections, To See What Rises (CW Books, 2023), Zombies at the Disco (Jacar Press, 2020), Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, 2019), Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2017), Masterplan, a book of collaborative poems with Eric Greinke (Presa Press, 2018), Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and many other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award. She was Writer in Residence at LitSpace St. Pete. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. Website — alisonstone.info Youtube and TikTok — Alison Stone Poetry.
eating flowers on a winter morning
the dab of honey on the lip
of the ceramic pot my brother gave me
long ago tastes like spicy flowers
tangy sweetness of late summer sunshine
vibrating fields of yellow nectar collected
drop by precious drop tingling on my tongue
singing of pungent days to come
Naomi Bindman's articles, essays, and poetry have appeared in anthologies and journals. She was a finalist in the 2023 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Contest, and won the 2023 Creative Nonfiction Award from Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose. Naomi has received grants from the Vermont Arts Council, taught memoir-writing workshops funded by the Vermont Humanities Council, and is on the faculty of the Vermont State Colleges.
See the transparent body. Floating. Imagine the golden light between your eyebrows. Learn to see. This is luminous consciousness. See yourself beyond the physical body—see yourself as rain, gravity, oxygen—see yourself as Nature. See yourself as the gorgeous third eye manifest in the cosmos. Know all is well. Within you, all is transcendental tranquility.
Heath Brougher is the Editor-in-Chief of Concrete Mist Press and co-poetry editor of Into the Void, winner of the 2017 and 2018 Saboteur Awards for Best Magazine. He received Taj Mahal Review’s 2018 Poet of the Year Award and is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. He was also awarded the 2020 Wakefield Prize for Poetry. He has published 12 books and, after spending over four years editing the work of others, is ready to get back into the creative driver seat for a bit. He has four books forthcoming in 2024.
from Subway Poems
When a train enters your station slowly,
you can process the faces
of the people inside each car.
You’re going to be one of them soon,
moving slowly through space,
but at the same speed through time.
I’m tempted to say
these big clouds
weigh on us,
but all I know
is these clouds
weigh on me.
Michael Ruby is a poet, literary editor and journalist. He is the author of eight poetry books, most recently Close Your Eyes, Visions (Station Hill, 2024), The Star-Spangled Banner (Station Hill, 2020), The Mouth of the Bay (BlazeVOX, 2019), American Songbook (Ugly Duckling, 2013) and Compulsive Words (BlazeVOX, 2010). His trilogy in prose and poetry, Memories, Dreams and Inner Voices (Station Hill, 2012), includes ebooks Fleeting Memories (Ugly Duckling, 2008) and Inner Voices Heard Before Sleep (Argotist, 2011). His other ebooks are Close Your Eyes (Argotist, 2018) and Titles & First Lines (Mudlark, 2018). He co-edited Bernadette Mayer’s early books, Eating the Colors of a Lineup of Words (Station Hill, 2015), and Mayer’s and Lewis Warsh’s collaboration Piece of Cake (Station Hill, 2020). He is currently co-editing a large selected poems of the late Steve Dalachinsky, and he is co-curator of the Station Hill Intermedia Project. He lives in Brooklyn and worked for many years as an editor of U.S. news and political articles at The Wall Street Journal.
satanic ponzi scheme
warren impresario chicklet
we fluidly bunker sussuration
bafflement nopportunity casserole
wake the finicky sleeper
and apportion melancholy hand-me-downs
the stimuli mooches
dragons in the choruses
Steve Carll lives with his family in Arcata, California. His books include Tracheal Centrifuge (Factory School, 2006), Tao Drops, I Change (with Bill Marsh, Subpress, 2004), Trace a Moment's Closure For Clues (Logodaedalus, 1996), and Sincerity Loops (Bathysphere, 1995). His work has recently appeared in Otoliths, WCP Magazine and SurVision. From 1988–1998, he edited the literary journal Antenym. Performance video of most of his poetry from 1991 to the present can be found on YouTube.
The sky wore the regalia of flames but
turned lavender-violet quietude
in a moment's romance. And the wind, how
it finessed everything and cradled me.
Awakened by the dazzle, I reposed—
riveted, infused, imbued by satin.
Gift after gift from ginger tongues, then glow
audible like visions. It was never
a coddling. The nod from the heavens
judged most memories mere indulgence—and grudge.
D. R. James, a year+ into retirement from nearly 40 years of teaching college writing, literature, and peace studies, lives, writes, and cycles with his psychotherapist wife in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. His latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020), and his prose and poems have appeared internationally in a wide variety of print and online anthologies and journals.
