Friday, December 09, 2016

Seasons Greetings from Bluepepper

While my inbox remains empty, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Bluepepper readers and contributors a safe and happy Yuletide.

New Poetry by A.J. Huffman

Tonight the Moon

is shining, solemn in shades of blue,
and my head is a balloon, longing
to be a wheel of cheese.  I cannot think.
The fog is sinking through the holes
in my mind.  I howl my despair
at a night that refuses to holler back.
Silence is my echo, my reflection.
I am stagnant and barren
as the pallid globe that has swallowed
my shadow and my mood.
We are a matched set
of misfits, twin migrant insomniacs, doomed
to haunt the shallows of the other side
of midnight. 

- A.J. Huffman 2016

A.J. Huffman has published thirteen full-length poetry collections, thirteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses.  Her most recent releases, The Pyre On Which Tomorrow Burns (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers.  She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2600 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She was also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

New Poetry by Abigail George

For everything my parents taught me

Weekdays are detonated
On a Monday. Little anticipation for them at
Heart. A sisterhood
Of a garden of weekdays.
We weather soap operas.
The spine of the unchanging
Wedding ring of the
Sun. A young galaxy of
Confetti with unusual
Fused and acute angles.
The borrower is attractive and faithful.
The sun so political. So
Trustworthy. Dripping
With personal velocity.
Mum is that faithful borrower.
She has the trustworthy
Soul of a nurturer. The
Invisible-like cats cling
To me. Love me until
Death. The experience
Of a lifetime. Starlight exhibited at peak
Intervals on the shadow
Of the earth. Mum’s fingers
Have their own calling,

Seed-thief, hollow ways
Of indifference like a
Thief that comes in the
Night or during the day
(Not on my watch). There is a volcanic
Adjustment to be made
Underground. The pull
Of gravity. Of love. Of
Life. Father gave mother
Love. In return she gave me life.
The smell of gloom, of
The history of past mistakes invades
This landscape of the mother
And daughter relationship.
I know the courage of
A father. His quiet. His melancholia.
His yearning is mine and
So is his restlessness. He is
A leaf floating in history.
He is stunned with honour
And blooming power while
My mother is the cold.
She’s the Pacific Ocean.

- Abigail George 2016

Abigail George is a South African poet.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

New Poetry by Emma Lee

Calgary still talks about the 1988 Winter Olympics
The pen was too good to acquire.
A cheap ballpoint might have fallen
into my bag or got left in a notebook.
But this one wrote smoothly, didn't blotch
and was comfortable to hold in a hotel
stuck between sky-scrapers,
a meshed screen over the windows,
bland meadow prints, neutral bedding,
muffled noises from lines of identical
corridors, half peach wallpaper,
half wood-effect protective veneer,
that lead to more rooms exactly like this
with blank notepaper to doodle dreams on
and a pen I almost didn't leave.

- Emma Lee 2016

Emma Lee's most recent collection is "Ghosts in the Desert" (IDP, UK, 2015). She co-edited "Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge" (Five Leaves, UK, 2015) and "Welcome to Leicester" (Dahlia Publishing,UK, 2016). She reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage Reviews and blogs at

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Poetry by Karen Pape

The Escape

I envy your talent for slipping
into the sleeve of sleep; one moment
your oceanic eyes are wide, the next,
silky with dreams.  I lie next to you
on our liquid berth, an old salt shipwrecked,
clinging to the last spars of wakefulness,
mistrusting the stormy waves that threaten me‑‑
that may not be buoyant enough to lift me,
carry me, take me safely to the beachhead
of morning. So I grasp awareness
as you snore, cradled in ripples beside me,
as even the dog dreams on the floor,
wild golden eyes subdued in passionate rest.

In a vision I see myself walking beside you
on that far shore, a sea‑oat setting. 
Gathering shells, I am telling a story
to you and all who will hear me:   how I
survived the wreck, how I lived.  With that
promise before me, I succumb at last,
still graceless, still stubborn‑‑a drowning
Ishmael as the Pequod sinks into black,
perilous waters. I cling to the casket
of your faith, knowing I must escape
to tell the tale.     

