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 

- © 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:

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

New Poetry by Mark Danowsky


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


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


 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


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 

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.