Wednesday, December 06, 2017

New Poetry by James Walton

Inverloch – Cape Paterson Road, late August

The car park at Eagle’s Nest is nearly empty
and down the steep staircase, neatly arriving people
trickle in hesitation of a complete view.
A full tide has spread spongy wilted sand
all soft without reflection, a copse of twisted wattle
holds to purpose where the erosion bites.
Warning Signs don’t stop visitors from testing
the Strait’s gritty pull, the sea’s hypnotic stride
tap dancing away on the buckle bright shoreline.
Kelp is wedged up at each end of the bay
a russet parenthesis in need of  expression, idling cormorants
glide by in their defiant bobbing coiffure.
A Winter moon is stitched on a light denim sky
prescient in daytime; some Iranian children
laugh out Hello Mister chasing their runaway kite.
Beyond the craggy hide the Cape bends in reverse crescent
eyebrows over an ocean face, cars make a way
as greying follicles of squint into the receding west.

- James Walton 2017

James Walton is an Australian poet published in newspapers, and many journals, and anthologies. Short listed twice for the ACU National Literature Prize, a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition - his collection ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ was published in 2015. He was a librarian, a farm labourer, a cattle breeder, and a public sector union official.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

New Poetry by Keith Moul

In Youth, There Comes a Strange Spirit

Space, as after a sprint, intercedes.
Before the start, during the mark
on the blocks, and after the start
have all passed. Breath comes hard
at 400 metres, at a loss to look back.

My grandkids, full of strange spirit,
understand the race, but less a need
to see it through, like a calf’s birth,
or the harvest subjected to its ruin,
may never come alive, but stillborn.

The prairie circles the arriving thunder,
the way sky absorbs the starting shot;
the prairie lies prone, in wait for games;
men on the horizon are not near, nor
can they make headway through space.

- Keith Moul 2017

Keith Moul's poems and photos are published widely. Finishing Line Press released his chap, The Future as a Picnic Lunch, in November, 2015. Aldrich Press has published Naked Among Possibilities in August 2016 and has released Not on any Map in August, 2017; Finishing Line published Investment in Idolatry early in 2017. The above poem is from a new work about prairie life through U.S. history, including migration, regional trials/conflicts, character, and attachment to the land.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

New Poetry by David Lander


Night. The wind frets.

Squeezed close in your sitting room we
discuss our cousin. We love him but
is he that cuddly eccentric he appears or
does he strangle children?

‘Course not. We laugh and read his work and laugh again
and paint the picture of his life.
We pause again and think again, concerned
by his rural isolation. How
the world folds in on him, on us,
how we have become what we were not.

We read again and laugh again but
close the curtains, stoke up the fire,
listen as your house shifts in the wind
and talk of something else,

return again to what we would prefer not to;
his life, circumstance, our lives,
what we were, might have been and have become,
what we knew and what we guessed,
what he saw in that small town, that road to nowhere.

We hold his life up like a torch seeing ours.
in stark relief. Shadows deepen.
Your house is quiet. The fire settles.
The wind has gone elsewhere
fretting done for now.

- David Lander 2017

David  has previously published in The Australian, The Age, Overland, Tirra Lirra and Australian Poetry. He has had careers in education and theater. He now lives with his partner in Hobart, Tasmania.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

New Poetry by Caroline Reid

The Gift

The fine white ceramic face  
of the Japanese teacup
is wrinkled, as if it already lived a life
before it came here to grow old.

I drink from the side
where a single magnolia petal
folds over the lip.
I hold the marmalade flower
in my mouth
without spilling a drop.

When I proclaimed that I could no longer stand
drinking coffee out of thick-lipped mugs
you went off quietly to Little Tokyo
at the Central Markets and came home
with the teacup wrapped in turquoise tissue
slumbering in your palms.

We sat opposite each other 
in our usual spots at the table,
me facing the fridge
you the fireplace,
to unwrap the gift,
me with sprinting fingers
you with your eyes.

I like to think the teacup was hand-painted
by some Japanese master
the colours carefully selected
marmalade magnolia instead of orange
stamens of candle-glow yellow and gold
leaves mottled lapis, copper and bronze
but I know that no-one could have crafted this cup
with the same reverence in which you gave it.

