Friday, December 30, 2011

New Poetry by Les Wicks

Tom Collins

I fall beneath my cart of names
leave colour in the wound.
There is consequence in each unanswered call
silence beyond glance.

So, leave colour to the wound up
Eat feathers in the shade
silence any glance
open up this clever fade.

I eat feathers into shade.
Among birds I am a dog,
silence any chance.
We rut beneath applause.

Among birds I am a god
but children mock my graves.
We cut beneath plausibility
to deliver only ether.

But children are only grapes
we harvest their despair
delighted under ether, a stumpy photograph offered
to the gyprock lusts of life.

We divest their despair
then lose our hair
before their gimpy loves of looting
we are the kings, tossed out of town.

We lost our air
nobody is there
we were the kings, lost in brown
claim nothing just here.

We all fall beneath our cart of names…
consequence assured.

- Les Wicks 2011


In February, the grey-tinged cuprous-green distinctive black scaled
juvenile Dugite Snake seeks out new territory on the dunes west off
                                                                                                             new money.
One looks for the linear.

Container ships shuffle,
Rottnest Island stakes the horizon. Abandoned leash,
a clipped Husky understands that
Obedience is just
a tufted philosophic conceit. Our owners call.

This contended lasagne
sees the colour of tomatoes, or rust
in paving & bricks.
We refuse the hazard
of lemon light, cornflower
laps along the lapis
our venomous build beside all careful repair.

To remove one’s clothes, we
accept the sun like leaves.
Sand beds, sand castles,
the invert birth each immersion.

The dunes seethe with otherness –
take my photo, take your time –
these minor plunders
are the least we can do perhaps
an aspiration
in our complex little tides.

Melon Hill stands above
our wriggling constructs. Like
the dugite territorial,
we are the seams of cloud that ride
a thigh, radiatus 360°
the tablets of life not
mostly us. Straight can’t
be busy, can’t be still.

These are the lines we own, we
are inked. To understand
sometimes burns, scarification
that passes for writing.

Sunset queues into the Indian Ocean,  to
cave-art Bobtail Skinks on the sand
their indigent homage to the tones around -
gamboge faces above a pale blue belly.

We map the streams of grace,
our hunger paints in the names
that fail to actually affix
(they call this river Swan).
I wait for the colours
we bathe in everything.

- Les Wicks 2011

Les is one of Australia's most consistently interesting poets. His latest book is Shadows of the Read (Krok, 2011) Ukraine $10.00 (Aust) in Ukrainian & English 

A bit of moderation please

The idea that Sydney's most literary frangipani, Marieke Hardy, is her own cyber-stalker stretches even this blogger's credulity to breaking point. 

Thus, news that Marieke has been ordered by the courts to pay out $13000 to the man she wrongly accused of being said cyber-pest has an irony even her posturing on the First Tuesday Book Club could never hope to trump.

Bluepepper is among the first to recognise that some very nasty things have been blogged about our Marieke over the years, but as one who has so obviously coveted a public profile (constructed, I might add, on very shaky foundations), she should have been prepared for the flip-side of celebrity (it is, after all, the enduring obsession and governing principle of a certain Sydney milieu in whose serried ranks I have been known to stamp and bellow). Penning a shabbily written "memoir" peppered with rather pedestrian sexual adventures cannot have done much to soothe these savage cyber-beasts, none of whom seem to have warmed to her predilection for Old World smarm. 

I am not sure of my legal position here, and thus I will err on the side of caution and not repeat any of the poisonous bile directed at that flower in her hair. Thankfully the disgusting blog, "Marieke Hardy is Scum" has been closed down and speculation continues over the identity of the blogger.

Suffice it to say, Marieke has posted her apology to the wrongly-accused, forked out her 13 grand to same, and hopefully learned a hard lesson in the price of fame. It is the sincere hope of Bluepepper that in the future she perhaps learns to moderate her public profile to be more in keeping with her literary pretensions, removes that ridiculous flower, and concedes that there is an element to irony more substantial than her Cheshire grin.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Poetry by Phillip Ellis

"Not a Sonnet about Frank O'Hara's Reginald Grundies"

If I could be a single thing
in all the world of single things,
and be a single thing forgotten,
uncelebrated, then, I guess
I'd rather be O'Hara's jockstrap.
And not the first, and not the last,
the one before the very last.

