Monday, January 29, 2018

New Poetry by Ashley Capes


we’re supposed to mark each other
you know
exactly how it goes, you know
it’s one of those rules
that govern Life,
the ones that offer a tarnished
kind of comfort
in their supposed iron-cladding
like the ones
that only get fulfilled
in the cosy narratives of midday movies
and Disney
or any given summer’s
and you know
all of this
the way you knew it before we met
but you’re still like me
and you know
it’s not like that on the other side of the screen
or at least it doesn’t
have to be
and so instead of marks
we have always tried to leave behind
the kind of thoughts
if we care to look up and see them
burn their
afterimage across
the entire sky.

- Ashley Capes 2018

Ashley is a poet, novelist and teacher from Australia. He loves haiku, Ghibli films and volleyball.

Friday, January 26, 2018

New Poetry by JD DeHart


Our stories are told through
dust, and the sound of wheels
traveling over coarse earth.

Our stories are told through
struggle, long treks up the river,
unknown forests.

Sometimes our stories are even
told in grand mysteries of the sky,
resurrection touching winter.

Marginal figures who went on
to become the hero of the narrative.

- JD DeHart 2018

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

New Poetry by Heather Browne


There was a break in the ocean
a split 
taking it down to the sand
exposing rock and shell 
hardening in the air 
dying if touched

The ocean wanted to feel the sun 
burning below
the pain sharp and pointed
instead of languid inebriation 
the incessant drunkenness of waves 
even a crash is softened
It wanted to be stripped 
down bare to the spine
where every rock tossed stays implanted
hearing the beat striking
the bottom 
taking hold and digging in 
leaving its mark

- Heather Browne 2018

Heather M. Browne is a faith-based psychotherapist, recently nominated for the Pushcart Award, published in the Orange Room, Boston Literary Review, Page & Spine, Eunoia Review, Poetry Quarterly, Red Fez, Electric Windmill, Apeiron, The Lake, Knot, mad swirl.  Red Dashboard  released her first collection, Directions of Folding.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New Poetry by James Croal Jackson

Homesick (Dissociation)

Tulip tree in Alaska. Cold
and wild. Rembrandt blue

Christmas lights, shepherd
pie a warmth of familiar metal

stovetop. Doorstep. Gold
beneath nothing but rusted shovel

mnemonic arms repping
dumbbells. Must be strong

in clumps of conviction. The south
says the creator God’s a yes.

Freeform jazz. Bubbled
champagne. Festivals devoted

to home. Houston before me,
Texas a pink tie knotted.

- James Croal Jackson 2018

James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in Hobart, FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at

Monday, January 22, 2018

New Poetry by Ed Wright

Screen of Death

When people die they go to television
and audition for their elevation.
Some are extra, others star
now it doesn’t matter. In my coffin
on the conveyor to the furnace
I dreamed that I might read the news or sing a song
on a talent show called What Went Wrong.
The flames forgot to touch me, but how to sing
one minute I was there, the next one gone –
a high note for when 
the clot exploded in my brain – sustained like a tragic diva
for the journey up the tunnel
of my last embodied thought:
pancakes hot and syrupy;
the sweet tart slightly gingerpop of blueberries with cream. 
I left my loved ones in the kitchen – now
they’re on the couch – large as life –
of the earth – intangible – 
channel surfing – for me? –
just outside the screen. 
Ghosts are prettier than people– making up for the past – or
just making it up – our blemishes 
are lessened by the lost dimension.
On the third week of my death
I rose again – from the casting couch –
and sang of tinned spaghetti –
May the sauce be with you! 
Sing it like you mean it – the director snarled, 
Then they showered me in the stuff. 
On a nearby set they were sequelling
The Sound of Music – perhaps
I could understudy the captain
and marry sweet Maria.A nice lady, 
who introduced herself
as the executive producer
came over with a towel
have faith, she said, have faith
and then I knew
as I dabbed the gunk from my eyes
that we would shoot the ad 
jingle all the way to hell 
and again 
and again …

- Ed Wright 2018

Ed Wright is the author of six non-fiction books including Lost Explorers (Pier 9) and Ghost Colonies (Pier 9). His first full-length collection of poetry, When Sky Becomes the Space Inside Your Head, was published by Puncher and Wattman in 2012. He currently writes the New Australian Fiction review column for the Australian and is Director of The Creative Word Shop. He lives in Newcastle with his wife and two children.

Friday, January 19, 2018

New Poetry by David Lander

KRIA (young Alpaca) 

For twenty minutes we watched him try to leave his mother. 
He hung like a rag, head down, looking at his new world, 
like a passenger on a cruise ship, curious, astonished 
at soil, smells, grass, but not able to go ashore. 

His skull was wet; white wool tousled like a child’s, towel-rubbed, from the bath. 
He hung upside down, a rabbit in the hand, fighting against the gripping flesh, 
the possessive darkness behind, reaching for this new light, the sweet grass.
He rolled his eyes. 

I gripped his skull, shaped like a cup, fingers round the rim where 
it met the neck and pulled. Nothing. His body was held tight by something 
formidable. His mother, standing still as if this were just another day. 
an occasional grunt suggesting he wasn’t trying hard enough. 

