Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Poetry by John Swain

The Threaded Loop

Gown of salmon and mantelet
over the coast
she shoulders with the winter sun. 
I finger a pearl clasp through
the threaded loop
and then her back shows, descending
into the sea. 

Running with a chasing wind
behind the elk,
her death day split my tongue
into ribs and flint
to give the timber wolf 
of the forest and mountain cloud
bleeding the fawn on the ground.

The wild light shines
without our prayers or offering,
I will still keep hers
in a metal box of smooth beach stones
and torn cloth and knife teeth
singing to the killed
we will be alone. 

- John Swain 2016

John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.  Least Bittern Books published his second collection, Under the Mountain Born.  

Monday, February 08, 2016

New Poetry by Michael Keshigian


They did what they desired,
pursued a dream until it evaporated,
relinquishing then
to the arduous commerce of acquisition,
allowing sorted perspectives
and temperaments of trophy representations
to infiltrate an idyllic affection
that long ago dwindled
behind the guise of co-existence.
And now, they are here,
at a table of ruin,
years of routine impossible to amend.
Dinner is served,
the baked salmon drowns
in the clear glass lake of the plate,
the wine’s bouquet has wilted.
It has been decided,
the present has its promise,
it yields a blessing,
no expectation, no loss,
yet a place to go,
vague reasons to remain.
Creature comforts have
no hearts to break.

- Michael Keshigian 2016

Michael Keshigian’s tenth poetry collection, Beyond was released May, 2015 by Black Poppy.  He has been widely published in numerous national and international journals, appearing as feature writer in over a dozen publications with 6 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

New Poetry by David Ades

Whether or Not They Will Ever Understand

The man tries to solve himself.
He breathes himself in and out, full of being.
He speaks the stories of himself,

shares them, listens to their echoes returning,
folding and unfolding himself
over and over like a worn map.

The woman picks at locks, listens
with her inner ear, looks with her third eye
but cannot reconcile herself to her reflection,

the way a stranger peers back at her,
image not conforming to the image
in her mind. Strangers to themselves,

they can only be strangers to each other,
each one a puzzle, an enigma, unsolvable,
and oh, their children, their burdened children.

- David Ades 2016

David Ad├Ęs is a Pushcart Prize nominated Australian poet living in Pittsburgh since 2011. He is the author of Mapping the World (Friendly Street Poets / Wakefield Press, 2008) commended for the Anne Elder Award 2008, and the chapbook Only the Questions Are Eternal (Garron Publishing, 2015). David’s poems have appeared widely in Australia and the U.S. in publications including over 20 of the Friendly Street Readers, and numerous literary magazines and have also been widely anthologized, most recently in Verse Envisioned: Poems from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Works of Art They Have Inspired. In 2014 David was awarded the inaugural University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize and was also shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

New Poetry by Gregg Dotoli


Relearn the approach toward word
Like the bread-handed child coaxing a bluejay
For the feather and blue close-up
to satisfy his curious nature
to get peace-close
to observe not cull
that child is pure in objective
and sincere in goal
but becomes polluted and eco-aloof
time sheds innocence
instills neglect towards nature
like our empty approach to climate-wreck
animals and plants wordlessly weep
Nero fiddled while Rome burned
and we look away as nature dies
Relearn the approach toward word
get peace-close to word
accept waning nature , man as viral polluter
this is our circle, every point
words deny, nature never lies

- Gregg Dotoli 2016

Gregg Dotoli lives in New York City area and has studied English at Seton Hall University. He works as a white hat hacker, but his first love is the arts. His poems have been published in, Quail Bell Magazine, The Four Quarters Magazine, Calvary Cross, Dead Snakes, Halcyon Magazine, Allegro Magazine, the Mad Swirl, Voices Project, Writing Raw and Down in the Dirt.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

New Words and Images by Wayne H. W Wolfson

The stairs wound tightly and to the left but doing so at their own tempo. The fact that they were not quite narrow enough prevented anyone from describing them properly as winding.
Regardless of whether it was day or night, there was little light to be had so that were any of the tenants asked, each would give a different answer as to what color the plaster walls were.
There was one point where the stairs, shortly before the first floor truly began their curve, happening immediately before the landing.  It created an almost optical illusion, a cracked plaster wall jutting out to block any further progress.
 In general I never took the stairs too fast but years of living in the same place had taught me to maintain a steady, set motion as to not feel the effects of my ascent until at my door.
Immediately in the spot after the illusion was where Nadjet had decided to sit, one step below the first of those to creak, “night out on the town” shoes in her hand.
I had almost actually almost tripped over her. She had taken her shoes off in the foyer. The hour being late, heels on the stairs informing all of her return as she passed each floor being preferably avoided.
 A splinter had painfully lodged itself on the underside of her big toe. It was not that she was going to remove the wood here, the hour and alcohol mixed with the initial surprise so that she had taken a seat to momentarily catch her breath.
She started to say something, witty banter eluding her. She instead let out a gentle purr like sound. I reached down my hand to help her up.
 I knew that I always looked best in bar light. Night, its’ cousin did not want to play favorites, her in the stairwell, she looked good, someone’s heart’s desire.

We both once again began our climb. I took the lead. Several times her palm found the small of my back by way of preventing herself from face-planting. I knocked my shins on a few steps and was sure that tomorrow would find a trail of my palm prints on the wall where I had righted myself.
 Her door was opposite mine. Once again to save money on light bulbs the concierge had “accidentally” turned off the light on our landing so that my key could not find the door.
Nadjet laughed.