You are in every teacup of coffee I drink.
You, who listen calmly to my daily proclamations
as if they were poetry
before you rub sleep from your eyes
and in the evenings, unlacing dusty boots
at our back door.

- Caroline Reid 2017

A writer of poetry, short stories and plays, Caroline Reid regularly performs her work and was a state finalist in South Australia's State Poetry Slam in 2016 and 2017. Her work has been published in journals and anthologies including Bath Flash Fiction Award, Verity La, 4W, Indigo, Seizures and Review of Australian Fiction. Last year she was emerging writer in residence at the SA Writers Centre where she completed a draft of her novel in progress, No Place for Children.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Poetry by Christine Brandel

The Blood Stones

Some green stones had been left by the daffodils
at your grave. Little green stones, not black, not hearts.
I fingered everything there, the flowers, the mirror,
your name and his. The stones were green and I wanted one,
but didn’t think that right. I am not like the others,
believe me (I think you would). I stopped at a nearby shop
and bought two blood stones. Their green was darker.
I left one on your headstone (for the Jewish blood in us both)
and kept one in my pocket. It’s there now. Like you are.

- Christine Brandel 2017

Christine Brandel is a writer and photographer. Her book A Wife is a Hope Chest was released on Halloween 2017 as the first full-length collection in the Mineral Point Poetry Series from Brain Mill Press. She also writes a column on comedy for PopMatters and rights the world's wrongs via her character Agatha Whitt-Wellington (Miss) at Everyone Needs An Algonquin. More of her work can be found at

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

New Poetry by John Grey

Holy Week

A giant papier-mâché Diablo
totters down the street,
arms thrashing,
head spitting out fireworks -

the children are afraid -
their parent's laugh

except for the deeply religious -
with them it's the other way around

the saints
are less gaudy,
quieter -
piety doesn't do
sparks and flames -

then comes the skeleton,
black and white -
he was human -
he can go either way.

- John Grey 2017

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Examined Life Journal and Midwest Quarterly.  

Thursday, November 09, 2017

New Poetry by Mark O'Flynn

Quiet Decibels

Next door’s radio mumbles to itself.
A sudden bird flees another across the roof,
a donkey on tip-toes brays in the evening distance.
Not everyone can say as much
of the afternoon’s quiet wealth,
how its serenade knits the various
ages of the day together,
the gleam of spider web clinging to the air
like a floating fibre of lung, a tightrope
of light between two porch posts, the dew
settling for the night on tomorrow’s raw dawn.
These esoteric signs are everywhere
if signs they are, the future tropes
unguaranteed. Things might
contradict themselves, I hope.
Such simplicity is finite – the natural
bedfellows of harmony and discord.          
That pebble in my shoe
will make itself eventually known.
Not everyone can say as much.

- Mark O'Flynn 2017

Mark O'Flynn's most recent novel The Last Days of Ava Langdon was a finalist in the 2017 Miles Franklin Award. His latest collection of poems is Shared Breath published by Hope Street Press.

Monday, November 06, 2017

This Oval of Light

I am taking this rare opportunity to editorialise for the sake of Bluepepper's readers north of the line who may be wondering whatever became of "the wonder downunder".

One of the few advanced economies to have survived the GFC relatively intact, through a combination of sheer luck and some wise and timely policy initiatives. A nation prepared to say sorry to its original inhabitants for the many injustices inflicted on them, to walk across a bridge, and then for some reason stop and turn around. A nation that was once one of the great immigration success stories of the post-war era, but that now appears to have become the unwitting prototype for heartless, short-sighted immigration policy the world over. A nation that provided more than its fair share of overseas aid, a nation that reached out rather than folded its arms at the spectacle of a world in crisis. A nation that once stood at the vanguard of innovation but that now languishes way way back of the pack. The same for its stance on climate change, an area of public policy that seems to have become a graveyard for any kind of political visionary in this country. 

While the rest of the world foundered after the crash of 2007/2008, the "wonder down under" racked up ridiculous amounts of household debt, turning wall-eyed and solipsistic in the process. While many (mostly older) Australians made obscene amounts of money in the real estate boom, just as many (mostly younger) Australians were lumped with stagnant wages and a steeply rising cost of living, student debts that their parents never had to worry about, a collective shrug at their understandable reservations about the direction the country was taking, particularly in regards to climate change, rising inequality, and the issue of marriage equality.

