Thursday, June 07, 2018

New Poetry by Abigail George

If you want to write, then write

(for the Kenyan philosopher Nyambura Kiarie)

   You can see it if you look closely enough. Even
    the comets step out in faith. The meteors. People.
    Volcanoes. Even the patterns on your flesh have
    a complex. Prayer to me is like air. My reading
    hands are greedy for the sunlight. The palace of
    the sun. The sun, well, she’s moving. Revelatory.
    Even the holy is visible here. I can see it. I can see
    it. I’m full of laughter and tears. My heart is open.
    Willing to share the inheritance of futility and loss
    found there in the silence and the empty rooms
    of my childhood house. I think of how I know the
    tastes of childhood trauma, like I know the smell
    of spaghetti. It’s an ancient landscape. Seldom
    glorious unless it is overcome. I think of the
    therapists I’ve been to, how many of them have
    been Indian women, and beautiful. I think of class
    and speaking English proper all my life. I think
    of my sadness, and then I think of you. Now let
    me talk about broken families. Your wit is warm-
    hearted but your heart is condescending and cold.
    You call me up when you’re lonely. You’re digging,
digging, digging into me, and I’m branching out
    into particles. We have to tell our stories. The
    leaves here are holy. Sister has a voice of longing.
    Brother’s clothes are on the bedroom floor. I
    live in mother’s house. She wants me gone like
    yesterday. I think that the gifts of humanity are

    like the ocean. That same ocean also belongs to
    my mother. The sadness that was there before is
    gone now. I am caught up in a dream. I have yet

    to find a being to be with, live a lifetime with,
    settle down, marry, and have those children with
    the angelic shine on their faces. Thank you for

    not calling. Thank you for not texting me. Thank
    you for this long silence. For this pain. I think of
the fact that I am no longer afraid to close my eyes.

    You were something beautiful. An altar. I think of
    the retreat of solitude and futility. Their exposure.
Lava. The anointed. Wherever the soul comes from.

- Abigail George 2018

Abigail George is the author of Africa Where Art Thou, Feeding the Beasts, All About My Mother, Winter in Johannesburg, Brother Wolf and Sister Wren, Sleeping Under the Kitchen Tables in Helenvale, and the novella The Scholarship Girl. She is a South African blogger, essayist, poet, short story writer, and has just completed her first novel.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

New Poetry by MTC Cronin

My Soul

is a tapestry where the moths
go to eat.

It is a tree
filled with wounded birds.

My soul is not a phrase
but its intonation,

belonging to the voice
and not to the family of words.

When I speak of it
it laughs like a holiday.

My soul is mother-of-pearl.
My mouth a travesty.


Goat-like, I hang around
what binds me.

I can’t get away,
pick everything clean.

I have no idea
what’s around my neck.

Who tied me up here
to my life.

Here is Thunder (The Harvest)

Here is thunder –
Here is barking dogs –
Here is the heaviest salt and the coldest stone.
Here is an actual man and an actual woman
who have lost their north and south.
Their hearts flicker like shadows on a wall.
The star that left the firmament
has entered their loving and their killing.
Unembraceable and unadmittable
they move empty-handed
through the harvest.
The sun does not heed them.
Even gathered they are not together.
The storm passes
and forgets them.

Before It

‘The cormorant is precisely.’
‘Its wings scrape the shore.’

Before it
meaning goes down on one knee
and proposes to the broken and harnessed.

It Wasn't the Stars

It wasn’t the stars
that surrounded them
but they pretended
not to be afraid of the stars.

With eyes full of light
they’re suddenly beached
right here where the universe
washed up beauty.

Vulgar, their herding.


Today I almost slipped entirely
out of the ego.
Only a slight poignant sucking remained.

That ocean of trolls
lapping at God’s medicinal teaspoon.

See the Path

See the path become dark.

Where the light travels to obscure everything
in the precise appearance of itself
see the path become dark.