- Karen Pape 2016

Karen Bingham Pape is a teacher and writer.  Her poems have appeared in small press publications such as Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and Maverick Press and in on-line journals such as Big River Review, Red River Review, Words-Myth and Perigee as well as under the bluepepper. She has read her work at conferences such as Southwestern ACA/PCA Pop Culture, ASU Annual Writers Conferences in Honor of Elmer Kelton, and Fort Concho Literary Festival.

Monday, November 28, 2016

New Poetry by Neal Heron

The first thing I ever heard

last night the wind had something to say
I stayed awake listening
he whispered through my keyhole
I eavesdropped from my bed
his words were foreign to me
their meaning beyond my reach
though I pretended he spoke of love
roared of boundless love
I told myself he reflected on a glorious life
or an adventurous affair
either way
I believe it brought him to his knees
a man who saw the light
I could think of nothing better
than to listen to the old man’s wail

- Neal Heron 2016

Neal Heron is a young, unpublished Austrian writer of music and poetry. For two years he lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the appreciation for art and the exposure to striking individuals, such as Henry David Thoreau and Charles Bukowski, intensified his interest in American literature. After his return to Austria, he resumed the small town life. He currently works in a furniture store to save up for studying music abroad.

Friday, November 25, 2016

New Poetry by Michele Seminara and Robbie Coburn

Circle One

those desolate pastures 
the wind secures the dancing wattles 
unshaped and rusting, 
bark fraying from their trunks,

a lack of coloration is no irregularity, 
stuck in the line of fire 
as it electrifies the buried voices 
of ancestors who create captives, 
binding the collar from the body to the neck, 
beneath the continual storm, all being fixed to chains

out at Woodstock the smoke descends, 
the doused air dives into itself

becomes a spire of ash rising— 
the light peers through cloud 
where human flesh seeds the inferno.

- Robbie Coburn 2016

The Harrowing

the body an inferno; 
buried ancestors' voices rising 
through the spire of the neck— 
flesh into fire.

captive in those human pastures
being dives into itself— 
descends through binding seed 
becomes the light.

- Michele Seminara 2016

These two poems are from a collaborative chapbook, Scar to Scar, just released through PressPress. Scar to Scar 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Poetry by David Ades

We, Of the Bleeding Hearts

We, of the bleeding hearts,
tend our little fires in the encroaching dark

as we have always done,
as we will always do,

even as we recognize less and less in the world,
even as the wolves circle closer

baring their teeth, snarling.

We cannot help ourselves,

we sing the songs within us,
the prayers, the incantations,

we whisper our hopes,
the dreams we will not relinquish,

our hands reaching out to touch
their beautiful pelts.

- David Ades 2016

David Ades is a Sydney poet returned to the fold after a long stint in that troubled federation north of the line. He has been nominated for numerous awards, including the Pushcart Poetry Prize and the inaugural 2014 University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor's International Poetry Prize.

Friday, November 18, 2016

New Words and Images by Wayne H. W Wolfson

Leonard C

I will not pretend to have been hardcore fan as so many will now do on their social media pages, using an instance which will be forgotten by them in a few weeks as another jump on the band    wagon-look at  me moment. 
I liked some of his work and had privilege of seeing him play tiny venues several times before his rediscovery. Like anyone else who has picked up a pen and knows how to use it, a nod in his direction must be given regardless of how differently one's ink splashed from his.
Had he only written a handful of songs, and not decades worth, his place in history would have been secured. Much like Bob Dylan, his vast catalog is a mixed bag, with different artistic phases resonating with people. 

