Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Bluepepper returns 6th January 2021

Bluepepper will once again be open for submissions from Wednesday 6th January 2021. We trust by then you will all be rested and brimming with plenty of poetry with bite.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Submissions closed until further notice

From December 1st 2020, Bluepepper will no longer be accepting submissions until further notice. We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and hopefully see you back in the New Year.

New Poetry by Carson Pytell


Crepuscular, prodding the boulevard; beeps and bumping,
the billowings of craft burps and vapor, a cigarette handy
and a thin old flask but a day long. I think it's not so bad.

They still do talk, from under and above twilit canopies
I hear cackling, coughs, expatiation of poor paraphrases
as if it's something new to do and find it uneasy to frown.

I can almost smell the sugary throats of them now, 
touting everything under the sun then everything beyond it;
all the stars, maybe water, themselves when they say it aloud.

I feel them there as wind knows other winds
which hit and halt then stir about storms, then pause
and settle into the quiet steam off coffee cups.

And it's that time, out for constitutional cacophony.
Most everyone needs coffee now, even if what's more
appealing is more homebrewed talk, less inhaling thought.

Which is bothersome. I find in these polyphonies seeming
to be the only one listening enough to be just in saying
no one seems to be listening enough to say anything justly.

People need that coffee, need to wake up a little,
if only long enough to get on home and into bed 
long enough to wake up thinking not but what they said.

So somewhere I sit, perhaps a bench, furtively gulp 
and light my cigarette because it's gone out of style
and - knowing no other style - wait, wait for the steam talk.

Being blind, you forget other people still can see you
and your tears. Myself, people, ideas, we come and go.
I think it's not so bad, but that's all I can do.

- © Carson Pytell 2020

Carson Pytell is a writer living outside Albany, NY whose work has appeared in numerous venues online and in print, including Artifact Nouveau, The Virginia Normal, NoD Magazine, Rabid Oak and Bluepepper, among others. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Coastal Shelf, and his short collection, First-Year (Alien Buddha Press, 2020) and chapbook, Trail (Guerrilla Genesis Press, 2020) are now available. In December 2020 he is slated to participate in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project.

Monday, November 23, 2020

New Poetry by Yash Seyedbagheri

Last Drink

The pink and purple jukebox pumps
Kenny Rogers checking in on my condition
behind a booth
last call wafts 
over wooden-paneled counters
into my ripped, soothing seat
into a half-empty glass of Merlot
my fourth or is it my fifth?
a face with steel star eyes 
to lead me to rectangular rooms
with many shadows

- © Yash Seyedbagheri 2020

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program. His stories, "Soon,"  “How To Be A Good Episcopalian,” and "Tales From A Communion Line," were nominated for Pushcarts. Yash’s work  has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

New Poetry by Suzanne Verrall

Local Time
having negotiated 
the international departures lounge 
in my sleep 
I woke on the other side of the globe 
the currency was familiar 
the exchange rate was horrendous 
I patted the pockets of my pyjamas 
in search of a toothbrush 
while an orange cat rubbed 
figure eights between my legs 
and touching down 
another jetload of somnambulists

- © Suzanne Verrall 2020

Suzanne Verrall lives in Adelaide, Australia. Her poetry, flash fiction and essays appear in various publications including The Interpreter’s House, Australian Poetry Journal and the Southampton Review. For links to her work go to www.suzanneverrall.com. 


Thursday, November 19, 2020

New Poetry by Darrell Petska

The Somnambulists

I go walking in other people’s dreams.
Discretely I roam, a ghost among ghosts,
nameless the password, nameless the realm.
Skies churn clouded, fogs trouble thought,
tremors tell of transience and sorrow.
We meet in stairwells, bedrooms, bars.
Eyes speak our stories—they cannot lie.
Our hands touch in gentle affirmation,
their strivings mere shadows on a wall.
Words we whisper congregate in corners:
only there can we know their meanings.
Silence dogs our footsteps. We try,
but cannot outrun, the buffet of its waves.
Have you found a way? we ask each other.
Dare we hope?
The rooms of our eyes hold no answers,
yet we keep to our circuits, unabashed,
some strange chemistry emboldening us
like blooms by a dark moon swayed.
No dimensions constraining, nor weathers,
we pass, pale tinctures of ourselves,
dreams ruffling like pages in books.
Shall we emerge into light?
Through lean existence we drowse,
legends of morning teasing our ears.

- © Darrell Petska 2020

Darrell Petska is a writer from Madison, Wisconsin. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Buddhist Poetry Review, Nixes Mate Review, Right Hand Pointing, Boston Literary Magazine, Verse-Virtual and Loch Raven Review. His published work and upcoming publications can be viewed at conservancies.wordpress.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

New Poetry by Eric Persaud

Blackhole Rage

In an explosion
of dust

I expand
and engulf
the planets
that surround

Pull them in
swallow whole
leaving behind
of dust.