- MTC Cronin 2018

MTC Cronin is the author of twenty books of poetry and winner of numerous awards and international plaudits. She currently lives in south-east Queensland where she grows a very hot pepper, one of which may or may not have inspired the bluepepper.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New Poetry by Vivienne Mohan

Twenty years or more it'll take

There’s a pen, a book, an apple, a
paperclip, a notepad, on my desk.
There is a tree, a water-pipe,
outside my window.
There is a small cut,
on my right temple on my face.
There is a small temple built
on my palm. Blood,
on a tissue in the bin
by my desk.
There is maths in my bed
under the covers,
taking the physical form
of a curled snake. There
is physics hurting my childhood.
Advanced formulas for motion
leaning on new bricks,
that I have sculpted.
Little x’s and flight
cover the floorboards
like thorns.
There is a larger me
in the doorway, approving
that I have my lamp on,
waiting to guide me back,
in miscellaneous memory,
so that I can work
harder this time.
I don’t want to go
to the classroom again.
Literature is somehow mixed up,
with a plot against forgetting.

- Vivienne Mohan 2018


I complain about ridiculous things so
I can be shot down. The hotel room, I say,
is not enough like home. And home,
does not have enough open roads.

They say I’m ungrateful. With this in mind
I close my eyes and picture the breeze.
Ah yes, I say, I can feel it now. Thank-you.

- Vivienne Mohan 2018

Vivienne Mohan is a nineteen-year-old Queensland poet. She began writing in 2016 and in that same year was the runner-up of the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Competition for an unpublished first manuscript. A septet of poems by her mother, MTC Cronin, will appear in Bluepepper shortly.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Poetry by Rob Walker

not hearing myself on the radio

Ockham’s Razor, ABC, May 10, 2015

after a restless night i halfwake 
hear a man’s voice 

another second or two 
recognize words i once wrote 

realize with the concluding sentence 
the voice is mine

delivering the talk i’d recorded 
a year ago 

and now 
just missed…

- Rob Walker 2018

Rob Walker is a South Australian writer of poetry, memoir and short fiction. He is currently putting the final touches to a mixed-genre collection dedicated to misfits entitled Square Pegs.

Friday, May 18, 2018

New Poetry by Linda Stevenson

Biographical Hands

I visited the great tombs of Switzerland.
No, it was Egypt.
No, it was Rome.
They swirl the same, embarrassing
my intelligence,
They were catacombs, pale pyramids
of controversial stone;
the Alps.

The snow was pernicious, or was it sand?
it took no sides, melted to grime,
or ground away to glass.

I am fastidious, I wash my hands
on Easter, and every other death day,
rinsing perpetually. They say Auden
seldom washed, so I’ll not
favour that path...maybe the worst
of Englishness;
I’m happy to dabble with clean, clear
poets I know, in spite of old talent,
lean, old-world archaeologies.

This is the wrong key, it sticks
and doesn’t turn. Damn, I can’t keep
repeating this dream/non-action,
dying disproportionately; my given hours
run out, basalt
blocks my way. Where are the literal keys,
lifting heavy in my hands, yet
smooth and crafted well
for opening?

They have made CERN, the abyss,
constructed it from what they know,
and the rest. That
is my Switzerland...

and my outrageously cool, paralysed boy
looks at me and says
It’s only a body anyway, isn’t it, Mum?
pointedly challenging
my powdering snow,
and icicles;
free-heeling it down,
roughcast, offering
a demo of slalom for sarcophaga,

unshod, sounder of mind
than any genius,
conflating history
with pure will, waving,
with no hands,
to travellers.

- Linda Stevenson 2018

A founding member of Melbourne Poets Union, facilitator of poetry groups in gaols and community centres, contributor to anthologies, recently published in various literary magazines. Chapbook "The Tipping Point" published in 2015, active as a poet within the online poetry sector.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

New Poetry by Lesley Synge

Captain Garibaldi of the Trader Carmen in 1852

‘Yes men. Here on the Pacific we are becalmed. But our luck
will change, our sails will fill. Sailors – pluck!
we are no hermaphrodites, we’re men
and we’ll see a port and women again.
We’ll soon be drinking in a Chilean bar
while the hold is emptied of silk and items chinois
and then we’ll sail on with copper for Lima. 
A man must have faith, be a dreamer!’

On the infinite ocean there’s scope to curse – 
or wank, or pray. Me? I’d rather write verse.
I’ve a new subject – the stone cottage we saw
that day in Bass Strait when we put ashore.
I remember the notice on the door: Leaving
this island. Such loneliness – nevermore.
For me though, solitude is what a zealot needs between fights.
But somewhere warm. Mar Tirreno by Christ?
Off Sardinia perhaps? Goats instead of police spies?
Unpopulated; not even a church and a priest with his lies.
I swear by the Laterna of Genoa, my beacon
that my religion is humanity! And freedom!
Popes, dukes, kings, republicans – hear me bellow –
call your exile home, I spit on embroglio.

