Monday, January 31, 2022

New Poetry by Mike Dillon

Being Right

So, we’ve arrived at the right answer,
the committee chair intoned.
And slammed his gavel on the worn sound block.

And somewhere the coin of light
at the far end of a lost corridor 
is guillotined the way an eyelid shuts.

While the forgotten question lingers
like an old scrotum on a severed vine.

- © Mike Dillon 2022

Mike Dillon lives in Indianola, Washington, a small town on Puget Sound northwest of Seattle. His most recent book is a chapbook, The Return, from Finishing Line Press (March 2021).

Sunday, January 30, 2022

New Poetry by Greg McLaren

The return

Some of the birds have come back –

banded stilts, the eastern curlews,
godwits, whimbrels –

                                     back to the sun-
whitened sands,
                          the thin urinous creekwater
and half-lived muds and silts,

back from the wet-glossy Arctic,
the long, now-sudden thaw the high-numbered north’s become.

Our low summer sucks at the thin orange bands
your barely-fleshed legs are.

                                             Culverts and greasy canals
drain out into the sudden local creeks
the low system drops in from off the coast.

Where are the dark, wide straps of wormy feed
from under memorised sand to fat you up,
meat on the breast to send you
                                                  between homes again.

This brown channel pelts by, washing
the thin fuzz familiar birds grace –
snakebirds, herons –
                                   near where the Styx
meets deeper water, where there’s nothing

to sate the longer circlers,
those off-shored shorebirds,
                                             the warehoused pilgrims.

The world’s entire history sets out each encoded fate.
The sun’s ticking is fairly constant.
                                                       Muggy night.
The first plovers in a long while
hang out a stuttered and drifting call.

- © Greg Mclaren 2022

Greg McLaren is a poet, teacher and reformed critic who lives in the lower Blue Mountains. His books include After Han Shan (Flying Islands), The Kurri Kurri Book of the Dead, Australian ravens and Windfall (Puncher & Wattmann). 

Friday, January 28, 2022

New Poetry by Miguel Jacq

Self Translation

How to translate myself?
When I think of all the times
my father chose not to use his tongue
the words fail me.

I wake to the negotiation of birds,
wish to trade my larynx for a syrinx
 — follow the breadcrumb trail
down to trachea, toll-free.

To inhale and to mime are both hollow
acts, no incisors needed,
the voice box just a rule book,
another bone breakable.

How do they know it’s the right time
to leave the nest? for me
thorns take root in the jaw,
air builds up in the lungs,

the ribcage clock
tolling frenetically
against the chest.

It’s a countdown
to the decisive moment
when I will bare my own gums
to form the future tense,

my milk teeth melting as I
mouth to the sun my language
and behind the eyes

- © Miguel Jacq 2022

Miguel Jacq is a French-Australian writer residing in Melbourne. In 2016 and 2018 he won the Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Award.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

New Poetry by Danielle McMahon

Pickup Truck

Some nights I sneak
into the garage to sit 
in the passenger’s seat

of your old pickup truck
and dream of the highway on a summer’s

night: the green glow of the dashboard,
the lullaby of your voice
singing softly to yourself

as if underwater
as if timeless

the silver now has dulled to gray,
slick surface wounded with rust 
and the last time

you turned the key
the engine choked on its own
death rattle

but some nights I see the moons
of your fingerprints on the dust
of the steering wheel

and I understand
what you meant 
that night in the Carolina’s

we capsized in a roadside abyss
and you rocked the grounded wheels til
the airborne pitched dirt again:

Stay.  Wait.

- © Danielle Mcmahon 2022

Danielle McMahon’s poems have appeared in Spinning Jenny (Issue 9) and Wicked Alice (Fall 2007), under her maiden name.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

New Poetry by Frank C. Modica


I bicycle past half empty strip malls 
and worn-out fast food franchises 
to the edge of the April prairie.
The sun sets over the corn desert,
golden spikes pierce pink and red clouds 
over fields stripped of life,
or so it seems.

