Monday, January 28, 2013

New Poetry by Gale Acuff

Graduate School in English

Wally Sandburg sits across from me
at my small round white-topped table in my
converted garage apartment. I write
the last paragraph of a needless paper
on Yeats. He hasn't started his yet. Wise
man, to save his lust for the best 'til last.
He's brought a bottle of Jim Beam, enough
still left for us both. I don't want any
--I do like a drink, so I don't drink it
anymore. When he was in the bathroom
he was singing, as if in orgasm,
O God, I love to pee, I love to pee.
Hold it down, I said. Don't wake the landlord.
He returns and takes his seat. Pours a drink.
Silence for five minutes. He's trying to
think. And then he says, while my head is bowed
to complete my final sentence, like a
scribe at work, Your mother swallows. I cross

my t and look up. He suddenly adds,
I'm sorry. Like he means it--he never
does, but he seems sincere this time.
I smile. I chuckle. I wonder if she
does, I think. Or did--the last time she saw
my father was eighteen years ago. Could
it be that I had a younger--older?--
brother, sister, lost among her lips, her
throat, her stomach? It's sure something to think
about. It might make a poem. I'll try it
on him now. I start to speak--all that comes
is Give me that bottle. I chug it. Straight.
Four gulps. Without gagging. You mean like that,
I say. I guess I showed him. Mother, too.

- Gale Acuff 2013

Gale has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Ottawa Arts Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Arkansas Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poem, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).

Gale has also taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Poetry by Michele Seminara

All Dried Up

an old lady
waiting in this parched bed
for something to happen

which cannot happen.

an old lady
with an impatient
unsated belly

that will not rain.

an old lady
whose slow mind spreads out
so far her eye has
lost sight.

the one
who age must not tame -

May my drying up cause this spark to flame!

- Michele Seminara 2013

Michele Seminara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and three children. She studied English and Australian literature at Sydney University, but then went on to train and work as a yoga and meditation teacher, with a passion for Buddhism. Although not new to writing, she is very new to poetry. She blogs at

Friday, January 25, 2013

New Poetry by Stuart Barnes

Rape Rules


the very last
thing I expect
as I

unloose my fly
at the urinal.


my penis; my anus

hotly fists. 

- Stuart Barnes 2013

Stuart Barnes lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he writes & edits PASH capsule, an online journal of contemporary love poetry. This poem was written on encountering some particularly sickening graffiti.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Poetry by Donal Mahoney

Beowulf with Dr. Engelhardt

When Normal Norman takes his seat
in Room 220 in Dumbach Hall
to hear the eminent Dr. Engelhardt

recite Beowulf again,
Norman knows that he can suck
the boredom from the hour
if he can write a poem for his wife
better than the one he gave her yesterday.
This time, however, no poem comes
and so he knows that he must choose
one of the tricks he's used before
to drown out Beowulf again--to wit,
he can say the rosary till the bell rings,
sketch his wife's magnificent ass
or write something strange like this.

- Donal Mahoney 2013

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in Bluepepper and other print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Poetry by BZ Niditch


A cool greeting
prolongs your day
makes the bread
taste sweeter,
the Matisse
"Red Interior"
look brighter
than any vase's rose
over the blue table,
gives a aimless dawn
a patchwork of sunlight
you never expected,
or the mystery person
in the ski lodge
you are about to meet
over a new trail
on the snow lift
who follows you,
or the crossroads
of words which leads
to an exciting poem,
or a daybreak monody
sings to us alone
which stays with you
all winter
reminding you
of a close friend
visiting on a week end
and not returning
until you hear it again
as friendly shadows
of a whispering solo;
a luminous welcome
enters your world
and you again belong
to what you hope for,
an unexpected moment
at nature's communion
as a tree, the pine woods,
an ice pond
circles your quiet body

- BZ Niditch 2013


B.Z. NIDITCH is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher. 

His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including:  Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and ArtThe Literary ReviewDenver QuarterlyHawaii ReviewLe Guepard (France); Kadmos (France); Prism InternationalJejune (Czech Republic); Leopold Bloom (Budapest);  Antioch Review; and Prairie Schooner, among others.  