- © Eric Persaud 2020

Eric Persaud is an Indo-Guyanese American living in New York City. He is currently working on his doctoral dissertation in Public Health and writing stuff in his free time.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

New Poetry by Jean Bohuslav

rabbit shed
his weighted heart smacked reality
emotion slashed to standstill
heinous ethereal shrouds hung air
softly pitched 
the requiem 
ran bloodied fur and flesh
dragged, stretched, twisted
lifeless bodies
carpeting floor
mauled kittens 
legs once nested in fur
dangled chewed breeding boxes
surreality melded aluminium
wood, ether and concrete
high wire windows screamed sharp 
cold light 
down across shavings
displaced corded drinkers 
stretched sideways
hung rafters 
like eerie webbed stage props
numbed disappointment 
this inner gallery cold
siphoned to a lull in space and time
frenzied elements 
fully drained
biting winds outside
to whip up structure 
some type of normality
ran the rabbits’ gauntlets
blues, gingers, chocolates, whites 
but gone

- © Jean Bohuslav 2020

Jean Bohuslav lives on the Surf Coast of Victoria where she belongs to a poetry group.  Her work can be found on Kissing Dynamite, Mad Swirl, Poetry on the Move, Tango Australis as well as Bluepepper


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

New Poetry by Kathleen E. Krause


a scene for under-love
that begins in riot
ends in the petal 
of the iris 
collide with mine
fast in width
that lasts in the blue
of orange crisp mornings
where matter grows
to a sizzle 
where we eat the other 
like newborns

- © Kathleen E. Krause 2020

Kathleen E. Krause was winner of Phoebe’s Greg Grummer Poetry Contest, chosen by Brenda Hillman. Her work has appeared in Agni, canwehaveourballback?, Danse Macabre, Denver Quarterly, The Four Way Reader #2, LIT, Lungfull!, Pennsylvania English, Provincetown Arts Magazine, Really System, Salonika, S/tick, and Terra Incognita. Her chapbook, Broth, was published by Linear Arts. She graduated from the New School with an MFA in 1999, and currently lives in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

New Poetry by Heather Sager

Sounds of June 

I walk into a bright morning.
The trees make the hectic sound of wind blowing.
The green grass sings
and the sky teems with white and gray 
clouds, tall as schooners. 
The sky’s blue depth welcomes me.

I touch the leaves of a locust tree. 
The spindly leaf radiates, verdant and green.
I marvel: in winter the tree limb stood gray,
now I shake this leaf that resembles a hand.

A blue-black dragonfly whirs past.
I sneak past the siding of some houses
to find 
a green dragonfly 
clinging to a garden hose,

My house stands in the distance— 
I cling like the darner to a shadow
to admire the shape of hearth and home
from a safe distance.

- © Heather Sager 2020

Heather Sager lives in Illinois. Her recent poetry appears in Amethyst Review, Visitant, Door Is A Jar, dreams walking, Harbinger Asylum, The Wild Word, Backchannels, Sandpiper, Writing in a Woman's Voice, Ariel Chart, and elsewhere. Heather also writes fiction, most recently for The Fabulist Words & Art and Slippage Lit.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

New Poetry by Paul Tanner

the last bus

the lamppost hums.

holy shit,
there’s a ten-pound note sitting in the kerb –
I bend down, snatch it up, shake the rain off it:

it’s a bad job.
cheap paper. 
the queen wonky.
the colours faded.
I turn it over
and the other side’s blank.

can’t believe I was suckered:
it’s the bad street lighting.
this treacle lamppost glow,
it makes the forgery look glossy, 
a bloodier orange 
compared to the dark of the street
and I look around the dark of the street,
scared I’m being laughed at 
by boys in the bushes. 

what can I do? 
I drop it back in the kerb
cross the road 
and hide in the bushes with the boys, 
waiting for the next sucker. 

fucking bus never showed anyway. 

- © Paul Tanner 2020

Paul Tanner is a UK poet who no longer works essential retail and is still finding it difficult to believe a Tory government is paying him to stay home and write.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

New Poetry by Earl Livings


And there you have it,
each metaphor for life—
game, battle, meditation,
path of heart, soul making—
unravelling at the first sign
of your death bed.

Each one had merit,
as a bright jewel looked at
from each angle
hints at that deeper beauty
only a simultaneous view
might reveal. Yet each word
you use to describe those views,
and the darkness beneath them,
are never enough, and you shiver.

