Wednesday, July 11, 2018

New Poetry by Tug Dumbly

One Version of Les

What’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution 

– Constantine Cavafy

Your bullied childhood your moneymaker,
embunkered otherness a blanket 
burred about you by your beloved nanny 
Nurse Grievance, flopping out her trusty old dugs
to be suckled yet again, way beyond 
the age of consent, two frothing jugs, 
bile and honey, poison next to cure, 
one expressing a dairy of dissent, 
the other drugging away the pain. 

She soothes you to sleep with fairy tales,
fables grim to whet the spade, 
to dig the trench, to send periscopes
up all those sweaty academics  
and desperado intellectuals   
scoping you from their towers, 
all those elites howling for your scalp, 
stalking your corpus down Escher halls 
of privilege and power. 

But Christ, what if the unthinkable happened Les
and the barbarians cancelled the gig,
threw in the towel on pillaging Bunya,
slapped ya back, said good on ya,
even worse, dared to love ya?

Jeeze, maybe someone blundered.

What if the enemy didn’t exist,
or had done a Gallipoli flit,
pulled out on the sly, leaving you squeezing 
a figment of thistle in each clenched fist,
howling at a bucolic sky?

No lie, Les, but could be 
apart from the odd angry scribbler –  
the Last Tasmanian Poet gone feral,
carrying on a futile Thylacine resistance –
the Huns and Vandals have abandoned 
their advance on your books. 

Their Hercules couldn’t brook your tortoise 
over the distance, you set to mean a slog.
(Though the animal could be wrong –
Jeremiah was a bullfrog). 

To make more shrapnel of metaphor,
maybe your Turk has crept down to their trench
to find nothing but gifts – chocolate bars 
of critical acclaim: ‘Attaboy Ataturk, 
your salvos won the day!’

You stormed Normandy without casualty,
took Troy without a horse,
the fortress doors of Academia 
are unguarded and swinging wide:
‘but come inside, you’re on the course!’

The chatterers and cultural pashas
offer garlanded entrĂ©es, to  
Chairs bestrewn with posies, in 
lecture halls bedecked with bouquets.

On a laurel sash pinned a note:
‘sorry we missed you. Just popped down to the shop
for your latest anthology. 
Make yourself at home –
we’ve drugged the dogs, drained the moat. 
Everyone’s dying to meet you, 
if you haven’t another appointment …’ 

Fuck, what a fly in the ointment!
Universally lauded. 
How dare they queer your disappointment!

But how ‘bout this Les – if you finally 
win the dynamite prize, don’t chase us like 
the loaded dog. Just accept our surrender. 
You won the war, unconditionally even.

Though she still won’t like the terms 
your old Nanny, Nurse Grievance.

- Tug Dumbly 2018

Tug Dumbly is a poet and satirist who has performed his poems, songs and monologues on radio and in schools, venues and festivals, both in Australia and abroad. He has released two spoken word CDs, once won the Spirit of Woodford storytelling award, at Woodford Folk Festival, twice won the Banjo Paterson Prize for comic verse, and three times won the Nimbin World Performance Poetry Cup, most recently in 2017. He was runner up in the 2015 Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize, and recently completed a project writing 12 Christmas-themed poems, based on historical documents, for Housing NSW, which were displayed in installations around Sydney’s Rocks area in the 2017 Christmas season. 

Sunday, July 08, 2018

New Poetry by Barbara De Franceschi

Hands in the Dark

I haven’t got my mother’s hands.
Her fingers were like ivory candles 
that lit piano keys with a kindled flame.

Memory links to an ache in my chest.
I don’t remember those hands 
in tenderness. 

They must have lifted me from sleep,
wiped away tears,
bandaged a scraped knee.

Recall allows me passage into many things,
but I cannot remember 
her caress.

I had a fascination 
with her slender wrists,
tiny blue veins crisscrossed underneath,

a black leather watch band 
stretched in a perfect circle around fine bones,
the perfume of bergamot

splashed skin the colour of latte.
At night when I toss in restless dregs
I sometimes feel her touch.

- Barbara De Franceschi 2018

Barbara De Franceschi is an arid zone poet from Broken Hill. Besides three collections of poetry her work has been published widely in Australia, in other countries and on-line. Barbara has served as ‘artist-in-residence’ for the NSW University Department of Rural Health to promote Art in Health for undergraduate health-science students.