He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Access Only

The death of the young prodigy Aaron Swartz is deeply felt at Bluepepper, as all such endings are. He was 26, just about a man in our time scale, and yet apparently still trapped in that bitter-sweet aspic of "child prodigy" that has sounded the death-knell of so many great hearts and minds.

That his death may have been as much a product of a certain strain of dogmatism in his formidable personality as any callous and nefarious dealings in the Attorney General's Office of that most equivocal of federations is less clear, but for Bluepepper it is far the more pressing consideration. 

The world can ill-afford to lose such minds in what may well be remembered as the most mindless of ages over which the venal and wilfully ignorant appear to hold sway. And here was a good young man accused by the very same of fraud and theft. 

But for all that, the age can equally ill-afford such brilliant minds to be hobbled by dogma. Left and right have no place in reasoned argument. 

In a nutshell, and for the sake of those who might be living in one, Aaron Swartz stood accused of stealing  up to five million articles from JSTOR (an invaluable storehouse of academic articles old and new to which, in the interests of full disclosure, Bluepepper admits to be a willing and satisfied subscriber). He allegedly did so by leaving a laptop in a utility closet on MIT campus and allowing his ingenious program to do its work. His intention was to release these invaluable academic articles for free to the general public. There was no profit motive, nor anything John Pilger could sink his shiny teeth into. Aaron Swartz as such was a child of his times. There are, after all, no cabals in an open and pluralistic society. Nowhere to hide your loose change. But to many the ivy halls of academia can often appear like a secret cabal influencing, either directly or indirectly, every aspect of our lives with no obligation for full and frank disclosure (other than in the peer-reviewed publications that are the very nub of this problem).

Aaron Swartz hoped to utilise the extraordinary power of the very medium I am using to brow beat you now, dear reader, to correct a glaring discrepancy in our attempts to foster the full potential of each individual in the human community. In doing so he committed a fairly serious crime. He stole. According to a US attorney, "..stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars." 

It would seem dogma is not a stranger to that most politicised of judiciaries. 

What perhaps this officer of the court should have mentioned (in the interests of full disclosure), is that the "stolen" articles in question are otherwise so prohibitively expensive that many public and campus libraries simply cannot afford to subscribe to the publications in which they are originally published, and not because the authors or the editors are charging a king's ransom for their services (with the inevitable and enduring exceptions), but simply because the distributor/s in this vital but admittedly specialised market are.

JSTOR, to its credit, was an attempt to surmount this formidable hill of beans, but the problems of copyright, and what is public and private property remained. Not, as stressed above, so much the obsession of the author, the original "owner" of any given idea, nor necessarily of the publishers and editors of said ideas, but of the distributors whose business plan appeals to the greying legion who have never had an original thought in their entire superannuated lives.

Aaron Swartz sought to correct this creeping "theft" of our collective potential in the best way he knew.  Perhaps no case could have better gone to the nub of our times than this one. The Assange case is already written on yellowing sheets, but by his tragic suicide Aaron Swartz has brought the world's attention to the fact that there is a gross inequity in the distribution of that most trade-able commodity: ideas. And that in this abiding inequity sits the kernel of future sorrow.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Poetry by Abraheem Dittu

False Advertising

Scarlet mountains in the afternoon.
Coyotes scavenging at night.
Abrasions from coarse sand.
Vigorous scents of skunk and citrus.
Volatile Santa Ana winds.
Smog blocking the skyline.
Smoking hash in the canyon.
Tumultuous vibrations .
Suburbia littered with palm trees.
Congested freeways.
Dope fiends shooting up under a bridge
Vast deserts and valleys.
Mini malls and movie sets.
Gangbanging warzones.
Hookers on sunset.
Swapmeets on Crenshaw
Eighty degrees in January.
Fraudelent star tours.
Porn stars at CVS.
The city of angels.

- Abraheem Dittu 2013

Abraheem Dittu is a 20 year old poet, playwright and college student.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

New Poetry by Les Wicks

Avoid Direct Heat

We toy-men are not mean,
can’t help it we’re afloat
in plasticine.
Tin lake with stale water I will be free.
Climb the cardboard wall -
my thirst on a children’s carpet, trailing flecks of my feet
green slippage that enrages
the hard, narrow god that can ruthlessly tidy & vacuum across my tribe’s
Rama Rama panscape panoramas.

