Tuesday, January 21, 2020

New Poetry by John Grey

Back Again

come into the city
the bright lights,
suddenly remember
all that has been forgotten,

could be anywhere?

no -

could be no place else

- John Grey 2020

Off the Old Interstate

Behind an abandoned store-front,
past a dining room
bereft of repossessed tables and chairs,
in a kitchen
with rusty stove and grill,
scurrying rats
and grease stains on the walls,
in a cupboard under the sink,
a famous chicken recipe
curls up like the dead.

- John Grey 2020

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dalhousie Review and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Qwerty, Chronogram and failbetter.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

New Poetry by Rob Schackne

Parasite Sound

unwanted as in wilderness
undesirable as in shouting
uninvited as a bushfire

sound without the option
sound as in fury 
passionate conviction

parasite sound for party
natters of the wind
the cool changes come

bring rain, fill rivers
hearing voices 
listen to the waves

the muffled thrum
my own breathing too
autonomic, final

- Rob Schackne 2020

Born in New York, Rob lived in many countries until Australia finally took him in. He was a Foreign Expert EFL teacher in China for many years. He now lives in a small Victorian country town, and enjoys the fresh air, the birds and the sunshine. There were some extreme sports once; now he plays (mostly) respectable chess and pool. He listens to the Grateful Dead. When he's not writing, he likes taking photographs.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

New Poetry by Marie C Lecrivain

Cassandra Works the Night Shift at the Call Center

She works from 10 pm to 5 am, 
because the money is better, 
and prophecies carry more 
weight in the dark.

She sits upright in her crummy swivel chair,
sips tea from her favorite terracotta mug,
and answers questions posed 
by those loved and lost.

Her eyes follow a steady rhythm 
as scripts flash across her screen. 
She’ll answer honestly, but never
take on questions about travel plans, 
or the apocalypse. No one 
believed her the first time.

For those who don’t listen,
she lowers her voice to the sound
of whiskey poured over ice,
and for those satisfied seekers
she receives a 10% commission,
and a 5-star prophetess rating.
Sometimes, the crack of heartbreak 
can be heard, since all calls 
are recorded for training 
and quality assurance.

- Marie C Lecrivain 2020

Marie C Lecrivain is a poet, publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles, and ordained priestess in the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, the ecclesiastical arm of Ordo Templi Orientis. Her work has been published in Nonbinary Review, Orbis, Pirene's Fountain, and many other journals. She's the author of several books of poetry and fiction, and recent editor of Gondal Heights: A Bronte Tribute Anthology (copyright 2019 Sybaritic Press, www.sybpress.com).

Saturday, January 04, 2020

New Poetry by Abigail George


This far out between heaven and hell she is still
beautiful. She was beautiful, and relevant in a way

that I was not. Manuscripts erode all around me
but she is innocent, still beautiful. Lovely. She’s

earth now. I’m average. I can’t help it. I’m so basic
at everything. I’m a still life next to her grave tears

pouring out of me like there’s no tomorrow. No
future or anything. I name her ‘water’. I name her

‘anything that is worthy of possession’. This far out
she’s salt, light, cream, if I can help it the last city,

the last blue country. A fragment of paradise ripped
from the seats of the Opera House, infestation, life.

    She’s a Sunday morning after church. I thirst for
her mouth. Her beautiful hands. Hair like silk down her back.

She’s Peter Pan chasing stars, and what this poem is,
is not a poem about a river on becoming the sea.

The reflection in the mirror is as unstable as electricity.
I wonder to myself just who does she think she is.

I am wary of her. Of what she is capable of doing.
You’re living. I’m dead. You’re warm. I’m cold through.

I don’t know how to keep the regime under control.
You’re unfinished. Tiger, you speak to me in tongues.

These are dangerous times that we’re living in, you
say. You’re joy, Yes, you are. You come in that stellar

version. While I’m a field covered with the fabric of
stars, and starlight. I don’t know how to love you back. I see

you in this photograph. You’ve lost all your hair to
the chemotherapy, you’re wearing a wig, but you still

look hot, and breathless, as exotic as a Frenchwoman’s
beauty. Of course, you lose the battle. (Breast cancer),

the love of your life has lost his own struggle. It snows
in winter-time in Johannesburg, and every time it snows

I think of you, every recovery, every relapse, summer, I
think of all the people I’ve lost. That are never coming back

to me, that are priceless, and free. Pain is such a waste.
And, so, I wake up, look, dress, and live my life, also free.

