Sunday, December 12, 2021

New Poetry by Robin Dale










The Journey Towards The Seen

bells sound
as if recovering
from vomiting

the back paddock
is moving
further away

across the iron fields
floats the ghost
of the pastor

some of the cows
are missing

this APC with 6 wheels
in camouflage
driven by a child
of 17

there is a large
black bull
in the herd now

bells sound again
a feeble reed

the pastor-ghost undresses
and edges on
unseen

the army squeezes
the blood out of
the trees
and their
unseen


- © Robin Dale 2021


Robin Dale is a UK born writer living in Ferntree Gully, a suburb of Melbourne. He emigrated to Australia in 1970 with his family at the age of eight years. He is fifty-nine now. In his late twenties, Robin Dale contracted schizophrenia which for many years was extremely debilitating. However in the past five years or so he has made a remarkable recovery and is now able to concentrate more fully on writing. He writes mainly poetry, generally on the eternal themes of love, death, transience, nature, and spirituality. Many of his poems are quite psychological in inspiration and content. He remains virtually unpublished.


New Poetry by Michael Ricketti










West      

Her storms came last night howling out of the west.  less the clutter I remember the shaking of the walls.  more a concentrated weight a strength.  two hands extend two arms with diligence push.  the house from its foundation clean.


- © Michael Ricketti 2021


Michael Ricketti was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Lenapehoking.  He lives in Nicosia, Cyprus where he works at Kuruçeşme Projekt a community education and art initiative.



Thursday, December 09, 2021

New Poetry by Barbara De Franceschi










Is There a Theme to Life?

Perhaps a polka dot scenario,
like spots behind closed lids
where breath is held
waiting for a sensual touch
that takes too long to hatch.
Maybe life is a banana,
smooth curves, 
spongy flesh,
akin to hips
fatigued from bearing genes.
Or a boat afloat on stormy blue,
one-sided love smashed on rocks,
passion churned on congealed froth
like cold cappuccino
sour and clotted.
Is life just divided light?
Fragments of transparency,
vague prisms,
dust and space.
And what of a tree?
Anxiety scraped into kernels,
branches stacked with homely nests
the nearest we get to domestic bliss.
Life could be a pumpkin patch:
running amok,
overladen,
except for Halloween.
Thoughts turn to purple grapes
in the midst of fermentation,
tannin mistakes aging in oak.
Shall we settle on chi?
The inner self half empty
with the hiss of past lovers,
half full of bubbly promises.

Does that mean life is a fizz?


- © Barbara De Franceschi 2021


Barbara De Franceschi refers to herself as an arid zone poet from Broken Hill. Besides three collections of poetry, her work has been published widely in Australia, in other countries, on-line and featured on national and regional radio.

 

 

Monday, November 29, 2021

New Poetry by Les Wicks










Tumbletown

There’s a shadow on the lung
of the village where I live.

Cass tries hard
for a while
then out comes the knife again.

David has done wrong things
he mistakes stagnant for stasis.
He can be viral, we are vigilant.

Ginelle, new mother
has a degree & a need…
needs to feel she still exists.
The biker next door has an appetite.
Her hubby comes home each night exhausted.

Constable Perkins tries hard
but there’s only so much…
Valerie runs a gallery
& cooks for ailing neighbours.
The kids can play soccer every Saturday,
odd Farley has written a book.
We have nurses, holy folk
& a plumber with some great jokes.
You can’t say there isn’t help.

Dodder Pete could tell you some stories.
His war is tamped down
to jokes & a twitch when he tries to sleep.

The owner of the village doesn’t live here.
We heard some stories about him on the news
but have forgotten.
What is the point of knowledge without power?

That febrile teenager Tina
has no ambition other than leaving.
She will not succeed
because though we only see a few streets
(to be honest barely that)
this village is endless.
 
It burns & excretes plus
there’s that nasty cough.


- © Les Wicks 2021



Les Wicks is a Sydney poet. His latest collection, "Belief", was recently released by Flying Islands Press.

 

 

New Poetry by James Walton










A Levee to Absence

the cards are brief this year
in shallow condolence
a levee to absence, broken

the scattered sorrow
left for salvage
how they talk of passing

yet visit as though gentle as
the first faint call
the quiet summons to duty,

steadfast the whether of breaks
the happiest dispersed

days drag through cement
mercury for the veins of us
caught in winter, November

veers without season
too cold for painting
this colour we were

a dash to break a sentence
run for cover, highlight
crimson for specifics

an outline to bridge
this stalling year’s account

supernumerary to how and why
between twig and wake
this inconvenient bird

a rustle of dark, nests
then stirs unbeckoned
daubed as it must be

wily and propped against
a door of feathers for words
open notebook of hours

I sit the post waiting
sandbagging against breach


- © James Walton 2021


James Walton is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Poetry Prize, the MPU International Poetry Prize, The James Tate Prize, and the Ada Cambridge Prize. Four collections of his poetry have been published. He was nominated for ‘The Best of the Net’ 2019, and is a Pushcart Prize 2021 nominee. He is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Prize. He was a librarian, a cattle breeder, and mostly a public sector union official. He can be found at: jameswalton.poetry.blog

 

 

 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

New Poetry by Jalal Mahamede










Set Me Free

Everyone's voices are taken.
Everyone's breath smells.
It seems that sounds are heard from the depths of a deep well.