Yet nature finds a way---
weeds grow in wild profusion 
along roadsides and ditches--
velvet leaf, corn cockle, 
Powell's amaranth, Bird’s foot violet
along with a promiscuous outpouring 
of wild flowers: wild garlic, 
thimble weeds, purple milkweed. 
Life thrives cheek and jowl 
with dead coyotes, deer, possum, 
littering rural byways.

This juxtaposition feels like rough letters
incised on eroded country grave stones
battered by decades of rain and hail 
or toppled over and broken by vandals–
loud and defiant in the spring dusk,
they speak when I scan the stones with my hands, 

births and deaths humming under my fingertips.

- © Frank C. Modica 2022

Frank C. Modica is a cancer survivor and retired teacher who taught children with special needs for over 34 years.  His work is forthcoming or has appeared in Blue Mountain Review,  Lemonspouting, and  Fahmidan Journal. Frank’s first chapbook, nominated for an Eric Hoffer Book Award, was published this fall by Kelsay Books.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

New Poetry by Rob Tiffin

Field Trip

We visited the Lincoln Memorial, 
the Washington Monument, 
the National Air and Space Museum, 
the National Museum of Natural History. 

The final stop on the tour was the Exorcist 
steps. Not the ones from the spider-walk scene. 
The ones from the final showdown where 
Father Karras convinces the demon Pazuzu 
to stop possessing Regan and possess him instead. 
Once the demon is inside him, Karras flings himself 
out a window and down a long flight of concrete stairs. 
His bones crack and his body bleeds as he tumbles 
to his death, forcing the demon that possessed him 
to flee our mortal plane. 

After the tour we ate cheeseburgers 
at one of the original Five Guys locations 
and then we headed home.

- © Rob Tiffin 2022

Rob Tiffin writes poems, makes short films, and records podcasts in the Florida panhandle. He also really likes frogs.

Monday, January 24, 2022

New Haiku by Karlo Sevilla

My Okinawan Interlocutor Speaks at Sunrise

Every utterance dawns divine power;
a vast ship sheathes into harbor
as a dew sheds from a flower.

- © Karlo Sevilla 2022

Karlo Sevilla of Quezon City, Philippines is the author of the poetry collections “Metro Manila Mammal” (Soma Publishing, 2018) and “Outsourced! . . .” (Revolt Magazine, 2021). Recognized among the Best of Kitaab 2018, shortlisted for the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2021, and thrice nominated for the Best of the Net, his poems appear in Philippines Graphic, Bluepepper, DIAGRAM, Ariel Chart, Rat’s Ass Review, Small Orange, Radius, Matter, Eclectica, Better Than Starbucks, and elsewhere.


Sunday, January 23, 2022

New Short Fiction by Bill Gardam

 Melbourne, the boil on the bottom of Australia

 The newspaper editor in Sydney is unsure of the two Canadians who show up and suggest that he would like to have them write an article for the magazine section about their travels through the outback of Australia. How brash and opinionated we seem. He does like our attitude however, - we have learned something anyway from our time among Australians.
 He says that we can write about the city of Melbourne, many hundreds of miles away, and he will think about it. He assumes, having glanced at our tired old Toyota van, our camping outfits and noticed our wood smoke fragrance, that we will never do it.
 We think 'bloody hell', because we hate cities and fancy ourselves as nature writers, but are piqued and say we will have a go. 'Good on ya' he says, and nods toward the door.
 We actually have been in the environs of Melbourne on our travels. My wife Heather's dad was born nearby, but we had gone to some trouble to avoid the actual city. We have no intention of  going back there so find a campground with internet and type 'Melbourne' into the search engine.All the detail we need is at our fingertips, more than enough, because we have decided to write about our favourite topic with the city simply serving as an example of mass plunder of the planet.

