Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Flash Fiction by Kyle Hemmings

Fickle Brain 

My girlfriend, Molly, mock/taunts me, tangos with petunias between her teeth, misreads her cues, mistakes an "I" for an "ogre,' a "mugwump" for a "mistletoe," a "harem" for a "solstice." She loves me with that tragic pout, a flaw in her fuzzy navel. 

Behind the house that we rent by a brook of sleeping fish, she attends a garden of schizoid flowers that lean loveless[ly] away. 

On hard linoleum, she trips over her own dents. High heels, she claims, as she kicks them off from bed, are nothing but a symptoms of social disease. You're always left alone facing your bare feet with nothing to say. So awkward. So much space. My poor disconnected feet. 

Whenever we attempt sex, Molly gets distracted by the noise of stars, a cat fight near the tomato beds. 

"It's a shame we can't be together in the full pocus. My nervous tics always get in the way. Maybe you'd be better off dropping out and getting a mail route. At least, it'd keep you on time." 

I smile, lean over, and kiss Molly on the moon's reflection off her right cheek, a good centimeter or so above a dimple, which she did not plant. 

Summer fades, Fall soft-shoes in. I drop out of Advanced Economics, leave Blitzkrieg strategies to world leaders with artificial thumbs and off-centered noses. Molly moves out, switches colleges, decides she will be as abstruse as Virginia Woolf thinking underwater thoughts. 

"There will always be another season, we can make another chance at it," I write her. "Who knows? Maybe someday leaves will fall in straight lines and licorice twists will be given to women after a false pregnancy of hope." 

I get no response. I get the puff in the center of a breeze. 

I'm still waiting for a letter. Saying she met someone and got married. Saying she lost someone but it was beautiful in Paris. Saying she has given up on everyone and only lives to sit at the window studying the cohesiveness of rain. How it falls in odd pairings. 

I write her: The thing I hated most about you was the thing I loved most about you--your fickle brain. 

The letter comes back--return to sender. 

The years pass. The flowers commit suicide every other season. I make small repairs on the house that seems to slant more each month. I let the dog out. Chase the fleas off him. When the heat fails, we sleep on a small island of a carpet, one whose measurements Molly had miscalculated. When she was more alive than missing, that is. 

In the morning, I open the door. I steal a fistful of random air from a slight breeze and pocket it. I will donate my pants to anyone who can fit into them, anyone who is light enough to slip out. 

- Kyle Hemmings 2015

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest ebook is Father Dunne's School for Wayward Boys at He blogs at

Monday, July 27, 2015

New Poetry by Peter Mitchell

The Nightly Trip

Here's the nightly trip again as you drive along
the serpentine Bangalow to Lismore Road.

Another session of flak from bitumen: python bends
reproaching carelessness, the antithesis of a freeway.

Headlights startle around a right-hand curve, another pair
follow, appear fade, appear fade, appear fade..

Is this where it happened?  Two lights like snakes'
eyes appear in the darkness behind and rise as if ready

to strike.  Just as quickly, they turn off and disappear.
Suddenly blue lights slash the fold of night, scream past.

Was that the sound she heard while lying on broken glass?
The wind soughs the reptile scrub as the road slithers over hill,

through valley.  No matter how often you drive this road, you never
get used to it.  Highbeams knife around a right-hander, pixelate

eyes, push strain.  The steering wheel falters as the tyres cross
the double lines.  Was that how it happened?  Eyes now alert,

the heart yearns for the meditation of straight blue metal.
Lismores' lights wink as the car wheels the final curve.

Blinkers tick-tock the last intersection, tyres hiss to a halt.
Ahead the lighted hospital calms the injured night.

- Peter Mitchell 2015

Peter Mitchell is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Scarlet Moment (Picaro Press, 2009).  He lives in Bundajung Country (NSW), writing poetry, short fiction, memoir and literary criticism.  His poetry has been published in international (India, Singapore) and national print and online journals, magazines and  anthologies.  In 2014, he was awarded the Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship for Poetry (Varuna Writers' Centre) and, at present, is writing a memoir, Fragments of the Lurgi: A Memoir (Artist with Disability program, Australia Council) using long narrative, poems, journal entries, letters and quotes.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New Poetry by Donal Mahoney

When My Wife Is in Her Garden

When my wife is in her garden, 
she becomes a ballerina
moving with the morning breeze 
through hollyhocks and roses, 
peonies and phlox.
There is music only she can hear.
It's been that way for 30 years.
I never interrupt her dance

not even when the house caught fire
early in the morning. I didn't holler out
the way another husband might 
if he had never had a gardener for a wife.
Instead I called the firemen,
and while they were on their way, 
I poured water from the sink
on the growing conflagration.