All eyes are on the black galaxy.

It seems that heads are separated from their bodies
and have been thrown away –
they have rolled in the dust and mud.
‏The hands have been severed and tied in a chain of injustice,
and each foot has chosen a different path to walk.
‏The body is numb and doesn't solve anything.
All screams hit the wall; they hit our mouths like a fist.

This is not fantasy, this is reality.
But the day you came, you made a salve with your hands for this tired heart.
You polished my voice with your voice,
you caressed my hands.
‏You gave breath to this nearly dead body
and invited me to gaze from the darkness of the galaxy
to the bright and warm lantern of your heart.

I know that all of me is imprisoned
and the way to reach you is through the wall of hatred
those who live in your neighbourhood have erected.

I know that you will save me, as well.


- © Jalal Mahamede 2021


Jalal Mahamede is poet and artist and nine years detained Arab Ahwazi refugee working from his prison cell in Australia. He has  never been tried or charged, but remains detained for arriving in Australia by boat and seeking protection. He draws from his personal experience to express his moods, feelings and visions through art and language, influenced by his late father Kazem Mahamede, a renowned traveling poet and photographer. He hasn't lost hope that one day he will be released.
More info see: https://www.jalalmahamede.com/

Thursday, November 25, 2021

New Poetry by Heather Ellyard










Brutal is the Garden

Brutal is
the garden.

Roses die
bewildered.
Mirrors break
where they stand.
Their shards
scatter
like knives.

Grief is
a sharpened
war cry
let loose
in the valley
of echoes.

A violent crop.

The map
of hope is
overlaid with
a thousand
nameless
wounds.

Brutal is
the payback.

Brutal are
the hybrid songs.

Over and over
the fruits rot.

And their seeds
tremble
in Paradise lost.


- © Heather Ellyard 2021


Heather Ellyard (HSE) is an artist/poet, born and educated in Boston USA who migrated to Australia, and became a citizen in 1985. She has held 30 solo exhibitions, nationally, and is collected publically in the NGA, the AGSA, the Federal Parliament House, the Jewish Museum of Australia etc. She has published essays in national Art Magazines and Art Books, and in Constellations Journal of  Poetry USA. She was a Finalist in the Blake Prize for Art 3 times, and in the Blake Poetry Prize in 2020. She currently lives among the granites in Central Victoria.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

New Poetry by David Adès










Rising, Finally, From the Reverie 

Rising, finally, from the reverie 
of his life, the man looked around, 

seeing clearly for the first time 
the long trail of damaged hearts, 

the litany of disappointments, 
taking in the bruised landscape, 

the fallen trees, the ravaged sky, 
and there rose within him, 

from an untouched depth, 
a bellow, an anguished cry 

he let loose into the world 
as if it could unmake 

what had been made, 
as if it could sanctify, 

redeem, cleanse, though it 
did nothing but meet 

a woman’s howl, another man’s 
shout, and another and another, 

until the whole world clamoured 
and kept clamouring, 

so many bellows and howls 
for the universe to hear, 

all the suffering we suffer 
and don’t know how to bear.


- © David Adès 2021


David Adès is the author of Mapping the World, the chapbook Only the Questions Are Eternal and most recently Afloat in Light (https://uwap.uwa.edu.au/products/afloat-in-light). In association with Mascara Literary Review, David is a recipient of the 2020 Don Bank Writing Residence (extended into 2021 due to Covid) together with Michelle Cahill, Debbie Lim and Michelle Hamadache. 



Monday, November 22, 2021

New Poetry by James B. Nicola










The Shortest Distance

The shortest distance between two people
is prayer. You might have thought it should be love?

Think: horse-drawn carriages making a trip
have broken down, nags crumbled, fallen, died,
for trysts. But send prayer overseas
without even a postage stamp affixed:
you know that it arrives there instantly.

The technique works best when the expectation’s
humble, but the sentiment sincere.


- © James B. Nicola 2021


James B. Nicola’s poetry has garnered two Willow Review awards, a Dana Literary award, eight Pushcart nominations, and one Best of the Net nom. His full-length collections include Manhattan Plaza, Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater, Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018), Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019), and Fires of Heaven: Poems of Faith and Sense (2021). A Yale grad, he also has enjoyed a career as a stage director, culminating in the nonfiction book Playing the Audience: The Practical Guide to Live Performance, which won a Choice award.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

New Poetry by Linda King










you want to borrow hope from the saints

these days the world rests on fault lines
every city brought to its knees

every road    a suspension bridge
over raging rivers

the wreckage keeps piling up
rubble and dust and no breath to take

you want to borrow hope from the saints
from their careful collection of blessings

want to quiet
the crackle and static of your heart

to stop riding the darkness
at three in the morning

you want tomorrow's rain
to stop falling


- © Linda King 2021


Linda King is the author of five poetry collections including Reality Wayfarers ( Shoe Music Press, 2016) and antibodies in the alphabet ( BlazeVOX Books, 2019)  Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals ( including Bluepepper) in Canada and internationally.  King lives and writes on The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

New Poetry by Tony Hughes

Till the Wind calls the Sea
(The Twelve Stations of the Grief) 

The first four months 

To know love
is to not have love.
  
I can’t feel anything:
hunger for food
thirst for drink
tired for sleeping
one foot step to the next
one after the other 
how do you live 
without your lover’s 
breath on your skin?