Before his rediscovery by the public, to be a fan of his was akin to some sort of secret club. After a certain point he managed to have the dichotomy of being both an institution while also maintaining the veneer of being an artists' artist. Last decade or so, to be into him was not the admittance to the club but rather not citing Hallelujah as favorite song. (This song has been sucked dry of all its beauty and tension by all the over earnest covers and serving to facilitate the American-Idolization of singing. Perhaps if we can get a decade or so of silence we can take this piece back).  To share jubilance or a bit of poetic melancholy is to salute him in the way he would most approve.  Nov 10, 2016 

Wayne H.W Wolfson 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

New Poetry by Jon Bennett

Harry the Biting Dog

She locked it in the bedroom
so I knew there’d be no sex
as I listened to it
snarl and claw at the door
“He just needs to smell you,” she said
“No, please!” I said
Harry the Biting Dog
had a mouth like a crocodile
and in the short time she owned him
bit two bicyclists, a lawyer
and the 8 year old son
of a Russian immigrant named Morris
I couldn’t figure it out, no one sued
not even the lawyer
maybe it was her eyes
same as Harry’s
tired of being beaten
and ready to bite.

- Jon Bennett 2016

Jon Bennett is a writer and musician living in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood.  You can find more of his stuff on iTunes, Pandora, and other music sites, or by connecting with him on Facehole at

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New Poetry by Sarah May


2:35 am
A sugar-shouldered woman on TV strides towards me
smirking at our national anthem, humming numbers, holding back

3:20 am
I hear knuckles, leather bound, knock against a diner mug-a-joe, 
now reaching for his Nokia, the ding of his red-lipped lady

4:07 am
Godammit, my upstairs neighbor moans rising on his bad ankle
He chants to himself as he dresses, already sweating

4:42 am
Olivia Benson’s buh-buh intro, hour of healing wakes, prods me
to switch the laundry, turn the kettle on, wash my morning face

5:15 am
7-11 sustenance, four gatorades in one arm
Campbell’s in the other, I return home to bathe

6:00 am
The night breaks in half, backbends into Tuesday, slathers its coral hands 
against my back like Calamine: a pep talk, mail that’s not an ad, a laugh

- Sarah May 2016

Sarah May is an unpublished, but eager poet from the not-as-hick-as-you’d-imagine city of Dallas, Texas. She currently acts as a poetry editor of Marathon Literary Magazine and is a low-residency MFA student at Arcadia University.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New Poetry by Sanjeev Sethi


When pundits wax eloquent on political outcomes
they yakkety-yak on their yearnings.

Accepting karma is accepting debt.
The well of darkness awaits us all.

Fomentations cotton lacerations
it is the claw marks that fester.

Woes of exiguousness are washed away
in clover as memory turns them to medals.

It is never the rachis, shaft holds the attention
blush on your malar is never traced to me.

New channels frequented give away
bogie of neutrality.

When you’re nurtured by the right
it is lucrative to acquire left leanings.

Worshippers of your nowhere work
crosscut with those who reject it even
when it is rad: the breviary of bazaars.

- Sanjeev Sethi 2016

SANJEEV SETHI is the author of three well-received books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world including Poetry Pacific, Zoomoozophone Review, Indiana Voice Journal, Spirit Fire Review, Degenerate Literature, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Darkrun Review, Stanzaic Styling, Haikuniverse, Chronogram, Transnational Literature, In Between Hangovers,  and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

New Poetry by Jordan Hoxsie


bone structure
is a form of origami

i don’t want to be
your burning bush

to ignite something
i don’t worship

i want to diminish
at a steady pace

my horizons

- Jordan Hoxsie 2016

Jordan Hoxsie is a poet living in Burbank, CA. They are the founder of Varsity Goth, work as the Social Media Editor for Reality Beach, and author of the mini-chapbook cry lightning (Ghost City Press, 2016). Their work has appeared in Nauseated Drive, Vagabond City Lit, Uut Poetry, and elsewhere.

Friday, November 11, 2016

New Poetry by Abigail George

The argument

For a thousand daughters
The sun was falling. The excitement
and electric buzz of lightning.
The birds were singing. I was
Arguing with my mother. I
Was an adult. No longer a
Child. Still wanting her love.
Her attention. Her approval.
I sucked the birth of the
Machinery of the day, its sun, moon,
Stardust, planets inside myself.
I looked at my beautiful and
Headstrong mother and could
Only see a reflection of
Beautiful, headstrong me
Staring back. I remained
Committed to her even in
That moment. We had to
Meet like this. It was fate. This rattled
My comprehension. ‘Come,
Sit with me. Let’s talk this
Out.’ I wanted to say. My soul
Wanted to say but didn’t for
Fear of losing all self-respect.