 We remember telling someone in Australia about our intention to travel to New Zealand and his dismissive remark about their entire annual budget being smaller than that of Melbourne. Even the Sydney editor had curled his lip when he told us to write about Melbourne. Inter-nation and inter-city rivalry we surmised. We ourselves had heard remarks by people in the outback that were negative about any city. It was it seemed, a boil on the bottom of Australia except of course to its citizens.
 We type something up about the beauty of the city, the friendliness of its citizens, the restaurants, wines and so on, the usual fare, and then think carefully and wonder why there could be anything cautionary to add. Why is this place not loved to death by others? Is it jealousy or just a fall back cynicism. ('the government, what a bunch of losers' ) Too much past history involving the downtrodden and convicts: jolly jumbucks, swagmen, troopers and landowners.Tall cotton always needs cutting down to size.
 By the time we arrive at our main points however - the effect that large cities have on their surroundings, their economic net spread over the hinterland, the bushfire-like burning up of resources, we have become disenchanted. We know it to be correct but have come to like Melbourne as described by others.The next day we polish up our article containing most of the above and e-mail it off. 'Try that on for size!' we think with a smile as we head on our way north to Queensland.
 We hear a week later that it has been accepted and a much needed cheque is on the way. Unpredictable folk these Australians, perhaps we have more to learn after all.

- © Bill Gardam 2022

Bill Gardam sailed to Australia from Canada and spent time travelling around in a borrowed van. He and his wife Heather rowed down part of the Murray River, camping along the way. He has published some poetry, has a whack of degrees, lives on an island on the West coast of Canada


Saturday, January 22, 2022

New Poetry by Michael Keshigian

Tears Wrinkle the Leather Seats
Distracting myself 
at the window
of the hospital room,
the alley below matches
the bleak white walls
where we persist,
and, for the sake of sanity,
I attempt to set syllables
into lines of verse.
Thomas wrote
with passion,
“Rage, rage against
the dying of the light”
yet in this room 
a glum florescence
endlessly flickers in the face
of courage and strength.
What might we do
but acknowledge the optimism
of friends and strangers,
then scream in the dark essence
of our lonely chambers.
Sometimes, en route
to his bedside,
in the confines of the car,
with the windows closed
during summer heat, I sob
and keep on sobbing.,
knowing this season will end
more differently
than any before it.

- © Michael Keshigian 2022

Michael Keshigian is the author of 14 poetry collections, his latest, What To Do With Intangibles, published by . His most recent poems have appeared in Muddy River Review, Smoky Quartz, San Pedro River 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. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

New Poetry by Nina Rubinstein Alonso

Just what I need in plague season

Dead crow on my fender
parked here barely ten minutes 
likely fell from that crab-apple’s wide 

branches stretching across the sidewalk
scattering blossoms and a funeral bird

just what I need in plague season
first glance looks like clotted fabric
or rain-soaked flowers blown down by

sudden gusts but it’s an innocent 
black bird on my rain-splattered car

dustpan slides this feathered soul
into a trash barrel while I shiver
inside my rain-soaked jacket 

see other fear-masked soggy humans
mailing bills with nervous gloved hands

feel the vibration of pandemic fire
silent invisible messenger   
threatening sickness and death   

though gloomy discouraged lonely
I’m here for whatever 

incomprehensible reasons
a cranky being walking
around sad-singing alive.

- © Nina Rubinstein Alonso 2022

Nina Rubinstein Alonso’s work has appeared in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Ibbetson Street, Bluepepper, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Broadkill Review, etc. Her book This Body was published by David Godine Press, her chapbook Riot Wake is upcoming from Cervena Barva Press, and a poetry collection about travel in Spain is in the works.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

New Poetry by Kitty Jospé

Cues for Not Giving Up

when the sun suddenly pierces through the hemlock,
starts to paint each bark texture
and time is on fire—every raindrop ringing
diamond drops—and so many questions as we wring
out the old and hope for the new.

