Bluepepper would like to wish all poetry lovers a safe and enjoyable Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2016.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Anyone Can Light A Match In The Dark
Some say that I never really knew
the things that I needed to know
in order to survive
but if you are reading this tonight
it means that I exceeded
more than a few low expectations
that I went uphill on my knees
year after year
and that all of the shouting
from over my shoulder
was no angry God
just a few hungry ghosts
that I refused to feed
and when I look back on it now
nothing haunts me,
I stood the test,
not of time,
but of the emptiness that sits between time
what gets filled with the light
you learn to hide from all of the death eaters
the cheerleaders of nothing and nowhere
at the end of the day
have no real creases of their own
no signs of having survived
with only this:
the will and the need to go on.
- James Diaz 2015
James Diaz lives in Upstate New York. His poetry can be found in Chronogram, Calliope, Ditch, The Voices Project and A Long Story Short.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
a famous writer
once told me
signing his novel,
until you have said
The thing of it is,
some never do
yet find no time
for life as it is.
They find no time
to feed the hungry,
give drink to the thirsty,
clothe the naked,
care for the sick,
visit the imprisoned
or call an embalmer
to bury the dead.
Instead, he said,
writers keep writing
hoping they’ll say
and maybe they will.
The thing of it is,
he said, so few do.
Most write about life
as they wish it to be
and not as it is
for too many.
A pity, he sighed,
signing another book,
but so often true.
- Donal Mahoney 2015
Donal Mahoney’s fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including Ink Sweat & Tears (England), Bluepepper (Australia),The Galway Review (Ireland), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria),Revival (Ireland), print and online magazines in the United States.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 9:58 am
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Just another pain, I
blood in the pupil, a crookedness on the spine.
This absence of words
is covered by planking
safety first until we burst
- Les Wicks 2015
Les Wicks' most recent publication is Sea of Heartbeak (Unexpected Resilience), Puncher &Wattmann, 2013.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 10:05 am
Sunday, December 13, 2015
We knew about the flinch, because
time-lapse photography showed
bruised leaves and cut-stems curling,
nearby branches swaying away
in distress, through the same filter
we’ve witnessed rival canopies clashing
and striving in bitter border disputes,
but now we know that in silent outrage
and perhaps also in plea, each plant calls
to its neighbour in chemical messages,
if it is assailed by caterpillars or
by the predations of grazing cattle,
not for its own sake, but to warn
its neighbour to furl flowers or close leaves.
So, anthropomorphic enough to make
vegetarians quail, and meat eaters
smile around the edges of their steak:
empathy Dahl and sympathy salads
and indigestible moral dilemmas.
- Damen O'Brien 2015
Damen O'Brien is a Queensland Poet, previously published in Cordite and Mascara, and winner of the Ipswich International Poetry Feast, the Yeats Poetry Prize, and the Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Award.
Monday, November 23, 2015
Lincolns by the balcony,
a Buick toppled in the sculpture garden,
how many times do I have to tell you
there’s no one out there quite like me.
It’s no accident you echo like an owl
when you keep saying I’m in Yellowknife
and emailing I won’t hie back to Minot
till mallards have turned all-blue
in paint-polluted Four Bears Bay.
Well, as much as pistons rise and fall
from fires above themselves;
as much as sound and color get defined
as aimlessly deflected waves—
so too my love for you is random,
because it’s not my own creation.
- William C. Blome 2015
William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as The Alembic, Amarillo Bay, Prism International, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, Salted Feathers and The California Quarterly.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 11:44 am
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Traveling backwards from Bath to Dorchester
through Freshford, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge,
Westbury, Castle Cary, Yeovil and Maiden Newton,
over hills, through vales, across meads,
reading Time’s Laughingstocks
I delve into the heart of Hardy’s Wessex.
Morning sun glistens on green grass,
cows graze in the shadow of hedgerows,
freshly-shorn sheep lounge on hillsides.
I pass harvested fields, baled hay, falling leaves,
ripening apples, stone cottages with slate roofs.
I walk from Dorchester to Stinsford
beside the gurgling water, visit
Hardy’s grave at St. Michael’s,
explore the church interior,
stand alone at the pulpit
declaiming from the Book of Job.