For fear of losing the
Argument. I felt alive
When she said my name.
This woman had protected
Me for all of my life.
Every servant has their own flame.
The argument made me
A stranger in my own home.
I don’t know how it started.
Afterwards, I sat at the
Kitchen table eating my
Breakfast. French toast
And bacon. I relished its
Greasiness. The fat on
My fingertips and lips. I eat
Bacon as if it is part of
My religion. Burnt to a crisp is the
Way I like it. I sweep the
Saltiness, smokiness of the bacon
Into my mouth regarding
The sweetness of the day.
The windows must still be washed.
The laundry must be done.

- Abigail George 2016

Abigail George is a poet, short story writer and aspirant playwright and young adult novelist from the Eastern Cape of South Africa. She has been long-listed for the Sol Plaatje European Union Award IV (Jacana Media). Her poem "The Accident" was Identity Theory's Editor's Choice (27 March 2006). Her work has appeared in the following anthologies; "To Kingdom Come" edited by Rethabile Masilo. Her work has also been anthologised in "Being Bipolar: Stories from Those Living with the Disorder and Those Who Love Them" edited by Rachel Ellen Koski (Editor), Poems for Haiti (Poets Printery), a South African Writer's Circle anthology, the Sentinel Annual Literature Anthology, and Mini Stories, an anthology of children's stories (Kwarts Publishing). Her story "Wash Away My Sins" was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She has received grants for her writing from the National Arts Council, the Centre for the Book, and ECPACC (the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council).

Monday, November 07, 2016

New Poetry by John Rock

Autumn Listening

Autumn wears a descending dress
Pine wind so elegant
Blazing leaves within clear bottles of wine
Campfire a spring laughing over all history
And just out of the dancing light’s hands
Black bears who spent late summer cracking branches
Keep their noses in the air
And listen
To the human song

- John Rock 2016

Walking Poem

Old abandoned beaver pond
      all the aspens eaten
         and built with
            years ago
Yet beneath the ice
  a vibrant colony

- John Rock 2016

John Rock was born on the shores of Lake Michigan in the United States and spent many years on the shores of Lake Superior living in a wall tent with a wood stove working on poems. Moonlight on canvas is one the greatest things he's ever experienced.  More at

Sunday, November 06, 2016

New Poetry by Donal Mahoney

Bellowing by Email

It’s not good when two disturbed people
with little in common disagree by email 
on something important.

Tone and content can get raucous  
and make matters worse because each is   
used to getting the last word.

Normal people give up arguing with them
but they can exchange emails for days
and never come close to a resolution.

Their bellowing would wake a bear in winter.
I tell you this from personal experience.
I just answered that lunatic again.

- Donal Mahoney 2016

Donal Mahoney, a product of Chicago, lives in exile now in St. Louis, Missouri. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune and Commonweal. 

Friday, November 04, 2016

New Poetry by Robert Verdon

shepherd’s pipe echoing

let me taste the wetness of your stones
your great walls leaping over trodden hills
and lives that have petered into nothingness
over the years before, before, before
the settling of the score
the stones wet with blood
the doll’s arm that flew off
as the sword flashed down
the policy-formation of empires
defending the might
of the lonely crown

let me sing
I am the recording angel
let me weep.

- Robert Verdon 2016

Robert Verdon belonged to Aberrant Genotype Press in Canberra from 1998-2002.
He came 2nd in the 2012 W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia, has been shortlisted in the Right Now Competition 2014, and was Highly Commended in the 2012 erbacce Prize, UK. 
His books include The Well-Scrubbed Desert (1994), Her Brilliant Career (1998), & Before we Knew this Century (2010). 

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

New Poetry by Sean Wright


My mother couldn’t abide
the smell of pine incense.
Pleaded that it reminded her 
of the cloying cleanliness 
of her own mother’s funeral.

Petulant; I hadn’t experienced
memory’s stealthy crawl
and pounce; the cruel bite
of remembrance.

Nor how memory can be
endowed through talk and thought -
so this unguarded walk
under murmuring pines
carries a sadness
trebled over time.