The pet flings a survey,
both dismissal & rape.
Centimetre chasms maw beneath that
scree of cornchip crumb snow on September Mountain.
Felix & Margaret marvels
had built an adequate truth in wire.
Fenced in dignity we grew bored...
free on new fibres
we fail towards life.

- Les Wicks 2013

To view Les's extensive bio/bibliography, visit Les Wicks' bio

Friday, January 04, 2013

New Poetry by Donal Mahoney

The Morning After
When she sees him in the morning he’s
all foamed up and in the mirror shaving
so she stands behind him, saying,
“Bill, your father was a ladies’ man--
that's why you have this way with women.
Deirdre, you kissed once, light on the lips.
Bridget, ah, the melon of her hips
you kept inviolate, whole, entire.
But since your father was a ladies’ man,
you will be a priest instead.
You will never fill a woman,
never watch her swell,
and she will be the better for it,
won’t she, Charming Bill.”

- Donal Mahoney 2013

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Phillip Ellis reviews Adrienne Rich

Rich, Adrienne, Tonight no Poetry Will Serve (New York : W. W.
Norton, 2011) ISBN 9780393342789 $15.95 US.

Tonight no Poetry Will Serve is the last book of poetry by Adrienne Rich that was published in her lifetime. As a result, it is easily read as the culmination of her long and fruitful career as a poet. Yet leaving aside questions of whether it can truly be the summation of her career (for which a collected edition of all her poems is the true measure), it can be asked, not whether the poems are worth reading, but what are the strengths and the weaknesses of the poems. In my opinion, there are far more strengths than weaknesses. And that these strengths are of form, language, technique, among others, that they are evidence of the skill and voice of the poet herself.

There are a number of strengths displayed by the poems of Tonight no Poetry Will Serve. Among these are an imaginitive use of white spacethe avoidance of too much punctuation (which throws the range of interpretations back onto the poems' performance), and an assurance of voice that is testament to the poet's confidence and skill. This is not even to venture into the language, or the poems' techniques.

The language of Tonight no Poetry Will Serve is strong and sinewy. In saying that, it does not mean that the idiolect does not change according to need and situation. It does. And the language ranges from the effacing “Saw you walking barefoot” of the title poem, to the more clotted “Princes of predation let me tell you” and other lines of “The Ballade of the Poverties”. This is a mark of the breadth of the poet's vision.

The range of techniques is consonant with the poet's skill and place in contemporary poetry. I need not note the assurance of the free verse and prose poetry, each, not unique, but consonant with the poem in question. The use, also, of the pauses of the lines' ending helps score and mark the poems' meaning and gravity. Read aloud the following strophe from the title poem, and you'll hear this: “Tonight I think / no poetry / will serve” – there is a real weight here.

There is one obvious flaw to Tonight no Poetry Will Serve. The sole use of a fixed form as the basis of a free verse poem fails; the ballade of “Ballade of the Poverties” does maintain the repetend to a point, as well as keep the four line envoi with its obligatory address, but the failure to maintain the basic length and number of the preceding stanzas does break the poem's back, and it does diminish its impact. The other poems, freed from this need to work within the strengths and limitations of a fixed form work far better.

I repeat my opinion: there are far more strengths than weaknesses in the poems of Tonight no Poetry Will Serve. This is evident through the strengths I have mentioned, such as the use of technique, and the language involved. And it is to be expected that there will be some flaws, with the only real problem I had with the poems in the misprision of the form of the ballade. And I could add, at this late stage, further remarks, such as mentioning the clarity of the poems' insights into our contemporary world, or how the fractures of the poems' narratives open up possibilities of breaking apart the mundane fictions which we create to approach the world. But I will, rather, end on this note: the poems of Tonight no Poetry Will Serve work, not just because they speak through their subjects, but also because they work wonderfully on their own, technical terms.

- Phillip Ellis 2013