To all those who have submitted work in the past fortnight, I humbly apologise for my lack of response but repairs to my laptop are taking longer than expected. Bluepepper should be up and running again in the first week of March!
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The Winter Of Our Discontent
With apologies to Shakespeare and Steinbeck
The rusted square metal clothes pole
sits in three feet of snow
with stiff frayed rope
thrashing against the cold metal.
Where are the the warms breezes,
the robins temporarily resting,
the flapping of shirts and skirts?
- R. Gerry Fabian 2015
R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor.
He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines.
He is the editor of Raw Dog Press http://www.rawdogpress.freesite2you.com/index.php
He is currently working on a book of his poems.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 10:15 am
Monday, February 09, 2015
She’s matchsticks, my baby.
I’m hoping she’ll rub up on
my five o’clock shadow tonight
burning my dirty fingertips
with the way she fingers
her earlobe with two studs.
She laughs, tells me I am a
moderately sized fish
in a really small pond,
I say it’s not failure
I’m afraid of, it’s contentment.
- Pattie Flint 2015
Pattie Flint is an uprooted Seattle native toughing it out in Scotland binding books by hand. She has been published in Five [Quarterly], Hippocampus and TAB, amongst others. She is currently working on her MFA at Cedar Crest College.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 9:02 am
It’s the raw nerve.
No more sex or whiplash,
Just the fire underneath,
For all the wondrous phantoms
That catch the flesh
It’s still just longing
In the end.
The old, flame-white face
Still pulling us like a madness
Towards the beauties of the earth.
All these blood-soaked, irreplaceable things
That glow and perish.
- Seth Jani 2015
Seth Jani originates from rural Maine but currently resides in Seattle, WA. He is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com) and his own work has been published widely in such journals as The Foundling Review, East Coast Literary Review, Red Ceilings Press and Hobo Camp Review. More about him and his work can be found at www.sethjani.com.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 8:52 am
Saturday, February 07, 2015
This unmended gate
marks where my dream rests.
It’s lazy, creaky, it waits
for another snore to move
it, I guess.
Clever, it eludes
sleep even when I’m up late.
It never ends—it escapes.
- Mark J. Mitchell 2015
Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologiesIt has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. Good Poems, American Places,Hunger Enough, Retail Woes and Line Drives. Two full length collections are in the works: Lent 1999 is coming soon from Leaf Garden Press and This Twilight World will be published by Popcorn Press.. His chapbook, Three Visitors has recently been published by Negative Capability Press. Artifacts and Relics, another chapbook, is forthcoming from Folded Word and his novel, Knight Prisoner, was recently published by Vagabondage Press and a another novel, A Book of Lost Songs is coming soon from Wild Child Publishing. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 10:23 am
Thursday, February 05, 2015
Australia is suffering a crisis of leadership that goes far beyond the machinations of the Coalition party room. It is hardly a huge leap to argue that the latest leadership tussle in Canberra is merely a symptom of a much deeper malaise in Australian society that has rendered ours perhaps the most volatile of the Westminster democracies (with the notable exception of Kenya). Whoever replaces our incumbent Prime Minister (and it is only a matter of when and how), they will be the fourth leader of this country in as many years. And all this at the tail end of a period of unprecedented prosperity that has made us the envy of the world.
As this golden age draws to a close, and our politics becomes ever more fractious, someone is going to have to explain to future generations why we chose to squander this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to nurture a more equitable and cohesive society rather than the hornet's nest we have become. With the gift of 25 years of almost unbroken peace and prosperity, how to explain a society mired in debt and completely unprepared for the challenges of the 21st century? How to explain rates of domestic violence in this antipodean shangri-la that rank amongst the highest in the world, a generation of barely literate high school graduates, an ever-widening gap between rich and poor? If for the poet Auden the 1930's were that "low, dishonest decade", then the noughties were ours. It seems we are a nation who frets over its children except when it comes to the legacy they will inherit.