- Sean Wright 2016

SB Wright grew up in the NT  and currently works as a primary school teacher in SA. He’s a regular contributor to Tincture Journal,  and his poems have featured in INDaily Adelaide, Eureka Street, Bluepepper, Writ Poetry Review and the anthologies The Stars Like Sand and Poetry & Place 2015. He is currently recording the results of his year dedicated to poetry at Words Poetical.

Monday, October 31, 2016

New Poetry by Mohammad Ali Maleki

The Migrant Child 

I say hello to all the world's children. 
I kiss your hands from far away. 
I have something buried in my heart to tell you. 

It's stuck like a rock in my throat. 
My poem is wrecked, like myself. 
It's hard to tell the world these words, again. 

Migrant child,
how did you come to be drowned in the stormy ocean? 
What was your sin? Tell me, what was your fault? 
I knew you were innocent  
when I saw your corpse lying beside the sea, 
sleeping, like God's angel, on the sand. 
Your image left such deep sorrow in my mind! 
It set my soul on fire, burnt my heart. 

I understand you, sweetheart. 
You died so I can stay alive. 
You see, I am a migrant, like you. 
I fled from home, like you. 
I chose to come this way
but you had no choice — 
You were just scared and ran. 

God, why did you show no pity or mercy? 
It seems you have no relationship with this child! 
Again, you discriminate between the world's children. 
You have no wife, so perhaps you don't understand 
what having a child means. 
You didn't spend your life as a father, to really know.  

I have seen many die in the ocean, 
but those kids weren't recognisable. 
The waves of the stormy and wild sea
severed their heads from their little bodies
and they died in terrible silence beside each other. 
There were many kid’s heads floating in the water
and many bodies with no heads at all.
No one knew which belonged to which. 

That day, the sea had the colour of blood. 
My dear, drowned children, 
where are your bags and notebooks now? 
Have you given them to the ocean as gifts
so the sea may read them to the next wave of children? 
Ocean, aren't you sick of these repetitious scenes?
Or are you happy, to have caught these little ones so easily? 

My dear, innocent children, 
what did you feel when this happened to you? 
Tell us — the world's mothers will listen. 
They have children too, and understand. 

A child answers, softly —
The ocean was fearful that day. 
I saw all its angers.
It was an ogre, an animal, an executor —
it swallowed everyone down with its cruelty. 
My parents and friends were eaten by sharks, 
we died with pain and fear. 
We died so submissively! 
We were hoping our parents might rescue us. 
At the last moment, as I struggled, twitching and dying
I saw a hand stretching out to me —
I was so happy in that moment! 
It was my mother's hand, I recognised it. 
I took her hand happily
but then I realised it was severed! 

The ocean wasn't blue anymore —
Everywhere had the colour of hell fire. 
Still, she was my mother
and it was mother-love that stretched her hand to me —
Though it was severed, she was thinking of me
even in her dying moment! 
But I was hopeless and afraid
and released her hand to be eaten by the ocean...

Parents, who have heard my story, 
don't say, it doesn’t matter that you died. 
For I would like to play, just like your children! 
I wish to become a politician
so I can let migrant children into this country, 
not leave them to be devoured by the sharks!

But death didn't give me a chance. 
I was buried in exile, in this strange land. 
I saw many people looking for their lost limbs 
so they could be laid to rest in peace,  
but they buried us all together, jumbled up...

I wish I could lie in my mother's arms —
That might calm my spirit.
I wish I could see my mum laughing, even just once! 
I don't know where I will go now — heaven or hell? 
But I do know I've already seen hell, in this cruel world, 
with my own eyes.

 Mohammad Ali Maleki 2016

Translated by Mansour Shoustari
Edited by Michele Seminara

Mohammad Ali Maleki is currently detained on Manus Island.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Bluepepper feels neglected. There is nothing in the inbox and kids keep knocking on the door dressed like Eddie Kruger begging for sweets. So put your poetry caps on people because Bluepepper is


As always, refer to the submission guidelines for details.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Poetry by Kristian Kuhn

My Soul Has the Munchies

Lately I’ve been noticing that most of us
don’t even bother to paddle between
the distances of where we don’t want to be
and where we don’t want to go.