Through fields and woods I hike
to Higher Bockhampton, stopping
in Thorncombe Wood for sandwiches
beside Hardy’s birthplace, then onwards
across the Roman Road to Lower Bockhampton.
Crossing the Froom I pass freshly-mowed
fields following Hardy’s footsteps to Max Gate.
After a pick-me-up-pint at the Trumpet Major
I stroll back into the centre of Dorchester,
explore the ruins of a Roman villa at dusk,
marvel at intact third-century mosaics
before retiring for dinner at The Royal Oak.
- Nathanael O'Reilly 2015
Nathanael O’Reilly was born in Warrnambool & raised in Ballarat, Brisbane and Shepparton; he currently resides in England. He is the author of Distance (2014) and the chapbooks Suburban Exile: American Poems (2011) and Symptoms of Homesickness (2010), all published by Picaro Press. He is the recipient of an Emerging Writers Grant from the Australia Council. Over one hundred of his poems have appeared in journals & anthologies around the world, including Antipodes, Australian Love Poems, Blackmail Press, Bluepepper, Cordite, fourW, LiNQ, Mascara, Postcolonial Text, Prosopisia, Red River Review, Snorkel, Social Alternatives, Tincture, Transnational Literature, Verity La, Writ Poetry Review and Windmills
Posted by Justin Lowe at 1:20 pm
Monday, November 16, 2015
the false prophet
held an empty frame up to the
sky said that’s it said that’s everything
and creeley was dead and the
house across the street
had burned to the ground
man i knew had christ locked in a
cage at the far edge of town
gave him bukowski’s bones to gnaw on
gave him the poisoned water
from lake superior
touched him but wasn’t cured
- John Sweet 2015
these men in the room of maps,
lying naked on piles of money
these prayers that feed no one
these poems that mean nothing
that devour the truth and
shit out empty platitudes and hope,
of course, is not a drug,
but the children are all stoned
the astronauts are falling from
the sky like dreams turned to
fire and blood
catch what you can and make
your small desperate wishes
- John Sweet 2015
John Sweet is a believer in sunlight and the undying power of surrealism, opposed to all organized religion, and has no use for millionaire politicians who claim to have his best interests at heart. His most recent collection is THE CENTURY OF DREAMING MONSTERS (2014 Lummox Press).
Posted by Justin Lowe at 7:34 am
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Climbing the night vines
Into the sky toward Luna,
The perverse moon
With her guardian man,
I am a great moth, gray
As night, chanting
The moth song--fire,
Fire, fiero, te amo,
The itch between my legs
Is strong, the desire
To go up ever with me.
Moths are sensual
From the dark recesses
Of the skin of the world
Why not the romantic
Moon, that great orb
On whom man has
Left his ruddy prints,
Upon whom we have
Gazed and gazed again
The one desire out
- Karen Pape 2015
Karen Bingham Pape is a teacher and writer. Her poems have appeared in small press publications such as Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and Maverick Press and in on-line journals such as Big River Review, Red River Review, Words-Myth and Perigee. She has read her work at conferences such as Southwestern ACA/PCA Pop Culture, ASU Annual Writers Conferences in Honor of Elmer Kelton, and Fort Concho Literary Festival.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 8:06 am
Friday, November 06, 2015
She finds her answers
in the dry ink of other writers
the blow of a disturbed morning
the rearrangement of aggregates
branches pounding a beat
on the side of iron sheds
the gathering place of long dark night
the ancestral ache for the grave
She is reminded of old-time letter habits
the style of days she thought naive
and that the imagination is a personal well
a winged monkey or a mapmaker
climbing the rocks of her dreams
or singing the road ahead
Occasionally a hawk hovers in her thoughts
quivers with the thrill of a potential kill
And that poem she wrote about the pony show
and the hand-repaired Australian flag?
Really she was saying we do need a new one
no offence to the old Diggers*
It’s all dry ink
- Lizz Murphy 2015
Lizz Murphy is still writing. Still publishing. Still wondering.
* Australian colloquial for ex-soldiers, particularly those who served in World War One.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 8:32 am
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
Roll The Bones
I send signals to ships at sea
I was confused about what you were saying
But you’ve cleared that up now with what you said
Your wet-mouthed commentaries
Because of signal latency
We are receiving your message early
Semaphore your little flags
Three flares at night
A warning that the rocks
Are underneath and overhead
The water between treacherous
The squid small and curious
The suckers lecherous
In their fifty-dollar suits
Pockets turned out
Grottoes empty of treasure
Shined with spit
For two dollars
Below the heels
Above the toes
Amongst a litany of other complaints
Dancing under turbid behemoths
You can see the lighthouse
- C S Hughes 2015
He says he is getting older but no more wise.