My efforts proved to be in vain.
The firemen arrived too late and so
the house is now a shell of smoke.
The garden still looks beautiful
yet I have no idea what I'll say  
when my wife comes back inside.
But if she's toting roses to arrange 
she may not notice any change.

- Donal Mahoney 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015


As a hub of the poetry community, Bluepepper will occasionally serve to promote the creative endeavours of one of the members of that community, whether through short reviews or public announcements. On this occasion we are happy to promote the first single of Brisbane band, L.U.V., a collaboration between the two eldest daughters of poet Margie Cronin. Follow the link below to hear their song at Tripe J's unearthed.

New Poetry by James Walton

Hellespont Queens Parade Clifton Hill

I swam the pavement straits
to be cradled in the sacristal lay
of your curling virginity
furtive strokes between pontoons
of concertinaed cars in early hours
glass beads that paced anxious steps
of drizzled rainbows on cresting roads 
each night in beacon times guided
embraced by window frames
strong enough then to lift myself
through return journeys
until the verdigris signal failed
stalled to breathe slipping on tram lines
hands in the air unable to inhale
the sounds of your forgiveness

- James Walton 2015

James Walton lives in South Gippsland. His collection, "The Leviathan's Apprentice" has just been released through Strzelecki's Lover Press.

New Poetry by Michael Lee Johnson


Single life is-tequila with lime,
shots of travelers, jacks, diamonds, and then spades,
holding back aces-
mocking jokers
paraplegic aged tumblers of the night trip.
Poltergeist define as another frame,
a dancer in the corner shadows.
Single lady don’t eat the worm…
beneath the belt, bashful, very loud, yet unspoken.
Your man lacks verb, a traitor to your skin.

- Michael Lee Johnson 2015

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era:  now known as the Illinois poet, from Itasca, IL.  Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer who experiments with poetography (blending poetry with photography), and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 875 small press magazines in 27 countries, he edits 9 poetry sites.  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  "From Exile to Freedom", several chapbooks of poetry, including "From Which Place the Morning Rises" and "Challenge of Night and Day", and "Chicago Poems".  He also has over 73 poetry videos on YouTube.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Poetry by Magdalena Ball

The Last Report of the Day
I saw you, Adrienne Rich.
In my dream we were walking
like old friends, conspicuously
cool, our maps drawn
long before we took up pens
eyes searching for something
deeper than the wrinkles on our skin.

I felt your hand, crooked with arthritis
brush mine
in the depths of my consciousness
like a stirring of memory
you became every mother
I had ever lost
to a bigger cause
the world too hungry
the lines too sharp
for me to cross.

I was a little girl then
all my unspoken need
pulsing like a lighthouse
your untranslatable language
transmitted through my pores
a scent you recognised.

You didn’t need to say anything
the battery of signals
that battered you
like we’ve all been battered
I felt those signals in my shoulders
hunched against a rising wind.

Gently, but with reasonable force
you pushed my scapulae back
told me, sternly,
like any mother would
to stand up straight. 

- Magdalena Ball 2015

Magdalena Ball was born in New York City and now lives in Lake Macquarie, NSW.  She runs The Compulsive Reader review site and is the author of the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, a book of poetry Repulsion Thrust and a number of other chapbooks, collaborative works and nonfiction.  Her poems and stories have been shortlisted for a several awards including, locally, the Newcastle Poetry Prize, the Grieve Writing Competition, and the Bayside Poetry Prize, and her work has been widely published in local and international literary journals. Find out more about Magdalena at

New Short Fiction by Michael Glover

Enigmatic Succubus (Part II)

"Look! It's the moon!” I said as I dug my toes into the dark shadows in the sand.

“It's going to be up soon. I can see it's glow beginning on the horizon.”

“It happened last night too, and it will tomorrow, and yet, each night, you are amazed?” She asked.

The coyotes barked and trilled insanely in the warm California night.

A scorpion, like an animated shard of glass, crept from beneath a twig at my side. I watched it as it melted in and out of starlight, moved along the sand beside my leg, explored my right heel with an awkward, accidental bump of a pincher, then vanished into the darkness alone,

"​El escorpión es el no tu amigo mi amor,” she whispered.

“I know that.” I said.

“These damned dogs have followed me from New Mexico!” I exclaimed. “Listen to them, out there screaming. That's all they scream.” I was speaking of coyotes. I've always hated the sound of them in the night.