‘Alora lads, don’t despair. Our water’s gone but don’t get shirty.
Rain will fall. We won’t perish. I’m too young – barely thirty.
Rally lads. Viva Italia Una!
Instead of ship rats, we’ll soon eat tuna.’

(Note: Garibaldi called into Three Hummock Island off northwest Tasmania in 1852.)

- Lesley Synge 2018

Lesley Synge is an Australian writer. Her poetry collections are Organic Sister and Mountains Belong to the People Who Love Them. The film, Slow Days on Old Pathways is on YouTube and novel, Cry Ma Ma to the Moon (about poets in a love triangle), is on Amazon Kindle. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

New Poetry by Abigail George

Your grandfather and winter trees in London

(For the Dutch poet Joop Bersee)

    My dearest boy. My sweet child. There’s a
    Long road to spirituality. A quartet, a feast.

A moveable feast, an ex-President Thabo Mbeki, John Nash,
Jerome David Salinger. You’re fed stories
About ghosts and zombie princesses by me.
Nothing but rusk and rooibos tea with milk.
Angel face I don’t want you to end up a broken
Man. I want you to hold a map in your hands
For all your life. Black is the water. Black is
Winter. The suffering. Poverty. I think of the
Depths of the ocean with fifty different kinds
Of vision. You’re the sea. You’re the sea. To me
Though you’re dry grass. You’re dry grass.
It’s lovely to dream. To know that you’re mine.
Part of me. Even my anguish and loneliness.
Even my powers of what I find relevant, and yes,
Even my pain. I am all-powerful. As powerful
As any single and intelligent woman nearing
Her forties can be. It’s a gift. It’s a gift. Born
Knowing. Acknowledging freedom. The heat
Of regret can damage. You looked at me through
Another man’s eyes and said what a waste of
A human life if you do not live, laugh, love,
Socialize, but I could not, will not yield to that.
It will destroy me if I did any of that but you
Don’t understand. I do know joy but only in writing
About life and the last person I have ever truly

Loved. I think of Grahamstown, Swaziland,
Montagu and Sedgefield and what the future holds
For me. Weeping passes through me. Sobs. It’s
Not as if I show regret on my face the morning
After anymore. I still know your name. That you’re
Great at what you do. All I want to do is catch
Up to the winter sun. All I want is to know you again.
But you’re not my man. You’re not my boy. You’re
Not mine but now I must speak in a language
Every mother understands. You’re Truman Capote’s
Music. You’re climate and mockingbird. You’re
Humming my kind of blues. Yes, I’ll remember
You in the same way I’ve loved every man who has
Entered my life. Take a bow. I think of the light
That swimmers’ must have in their eyes at the local
Swimming pool and I begin to write poetry.
Words come. They come and I write. Words come and
I write. I think of when I started to write this
Book. It would be so wrong to write only about
Love, or only about despair, and then I think
Back to what inspired me in the first place.
The tiny well that we dug up in the grass at the
Back of the house where I buried the limp body
Of your kitten and how it was mostly your grandfather
Who wanted to keep it a secret from you.

- Abigail George 2018

Abigail George is a South African blogger, essayist, poet, short story writer and has just completed her first novel. She briefly studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School in Johannesburg. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies, and she was educated in Port Elizabeth, Swaziland, and Johannesburg.

Friday, May 04, 2018

New Poetry by Peter Venables

Cruzen Rum Shack 

Sunday. Well before Happy Hour.
Palm trees sway like masts where
a blackbird rides against cloudy crests.
A windswept man strums his acoustic,
rasps It’s better than drinking alone

Pop tops percuss across the pool,
wafting memories of the Wit’s End
eons ago, when smoke blunted floodlights. 

They bask, oil simmering on bronze skin. 
1 = 10 . . . behind shades my eyes 
sculpt her supple shape. 

A few distant embers glow, fade.
Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight

Last chorus.

- Peter Venables 2018

Peter Venable has written poems for over 50 years and attends Winston Salem Writers’ poetry critique group.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

New Poetry by Robert Verdon


if you vanish into a vortex 
wherein the dibbler dines 
on petals of dissolved earth,
grounded beneath childhood pines
and a navy blue neckerchief of sky …

o nimble membrane,
will not the waiter leave you jostling
with grains of sugar on an 
inland sea of chilly plastic,
sticky on the damp octagonal table,
till he has his own restaurant?