What if the wild proliferating rabbits
for Mother Earth
Golden gliding eagles
for all that is below
Black-tailed cautious deer
all of us sentient beings are
Ahoo ahoo ahooo—
the owl laments in the
shadows of the night
—Eelka Franziska Lampe
Eelka Franziska Lampe, Ph.D., is a bi-coastal writer/poet and teacher of the healing arts. Her poems have been published in various journals and anthologies including First Literary Review-East, The Ekphrastic Review; Moonstone Arts Center’s Remembering The Wasteland – 100th Anniversary, 26th Annual Poetry Ink Anthology, Love (in the Original Language), World Poetry Day, Haiku Day 2023, Ekphrastic Poetry, and The Weight of Motherhood. Eelka has presented at Brooklyn Poets, Artful Dodgers, great weather for Media, MBR Salon in Chelsea, Olympic Peninsula Authors and others.
After the Curator Leaves
I take down grand-mère’s paintings teetering on shelves
and hung on odd nails, nest them on the floor like Russian dolls,
only these brittle-brown with age, punctured weave.
Escaping attic heat or basement damp, blue-skinned brunette
eyes green-glass bottle; cathedral spires a Parroquia coral;
studio nudes bathed gray and gold. Some unsigned.
How could you? I ask their creator and partially mine.
Our grove of portraits. Your daffodil face. Architect-spouse
in leafy pencil. My father receding in dusty teals.
Beauty the curator called abraded, flaked, cracked. True.
In my makeshift gallery, distilled like a resin from live pines,
love, this dizzying astringent scent. Mine. For all of it.
Ann Cefola is the author of When the Pilotless Plane Arrives (Trainwreck Press, 2021), Free Ferry (Upper Hand Press, 2017), and Face Painting in the Dark (Dos Madres Press, 2014); translator of Alparegho, like nothing else (Beautiful Days Press), forthcoming in 2024; The Hero (Chax Press, 2018), and Hence this cradle (Seismicity Editions, 2007); and recipient of the Robert Penn Warren Award selected by John Ashbery.
I have fallen into a frame
and can't get out. Degrees
of freedom were assumed.
Now I resume
what I was doing just
a breath ago. I retrieve
a beige statue of St. Joseph
from the earth to which
we are told we will return.
The house has sold. I recollect
the square footage, once
merely a building
acquired and lived in,
then let go. Now I look
outside the blinds
I find where I might go.
—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.
The Trauma has become a Manifesto Yet the Real Work
is Quick Fixes, a Fragmented Down with the Poor Strategy
It’s easy to get drawn in by black holes, mysteries or go down
rabbit holes, hopping mad until sirens satisfy or rip to shreds with
revelations, perhaps skulls besides old marketing copy or
rotting fruits surrounded by flies. The cash appears to vanish
from accounts because it’s not enough or has lost its roots, or
has become a tree trunk in need of a landscape, out of desolation
and disregard. The forgotten are blistering as they work or run errands
hiking up mountains. No amount of honey will coat throats
damaged by smoke and other chemicals as the impoverished work to
fill their bellies. Cracks in rooftops are taped shut with spackle, floor
boards stuck down with crazy glue, eyes lasered back into visions.
The crooks are robbing, stealing in plain sight, litigate and delay,
their strategy to tax the system, walking, talking without illusion or
discipline or scriptures; all is solid, nothing is fleeting.
Micah Zevin is a librarian poet living in Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y. He has published articles and poems at The Otter, the Newtown Literary Journal and Blog, Poetry and Politics, Reality Beach, Jokes Review, Post (Blank), the American Journal of Poetry, The Tower Journal, Five2OneMagazine, the What Rough Beast Series at Indolent Books, Heavy Feather Review, Big Other, The Bowery Gothic, Brooklyn Vol. 1., The Poets of Queens Anthology, Narrative Northeast, Pine Hills Review, Spoke Journal, and Fence. His first book of poems, Metal, Heavy, was published as of December 1st, 2020 from Olena Jennings and Poets of Queens Press. He created/curates an open mic/poetry prompt workshop called The Risk of Discovery Reading Series.
Only This 2
Not large enough
to hold it all
still I reach out
because what would I be
(and what would I not be)
if I were content to be
M.C. Rush currently resides in Mississippi and has most recently published poems in California Quarterly, 300 Days of Sun, and Roanoke Review. His most recent book is The Calendar of Heresies(Cyberwit.net, 2023).
“Electroshock, Sovereignty,” for CAPA.
Refuse of stars.
Hemmed by streets.
Stay on your pedestals.
Drink your own lightning!
We are more than the ledgers of our naming.