More than the sound of the brook,
who refuses to give up singing, more
than the mirror of the still water with a whisper
of ruffled light, more than the whimsy
of unplanned pine needles making eyes,
crosshatch of broken branch making teeth,
more than a bend of a bough in an arc
one end in snow, the other in ice, more than
icicle whiskers, it’s the happenstance
that strikes.
                                    Sure you can match
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty
in this winter scene.  Go ahead, assign
a tree to say Fine then, I’ll take it. But I'll
remember that chickadee with its half-inch
of feathers, flitting about and landing,
flexing its toes.  It’s not the season
for mating, but just the sight reminds
me of what we’ll hear when it is.

- © Kitty Jospé 2022

Since 2004, Kitty Jospé turned her work as docent into explorations of ekphrastic poetry and pursued workshops and an MFA in Poetry (received 2009, from Pacific University, OR).  Since Feb. 2008, she leads weekly sessions to help people be more attentive readers and increase appreciation of good poems.  Her work appears in numerous journals, anthologies and six books.  The latest from March 2021, Sum:1  from Foothills Publishing

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

New Poetry by Fadairo Tesleem

Death eats our lands

As small as i am:
I've heard a poet saying " we all are 
characters entertaining God" (sigh)
& whenever death takes an unripe soul,
I wonder if God's still watching.
I've seen death feathering souls into -
its wilderness, and I've seen depressed
and tired souls routing around
to submit their lives.
I've read letters dead mothers send to
their existing offsprings,
Telling 'em life would always be a
place of wounds, of hurts, & of smarts.
I've seen hefty fathers digging their
children's grave, planting their body
beneath the infertility of the soul,
Posting their souls to eternity,
I wonder if God watches.
An orphan heard congregation singing
elegiac hymns at his mother's funeral,
"We shall meet at the streamside"  but
no one knows how soon that'd be, 
He spent the rest of his life counting 
stars at the riverbank.
And God is still watching?

- © Fadairo Tesleem 2022

Fadairo Tesleem is a young Nigerian poet that writes from Ilorin, Kwara state. He is a teacher, a poetry coach and a literary critic. He is a final year student at "Kamal school of Arabic & Islamic studies" Ilorin, Kwara state. He is a member of "Hill-Tip creative art foundation", Kwara state branch, also a member of "Association Of Nigerian Authors" ANA Osun state branch. His poems are published or forthcoming in Fiery scribe review, Pangolin review, Queer Toronto literary magazine, Arts lounge, Best of Africa, Blue Minaret, Down in the dirt, Ninshãr arts and the host of others. He has some poems published to his honour on some self-publishing literary platforms.
He tweets @Olakunle.

Monday, January 17, 2022

New Poetry by Jason Beale


My son has come into a tired world, 
his mind sharp and fertile,  
making each stone a new thing, 

gifting the pebble that glints 
in the afternoon light  
with a secret geometry, 

as intensely real as the joy 
of a passing bird, 
or a stranger’s wish for home.  

It's easy to be captured 
by the image of your child 
watching his reflection in a spoon, 

by the way he steals your kindness 
with a devilish smile, 
and is no one's angel but your own.  

- © Jason Beale 2022

Jason Beale is a Melbourne writer.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

New Poetry by Chella Courington


It was April again. It rained every day
floating seeds downstream.
Cold white sheets covered cold
white skin & you said it was useless 
caring whether hands met at night.
You said in Poland lovers lost
sleep over other things. We lay unspeaking
like the couple in Sunday’s LA Times.
She slept with his silence ten years & two
children. After coffee one morning
she burrowed a kitchen knife in his heart.

