FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
Cindy and Karen are always thrilled to showcase work from all around the globe. Represented here are poets from Turkey, Italy, Canada, England, Australia, and Jamaica, as well as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, etc. We are also excited to include a poem by bestselling poet/author Marge Piercy. Here's to diversity. Here's to poetry, which connects us. Here's to a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season for everyone in every part of the world. We hope you enjoy this issue.
the walls at Grandma’s house
through stained glass
the sun presents itself
—Joshua St. Claire
Joshua St. Claire is an accountant who works as a financial controller in Pennsylvania, USA. He enjoys writing poetry on coffee breaks and after putting the kids to bed. His work is published or forthcoming in Delmarva Review, Inflectionist Review, Blue Unicorn, ubu., and bones, among others, and has received nominations for the Pushcart.
An Imagined Color
Of slate rain.
S.F. Wright lives and teaches in New Jersey. His work has appeared in Hobart, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other places. His short story collection, The English Teacher, is forthcoming from Cerasus Poetry, and his website is sfwrightwriter.com.
When I explain it to you, you will understand
For you who asked, and you who continued—
But I don’t want to tell the condition set forth
when I accepted the request
Maureen Alsop, PhD, is the author of several poetry collections, most recently Pyre (What Books Press, 2021). She currently resides in Australia.
How I Lost My Shoes
I left them somewhere.
Big fat pancake cloud
Chime Lama (འཆི་མེད་ཆོས་སྒྲོན།) is a Tibetan American writer, translator, and multi-genre artist based in New York. She holds an MA in Divinity from the University of Chicago and an MFA in Creative Writing from the City University of New York: Brooklyn College. She serves as the Poetry Editor of Yeshe: A Journal of Tibetan Literature, Arts and Humanities. Her work won the 2020 Himan Brown Award in Creative Writing, the 2021 Bonnie Perlsweig Mintz Award in Editing, and has been featured in Exposition Review, The Margins, Stonecoast Review, Street Cake, Volume Poetry, Tribes Magazine, Tricycle, and multiple anthologies. Her poetry has been translated into Portuguese, and appears in Cadernos de Literatura em Tradução, n. 24 (Notebooks of Literature in Translation), edited by Shelly Bhoil, and translated by Thiago Ponce de Moraes.
Dancing in a fog, even my feet
invisible. Is there a ravine I can’t sense, a cliff, river?
Yet I cannot still myself. Two doors: the Lady
Or Tiger game. I don’t even know what lies within each—
death, disappointment, joy? Tension overwinds me
a watch about to blow up spewing cogs, hands—parts
no one can reassemble.
Waiting feels like a disease.
Did I do all I could have? Did
anyone? Time’s a slug oozing
its slimy path blindly ahead.
Marge Piercy has published 20 poetry collections, most recently, On the Way Out, Turn Off the Light [Knopf, September 30, 2020]; 17 novels, including Sex Wars. PM Press reissued Vida and Dance the Eagle to Sleep; they brought out short stories The Cost of Lunch, Etc. and My Body, My Life [essays, poems]. She has read at over 500 venues here and abroad.
Not the Love Song I Wanted to Write
For Frank Stanford
If only you’d say
I smelled of cucumber
and the sky was a ring
on my little finger
and that when I awoke
I wouldn’t be alone
I’d stay here.
You could be my moon.
Shae Krispinsky lives in Tampa, FL, where she fronts the band Navin Avenue, whose sound she describes as Southern Gothic ’70s-arena indie rock with a pop Americana twist. Her fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Connotation Press, Thought Catalog, The Dillydoun Review, Vending Machine Press, Sybil Journal and more. She is currently working on her band's second album and a novel.
The United Nations Committee
What the World Needs Now
has issued its interim report.
A good five-cent cigar
did not make the top ten.
Windmills were mentioned,
along with reliable supply chains,
sustainable agriculture, clean water,
a carbon tax, and of course
love, sweet love.