With this flight I’m on I thought
I had the window seat
but I’m in the middle of crowded clouds
and invisible murmurs.

Most things that dog us are hidden beneath
layers and layers of surface,
old men and their secrets and their groans,
things that don’t have voice or form,
things that are a kind of self-apology
that take years to make.

I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I saw you 
waving to me from the other side of the bridge.

I thought about all the things that make things
too late and too early all at the same time.

Maybe there are no coincidences.

Maybe it’s all God’s handiwork 
stringing up this orchestral hum,
these strings of puppetry.

Maybe when we saw each other years ago
the only choice was to not notice 
the lower angels.

I recognized that smile.

I knew the perfume.

It was spring and the river argued with itself.

There are certain rules concerning first dates.

You’re not supposed to let your eyes become sky
or your honesty form the whole of your mouth.

I thought you might kiss me.

I drowned beneath ice and forgot 
to walk you to your car.

And then later that night you called my name.

I believed in us without any proof.

Incrementally time added up
what I’d come to know long ago.

You were my Sabine.

And I had finally found you.

- Kristian Kuhn 2016

Kristian Kuhn lives in Fairport, New York.  He is a graduate of Brown University and has been teaching for several years in the SUNY system.  The Long Shadow of the Coming Wise will be his seventh full-length publication and will be out in early April.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

New Poetry by Michele Seminara


Love suffers 
but gains nothing. 
Bearer of flames, mysteries, 
mountains, it rejoices 
not in that which is perfect 
but clangs its tongue of truth 
to speak of a faith 
which fruitlessly abides. 

Love fails. It fails! 
Seeing itself mirrored 
in a childish face it is provoked 
to offer its body to be burned
and — always — it is burned. 

Love endures rudeness but longs
to be known as kindly as it knows. 
And when the gift of its hope 
is extinguished love seeks 
cessation in the fathoms
of iniquity. 

*A found poem sourced from the King James Bible, 1 Corinthians 13

- Michele Seminara 2016

Michele Seminara is a Sydney poet and editor of the seminal on-line arts magazine, Verity La.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

New Poetry by Saloni Kaul



Sound like a breathing spiral moves both ways
Has its all-highs and has its lows.
Tight-ribbed spine and bone curled clays,
At either end when you’d imagine it would come to blows
The ear has had its fill and reels under silence’s sway.



Sounds blaring loud as in pretence,
Sounds soft as muttered oath ,
Coaxed into a coil tense !
For us who’ve had enough of both
Breath lithe and bone dense ,
Someone coined Silence.

- Saloni Kaul 2016

Saloni Kaul, author and poet, was first published at the age of ten and has been in print since. As critic and columnist Saloni has enjoyed thirty eight years of being published. Saloni Kaul's first volume, a fifty poem collection was published in the USA in 2009. Subsequent volumes include Universal One and Essentials All. Saloni Kaul has been published recently in Poetry Quarterly, The Horrorzine, Tipton Poetry Journal, Eye On Life Magazine, Inwood Indiana , Misty Mountain Review, Poetry And Paint Anthology, Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum, FIVE Poetry Magazine, The Voices Project and The Penwood Review and The Mantid Magazine and Haikuniverse. Upcoming poetry shall appear in Sentinel Quarterly and in AJI Magazine as well as in The Voices Project , The Penwood Review and River Poets Journal.

Monday, October 03, 2016

New Poetry by Emma Lee

A Flag in Sonoma Square

A flag is held aloft by a man standing on a rock,
cast in bronze and shadowed by trees on a sunny day 
in Sonoma. All republics need a solid foundation 
and who’d argue with William Ide’s proclamation 
for civil and religious liberty, encouraging literature,
industry, the solving and punishment of crime,
to make the people guardians of the government 
whose officers are their servants? Some may not be so keen 
on the unshackling of commerce and agriculture.
He had urged people to remain peaceful.
The flag was raised: a standing grizzly bear, 
a red stripe of desert and a red star for a new republic.
The star in tribute to the Texan stand for independence.