And so there you have it,
this enigma of being full
of life and not knowing it,
not knowing if you ever
fully displayed your jewel.

And maybe that is the true gift—
accepting the doubt
and hoping that before life
calls you to account,
a laugh, a scent, a touch
will summon you
to remember, to smile,
to give thanks for mystery,
this darkness blinking at you.

- © Earl Livings 2020

Earl Livings has published poetry and fiction in Australia and also Britain, Canada, the USA, and Germany. His work mainly focuses on nature, mythology and the sacred. His second poetry collection, Libation (Ginninderra Press) was published in 2018 and he is currently working on a dark ages novel and his next collection of poetry.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

New Poetry by Paula Reed Nancarrow


- for Lilabet

I cannot prove the triangles congruent
though they sit neatly inside the circle
their sides a radiant X: Isosceles twins.
A bow tie. A butterfly. 

You sit at our dining room table
plotting it out for me: 
This is given.             That is self-evident. 
Your chestnut hair tumbles over your face

hiding your acne. Tiny holes remain
in the table’s surface from my old
Spirograph. In the quiet privacy 
of your mind, you see the logic of shapes. 

My noisy brain makes twins rubbing
noses.  A bow tie.  A butterfly. 
It is all simple deduction
except for what we begin with: 

A point has no space.  
A line has no breadth.
A plane has two dimensions 
and goes on forever.

Angles are inclinations. 
Chords incline toward what is 
demonstrated. Ergo I am given
you. Over and over, 

like Anne Sullivan at the pump,
you spell postulates into my hand 
until suddenly - fresh and clear and cold –
Elegance overwhelms me.

- © Paula Reed Nancarrow 2020

Paula Reed Nancarrow is a poet and storyteller living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Paula has told stories at the Minnesota Fringe Festival and the Moth Grand Slam at the Fitzgerald Theater, and has read her poetry at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts and the Loft Literary Center. She has a doctorate in Victorian religious literature from the University of Minnesota but has always managed to find work anyway. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

New Poetry by Patricia Davis-Muffett


Last night, the dinner conversation turned
to all the ways you might have died so far:
chased by a baboon in Africa,
nearly falling off a cliff-face pursuing wild horses in Wyoming,
and the ways we cheated death together
on our honeymoon, the bear coming to us in darkness,
sniffing around our carelessness camp. 
At 23, we were so certain in our immortality.

The children were surprised
that I had almost died as well
before they were ideas
when they were just our cells--
the mountain stream that almost took me
down the Rockies, down 14,000 feet,
the wind that overtook us on that mountainside 
in Patagonia, when you kept me bound to earth.

What is not said:
the six months while the middle child grew,
trying to become a human person,
while you convulsed and shrieked,
as I waited in the ER lobby,
those long, bright nights,
when the head of neurology told us
you would either die or get better,
after long tormented testing.

Somehow, the sudden drama
of the cliff face,
the crocodile
the baboon
the wild horses
seems more fitting but also
less terrifying--
a death brought on 
by your lack of caution,
your wild love of wild life.
We all hope this is how you’ll go
suddenly, with drama
consumed in a moment
not nibbled into crumbs.

- © Patricia Davis-Muffett 2020

Patricia Davis-Muffett holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota and her work has appeared in several journals including Coal City Review, Rat’s Ass Review and One Art Poetry Journal, on public radio, in the di-verse-city anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival, and is forthcoming in The Orchards Poetry Journal, and Amethyst Review. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, United States, with her husband, three children, one good dog, one bad puppy and a demon of a cat. She makes her living in technology marketing.

Friday, October 16, 2020

New Poetry by Holly Day

Out in the Garden

The morning glory vines are trying to 
hold me in place, I can feel them tremble
beneath my feet, tiny fingers twisting in 
endless curlicues,  bursting into purple 
flower from the exertion of trapping me. 
I pull my foot away, take another step, 
can feel the ground sigh behind me as 
the morning glories stretch futile and 
then retreat. 

The lilies are trying to stab me to 
death, I can feel their tiny points
poke up through the soil and 
stop at the bottom of my feet. If I 
just stayed here, stayed still, 
the tiny red points would push all 
the way through my flesh, my bone, 
crown bright green and brilliant 
through the tops of my feet and burst 
into bloom. I lift my foot carefully, 
step over the vengeful clumps 
of hybrids and orientals 
just in time. 

- © Holly Day 2020

Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press). 


Thursday, October 15, 2020

New Poetry by Carson Pytell


Exact digestive processes after dinner I do not know
nor care to so long as it went down well and satiates.

The conditions under which the tobacco plant grows best
does not cross my mind heading to the window afterwards.