Imagine: I would formfit, snug,
but not so snug I cut the blood off,
and give him comfort and support
and confidence that all his skidmarks
stayed on my surface, not his trousers,
and then, placed scrunched upon the washing,
I'd be fulfilled, my task complete.


"Gordian Knots"

How fortunate is he
who can breathe and read
the breadth of an ode
sinking within, the ice
of a glacier gouging
high, hanging valleys
into a mountain range.

How fortunate is she
who can breathe and read
the sunlight-sharp sonnet,
singing of mysteries
embodied in a gold-bright
moment, the mysteries
of the moment made magick.

And fortunate are they
who can breathe and read
a pantoum poured into
shape, beaten and quenched,
fired and beaten
and quenched, until
the form is bright like lightning.

For the poem is no
gentle thing, when it seizes
the dawn, or the dusk
or soft night, and brightens
with the glare of seven swords
cutting the Gordian knots
of our minds.


"Name me, I Die"

I am the sound of my name,
bounded by sound. I grate,
because my nerves and senses swell
by gods' decrees.
Thoughts of welcome verses
clot like cream;
I dream of burning,
meaningless words
and no answers.

If you speak, I die.
Release my name
to both worst and best
in their vain quest for flight
from the burdens of time.

Name me, I die.

- Phillip Ellis 2011

Seasons Greetings

wishes all our faithful readers 
a Merry Christmas........

........and a Happy Boxing Day

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Poetry by Michael Keshigian

Loneliness Motel  

His little hole in the Boston skyline,
one window lined with soot
facing Fenway Park.
In the room overhead,
there was a clarinet
that stalked Stravinsky’s Three Pieces
every evening.
During the day it was mostly quiet,
the crowd on the sidewalks
resembled the spiders in the room,
preying with thick overcoats
to catch the unsuspecting
in a web woven with smog
dimly illuminated with the little light
that penetrated the building alleys,
so dark, he could only shave
with a lamp in his face.
Every morning at 7:30 A.M.,
students clamored on the staircase,
rushing en route to classes
at the universities
and colleges around the corner,
the clarinet player would flush the toilet
then turn on the shower.
Once in a while, a bird
chirped or tweeted, like a bell chime,
so close to his door,
for a moment, he believed
he had a visitor.

- Michael Keshigian 2011
Michael Keshigian’s seventh poetry chapbook, Wildflowers, was recently released this Fall 2011 by Flutter Press. He has been widely published in numerous national and international journals and appeared as feature writer in over a dozen publications. Recently, his collection of poems entitled Lunar Images, was set to music for Clarinet, Piano, and Narrator by Boston composer Dennis Leclaire and premiered at Del Mar College in Texas on November 5, 2010. A Boston premier took place on March 7, 2011 at the Berklee College of Music and a September 2011 performance occurred in Moleto, Italy. (

New Poetry by Gerald Solomon

Looking Around    308v53

You said without the right words this useless thing
death is not to be considered.
Still, for a time anything helps — sunlight on grass, hard stones.
Loveliness has something to do with it, and being scared.

Yesterday down by the tennis courts:
small ball pushed to and fro, till some blunder
make it trickle away, lie still in a corner —
ball that is clear, mathematical, unusually true.

I don't get things straight...
If my mind were a gun its moving target
would look much like a gun, pointing at me.
(We teachers say such things in school.)

This morning found myself watching a blackbird,
busy in our muddy garden after rain.
Jumped down from a wet shiny crooked branch —
springy legs, cocked its eye from side to side.


All The Time    337v22

We no longer see that man that crazed old misfit
wander up our house-proud street.
Camped all winter on the subway's iron grates,
trusts in body-heat, a paper cup for coins.
Stutters to himself some repeated sorrows.