The latter has been the subject of a recent plebiscite, and now that the votes are in and only waiting to be counted, I feel free to express my disgust at the tactics employed by those on the right, their heartless scaremongering, the bald-faced lies and naked hypocrisy. It is too early to tell how much damage this clumsy and completely unnecessary process has caused. Sadly only time will tell, and perhaps by then it will be too late, even if, as predicted, the plebiscite returns a resounding YES to the proposition that all citizens of this country should be equal before the law. This matter should not even be up for debate in a modern liberal pluralistic democracy, but it is and those who assume to be society's moral guardians have exploited the fact to their undying shame. The wreckers in our federal parliament will have to answer to their consciences, if they can find them amongst the rubble of their many discarded promises.

 In short, this wonderful country is broken. Each day the disparity grows between the haves and the have-nots. A nation blessed with abundant resources is witnessing families unable to heat their homes or cook their children dinner because they simply cannot afford the exorbitant and steadily rising costs of gas and electricity. The fault for this is not theirs but of politicians at both the state and federal level who have lacked both the imagination and courage to face the challenges of climate change and the epochal shift in international attitudes to power generation. Now, while the Japanese government rakes in significant import revenue on OUR gas, our children shiver and go hungry to school.

And as though this were not enough, we witness the tragic farce of the citizenship fiasco that has already cut a swathe through the federal parliament and threatens to bring any semblance of governance in this country to a grinding halt. We can expect a raft of legal challenges by vested interests to bills passed by politicians who, by the fact of their undisclosed dual citizenship, were not entitled to be sitting in the parliament in the first place, let alone as part of the executive. And now they are busily denying the obvious need for a "citizenship audit" to ensure no further nasty surprises, while badgering the most vulnerable in our community to pay back welfare debts they simply do not owe. When, if ever, will we see an apology from those responsible for the so-called "robo-debt" fiasco for the many lives ruined and lost to despair? I suspect the answer is never.

This is what has become of "the wonder downunder" my northern friends, and it is a cautionary tale. When we turn our backs on the system, when we opt out, refuse to vote, shut our eyes and ears to what is happening around us, then we leave the running of affairs to vested interests who will plunder what they can, turn a tidy profit, and then move on. In this bright new shiny neo-liberal, post 9-11 world of ours, capital moves freely while the individual's freedom of movement grows ever more impeded. Public assets are sold off to often rather nefarious private interests with no visible gain to the public weal. Quite the opposite. Roads, rail, port facilities, utilities, in fact infrastructure of every kind now sits in private, largely unaccountable hands. My generation has not only let this happen, many of us have been willing participants. And for that I apologise wholeheartedly to those coming after me.

I will end this bleak scree with some words from an Australian poet from the generation immediately before mine, the infamous "Boomer" generation with which we X-ers have carried on a love-hate relationship for many years:

I believe this wick and this open book
in the light's oval, and I disbelieve

everything this generation has told me.

- Robert Harris "Isaiah by Kerosene Lantern Light" (1986)

I thank you for your time. And remember to always keep poetry in your lives.

New Poetry by John Bartlett


Night falls too early now
Birds fold themselves up
Like faded Christmas cards

Clocks speed up their complaining
Cars creep towards home
Fog like a smokers’ cough

Friends leave through the open door
Coats and scarves are left behind
The beach washed clear of footprints

We wait in darkened rooms
Voices calling in the distance
A choir of galloping angels

- John Bartlett 2017

John Bartlett‘s non-fiction and essays have been widely published and will be collated into an e-book entitled A Tiny and Brilliant Light to be released in November 2017. He is the author of two novels, Towards a Distant Sea and Estuary and a collection of short stories, All Mortal Flesh.He blogs regularly at:

Thursday, November 02, 2017

New Poetry by Holly Day

In the Waiting Room
He comes into the lobby holding the little plastic bag
knuckles white and tight
as though he doesn't ever want to let it go. 
He drops it on the receptionist's desk

like a lion dropping the broken body of its cub
after some horrible accident, some catastrophic mauling
face contorted in resolution and anger
dismay and confusion. From where I'm sitting
in the back of the room with the other happily fat, pregnant women
reading magazines about breastfeeding and diaper technology
I can see just enough of the tiny gray body inside the bag
the parts not wrapped in white tissue paper

one thin arm, impossibly small and delicate
a perfect little foot
no blood.

