Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Poetry by James Walton

al dente

folding thoughts in the each of morning
or the out of evenings and night
these old examinations
spaghetti thrown to the wall
stuck hard as the layers
of all the painted over lives
falling down inelegance
between the catcher and the noise
where the glass half full
is half empty with the taste
of earth in dreams turned over now
I howl a fist to a moon less promise
the ever of never adrift 
didn’t the wind say always?

- James Walton 2019

James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official. He is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, the MPU International Prize, The William Wantling Prize, the James Tate Prize, and is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Competition. His poetry collections include ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ 2015 Publish and Print U.K., ‘Walking Through Fences’ 2018 ASM & Cerberus Press, ‘Unstill Mosaics’ Busybird 2019, and ‘Abandoned Soliloquies’ Uncollected Press 2019.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

New Poetry by Mark Roberts

A new normal

for the community in the Blue Mountians

Smoke seeps through walls
we wake to gardens covered in ash
burnt bush carried high
on wind gusts   a sacrifice
you don’t understand
and so will be repeated.

Sun dimmed in afternoon haze
a black circle around party pink
fading to a defeated grey.

Over the ridge new weather patterns are
being invented. Sheets of flames swirl
into cones, billowing clouds dark with fire
throw lightening bolts at fire trucks.

Wait for the wind to change
decide whether to head east or west.

- Mark Roberts 2019

Mark Roberts is a Sydney based writer and publisher. He is the founding editor of Rochford Street Review.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

New Poetry by Karen May

Words that repeat in the last verse 

Keening, for example. Why
does this sound, this cry,

Is it the diminishing
of the earth’s great beat?
Tolling in tandem with
That smaller pulse,
more specific, more populous
yet partnered every
with the magnetic
of this grand ball.
Spinning dancer, she
may surprise
– and interrupt our wail –
with the rigour
of her natural law.
Weighing, calibrating
taking measure.
Confiscating, expunging
this oil-rich skin – this sugared
swag unshared, these
tender meats –
added and multiplied
in the last few beats.

Nourished too well
the breath
of water and of
flesh slows, keens
baneful tears. Mother
tends – crooning
cool winds
as she goes.
Unpicks sinew
rends heart
and fat
from bone.

a mangrove.

- Karen May 2019

Karen May writes poetry, sometimes combined with art practice. She is a climate and ecological activist and has lived for a long while in the Southern Tablelands and Canberra.  

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Bluepepper would like to take this opportunity to wish all our contributors and readers a safe and happy Christmas and a peaceful, joyous and bountiful 2020.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

New Poetry by M.M Dillinger

Gronk Day

Awake late afternoons rise
A child born to ash and sticky kitchen counter
Neighbourhood moons strike fear
Into moth balled machines of system
Their children’s children commit the offence
And no one can cheer rising leaves
Water flowing through broken drainpipes
It’s a Gronks day

The Gronk is awake
Late afternoon riser
To rinse his chest with rusty air
To keep his arms or neck or organs free
From rapid power of god
To live and die in his sight
Is sin
And to walk towards gods god
Is righteous

The Gronk masturbates and plays god like god intended
And rises to the afternoon summer sun
Like a god allowing we to talk and command
Gronk living is as god intended, did he not?
Through scattered shadow window shades paint
On worn carpet and dusty air
One cigarette can fix a thousand years
Dreamt in screaming tone
Please, help young man

Young Gronk opens his eyes to himself each day
And sees his masculinity behind him
Wanting him
Wanting death upon him, is it truly god?
If one's most powerful action is suicide,
Is anyone god, do we know anyone is god
Until they prove death to themselves
I believe Gronk knows
His skin shows meth bites and crack scratches

His breath enters his apartment like a demon invading a graveyard
You may understand it is unpleasant
And it hurts to breathe now
But what does that matter
As long as Gronk makes it through his hallway
He can stay alive another day
Another day he can prove there is no god,
And prove there is,
In all Gronk glory.

His love lays motionless on a secondhand couch
Thank you to the ruler written in fire
For our bountiful meals,
Thought within Gronk's infinite wisdom
All gods, he thought, were united through, this these
Objects seen by men and women
Awake in a late summers Smokey afternoon sun
Her bosom planted distracted god from Gronk
And he was free

A free man is one to which none understand
Because he does not have to live truth or lie
He comprehends and confuses
He comes and goes
And poetically worries for present only
As past and future are god's domains
And he, after all
Is just a gronk's remains.