- © Chella Courington 2022

Chella Courington (she/her) is a writer/teacher whose poetry and fiction appear in numerous anthologies and journals including DMQ Review, The Los Angeles Review, and New World Writing. A Pushcart and Best New Poets Nominee, Courington was raised in Appalachia and now lives in California. She’s published five chapbooks of flash fiction and five of poetry. Her recent microchap of poetry is Good Trouble, Origami Poems Project, and forthcoming is Hell Hath, Maverick Duck Press.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

New Poetry by D.R. James

To Be, or . . . . It’s Not a Question

Why did we ever buy
the other story, the one
in which we walk
with heads held as high
as deciding otherwise?
This is set without
our consent—
though we’ve conceded
we’ve consented to assuage
our sixth sense of soul. 
Try stepping aside,
outside your own shadow:
it’ll take funhouse strides
to strike the balance, to
dodge your own reflection,
to see around your own
conscious self – slippery,
slimier than a hand,
the same one that
with the sleightly other
helps wrangle the lies
you don’t want
to show, the lies
that are the truth of you.
If only they all came out!
Ah, the relief!
The pure ease
of that pain!
Meanwhile, the sheer effort
of holding in, holding back,
holding forth – holding at all
the broken-winged bird
of your heart. It’s
Herculean, really,
ridiculous as myth,
silly as saying any
thing, any way,

- © D.R. James 2022

D. R. James’s latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020); his micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and printable-for-folding at the Origami Poems Project; and individual poems have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and journals. He lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan, USA.

Monday, January 10, 2022

New Poetry by Prosper Ifeanyi

I'd Normally Sit Around & Chat

I'd normally sit around & chat
But today, I am too
Tired to

My mouth doesn't feel 
Pregnant with words today, 
But with alcohol
& I hate that night has chosen to Be Complacent over the sun rising
For no reason.

I don't want to wake up to
The realities
For they can be very tiring & quaint

That's why I transport my mind
With roots, spirits & alcoholic beverages
To that surreal & ethereal world where 
There are no politics
No capitalism
& cancer.

- © Prosper Ifeanyi 2022

Prosper Ifeanyi is a writer and student of English and Literary Studies in Delta State University, Abraka. His works are published/forthcoming in Afrocritik, Anotearthub, Kalahari Review, The Temz Review, Scribd and elsewhere. He is the founder and co-editor of OneBlackBoyLikeThat Review, a blog which curates and publishes works of art and literary oeuvres around Africa.

Sunday, January 09, 2022

New Poetry by Michele Seminara


3 am
dread’s thread
taught as a garrote

flesh beset
by fret contorting
heart’s thump, pharyngal lump
neck-stem’s knot

pills and more pills
tinctures, teas, hypnotic
soundtracks, rain

meditations probing
mind’s peculiar pain

the phantasmagoria
of the febrile brain

- © Michele Seminara 2022

Michele is a Sydney poet, editor of on-line literary journal "Verity La", and author of "Suburban Fantasy" (UWP, 2021). She is currently enduring a bout of COVID-19 whose febrile symptoms inspired this poem.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

New Poetry by Daniel Birnbaum

The blackcap

How would I like

someone stopping by me
and saying

did you see on that tree
the blackcap

I think I can already count
on the blackcap’s cooperation 


The little girl
I teach her how to search for mushrooms
to recognize them
to distinguish the good from the bad

but perhaps
it is already telling too much
about our world


He offers me a beer
and opens the fridge

the door is covered with stickers and magnets
and his arms of tattoos

I wonder if he collects images
to embellish a world where
only fridges open on something concrete

- © Daniel Birnbaum 2022

Daniel Birnbaum, a recently retired molecular biologist and MD, lives near Aix-en-Provence, in France. He has written 25 books, including The colour of shadow/La couleur de l’ombre, Alba Publishing (2019), and has appeared in several journals including, in English, Blue Heron Review, Dragon Poet Review, Frogpond, Minnow Lit Mag, Modern Haiku, One-Sentence Poems, Poetry Quarterly, Red Wolf Journal, Shot Glass Journal, Skylark, The Lake and Trouvaille review.


Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Submissions now open for 2022

 Welcome back to Bluepepper and a new and hopefully much more peaceful and productive year. Submissions to Bluepepper are once again open. Please consult the guidelines in the sidebar before submitting.