"The doctor asked me to bring this in, " he says loudly
challenging the look of dismay on the receptionist's face. 
"She didn't pass it until this morning." The receptionist takes the bag 
with one quick, practiced sweep, hiding it between her body and the wall
as she takes it in the back room for the doctor. 
As she leaves, the man stares us all down,
daring us to acknowledge his presence, his anguish, 
daring us to recognize 

the painful events that brought him here. 

- Holly Day 2017

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Poetry by Dane Karnick

Full Moon

After the sculpture by Louise Nevelson, 1980

The side we never see
With its rugged terrain
Shown in the telescope

Of dreams resolving
Lunar highlands into
Rocky slabs that stack

Against the wakeful state
Struggling to apprehend
Celestial sight

Over cataleptic dirt
From the opposite end
We have learned to ignore

Forming that restless sense
Between hemispheres like
A spell that can’t be broken

Through phases of light as
We wait to catch a glimmer
On the cusp of malice

- Dane Karnick 2017

Dane Karnick grew up by the Colorado “Rockies” and lives near Seattle.  His poetry recently appeared in Poppy Road Review, Treehouse Arts, Scarlet Leaf, riverrun and Vacpoetry.  Visit him at

Sunday, October 29, 2017

New Poetry by Abigail George

Stranger made of flesh and Nineveh

(for Ambronese)

    Burn bright tonight tigers inside
    this room. Bring me courage so
    delicate. The sensation of falling. Jerusalem. Moses. Desert country.
The ancient knowledge of the importance of
    family. Scarlet thread to patchwork
    the burning tapestry of my soul.
I’ve been wounded before all of this.

I’m crying and I don’t know why I’m crying.

    Living with illness has done this
    to me. Coming home from the sea
    we have a shared interest for the
rural. Obituary. Sympathy for grassroots and
    community. Proof that singing in
the rain could not dampen our spirits. Our prayer
    for the eternity of the grace of the
    tomorrow-land of mountain-roots.
The blue light persists. Exists only to promise
    moral scorching. A wasteland of
    gathering stages of spring decay and
    pollen falling like dandelion clocks
all around. Such is the strange nature of illness
    and the authentic mud season in the
    garden. Leaves lyrical. We’re the
    hope. The soul on fire almost spiritual.
    All I see is a field that burns me up.
    Flowers survive in the moonlight.

Anointed with perfume and music schools.
After dreamy-loneliness and death comes a

    world of concern. Grief brings with it
    silence. Love that can move planets.
    All writers are poets in their own way.
    The rain saved me. It always saved
    me. Breathed life back into me. I’m
    only in need of a survival-kit. Little-fed
    waves of afternoon sunlight. Believe
    in me is all that I ask of the men and

    women in my life. Fish swim towards
the nature of life. The psychological compass of its
    wet valleys and runaway plankton.
    Picturesque sea don’t forget about me.
    My strong limbs swimming against
the current. It is wild out there. A church.

Woman with the graceful neck you must love me.

- Abigail George 2017

Pushcart Prize nominee for her fiction "Wash Away My Sins", Abigail George is a South African blogger, essayist, poet, short story writer and aspirant novelist. She is the recipient of writing grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, the Centre for the Book in Cape Town and ECPACC in East London. She briefly studied film and television production at the Newtown Film and Television School in Johannesburg. Her literary work has been published in various anthologies, numerous times in print in South Africa and in e-zines based in Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Finland, the UK, the United States, and across African in Nigeria and Istanbul, Turkey.

This year her work has appeared and is forthcoming from Dying Dahlia Review, Fourth and Sycamore, Gnarled Oak, Hamilton Stone Review Spontaneity, Off the Coast, Prong and Posy, Spontaneity, and Snow Jewel.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

New Poetry by Peter Venable

Back On The Grid

Even off the grid, during coffee,
bishops’ diagonal, knights’ jackleg and ripple
the black surface. The king bubbles on the bottom.