Why purple is the color of the sky at dusk baffles me
only when I'm not looking at the soft evening clouds.

The distance of the sun, moon; trifling matters compared
to photosynthesis, tides, sun tans and nights moonbright.

And death? But a distant abstraction while I smoke
and consider myself smoking, and other felt things.

One can remain alive not knowing the functions of the heart
but cannot go on living ignorant of how their heart works.

- © Carson Pytell 2020

Carson Pytell is a poet living outside Albany, NY whose work has appeared in numerous venues online and in print, including Artifact Nouveau, Cruel Garters, Rabid Oak and Crack the Spine, among others. His short collection, First-Year (Alien Buddha Press, 2020) and first chapbook, Trail (Guerrilla Genesis Press, 2020) are now available.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

New Poetry by John Tustin

Sunshine in the Glass
Pure sunbeams in the bottle,
Sunshine in the glass.
Cold lovely sunshine,
I pour it into me as I read Neruda
And listen to Johnny Cash
With a storm just left
And another one coming.
The water has never come into the house
Except once and it wasn’t much.
Sundown in the bottle,
Sundown in the glass.
I put the sundown into me
As I read Charles Bukowski
And listen to Ray Wylie Hubbard.
The devils are squatting in the corners of the room,
Wings unfolding,
Waiting for me to fall asleep.
The angels are leaving,
Wings folding,
As I finish the last glass,
Close the book,
Turn off the music.
There’s no sunshine left.
The bottles in the garbage,
The glass in the sink,
The clock always moving.
I walk toward the bed.
The devils wait with slobbering mouths
And gleams in their eyes, on their claws,
Their horns and their tails.
The devils wait for my sleep.
The angels wait for the opening of the next bottle,
The pouring into the next glass.

- © John Tustin 2020

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals in the last dozen years. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

New Prose Poetry by Howie Good

Disaster Mode

The lake has an island that has a church on it with fine black cracks etched all over. It’s the place where the disaster originated. Everything else has been declared safe for visitors. The sky is a shade of orange I never experienced before. A smell like the rancid diapers of the spawn of Satan crawls through trees. A tame fox sits posing in front of a sign that says NO JEWS AND ANIMALS ALLOWED. Joggers, dog walkers, and young parents with strollers slow down as they go past. I catch the expression on their faces, mostly a combination of surprise and puzzlement. Sometimes they smile.

- © Howie Good 2020

Howie Good is the author of two new poetry collections, The Death Row Shuffle (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and The Trouble with Being Born (Ethel Micro-Press, 2020).  

Monday, October 12, 2020

New Poetry by Kate Clarke

The Dark End of The Street

(for Alyce Guynn)

Your sister, Alyce, reminded me 
what, in my grief, I had forgotten.
And later on, I came to see 
myself, in some film of you, 
New Jersey, a radio interview.

You were heading for Hoboken, 
chasing down Frank’s shadow.
It was shot a month before we met 
The month you called ‘Magnetic May’.
There you were, chattering away 

in the studio, being the performer, 
talking of Nashville, Cowboy Jack Clement: 
“his battered boots were alligator.”
And there it was. There he was. 
Bruised boy, flimsy as gauze, 

voice subdued, heart a lead weight.
What was it you used to say?
“I was singing on the sad side of the note.”
We were at the dark end of the street,
for sure, right at the start. 

It didn’t take long for you to stand taller
Didn’t Alyce say: “I found my jazz”?
The man in black, discovered colour. 
I did that. You did that too. 
Look at what two fools can do 

- © Kate Clarke 2020

Kate is a journalist by trade who also works as a copywriter and a PR account manager. As a lyricist she worked with her husband, the writer and performer Terry Clarke. Terry recorded and performed throughout the UK, Europe and the US throughout his career. He passed away in April 2020. Kate lives in West Wales with their two sighthounds, Sunny and Vera. 


Sunday, October 11, 2020

New Poetry by Marianne Brems

One Fresh Start

I spill wine that darkens my carpet,
I know this scar,
like jaws around my throat 
will remind me daily of my carelessness.

I attack the stain with sparkling water
and vigorous rubbing.
To my surprise, all traces vanish, 
handing me one fresh start 
in a broken world. 

I return for a moment to a time 

before I learned my mother 
couldn’t fix the pain 
of skinned knees, 

before I knew that pieces 
fall into place only after many 
have not, 

before I found skin color
more of a constant
than the growth of tree rings,

before I saw a world 
where hate doesn’t disappear, 
it just hides under rocks 
until someone comes along 
and kicks them away.