- Robert Verdon 2018

Robert Verdon came 2nd in the 2012 W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia. His books include The Well-Scrubbed Desert (1994), Her Brilliant Career (1998), & Before we Knew this Century (2010).

He is currently finishing off a PhD at the University of Canberra.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New Poetry by JD DeHart


On the window to the left,
the neighbor closing in.  Large
vans, gas grills, overtaking
with suburban life.

To the right, it was a vacant
lot, now overrun with chickens,
rabbits, a teeming zoo of human
and animal life.

Then there are the fast-moving cars,
children dressed as superheroes,
frequent deliveries, all of which
brings to mind:

What used to be life in the country.
The slow rumble of gravel once
or twice a day signaled a passerby.
Enough silence to dwell on.

- JD DeHart 2018

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. He blogs about books and authors at

Monday, April 23, 2018

New Poetry by James Walton

At the meter board

The power is off moon less night
stars broadcast, a lingua franca 
in orbit of this fatal space.
Yet when dawn puts a finger
to my nose and the river speaks again,
everything is new innocent as genesis
without a shadow not as before.
Birds flutter through a reveille
small talk of waking things,
my life out on the perimeter.
The old world’s a safety vest
too pithy, how the same instruments
cleaned and dressed made ornament.
A jangle of keys to witness origin
replacing fuses, where light has no mercy
only a well honed opinion.

- James Walton 2018

James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, a cattle breeder, and mostly a public sector union official. He has been published in many anthologies. journals. and newspapers.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Now that yours truly has pretty much signed off on the latest collection, I have entered that strange twilight period familiar to all writers and artists between the decision to call time on a project and that project finally seeing the light of day. As Leonardo Da Vinci once said: "Art is never finished, only abandoned." 

Anyway, while I look around for ways to fill this void, I am once again


Regular followers of Bluepepper should know the spiel by now, but if you are new to the pepper, just follow the submission guidelines near the top of the task bar to your right.

Friday, April 13, 2018

New Poetry by Mohammad Ali Maleki

We Sing the Song of Terror

Hey, Freedom Law.
Don't talk about the springtime. 
We are in prison right now! 
Come and break our locks. 
Set us free from this prison —
We face no justice from you. 

Hey, Freedom Law.
How can you claim justice exists? 
No one here shows us mercy.
Come visit us in these conditions —
Like poisonous serpents
we sting ourselves all the time. 

Hey, Freedom Law.
In this murderous world
only cruel people govern. 
They trundle us through our own blood —
We are victims of their thoughts
and that makes racists happy.

Hey, Freedom Law.
Don’t break our locks after all! 
There is no one to put us right —
We sing the song of terror;
we no longer want to be freed. 
We are not afraid of these prison bars anymore. 

Hey, Freedom Law.
I no longer sorrow for freedom. 
I’m used to this dry and infertile land.
My days and nights, friend, 
have become a frightening nightmare. 
Look how these bad dreams are now a habit for me. 

Hey, Freedom Law. 
These prison bars
are a cancerous tumour; 
they stick to my body like meat on a bone. 
I know I will die here soon. 

Hey, Freedom Law.
If we meet someday
I’ll tie you onto the back of a wolf
and send you to the wolves’ city. 
Then there’ll be no sign of you on the ground
and the flowers won’t wither in your shade. 

Hey, Freedom Law.
I’m not afraid of death. 
But I'm afraid of freedom:
I'm scared of this two footed beast. 
Because I can't live 
outside these bars

- Mohammad Ali Maleki 2018

(Translated by Mansour Shoshtari. Edited by Rose Turtle Ertler & Michele Seminara)

Mohammad Ali Maleki is currently detained on Manus Island. He spends a lot of his time thinking about and writing poetry — a new craft he has been working on for the last two years. All his poetry is written in Farsi and translated into English by his dear friend Mansour Shoshtari, also detained on Manus Island. Mohammad has been writing to Australian musician/artist Rose Turtle Ertler for the last two years. Rose and Mohammad collaborated on a tiny zine called The Pond last year and Mohammad has just released The Strong Sunflower, an illustrated poem which Rose and Janet Galbraith produced and published through Writing Through Fences. Mohammad also has a chapbook of poetry, Truth in the Cage, forthcoming from Rochford Street Press. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Poetry by Indunil Madhusankha