A mutt on a knotted string, always with him, bored.
Filled with his stuff, a borrowed market-cart.
Perhaps he planned to ignore these cold nights
just to get his normal sleep.
I've often passed him there.

The system doesn't work for him.
Seems our all-too-human pity —
arms spread wider than savvy caritas
or bandaged justice will — likewise lets down
a guy in woman's caftan, broken shoes.

I tell you I saw another one, in antique Rome,
under the plane-trees on crowded via Formio,
unlikely squalls of rain in June throwing down
whole bunches of young leaves on darkened stones.
I remember still.

Wouldn't it be the same long ago?
I've read that hard on ninety, Sistine done with,
far from his giant boy-David — infirm, appalled,
sank down on those steps by the tourists' burbling fountains,
in deaf tears for all the friends he used to know.


Niceties    316v18

Utamaro, ink-brush in hand and lost to the world,
eyeballs from zero his thirtyish woman,
enticed onto supple mulberry paper.
(So many years on a kitchen wall,
grazed by smoke and sun each day.)

She's good for politeness and well-kept skin.
18th. century decent, ready-made creature
for customers at the drop of a hat.

Sly dog — my artist takes ochre for the walls,
olive for the clean bare floor-boards,
and parting the silks on lonely thighs,
feints his nicety, suave in violet, black squiggles.

Her well-fed gentleman now, plumply lunging,
in a flurry of robes, (indigo, persimmon) —
his huge pleasure stands beside her, waiting.

Then gripping her he says to me sideways:
"What I'm doing here's just for now,
I'll forget this all in good time"....

Seems we take his part in this, her's too.
What they're up to's more than droll —
persons eluding double entendres in a tidy room.

Nearby a small perfect kettle steams,
ready for their refreshment and the day.


At The Met.    327v21

This painter thrives on his own pressure.
Glares at all and sundry,
avid of what's really here.

Lets us look over his shoulder
where all walk in — a public space
for what's private like sex and fear.

This one: a woman, eyelids curve in sleep.
Young lovely roundnesses, complete.
She's happy to be separate and alone.

He's taken in all sides of her,
spreads them in full view —
can't look enough to sate his will to know.

Paints her onto grass green and crude ―
white blatant daisies, too big,
expletives of earth that will not wait.

She's gone absent from her body
that was born to continue.
Asleep, she dreams strangely to be herself....

Back home, on my work-table:
tulips I bought today cram a jug, living red.
Driven by water, lush tubes spread,
expressed by sexual flood.


Not Still Life    314v19

Drawn out of a stiff hog brush
it gets to you, his invention.
Flat on the ground his gored horse croaks,
great yellow horse-teeth bared.
Stuck in its paint!
Grey paint white paint black —
paint of blood and crud stirred.
A painter put it there.

Wide-eyed Picasso's fixed stare!
Fact and fiction that crash head-on.
He says I must, bystander,
be part of this disaster.

Another: on her brash couch this blonde broad.
Stretched out, she's pink-on-lime-stripes —
starkers, and she out-stares your artful lust.
A bare light-bulb swings like a testicle
over her bare face.
She too, thick pigments.
Even harsh shadows here are garish.

Inextricable! You know this glue,
act and idea, in everyone's wrangle.
What mind's grip on the true will deter
what necessity has stashed?

Still, relief gets in sideways.
You notice how passing amusements
can make the best of things —
that, and a tendency to forget.



- Gerald Solomon 2011

Gerald Solomon was born in London and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. After a short spell as sales assistant at a bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road he worked as a producer at the BBC. Subsequently becoming engaged in education, he helped found General Studies courses at Hornsey College of Art, and this led eventually to an enjoyable period teaching poetry courses at Middlesex University. He retired early in order to paint and write. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines in the USA and UK as he prepares his first collection. He is married, with four children, and lives in Manhattan.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vale Vaclav

The passing on Sunday of Czech playwright and statesman, Vacal Havel, greatly saddened Bluepepper, being of a generation captivated by the Czech spirit in writers such as Kundera, Skvorecky and Havel himself. He was a man of remarkable selflessness and integrity, and it is perhaps fitting that one of his last engagements was a meeting with the Dalai Lama, a man of similar stamp. 