- Abigail George 2020

Abigail George is a South African writer and poet. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net-nominee, as well as the recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, Centre for the Book and the ECPACC. She has two blogs (African Renaissance) and one in Goodreads. She has been published in various anthologies, numerous times in print in South Africa, and online in zines across Africa, Australia, India, Ireland, the UK, the States, Canada, and Europe. She is also an essayist, contributed to a symposium in Finland, an editor, poet, short story writer and novelist.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Poetry by James Walton

al dente

folding thoughts in the each of morning
or the out of evenings and night
these old examinations
spaghetti thrown to the wall
stuck hard as the layers
of all the painted over lives
falling down inelegance
between the catcher and the noise
where the glass half full
is half empty with the taste
of earth in dreams turned over now
I howl a fist to a moon less promise
the ever of never adrift 
didn’t the wind say always?

- James Walton 2019

James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official. He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, the MPU International Prize, The William Wantling Prize, the James Tate Prize, and is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Competition. His poetry collections include ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ 2015 Publish and Print U.K., ‘Walking Through Fences’ 2018 ASM & Cerberus Press, ‘Unstill Mosaics’ Busybird 2019, and ‘Abandoned Soliloquies’ Uncollected Press 2019.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

New Poetry by Mark Roberts

A new normal

for the community in the Blue Mountians

Smoke seeps through walls
we wake to gardens covered in ash
burnt bush carried high
on wind gusts   a sacrifice
you don’t understand
and so will be repeated.

Sun dimmed in afternoon haze
a black circle around party pink
fading to a defeated grey.

Over the ridge new weather patterns are
being invented. Sheets of flames swirl
into cones, billowing clouds dark with fire
throw lightening bolts at fire trucks.

Wait for the wind to change
decide whether to head east or west.

- Mark Roberts 2019

Mark Roberts is a Sydney based writer and publisher. He is the founding editor of Rochford Street Review.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

New Poetry by Karen May

Words that repeat in the last verse 

Keening, for example. Why
does this sound, this cry,

Is it the diminishing
of the earth’s great beat?
Tolling in tandem with
That smaller pulse,
more specific, more populous
yet partnered every
with the magnetic
of this grand ball.
Spinning dancer, she
may surprise
– and interrupt our wail –
with the rigour
of her natural law.
Weighing, calibrating
taking measure.
Confiscating, expunging
this oil-rich skin – this sugared
swag unshared, these
tender meats –
added and multiplied
in the last few beats.

Nourished too well
the breath
of water and of
flesh slows, keens
baneful tears. Mother
tends – crooning
cool winds
as she goes.
Unpicks sinew
rends heart
and fat
from bone.

a mangrove.

- Karen May 2019

Karen May writes poetry, sometimes combined with art practice. She is a climate and ecological activist and has lived for a long while in the Southern Tablelands and Canberra.  

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Bluepepper would like to take this opportunity to wish all our contributors and readers a safe and happy Christmas and a peaceful, joyous and bountiful 2020.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

New Poetry by M.M Dillinger

Gronk Day

Awake late afternoons rise
A child born to ash and sticky kitchen counter
Neighbourhood moons strike fear
Into moth balled machines of system
Their children’s children commit the offence
And no one can cheer rising leaves
Water flowing through broken drainpipes
It’s a Gronks day

The Gronk is awake
Late afternoon riser
To rinse his chest with rusty air
To keep his arms or neck or organs free
From rapid power of god
To live and die in his sight
Is sin
And to walk towards gods god
Is righteous

The Gronk masturbates and plays god like god intended
And rises to the afternoon summer sun
Like a god allowing we to talk and command
Gronk living is as god intended, did he not?
Through scattered shadow window shades paint
On worn carpet and dusty air
One cigarette can fix a thousand years
Dreamt in screaming tone
Please, help young man

Young Gronk opens his eyes to himself each day
And sees his masculinity behind him
Wanting him
Wanting death upon him, is it truly god?
If one's most powerful action is suicide,
Is anyone god, do we know anyone is god
Until they prove death to themselves
I believe Gronk knows
His skin shows meth bites and crack scratches

His breath enters his apartment like a demon invading a graveyard
You may understand it is unpleasant
And it hurts to breathe now
But what does that matter
As long as Gronk makes it through his hallway
He can stay alive another day
Another day he can prove there is no god,
And prove there is,
In all Gronk glory.