You live waiting for the veil to lift 
for the wave to stop crashing 
for the window to stop opening 
for this mad mantra 
these tumbling 
thoughts one 
after each other 
to last 
longer 

The second four months 

I don’t hear 
your name anymore 

I call it out
CASSANDRA 
three times I call 
I can hear it again  
it sounds so good 
I run to it 
I try to hold it 
to  touch it 
to smell it
to taste it
to eat it 
to sleep
with it 

What else 
am I meant to do 
with this 
elegiac 
silence 

I call your name
again and again
Into the
fucking 
elegiac air                                                 

time wins 
time always
wins 
it cant find 
land anywhere 
the air is too solid 

CASSANDRA 
has been
atomised












more months pass 

Ghosts are thoughts 
thoughts are ghosts 
dreams are real 
you visit four times
 
I say its ok 
my succubus 
you can stay 
you say no 
you whisper 
I have to go 
the wind calls 
the sea 

You point to the light 
from across the river 
the light that lasts longer 
than the oldest tree  

that’s where
I’ll be waiting
for you 

where the wind 
calls the sea 

This twelfth month

Everyone loves Yoko now
just another cycling thought
 
I peddle into Sydney park 
carving layers from the 
peppery skin of my grief

Under a big blue blanket sky
in the pretty city
I scratch this self awake 
it is time to live again 

Peddling my thoughts 
into Sydney park
that’s a big hill 
up to the skate bowl
I wish my wish
could be here
where the dogs
run free
chasing poems
with me 

Till the wind 
calls the sea


- © Tony Hughes 2021


Tony Hughes is an Australian actor and singer. As an actor, he starred in The Lost Islands (1976), Chopper Squad (1977–1979) and the film adaptation of Puberty Blues (1981). As a singer he has fronted Bellydance and King Tide. (Courtesy of Wikipedia). Cassanadra Woodburne, the CASSANDRA of this poem, was Toný's life partner and best friend and mother to their two wonderful children, Georgia and Eddy. She passed away on 22nd November 2020 after a long and courageous struggle with cancer. The photo was taken at Era Beach where Cassandra's parents own a shack.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

New Poetry by Erina Booker










Sketch

I’m going to draw this poem for you
so you can see what I can see:
in this small stratosphere so much
is silhouetted starkly against a plain backdrop

I’m taking a large square sheet of white drawing paper
and at the top I’m drawing a butterfly with flapping wings,
strange to see one so high, tissue wings
fighting to stay in shape against the wind

from the right is a knife-edged swoop of swallow
with forked tail in iconic shape
I’ll colour its wings Prussian Blue
and add a glaze of glimmer
a ladle of Terracotta on its upper breast

in the background, upper left,
I’ll draw a suggestion of the cluster
of gulls and ibises
hanging handkerchief-hemmed
errant stragglers, drifting, chilling

and then the showpiece, new to me,
the friendly currawong on a glass pane
of the balcony
Ivory Black with flashes of Chinese White
on tail and edges of wings
eye of Deep Cadmium
soft Silver Grey beak with predatory hook

I could use a 2B pencil for this, dark and fine
better than the soft and smudgy 4B’s
de rigueur for writing music

So! I’m ready to go
when he drops kamikaze
against the background void
simply falls, free-falls
into the blank air
legs straight
wings clasped to sides
as he was before,
dropping so fast I don’t see
his wings open
I only see this performer’s
fierce prowess of DNA – falling with flair
into greedy gravity,
confident that he will fling open
his safety-net wings
like black matador’s capes
diverting a trajectory of fated death

How could my cartoon of a stick-figure-black-bird
straight legs hanging like a child’s drawing
convey the glorious potency of skill
the savage clasp on life
against this pallid background
of unremarkable Sky Blue?

 

- © Erina Booker 2021


Erina Booker is a Sydney-based poet. She has published eight collections of her work, and contributes to journals, internationally, in Australia, and online. She enjoys giving recitals, seminars, and judging competitions. Erina has a Major in Literature within her Bachelor of Arts degree, and a Postgraduate degree in Counselling. Her interests are extensive and never-ending.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

New Poetry by Kitty Jospe










You Just Never Know

You and I don’t know the man framed in the doorway—
and he doesn’t know he’s in this picture, and the room
doesn’t know my friend and I see it as a ballroom
we name a leap into the museum of emptiness.
We see possibilities, not a waiting room with two lonely
benches, who will not know any viewers. 











Does this room invite you to seek something you don’t yet
know? What do you know about a doorway, a room? a stranger?
I start to wonder what dance of art was here before?

Perhaps it was the exhibit of Aaron Fowler’s larger
than life works? Perhaps it was in this empty gallery,
Aaron played on a piano for hours searching for inspiration —

little knowing he would create a piece out of wooden siding
his friend was removing from his house —
a large-scale sculpture where those boards become
88 keys..

Perhaps the room still echoes with his dreams and ideas
he coaxes— following his Grandma’s mantra, inviting
us to follow it too: you need to speak it into existence.


