Monday, September 23, 2013

New Poetry by B.Z. Niditch

Playing in a Budapest Cafe

The clock goes off, 1999
in my cold Budapest room
at the Autumnal Equinox
I'm late as usual
for my rehearsal
of Bartok's sonata in C
without excuse
know this music
pierced my sleepwalking
rush downstairs
with a strudel in hand
comb the river
with a cool breeze
by quivering hilly trees
on my tucked out shirt
bells turn up from roofs
where at first light
a cyan blue sky serves
us another color
of unconsumed sunshine
feeling like a third horseman
holding my violin case
sonata notes and rosin bag
close to the poet
Atilla Jozsef's statue
suddenly recalling
as if in a mirrored epiphany
in another world
a critic who telling us
the trio we practiced
underwritten by Szigeti
was influenced
by Benny Goodman
when jazz modulated
our composer's music.

- B.Z. Niditch 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

New Words and Images by Wayne H. W Wolfson

Porgy On The Stairs
She said;

"You're here looking for redemption just like the rest of us..."
I shook my head and ordered a drink, she did not believe me and laughed, whipping her own shoulder in penitence with the bar rag she had just been using to dry the glasses with. I had the photo palmed in my hand, I gave it one last look before stuffing it into my pocket. From my perch at the end of the bar I would see him as soon as he came in but as I had the taps in front of me and that was where the staff gravitated to when not busy, chances are someone would be talking to me when he came in,the perfect camouflage.

It was tough making my drink stretch out but I could not afford having a buzz on during work, bloody memories of the puppy brothers incident still lingered with some who used to regularly employ me. Finally he came in, stale air and a worried look which rapidly flurried around the room akin to a wild animal that suddenly finds itself inside one of the places of man. By dumb luck I was in the middle of giving a waitress some change for the phone when his eyes fell on me. It took but a second for them to move on, well worth my newspaper money. He made a bee-line for the rear, going out the door with the backwards handle. I counted to twenty five then followed. Years of practice, i opened the door softly but fast, not all the way of course, that was an amateur mistake. As I squeezed through the opening I noticed that Little Walter had started up on the juke box. Stairs, he most likely had gone up to higher ground as most people do when in trouble. I did not want a mess but more importantly I just wanted to be done with this piece of nastiness and collect my fee. I made sure my shoes were tightly tied and pushed back my hat as to better see if i need to glance above me. Soon now it would be over one way or another.

- Wayne H.W Wolfson 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Poetry by Donal Mahoney


I'm just a dog barking,
I tell my wife who's upset
with my yakking on and on
at our weekly meeting
on a Saturday morning
stationed in our recliners
facing forward as if we were
in the same row on a plane 
with the middle seat empty.

I tell her eventually
any dog will stop barking
if you give him a bowl of kibble
or let him in the house
or find his ball and play fetch.
Or do what my mother did
when I was an infant bawling 
and woke my father who faced 
work as a lineman the next day.

My mother would get out of bed,
grab her old bathrobe
and whisk me to the rocker.
Even to this day,
many decades removed,
it's the best solution:
Put a breast in my mouth
and silence will ensue.
Eventually I may even coo.

- Donal Mahoney 2013

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The word is not Schadenfreude

Once again the Oz literary scene has been embarrassed by two blatant acts of plagiarism. In this case both the perpetrators are poets - Graham Nunn and Andrew Slattery. Neither has offered anything resembling an apology for their blatant pilfering of other poet's work, merely the most egregious dissembling. Slattery defended his crime as a "cynical experiment" in the spirit of the hoax poet, Ern Malley of the war years. Nunn merely made some wafty claim to precedent. I think someone needs to point out the italics key on his laptop. If the Avalanches have had to spend a seeming eternity getting permission to sample other people's music, then why should a writer think it appropriate to simply cut and paste the work of others without due acknowledgment, passing it off as their own for their own advancement? 

I will quote the words of the three poets responsible for exposing this travesty, Anthony Lawrence, my good friend Margie Cronin, and David Musgrave. Note the use of italics, dear reader. They denote that these are the words and thoughts of a third party:

Serial plagiarism seems to imply a lack of empathy and, in extreme cases, something like sociopathy. When exposed, some plagiarists say they are simply paying homage to other writers or use words like "collage", "cento" or "sampling". It seems that, even when the game is up and the evidence is irrefutable, the word "plagiarism" just can't be uttered".

Meanwhile, I am still awaiting an explanation from Mr Nunn for my name appearing as a judge at one of his "celebrations of the word" or some such a few years back when I was safely shivering in the mountains well south of the Tweed.