As Carl Gershman pointed out in his opinion piece for the Washington Post, Havel's selfless spirit was perhaps best encapsulated in his rigorous campaigning for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi when he was himself in line to receive it after heading the so-called "Velvet Revolution". It was one of many selfless acts by a man who will be missed in ways the world is yet to reckon up.

Vale Vaclav!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fortune favours the adequate

The latest news that an Australian poet has won the $50,000 Montreal Poetry Prize only adds to the puzzle that is Mark Treddinick. 

At the risk of Bluepepper going the same way as Foetry (which appeared to court its own destruction by raising the topic of nepotism in the North American poetry awards community), here is a poet with an unremarkable palate, whose similes make up for a paucity of ideas, with an ear that tends toward the same flat-line urbanity as Queenslander Kevin Hart (or, for that matter, his look-alike John Kinsella), and yet who continues to win prizes, and I mean BIG prizes, the Montreal thing being merely the last in a long line. 

I have no doubt Treddinick deserves to win such awards. If nothing else, he has the chalky, chiseled, breeze-ruffled face of a prize-winning poet, and that is no mean thing in these straitened times in which mere photogenic competence may very well be the new Gold standard.

Here, for instance, are the opening few lines of the award-winning poet's Walking Underwater, winner of the afore-mentioned 50 big ones. 

 There is this quietness that hangs over North America. 
As if all the days were double-glazed against themselves. 
It’s uncanny. Tectonic. A kind of grief, a kind of pain 
In waiting. Some sort of business unfinished. 

 And so the similes roll on…. 

That clunk of a first line is redeemed somewhat by that lovely second, only to be landed like a stiletto in the pig shit with that “It’s uncanny. Tectonic”, the music strangled at birth, not even a staccato, as though Cicero were dictating one of his epistles to a cloth-eared slave. Which is what Treddinick’s poetry most resembles to this cloth-eared ranter - the essays of a man trained in law who appreciates that the force of language lies in precision and yet who cannot even clap in time to the mulatto girl on the corner.

Here, for comparison (and the purposes of treading down my fast-souring grapes), are the first few lines of Treddinick's Blake Poetry Prize-winning entry...

The way the trees—that sclerophyll fraternity on the mountain—swarm
like Dante’s shades as you drive among them in the rain on the way down
to Bridget’s place, as though you were the only still thing left on earth?
The way the trees in their cardboard orders, their five or six slim, avuncular
throngs, orbit in eccentric circles of disbelief about you. And till then you
had thought that the woods stood still. But even the mountains move.

Treddinick does love his nature, perhaps because it can't answer back. Narcissists and nature have a long and strangely seamless history. Not that I am accusing one of the most lavished Australian poets since Les Murray of being a narcissist. But he is earnest. Lavishly, sonorously earnest. Kinsella-earnest. In other words, humourless. And that is like cooking without salt where Bluepepper is concerned.  

However, a certain law of entropy to which we are all bound appears to dictate that humour is banished from the committee room, home of the mean, as in the nearest point to all corners of the box. Andrew Motion, the presiding judge in this particular instance, will doubtless abjure from my rather graceless verdict on this latest celebration of the word, but then he is perhaps a little occluded by his many broad-rimmed hats. 

New Poetry by Ivan Jenson

My Unfair lady

First you strand me
in Park Avenue
then you send
out a search party
to find me
quench my thirst
with cocktails
and usher me back
to your civilized
where I am treated
like a savant savage
to be watched
carefully so that
I don’t escape
or commit a
faux pas
Foie Gras
which would
be simply
as gorging on
mixed nuts
in mixed company
and so
I stay silent like
the Tramp
as my mood drops
so low
around the
plucked and tweezed
high brows
of society

- Ivan Jenson 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Poetry by Mark J. Mitchell


I've heard the testimony of the horn:

A forlorn, blue prophecy
Clothed in form, speaking to me.

It whispers tinny mistakes, then it says
“These days the melody makes
Its own way. The chords just wait

In the wings. My breath must follow the snare drums.
The bass hums. Music allows
Me to come straight into now.”