- © Kitty Jospé 2021


Since 2004, Kitty Jospé turned her work as docent into explorations of ekphrastic poetry, and pursued workshops and an MFA in poetry. (received in 2009 from Pacific University, OR)  Since Feb. 2008, she started  weekly sessions to help people to be more attentive readers and increase appreciation of good poems. Her 6th book, Sum:1 appeared in March 2021,  http://www.foothillspublishing.com/2021/jospe.html

You can view more of Aaron Fowler's work here: Aaron Fowler





 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

New Poetry by John Tustin










She now sings the same song to her new lover

“she now sings the same song to her new lover” - Charles Bukowski

She now sings the same song to her new lover
That she sang to me
Even though he was also her lover before me
And back then she sang a different song

In a different key
Without that expression on her face
She has now
As the rain outside their window falls

All around my whispered name.


- © John Tustin 2021


John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

New Poetry by B. Lynne Zika










The Problems Incurred in Having a Dead Body on the Couch

It’s a bad sign
when they come
to appraise
the house
and
you’ve only got
ten minutes
to figure
out what
to do
with
Grandpa.


- © B. Lynne Zika 2021


B. Lynne Zika’s work has appeared in numerous on-line and print publications, including The Somerville Times, Sheila-na-Gig, Poetry East, and globalpoemic. She was editor of Blood Pudding, co-editor of Spillway, and worked as a closed-captioning editor for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. She received a Pacificus Foundation Literary Award in short fiction, and her photography has received several awards, including the 2020 Top Creator Award from Viewbug. Images may be viewed at https://artsawry.com/.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

New Poetry by Nina Rubinstein Alonso










In Madrid          

Long train ride passing thirsty farmland
slow bullocks in the fields rocky country with
boulders rolled by glaciers curious configurations
near rivers shrinking dry finally reach Madrid
Hotel Mora on Calle del Prado with a balcony

facing the street no way to avoid hearing arguments
getting physical in outside cafes but we prefer
this energy to weary dreary La Coruña 
take a walk through El Retiro park watch water
gushing neatly in irrigation ditches toward trees

otherwise the whole place would blow away
as it’s a desert hot dry sidewalks cracked and parched
hard as cement a small green pond perched center
guarded by 18th century lion statues with boys
climbing their backs some couples rowing a few 

in pedal boats others nearby in a cafe then I realize
black people have been sitting there being ignored by waiters
because they’re black until they give up quietly walk away
unmistakable insult of a woman and two girls treated worse 
than invisible by staff pretending not to see humans  

Plaza Mayor attracts flocks of swallows wheeling flying
criss cross circling and last night two men stood clapping
for their dogs without leashes hell no not here but we
can’t afford fancy restaurants glittery expensive places
with waiters in cummerbunds linen tables set with four forks

find a cheap bar serving sardines fried squid and salad where
people bring babies all hours of the night but I’m mired in
immediacies of stifled effort mixed with exhaustion as I can’t 
fix what’s nasty and ugly yet can’t let it go though it’s time for
my dance workout while Fernando’s smoking on the balcony.


- © Nina Rubinstein Alonso 2021


Nina's work has appeared in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Ibbetson Street, etc. Her book, "This Body", was published by David Godine Press, and her chapbook Riot Wake is upcoming from Cervena Barva Press. A story collection and novel are in the works as well as a collection of poems from travels in Spain, from which this poem is taken.  Nina is also a ballet teacher, and one of her dearest friends, the artist Heather Ellyard, lives in Victoria.

Monday, November 08, 2021

New Poetry by Margaret Ruckert










final resume

the aim of this poem
is to use up the irresistible
bait of small talk  
to usurp your expectations
taste the lemon of fish
the vinegar of air
in the tides of relationships

I was standing in a bar
near a group, reminiscing
about older workers, ‘codgers’
long retired from the company
people seen from a distance
on nodding terms, names afloat
on the oceans of time …

at some lull in the fishing
for answers on the bare horizon
one would throw a line
cautiously, in the direction of
I wonder where H or B is now?


- © Margaret Ruckert 2021


Margaret Owen Ruckert is a widely published poet. After a career in TAFE Science, she retrained to tutor English. She is short-listed for the 2021 Society of Women Writers National Poetry Competition, having won first prize in 2007. Two books, You Deserve Dessert and musefood, which won an IP Poetry Book, explore café society. Sky on Sea, a book of tanka, was published recently*. As Facilitator of Hurstville’s Discovery Writers, she presents regular writing workshops.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

New Poetry by Doug Holder










Signs

(for my late wife Dianne Robitaille)

A fallen autumnal leaf
perfectly lands
in the template of my hand-
I almost crushed it
with my wet sorrow..

A sudden red bloom
on a dying geranium 
a crown
for us brittle leaves 
below.

When I close
my eyes
cameos of her smile
flicker
on my 
very black screen,
like an old silent
movie.

The sudden
wide-eyed-shock
of the cat 
tail erect--
pointing to the ceiling
to some shadow
some trace of a spectral 
being.

The bird
that I could only see
when I laid my head on
her pale, deflated stomach
flickering with
frantic flight...

I felt the warm wind of the lake
gently sweep her away
I saw her
once more
in the mournful
davening
of the trees.


- © Doug Holder 2021


Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. He teaches creative at Endicott College right outside of Boston. His latest poetry collection is "The Essential Doug Holder." He lost his wife , the poet Dianne Robitaille in August of 2021.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

New Poetry by Lynn White










Life After Death

Something has startled me 
where I thought I was safest,
where I thought I belonged,
so I will follow Whitman
in avoiding the still woods I loved
and the fields where I used to walk.
I won’t emerge from my home 
to meet my friends in the open spaces,
or hug them and share a coffee, 
there are no cafes anymore, in any case.

