Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Poetry by Changming Yuan

Confrontations (2): Plum Blossom

Without a single leaf
Green or yellow
To support it as a foil
But on a skeletal twig
Glazed with dark elegies
A bud is blooming, bold and blatant
Like a big drop of blood
As if to challenge, to warm up
The entire season
When whims and wishes
Are all frozen like the landscape

- Changming Yuan 2012

Changming Yuan, 4-time Pushcart nominee and author of Chansons of a Chinaman, grew up in a remote Chinese village and published several monographs before moving to Canada. With a PhD in English, Yuan teaches independently in Vancouver and has poetry appear in nearly 470 literary publications across 19 countries, including Asia Literary Review, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine, Poetry Kanto, Poetry Salzburg, SAND and Taj Mahal Review. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Poetry by BZ Niditch


Fearsome response
in red green orange
light switching silence
along the salt lick highway
stopping in shadows
a cifer from bloodshot
red eyes sleepless
in the strata, blood and stone
of your nature
by the wave
of your hand and ocean
through revisions
of winding tunnels
of near and far sightedness
in blue random hours
of your narrative
passing asylums
the lost are never found
seeking cognition
and every idol and star
goes for a swim

- BZ Niditch 2012

BZ Niditch's latest poetry collection is "Lorca at Sevilla" March St Press, North Carolina. USA, avalaible at New poems in Grasslimb,N American Review, Pacific Review,publishes internationally in UK. Au,NZ ,France, Austria,Germany and Japan.

New Poetry by Robert H. Demaree Jr.


In a box I once thought sealed for good:
Our letters, postmark 1960,
Now naïve, of course,
Florid declarations back and forth
Between college dorms and Army posts,
Embraced by a faint musty dampness
And decaying rubber bands.
Packed away for years,
A hedge against the reach of time,
They have arrived again at a crossroad:
Whether to stay,
Unable to salve the grief they know will come,
Alone, except for the silverfish,
Another forty years,
To entertain our grandsons’ wives;
Or, as we conclude, evidence not needed,
And so to join the accretion of phone bill stubs
And invitations to unremembered showers,
Black bags, in the rain, in the curbside archive.  

- Robert H. Demaree Jr. 2012

Robert Demaree is the author of four collections of poems, including Mileposts, published October 2009 by Beech River Books. The winner of the 2007 Conway, N.H., Library Poetry Award, he is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, where he lives five months of the year. He has had over 550 poems published or accepted by 125 periodicals, including the 2008 and 2010 Poet's Guide to New Hampshire. For further information see

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Iron and Wine

The political poem died a sorry death in the Anglosphere some years back, during the so-called Poetry Wars of the 1980's and 1990's. In one of those cruel ironies rampant in academia, it would appear that the instant politics began to dominate the running of the faculty board, political poetry lost much of its potency. The broader public, as it happens, turn to poetry for clarity, at times even salvation, but not self-serving polemic. 

As David Biespiel put it so succinctly in an article in Poetry a couple of years back (an article I have cited before in Bluepepper), the public have come to feel ".....excluded, unconcerned, and dismissed because they believe that American (read Anglosphere) poetry has become so esoteric that figuring out the differences among the warring poets is...unecessary...." (David Biespiel, This Land is our Land, Poetry May 2010).

Now I was a tender strapping acned thing during the "wars", but I have a sneaking suspicion that much of the "warring" was in fact spurred on, not by strong ideological conviction, but by the fast-diminishing opportunities for poets to pursue their vocation under the inexorable drive of corporate rationalisation in the publishing world.

Most readers of Bluepepper will have grown up in this world and will have trouble fathoming the sense of injustice and outrage with which our predecessors greeted this harsh new reality. In such an environment most were happy to point the finger while few, too few, remained comfortable with the idea of raising a hand. Sinecures were at stake. Thus the political poem quickly became the domain of the feckless and unhinged, rust-throated relics of a bygone era.

There are, of course, great political poems that endure because they go to the very essence of what it means to be human. The East Europeans turned it into an art form, as did the Enlightenment English, but Pablo Neruda (with due apologies to my friend Margie Cronin) seems to me to sum up the general failing of political poetry in that he is either a great poet or a seductive polemicist, but never both at once. Vallejo could be at times, or the Catalan poet Estelles. Some but not so many. Perhaps in large part because the mistrust many people bring to poetry they bring doubly to the political poem.