Friday, July 06, 2018

New Poetry by John Rock

On The Beach
One boat easing from the harbor

All this grown-up sky and mist-cloud left
  with room to breath
All this washed up night and scrolls of night architects
  rolling from dream to dream
As if the shore is a dream the sea met
  with grand intentions and introductions
    deduced in cast gold and shoals of silver returns
                          by the moon so light and viable
                                           as all of us so ever-poured

So close to the morning
         or is it moonlight?
All I remember is you spooning me off the bed
That was the beginning of the universe
And when I climbed back in and smelled your hair
That’s when the earth began

- John Rock 2018

John Rock is a poet who lives in New Mexico in the United States and is undergoing a lifelong training to see how well the wind can be listened.  More poems and novels for free at

Thursday, July 05, 2018

New Poetry by Kenneth Trimble


I noticed the junkie scratching his arm on the train,                     
I noticed the drunk  singing sweet Jesus,
I noticed the hookers on Grey Street,
I noticed the studs in her nipples,
and I noticed the books on her shelf,
Emma Goldman, Patti Smith,
I noticed people drowning off Christmas 
I noticed the rise of bigotry and hate,
and I heard the sounds of storm troopers
marching through our streets, 
I noticed the last gasp of a dying woman,
and a child crying in her crib,
I noticed  the war being played out,
entertainment for the bored,
I noticed the flood,
I noticed the fire,
I noticed the cyclone,
and I noticed the tangerine sky as 
the forest went up in smoke,
and I noticed the darkness enveloping our 
I noticed the light.

- Kenneth Trimble 2018

Kenneth lives in Euroa in country Victoria. He has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize in America. He has a number books out through, the last one Collected Works, performed at Collected Works Bookshop in Melbourne and elsewhere. His poetry has been published across the world and his work appears in a number of anthologies. Kenneth is heading to India later this year on a Buddhist pilgrimage .

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

New Poetry by Terry Wheeler

moon boot

short blonde in
a moon boot

youthful strides
so confident

no overcoat
beanie or gloves

for her
they’re superfluous

winter westerlies and
bold jacky frost

silvery choir of
a shivering host

a grin says
bring it on

her eyes dance
to spring’s song

- Terry Wheeler 2018

Terry has been writing poetry for many years and recently had a couple of short poems published in the on-line magazine Bonsai Journal.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Calling all Poets


Regular followers of Bluepepper should know the spiel by now, but if you are new to the pepper, just follow the submission guidelines near the top of the task bar to your right.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

New Words and Images by Wayne H. W Wolfson

So Far Away

 It was the whispered harmonies of the Everly Brothers singing “All I have to Do is Dream”, mixed with an unknown sessions player on brushes. 
 No, it was those minor sub nautical chords at the end of a Debussy solo piano piece. The feeling of floating on the surface of water, sinking down while staring up at an unobtainable sky.
 She was sitting cross-legged on the bed using part of my pillow to stabilize a bowl in which was ice water.  I do not know what the criteria was for renewal, but she would re-dip the white cloth only lightly wringing it out before reapplying it shroud like to my forehead.
 I was dripping sweat but cold.

She had something the size of a tennis ball. Without nicking the surface of the bureau upon which she cut it, the fruit was soon halved. 
 My head was propped up. The skin was a chocolate brown, dotted with darker splotches and smelling of dirt. Her bracelets tinkled as she squeezed out its juice over my cracked-lipped, open mouth.
 I lay back down exhausted.
 “It will be the fuhlschtuhl. You will dream of tiny octopi. As long as they are purple, it is OK. Green though, would be bad.”
 In moments in which I was awake, but she had not realized it, my one slitted eye occasionally spied her rubbing the pulpy skin on the nipple of her exposed breast. Music floated in from the street but never the same song.

- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2018

Just click on the link for Wayne's latest collection of short stories.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

New Poetry by Abigail George

If you want to write, then write

(for the Kenyan philosopher Nyambura Kiarie)

   You can see it if you look closely enough. Even
    the comets step out in faith. The meteors. People.
    Volcanoes. Even the patterns on your flesh have
    a complex. Prayer to me is like air. My reading
    hands are greedy for the sunlight. The palace of
    the sun. The sun, well, she’s moving. Revelatory.
    Even the holy is visible here. I can see it. I can see
    it. I’m full of laughter and tears. My heart is open.
    Willing to share the inheritance of futility and loss
    found there in the silence and the empty rooms
    of my childhood house. I think of how I know the
    tastes of childhood trauma, like I know the smell
    of spaghetti. It’s an ancient landscape. Seldom
    glorious unless it is overcome. I think of the
    therapists I’ve been to, how many of them have
    been Indian women, and beautiful. I think of class
    and speaking English proper all my life. I think
    of my sadness, and then I think of you. Now let
    me talk about broken families. Your wit is warm-
    hearted but your heart is condescending and cold.
    You call me up when you’re lonely. You’re digging,
digging, digging into me, and I’m branching out
    into particles. We have to tell our stories. The
    leaves here are holy. Sister has a voice of longing.
    Brother’s clothes are on the bedroom floor. I
    live in mother’s house. She wants me gone like
    yesterday. I think that the gifts of humanity are