And the horn goes silent. The prophet’s tongue
Was done. A drummer relents.
Once young men fade, their breath spent.

- Mark J. Mitchell 2011


“…No one brings
A tale of quiet love. The fading sound
Is blent of falling embers, weeping kings.”
--Janet Lewis
“Helen Old.”

The song of quiet love
Is often sung but seldom heard.
He winks it at her and she
Whistles it back his way
Until masks break and laughter
Falls like honey over their days.

Neither thinks to write out their days
(And nights are too filled with private love).
Besides, they think it could foment laughter
Or incite derision from the common herd.
They don’t think it matters anyway,
At least, not to anyone not he or she.

Sometimes, of course, it’s all too quiet and she
Will find some trick to louden their day.
He has no choice but to give her her way.
Her noise is as contagious as her love
And he knows there’s nothing he’s heard
As bright, as melting as her laughter.

When she, at times, withholds her laughter
Not out of meanness but because she
Needs some time when she’s not heard,
He feels the minutes pile into days
And curls up in the knowledge of love.
Still, he learns how much a minute can weigh.

He too has moments, ticks, his ways
That rile her to more derisive laughter
Since though quiet, it’s still a fiery love.
He’s perverse enough to keep score while she
Is content to torment him with silent days
Where his words echo heavy, unheard.

The songs of bliss and agony get heard
But not the music of ordinary ways:
Of evening kisses, of works and days
Punctuated by shopping lists and laughter.
In shrines in their hearts, she
Carries him and he carries her love.

It’s always heard, like unnoticed laughter
And he has his ways and you know she
Has hers. This love, a quiet parade of days.

- Mark J Mitchell 2011

Mark J Mitchell studied writing and medieval literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz with Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock, Barbara Hull and Robert M. Durling. His work has appeared in the anthologies Good Poems, American Places (Viking/Penguin), Line Drives (Southern Illinois University Press), Hunger Enough (Puddinghouse Press) and Zeus Seduces the Wicked Stepmother in the Saloon of the Gingerbread House (Winterhawk Press). My chapbook, Three Visitors won the 2010 Negative Capability Press International Chapbook competition and will be published later this year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Poetry by Linda King

prompted from the wings
a life of small telling
takes up a lot of room
minus the element of spectacle
the popular thrills

the playwrights agree
start in the middle of conflict
when the dark advances
and the evening's truth reveals
which cast of characters will go on

dressed for the part
you are the understudy
waiting in the wings

and your chances depend
upon calamity
a death in the family
sudden flash of sirens
heartless red wine

or happygoodfurtune
out of nowhere

- Linda King 2011 

reading in bed
fingertip memory    like a sea child
scratching at the door of the oldest library

a body speaks every language
sometimes in sweet horrible dreams
full of Russian dolls and merry-go-round music
a torrent of faux nostalgia
river of stories

the debris
of a half remembered life

- Linda King 2011

Vancouver poet, Linda King has published in numerous literary journals in  Canada and Internationally - CV2, Other Voices, The Toronto Quarterly,  Orbis, NthPosition, Gargoyle, Lumina, The Houston Review....

Friday, December 09, 2011

New Poetry by Jack Little

The Accident

Brought on by a coughing fit,
Grandpa fell two flights and spent
the war recuperating, to live
and fight a more just war
another day.

Or not and sleep
His life away in drunken stupor.

- Jack Little 2011

Jack Little is 24 and lives in Mexico City. His work has been published in 3:AM Magazine, Warwick Unbound, Calliope Nerve, The Bubble, Eunoia Review and on the Young Poets Network website. Jack is the editor and founder of The Ofi Press, an online bilingual magazine and publishing firm through which he publishes the work of young Mexican poets and international writers as well as hosting monthly poetry readings in the heart of DF. In 2012 he will be co-producing a book for The Clipperton Project, an expedition to the forgetten island of Clipperton 1700 kilometers off the Mexican coast; a project bringing together artists and scientists from around the world. Whilst working full time as a teacher, he also works as the manager of the national Mexican cricket team.