Not yet—later. Right. The queen,
graven on the cup, taunts, bares an ankle until

I robot to the screen, key “Expert.” 8x8 grid opens.
16 pawns genuflect; backrow regalia armed to pounce.
Black and white as there ever was. 

The first pawn spawn’s today’s metastasis,
square to square, row to row, one by one they fall.

Beaten. Again. By Deep Blue’s kindergartener. 
Damnit! Never      ever      resign—
X it off the grid. Start again. 

- Peter Venable 2017

Peter Venable has written both free and metric verse for over fifty years and been published in such witty poetry journals as Bluepepper, Parody, Word Riot, Laughing Dog, Lighten Up Online, Hobo Pancakes and The Asses of Parnassus.  He is an amateur writer and published poet, @

Sunday, October 22, 2017

New Poetry by Linda Stevenson

Going Bush

Oh that’s surfeit. That’s one too many
over the odds. I want to move on now,
hurry up and head for the bush,
my loaded self propped clumsily
in a back seat, on torn upholstery.
Drive off, driver, if not into the sunset,
then down a road of unlikely return.
See, wattle wraiths the verge;
I like that, haloes of pinprick otherness,
rash bloom defying straight, light
messing about with space, dawn.
Let me breathe. It’s enough, enough
to be gone from fretful ignorance,
the gormless floundering of small egotism
scrabbling for a place in chaos.
See, the cool bright slivers
of reasonable morning
find their centre
in a generous scheme,
discover the precise way
to shine on down, learn there’s no worth
in a sole dominance,
mixing it up instead like instruments
playing immersion jazz.
This turn here, fording,
and we’re secluded, can pause here,
escapees, rescued by being,
breathing, breathing easily.

- Linda Stevenson 2017

A founding member of Melbourne Poets Union, facilitator of poetry groups in gaols and community centres, contributor to anthologies. Chapbook “The Tipping Point” published in 2015, feature guest poet on Radio 3CR “Spoken Word”. Active as a poet within the online poetry sector, hosts regular Salons at her home in Frankston, Victoria.

Monday, October 16, 2017


Bluepepper is taking a much-needed and long-overdue sabbatical. We will return on 23/10/17 laden with snaps and a lungful of sea air. Until then, keep your writing breeches on.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Poetry by John Robbins

Rejection Slips

The young always assume the burden of ignorance .
Believing there words are the first to know rejection .

They feel the emotion, yet do not grasp the truths only time teaches .

Madness takes time my sweet .
It has been a long road to become so perfectly demented .

And I can cover my walls in rejection .

Always take something from the emptiness it leaves behind .

If a no is all it takes to break you.

Then this is the wrong line of work for you.

Anyone can blow smoke up your ass.

It's the bitter truths that sharpen the steel .

One day nothing will make you bleed but your own hands.

- John Robbins 2017

John Patrick Robbins is a barroom poet who's work has appeared in Inbetween Hangovers, Your One Phone Call , Red Fez , Ramingos Porch , Spill The Words and the Outlaw Poetry Network . His work is always a hundred percent unfiltered .

Monday, October 09, 2017

New Poetry by Jon Bennett

Here and Away

I was here all day
I stood, I sat
I took a shit
I ate
but not too much
not too little

I felt bad though
being here all day
How do you do it?
Was I ever a child
amused by
a cricket crawling
from under
a fallen leaf?

- Jon Bennett 2017

Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood.  Most recently his work has appeared in Zombie Logic Review and In Between Hangovers, and is forthcoming in The Indiana Voice, The Bees are Dead, and Degenerate Literature. You can find more of his work on Pandora, iTunes and other music websites.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

New Poetry by Jake Sheff

A Girl on the Tire Swing

As if the pendulum and wheel are time
I push and eagerly await my child’s 
return. As if her face is capable
of starting wars, this mother of my timid
and secret prayers and doubts, I push this vine
that never snaps. (Of dogbane, with their saps
of milky irritants and poisons.) Dips
and doubles back; as if our changing minds
and past events are like the winds, I wed
my daughter to such specious whims. The killdeer
was putting on a show at Jerry’s pond
the other day, as if an injured wing
prevented her from flying off. It thrilled her,
like I once was; alas, there’s no such thing. 