Blame Plato if it makes you feel better.

Of course I am speaking as an Australian. An avowedly Euro-centric Australian, but an Australian nonetheless. We are perhaps the least prone to seduction by honeyed rhetoric, more impressed by Cicero's courage than his eloquence, and those who decry the absence of the Great Orator in this country are blind, I believe, to one of our greatest strengths. But then perhaps I am beginning  to show my age.

The West Australian/Cambridge poet, John Kinsella, would appear to differ with me on this as on so much else (earnest and sardonic being as oil to water), for he has published yet another stridently political poem in the Spectrum pages of this weekend's Sydney Morning Herald (18/02/2012). Titled "Penillion of the Iron Ore Eaters", the poem is an embarrassment that should never have left the beer coaster on which I suspect it was penned. It labours under the kind of tortured rhyming scheme I remember with an ache between my eyes from open mic night at the Sandringham Hotel, circa 1996. This combined with its utterly incoherent train of thought (surely the death-knell of any political poem?) will do absolutely nothing to help preserve the pristine Pilbara coast currently so hard-pressed by the mining boom. It may even prove counter-productive, both to the poet and to his cause, by re-enforcing an attitude abroad since the Poetry Wars that poets long ago lost all right to a fair hearing.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Poetry by Richard Hillman


for Alicia

someone said that lovers saunter
and i’m trying to imagine that
with difficulty – it is late
and we need to get home
and the car headlights
make out shifting shapes
beside the old road
in this dark we expect something
will jump out at us
i feel your hand resting
on my thigh
as i ease on the brakes
going into the bends
you tell me you’re sick
of these half-lit trees
that you need out
of this darkness
and i suggest stopping
perhaps parking
on the ridge
overlooking town
i find the turn easily
but we don’t saunter
beneath the stars
because the backseat
barely has room for two

- Richard Hillman 2012

Richard lives in Wauchope, NSW, where he runs creative writing workshops from time to time. He has had several poetry collections/chapbooks published, including Timber Country (Picaro Press) and Raw Nerve (Puncher & Wattmann). His poetry has been published widely in Australia and internationally, in print and online magazines. Richard has been a recipient of SA Arts and Commonwealth grants for his writing.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

New Poetry by Maurice Devitt

Street Song

Step on a line
you marry
the devil
no longer
to savour
the candyfloss
of grace -
the check-list
of sins,
the first
an easy choice
between murder
and omission,
the craving
to beard
the bogeyman,
in an upstairs room,
the curious
keyhole of mascara,
the too-loose clip
of his mother’s shoes
and in the corner
a wireless
all the best tunes.

- Maurice Devitt 2012

Lost Earring

Did it fall
as you took off
your coat and how
did you notice?
The sudden
slight imbalance
a pin-prick
of air or fingers
the confidence
of silver
only to feel
the lobe of a baby
by the script
of borrowed
by the curiosity
of distance
and lust
I saw it
quite quickly
in the drunken
shadow of my chair
but demurred
wanting the search
to last forever

- Maurice Devitt 2012

A student at Mater Dei in Dublin, Ireland, Maurice is reading for an MA in Poetry Studies. Short-listed in 2011 for both the Fish Poetry prize and the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition, and runner-up in the Phizzfest poetry competition, he has had poems accepted by Abridged, Moloch, Paraxis, Weary Blues, #firstcut, Boyneberries, Stony Thursday and Smiths Knoll and is working towards a first collection.

New Poetry by Matthew Davies


If your tongue would wobble a bit more,
you’ll have more history
to be silent over.

- Matthew Davies 2012


He changed the dirty sheets
To change his dirty mind

He emptied the ashtray
To quit smoking

He scrubbed away the nicotine stain
To recreate his youth

He did the dishes
To force discipline

He blew his brains out
To find a heaven

- Matthew Davies 2012

Matthew John Davies is a writer from Brisbane. He has been published 
in Cottonmouth, Page Seventeen and the latest Skive Magazine. He blogs at