Then out he came, a spindly scaffold of legs and neck. He was active 
on the instant trying to stand, collapsing, wanting to go but remaining, 
desperate to walk, to be, to grow, to taste and see and hear and graze 
and run and rut and call and spit and fight and join.

But the universe crowded in on him. There was no space for him. 
No air moved aside for him, no room was made for him. 
Light bruised him. His mother moved away from him. 
He spoke. He knew. He was not welcome. He folded his knees and sat. 

We stood him up. He sat down. We stood him up. He sat down.
He knew the truth – this place was not for him. We fed him, touched him,
held him, told him he was bold, but truth had entered him. 
He was not wanted. So he folded his knees and sat and died. 

- David Lander 2018

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.

Friday, January 12, 2018

New Words by Wayne H. W Wolfson

Along the Way

Having fallen for various reasons, there was to be seen a parade of animal corpses by the side of the road along the highway. This was in sharp contrast to the beautiful fauna, the incandescent fields of yellow flowers.
There was a lot of land, ramshackle outbuildings, many of which had holes in their walls doing slow hemorrhages of straw, twigs and other bird’s nest minutia.
With the timing of a musician, managing to make the car do a gradual slide into a stop upon the loose gravel that ended right before several cracked flagstones which led up to the bowed steps of the porch.
 She had been perspiring. So in my own head had I been, that I had not realized how moist I too had become.  Turning towards me, her chin touched her chest and her shoulders rose up to her ears.
“I am not here…alone. I mean usually I am by myself but it’s not my place. Hang out for a minute while I see if anyone is home.”
I watched her go up the steps, each of which gave off a sharp creak as soon as it felt her weight upon it. Once it became apparent that she would not be right back, I walked around the side of the house.
A little ways past the house I saw an enclosure and movement. There were four metal gates as would normally slide open to let cattle out of a pen. Instead of being attached to anything else though, each one leaned against the other, all keeping one another propped up in the manner of a house of cards.
In the middle of this makeshift coral which had no discernable entrance was an ostrich. I had read somewhere that they could be big but this one was far larger than I expected even a bigger one to be.
There was a chain around its neck, kept in place by a horseshoe shaped nut and bolt. It glared at me without having consciously made the decision to do so. I began to slowly back away. For some reason this upset it more than me just standing there.
It took a few steps, quickly finding its movements hindered by the chain. The ostrich opened its mouth wide. I do not know if it was anger or pain but it emitted a terrible noise.
Its mouth was now wide open, so wide that, it obscured the view of its head. Looking at it straight on, all that could be viewed was a gynecological, slightly curved pink diamond with deep grooves which sloped downwards towards a black center.
Bethany returned. She had not meant to startle me but as unpleasant as it was I had determined not to take my eyes off of the ostrich until I was in the clear and so had jumped at her touch. Her hair was pulled back and she had on a different shirt.
Despite having cleaned up, I could still smell the drink on her along with the scent of both her sweat and mine.
Right now she had absinthe eyes. Regardless of what actions occurred that she may forget tomorrow she would be rich when upon waking they turned to rubies.
Softly laughing, she told me that the coast was clear.
The house was in a state of disarray and so it was impossible to tell how many people she shared it with or that of her connection to them.
We made our way through the thrift store shambles to a tiny back room that had only one small ripped screened window that was partially blocked by a free standing mirror. The two of us rolled around on the already unmade bed, telling each other lies. Muscle contraction transmissions over, we both drowsed, her falling first.
Briefly, I awoke several hours later and thought that in the stillness of the late hour I had heard the soft slapping of the ostrich’s chain against the makeshift prison wall.
The next morning was not as awkward as it could have been. I brushed my teeth using my index finger while she selected a tee shirt for herself from among the pile on the floor.
There was the start of a headache crawling out from behind my eyes, which I stubbornly insisted to myself was on account of the heat and not the drinks.
Bethany said that she would drive me back. In the car I was quiet but not sullen. I had an attack of bashfulness which prevented me from asking to stop for some coffee. The ride back seemed hell of a lot quicker than the initial ride out for which I was grateful.
She pulled over by the curb. Surprisingly, she too got out of the car. 

“We had fun?”

I nodded.

“I like you, you’re a nice guy.”

“Really, I am not.”

She fell into my arms murmuring the name of a trumpet player and then something in Spanish.
Without first asking permission, she used the pen that my girlfriend had gotten me to list all the places that she would be putting in an appearance on Saturday night.
After she drove away I turned the piece of paper over. It was a receipt for suntan lotion and a box of peppermints.


- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2018

Monday, January 08, 2018

New Poetry by William G. Davies Jr.


The skin
of the river
pools pink
surging into
the stony penumbra
of the Rockville bridge,
its archways
of water
to a curvature
of the sun.


Cows lie idle
in the field,
their jaws a rhythmic
assembly-line sameness
and breath-exultant brumal
of cold, sweet cud.

- William G. Davies Jr. 2018

William had a small collection published, “Before There Were Bones”, by Prolific Press in 2015. He is currently studying to be a Deacon in the Catholic Church.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

New Poetry by Linda Stevenson


Our lemons were so prolific
we dragged them around
in sacks, I mean potato sacks,
the stitched up ones
with gaping wounds,
smelling of potato digs
and black earth.

Wondrously overstocked
with lemons, we gave them away
by the gross, piled them
out on the nature strip for any takers,
brewed gallons upon heat-wave gallons
of carb soda lemonade,
occasionally spiced with a lime.

I took to climbing, ladder
and branch, loved pulling against
the fruits’ resist, gathering, letting fall,
pitching some towards baskets;
on the ground they piled up,
a harvest, between the silver beet
and carrots.

Now, I own one small tree,
planted in half a barrel; it sits
on concrete in a space I’m pleased
to call “back garden”. It’s doing well,
bore sixteen juice-filled offerings
last season. I’m so proud
of its valiant flowering. 

- Linda Stevenson 2018

Linda is 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, January 05, 2018

New Poetry by Mohammad Ali Maleki


First the wolves and jackals united
to rule and control us.
Then the vultures and rooks
wanted a share in our torture
and became guards.
The jungle trees joined in,
promising thick branches for axe-
handles to sever our roots and limbs;
pouring our blood on the ground
for the beasts to feast on.

Next the swamps and rivers united
to stop our water.
The wheat-farmers and millers
agreed to deny us bread.
The clouds colluded with the sky
to throw their rain on the desert
and leave us thirsty.
And the storms conjoined
with the winds to crush us
like autumn leaves under their boots.

All worked together to harvest
our humanity, manhood and bravery—
killing kindness and planting their curses instead.

- Mohammad Ali Maleki 2018

(translated by Mansour Shoshtari)

Mohammad Ali Maleki is an Iranian poet and avid gardener who has been living in detention on Manus Island for four years. His poem ‘The Strong Sunflower’ was the first work published on Verity La’s Discoursing Diaspora project. Since then, Mohammad’s writing has been published by Bluepepper and by the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. He has been a featured poet on Rochford Street Review, and his poems and letters have been included in the Dear Prime Minister project and at the Denmark Festival of Voice.  His poem ‘Tears of Stone’ was shortlisted for the Red Room Company’s New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016 and received Special Commendation for extraordinary work in extreme circumstances.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

New Poetry by Abigail George

The city lights of Port Elizabeth or take my hand if you’re afraid

(for Joop Bersee and in memory of Rainer Maria Rilke)

    All the bare necessities of writing

    are found at an empty table. Figs and tea.
    The flame of language is found there. Hot
    ink. Writing. Prayer. People are found
    milling in gardens in the summer heat drinking.
    Eating good cheese and bread because
    it is the season of eating good cheese
    and bread. The writer hovers. He belongs.
    She belongs but she is not part of the
    group. She’s just an observer. Writers
    watch through the window. Watching
    the voices until there’s nothing but the heat.
    Burning Midwest prairies. Cacti in desert-land.
    Thirsty for thin black veils to cover the ocean-wind and sea
    that aren’t found there. Only sky. Only
    sky. Creeping up like sunlight. Everything
    happened so fast. Oh, insane rapture’s
    shadowboxing game! This honey in the
blood. This evil-sound of weeping. This smoke
    kissing springtime courage and harsh
    anguish silent all these years. Now there’s

all this expectation. Rewrites of heart-

    ache on my body. Seduction theories.
    I had solitude. I wanted disasters to be
    kind to me. I was alive even in those
    empty moments. I brought submission to the kitchen table.

    The neon light is lovely here. The city
lights of Port Elizabeth a blessing. A man’s
    heart is gold. A woman’s heart sacred
    machine. Sad girl listen for the birdsong

    in Tokyo. All I want is a library to keep
    me warm on my voyage to China away
    from this country of tragedy. The wedding
    of leaf and darkness is closing in. You’ll

    find monsters at the deep end. They’re
    there at the edge of the city lights if you
    look hard enough. You’ll find the auras
    of soil and water. Dust and heat. The photograph of an artist in her hands.

    Remember the tranquil daylight. Then finally
death. Don’t be frightened to close your eyes to it.

- Abigail George 2018

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.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

New Poetry by David Ades

Becoming Flame

When heart is taken from you, torn,

when a child is taken, land, home, innocence, naiveté,
the way everything is perceived,

when what was full has been emptied

and what remains is the dark hole of emptiness
into which you fall and fall,

the person you were dies, becomes another,

carrying the unseen weight of loss, of grief,
like a clinging child that won’t let go,

so that what was taken can never be returned.

What survives depends on will, on character,
on the ability to transform,

to become phoenix rising from ashes,

to war constantly against hollowness —
and in becoming other, becoming more,

more than shadow, more than shell,

more than something broken, something spent,
and of every weight carried, every loss,

becoming shrine, tribute, spirit.

- David Ades 2018

David Ades has lived in Sydney since 2016. He is curating a new monthly poetry reading series commencing in February at Castle Hill Library featuring one poet reading and discussing his or her work and focusing on a theme of the poet’s choice.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Bluepepper would like to welcome you all to the new year and announce that we are once again open for submissions. Just follow the submission guidelines at the top of the task bar.