- Jake Sheff 2017

Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the US Air Force, married with a daughter and three pets. Currently home is the Mojave Desert. Poems of Jake’s are in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. His chapbook is “Looting Versailles” (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

New Poetry by James Diaz

My Love For All Things Broken

say      this road        here
but you mean    really   something else
already autumn    is beyond     what you can give
pulses cross       beats      stilled
day     breaks     bones
to be here       means        missing
someplace else      fir       trees
star   dust    how the hand folds
in on itself      say wind but you      really mean
sails stripped bare         subtle disappearances 
don't know        what went missing     or when
the next turn       off the highway     will creep up
and you will bend       that way

- James Diaz 2017

James Diaz is founding editor of the literary arts & music journal Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared most recently in Psaltery & Lyre, The Ekphrastic Review, Quail Bell Magazine and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, (for which his poem, The Balance Between Us, was nominated for the Best of the Net.) He is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018.)  He currently resides in upstate New York.  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

New Poetry by Abigail George

The packed suitcase

(for Ambronese)

Rapture is the son of Johannesburg.

    The same way that Prague is
    now the adopted hometown
    of my sister. He did not love
    me. In return, I did not love him.
    He took my mother and father’s
    love wherever he went in the
world and everywhere I went I lived

    in a self-imposed exile. People
    could be kind but I only learned
    that later on. In my mid-thirties.
    In other words, when I was grown.
    He dropped me off at the mental
    institution (Tara) on a Monday morning.
    Never even looked at me as if
    I was a real, live person. I was
    a walking experiment-in-the-making.
    ‘Not to be touched or spoken to
if anyone could help it’. I was fresh
    from a weekend spent cooking
    over steaming pots, gossip with a diabetic aunt. Her youngest daughter

    tucked away safely behind a

    mountain and green-lit valleys
    of Swaziland. The other in America.
   They could make the life choice
    of being wives and mothers, (if
    they wanted to). Like a river’s
    movements, my cousin watches
    out of the corner of his eye. For

sudden movements, I guess. I learned the hard way.
Heat rising up his neck. I learned the harsh way that

    family could not be kind.
    You can’t sing, so you
    can’t fit and a family that
    can’t sing together can’t
    live together. This tiger
    is not welcome, the other
tigers seem to sing in unison. I’m standing at the door of the church
hall. Waiting.
    Pretending that I’ve been invited to the party.
That I fit in. That I can sing.

- Abigail George 2017

Abigail George is a South African blogger, poet, short story writer, aspirant young adult novelist and playwright. She is the recipient of grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for the Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School in Johannesburg. Her poems have been published in various anthologies, numerous times in print in South Africa and online in zines based in Ireland, Turkey, Finland, Australia, India and elsewhere.

Friday, September 22, 2017

New words by Robert Verdon


… in some cases the birds fly upside-down and you can see their eyes shimmering like oil lenses on water. At other times, the goldfish cluster beneath the lily-pads and laugh at you. I have got used to it, unlike the others. I am drawn to magnets but only during sunshowers. It is like being a dowser. We have a Major-General here and an Archbishop. Breath hangs over us, grey, lazy breath. Poinsettias hunt for game. There is a baby under the strawberry bush, telling riddles.

She is sitting on a canvas swing that hangs from a grapegreen bough. The magpies are coloured here too, quince and persimmon. The baby tinkles like birdbath ice. A cat falls on its four feet. There are faces in the windows. A pendulum from a grandfather clock. A hair-spring. A cloud like an old straw hat. And restraints.

From the sun a chandelier dangles. We live in a surfeit of metaphors. Gravy. There is gravy today. We haven’t had gravy since …

She is on a swing, whistling. Vera. Vera. I know that tune … She is holding up the moon, a wet globe of moon that comes apart. Drawers full of washers and twisted pipe-cleaners are spread about her. It is like a picnic. Licorice bootlaces writhe like serpents all round the tree. I am waking up to my dreams. Salt sprinkled into a flame glows green. Soft, fat visitors. Wheelchairs in a distorted circle.

Do we die, here?

The stars in the evening are mauve and helical. A helix is not a spiral. A patch is not a square. A bit is not a jot. A couple is more countable than a few.