- M.M Dillinger 2019

M.M Dillinger is a young writer from Western Sydney, Australia, currently writing my first book and collection of poetry.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

How Good is Silence?

So it is now finally official. The announcement this week by the Australian Federal Government of the merger of the Arts Portfolio with, amongst other responsibilities, that of Transport and Infrastructure and Cyber Security means that Australia is the only OECD country without a dedicated Ministry of Arts and Culture. The decision has been justified with the usual Tory gaff about "trimming the fat" off governmment, a Randian trope that defines government as a not-so-necessary evil that really only gets in the way. The rhetoric is hollow but the intention is clear, and when paired with one senior cabinet minister's frank and alarming confession on Sky News this week (where else) that parliament really only represents an irritating distraction for the Federal Coalition, a pretty clear picture emerges of the character and intention of Australia's current Federal Executive. 

Although not a direct recipient of Federal or State Arts Funding, Bluepepper decries the current changes and the naked contempt they display for the role of arts and culture in this country. In purely economic terms (the only terms this Prime Minister seems willing or able to digest without that shit-eating grin), cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia's economy in the 2016-17 financial year.* We are a nation that is justifiably proud of its Orchestras and Opera Companies (and the buildings in which they are housed), of our music festivals and world-renowned musicians of every colour and stamp, of our actors and directors and visual artists, our novelists and, yes, our poets. When in so many areas Australia can appear heartless, rudderless and self-interested on the international stage, when our cricketers are cheats and even Sir David Attenborough can barely stand to utter our name, our artists, musicians and writers allow us to hold our heads high. Bluepepper would like all Australian's to reflect on this, even those many "silent ones" who, we suppose the government assumes, harbour some latent hostility to anyone who dares to make noise. We cannot, yet again, allow this government to suppress the free exchange of ideas in this manner, as they have recently attempted to do with regards to civil activist groups and certain voices in the media with whom they disagree. This latest move, we believe, is part of an alarming pattern that if not quickly addressed will leave us all living greatly impoverished and far less freer lives.

* according to the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research.

New Poetry by Linda Adair

Pulpit Hill Road 

As early darkness gathers
the silver-grey trunks of the high forest recede
taking the comforting view with them
day-tripper cars are long gone but
where the road dwindles into bush 
a set of brake lights stutter and fade

the chill of dusk seeps into the cabin
as I proceed up towards the turn bay 
pressing the door lock button
as I’d do at any city intersection 
but I am almost alone out here

houselights twinkle down the last driveway
— I so want to be home drinking — tea at least
animal voices in nocturnal struggle fly through
the slightly ajar window as I pause listening
nothing sounds human

still someone is in that station wagon 
duco palely gleaming in the moonlight 
strobed by the trunks of a stand of blackbutts
which cleave the tar and mean I must 
pass it to do a U-turn 

I select first and languidly slip the clutch
ready to do more if need be
the diesel powers easily past the trees to my left 
then I slow and swing the 4WD in a clean arc
circling the dead end, counter-clockwise

my lights penetrate the cabin of the Corolla
a woman of about 40 is settling in and looks up
fear wide in her eyes under the high beam’s glare 
I dim them but not before I notice 
the curtains on the side windows 
and meet the steady gaze of the Dingo X 
resting on their bedding near the tailgate.

- Linda Adair 2019

Linda Adair is a writer, editor and publisher based in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. She is a Co-editor of Rochford Street Review and is the editor of Rochford Press.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

New Poetry by Matt McAlpine

Directions from a Cartographer 

A blind man walks
with one foot stepping on the yellow line
at strathfield station
on the fourth platform in the morning
in november when the sun hits the carriage
in such a way that it blinds
everyone else, too

the sun each morning rises
yesterday it rose again across
the heat of strathfield station
blinding others in the street

soon summer crossed the flattened town
the blind man walks
again around the streets divisive
in his aura crowned

A man steps along a wire
strung between two trees their weathered trunks
erected high above the path, they stretch
posed unto their
speckled canopy

the man walks narrow steps he takes
no deviation from that wire
floating, nor hesitation to and from
each end where he begins
to tread again

above the streets
alive and shining where the crowd remains
he walks, free from any glare there blinding, walks though
to no place that
deviates from tree to tree
the air he lives in, surely safer
than below, uncertainty.