Even the ground has sickened.
The men in white suits spray disinfectant 
over streets and beaches to stem its diseased flow.

But still I’m alive to the sounds of spring
rising from the decay and death of winter.
Still I’m alive to the prospect of summer
when the fertilised ground shows the life
that death has bestowed on it and blooms.


- © Lynn White 2021


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net  and a Rhysling Award. 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

New Poetry by Ron Wilkins










Redistribution of wealth in the western suburbs

It was a time survival skills
honed in the depression years still lingered.
We made do with the little we had, augmented a trifle
from the pockets of those who had too much.
Semi-rural, seasonal surplus from backyard orchards
and chicken coops passed in wicker baskets
over paling fences with no expectation of return.
Back doors were unlocked.
Stealing from neighbours was unthinkable
but thieving from the factory with the connivance
of a mate at the gate, was done with a sense of bravado.
Old Diggers knew you needed an angle to get an edge.
My uncle Jack—union rep at the meatworks—
pilfered beef enough to feed his growing family.

      Few could afford cars and the rattletraps were
always breaking down. Learning to fix them was essential.
My car had no petrol gauge—easy to forget
to fill her up when a dark-haired beauty was sitting close.
Vehicles abandoned on lonely roads were fair game. 
With back seat tool kits we were like piranhas moving swiftly
in the liquid darkness to rip out vital parts
from the engine, number plates, battery and electricals,
spanners glinting like teeth in the torchlight.
Attackers vanishing into shadows before the dawn.
Next night others arrived, as if lured by the smell of a kill,
to gut the interior—dashboard, seating, steering wheel .
Within a week, the chassis was naked and forlorn.
Mates called the local pub ‘The Office’—a virtual shopfront
where goods were permanently ‘On Sale’.
Those days it was not surprising
the things that fell from the back of a truck.


- © Ron Wilkins 2021


Ron Wilkins is a geologist living in Sydney. His literary work has been published in Australian Poetry Anthology, Antipodes, Best Australian Poems, Cordite Poetry Review, Plumwood Mountain, Quadrant, Westerly (imminently), French Literary Review and other journals. His hobby is the identification of the more than 900 species of Eucalyptus trees.

 

Monday, October 25, 2021

New Poetry by Chris Wood










Shadows Walking

No mercy hangs heavy over the town square
decorated in bones, cobwebs, and jack-o-lanterns.
Fairy lights, purple and orange, glow
under Hunter’s moon. Frost tinges leaves,
chills the porch. I hear lone howls,
taste bittersweet mocha.
The milky air clouds my judgment.
I cannot see today or tomorrow,
the vastness I know is out there 
                                                   overwhelms.


- © Chris Wood 2021


Chris Wood resides in Tennessee with her husband and several fur babies. She works as a lease maintenance manager for a real estate management company, and is a member of the Chattanooga Writers' Guild, where she currently serves as their treasurer. Her work has appeared in several journals and publications, including Poetry Quarterly, Haiku Journal, American Diversity Report, and Quill and Parchment.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

New Poetry by James Walton










There’s a Gordon Lightfoot song goes I’m on my second cup of coffee

and I still can’t face the dawn
or something like that but it’s love
he’s hung out on there when young
now chase the days trying for delay
holding on to every febrile bough

a puff of cloud on a tongue of hours
and the silence of rem all around
this place centred before diminution
half light half night half sleep
bare feet in chocolate mint’s arousal

catch a waft in dawn sight close it
all Eos to Tithonus these days
no delayed cognition for the start flag
stand down Olympus cancel the bout
old man reaching over a star, stumble.


- © James Walton 2021


James Walton is published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He has been shortlisted for the ACU National Poetry Prize, the MPU International Poetry Prize, The James Tate Prize, and the Ada Cambridge Prize. He was nominated for ‘The Best of the Net’ 2019, and is a Pushcart Prize 2021 nominee. He is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Prize. He was a librarian, a cattle breeder, and mostly a public sector union official. He can be found at:  jameswalton.poetry.blog

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

New Poetry by Mark Danowsky










Canopy 

Just another day of family & politics 
& how to make the irretrievable past
disappear into sunshine tomorrow 
as if talking about it helps 
pivot from this place of stasis 
without coming to terms with yourself 
& the masks you choose each day 
blur until the chameleon finds 
whatever still feels safe 


- © Mark Danowsky 2021


Mark Danowsky is Editor-in-Chief of ONE ART: a journal of poetry, Senior Editor for Schuylkill Valley Journal, Poetry Craft Essays Editor for Cleaver Magazine, and a Regular Contributor for Versification. He is author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press) and JAWN forthcoming from Moonstone Press. His work has appeared in many journals including, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Gargoyle, The Healing Muse, and North Dakota Quarterly.

Monday, October 11, 2021

New Poetry by Helen Kidder










Incarcerated

As if the wick flickered the candle,
The chair took hold of me,
And the pen wrote itself on paper.

It’s that kind of morning.
Air bruising leaves.
Blue sky flocking clouds.

The floor stares at the soles
Of my shoes, tongue-tied.
Coffee darkens my throat.

I am self-distancing
As the world shuts the door
On a virus that searches for victims.