New Poetry by Ivan Jenson

Cougar alert

you wear your heart
on your sleeve
which makes for 
a very sincere 
and bloody mess
you also have 
all but spelled out
the grammatically      
incorrect plans 
you have for me
and your frankly 
forward propositions would
have to be bleeped
out on prime-time TV
and I retreat
from your advances 
because you scared
the smile right off my face
when you hiked your skirt
licked your lips
and winked 
when I was only 
asking for change
for a dollar
so that I could 
feed the starving meter
where I parked

- Ivan Jenson 2013

Ivan Jenson’s Absolut Jenson painting was featured in Art News, Art in America, and Interview magazine. His art has sold at Christie’s, New York. His poems have appeared in Word RiotZygote in my CoffeeCamroc Press ReviewHaggard and HaloPoetry Super HighwayMad SwirlUnderground Voices MagazineBlazevox, and many other magazines, online and in print. Jenson is also a Contributing Editor for Commonline magazine.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

After the first death

I have not let loose on the Bluepepper community for quite some time, and for that I apologise, dear reader. Sadly, I have been pre-occupied with matters of heart and soul and the illness of two very dear friends. One is still with us and thriving, thank you very much. The other, I regret to say is not. The former, the beautiful and talented daughter of one of my oldest friends, has been struggling with mental illness that reached a crisis point a year ago and this has entailed a series of trips to Melbourne by yours truly to lend support as both father figure and friend in the absence of either. Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, she is now happily back on track. It was nevertheless a tumultuous six months which at times threatened to consume me, so torn between the conflicting emotions of love and fear was your intrepid blogger. At times I felt like a spider trapped in his own web as a pattern of co-dependency began to develop and I found part of me dreading the day she would recover and no longer need me. My fears proved unfounded, of course, but it took its toll on me nevertheless, and all the while my dog and almost constant companion for 16 years, Buster, was dying. Last Thursday he finally left us quickly and painlessly, leaving those left behind to work through the five stages of grief: Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. I am presently hovering somewhere between the first and second stages.

I have become practiced in grief. It is one of the unfortunate side-effects of living the life I have lived for as long as I have lived it. As I write this, Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is playing over the Station Bar speakers. Perhaps no song, and no life of a singer, sums up the consequences and responsibilities of living as does that great anthem of the post-punk era. It has got me thinking of all the great poems of love and loss and mourning, such as Dylan Thomas' "A refusal to mourn the death by fire, of a child in London", with its arresting final line "After the first death there is no other". I think of the underlying sadness in that same poet's "Poem in October", which almost seems to contain the cadence of his own imminent passing. Through all the grief of my past two years, indeed of the past 13 years of my life since my mother left us on this very day in 2000, I have been both consoled and challenged by the East European masters, Zbigniew Herbert and Czeslaw Milosz, not to forget Wislawa Szymborska, all who have experienced grief to an inordinate degree, living when they did where they did, and who all exhibit the same courage and humility in the face of death and loss that seem so sadly absent from our culture.

I admit I have developed a pattern of mourning that involves wine and poetry, but I am only human, dear reader, and I don't believe by doing so I am seeking an easy path. There is no easy path through this life, not if you want to live it to its fullest. That is what the great poets tell us over and over. That is my consolation at the present as I grieve the loss of that avid miraculous little soul, Buster, and what all lovers of poetry know. Which is not to say we are a miserable bunch. Quite the contrary. We are courageous and ever-hopeful or we would not do what we do.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Poetry by Phillip Ellis

After Ezra Pound

After all, given the nature of poetry,
it is possible to say naught of
his verse, and yet emulate
aspects of his being, the
burning enthusiasm for others that
burns in the bones and that shakes them
till the poet is working for others
as much for himself or herself.
There is that giving
away of oneself, for others
and for these others as fellow
poets. There is that development
of taste, in winkling out the betters
of one's fellows, those who will profit,
by the looming taste of those to come after
us. There is the living commitment
for the poetry of the self, and
the poetry of the others
as well, the being
that is in each of us
as poets, the dedication
to the development of poetry
as a whole, in parallel to humanity,
and then there is that isness, the cantos.

- Phillip Ellis 2013

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

New Poetry by Craig Kurtz


The drop-off slot is a take-up
reel inside an administrating
system. The calendar is a
canister of isochronal pellets.
Every fossil is an absentee
ballot. This way to the

The interstice is a punch-hole
plug relayed between opposite
channels. Hold up to load.
Increments may be dormant
but the pulleys twist the
focus. The next stop is a

Adduce synthesis from

The aperture conducts touch-
tone variance supporting
suspension operation. Restart
tension to excavate prorating.
Still motion to estimate the
locus, then enter departure

The back-up route is a cross-
hatch vent intersecting district
zones w/ short-term spokes. Open
clause. Prehistoric minutes
measured in microscopes.
Set meter for unmapped

Initiate rotation to

- Craig Kurtz 2013

Craig Kurtz is an autistic 54-year old living at Twin Oaks Intentional Community where he writes poetry while simultaneously handcrafting hammocks. Recent work appears in Bad Robot, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Hyperlexia Journal, Inclement, Otoliths, Out of Our, Penny Ante Feud, Randomly Accessed Poetics, Red Fez, Samzidat Literary Journal and others. 

Vale Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

He would drink by himself
And raise a weathered thumb
Towards the high shelf,
Calling another rum
And blackcurrant, without
Having to raise his voice,
Or order a quick stout
By a lifting of the eyes
And a discreet dumb-show
Of pulling off the top;
At closing time would go
In waders and peaked cap
Into the showery dark,
A dole-kept breadwinner
But a natural for work.
I loved his whole manner,
Sure-footed but too sly,
His deadpan sidling tact,
His fisherman's quick eye
And turned observant back.

- from "Casualty" (1979)