The Nest of Love

The giant mango tree on the rear lawn
towers above the window in my room upstairs
Beneath its canopy, laid on a limb, there is the bird nest
A small family – the mother, father and the son
In the evenings, when the sky turns primrose
with the golden moon peering above the distant hills
I hear some tweeting sounds coming from the nest
Then I rush towards the window
I see the tiny bill – wide open, rising above the nest wall
saying a thousand little things to its mother
who pats the baby head with her soft slender neck
In a while, the father’s shadow emerges from the distance
with some wild berries clipped between the mandibles
fluttering his wings more hastily seeing home
As he lands on the nest, the mother welcomes him
tenderly kissing his sturdy neck
Then both start cuddling their son
They chop the berries with their beaks
and feed the baby with the bits
who gulps them down
while relishing the very warmth.
Oh, I am so happy that I have been
lucky enough to witness this nest of love!

Indunil Madhusankha 2018

(Previously published in the Leaves of Ink Magazine on 15th March 2016)

Indunil Madhusankha  is currently an Instructor in the Department of Mathematics of the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Even though he is academically involved with the subjects of Mathematics and Statistics, he also pursues a successful career in the field of English language and literature as a budding young researcher, reviewer, poet, editor, content writer and proofreader. His creative works have been featured in several international anthologies, magazines and journals. Moreover, Indunil was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2016 by the Scarlet Leaf Publishing House based in Toronto, Canada. 

Sunday, April 08, 2018

New Poetry by Chibuihe Obi

resurrection body

when the sun sinks, the world rises on my tongue 
like a conjurer, i let memory find its way to the river
watch her dip her soft toes and her smoky  dress 
watch her fill her pores with lucky bones – the dense & the dizzying 
in this space,  childhood is defined thus:
the lethargic silence  of nuts before the arrival of squirrels 
day old spiderlings on their rocking-cribs before the waves
and the kicking 

if i were a plume, i  will fruit
if a spread of greenery, i will let the children lead their dreams through 
my pasture, run me into a rollercoaster 
i will be their loose earth and sandy beach
i will be their spinning wheels, their ginger bread house
sand man in place of snow

but here the body is a hill of crumbling earth
memory pins it's badge on ash 
on this burnt out wood 

here growing old is like a tooth
sinking all the way back into the gum

into this fleshy earth – my origin

- Chibuihe Obi 2018

Chibuihe Obi,  the co-founder of Kabaka Magazine is a fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency. His writings have been published or forthcoming in Brittle Paper, Expound Magazine, Praxis, Kalahari Review, 14: an Anthology of Queer Art, Mounting the Moon, etc. He is the winner of Brittle Paper Award, The Babishai Niwe Haiku Prize, and has been nominated for the  Pushcart Prize. His is currently on the Gerald Kraak Award shortlist

Thursday, April 05, 2018

New Poetry by Abigail George

As I came home

(for the Dutch poet Joop Bersee)

    Even when it hurts like the sun. The spark
    of manhood or woman-speak. Even when
    it hurts gulls made of flame on an island.
    Even when it hurts glaring or silence and

    tears. Even when it hurts treacherous smoke
    or clouds. Even when it hurts arrows or a
shoreless continent. Even when it hurts love
    or swept away sea or wound. The tall,

    green-shifting universe is all proof I need
    that once I was loved by you. My hands are
    lonely. Beneath me lies gracious fury. At
    the end of the day, I find a mountain there.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote poems. Rudyard
Kipling. Thomas Hardy. At the end of suffering
    comes joy. At the beach, I watch seawalls
    fall. Man, beast, bird bodiless from where

    I stand except the English poet Rupert Brooke.
    Except Rome. Finding the source of the Nile.
    I turn my eyes to see your liquid eyes. Your
    sun-like face and I wonder who your God is.

    I’m tired with work and suffering. Rain
    waters the scorched earth. Lust can comfort
    us in primitive and savage ways. I think
of the bottom of the world. More beautiful than words can
    ever say. I think of the crying of a wild
    bird. The loneliness found in a city. The
    shining centre of the earth brighter than
    the sun. The devil is a ruthless creature that
mocks the non-humanity in all of us. It is
Christ that possesses me entirely, completely.
    I think of those inheriting control. Those

    fetching angels that have taught me that
    guilt is a lifeless unruly whirlwind. All I
see is thin people wearing enigmatic smiles
    eating air on the covers of magazines
    with self-mastery. Icy people with lofty
    ambitions but I am not one of them. He
    looks older, more handsome with the beard.
    I could start my life over with somebody
    new but my brain tells me we’ll probably
    be strangers for the rest of our lives.
    Reading has taught me that even solitude
    can be miraculous. Futility. Loneliness.

