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 2021 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 Custom Rich-Text Page



 

NOVEMBER 2021


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

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.

 


 
looking

i can't find

a mirror
that fits my
reflection

                                —Jan Emerson

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.



Bluegrass

Fingers callused from guitar
Hands callused from work

                                                           —David Francis

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. 

www.davidfrancismusic.com

 



Poetry


an ocean
we swim

    ***

Inspiration

dog at the window

his barking loud poetry
amuses himself

                                                           —Chuck Joy

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).

 


 
Oxidized

Like champagne spilled,

uncorked
grief flows,
breathless—
you told me
the wine breathed
on its way to the glass.

                                                       —Betsy Mars

[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
down

tread, treading water
slowly slowly

                                                                                                                —Eve Packer

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!). (evebpacker@aol.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
in another.

Who is water? Who is salt?
or are they, at best,
interchangeable?

                                                                  —Carol Casey

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;
Webpage: https://learnforlifepotential.com/home-2/poetry/



Nineteen

                                                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.

                                                                                          —Dean Kostos

[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. 



Late again


I come
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

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.



Wild Strawberries 

Like somehow seeing your grandparents 
                          when they are young 
And feeling happy to see them 
Coming full circle 
Or else before it. 
Everything squared. 

      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

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.

 


 

Orthogonal

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,       
          southern version—

protective pedestal you can’t dance on,
not the way I dance.

                                                                                 —Mary Newell

[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 
slow-motion technique—calculated. 

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

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.

        All there
        except the motion;
        a wind at rest,
        quietly coiled.

        Action
        as contemplation.

                                               —Norman Abjorensen

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.



The Moment

Take this

punctuation, drive
through nightfall.

Flood me twice
more than my
mantra.

Dosages run
deep.
I invent you

in my free time,
free reign, free
zone.

Come see.

                                    —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. 



Polarity


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
treatises.

                                                                                                             —Sanjeev Sethi

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.



Eroticism 

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

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
in London,

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. 



The Frequency

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

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?



Graveyard

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
 

Night falls.       
An ethereal tapestry,   
Rippling, 
Filtering out dissembling light,   
Siphoning radiant heat 
From the stepping stones, 
In full view of those exiled 
To open air domains.   

Night falls, 
Vulnerable   
To the perils of its descent, 
Defenseless 
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

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
walking testimonies

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

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

 



Truly

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.

                                                                                          —Karen Friedland

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.