“What you call screaming is only a beckoning,” she told me. “Why does it threaten you to be called?”

“I don't speak their language,” I said.

“Sure you do,” she replied. “They speak the language of loneliness in the night. Surely this is a language you understand”

“Has no sido solo toda tu vida mi pequeña Virgen?”

“I don't know....maybe....probably, maybe not,” I replied.

“What happened to all those years ago?” I asked her. When we were driving through a Georgia swamp with the moon overhead and a lifetime before us and you promised me that everything was going to be alright....always?”


Well, it hasn't been “allright always” got pretty screwed up several, MANY times along the way!”


“What do you mean yes?” I asked.

​”Mira, está la luna,” she said.

“I know.” I replied. “It's beautiful.”

“So what is it you want to know?” She finally asked. “Why the drama and the poor boy lost in the desert for the night without his blanket bit? You don't think the moon has seen this story before pobrecito?”

“There have been broken hearts,”I told her, LOTS of broken hearts.”

“Si.” She said.

“There have been deaths...there has just been a lot of STUFF!” I told her.” I've fucked up a lot of stuff over the years. A lot of it I've often wished I could take back now, but I can't.”

“Yes,” she said.

“I can take it back?” I asked.

“Of course not you silly one, no more than you can catch the scorpion that was here earlier. It is gone. It will never in all it's life, come back to you again. You can spend the rest of your life looking for it if you want to do something so stupid but you will never see it again.”

“There ought to be something to say.” I finally said after hours had passed and the moon was edging out of the night toward a ridge of black, broken teeth on the western horizon.

“For you there is always something to say.” She said. “But there is nothing that words could ever contain that they haven't already held and been emptied there?” She asked. “Yet each time they are emptied you cannot be still until you have filled them again....then you are still not still!”

Then she left again while I was trying to figure this last one out. I heard her voice on the wind as I saw dawn creeping into the east....

“por cierto, los perros no te siguen, que les trajo con usted mi amor!”

“The dogs didn't follow you, you brought them with you love!”

“How could you say that?”

“y todavía hablas!”

- Michael Glover 2015

Mike Glover is a retired school teacher (special education) from New Mexico now living in southern California. Hobbies are walking on the beach looking for driftwood because each piece has a great story to tell…even if he has to make it up, collecting people and their stories and just trying to get it all written down before the long day is over and the time is all gone.

Call for submissions

The inbox is empty! Bluepepper needs something to sink its teeth into! Poets far and wide are welcome to submit re the submission guidelines.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Poetry by David Ades


Say that you are a pivot

and to one side there is desire
and to the other side a different desire,
conflicting, incompatible.

You inhabit the space between desires
and try not to make it a cage,
a confinement,

try to find some room to turn
and swing, to exert your own interests,
which might be not one or the other.

Clinging on to notions of civility,
how do you avoid becoming a cornered
animal, teeth bared, hair bristling,

on that cusp of fight or flight?

- David Ades 2015

David Adès is an Australian poet living in Pittsburgh since 2011.  He has been a member of Friendly Street Poets since 1979.  His collection Mapping the World was commended for the Anne Elder Award 2008He was a volunteer editor of the Australian Poetry Members Anthology Metabolism. His poems have appeared widely in Australia and the U.S. in publications including over 20 of the Friendly Street Readers, and numerous literary magazines. Poems have also been anthologized in both Australia and the U.S. in anthologies such as Australian Love Poems, The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry, Australian Poetry Members’ Anthology Volumes 2 (2013) and 3 (2014) and Moonstone Poetry Series 2014 Anthology of Featured Poets.  In 2014 David was awarded the inaugural University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize and was also shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Thousand Cuts and Swipes

Over the weekend I was roundly lambasted by a Melbourne playwright and poet for daring to suggest that there exist other equally viable sources of arts funding in this country than those offered with more and more strings by state and federal governments. Her patronising tone was only equaled by her reluctance or inability to see that I was not in fact attacking her position, but merely pointing out that there are viable alternatives to the old tired model. She implied (albeit tacitly) that I was some sort of mouth piece for the philistine Right who seem intent on dismantling the Australia Council altogether and replacing it with a funding body operating directly from the relevant minister's office (in this case, somewhat perversely and worryingly, the office of the Attorney General, George Brandis). That I would condone such an act of Executive overreach was galling enough, but that she then implied that as a poet I was already alienated and marginalised enough and thus really had no place in the debate ( best leave this one to the real artists, Justin!), well let's just say an old soldier chooses his battles and I decided to concede her the thorny ground. I let the tacit implications of naivety slide, as to be honest I found them oddly refreshing.