I am lost in the hour
And the hour ticks inside me.
I am my own clock.

There is no story.  I am a blank page,
books grown old with me,
caught in the maze of meaning.

Television and dreams hold my mind
On track number three.  Yes,
That’s my train.

It rails in the same direction
While the country jails itself,
Sends everyone on leave.


- © Helga Kidder 2021


Helga Kidder lives in the Tennessee hills.  She has an MFA from Vermont College and leads the poetry group for the Chattanooga Writers Guild. Her poems have been published in Artemis, Amethyst Review, Conestoga Zen and others. She has four collections of poetry, "Wild Plums",  "Luckier than the Stars", "Blackberry Winter", and "Loving the Dead" which won the Blue Light Press Book Award 2020.  Her new collection, "Learning Curve", is slated for print in November.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

New Poetry by Harris Coverley










Sleepless Wednesday

the heat lingers in September
as though it knows something is up.

there are watery voices in the street
and a single still headlight
blinds me in the dining room.

on the pavement outside the open window
I hear a lone dry leaf on an evening stroll.


- © Harris Coverley 2021


Harris Coverley has verse published or forthcoming in Polu Texni, California Quarterly, Star*Line, Spectral Realms, Scifaikuest, Corvus Review, Spank the Carp, Better Than Starbucks, The Oddville Press, View From Atlantis, Danse Macabre, Rasputin, Once Upon A Crocodile, 5-7-5 Haiku Journal, and many others. A former Rhysling nominee and member of the Weird Poets Society, he lives in Manchester, England.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

New Fiction by Ben Umayam

Didavwiski

 What more can you say.  Your wife of 35 years, dead from Covid.  You are anesthetized by the numbers that stagger, over half a million. Corinna had bad diabetes and heart problems.  When first diagnosed, it wasn't a big shock.

 You were prepared for the worst.  You were just happy it happened so fast.  You can’t say much to the suffering.  But she suffered less. You and the kids aren’t devastated.  There is a certain amount of guilt about this all around.  Corinna, you loved her with all your heart.  But your heart knew that Corinna, Corinna was not long for this earth once diagnosed.

 You are a mutt, blood of slaves, some white plus Native American blood pulsing around.  You remember how your mom’s dad, Gramps, prepared you at an early age.  He taught you death was an ongoing cycle of life.   He talked of shamans, but you don’t like that word anymore.  You prefer to use the Cherokee name, didavwiski,  two souls in one body, male and female, who have immense healing powers that help navigate the ongoing cycle.

 You handle it well. You keep thinking about how the kids are holding well too.  All flown the nest, they return, they cry, they go through her things, take what they want and go back to their homes, families.

 Yes, there is that emptiness, loneliness not easy to get used to, the church ladies remind you.  But it is not as difficult as they say.  At age 65, there is a niceness to not putting the toilet seat down, leaving glasses in the sink, not emptying the dishwasher, and bringing out the trash whenever, and not on certain days. 

 Everyone is nice. Anything I can do?   We are here for you.  They say you have your memories to hang on to even though Corinna may not be here anymore.  At some point, you find that your smile is glued to your face.

 It’s always the ladies who underline; if you need help, just call.  The guys, they just hang around and nod.  Eat the food and drink, gathering to laugh to make you forget.  It feels more like they are trying to make you laugh as if to say it didn’t happen.

 It is good of Charlie to offer something concrete, to come over and cook dinner.  He went to cooking school and became a chef, and recently retired.  The two of you worked together so many years ago.  At that polling place.  You were the financial officer.  He was the director of polling. 

 He was good with people.  He was good people as well.  You thought he was really good until they busted him for writing fake checks to ghost telephone pollsters.  He confessed to you he had a coke problem.  Everyone had a coke problem in the '80s, especially the disco gays like Charlie. He cut bad checks for his nightly bag of goodies.

 You keep in touch after the firing.  You quit the firm soon after, wish you had embezzled money from the bums too.  He hires you as his financial manager.  Things sour when he sees you wrote a check for yourself to pay a bill.  You put the money back in right away, but he fires you anyway, apologizing. He could not trust you.  Still, he hooks you up with his older brother. The brother and his in-laws have bought an apartment near yours, in Spanish Harlem, which he rents out.

 You are property manager for Charlie’s brother all those years, until he sold the place, just in time.  After Covid, an apartment in Manhattan, not much of an investment.

 Charlie shows up for dinner with everything.  And the food, fancy.  You are not used to two courses much less three. French, Italian, then French again.  He brings the pot for the fondue app.  The smell of three cheeses and kirsch permeate, the smell of dead flowers brought back from a funeral home, gone.  The pan-seared steak replaces that odor of Obsession, your wife’s favorite. The vanilla pod he scrapes when he makes the custard dessert, that aroma hangs everywhere.  He cooks so fast.  And he cleans the whole time he is cooking.  The kitchen is spotless when all is done.  He brings wine but does not drink.  He says he is an alcoholic.  He has one drink; he does not stop until he blacks out.  He quit on his 60th birthday because he blacked out. 

 You talk about those old days way into the night.  Whatever happened to the bosses? One was Hilary Clinton’s pollster until she lost the first time around.  The other is a Democratic commentator on Fox News.  That young kid is a millionaire now in Silicon Valley.  That guy who ran the email company before email existed, he works for The Times now, the research department.