- © Marianne Brems 2020

Marianne Brems is a writer of textbooks and poetry. Finishing Line Press will release her chapbook Sliver of Change in 2020. Her poems have appeared in literary journals including The Pangolin Review, La Scrittrice, The Sunlight Press, and The Tiny Seed Literary Journal. She lives in Northern California. Website: www.mariannebrems.com

Saturday, October 10, 2020

New Poetry by Zebulon Huset


Like Candy Cane Spirals
Only not at all. I'm sorry.
That was just a familiar image 
of two unlike things
combining congruously, 
and I'm sure
I stole the image
with some miracle of 
when I looked over
and saw the curl of hair 
fit so perfectly 
around your ear,
every twitch of head
tickling lobe, 
and I have no tangible reason
to connect that image 
of your hair 
around your ear
and us lying in bed,
spooned effortlessly
with my scarred, 
beaten knees slipped
into the soft cavities
that reside behind yours,
except to consider
the curve of white and red
in the hook of a candy cane.

- © Zebulon Huset 2020

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. His writing has recently appeared in Bluepepper, Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, Rosebud, Atlanta Review & Texas Review among others. He publishes the writing blog Notebooking Daily, edits the journal Coastal Shelf, and recommends literary journals at TheSubmissionWizard.com.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

New Poetry by James Walton


These things of hope, Spring reprise
a lizard so small on the broken vase
drinks and looks back motion less
the unflappable virtue of a nodding iris
all Van Gogh wheezy at the angle
the horse paddock bounteous with feed
an abandoned rusty bike maintaining a post
cherry blossom graffiti over the porch
how the noise of children swimming amplifies
the clamorous life of air
a neighbour’s dog being spotted
walks by to the fence next door
our postman yelling penitent
how much he loves the new letter box
a swelling memory of the great west sea
as Tasmanian Devils stole the cooking chops
waking to rain just loud enough to hear
corrugated radio stations broadcast in between
budding shoots out of the midnight kernel
of trees willing life to be
you unfurling in the morning
complaining of my bony shoulder
a stranger’s handshake above fallen wire
the unravel of borders in an embrace

- © James Walton 2020

James Walton is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He is the author of four collections of poetry. He lives in Gippsland. He can be found at jameswalton.poetry.blog


New Poetry by Fred Pollack

The Art of the Probable

As deserts spread, and the need
for any walk depends
on how much water you’ll need
to make it, the trope of Sun
as, what was it? truth, sensuality,
moderation, something Greek,
will cease to appeal. Already
Siberian shamans no longer mention
ice. Fire won’t symbolize
anything ever again in
Australia. And you know what the oceans
are up to. When the current
plague ends and crowds return
to theaters, the Sylvia Plath Story
with a sexier title will fill the screens 
but no one will imitate her. Rather,
a New Impersonality
will rule the workshops –
so dry and intimidating
all poets will believe in it.

- © Fred Pollack 2020

Author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both Story Line Press; the former to be reissued by Red Hen Press. Two collections of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Pollack has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc.  Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark, Rat’s Ass Review,  Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, etc

New Poetry by Bruce Morton


Stool Softener 

I wanted to cheer a friend
Who was about to have
Surgery and was dreading
Side effects of painkillers.
I bet him that I could write
A poem about stool softener.

It is so hard to bring oneself 
To be seated, to sit, still 
We do not wish to speak of it,
So simple an act. There must be 
Relief somewhere to purchase
To comfort the tired soul.

I brought him a plush cushion
To rest his tush on, to bring
 A sigh of relief, the ultimate 
Relaxative--a soft pillow.
So here it is, my poem
About stool softener.

-© Bruce Morton 2020

Bruce Morton splits his time between Montana and Arizona. His volume of poems, Simple Arithmetic and Other Artifices, was published in 2015. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various magazines and anthologies including, most recently, Muddy River Poetry Review, Mason Street Review, Main Street Rag, Nixes Mate Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders, and Blue Unicorn. He was formerly Dean of Libraries at Montana State University

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Rebecca Law reviews S.K. Kelen’s "A Happening in Hades"

 A Clattering of Attentions in S.K. Kelen’s A Happening in Hades

S.K. Kelen, A Happening in Hades, Puncher & Wattman, Waratah, NSW, 2020, 95pp., 
ISBN 9781925780611, RRP $25.

 In the here and the now of Kelen’s world, the only traces of Frazer’s magic and religion are golden glimpses of nature, love –“honey, song and sanity”. But these are infrequent and seem the very opposite of what is real. Birds don’t sing but “cry” in their failed attempts at understanding the place they survey. We call it “civilisation”, Kelen calls it the equivalent of the underworld for its darkness, reductive tendencies and coy nod toward memorialisation rather than actualisation of love, passion and joy (“those old-fashioned words” says Kelen as though lip syncing the news). 