When then the intersection? In which
space do these two
meet? The streets are hot in summer
but the air can burn no feet,
which passage to be taken
at which place should they remain,
together perhaps in the summer
heat, or up in the clouds
with that eventual rain?

- Matt McAlpine 2019

Matt McAlpine is a poet from the Blue Mountains currently residing in Nantes, France. He is working on his first collection of poetry Views from the Mountaintop. 

Monday, December 02, 2019

New Poetry by Jean Bohuslav

Thoughts Matter                                         

i dreamt a baby’s head
wore a human bonnet
similar to dried skun rabbit
like the pointy knitted one
worn to the first day of school
when mum sat next to me
waiting for the doors to open
while other children played

the plump head
birthed from dark fertile soil
was placed with other limbs
on cream cloth ..
i knew all would end well
it always did

usually messages were clear
i’d say i already know that 
let me sleep
this time on waking i tried
to piece it together
as i lay in bed

it’s taken years to allow my hand
to venture over the sides of a mattress
i didn’t want that dead guy
seen walking through our house
or any spirit
touching me
in or out of bed
if it was my dear departed mother

- Jean Bohuslav 2019

Jean attends a creative writing group in Torquay Vic.  She has found growth not only in her writing but also in other areas of life from being a part of the group.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019

New Prose Poem by Yash Seyedbagheri

Evening Walk

Pale pink and purple wash the sky, day fading. I walk, feet lightened, shadows darting like ballerinas, in and out. I walk among pine trees, down country roads I’ve never traversed. I traverse every road that doesn’t lead homeward, to beer bottles and sorrow, to words hurled, verbal, shapely grenades. To small rooms, disordered, smelling of onions and armpits.  I walk on and on. Up on hillsides, lights come on from houses with open spaces and no constrained rooms, their butter-colored warmth blending with the pink and purple, welcoming night. Welcoming strangers. 

Welcome, they whisper, even as they cling to their space, space so neat and ordered astride a hillside. All are loved here. How I wish I could just go in one of those homes, absorb the warmth of things. The warmth of spaghetti sauce or chicken sizzling on a stove, grease splattering with cheer. Have a conversation, feel personal communion, the exchange of love, a smile, a joke, love disguised as sarcasm. But I imagine myself, an object out of place among the order and connections, someone who doesn’t know the shape of love. How to don love. I walk the hillsides, the pink and purple turning to velvet. Velvet turning black. Only when stars start to stab me, expanding, do I turn and walk home, trying to stride as slowly as possible. But the journey back is always the fastest one.

- Yash Seyedbagheri 2019

Yash is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program in fiction. A self-proclaimed Romantic and Big Lebowski devotee, Yash is the recipient of two Honorable Mentions from Glimmer Train. His story, "Strangers," was nominated for The Best Small Fictions. His work is forthcoming or has been published in journals such as Unstamatic, Maudlin House, Door Is A Jar Magazine, and Ariel Chart

Thursday, November 14, 2019

New Poetry by R.A. Allen

Looking Back on Love

It was the greatest of loves,
a nonpareil of loves,
you and her
way back then
in that foreign city,
with its too many lemon trees, 
where the locals sneered at you,
and you forgave them their envy.

You saw yourselves in each other's
gaze and loved your reflected selves—
entranced, enraptured, enthralled.
Yes, loving yourselves so long ago.
A love now buried behind your
more recent, empty-seeming loves,
which were not quite as empty
as that love of yourselves back then.

- R. A. Allen 2019

R. A. Allen's poetry has appeared in the New York Quarterly, RHINO Poetry, Glassworks, The Penn Review, The Hollins Critic, Rendez-Vous , and elsewhere. He has a Pushcart nomination for poetry and one Dzanc Books Best of the Web nomination for fiction. He lives in Memphis and was born on the same day the Donner Party resorted to cannibalism: December 26th. More at https://poets.nyq.org/poet/raallen 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Still Open for Business

Despite the current fire emergency down the eastern seaboard of this parched island, Bluepepper would like to announce that we remain open for business, although the situation could change at any moment.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

New Poetry by Jonathan Beale

Thales and the stars

The latest Thales in his modus operandi
He stood beneath the stars.       
The Demonstratively, seeing the ‘state of things’.
Kant (not yet a twinkle in his fathers eye,
or indeed his mothers).
Knew then that singularity
Is meaningless – the marriage of
Empiricism and rationalism
“what use is your thought?”
“…your philosophy?” cried the masses.
With a glint in his eye, having seen
In the nights rich charm – a portent.
Those dusty old olive presses
Never forget who pays the piper
As in the vast shadow of the night
talks to those who listen
as it slips ever quietly on.