- C S Hughes 2015
C S Hughes grew up on both sides of the tracks in ochre towns and charcoal cities. When he was young he hoboed across the country by thumb and freight train, before spending several years in reading and study. He has lived in parks and palaces and worse places, creates innovative poetry pieces illustrated with his own photography and digital artworks in iBooks, including the interactive poem “Four Score”, and has occasionally had a story or poem published on paper. He also recently created and wrote the book on "The Art Of Knitting Needle Ikebana". His pictures of cows and trees can sometimes be seen around South Gippsland in local art and photography shows.
He writes commentary on popular culture and edits at nerdalicious.com.au, publishes some older poems and occasional musings online at http://satanloves.me/author and more recently has released the collection "Cars Crashed In Charcoal Cities" as an ebook, and had poems published in A Guide To Sydney Rivers and Uneven Floor.
He says he is getting older but no more wise.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 2:56 pm
Monday, November 02, 2015
stars glitter beyond bath-showroom glass.
archimedes, lost down a plughole in syracuse
resurfaces in brunswick, everything bared.
i watch him clamber from tub to tub, testing
the hippest gloss black or white freestanding
styles. night cars growl past as he slips
into the current sensation, clear burnt orange.
he floats, overflowing the cliché, feels
the buoyant surge of inspiration—why run
through the streets naked when the eureka
moment can be witnessed through
transparent acrylic? he scrubs a heel
with pumice, wondering how many
grains of sand it takes to fill
his universe. i wonder about
scratches in gloss acrylic.
- Dael Allison 2015
The Archimedes Palimpsest: a parchment overwritten by 13th century monks which included a copy of previously unknown theorems by Archimedes.
Dael Allison edits and writes poetry, essays and prose. Fairweather's Raft, poems exploring the life of artist Ian Fairweather, was published by Walleah Press in 2012.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 10:06 am
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Calder Freeway, past Melton, Victoria
Mesmeric miles on bitumen the same steely grey
as the sky. Wispy elongated white-line clouds
flash by. I take the sky highway, steering towards
cumulus, cirrus, getting my bearings from a flock
of galahs happy to lend their gen to a passing
motorist. My vehicle cruises into the stratosphere,
wheels eating air. Landscape shrinks to a painter's
smear on the horizon. The rump of hills is all that's
needed for definition, clefts in their flank – texture.
Everything else is sky – as far and as high as ...
Panoramas of light-streaked vapour appear,
avenues of cloud-puff billow. I’ve joined the
commerce of wind and precipitation, the traffic
of weather. No buildings or street signs break
the day's open invitation. Where have they
been hiding this amplitude? When everything is
pressing in, where have they harboured this haven?
- Anne M Carson 2015
Anne M Carson is an awarded and widely published writer who is looking for a publisher for Massaging Himmler: A poetic biography of Dr Felix Kersten.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 8:43 am
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
This is a half done fjord/wood splitting accident blues
Erik the Blood Eye can only squint
into the sun of homecoming
casting itself out along runways,
lined with the kelp of torn out hair
of all the waiting tendrils.
Those crowning glinting wisps
shaking down into the rising fog
lifted by the gentle hand of their bequest,
the finest remembered artists
mixing their beautifully poisoned leads
into the unspoken insanity of hues.
Amethyst in ice is the colour of souls
made whole by your return.
- James Walton 2015
Posted by Justin Lowe at 10:20 am
Monday, October 26, 2015
Your fierce face
on the pillow—
brows spearing down towards
wide bisected koala nose
acute resilient chin.
Tonight you are troubled
by concerns beyond your scope:
pervading childhood’s lair…
Felt inside the strident pitch
of your father on the telephone;
the tremulous tone
of your mother's lullabies.
Felt in the streak of the cat,
the slink of the dog;
felt in the dangerous pulse
of our home.