 It gets late. You invite Charlie to crash.  You ask him to share your big empty bed.

 You remember Gramps saying didavwiski are healers, two souls, male and female, in one body.  You feel you could use some healing. 

 He lies next to you, not sleeping. He turns around and looks you in the eye.  You embrace him, close your eyes and kiss, deeply, languidly.  You grab his hardening cock.  You lie face down on the bed, guiding him into you.  It is tender, slow, no fierce humping. It does not seem sexy; you both are flabby, old.   It is steamy and soothing, mending.  When it is over, he turns you over, engulfs your member with his lips.  You come fiercely, ultimately.  Together drained, you attempt to sleep.

 Before you drop off, you remember thinking Charlie will go back to his husband, and tomorrow he will say nothing.  You wonder if you will ask him again, to come over, stay the night. 

 You drop off thinking this didavwiski, he is one with much power, healing power.


- © Ben Umayam 2021


Ben Umayam moved to NYC to write the Great American Filipino Gay Short Story.  He worked for political pollsters, then became a fancy hotel chef and then retired.  He is working that short story again.  Recently, he has been published by Metaworker, Ligeia, EthelZine, Lotus-eaters, 34th Parallel, Digging Through The Fat, Anak Sastra, Corvus Review, and two of Insignia’s Southeast Asian Drabble Anthologies.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

New Poetry by KB Ballentine










Fear  

It’s a lichen crawling  
over the barks of ruined oaks and pine, 
scattering across rocks like spilled 
crickets – a barren desert-scape  
where sand swallows the sky, 
slopes shape-shifting the horizon; 
it’s the scalped remains  
of an autumn yard, wind betraying   
the last warmth before winter, 
a woodpecker drumming hollow logs. 
It is sludge spilling over garbage bins, 
an alley hazed with smog, shards of vinegar  
and beer bottles gleaming greenly, 
rusted rails of the subway fence  
whining in a lonely street.  
Whether the drab walls of waiting rooms 
or the scuffed turf of an empty field, 
the dented Maverick in an adjacent lot  
or scarred scales of a trout lured  
from an algae-filmed lake: 
it waits.


- © KB Ballentine 2021


KB Ballentine’s seventh collection, Edge of the Echo, was released May 2021 with Iris Press. Her earlier books can be found with Blue Light Press, Middle Creek Publishing, and Celtic Cat Publishing. Published in Atlanta Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including Pandemic Evolution (2021), In Plein Air (2017) and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017). Learn more at www.kbballentine.com. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

A Cooee! to all Aussie poets


As much as we here at Bluepepper enjoy savouring poetic fare from all over the world, we miss that special bite that only Aussies can bring to the table. So we are sending out a special Cooee! to all our Aussie poets. Just consult the submission guidelines in the sidebar and send us some of your spiciest and best.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

New Poetry by Robert Bulman










The archaeology of anxiety

the archaeology of anxiety
found the fear of death inside the vase

plugged up and out of reach
until relentless curiosity

spilled thanatophobia
into the atmosphere

where it circulated
across the continents

drifting down as dust
the accretion of our collective fear

guided by gravity
floating back to the center of things

where we all meet up again
eventually


- © Robert Bulman 2021


Robert Bulman is a professor at Saint Mary's College of California, where poetry seems to hang in the air like smoke. Born in the American Midwest, he grew up in Southern California and then drifted north. He is an emerging middle-aged poet living and working in Northern California

Thursday, September 23, 2021

New Poetry by Gwil James Thomas










Summer Departed like a Fallen Scoop of Peach Ice Cream, Licked up by a Rabid Dog from The Dirty Pavement.   

Beaming with black sunglasses
Summer wandered over
wearing denim hot pants 
and a sunflower yellow bikini top.

You gently wrapped your hands 
around her bronzed hips, 
as she pressed her chest against yours 
and planted a bittersweet kiss on your lips.

It was hard to see her go -   
but she assured you that she’d return 
and you knew that she would - 
just as you knew she’d be coming back 
for a long time after you were gone too.

Smiling, Summer then peeled herself 
from you and slowly stepped back -
brushing your palm with her fingers
as she disappeared to the 
rustling of leaves. 

Her sisters were already on their way - 
they were colder, grittier, more complex 
and all that made Summer truly matter. 


- © Gwil James Thomas 2021


Gwil James Thomas is a novelist, poet and inept musician. He lives in his hometown of Bristol, England, but has also lived in London, Brighton and Spain. His two most recent poetry chapbooks are Lonesome Wholesome Soup (Holy & Intoxicated Publications) and Under The Same Moon (Between Shadows Press) a split with the poet Tohm Bakelas. He plans to one day build a house, amongst other things.

Monday, September 06, 2021

New Poetry by Henry Stimpson










Memory Murder Mystery

I know the Cream of Wheat jingle,
the first four lines of “To Autumn,”
Mickey Mantle’s batting average,
Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns,
artiodactyls versus perissodactyls,
sushi versus sashimi,
my dead alcoholic grandmother’s
favorite brand of sherry,
and the square mileage of Delaware,
but among that vast detritus
I can never ever dredge up
those three pap-bland names
the singer had to rub out
to be reborn
as Nina Simone.


The Loneliest Monk

“And who is The Loneliest Monk?”
–MTV reporter to Bill Clinton, who said Thelonious Monk was his favorite jazz artist

The acolyte of solitude speaks sparingly,
each word a pearl cultured in his mind

with opalescent layers of meaning.
World leaders: pay attention.