- Jonathan Beale 2019

Jonathan Beale has had his work published in over sixty journals including Danse Macabre, Bluepepper, Mad Swirl, Ygdrasil, Red Wolf Editions, Sheepshead Review, Poetry 24, Penwood Review, et al.  He is also published in two anthologies ‘Drowning’ and ‘The Poet as Sociopath’ (Scar publications). And one to be published ‘Do not be afraid’ a small anthology dedicated to Seamus Heaney. His first book of poetry The Destinations of Raxiera (Hammer and Anvil) in November 2015. He lives in Surrey U.K.

For a copy of Jonathan's book just click on the link below.

Monday, November 04, 2019

New Poetry by James Croal Jackson

Always having a crush 
makes life fun. The pining, 

as Vonnegut preached, even 
if only for a glass of water. 

It was in the parking lot, dark 
after shutting the trunk where 

we stored your viola. You 
hugged me, whispered music.

Your warmth pressed against 
mine– epiphany. A concerto 

we don’t know the notes to. How 
do you shut the trunk to a partner 

you’ve stored your notes in for 
a decade? I see the complacency. 

The spare tire in reach. Our palms 
touched each time we switched 

our beers. It’s true: one of us will 
move soon, and I want to whisper 

give me a reason not to. 

- James Croal Jackson 2019

James Croal Jackson (he/him) has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and poems in Pacifica, Reservoir, and Rattle. He edits The Mantle (themantlepoetry.com). Currently, he works in the film industry in Pittsburgh, PA. (jimjakk.com)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

New Poetry by Rob Schackne

This meditation

This meditation
on the soul
you resisted
now I guess
the laughter
jesus what a veil
the day in the pub
football and beer
shouts and insults
stupid fights
a father at sixteen
the wrong mates
prison time
a long road
now you're back
the same town
not even your town

- Rob Schackne 2019

Born in New York, Rob lived in many countries until Australia finally took him in. He was a Foreign Expert EFL teacher in China for many years. He now lives in a small Victorian country town, and enjoys the fresh air, the birds and the sunshine. There were some extreme sports once; now he plays (mostly) respectable chess and pool. He listens to the Grateful Dead. When he's not writing, he likes taking photographs.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

New Poetry by James Walton

Full English Breakfast

I will admit I’d like to have hair like Jennifer Aniston
from that show years ago something so luxurious and wild
starlings could gobble in and out of it lost toys might
occasionally reboot you know the plastic confederate
soldier his pedestal missing and a yo-yo done in doing
the walking the dog when some kid who was supposed
to be a friend stuck his foot out and your knees got grazed
and bloody and the whoop whoop of a surfacing submarine

or that curly dirty snow avalanche of the guy from Queen
the one who’s still alive a straggle grand as an old mop
dragged through the wringers on a rusty metal bucket
you know that flick and look over the shoulder arrogance
of never ceasing growth a kind of capitalism by follicle
larger than the GDP of several nations washed by an
Olympic sized pool of shampoo where a friend’s lost
rescue cat meows out all slick and unhappy with the shine

not to have look down in the morning at the comb over
on my toes as I tumble like an unwrapping mummy
from the too small shower coffin cubicle to carefully
brush my tonsure for breakfast where the hotel restaurant
tables are spilling over with a tsunami of well-dressed suits
thinking how the combined coiffure of my shoulders nose
and ears might give Jen a run for her money when I hear
I don’t speak Mandarin but you can have the Full English Breakfast

- James Walton 2019

James Walton is published in many anthologies, newspapers, and journals. He is the author of four collections of poetry, 'The Leviathan's Apprentice' 2015, 'Walking Through Fences' 2018, 'Unstill Mosaics' 2019, and 'Abandoned Soliloquies', forthcoming.