It is pointless looking to our political leaders for answers to these questions. Even those easing into a well-funded retirement are too busy sniping about their individual political legacies to acknowledge the collective damage they have done to this country through their mindlessly partisan, pugilistic brand of parliamentary democracy, serenely oblivious to the fact that a turd is still a turd no matter how much you polish it. The politics of consensus, the politics of grown-ups is, sadly, not a concept they ever embraced. The indigenous leader, Noel Pearson, showed what an inspirational leader can mean in his eulogy for the late Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, reaching beyond his own constituency to tell a bigger story that touched us all. But sadly leaders like Pearson or Whitlam are the exception that proves the rule. Pearson's eulogy was like a desert flower amid the arid fare of the spin doctors and the nodding heads of the 24-hour news cycle. It proved that even a society now bordering on sub-literacy can still be moved by the power of words.
The more nuanced thinkers amongst the Australian commentariat, such as Fairfax's Peter Hartcher, do, of course, have a vital role to play in salvaging something from this train wreck. But although it is not our role to influence policy per se, we poets and writers need to be mindful that we do not devolve into a class of glorified ambulance chasers, that our role is not merely to hold up a mirror to society, but to remind it of what it may have left behind and how that may effect what we are becoming as a nation. To do so we need to throw off the last of the old cultural cringe and glory in the language of Pearson and Whitlam, Slessor and Carey, Dransfield and Wright, that great gift from our forebears which in the right hands can be a remarkable tool for change.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.
- W.H. Auden "The Unknown Citizen"
Posted by Justin Lowe at 9:59 am
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
sleepless, I peer
through Soviet field glasses
my father gave me
back in the
the dove dips
toward the swell that snaps
across its eyes,
boxes its ear-coverts,
brittle as bakelite
the dove dips with
my heartbeat, through the
cross-hatched razor wire,
the shredded Southern Cross
deck peeled back like a scab,
while thunder wrestles with
the wind’s wet screech
the dove dips and flips,
and dips and drips like a dislocated tap,
skimming, gasping slowing
early in the morning, I rise in safety,
a waking after an operation, the insomnia gone;
gangly girls and boys in gold, and green, call out
on the hard beach below.
- Robert David Verdon 2015
Robert Verdon is a writer in Canberra, Australia, and has a number of publications to his credit.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 4:29 pm
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
the red car turns right
& heads down the hill.
in the valley the mist
whether to rise or to hang
around for another 30 minutes.
i stand on the edge of the escarpment
& watch the mist rise slowly up the rocks
wisp by wisp
disappearing somewhere above my head
imagine taking four steps forward & falling
through clouds, waiting to be lifted up
by soft invisible hands – an australian accession.
the whip of a branch
across my face
a crash of bone
the last thyacline
lapping at my blood.
- Mark Roberts 2015
Mark Roberts is a Sydney based writer and critic and editor of Rochford Street Review and P76 Magazine as well as being Poetry Editor of Social Alternatives journal. He has been published widely in magazines and journals both in Australia and overseas over many years.
Posted by Justin Lowe at 12:05 pm
Monday, February 02, 2015
My Shadow Has Thinned
All winter my shadow has thinned,
and no longer supports my weight.
The cars parked at Whole Foods grin
with dramatic chrome expressions
as I slog along with shopping bags
of flotsam fresh from Mexico
and Peru. The horizon lolls
in a wimple of pearly smog.
At lunch my friends insisted
that I eat more, that the flesh matters.
I’ve tried to plump up my shadow,
but it has lost its appetite
for landscape and the arts, has eaten
its last panorama of Paris
boulevards sprawling with traffic,
its last glimpse of Fifth Avenue
storefronts smiling for Christmas.
I noshed a decent salad, but stink
of fat and crunch of carbohydrate
numbed me to the finer things,
like bacon bits and slabs of bread,
blue cheese dressing and croutons.
Over the years the light has slaved
to cast as dense and flattering
a shadow as I could absorb.
Now in the parking lot a gray
anemic blush trails me. Ashamed
of my limp display I pack my bags
into my car and drive away as fast
as I dare. The fruits and vegetables
bought with my last fistful of cash
wouldn’t fatten a greedy child
but will keep me alive for a week.
The horizon bends and swoops
and drops a few seagulls strayed
five miles from Boston Harbor.
Their appetites don’t inspire me,
but in passing they cast shadows
tough as oilcloth, and their cries
mock the elaborate human world
that can’t begin to account for me
and the vacuum I leave in my wake.
- William Doreski 2015
William Doreski's work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013).
Posted by Justin Lowe at 10:56 am