- Michele Seminara 2015
Michele Seminara is a Sydney poet and editor of Verity La.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 7:33 am
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Talking to Myself
It’s in silence, understand,
the inner voice of my inner voice
with all its nuances, its wry wit
for my ears only, its endless
loving monologue, its wakefulness,
its antipathy to silence,
its restless, un-stilled, always
its wondering at what the inner voice
of my father’s inner voice
sounded like, and all those other
inner voices prowling in their cages,
day after day, year after year,
lifetime upon lifetime,
those voices it craves to speak to
and never will.
- David Ades 2015
David Adès is an Australian poet living in Pittsburgh since 2011. He has been a member of Friendly Street Poets since 1979. His collection Mapping the World (Friendly Stret Poets / Wakefield Press) was commended for the Anne Elder Award 2008. He was a volunteer editor of the Australian Poetry Members Anthology Metabolism. His poems have appeared widely in Australia and the U.S. in publications including over 20 of the Friendly Street Readers, and numerous literary magazines. In 2014 David was awarded the inaugural University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize and was also shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. Recently, one of his poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In October 2015, Garron Publishing will launch David’s chapbook, Only the Questions Are Eternal: see http://www.garronpublishing.com.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 8:21 am
Monday, October 12, 2015
Millie wants Willie to make up,
go back to the way they were,
be lovey-dovey, hunky-dory.
Willie wishes he could
but that’s not the way he is.
He has a character flaw,
permanent as a birthmark
his mother told him
when he was only six.
Some folks can forgive
and then forget but that’s
not you Willie, she said.
When he heard about
the crucifixions in Syria,
he said that's genocide,
plain and simple.
Willie’s can't forget
a wrong, big or small.
It’s hard to forgive, he says,
never mind forget ISIS.
You’re not ISIS, Willie,
his Millie reassures him.
You just have a conscience.
No nails, no hammer.
- Donal Mahoney 2015
Posted by Justin Lowe at 10:09 am
Thursday, October 08, 2015
Ostensibly I was making my way deep down into the bowels of the marketplace looking for some books which I heard an indifferent merchant was using, piled up as a sort of makeshift coffee table. Part of the reality though was that I prided myself on a personal library of interesting tales, firsthand experiences which I could tell and never have to embellish the smallest detail of, to delight and hold the listener's attention with.
The stairs, all stone, became narrower and narrower which, on account of my caution, slowed down my progress. I soon reached that part of the marketplace where the flagstones had not seen sunlight since the day they were first laid down, before the rest of the market built up around and on top of them. A different marketplace existing concurrently with the one resting on its shoulders, here, the merchants would laugh and, once their shaking shoulders stilled, regard one with suspicion were you to ask about any fruits or vegetables.
The heat was a wet thing now that clung about me as if a drowning man presuming on my concern for his salvation. The scent was unique in the dichotomy of notes, floral, rotting, cloying and an after the act, sexual muskiness. I looked far above me, where I had started, the little kiosk with its honey cakes. I once again calmed myself by imagining all of this has already happened and that what I am feeling now is merely recall as I tell the story over drinks at Pierre's or slowly sipping tea with Sidi, as ever feeling her watching me peripherally from her place upon my couch.
I could not find the shop with the books, the strap of my book bag grew teeth and began to bite into my shoulder despite the leather oval pad between me and it. I picked a shop whose un-shuttered windows were deeply recessed into the wall but still had intricate metal grill work which fascinated me. Inside an old woman wearing Ray Ban pilot sunglasses even though the place was dimly lit softly clucked at me as I entered announced by the tinkling of a brass bell. At first she looked like a small head among a pile of patterned clothes. She stood up clasping her hands together and stretching her arms towards the low ceiling. I said hello and did a half bow which works in any culture.
She started off by showing me all the usual tourist junk, curved daggers made of tin destined to end up on someone's desktop eventually birthing a story which never happened but believed down the line in old age. Blurred erotic postcards of models who were not really from here and of a jaundiced hue that made the bellied women seem as if doing the dance of the seven veils trapped in amber.
I laughed. She then crooked her index finger at me and I followed her bent form to the back of the store. There was an old dresser which leaned diagonally to the right. She opened one of its doors with a long drawn out creak whose sustain bordered on free jazz. She pulled out a bright green silk handkerchief too big for anyone to possibly keep in their pocket. She then turned around and shuffled back to the storefront with myself once again following.