Friday, October 25, 2019

New Poetry by John Grey

The Storyteller

she transposes
small lives
into wondrous events -
            a quiet woman who raised
            her own three    now grown –
they lived before,
under blankets of long ago,
fleece in colors you can’t imagine,
or simply
good and evil,
evil so dangerous
 it has become precious,
for hands to fondle -
you can tell it is well-worn
her narrative
but sacred fables never tire
(must we go to sleep)
to hear her hands
weave in such a way
that speech is forever complemented,
            (they sleep)
story ends but she is still creating,
syntax abandoned,
              for dreams -
threads of light
in the vast fabric of darkness

- John Grey 2019

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

New Poetry by Abigail George

I don't want to be a figure mothers lean their children into

(for Dorothy Dandridge)

Follow my lead. Heal me, but only if you accept the pain
and suffering of my painted soul. I wanted you to save from tortured
 loneliness, anxiety, fear, but you walked away from me on an
August day. I think of you, the golden branch bowing down
to meet me, you smell like heat, and dust, loving. I want you
to know that I've never stopped loving you. I want to feel you,
the knowledge of you, all your contours, your love, I want,
I want, I want. I'm am left by you wanting, waiting, I moved
 from city to city with my roots of grief, chapters of my mother’s life
singing in my ears like opera, or classical music, overwhelmed

by my status I am winter, and summer, and spring, but you’re a
 lake of snow in a field. Everywhere I go I see you; I feel you in a
glance, or stare. In autumn I live free. You're not here, you
don't love me either, not in the way that I predict, or, want you to.
Now I live so free, and unattached. I look for you mostly in
the television, mostly in the newspaper, and then I dream a
little dream of you. Only you know that I love you. You're the
bridges of Madison County, you're Mishka, dew, Streep, and
I am the outcast. I am the tomcat Updike, Hemingway-supreme,
Robert Lowell. Heal my broken wings. Take me into your arms,

 because after all I am yours. Yours to protect when I submit to
you. Pray for my addiction, my alcoholism, for I am a kind of forward girl,
 and interviewed. You will find me if you look hard enough. But
you're not looking hard enough for some reason. It seems that
time has stood still for some reason. Am I the survivor? The
women will do anything for you. You take them to bed, you kiss
and adore them. You don't take me to bed, you're not kissing me,
you don't worship and adore me. It's a shame. You don't know me at all.
So, I let go of vertigo. This is planting season, meat season,
weed season. I’m going to be in love with the same man for

the rest of my life. Look, at this rib-cage, patella, adrenaline,
look at me. Look at this barren body. See the measures of this
infertility in my smile, my pose, my walk, my talk, the nature of
my physical body, and yes, once I had the capacity to love.
I had flowers of it, rooms for it to grow in. I’m on my own
 again, in this world overcome with opioids, hours, overwhelmed
by the shroud of darkness, clouds like vapor in my coffee.
but there’s the stars, the moonlight, the decay of the wilderness
holding me back. I’m wiser. I’m older. Confidence is king. You said
you’d never hurt me, but it gave me wisdom in the end, king.

- Abigail George 2019

Abigail George is a South African writer and poet.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

New Poetry by Joanna M. Weston

Somewhere Else

I found my brother sitting
feet dangling into nowhere
falling off the earth
into … where?
an ocean of air
he could swim in?
an alien land?

what could he see
into the nothing
beyond the edge?
I’ve often wondered
where he went
just where is he

- Joanna M. Weston 2019

Joanna has one cat, multiple spiders, a herd of deer, and two derelict hen-houses. Her middle-reader, ‘Frame and The McGuire', published by Tradewind Books 2015; and poetry,  ‘A Bedroom of Searchlights’, published by Inanna Publications, 2016. Other books listed at her blog: http://www.1960willowtree.wordpress.com/

Thursday, October 10, 2019

New Microfiction by Wayne H W. Wolfson

50's Riffin

 The place was upstate & in the middle of nowhere. She had heard about it from some of her friends. No one said what actually went on there but merely alluded to it w/slightly arched brows. The boy her parents insisted she spend time w/. “I know where we can go…” The drive was mostly done in silence as the small talk that they had attempted made it seem even more awkward. For his part, the forced jocularity he had tried out made him instantly think of his father and so his mouth snapped shut with no sound but much force. The ride was just long enough for the night quiet that surrounded them to become exciting, as if they were at the start of becoming co-conspirators.
 There were some cars parked unevenly out front.
 He took her hand and they went through the door. At first they had both been scared. Julia had been so frightened that much like the accident when she was younger, she became very quiet and although she moved, radiated a stillness. All of this kicked in before she actually became calm. For his part, his nerves remained a sea whose surface continued to roil. He looked at her, she was so calm, his palm was a wet guilty verdict.

