Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Interesting Times

At Bluepepper we tend to leave off the editorials and let the poetry speak for itself. Momentous events of the past year have passed without comment here partly because we were rendered momentarily speechless, and partly because words and opinions were flying so thick and fast it seemed at worst a futile gesture, at best a hollow one to weigh in to the melee. Our position at Bluepepper should be pretty clear by now: words matter, opinions matter, but only if they can bear close scrutiny. We will spare you Voltaire's famous maxim, but as the world continues to coalesce into two angry, bristling camps impatient of nuance and all the million little contradictions of this life, it behoves us all to celebrate the restorative powers of art, and especially poetry, its power to shine the light on all those little nooks and crannies where the magic lives amidst the relentless hectoring and tub-thumping of what now passes for public discourse. Kindness is not weakness, it is to admit the strength of a bond.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame."

- W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939

Friday, February 17, 2017

New Poetry by Abigail George










A month of Sundays and prayers

(For Ambronese)

And all I can think of
is the River Ouse. Virginia Woolf’s
River Ouse pouring its
distillate of salt and river into me.

The leaves are as shiny as
Abalone in winter. They desire little or no sun today.
The earth’s veil and garment are wet
Through. No family structure of
Stars, sun or moon required. The
Sweetness of night falling all around
Me. Such is nature. The television
Said that Namibia is like a time machine.
Such is the nature of illness too. It comes
With the observations of a lifetime
Gathered there. Smoke holy. Men
And women holier than thou. You can also become a
poet writing poems about nature.

And all I can think of
is the River Ouse. Virginia Woolf’s
River Ouse pouring its
distillate of salt and river into me.

I want to live as near to the sea
As possible. Yes, please! So, I can wake up each morning
With my soul marked with water.
Winter comes with a map. She will
Have to give of herself first to the
Child before anything else. When it
Cries or wants to be fed. That is if
She decides to have children one day.
She comes with a map too. I have reading
Hands. Her storm river mouth is not
Quite as alien to me as it once was. She’s a leap of faith
That I need to take into the wild.

And all I can think of
is the River Ouse. Virginia Woolf’s
River Ouse pouring its
distillate of salt and river into me.


- Abigail George 2017


Abigail George is a South African poet, short story writer, aspirant playwright and young adult novelist. She was educated in Port Elizabeth, Swaziland and Johannesburg. She briefly studied film and her short story "Wash Away My Sins" was nominated for the Pushcart prize. She is the recipient of two grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, the Center for the Book in Cape Town and ECPACC (Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council) in East London. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, widely in print in South Africa and some zines in Australia, Finland, India, the UK, the US, Nigeria, Turkey, and more.




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New Poetry by JD DeHart










Like Learning to Read

A mark we all agree
on takes on a meaning.
We give it a sound.

A string of marks becomes
a string of thought.
We think in this new language.
We are the string bound together
with some semblance of meaning.

We mean something, we’re
just not sure what.

Our mouth forms our identity -
we are good readers, bad
readers, somewhere in between.

Language machines, we till
the earth of sound and figure,
to form the perfect imperfect.


- JD DeHart 2017


JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  His chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available on Amazon. More of his poetry can be found at jddehartpoetry.blogspot.com.

Friday, February 10, 2017

New Poetry by Michael Lee Johnson










Whispers from the Grave
(Heart attack 50 years of age)

What happened to 20 acres of farmland tilted toward sun angles,
those sharp stone edges cool fall comes
frost fields covered taking ownership of rented, abused, abandoned land−
10 years Phil has been gone, DeKalb, Illinois farmer.

Did he find salvation in those gold cornfields?
October orange colors, hayrides, and pumpkin harvest
of grey, grave bones buried near the deadly bicycle ride.
Mystery did his lover Betsy
(defense, prosecuting attorney, Elgin, Illinois)
stand by his site after she went through mourning,
the grandstanding at the wake at the farm,
the dimming of all candles, incenses, and memorial shrine
she held sacred within her bedroom walls, now faded.


- Michael Lee Johnson 2017


Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  He has been published in more than 935 small press magazines in 29 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

New Poetry by Ariel Riveros










Table

Wooden scale
where to play
with fingers

fundament
and keyboard
of black pens

and white paper
Michael as brut
chop belly

pile books and glasses
on tranquil parks in forests
filled with the flat

the movements of days
sculpture of hours
the previously placed

things unaccessible by a dig
the table as site
good dinners tweeted

and the dance of all my plates
go without document
and all moths

and such are unexpected
without notice
some secondary stains

on the old table
a table as factory,
office, lab, device

the work of eating
the turning of pages
with visitors

coffee, water
what food I make
the table heard you laugh.


- Ariel Riveros 2017



Ariel Riveros Pavez is a writer based in Sydney, Australia. Ariel's work has featured in several publications including Southerly, FourW, Contrappaso Magazine, Verity La and Journal of Postcolonial Text. Ariel was the editor of Australian Latino Press and the organiser for the Bluespace Poetry Jam.