 The “happening” in this underworld of our today world, is the motorised ticking over of technology, the ability to control things or objects remotely; robots or the privilege of sleuthing lovers online. It is so real it is unreal, a world without roots that either floats or drifts in unpredictable moods of heaviness or lightness. What happened to the golden days, the happy days of playing flutes and watching out for the seasonal pleasures of falling leaves and river eddies. Times of  “bliss and light and miracles”. Kelen does not hazard a guess but knows sagely what is missing is precisely what will overthrow us because it makes appearances in nature: is the same moonlight we dilute with our modern flashbulbs or the bright, sunny opposite of our climate ignorant “dark and sad” skies. 

 From Sydney to Hong Kong to California, the Grand Canyon, Paris, Venice, Chiang Mai, Amsterdam, world-wide, the sword of a “godawful war” lies down beside a “laundry basket”; and the past mists away. Like life entrepreneurs, invisible operators move like ghosts morning to night, leading us to believe this new world is good, great, lucky, going places. Yet Kelen is sceptical, made more so by dreams of his parents making home seem as itinerant as the gold light of salvation. If Heaven is forever and sunny and light as his father’s spirit in the dream then this, this is Hades.
 Kelen poems in A Happening in Hades looks at the nuts and bolts, the nitty gritty, the dark and deluded, the nightmare of a life intent on attacking the nervous system. In the broader scheme of contemporary poetics it seems about right, on trend, accurate in its depiction of the world we orbit in but amidst this is a sensitivity for heritage and true beauty. When home, bed-ridden with a twisted back and limited in movement, Kelen still finds his way to sustenance from the refrigerator, moving in a certain way so that “each leg finds a less painful angle/ feet find footing” and he can get in and out of bed. Things are far from ideal in Hades, our world of the here and the now but Kelen is on task, writing his lament for the lost seasons of our time. So that the fall of just one leaf in Autumn is once more enough to know the climate, not the knowledge well after the fact.

 More than this though, is the museum quality of the collection replete with ornaments that rendered in these poems seem miniature versions of their true selves, instructive to the narrative as an object with a particular aesthetic and history. Gondolas, Dragons, Buddhas, Minibuses, Nissans, Mercedes, BMW’s, Medicines, Sulfur-Crested Cockatoos, “Red gums with cheery birds”, an “ivy tombed terrace house”, trams in Amsterdam, “steep stairwells you can fall down in the morning”, Snow White and more pièces de résistance crowd in across the 95 pages and Kelen moves them about to make sense of why what is seemingly old-fashioned is his alone. In the poem “Kiss” for example, Kelen muses on the fact that thinking and writing about love and the “lush eyes” of a woman he misses and wishes to see brings him to life; and how magically, the picnic rug on which they kissed seemed in the moment to be airborne and flying. Such “odes” are “old-fashioned” thinks Kelen, which perhaps explains the abundance of contemporary ornaments in his poems but undeniably, this is human nature and with it, fate which is never bound by time zones.

 It takes time to read A Happening in Hades and like walking a maze, takes a few goes to get to know the twists and turns but the clearing at the end is worth the challenge. The golden light never really left us, suggests Kelen, but just needs to be recognised and reacquainted, given the time of day so to speak, to flood our spirits with natural nourishment. We have “grown in the opposite direction of nature” decides Kelen, the orator of fact but also, poetic mourner urging us to wake up and remember those “Fey Provincial folk” – aka Chaucernerians, with old love once more in our eyes. Where, back in the Golden Age” the Barbarians “watch and listen”, we might instead dream, gaze and reinvent. 

- © Dr Rebecca Kylie Law 2020

Dr Rebecca Law has authored five collections of poetry as well as individual poems, reviews, interviews and articles. Her most recent collection Pan's Dance, was published September, 2020 by  Wipf & Stock. She works as a freelance writer and teacher.  

Friday, October 02, 2020

New Poetry by Robert Ford


In order to think  
I have had to empty the room completely. 
The shed skins of scattered clothing got folded  
into piles or hung from pegs in the hallway, 
dangling their toes at various heights. 
The radio is sulking, a hiss of mithering static  
wedged in the embrace of the nearest tree. 
All the unread books, bills and letters, 
are loaded into the stove, a yawn of flames 
turning them to ash and smoke, while the  
remains of last night’s dinner have been  
fed to the expectant pig out in the yard.  
I have swept the floor until it wept for mercy, 
using its tears to mop myself into a corner. 
All that remains is the chair by the window, 
angled into the light, where I sit, waiting for 
the to and fro of footsteps; the nervous babble 
of laughter; the soft, apologetic knocking of  
freshly-hatched thoughts at the door behind me. 