This republic lasted for twenty-six days. The last 
Californian grizzly was shot in the eighteen-nineties.
The flag was destroyed in the 1906 San Franciscan 
earthquake, leaving a story tidied away in a museum
and a bronze Cuffy aloft in a public park on a statue 
which an eight-year-old boy in sports tee, shorts and ball cap 
is trying to scale; his manifesto as yet unknown.

- Emma Lee 2016

The Egret Plate

The curved part-extended wing of an egret
follows the shape of a plate.
The egret is preparing to land,
feet drawn up in readiness, looking for food. 
Gold on one wing tip suggests an old repair.
The wings could still offer shelter.
This plate is too decorative for its primary
function as something to eat food from.
Nurture is incompatible with the egret's solitude,
its purity reflected in the plate's white gloss
representing all those holy qualities
closed to mothers for whom the next meal
takes priority over aesthetic decoration.

- Emma Lee 2016

Emma Lee's most recent collection is "Ghosts in the Desert" (IDP, UK, 2015). She co-edited "Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge" (Five Leaves, UK, 2015) and "Welcome to Leicester" (Dahlia Publishing,UK, 2016). She reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage Reviews and blogs at

Saturday, October 01, 2016

New Poetry by Susan Sleepwriter

Today I am the lolly jar
that last one
not my favourite
rattling around


taunt my dreams
learning to tie my shoelaces 


I may be the author of my own life
but that book isn’t even in the
bottom drawer yet
I am a blank page 
with trivia and necessity
and the plot
is lost.


I cried five minutes ago
tears pooled
slipped beneath bedrock
for all you know
we are still in drought.
Inspired by found graffiti: “I cried five minutes ago”


A strange tongue has
hijacked all my whisperings
beneath your distracted gaze.


I told the currawong
not to eat the dove's eggs.
Its eye yolk yellow
the unblinking stare
breaking my gaze.


bird-wings dip and rise
tracing short magnificent stories
while my fingers
scratch convolutions
under the long arm of the clock.

- Susan Sleepwriter 2016

Susan Waddell writes micropoetry on Twitter and reads at spoken word and poetry events around Sydney (Australia) as Susan Sleepwriter. She also writes short stories and longer poems. Her poems have appeared in The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry (Interactive Press), The Disappearing (Red Room Company) and Guide to Sydney Rivers (Meuse press).

@sleepwriter on Twitter

Monday, September 26, 2016

New Poetry by Sanjeev Sethi


Bookshelves remind me of the aloneness
of thought. In the stillness of their spines 
lies the essence of experience beckoning
bibliophiles to process their perfections, 
gleaned by grokking maze of milestones. 

Solitude prods me to pylons. Known to 
connect they suspire for itinerant members 
of the corvine to stop over or for deviations
in their dogleg. Every affiliation is emotional 
travel. Close relationships are excursions. 

- Sanjeev Sethi 2016

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three well-received books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world: Off the Coast, Drunk Monkeys, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, New English Review, Red Wolf Journal, Futures Trading, Right Hand Pointing, The Blue Mountain Review, The Penwood Review, Squawk Back, The Five-Two, W.I.S.H. Press, Easy Street, Novelmasters, Zarf  Poetry, Scarlet Leaf Review, Expound Magazine, Postcolonial Text, Meniscus, Otoliths, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

New Poetry by Sarah Law

Before the Dawn

The cat stays the colour of night.
His whiskers exquisite; his purr
blent with divine harmonics.
Of course such cats are gods.

The new day could not help herself,
she is born pallid.  She could not hold on
to her own black. She is quiet enough,
but has cried her own song to the night.

The alarm peeps, a bird with no mother,
pleading for worms. My mind’s striated
with the drag of heavy hours.  Maybe today
will glint silver, and I and the cat

will blink at our fate. Maybe today
the rain will make everything shine.
The cat’s fur stays the colour of night,
his eyes an intuitive gold.

- Sarah Law 2016

Sarah Law’s latest collection is Ink’s Wish (Gatehouse Press, 2014). She is a lecturer in English and lives in London.