His love lays motionless on a secondhand couch
Thank you to the ruler written in fire
For our bountiful meals,
Thought within Gronk's infinite wisdom
All gods, he thought, were united through, this these
Objects seen by men and women
Awake in a late summers Smokey afternoon sun
Her bosom planted distracted god from Gronk
And he was free

A free man is one to which none understand
Because he does not have to live truth or lie
He comprehends and confuses
He comes and goes
And poetically worries for present only
As past and future are god's domains
And he, after all
Is just a gronk's remains.

- M.M Dillinger 2019

M.M Dillinger is a young writer from Western Sydney, Australia, currently writing my first book and collection of poetry.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

How Good is Silence?

So it is now finally official. The announcement this week by the Australian Federal Government of the merger of the Arts Portfolio with, amongst other responsibilities, that of Transport and Infrastructure and Cyber Security means that Australia is the only OECD country without a dedicated Ministry of Arts and Culture. The decision has been justified with the usual Tory gaff about "trimming the fat" off governmment, a Randian trope that defines government as a not-so-necessary evil that really only gets in the way. The rhetoric is hollow but the intention is clear, and when paired with one senior cabinet minister's frank and alarming confession on Sky News this week (where else) that parliament really only represents an irritating distraction for the Federal Coalition, a pretty clear picture emerges of the character and intention of Australia's current Federal Executive. 

Although not a direct recipient of Federal or State Arts Funding, Bluepepper decries the current changes and the naked contempt they display for the role of arts and culture in this country. In purely economic terms (the only terms this Prime Minister seems willing or able to digest without that shit-eating grin), cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia's economy in the 2016-17 financial year.* We are a nation that is justifiably proud of its Orchestras and Opera Companies (and the buildings in which they are housed), of our music festivals and world-renowned musicians of every colour and stamp, of our actors and directors and visual artists, our novelists and, yes, our poets. When in so many areas Australia can appear heartless, rudderless and self-interested on the international stage, when our cricketers are cheats and even Sir David Attenborough can barely stand to utter our name, our artists, musicians and writers allow us to hold our heads high. Bluepepper would like all Australian's to reflect on this, even those many "silent ones" who, we suppose the government assumes, harbour some latent hostility to anyone who dares to make noise. We cannot, yet again, allow this government to suppress the free exchange of ideas in this manner, as they have recently attempted to do with regards to civil activist groups and certain voices in the media with whom they disagree. This latest move, we believe, is part of an alarming pattern that if not quickly addressed will leave us all living greatly impoverished and far less freer lives.

* according to the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research.

New Poetry by Linda Adair

Pulpit Hill Road 

As early darkness gathers
the silver-grey trunks of the high forest recede
taking the comforting view with them
day-tripper cars are long gone but
where the road dwindles into bush 
a set of brake lights stutter and fade

the chill of dusk seeps into the cabin
as I proceed up towards the turn bay 
pressing the door lock button
as I’d do at any city intersection 
but I am almost alone out here

houselights twinkle down the last driveway
— I so want to be home drinking — tea at least
animal voices in nocturnal struggle fly through
the slightly ajar window as I pause listening
nothing sounds human

still someone is in that station wagon 
duco palely gleaming in the moonlight 
strobed by the trunks of a stand of blackbutts
which cleave the tar and mean I must 
pass it to do a U-turn 

I select first and languidly slip the clutch
ready to do more if need be
the diesel powers easily past the trees to my left 
then I slow and swing the 4WD in a clean arc
circling the dead end, counter-clockwise

my lights penetrate the cabin of the Corolla
a woman of about 40 is settling in and looks up
fear wide in her eyes under the high beam’s glare 
I dim them but not before I notice 
the curtains on the side windows 
and meet the steady gaze of the Dingo X 
resting on their bedding near the tailgate.

- Linda Adair 2019

Linda Adair is a writer, editor and publisher based in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. She is a Co-editor of Rochford Street Review and is the editor of Rochford Press.