His aura trembles to the music
of the spheres like candlelight.


- © Henry Stimpson 2021


Henry Stimpson’s poems, articles and essays have appeared in Poet Lore, Cream City Review, Lighten Up Online, Rolling Stone, Muddy River Poetry Review, Mad River Review, Aethlon, Bluepepper, The MacGuffin, The Aurorean, Common Ground Review, Vol1Brooklyn, Poets & Writers, The Boston Globe and other publications.  He’s been a public relations consultant and writer for decades. Once upon a time, he was a reference librarian, a prison librarian and a cabdriver. He lives in Massachusetts.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

New Poetry by R. Gerry Fabian










Learning Curve

At last, the reunion,
under an Ottawa traffic signal
during December’s last days.
The return of a stranger
with heavy foreign accent
in the middle of an ice storm mirage.
A frozen tongue speaks stencil messages.
I’ve lost more
than I can ever regain 
to this city.

Ours is a unicorn union, now.
I fumble in the present
in an attempt to initiate the past.
You are a snow sculpture.
Every minute together
hangs like an icicle.

Finally we call a halt
to this terrible two day catastrophe.
It is awkward because you
are home
and I am a Christmas present
that needs to be returned.


- © R. Gerry Fabian 2021


R. Gerry Fabian is an internationally published poet and novelist. He has published four books of his published poems, Parallels, Coming Out Of The Atlantic, Electronic Forecasts and Ball On The Mound. In addition, he has published three novels : Getting Lucky (The Story), Memphis Masquerade, and Seventh Sense. His web page is https://rgerryfabian.wordpress.com, Twitter @GerryFabian2. He lives in Doylestown, PA.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

New Poetry by Joe Balaz










Not My Circus                                                                                                             

I no tink so Slick,
dat no sound too good to me.

Not interested,
no desire,

so you can just stay deah
on your street corner

wit your little bags
of momentary euphoria.
               
I not looking
to be bathed in wun heavenly glow
cause wen da shine wears off

it’s like jumping out of wun airplane
witout wun parachute

and landing on da pavement
like wun ovah ripe cantaloupe.

I’m really much too spunky
to be wun sorry junkie

fooling wit da fire,
spoon, and needle.

It’s moa hip
to take wun natural trip

by rapping to da beat of my feet
dat stay walking away.

If you could read my mind
it would be telling you

not my circus,  
not my monkeys,

cause wen you play stupid games
you win stupid prizes.


- © Joe Balaz 2021


Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) and American English.  He is the author of Pidgin Eye, a book of poetry. In July, 2020, Balaz was given the Elliot Cades Award for Literature as an Established Writer.  It is the most prestigious literary award given in Hawai’i.  Balaz presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

New Poetry by Jean Bohuslav










pruning

Inspired by Ali Whitelock's ‘the lactic acid in the calves of your despair’

who will wring disappointment from the
sleeves of your thick woollen jumper
soak separation from each repetitive stitch
with warm soapy water
as thoughts of mother hang in the air

who will lay your hand-knit on
a slab of hindsight
in bright forgiving sun of a new day

who will sow seeds of inspiration
into each stride
and serve you a meal at their table
does pride need to be honoured when
batons are left at the blocks

uncage the bird from your heart
only you
have keys for surrender
support exists  
even when you doubt

now is time to let the hungry dog loose
cleanse bat-winged corridors from mind
light bonfires of desire
prune
for spring buds

- © Jean Bohuslav 2021


Jean Bohuslav lives on the SurfCoast of Victoria. She enjoys submitting to Meniscus, Kissing Dynamite, Poetry on the Move, Poetry Wivenhoe, Mad Swirl, U3A SurfCoast Poetry, Tango Australis as well as Bluepepper.

Monday, August 30, 2021

New Poetry by Michael Keshigian










Panda Bear
 
Because he was terrified of loneliness,
he granted me life
and the ability to share with him
what little time he had remaining.
I placated his hours of isolation.
With no mobility,
he carried me everywhere,
onto the veranda with its view of the lake
on most sunny days
and nightly, in front of the television.
I could hear him limping
as he approached from the hall,
his gait, a telltale sign of concern.
Will he discuss his wife’s departure
or the considerable ineptitude
of political leaders?
Neighbors never visited,
they thought him odd, reclusive,
yet I know he would have welcomed
even the most abbreviated conversation.
No one complained about him,
he once entered a burning house
across the street
to save the wailing dog,
observation, his forte,
he knew no one was home.
The woman, living there,
who sobbed incessantly,
occasionally waved as she pulled
from out her driveway.
These midnight thoughts
are my only escape
from his ceaseless chatter.
I stare at him as he sleeps.
In the morning, he will open the blinds
and the sun will continue to melt
my button black eyes to a faded gray.
How I envy him. I yearn for eyelids 
and a single night of obscurity.


- © Michael Keshigian 2021


Michael Keshigian is the author of 14 poetry collections. His most recent poems have appeared in Muddy River Review, Studio One, Jerry Jazz Musician, San Pedro River Review, Young Ravens Literary Review, Tipton Poetry Journal. He has been published in numerous national and international journals and has appeared as feature writer in twenty publications with 7 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (michaelkeshigian.com)