- Abigail George 2018

Pushcart Prize nominated Abigail George is a South-African based blogger, essayist, poet, and short story writer. She is the recipient of 2 writing grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, one from the Centre of the Book in Cape Town, and another from ECPACC in East London. She is the writer of 6 books. She briefly studied film at NFTS (Newtown Film and Television School)  followed by a stint at a production house. Her latest essay ("Paradise") has been published online in Entropy and deals with themes of clinical depression, despair, loneliness, hardship, isolation, peer pressure, and mental illness.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

New Poetry by Michael Keshigian

What to do with Intangibles

Early morning, a little snow
teases the outstretched branches
with the help of the wind.
It is cold, but inside the stove’s warmth
cradles the recliner in the lamplight
where he reads poems.
His fingers, thick and calloused,
flip pages enthusiastically
as he notices the shape of his nails,
much like his father’s,
no moons rising.
And like his father had done,
it’s time to contemplate departure.
One day, the stove unlit, will dispense
the damp aroma of creosote,
the book will lie closed
upon the arm of the recliner.
One day, a relative will enter 
and acknowledge 
that the house is empty,
no warmth, no breath, no poetry,
an indentation upon the seat
next to the book.
The change will go unnoticed
by the snow, wind, ice, and 
those few crows meandering
for morsels upon the buried landscape.
He returns to reading,
the words delight him.
What would become of these joys,
he wonders. 
Someone should take them.

- Michael Keshigian 2018

Michael Keshigian is the author of twelve poetry collections including: Into The Light, released in April, 2017 by Flutter Press. Published in numerous national and international journals, he is a 6- time Pushcart Prize and 2-time Best Of The Net nominee. His poetry cycle, Lunar Images, set for Clarinet, Piano, Narrator, was premiered at Del Mar College in Texas. Subsequent performances occurred in Boston (Berklee College) and Moleto, Italy. Winter Moon, a poem set for Soprano and Piano, premiered in Boston. (


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

New Poetry by John Rock

Morning Fire On The Beach

looking at myself these mornings
through a sunrise and morning tea
close to being able to say the word autumnal and see it
among the villages of gulls
like a raven who dropped a thought he picked up on the road
that became this fire

gulls facing each other in a ring
and dousing their bodies
so easy to be together
and apart
but ultimately someone who multiplies
like snowflakes
and is found by the surface of mirrors

one raven among the gulls
could be a crow
but I’m gonna say it’s a raven
cause it’s morning
here it comes
another neighbor

- John Rock 2018

In love with water-spiders, ravens, and sunsets, and ecstatic dance, John Rock lives in New Mexico.  More poems, audio poems, novels and plays for free at

Sunday, March 25, 2018

New Poetry by John Bartlett

The Blue

The blue of the ocean snatched up by sky
Fog smudges this perfect landscape
I wait to be called by name
The violinist on the street oblivious

Fog smudges this perfect landscape
Apple-trees glow like stop lights
The violinist on the street oblivious
As children sleep, buried in dreams

Apple-trees glow like stop lights
Crowds surge like advancing tides
As children sleep, buried in dreams
The sea drifts on with no guilt

Crowds surge like advancing tides
Somewhere a single gull complains
The sea drifts on with no guilt
A small boat on a vast canvas

Somewhere a single gull complains
I wait to be called by name
A small boat on a vast canvas
The blue of the ocean snatched up by sky

- John Bartlett 2018

John Bartlett‘s non-fiction and essays have been widely published and were collated into an e-book, ‘A Tiny and Brilliant Light’. He is the author of two novels, ‘Towards a Distant Sea’ and ‘Estuary’, a collection of short stories, ‘All Mortal Flesh’ and e-book,  ‘Jack Ferryman – reluctant Private Investigator’, sequel to ‘Towards a Distant Sea’, has just been published. He blogs regularly at: beyondtheestuary

Bluepepper would like to apologise to anyone out there who has been unable to submit to us over the past week. The problem has only just been brought to our attention and has been rectified. We can only offer this as a cautionary tale to anyone out there predisposed to believe the hype of a certain gargantuan software company barking at you that their product is safer and faster than the tried and trusted.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

New Words and Images by Wayne H. W Wolfson

Night Sketching

I had my sketchpad out. There had been no plan to work but I enjoyed the lines of her body. She was large but seemed indifferent to any possible judgement to be made by the other party goers.