Monday, January 23, 2017

New Poetry by Robert Ford










Overcoat

It was autumn in my endless year. I was under-ripe,
an empty bucket. So I bought an overcoat belonging to

a dead man. I gave a five pound note to his crushed-up
daughter, and released it from where it was hanging,                                                                      

all limp and unwanted, in a hidden closet, next to
a woollen suit and a defeated army of collared shirts.

The sweetness of the lining against my shaved neck
offered a first kiss, the stretch of bottle-green cloth

across my unsteady shoulders, an embrace, of sorts.
Wearing it with black shoes punched with silver buckles,

and a shirt whose tight cuffs never quite stopped making
my wrists itch (though I was glad of the distraction),

I toyed with a bashfulness easily mistaken for arrogance,
took the first, tiny steps in a long, unmapped journey.


- Robert Ford 2017


Robert Ford lives on the east coast of Scotland. His poetry has appeared in both print and online publications in the UK and US, including Antiphon, Clear Poetry, Homestead Review and Ink, Sweat and Tears. More of his work can be found at https://wezzlehead.wordpress.com/


Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Poetry by Abigail George










Gone to Jean Rhys’s purple sea

Sunlight came to my house.
It came knocking. It came
And went like winter guests usually do. Like angels
Or when you put away things.
The sphere of childish things.
Flowers came to my window. A
Woman’s reflection (or rather self-portrait).
She was standing alone in the
Rain. Fading blooms on their
Own out of focus journey. You’re
Thunder dear, I wanted to whisper
In her ear. Coming home in the
Afternoon. There’s a dream in
Her my eyes sees. I know what
She is thinking. That this is not
The morning that she expected.
Departure. The secret of joy. Poetry in the art
Of fishing. Safe footprints washed
Away like yesterday. Swamp!
The depth of futility can be found there.
The almost tranquil dance of
Sins and moonlight. Joyous and brave!
The sun anonymous. It flickers.
Black rain a memoir. A soul on fire and
So the change within me came.


- Abigail George 2017


Abigail George is a South African poet, short story writer, aspirant playwright and young adult novelist. She was educated in Port Elizabeth, Swaziland and Johannesburg. She briefly studied film and her short story "Wash Away My Sins" was nominated for the Pushcart prize. She is the recipient of two grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, the Center for the Book in Cape Town and ECPACC (Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council) in East London. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, widely in print in South Africa and some zines in Australia, Finland, India, the UK, the US, Nigeria, Turkey, and more.

Monday, January 09, 2017

New Poetry by Donal Mahoney










Ringing in the Ears

Ringing in the ears
has no cure. 
It’s called tinnitus
and you can pronounce it 
the way it looks or the way 
your doctor says it.

Today I discovered how 
to turn the ringing off 
and that’s to take 
a phone call from your son 
who says your daughter 
died last night.

She won the first 
and second match but  
lost the last to cancer.
An hour later you realize
the ringing in your ears
has stopped but there’s 
no silence in its wake.

A train of memories 
chugs by and stops
and then chugs on again.  
You want the ringing 
in your ears back again.
You can live with that.


- Donal Mahoney 2017


Donal Mahoney, a product of Chicago, lives in exile now in St. Louis, Missouri. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune and Commonweal.



Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Poetry by James Diaz










Before I Forget

This thing 
like lightening
between my teeth
bad ideas
left at the bar
time ravaged 
muddy boots
and not wanting 
hard enough

it is better to long
for what you cannot have
then to have what you cannot long for

people don't know 
how lucky they are
sometimes

the freedom to open a window
and jump out
or simply water the plants
on the fire escaspe
breathing in that first draft of air
morning makes 
in its silent creeping
into the apartment

how our lungs make love
better than our hands 
sometimes

all the things 
you didn't know how to say
words kept from you
by some silent companion
until at last
why not
let it all out

see the ash scatter
and the daylight intervene

no one is where they belong
or who they thought they'd be.


- James Diaz 2017



James Diaz lives in New York. His work has appeared in HIV Here & Now, These Fragile Lilacs, Epigraph, Foliate Oak, and A Long Story Short. He is founding editor of the literary arts & music journal Anti-Heroin Chic. http://heroinchic.weebly.com/ His first collection of poems, This Someone I Call Stranger, is forthcoming from Indolent Books (2017).



Friday, December 09, 2016

Seasons Greetings from Bluepepper



While my inbox remains empty, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Bluepepper readers and contributors a safe and happy Yuletide.



New Poetry by A.J. Huffman










Tonight the Moon

is shining, solemn in shades of blue,
and my head is a balloon, longing
to be a wheel of cheese.  I cannot think.
The fog is sinking through the holes
in my mind.  I howl my despair
at a night that refuses to holler back.
Silence is my echo, my reflection.
I am stagnant and barren
as the pallid globe that has swallowed
my shadow and my mood.
We are a matched set
of misfits, twin migrant insomniacs, doomed
to haunt the shallows of the other side
of midnight. 


- A.J. Huffman 2016


A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, thirteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses.  Her most recent releases, The Pyre On Which Tomorrow Burns (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers.  She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2600 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She was also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.  www.kindofahurricanepress.com.