What I never got around to saying, however, was that these political attacks are not going to stop. The concept of an independent "arms-length" arts funding body is fast becoming a quaint anachronism, and that the sooner artists of all stripes (yes, even poets!) face up to this fact the better for the heart and soul of this country. Johanna Featherstone of the Red Room Company faced an equally vitriolic attack some years back when she dared to seek private funding for her wonderful organisation, and it took me a whole lot of sangria and paella to convince her she wasn't some venal self-seeking traitor to the cause. Of course, governments are not about to abandon arts fundng altogether, but this "death-by-a-thousand-cuts" has been going on for a couple of decades now, long before the digital age offered artists myriad alternative platforms and sources of funding. If saying this makes me a mouth-piece for the philistine Right, then so be it. I loath posturing almost as much as I loath habitual contrarians. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Poetry by rob walker


getting on at the Wayville Showgrounds
station he takes a selfie in his new
tats & tanktop sneers at the tired
toddler in the stroller quit ya
whingein ya little bastard
ya worse thn ya bruvva
& both boys shrink
even smaller

- rob walker 2015

Margaret Thatcher

“There’s no such thing as Society!”
she exclaimed with icy rapture.
but Society refused to die
and there’s no such thing as Thatcher.

- rob walker 2015

Rob Walker is a contemporary Australian poet and writer. (Pen names: rob walker, robwalkerpoet.) His poetry has been published widely in magazines, journals, anthologies and online since the mid-1990s. His work has been translated into Arabic, Spanish and Dutch, text-published in English in France and India and e-published on most continents. Rob's latest collection, "tropeland", was just released through Five Islands Press.

(With thanks to Wikipaedia)

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

New Poetry by A.J. Huffman

I Was Invented

as a destination
to discover, conquer, claim
as your own.  You were
looking for picket fences,
shades of presumption,
perfected picturesque
nostalgia.  Together
we found something angular,
garishly modern,
an arrow full of exotic
poison.  You swallowed
hatred.  I assimilated
being lost.  Our paradise
took a wrong turn and caused
our minds to burn.

- A.J. Huffman 2015

A.J. Huffman has published eleven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press) and A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing) are now available from their respective publishers.   She has two additional poetry collections forthcoming: Degeneration from Pink Girl Ink, and A Bizarre Burning of Bees from Transcendent Zero Press.  She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and has published over 2200 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

New Poetry by James Walton

don’t ask me

because what mattered
was the way the grass sang
moving the shade to watercolour
or the quiver towards a kiss
the place in your back that defines physics
a hover of breath
in the white hawk of a flat palm
waiting for lips to rise

- James Walton 2015

James Walton lives in South Gippsland. His collection, "The Leviathan's Apprentice" has just been released through Strzelecki's Lover Press.

Monday, July 06, 2015

New Poetry by JD DeHart

Good Way

We do not know the good
way, or if there is one way
We do not know how 
to live plaster and lace lives,
or be porcelain people,
or to speak in alabaster tones
All we know is the making of
our way, ignoring the voices
around us that speak
in cacophony, taking words
we need from an occasional
sage, uncertain of which road
is the high road, or if there is
a higher road, just glad there
is a road at all.

- JD DeHart 2015 

JD DeHart is a writer, blogger, and teacher.  His chapbook, The Truth About Snails, has recently been published by RedDashboard.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

New Poetry by Hanna Harris


He's hard to come by like
Charles Manson on sandpaper,
palms squeaking against leather.
I don't think he has much of
a mind these days, only
laughing at blank white walls, only
tracing door frames.
He makes me look at doors like
a threat.

Take your stomach, tie it
in a knot, maybe squeeze it to feel
it in between his fingers;
and he says he ain't talented.

When he leaves a room, everyone
is silent for a moment,
unsettled as house pets
before a storm
and you can't help but love him
like sticking your fingers in
an outlet.
It's a curiosity that melts your fingers,
leaving behind an emptiness you
can feel on your skin.

He's hungry, carnivorous, that
type of gnashing starvation
that makes people think about
and consequences.

I swear there's a deadness in
his limbs and it's contagious.
It says, "Keep shaving, drag the
razor until there's nothing left of you.”
It's contagious, disguised as
liberation pulsing in your chest
and trust me, you'll catch it too.

- Hanna Harris 2015

Hanna Harris is a 17-year-old, Los Angeles based slam poet and student. She works for Persephone's Daughters Magazine and lives with her cat, Leo.