—George H. Northrup
George H. Northrup is a poet and psychologist in New Hyde Park, NY. He is the author of You Might Fall In (2014), Wave into Wave, Light into Light: Poems and Places (2019), When Sunset Weeps: Homage to Emily Dickinson (2020), and Old Caterpillar (2021).
From Hobbs to Saskatchewan
We are far from an ocean,
far from a river, a sizeable lake,
yet underground water sustains us.
For cooking, washing, drinking
it quenches us, our bodies and minds.
Thus we imagine a lake and travel
till what could be becomes a man
angling for walleye in a boat on Jan Lake,
which, when he’s not there, is mostly ice.
— Peter Mladinic
Peter Mladinic’s fourth book of poems, Knives on a Table is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications. An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico.
Corollas of an evening ascent
bleats bloom among the hills
of mottled white imitation. From the transparencies
sheep’s pupils gush out on the pasture
the soil moist with light. But the repeated
yoke of the mouths suddenly
remembers the oscillation of dying
which recovers the sense of living in vain.
Erika Dagnino is a poet and writer from Italy who has performed with several musicians. Since 2016, she has been writing about public transportation. More info at www.erikadagnino.it
No longer called Wahcoloosencoochaleva,
The Great Carrying Place is now known as Fort Edward.
A sign bears an image of a white man in Western attire.
His sturdy legs flanked by trees and rocks; he holds aloft
a canoe—reminiscent of an elongated beaked headdress.
A bare-chested torso of a Native American Indian,
with braids, and a feather in his mohawk, raises an open palm.
Could the gesture mean ‘stop’? Or might
he have been posing the question ‘How—
how can you take our land?’
In the beginning, I suppose, he could’ve meant ‘hi’
like the words Welcome to beneath his feet.
Dawn Marar’s chapbook, Efflorescence, from Finishing Line Press, draws upon her experience in the Middle East. She is the founder of the writing workshop “Moving Beyond Bloc-Whiteness.”
Her website is http://www.dawnmarar.weebly.com.
Night takes the lake away,
fuses the trees,
turns the mountains
into one single vague backdrop.
Identity retreats into the house.
So do details.
For five hours, electric light
fills in what otherwise would be nothingness.
Then we slip into bed.
It’s dark enough inside now
to erase everything.
But we touch.
There are holdouts.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, Leaves On Pages, Memory Outside The Head, and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.
Poetry and Faraway: for Qi Hong
Life is not only about gains and pains
But poetry and the faraway it contains
The opposite sides of this world, with
All the time differences between us, you
Are my poetry and the faraway, just as I
— Yuan Changming
Yuan Changming hails with Allen Yuan from poetrypacific.blogspot.ca. Credits include 12 Pushcart nominations & 13 chapbooks (most recently E.dening) besides appearances in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline & Poetry Daily, among others across 48 countries. Yuan served on the jury and was nominated for Canada's National Magazine (poetry category).
I wake up and
pulling off my sheet
I look straight ahead
and see my births
I close my eyes
and see straight through them
To a burly angel
Mentoring us in
the sonnet factory
—Stephen Paul Miller
Stephen Paul Miller is a Professor of English at St. John’s University in New York. He received his Ph.D. in American Studies at NYU and his M.A. in American Studies and B.A. in English at CCNY. Miller is the author of The Seventies Now: Culture as Surveillance (Duke University Press), The New Deal as a Triumph of Social Work: Frances Perkins and the Confluence of Early Twentieth Century Politics and Government (Palgrave Macmillan). With Terence Diggory, he edited The Scene of My Selves: New Work on New York School Poets (National Poetry Foundation) and Miller, with Daniel Morris, edited Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture (University of Alabama Press). Miller is also the author of eight poetry volumes, including The Bee Flies in May (Marsh Hawk), Art Is Boring for the Same Reason We Stayed in Vietnam (Domestic Press), Being with a Bullet (Talisman House), That Man Who Ground Moths into Film (New Observations), and There’s Only One God and You’re Not It (Marsh Hawk). Best American Poetry, Salon, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, Contemporary Poets (Harold Bloom, ed.; new edition), The New York Daily News, Publisher’s Weekly, New American Writing, LIT, and Boundary 2, are among the many publications where is writing has appeared.