- © Robert Ford 2020

Robert Ford's poetry has appeared in print and online publications in the UK, US and elsewhere, including Under the Radar, Brittle Star, Dime Show Review, The Interpreter's House and San Pedro River Review. More of his work can be found at https://wezzlehead.wordpress.com/

Sunday, September 27, 2020

New Poetry by Doug Holder


A Balloon with the Artist's Own Breath

(From a New York Times article about a museum exhibit)

On the museum wall
next to a
well- hung
duct-taped banana 
the artist's
mission statement
his heated breath
confined in plastic--
swirls of sputum
particles of modern
are in a slow,
threatening cloud.

And it is best
that it is contained
amidst the refined,
nuanced breath
It is best
to be deaf.

- © Doug Holder 2020

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Press. His work has appeared in Blue Pepper, Constellations, The Boston Globe and elsewhere. For over thirty years he ran poetry groups for psychiatric patients at McLean Hospital--outside of Boston. His latest collection of poetry is " The Essential Doug Holder: New and Selected Poems." ( Big Table Books)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

New Poetry by Yash Seyedbagheri


Autumn Evening

clouds puff with pink and white linings
across a pale blue dreamscape
shadows spill over country roads
long and deep
where trucks no longer sputter and roar
with exhaust and frenetic energy
and cracked laughter cackles
Bushes burst with gold and flame
Ponderosa and aspens sway
hundreds of needles and tender little leaves
the wind whispers her breathless hush
a butter-colored light flicks on through the pines
the crickets begin to call
frogs join the chorus
shadows deepen and shimmer

- © Yash Seyedbagheri 2020

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program in fiction. His story, "Soon," was nominated for a Pushcart. Yash has also had work nominated for Best of the Net and The Best Small Fictions. A native of Idaho, Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others


Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Monday, September 07, 2020

New Poetry by Paul Tanner

woe, yay!

this poem is about depression
so you better publish it.

this poem is hashtags 
and well-meaning ones at that:
it’s #depression
and #mentalhealth 
and you don’t want to miss out, do you?

never mind it’s not very good:
it can’t NOT be good
because it’s about mental health.

never mind you don’t like it:
you can’t NOT like it,
otherwise you’re prejudiced 
against mental health.  

never mind you don’t like me:
you can’t NOT like me 
because I write about mental health.

if you don’t publish this poem
I’ll have to write another poem 
about your intolerance 
and everyone will back me up
because they don’t want to be seen 
as intolerant either

so publish me
or else.

publish me 
for both our sakes:

the awards  
and rave reviews 
and royalties 
will really help

with my depression. 

- © Paul Tanner 2020

Paul has been hounding independent magazines for many years. His latest collection, “Shop Talk: Poems for Shop Workers”, is published by Penniless Press. 

Sunday, September 06, 2020

New Poetry by Karen May


Rinpoche clears his throat
sips his tea
presses the left side
of his nose
shuffles pages – English
over Tibetan
over Sanskrit –
settles a buttock
offers a sonorous prayer
and launches.

Two hours later
– slowly releasing pressure
and forgoing altitude –
his hermeneutic
time and space travelling

- © Karen May 2020

Karen May’s poetry has been published by Bluepepper, Cicerone Journal and Poetry d’Amour 2020 anthology. She is a climate and ecological activist and artist, and lives in Ngunnawal Country.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

New Poetry by Jillian Smith


I dream of a wing
blood-colored and trembling.

It glistens, spit-thin,
unattached to body or being,

riding the air without singing,
carrying without lifting.

From a tangle of cloud, 
it jostles to be free.

A fragment in space,
it seeks wholeness in others,

reminded by itself
of what it cannot be. 

- © Jillian Smith 2020

Jillian Smith is a writer living in Atlanta, GA. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Poetry at Georgia State University. Jill's poetry has been featured in SOFTBLOW Poetry Journal, Anderbo, Bluestem Magazine, and Barking Sycamores. Originally from outside Philadelphia, Jill got her BA in English from Penn State University and her MFA in Fiction from Florida State University. She recently got married, welcomed two cats into her family, and moved into her first home.