Louder than the silence of our living.
—Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal has taken workshops with Stephen Dunn and has read with Etheridge Knight in Indianapolis, housing him for a night when he was visiting Philadelphia. He has been a staff member of “Poets and Prophets” and was active with Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Aba Jamal, ADAPT, and other efforts.
What the Dark Said
The dark prefers to listen,
has much buried away
in its drawers and under its tongue:
The rusted knife; the christening gown,
the apple seeds sewn in its hem;
a chronicle of undelivered letters.
The dark likes not to get involved,
holds stars and planets
loosely in its arms as they dance.
But when the dark clears its throat
dogs and wolves look down from the sky
and the four winds race from their caves.
Helen Ivory’s most recent Bloodaxe Books collection, The Anatomical Venus examines how women have been portrayed as ‘other’; as witches; as hysterics with wandering wombs and as beautiful corpses cast in wax, or on mortuary slabs in TV box sets. A hanged woman addresses the author of the Malleus Maleficarum, a woman diagnosed with ‘Housewife Psychosis’ recounts her dreams to Freud, and a sex robot has the ear of her keeper. The Anatomical Venus imagines the lives of women sketched in asylum notes and pictures others shut inside cabinets of curiosity. The Anatomical Venus was published in May 2019 and is available on Amazon and via Bloodaxe Books: www.bloodaxebooks.com. Helen Ivory’s Wunderkammer: New and Selected Poems (2023) is published by MadHat Press in the US and available worldwide via Amazon
Some links: website, webzine, instagram
Apology to My Muscles
Forgive my obtuseness,
thinking you were meant for
catching my honey’s eyes
and schlepping about babies
one, two, three, four—oops! make it five,
or lifting me through those packhorse years
that sorely tried my back.
You served me well, but time at last
has shown me what you’re best at:
hoisting my grandkids high in the air.
Darrell Petska, a retired university engineering editor, is a 2021 and 2022 Pushcart Prize nominee. His work has appeared in First Literary Review-East, 3rd Wednesday, Muddy River Poetry Review, Orchards Poetry Journal, and widely elsewhere (conservancies.wordpress.com). Father of five and grandfather of six, he lives near Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife of more than 50 years.
Rain falls in needles in the river,
thin as needles in a gun
in a tattoo parlor
forming on skin a snapper.
The snapper rears its head.
of zigzag edges,
it crawls, leaves claw tracks
in blue-black silt of the riverbank.
The river curves. Trees on both sides,
across the water, a rain-gatherer.
Peter Mladinic’s fifth book of poems, Voices from the Past, was published in 2023 by Better Than Starbucks Publications. An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico, United States.
as we cross paths
a good day—
my work is done and
I’m empty of regret
Jennifer Gurney lives in Colorado, where she teaches, paints, writes, and hikes. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, including First Literary Review-East, The Ravens Perch, HaikUniverse, Haiku Corner, Cold Moon Journal, Scarlet Dragonfly, and The Haiku Foundation.
The Lake, Last Winter
The lake, last winter, when he asked: do you know how I have been living,
now that sun and moon keep hiding? And then he said: you know what water
means, that version, that leads to silver. I thought: why fire your clouds at me —
and: why not agree the current has done her job blazingly?
Each winter, he expects me to return. Each time, the moisty cold hoists him,
leads me to sail stark waves at first light, right when I count on coffee, on lust.
I zigzag on freedom. And so, this lake, last winter, when he said: you know
to feel the tides, the sun and moon - but he misunderstands:
I only remember how pretty the girls looked down the jetty, their flowing skirts,
the hesitant legs - and I thought: why do young rovers long to impress
a surface that much? In spring, he built a boat, another speed of life you see,
more creative, independent. Clearly, it must have hurt to await a whole lake,
while a voyage blooms in veins, while your heart is ripped out, again, and
again, and I doze off, despite the cold and light, the happiness for free.
It might be the sense of blue sky, or maybe just the raw wind of future.
I hardly ask anymore - I only agree the current has done her job heartedly.
Kate Copeland started absorbing words ever since a little lass. Her love for language led her to teaching & translating; her love for art & water to poetry…please find her pieces @The Ekphrastic Review, Poets’ Choice, First Literary Review-East, Wildfire Words, AltPoetryPrompts, and others.
Her recent Insta reads: https://www.instagram.com/kate.copeland.poems/
Over the years, she worked at literary festivals and Breathe-Read-Write-sessions, she is now guest-editor for The Ekphrastic Review and runs linguistic-poetry workshop for the IWWG this year. Kate was born @ harbour city and adores housesitting @ the world.