The doctors are not nurses.

Time to go, always time to go. Always back to the ward, the weird, wide ward, where they put you to sleep. I know that tune. Last time we had gravy when when when

The birds are stolen. I’m not going in yet. The birds are stolen! They must be returned to their cages! Hands grip my shoulders. I relax. The sun has gone too. They assure me it will return. Tomorrow is another day.

I sleep smiling. I have done it again.

It is the only way you can get them to touch you.

- Robert Verdon 2017

Robert Verdon is a Canberra writer who has published poetry and prose for many years. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

New Poetry by Martin Christmas

Primal Darkness

Skyping Melbourne,
ninety minutes.
‘5,4,3,2, . . .’
he cuts the link.
Then –
Then –
Then –


The whole suburb –

Stars blazing.


Dark menace.

Someone coughs.

Stars blazing. 

We wait –
for the lights to return.
in their own small

Is this what it was like when . . .?

- Martin Christmas 2017

Martin Christmas lives in South Australia; has a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies; and is a poet, photographer, and theatre director. He has been published in several Australian anthologies as well as Red River Review (USA) and VerseWrights (USA). He teaches presentation elements to young poets. His chapbook poetry collection Immediate Reflections was published at the end of 2016.

Friday, September 08, 2017

New Poetry by John Rock

Morning Wind

Vibrating with these brushstrokes of dawn

       in these winged Chicadee voices I’ve courted

            by tying deerfat to the corner of my tent

                  in this savanna of snow

                       the gods walk and fly in great caravans

                                    mask merchants

                         above and below the ground

                                       antler sages

                                       Bluejay measuring space with cacophony

       and fox mothers wrapping their tales and musk

                around children taught to play with the moment

                                         year after year

In their prosperous down

        the Chicadees dive

             and take turns eating as I talk to them

                  wearing sheep hair knitted around my head and body

                           like a house of smoke

Morning wind

        can you blow these selves to earth?

              like leaf after leaf

                   the sky has grown from a silver branch

                           in this snow-rising chant

- John Rock 2017

In love with waterfalls, crows, and ecstatic dance, John Rock lives in New Mexico.  More writings at

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

New Poetry by Felix Purat

Worn Herzlicher Coaster

One more beer mark
Upon its cardboard
Body, and

It will begin
Dissipation, the
Room spiraling

Into the maelstrom
From where all thought
First transpired.

- Felix Purat 2017

Felix Purat is a hinternationalist hailing from Berkeley, CA but living in Prague. He has been previously published in Two Thirds North, the Paris/Atlantic, Poetry Salzburg Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, Pulsar, Vox Poetica, Allegro Poetry Magazine and Orbis Int’l, among other places. His first collection of poetry, A Drinking Horn of Accumulated Expiries, will soon be released as part of the Poetry Will Be Made For All project, and he has recently completed a second collection, Mews For the Tarpans of the World.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Bluepepper marks the passing of John Ashbery (1927-2017)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

New Poetry by James Walton

I’ll lay down with dictionaries
(and you)

When we are too old
for the Crossword
and the swallow comes early
singing for a lost partner

when out of season
the whip bird’s tuning fork
calls the humble circle
out of a lasso’s embrace

sky writing your name
in that opened portal
vowels and consonants
placed inside the circumference

dangling missing letters
we have chanced for canvass
a wily clue you gave me
of secrets no one knows

lexicons hesitantly shelved
the answers between us
teased into definition
out of more solitary lives

then leave all pages open
make a cuneiform mattress
out of every alphabet
graft us to our own calligraphy

the words that seek homes
can pummel for new comfort
rub against us until found
here where our language formed

- James Walton 2017

James Walton is a Gippsland poet published in newspapers, journals and anthologies. Short listed twice for the ACU National Literature Prize, a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, and Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition - his collection ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ was published in 2015.  

Friday, September 01, 2017

Calling all Poets!

In case you hadn't noticed, dear reader, we live in interesting times. Alert but not alarmed is our running credo at Bluepepper, and in line with that policy we are currrently


Bluepepper believes that perhaps now more than ever this troubled rock needs the wisdom only poetry can distil, so get out your quills and parchment and submit per the guidelines at the top of the sidebar.