Monday, August 31, 2020

New Poetry by Dan Raphael

Blank Slate      Blank Clock

As if a satellite in an invisible sky
observing from another time
oxygen slowly evolving
a quantum sunrise
before we can duck or get on the freeway
negotiating the tide, setting the moon free
when people without worry or clockwork
with an appetite for other light, drunken sun
regular as dogs needing attention
a drummer with more hearts than hands

We learned to make light with heat an unexpected by-product
soon as trees got dead enough
the story of an erupting volcano handed down like a zen koan
i only let this stream step on me once
that spring the soupweed didn’t grow
we learned to eat coyotes so more rabbits for us

When we realized the mountain had another side
a splash    a stain    scars without wounds
bruises without falls or collision 
talking with someone who knew my great great grandmother
figures in moist smoke
a deer turned inside out
a rock with my face in it

- © Dan Raphael 2020

Dan Raphael's poetry collection Moving with Every was published this June by Flowstone Press. More recent poems appear in Caliban, Unlikely Stories, Pangolin, Mad Swirl and Rabid Oak. Most Wednesdays Dan writes and records a current event poem for the KBOO Evening News

Friday, August 21, 2020

New Poetry by Les Wicks

Harbour Town 

In this season I can only aspire to make trouble. 
Wearing all my clearance clothes 
I loiter at this bum-hole of winter 
await any ending. 
Constantly constant this 
isn’t peace or retreat, just almost. 

Wind rifles up the coast 
an indigenous flag falters  
beside an invader’s tomb of frigid marble. 
The decommissioned sun joins the other homeless drifters. 

Then September is ablaze. 
Down on the docks trouble is brewing tea. 
The union refuses to concede 
while I sail by in my excuse thimble 
& count money. 

This drags on as all things do 
the season rots the fingers… 
they’d held on through nasty months,  
now to compost beside 
eucalypt leaves & nest-fallen chicks. 

City beaches abrade our pert decisions. 
Drinking all the salt we craze about in lethargic elegance 
until the drum solo  
when DNA wakes the lovers up to tweak & rustle. 
Silver eyes watch, reflect on water. 

- © Les Wicks 2020

Les Wicks is a Sydney poet.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

New Poetry by Jane Downing

Black Forest

The road is lined with
carnivorous trees
the kind that beckon you
in deeper
amongst their kin
promising fairy tales
delivering nightmares

It rides the line
through the forest up
onto a snowy ridge, a ramping
sweep around a bend
beyond the reach of witches

Where you are in full view
of the horizon

Those who go into the forest
seldom come out
the Grimm heroines who
may or may not be content
with their rewards – us
parked with other metal steeds
on the gravel drive
engines ticking down
to rest

Let loose from the car
the curse is put on ice

Gluhwein is served in mugs
thrown on a potter’s wheel
It warms welcome
hints at cloves
a smell memory of kretek
cigarettes there’s no time to

- © Jane Downing 2020

Jane Downing has poems published around Australia including in Cordite, Rabbit, The Canberra Times, Eureka Street and Best Australian Poems (2004 & 2015). A collection, ‘When Figs Fly,’ was published by Close-Up Books in 2019. She can be found at janedowning.wordpress.com

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

New Poetry by Andrew Leggett

For Joseph Coleman, 1810-1833

As the sun goes behind the hill above Glebe Gully,
I think of you, Joseph and wonder, where did you go,
after they hanged you by the neck at Old Banks 
on the Paterson River? Are you here, at Maitland, 
under this ground, where they dumped the remains
of convicts in anonymous holes—no more dishonour 
for you than Greenway, the forger, whose best
designs would not spare this plot, where he came 
through cholera, five years after you? He dissolved 
in your mould, that of you and your neighbours, 
whose bones were scattered and mingled with others 
as earth shifted with the Hunter’s quakes and floods.
Whether your bones lie in this ground, or not,
has your spirit flown past the sun, back to London? 

Did your brother know? Did Townshend send Henry
from Gresford that day, to stand with the chaplain 
and ask would he write something home to your mother?
Did Henry speak regret for the way he taught you
to pick a gent’s pocket and he’d always remember
you held him and fed him when taken with fever
during the lay-up when the ship drove to Spithead
before that long journey on the Marquis of Huntley?
Did they send Edward Cory to let you say sorry
you lifted that shovel to strike his head and to pray
for forgiveness, (though I’ve read that you said
you’d sooner hang than work for him another day)?
And when it was done and you were dead, did
Henry’s tears wash before they took you away?

- © Andrew Leggett 2020

Andrew Leggett is an author and editor of poetry, fiction, song lyrics and interdisciplinary academic papers. Andrew has resided at various places in three Australian states, but now lives at Port Macquarie, New South Wales, with his wife, Linda Kaarina. They collaborate musically to record as the Blood Moon Wailers. Andrew’s writing is widely published in Australia and internationally. In addition to medical degrees and postgraduate qualifications in psychiatry and psychotherapy, he holds a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Queensland and a PhD from Griffith University. His two previously published collections of poetry Old Time Religion and Other Poems (1998) and Dark Husk of Beauty (2006) were published by Interactive Press. He was editor of the Australasian Journal of Psychotherapy from 2006-2011. He is the current prose editor for StylusLit.