    like the ocean. That same ocean also belongs to
    my mother. The sadness that was there before is
    gone now. I am caught up in a dream. I have yet

    to find a being to be with, live a lifetime with,
    settle down, marry, and have those children with
    the angelic shine on their faces. Thank you for

    not calling. Thank you for not texting me. Thank
    you for this long silence. For this pain. I think of
the fact that I am no longer afraid to close my eyes.

    You were something beautiful. An altar. I think of
    the retreat of solitude and futility. Their exposure.
Lava. The anointed. Wherever the soul comes from.

- Abigail George 2018

Abigail George is the author of Africa Where Art Thou, Feeding the Beasts, All About My Mother, Winter in Johannesburg, Brother Wolf and Sister Wren, Sleeping Under the Kitchen Tables in Helenvale, and the novella The Scholarship Girl. She is a South African blogger, essayist, poet, short story writer, and has just completed her first novel.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

New Poetry by MTC Cronin

My Soul

is a tapestry where the moths
go to eat.

It is a tree
filled with wounded birds.

My soul is not a phrase
but its intonation,

belonging to the voice
and not to the family of words.

When I speak of it
it laughs like a holiday.

My soul is mother-of-pearl.
My mouth a travesty.


Goat-like, I hang around
what binds me.

I can’t get away,
pick everything clean.

I have no idea
what’s around my neck.

Who tied me up here
to my life.

Here is Thunder (The Harvest)

Here is thunder –
Here is barking dogs –
Here is the heaviest salt and the coldest stone.
Here is an actual man and an actual woman
who have lost their north and south.
Their hearts flicker like shadows on a wall.
The star that left the firmament
has entered their loving and their killing.
Unembraceable and unadmittable
they move empty-handed
through the harvest.
The sun does not heed them.
Even gathered they are not together.
The storm passes
and forgets them.

Before It

‘The cormorant is precisely.’
‘Its wings scrape the shore.’

Before it
meaning goes down on one knee
and proposes to the broken and harnessed.

It Wasn't the Stars

It wasn’t the stars
that surrounded them
but they pretended
not to be afraid of the stars.

With eyes full of light
they’re suddenly beached
right here where the universe
washed up beauty.

Vulgar, their herding.


Today I almost slipped entirely
out of the ego.
Only a slight poignant sucking remained.

That ocean of trolls
lapping at God’s medicinal teaspoon.

See the Path

See the path become dark.

Where the light travels to obscure everything
in the precise appearance of itself
see the path become dark.

- MTC Cronin 2018

MTC Cronin is the author of twenty books of poetry and winner of numerous awards and international plaudits. She currently lives in south-east Queensland where she grows a very hot pepper, one of which may or may not have inspired the bluepepper.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New Poetry by Vivienne Mohan

Twenty years or more it'll take

There’s a pen, a book, an apple, a
paperclip, a notepad, on my desk.
There is a tree, a water-pipe,
outside my window.
There is a small cut,
on my right temple on my face.
There is a small temple built
on my palm. Blood,
on a tissue in the bin
by my desk.
There is maths in my bed
under the covers,
taking the physical form
of a curled snake. There
is physics hurting my childhood.
Advanced formulas for motion
leaning on new bricks,
that I have sculpted.
Little x’s and flight
cover the floorboards
like thorns.
There is a larger me
in the doorway, approving
that I have my lamp on,
waiting to guide me back,
in miscellaneous memory,
so that I can work
harder this time.
I don’t want to go
to the classroom again.
Literature is somehow mixed up,
with a plot against forgetting.

- Vivienne Mohan 2018


I complain about ridiculous things so
I can be shot down. The hotel room, I say,
is not enough like home. And home,
does not have enough open roads.

They say I’m ungrateful. With this in mind
I close my eyes and picture the breeze.
Ah yes, I say, I can feel it now. Thank-you.

- Vivienne Mohan 2018

Vivienne Mohan is a nineteen-year-old Queensland poet. She began writing in 2016 and in that same year was the runner-up of the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Competition for an unpublished first manuscript. A septet of poems by her mother, MTC Cronin, will appear in Bluepepper shortly.