 Julia looked all around. A few people were holding beer bottles with the necks between their fingers like a piece of sporting equipment for a game with which they are only vaguely familiar. Antonella was slow dancing in the middle of the room. She had never been one of the pretty girls, the group within the group of burgeoning women. But after summer vacation word got around that she had done more than any of her better looking peers and this was parlayed into a type of popularity. All the times that she was ignored, she was now getting hers, insisting that her boyfriend dance with her.
 Some of the boys sit on the lip of the fireplace, cigarettes dangling from their bottom lips, nudging each other with their shoulders and giggling.
 In very little time Julia realized that there was nothing to be frightened of, this was just a giant playhouse with children playing at being adults. An entire night of watching the behavior of others, the effect similar to someone trying to describe a movie which they had not seen but merely had heard about, adulthood. Her date never fully relaxed and for the rest of her life Julia always gravitated towards men who were more frightened than her.

- Wayne H W. Wolfson 2019

Thursday, October 03, 2019

New Poetry by Jean Bohuslav

Majenka’s Account

My name is Majenka
Resident of Vine Street since birth
Wendy Smith flew her kite in my street
I could have caught her by the ankle
as she rose overhead, but didn’t
It was her business, her new kite
Her frilly dress and patent shoes 
she wore to play

She smiled at me before I
watched her float over houses 
Golden locks stretching 
She must have planned it …
Why dress like that in gusty weather

I caught her teardrop on my apron
Its stain spoke of recklessness
I tried to wash her tear from my pinafore 
But I couldn’t bring myself to turn the tap
This was a significant stain

I am Majenka, Goddess helper 
of this blustery world
Not harnessing a skinny ankle 
was the right thing to do

- Jean Bohuslav 2019

Jean attends a creative writing group in Torquay Vic.  She has found growth in not only in her writing but also in other areas of life from being a part of the group.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

New Poetry by Doug Holder

A Veteran's Back, Carson Beach, South Boston

There was nothing smooth about it.
Grizzled in a sea of sleek.
Brown sun spots--
burst across
his wizened map.
A teamster tattoo
his union label
on his right shoulder--
no New Age serpent
snaking around
a green fantasy

A depression
in his skin
where he took a shiv
in some red light, 
near Andrew Station.  

The muscles still asserting themselves
below the slack skin
rolling under his flesh
his back unashamed
of its sin.

- Doug Holder 2019

Doug's work has appeared in Constellations, Sahara, sPoKe, Toronto Quarterly, Sub-Terrain and many others. Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press in Somerville, Massachusetts. The " Doug Holder Papers Collection" is being processed at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, NY.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

New Poetry by Matt McAlpine

Light Spots

Seminal fluids,
frogs marching sideways
to the pond. 
In the trees sing song
birds unseen the air
brazen in the hum
of the forest,
a small boy sits
in the mud by the pond
watching frogs hopping
under water, since
perturbed by amphibious dance
the water stills
and there, a small boy 
sits himself
cast in the shadow of the sky,
muddy hair boy watching,
boy watching frogs
laughing here, the boy
in the mud hears the trees
singing shaded by the canopy above,
casting sunlight sprinkling
pepper-spots across the dust
rays amidst the jealous
trees aside boy,
streaming light across 
the trees and smiling pond. 

- Matt McAlpine 2019

Matt McAlpine is a 21 year-old poet from the Blue Mountains, Australia. He is currently working on his first book of poetry Views from the Mountaintop. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

New Poetry by Les Wicks

Cooking Up Down Farm

Under my guidance
apples slice the sun into child sized segments
which cool on the loosebark kitchen shelf.
The lawn offered to help 
though passionfruit vines were dismissive — thought 
who works when you’re busy with Beauty?

Down here in my dustbowl
where I grow the crop.

On the basalt balcony I make resolutions
to be “successful” while calling home
to my dead parents every Thursday.
The lilli pilli drops berries
which I mistake for accolades.
The sugar gliders will eat well tonight
while I don’t mind.

Tried aw shucks
it didn’t take.
I love youse all was flowery
but the fruits turned bitter.

Don’t tell me all those locusts are psychological,
I ate one once
as you do
just to be sure.

One has to plough
but too deep & biome is destroyed.
Too shallow the seeds gasp.
I was eaten once,
someone had to be sure.