Secrets I Told My Apologist
sharpen your point—
to hand action.
Breathe the reflection ...
focus on impact.
her white jewel box,
filled with aspiration
sparks she wore
that caught fire
are in these leaves
and share this bark.
—Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright received an MFA in poetry after studying with Allen Ginsberg at Brooklyn College. He is author of 18 books of verse, including Blue Lyre from Dos Madres Press and Party Everywhere from Xanadu. His poetry has been in New American Writing, Sensitive Skin, Posit, Stat-o-Rec, The Café Review, and Best American Writing. He publishes Live Mag!, a journal of art and poetry. He is a Kathy Acker Award Winner and recent artist-in-residence at Howl! Happening in New York City.
Give me a new name
Give me a new name,
an unscathed butterfly
a kite, the sound of birds and the wind
as they soar above the mountains,
the endless blue.
A sailboat by the shore and
the smile of a child
A new name free of dark shadows
free of rope and noose
Give me a new name
—Ali F. Bilir
(Translated by Ayse Calik Ross)
Ali F. Bilir was born in 1945 in Gülnar, Mersin, Turkey. He attended the School of Medicine for a year but graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Istanbul, in 1969. In 1970, he published two issues of the literary magazine called North. Between 1995-2005, he was the arts and culture reporter for the local newspapers Katılım and Yeni Gazete. His poems, short stories, and articles on various subjects have been published in local, regional, national, and international periodicals, magazines, and journals. His work has won many awards. Bilir’s poetry book Migration Ballads (Plain View Press, USA; 2008, part of the TEDA Project) is being granted by the Turkish government as one of the significant examples of Turkish written heritage.
Storm clouds shadow the sun
A few rays
slip through spill down
Hatched from darkness our love
of light radiates
branches from heart to earth
White-quilled porcupine slow
something spirit something
Mad-running stream The world
not yet lost
Katrinka Moore’s latest book, Diminuendo, came out in July 2022.
It's just a mere glance
When your attraction is your
The Fourth Season
The hot fourth season
introduces fun fairs
Brings about blissfulness.
Younglings hatch new life
Elderly follows the light
Awake or closed eyes.
Born and raised in the beautiful, tropical country of Jamaica, island of amazing music and exotic food, Latasha Gardener is a potential freelancer and student. She is dedicated, adventurous, and an introvert trying to become more extroverted. Writing has always been her passion; Latasha says that, in a nutshell, it gives her that tranquil little escape from life's adversities.
Thin Moon, Waxing
A sliver of white-orange
in the early dark of winter
in the rush of traffic
at the end of a day—
She catches me by surprise.
So close, closer than the full moon
ever was, this silver slice returning
from the dark.
The surprise of her presence
makes my heart leap—she is here
like a lover reaching
for my hand. Loneliness drops
away, and together we walk
the long way home.
—Amy L. Smith
[Editors' Note: Amy informs us that this poem is her very first to be published in a journal, and we are mighty proud to be Amy's "first." We wish her much success in her future publications, of which we believe there will be many.]
Amy L. Smith is a poet, unfolding. Her work is informed by unanswerable questions, by the spaces between us, and by the deep conversations that take us there. Her first poetry compilation, Composting the Moon, was published in March 2022.