At the counter she took off her sunglasses. Her eyes were kohled and intense. She was humming to herself but it was more a series of vibrations in her throat than any melodic sounds. Her impossibly long fingers managed to un-knot the kerchief. As the kerchief went flat against the opaque of the glass counter I was not initially sure what I was looking at.
She presse,d something against my chest, her other hand taking mine and not letting it go until I held the thing as one would a very small child. She repeated this two more times. Once I was sure that she was done I looked down. A root type thing which had naturally grown in the shape of a fetish.
True language barriers do not exist in the places tourists are, the luxury hotels, airports, restaurants but it is a great way to curtail too long of price negotiations with the Europeans. It is also a way to be a little rude and still make a sale, the attitude being chalked up to cultural differences. Down here though was different there was no need to bother with acts.
The old woman nodded to me and said three times:
She then put her thumb and two fingers together and opened her mouth, the clustered fingers went from the flat of the palm of her other hand up to her mouth, pantomiming eating something. I shook my head yes. I gave her some of the heavy coins and she nodded with a smile. I was given a dirty white cloth bag for the roots. Carefully I rearranged my book bag so nothing would crush them. I noticed way after the fact that the books and notebook which had been in there all permanently took on the perfume whose closest notes of comparison were Ginseng, sweat, earth and ozone.
Back home in my office I placed the roots in one of the glass domes where I had kept a pocket watch who had fallen out of favor with me in on display. Aside from occasionally humming a snatch of song as I walked passed them, they required very little care. I noticed their colors subtly changed depending upon the season.
- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2015
Posted by Justin Lowe at 11:27 am
Man in the Bath
A tsunami reveals its strength,
Later, the partially submerged empty vessel
Knocking against pilings
With a constant, monotonous
Rhythm reminiscent of a stranger’s knock on the door.
Still shrouded in darkness,
Newly coated with red algae bloom,
Lies in wait,
For what, it's not known,
Has already visited and departed.
The rhythm of the knocking slows,
As at once,
This shelter becomes alit.
The air is stirred,
And so begins
The shriek of the first gull
As the vision of what lies here
- Linda Imbler 2015
Linda Imbler is the author of several poetry books including The Weather In My Head , Doubt and Truth, and Precious Vibrations. She has written such diverse poems as “Tomb, ” “We,” “Leviathan,” and “Walking the Road.” Her work has been called evocative, provocative and beautiful. Linda has designed her own book covers. This poet, yoga practitioner, and acoustic guitar player resides in Wichita, Kansas.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 10:49 am
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Conversations in high places
From those rooftops Brussels glittered
Before us like an open quarry
Layered on top of each other
High on a crumbling shelf
Stories and secrets lost somewhere
In a sprawling city which rippled
When we touched it, seconds away
From shattering completely.
Dangling our feet over a
We convinced ourselves we could
Step out onto the next building
And then the next
Bridging these night-time voids like
And I saw you running through
Burnt amber in my mind,
Searing down concrete boulevards
With your clothes on fire
Your smoking voice and
Shedding the flames to rise from them
A phoenix in denim.
- Annmarie McQueen 2015
Annmarie McQueen is a recent graduate of Warwick University in the U.K, where she studied English and creative writing. An aspiring author/poet and previous winner of the Simon Powell poetry prize, she has been published in magazines including ‘Words with Jam’, ‘Reach poetry' and 'Buried letter press.'
Posted by Justin Lowe at 10:42 am
Monday, September 28, 2015
The Self’s Portrait
One portrait has no ears or hands.
In one portrait the eyes have gone
to wherever it is eyes go on autumn evenings.
Here’s a mouth that’s said too little too late.
Here’s a nose that ought to know better.
No beard. No scar. No symmetry.
An eyebrow’s lament. Light pooling on a chin.
That unfortunate hair lost in a forest.
And this portrait, of the self, of the self’s self.
Which resembles a heart-string and sings like a bird.
- Bruce McRae 2015
Pushcart nominee Bruce McRae is a Canadian musician with over 900 poems published internationally, including Poetry.com, Rattle and The North American Review. His first book, ‘The So-Called Sonnets’, is available via Silenced Press and Amazon. To see and hear more poems go to ‘BruceMcRaePoetry’ on YouTube.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 9:10 am