- Les Wicks 2019

Les Wicks has toured widely and seen publication in over 350 different magazines, anthologies & newspapers across 29 countries in 15 languages. His 14th book of poetry is Belief (Flying Islands, 2019). http://leswicks.tripod.com/lw.htm

Sunday, September 08, 2019

New Poetry by Bharti Bansal

Lost Identity

There is a bird nest near my window
Everyday the mother goes around flying 
To find a little worm to feed its babies 
And I watch from inside
The world which builds itself around my home
Every dawn at 5 
And goes to sleep when the dusk meet the dying sun
I try to be the bird too
Imitating voices of the little sparrow
Because it's easy losing identity
Like throwing the sea shells back into the sea
And watch the waves jostle and take them to the new shore 
Where a kid awaits to hold them and listen to the little voices trapped inside.
I have become more layered over the years
As moon waxes and wanes with the shade of my skin
And the sea rises with each breath I take
I am the mother who has listened enough to the cries of her infant 
To differentiate between the pain and hunger
But I have never been the one to fly
So I build my wings from the rags of the thatched roof of my home
And take a leap of faith from the terrace 
Only to find that sometimes winds dictate the choreography of falling bodies
I let the wind decide
Where I crash
Like the mother sparrow 
Who didn't return home one day in the winds
So I kept making voices just to let the little sparrows know
That their nest will always be the womb 
A safety drenching their hearts
Because you see lost identities are stuck to the rear of the trees
Ululating out loud how their skin melted to the ground 
And horizons stood knocking at their doors
To gift them the lost light of the fading sun
But when none returned
The trees became the ghost graveyards 
Standing large with their branches hanging over the fences of the decaying bones
And when the night comes
The sparrows learn to fly by themselves
Sometimes after all the generations that never bade a goodbye to handwritten customs
It's better not to become 
Same as father or mother
Sometimes it's better to leave home
And fly across the naked skies
Just to find that the most one can get through vulnerability is not death
But the fear of sailing too far to the place of no return
And when that happens
Know not to look back 
To the ancestors who demand pain to be felt
I know this because
The little birdies made a choice after their mother died
They don't return anymore after they flew far away one day
To the place where identities aren't lost
To the place where they knew there mother would have wanted them to be
And I am happy
Because I too have learnt to fly.

- Bharti Bansal 2019

Bharti Bansal is a 21 year old poet from India. She has been published in four different Indian anthologies and wishes to write her own book someday.

Friday, September 06, 2019

New Poetry by Judith Nangala Crispin

Elegy for a Thylacine in the National Museum

The last known thylacine, a female named ‘Benjamin’,died alone in her cage at Beaumaris Zoo, on September 7, 1936. She had frozen to death– the zoo keeper having forgotten to put her inside for the night. Her body was thrown into a rubbish bin.

All the others are gone, erased¬–
their slanted gaits, their pelts banded fire
and venus blood.
They are erased–and nothing left of them
now but names: Ghost Tiger
Wurrawana, Corinna.
They will not come again,
come eddying over grasslands,
star-stippled, will not
leap, rock to rock, or stop
in a clearing behind the houses,
rotate an ear in some gigantic night,

in all the sounds of those black hours–
waking pardalotes,
quolls return to wild shadow,
galaxies carried on their backs.
At dawn, the alpenglow
will flood a country without thylacines–
over Cradle Mountain, a new sun
lifts over conifers like hackles.
How many days has she paced
this perimeter fence?
At dusk the zoo keeper moves her inside,
into a box, a place of straw
and concrete, light spills under a door.
Dead light.

She is a hooded falcon, sees only
this leaden interior. In the late watches
she presses her head against the wall,
listening for storms, for the ice winds
to founder in across the snowfields,
bringing the scent of pines.

She remembers needles
blackening into snowbearing clouds.
And her memory is a vein extending
over this whole landscape, a story repeated
so often it distorts to ripples, murmurs,
something running on its toes like a fox,
and what remains are only
cadavers hanging in a tree,
pelts nailed to a woolshed door.
In tussock weighted with weed,
she is hidden– her shape barred in barred light.
The zoo keeper’s eye passes over so easily.
Floodlights in the enclosures go out.
The buildings darken. Wire fences
are harps in the jaw of wind.

She emerges into the yard,
winterbright, and the night raining stars¬–
Lupus, Sirius, the constellations of her life.
In that cold living air,
her breath hangs

They found her frozen in grass,
in hoarfrost,
white on white–
just something dead in a cage.
And later, locked in their houses at night,
with their skinning blades, with their fear,
their hunger to own everything,
they will say she was not the last.