All I Was Doing Was Drawing Up Corpses of Dreams and Desires
How did something come from nothing
What are the questions
where did nothing come from
how is nothing
How can nothing exist in a real world
without something before it
the origin point
what is BE before that
this primal urge
born from centuries of not feeling
from wars lost and won
pirates of your heart
who take you on mad adventures
Eve Reed has performed and written her poetry seriously since 1986 at the Mudd Club. Some publications include The East Village Eye, Say, New York Talk & New York Press. She made a brief appearance in ABC No Dinero by Alan Moore (book) and in ABC No Rio No Dinero Sunday anthology. She performed annually at venues from Tompkins Square Park to the Knitting Club, where she was a headliner, as well as The Kitchen, center for multimedia. Write-ups include Say and The Village Voice. She has two awards from Poets & Writers. She also coordinated Blast and produced it for more than two years, a magazine of poetry and art with COLAB (collaborative artists), which is currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
shapes of time our time
pulsing in this labyrinth
of today’s bizarre maze
leading to confusion
as we witness never-ending
twists of hatred and sorrow
while we spin through
this arc of silence where
the bewildered gather
figures in that jigsaw
of ragged bitter edges
dancing with death
Joan McNerney is originally from New York City and now resides in the dank woodlands of upstate New York, She has four Best of the Net nominations and three titles available at Amazon.com
The Last Song
What’s the last song you would
want to hear before you die?
I would say the ocean when
it gets the blues and laps
at the dark side of ambition.
I love that kind of live music.
It begins in your mouth
and jumps into a new dance step
that makes you breathe fire.
Cliff Saunders is the author of several poetry chapbooks, including Mapping the Asphalt Meadows (Slipstream Publications) and This Candescent World (Runaway Spoon Press). His poems have appeared recently in The Midwest Quarterly, Book of Matches, The Wineskin, Monterey Poetry Review, New Feathers Anthology, and The Flatbush Review.
Emphysemic in the basement gloom,
like gas anticipating the sulphur itch
and spark of apportioning the blame.
Loom index finger loom, arch, scroll
dog-bark alleyways, scroll, scroll scroll.
Look! The abattoir door’s ajar.
You’re a minefield of information, irk exclamation
mark, tappety-tap exclamation mark, spume
exclamation mark — HashtagRoomOneOhOne.
There is something particular about the weight
of a revolver, a momentary surprise and dip
of the hand in the acceptance of its cold fit,
the thin moon of its trigger. Don’t pull,
gently squeeze as you would test a peach
for ripeness; fear not its bleating retort.
Martin Figura’s collection and show Whistle was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award and won the 2013 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Show. He was Salisbury NHS Writer in Residence in 2021 - My Name is Mercy (Fair Acre Press) was published later that year. He lives in Norwich with Helen Ivory and sciatica.
The little ones chirp their wish lists
into Charley’s synthetic white beard.
No matter what they say they want,
ice skates or a Kate Spade handbag,
he promises, cross his ho-ho-ho heart,
they’ll find it under the tree, wrapped
in cheery paper and a big silver bow.
He’s getting their pint-size hopes up,
but he forgives himself. This year’s
December 25 will be his last Noël.
[Editors' Note: In case you're curious as to whether Santa is headed for the great beyond or is just stepping down from his exalted post and filing for Social Security, please note that Karen and Cindy are curious too—but Joel refuses to tell us. However, we hope it's the latter.]
Joel Allegretti is the author of, most recently, Platypus (NYQ Books, 2017), a collection of poems, prose, and performance texts, and Our Dolphin (Thrice Publishing, 2016), a novella. He is the editor of Rabbit Ears: TV Poems (NYQ Books, 2015). The Boston Globe called Rabbit Ears “cleverly edited” and “a smart exploration of the many, many meanings of TV.”
So one day you're dead and life goes on, if
it's life, there in Eternity and on
-ward, I guess, hereafter the Hereafter
and I'm only ten years old but I fig
-ured this out all by my lonesome--grownups
believe it anyway, at least at church
and Sunday School and maybe even all
around town and in the county and state
and the whole blamed USA but I say
that when I die I'll accept my being
dead, no frills and nothing fancy, so when
folks visit me in the cemetery,
if they will, what they'll see will be as good
as me though maybe when they die, too, we'll
meet and shake hands, with feeling I wonder.
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in First Literary Review-East (Nov. 2019), Ascent, Reed, Journal of Black Mountain College Studies, The Font, Chiron Review, Poem, Adirondack Review, Florida Review, Slant, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Roanoke Review, and many other journals in a dozen countries. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel, The Weigh tof the World, and The Story of My Lives. He has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYBODY!