Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Poetry by Michele Seminara










Second Coming

It seems I am the problem child, again.
Father speaking on Mother’s behalf
that nitrogen cold gaze.

I bathe in it; it burns —
it always burned.
But now my skin is bound
in bitter scales.

How forlorn, to be the black one;
I don't show it.
Let them beat their breasts
and rail — I won't.

Instead, I involute, secrete this note: 
beware the coming of the twice-born child.


- Michele Seminara 2017


Michele Seminara is a poet, editor and yoga teacher from Sydney. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Cordite, Mascara, and Tincture. She has published Engraft (Island Press, 2016) and a collaborative chapbook, Scar to Scar, with Robbie Coburn (PressPress, 2016). Michele is also Managing Editor of online creative arts journal Verity La. She blogs at https://micheleseminara.wordpress.com/. 

'Second Coming' is from Michele's forthcoming chapbook, HUSH, to be published by Blank Rune Press on 1 June. 

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

New Poetry by Natalie Crick










Swan

I scrub mouse blood from the floorboards
Imagining ice,
Imagining throats.
The dead stay dead.

A necked Swan
Sits disgraced,
The pale bone poking through, a
Sword rising from a lake
Sharp and still sheathed.
The bone is so white
I could have carved
It from wax,
Soft as bees,
A candle without a flame.

Forever Winter, the sky
Looks cold, pink as a clot
In the mouth
When the lights go out.


- Natalie Crick 2017


Natalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, The Chiron Review, Rust and Moth, Ink in Thirds and The Penwood Review. This year her poem, 'Sunday School' was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

From the Eye of the Storm

Colin Dodds
Brooklyn, NY 2017


Regular readers of Bluepepper will likely be familiar with the name Colin Dodds, but as a poet rather than a novelist. Judging by his bibiography, however, it would be fair to judge Dodds as a novelist first and a poet second. Such distinctions are, of course, a personal matter, but any writer with six novels already under his belt, three collections of poetry, as well as two screenplays, has a fair claim to call himself anything he wants. On top of a string of awards, Dodds has won what many may regard as the ultimate accolade from no lesser a light than the great Norman Mailer himself, who said of Dodds’ novel, The Last Bad Job, that it showed “something that very frew writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Having raced through Dodds’ latest offering, Watershed, in only a handful of sittings, I have to agree with Mailer (not something I am in the habit of doing). The style is simple, uncluttered, but the writer has a gift for magical turns of phrase as well as a natural ear for rhythm. Francis Bacon’s famous quip about “the burden of the conveyance” springs to mind: there is none of it here.

From the opening line I defy any reader worth the name not to feel themselves hooked:

Raquel figured if they were going to kill her, Tyra probably wouldn’t have taken so much time explaining the parachute.

And so the roller-coaster ride begins.

Raquel is, ironically, one of the least interesting characters in this admittedly crowded novel, even though she is the narrative pivot. Actually, more like the eye of the storm, the still point. The storm was already raging well before she found herself strapped to a parachute thousands of feet above the earth., which is why Raquel found herself in this situation in the first place. It’s not that she’s exactly dull. The woman is far from dull, but she is a facilitator-by-proxy around whom others act, or react to forces acting against her. She is beautiful and smart to the point of being cursed  rather than blessed. 

Like the start to any great novel, the reader feels as though they have opened a door onto another world, in this case onto a mystopia (my term for a mild dystopia), a recognisable enough world just knocked a little off kilter. In a world of Brexits, Syrias and President Trumps, this mystopic movement in literature is fast becoming a crowded market place. But Dodds writes with restraint, not forcing either the pace or the tone of the novel. Perhaps the closest he comes to testing the reader’s credulity is in a bizarre re-enactment of the September 11 attacks in which convicted criminals are forced to fly planes into replica Twin Towers, but the whole spectacle is portrayed so convincingly, complete with the voluntary martyrdom of an alt-cult “Ludlite” inside one of the buildings in a futile protest against the anaesthetising effects of the digital age, that even this jaded reader had no trouble buying it. The “Ludlites” are a seemingly spontaneous movement of young people against the digital “Web” in all its ubiquitous manifestations. They decry leaders or any form of manipulation or compulsion, but as is the way with such well-meaning attempts to “correct” the course of history, leaders emerge armed with pretty words and nefarious motives. In this case it is a mysterious figure known as “The Geometress”, although she is far from the only shadowy figure in a novel which is in large part an exploration of people’s motives in a world whose moral compass appears all but broken. Sound familiar? Welcome to mystopia.

In fact, perhaps the only character in this novel whose motives remain clear and honest throughout is Norwood, into whose arms Raquel literally lands in the most bizarre of circumstances at the very start of the novel. The most opaque character of all, and the real driving force of the novel, is the millionaire Rudolf, nee Hurley, nee Ostanze, a corrupt ex-senator who appears to be inhabited by some mysterious entity that has allowed him to live for a very very long time, the hints are for millenia. I would say more about him, but any review of such a frantic narrative requires so many spoiler alerts as to render any overview almost unreadable. And unnreadable is something this novel most definitely is NOT.

If our review copy is anything to go by, Dodds appears to be putting this novel out under his own imprint. It begs the question why some major publishing house hasn’t taken this title on. But more and more writers at the moment appear to prefer the autonomy of self-publishing. I can think of at least half-a-dozen publishers, however, who would give this novel a great deal of consideration. Any publishers out there who happen to follow Bluepepper, and who may be interested, can purchase an advance copy by clicking on the novel's title at the top of this review. The only slight reservation Bluepepper had with the novel was with the rather fiery denouement, but on a second reading it sat better, reminding this reader that it is beholden on us as much as the author to hold all the threads together.

- Justin Lowe
Bluepepper 2017


New Poetry by Jim Zola










My Two Cents of Reasoning is Spent

The world rides on top of a butterfly, 
a ladder leans into nowhere. My shadow 

plays a shadow song. Inside the piano, 
keys caw. The night is bright green between 

black branches. A mouth opening wide 
enough for death. Here comes the train. Wider. 

Stars pop and salt the air. This is to say 
sadness stands outside me, a stranger

in a monkey mask. I wait for him 
to ring the buzzer. He lifts one arm. Then the other.


- Jim Zola 2017



Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children's librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook -- The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) -- and a full length poetry collection -- What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC


Tuesday, May 02, 2017

In case you hadn't noticed, dear reader, we live in interesting times. Alert but not alarmed is our running credo at Bluepepper, and in line with that policy we are currrently

CALLING ALL POETS


Bluepepper believes that perhaps now more than ever this troubled rock needs the wisdom only poetry can distil, so get out your quills and parchment and submit per the guidelines at the top of the sidebar.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New Poetry by Gerald Bosacker










The Almost Horse

Nothing more stubborn or more a fool,
than the genuine Arkansas mule,
that hill folks consider a farming tool.

Why would some obstinate half wit
fit his dumb mule with bridle and bit
then hope to steer this hybrid misfit?

Yes, they can out-pull a normal horse,
yet what they do with all that force
is stubbornly pick their own way of course.

Making a stopped mule to get up and go,
perversely just holler out whoa,
then what makes them stop, I do not know.

Male donkeys functioned as the mules dad,
and compliant mares turn quite sad
seeing the strange offspring they then had.

Hybrids might help the corn grow so tall 
but cross-breeding did not help at all
farmers to put mules in a horse's stall!


- Gerald Bosacker 2017


Originally destined to become a crusading journalist or witty editorialist, Gerald Bosacker was forced by family responsibilities to abandon his part-time jobs and night school classes at the University of Minnesota, to work fulltime in the graphic arts salesman. There, his love of the well chosen word enabled him to become a successful graphic arts supply salesman who migrated upward, propelled by serendipity coupled with his tolerance and empathy for faulted people, to become senior vice president of sales for a large international printing chemical company.   

Promoted much beyond his ambition and capability, he jumped at early retirement at his first opportunity. Gerald Bosacker now lives in Montanas, awaiting discovery of his social commentary skills. He has resumed his first love, weaving words into prize-winning poetry and surprising short tales that borrow heavily from the fascinating people he met in his world-wide travels.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Poetry by Abigail George










Must travel

(for my sister)

The day has
a moth like quality to it. I make a cup of tea (always for one). 
Boil the
water in the
microwave oven while

old poems
make way for new poems. Once, I lived in grassroots country. Rural
countryside.
Mbabane, Swaziland.

(Boarding school). Slowly
my flesh is emptying out. Winter making way for spring’s milky sweetness,
summer’s pleasure and
waves of heat, autumn’s gift.

Slowly, I climb back
into their world. Standing in the sun sipping my cup of tea for one.
I sit and watch the
afternoon warming the page in front of me.


- Abigail George 2017


Pushcart Prize nominee, Abigail George, is a South African poet and writer, aspirant playwright and young adult novelist.She is a regular contributor to the webpages of Africanwriter.com, Bluepepper, Hackwriters.com, Itch, LitNet, Modern Diplomacy, Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine, Piker Press, Praxis Magazine Arts and Literature, Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Vigil Pub Mag. She has lived in Port Elizabeth, Swaziland, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Her lit work has been published in various anthologies, numerous times in print in South Africa, and online in zines. She blogs at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5174716.Abigail_George/blog

Friday, April 14, 2017

New poetry by Linda Stevenson










Another Beat

How to escape the old rhythm,
because
it plays around, perpetual,
weaving classrooms out of nursery,
found bookends, bound songs,
the modelling of phrases,
inclusive
of current tongues, media,
the gymnasia
of dead classics.

Heritage of inland, shore, cliff,
bluestone and tent city; heritage
of Atlantic;
drownings and wailing starvation
up against the bardic, keening.

Read me bedtime,
rolling me over into soothed,
the merry beats recounting
in long cadence.

I listen to my own reading,
walk away from it glutted,
unsatisfied;
because
there was another way I wanted to speak,
not rolling off my tongue, not glib,
not generationally easy
with inheritance of poem...

but gaunt, under-stressed, built
on rough syllables
and guttural noise,
with bare rhyme,
a murderous tsunami,
not the plangent, bleating sea,
not civilized,
but
the gutted voice
of human.


- Linda Stevenson 2017


A founding member of Melbourne Poets Union, facilitator of poetry groups in gaols and community centres, contributor to anthologies. Chapbook “The Tipping Point” published in 2015, feature guest poet on Radio 3CR “Spoken Word”. Active as a poet within the online poetry sector, hosts regular Salons at her home in Frankston, Victoria.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

New Poetry by Lynn White











On Our Watch

If it had been on his watch,
he would have seen,
he would have given the alarm,
would have been heard
and catastrophe would have been avoided.
She also was alert,
but it was not her watch
and no one heard her warnings.
On their watch we would have heard
the warnings.

But it happened on our watch
and we were sleeping.


- Lynn White 2017



Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem 'A Rose For Gaza' was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition 2014. This and many other poems, have been widely published, in recent anthologies such as - ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Silver Birch Press, ‘The Border Crossed Us’ from Vagabond Press and ‘Selfhood’ from Trancendence Zero - and journals such as Apogee, Firewords Quarterly, Guide To Kulchur, Indie Soleil, Midnight Circus and Snapdragon as well as many other online and print publications.

Find Lynn at: lynnwhitepoetry


Sunday, April 09, 2017

New Poetry by Michael Keshigian










Conception

Barefoot in white slacks
and her outdated sweater,
she plays the piano most intensely,
bungling Schubert with a scowl
then a smile,
the lamplight
flickered unnoticed upon her fingers.

The pasture from where her progeny
once thrived has withered,
mature voices and opinions
have fled the confines of the arena
where music,
like a tranquilized tiger,
twirls again.

Her foot presses pedals,
fingernails carelessly flit keys,
and in her womb
a musician is conceived.
The house is no longer empty,
half full with sound,
she nourishes herself.


- Michael Keshigian 2017


Michael Keshigian from New Hampshire, USA had his twelfth poetry collection, Into The Light, released in April, 2017 by Flutter Press (http://flutterpress2009.blogspot.com.) He has been published in numerous national and international journals recently including The California Quarterly, Red River Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Aji Magazine and has appeared as feature writer in over a twenty publications with 6 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (michaelkeshigian.com)






Thursday, April 06, 2017

New Poetry by James Walton










A Tale of the Christ

Not Spiderman afterall
these stigmata wrists won’t produce
any miracle to save me

a door knocker suspended here
an unwatered arrangement
of a messiah’s floral failure

in suffocation wise men gasp
because the misguided love
was to offer up a carpenter

on the irony of a cross
to secure this dry sacrifice
brought about the dissolution

in laboratory experiments
when the crown of thorns
seemed ridiculous to the point

of independent cinema releases
but word of mouth
gathered them to the sermon

on the mount of rebellion
if only there was time again
to utter unbound forgiveness.


- James Walton 2017


James Walton is an award winning poet published in many journals and anthologies, short listed twice for the ACU national Literature Prize, a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, and Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition. His collection ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ was published in 2015.