Someone found a tooth on the escarpment,
a scrap of fur against the sound barrier
of some new freeway.
And while they speak
the ash of thylacines will drift over cities and roads,
the wasteland of industrial farms,
and find no place to settle.

- Judith Nangala Crispin 2019

Judith Nangala Crispin is a Bpangerang poet and artist living near Lake George. She has two published collections of poetry "The Myrrh-Bearers" and "The Lumen Seed", and is currently Poetry Editor of The Canberra Times. 

Thursday, September 05, 2019

New Poetry by James Walton

I play the perfect cover drive

Easing on to my back foot
Saturday early early Summer, elevenish
a sound of cork like popping
the axe fall of linseeded willow
throughout the mowing suburbs

My spine straight as a lithe picket
Plane trees shady stalled on shutter
a mottled reminisce of Cazneaux
our border/kelpie Sophie
trotting back the drooly ball

Her jet coat a reel
in stoppled light from Van Gogh’s head
a thwack in the fence holding on
the still of tactile breeze
my children, Shot, wanker, 

can we have lunch

- James Walton 2019

James Walton is an Australian poet published in many anthologies, newspapers, and journals. He is the author of three collections, the latest being 'Unstill Mosaics'. He lives in Wonthaggi, Gippsland, in a Federation house, which was once a maternity hospital. 

Wednesday, September 04, 2019


Sydney, September 4 2019: For immediate release

A new exhibition at Maunsell Wickes Gallery will feature the work of three Australian women artists with deep connections to Country. Gallery Director Dominic Maunsell has brought these artists together in order to underscore the fragility and beauty of our natural landscape, and the importance of women’s voices in Australian culture. The exhibition will present Judith Nangala Crispin’s Lumachrome Glass Prints honouring fallen animals and birds, Juno Gemes’s photographs of life on the Hawkesbury River and Ana Pollak’s sculptures reflecting the myriad natural forms on Dangar Island. The work will be on display from September 17-October 5, 2019.

Judith Nangala Crispin is an artist and poet of Bpangerang descent. Her lumachrome glass prints are deeply rooted in the practice of honouring fallen animals and birds. Judith’s materials are drawn from the landscape­–cadavers, ochres, sticks, grass and leaves­. Exposed 24 to 40 hours in natural sunlight, this body of work is a genuine collaboration with Country. Her work is “layered with intellectual and spiritual meaning . . . the images are in an active relationship with the environment to which she is responding. Her images tell, and are made from, stories: of her family roots, the lives and culture of her people, and of the living things that are part of her physical process.” (James Burnett – MONK art and the soul | an imaginarium, Spring 2019).

Photographer Juno Gemes has spent four decades documenting the Aboriginal resistance in Australia. Her current exhibition features work from her book “The Language of Oysters” written with her poet husband Robert Adamson. These images are a quiet account of their life together on the Hawkesbury River. Gemes’s work, much of which is held in national institutions, has been a major contribution to Australian photography and a lasting historical record. “Artist-photographer Juno Gemes’s lifelong consideration and love for the land and its peoples is present in all her work. It is also an affirmation of an active female presence in the landscape and the character of the photographer behind all her work. This exhibition of a photographer with a ‘loving eye’ offers a rich and engaging experience” (Rod Pattenden – The Australian, 9th May 2019).

Dobell Prize winner Ana Pollak works in sculpture, drawing and film. Her work has  grown out of her love for the environment and Chinese calligraphy, focusing on the huge range of textures and lines in the Hawkesbury sandstone country where she lives. Ana Pollak’s sculptures are made with the twigs from the Blackbutt forest on Dangar Island. As in the marks and structures made by birds, animals and insects her work. The comparable work of birds, animals and insects “points to the universality of Ana’s expression. It reaches from the devastation of war-torn Europe across the Australian isle to our Asian future”. (Tony Twigg, SLOT, January 2018). 

Contact information:
Maunsell Wickes at Barry Stern Galleries
19 Glenmore Rd, Paddington NSW 2021 Sydney
Director Dominic Maunsell
T: 61 2 9331 4676
F: 61 2 9380 8485

Judith Nangala Crispin
Artist, Juno Gemes, jmgemes@gmail.com
Artist, Ana Pollak, anapollak@hotmail.com