Before stripping out of her clothes, she put some lipstick on. Somewhere she had found a candy apple red swimming cap which she also donned. 

Occasionally as someone drifted through the room, they would stop and watch for a few moments as she struck a new pose. When the voyeur was about to leave, she batted her eyelashes and puffed out her cheeks in a kewpie doll kiss.

 One of my favorites was when she made a fist, pulling her elbow back past her hip while making her other arm extend out past her head like an Olympian shot-putter whose task had just been completed. There was also a series of flamenco steps, my pencil her partner.

"Against the glass 2" watercolor & paper 7x10

The flesh of her cheeks and areolas became flushed, echoing the color of her rubber cap. Going into a semi-squat, palms resting on her thighs, she let a stream trickle out with a soft giggle.

Heinrich had come in to see if I needed anything. He pushed his glasses back up his nose with his index finger. 

“Yes, yes, very amusing. Now I later must clean up piss for the sake of art.”

There had only been a few pages left in my pocket pad, now also used, but the night remained young. 


- Wayne H.W Wolfson 2018

Visual Works of Wayne Wolfson

Thursday, March 15, 2018

New Poetry by Jeff Nazzaro

South LA Cul-De-Sac

His backyard abuts the tracks. 
Sitting on the stoop, black-and-white 
mutt at his feet, he smokes and watches
the trains go by, 
Downtown to Long Beach, 
Long Beach back Downtown,
through the heart of the city
and past his fence.

Little old houses of 
turquoise, pink, and white
cling for life to the
life clinging back in the
cul-de-sac next door.

The signs on the market 
are faded. The taco shop
went bust. The pretty girl
in seafoam green
makes her way 
to the edge.

- Jeff Nazzaro 2018

Jeff Nazzaro lives in Southern California, where he writes poetry and short fiction. His poems have appeared in a handful of online and print journals, including Rat's Ass Review, Thirteen Myna Birds, and Cholla Needles Magazine.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

New Poetry by Linda Stevenson


Because of the aching candour
of gesture, black marks
drawn freehand on backgrounds,
because of the impossibility of their perfecting,
because some great intent tries,
hour beyond hour,
across spans that dip dimensionally
every time we consider travelling,
because of hints, gold leaf, apples,
existence in its brave, uncaring armoury...
we live on, forbear, hear out volumes
of orchestral cicada evenings,
succumb to high music,
pass around themes and half sprung chords,
cup ears to catch love memes,
listen for grace notes, and embrace.

- Linda Stevenson 2018

A founding member of Melbourne Poets Union, facilitator of poetry groups in gaols and community centres, contributor to anthologies, recently published in various literary magazines. Chapbook "The Tipping Point" published in 2015, active as a poet within the online poetry sector.

Friday, February 23, 2018

New Poetry by Rajnish Mishra


How can I ever return to my city now? I’ll need a time back,
and me back from that time. I’ll need them back too, men and 

children and plants, and a cow, yes the cow that would come
to the door for me to rub its back, then leave, every day.

That time and place, this time and place, complete my city of the
Too many deaths in twenty three days have hit me hard,

kept me shaken for minutes at length. Death
is not to be trifled with, and flash: images

of a street, they sell fish and vegetables for some length
on it and then there’s a bend, the end of the street,

and then I return. Early this morning an aunt passed away,
yes, that’s what we called her. We’d been neighbors

my whole life and that of our families for as long
as we have lived in our houses. I am far removed in place,

in grief too. Or else, how do I explain my not rushing
back where I’m needed? I have changed. I have come a long way

from my home, from myself. I think I understand
Tithonus’ wish* a little. It becomes difficult to live

once all have gone, and those around are not your people,
the time and place also not yours. Then a shadow walks,

a ghost in a shell, and waits for

- Rajnish Mishra 2018

* Tithonus, lover of Eos, Goddess of the Dawn, also the subject of a poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson in which he despairs of his immortal state and expresses a longing to die.

Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India and now in exile from his city. His work originates at the point of intersection between his psyche and his city. His work has now started appearing in journals and websites.