“C’mere, I have some matches.”

She lit one to open her door first.

“Come in for a drink?”

Our apartments were the same size but hers was in a perpetual state of disarray which made it seem smaller.
She let her dress fall to the floor. Now only in a cream colored slip so worn out that there were shiny spots marking where the once soft material had given up, she crossed the living room. Two steps and she grimaced as her big toe reminded her of its invader.
 I was asked to help her. We went into the bathroom. I sat on the lip of the tub, using the sink to balance herself, she extended her barefoot towards me.

“Do you see anything?”

I did. There was a thick muted brown streak. My fingertip tickled the spot but felt nothing but skin, it had burrowed. Opening her medicine cabinet she found a safety pin. Running the hot water for a moment the pin was slowly passed back and forth under the tap before violently shaking it dry with several flicks of her wrist.

 She switched positions. Now, putting the bad foot up on the sink, bending forward so that chin almost touched knee and the ghost of Degas’ ballet dancers were conjured up. I had to guide her hand to the top of the streak.
 She began rooting around with the pin. Distantly, it reminded me of a childhood surgery.

“Jesus, look at you, you’re white as a sheet. Got it, let’s get those drinks.”

She let the water blast her toe for a moment and this time it was my turn to follow her.
I was handed a glass. She peered over the top of hers at me. Her lipstick was perfect for the shape of her mouth, its color the same as that of petals about to fall off a flower.

- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Poetry by Carolyn Gelland


Magician, how
did a silk scarf
hide in the hollows
in my heart muscles,

a magic carpet
that eased from its echo chamber,
sparks here and there.

An angel with
whistles for wings
is going nowhere fast
as the ambulance speeds up
to make
telephone poles
a solid valley
of burning crosses.

- Carolyn Gelland 2016

Carolyn Gelland’s two collections of poems are Dream-Shuttle (2013) and Four-Alarm House (2012).  She grew up in Europe and in New York City where she worked as a translator from Norwegian and ran a small art gallery.  She and her husband, poet Kenneth Frost, moved to rural Maine to focus on writing poems.

New Poetry by Martin Christmas

Beach Collection

 Into the oily swell
the sun drops
it’s day end heat.

A kite’s rustle sound manoeuvres
wheeling and soaring
like a colourful eagle hawk
tethered to the sand.

Overhead, a lone gull flies
out of touch, calling . . .
until again, the flock

They fly low across the sand
caught in silhouette
against the failing light . . .
seasoned travellers
on the beach run.

The twin helix trails
spew across the
sun spent sky . . .
flashing beacon lights . . .
passengers sipping wine. 

- Martin Christmas 2016

Martin Christmas has an M.A. in Australian Cultural Studies and is an Adelaide based performance poet, photographer and professional theatre director. He was a Friendly Street Poets mentored poet in 2012 and has been published in several anthologies. He teaches presentation elements to young spoken word poets and established poets

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vale Stevie Plunder (1963-1996)

Twenty years ago yesterday the Sydney music scene lost one of its most dynamic performers and talented songwriters. I am referring, of course, to Stevie Plunder, aka Anthony Hayes, who left us suddenly only a short drive from where I am writing. Stevie hailed from a large Catholic Canberra family who still punch well above their weight in the local music scene, with brothers Bernie, Pat and Justin all continuing to carve out a special niche in an increasingly crowded space. As one of the founding members of Newtown outfit The Whitlams, Stevie was thrust for a time into the pop limelight, a situation he was never completely comfortable with. But my memory of him will always be perched on that rickety stool beside his brother, Bernie, Tuesday nights at the Sandringham Hotel in Newtown under the moniker "The Gruesome Twosome". The song, "Pass the Flagon", that I have posted in the sidebar was a staple of those wonderful evenings, and I am merely one of hundreds of people who were lucky enough to be there and who continue to cherish the memory. Thank you Stevie my friend!

Although people continue to speculate why this shining, warm, funny, generous soul left us when he did, I hope you will indulge me, dear reader, while I celebrate this unique presence in the Australian (and more particularly the Newtown) music and arts scene of the 1980's and 90's. Vale Stevie! May your spirit prevail!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

New Poetry by Peter Venable

Slow Motion 

A shadow sliding on an afternoon wall is slow 
Slow is glass flowing in colonial houses 
A sixty month stretch at Riker’s is slow 
Slow is squeezing an ice cube until it melts 
A food line at a refugee camp is slow 
Slow is a man on his walker at the Y indoor track 
A kidney stone squeezing through a duct is slow 
Slow is seven cycles of chemotherapy 
A dusk to dawn vigil in candlelit sanctuary is slow 
Slow is 21,600 seconds skewered on a cross

- Peter Venable 2016

Peter Venable, the author has written poetry for over 50 years and some are inspired out of (his) "monsters of the Id", a Forbidden Planet line. 

Break a leg, Michele!

We get a lot of flyers at Bluepepper, often from poets who seem to regard us as some sort of free community billboard. It isn't, at least not for poets from whom we otherwise never hear. 

Michele Seminara is emphatically not one of these. Not only is she a regular contributor, but she is also one of those rare beings, an effective and no fuss literary facilitator through her work at the august Verity La, while also being a very very good poet. We don't tend to encounter these in the poetry wilds too often. Oh yes, and she is, by all accounts, a damn nice person to boot. 

Thus it is with the greatest pleasure that we post the flyer for Michele's inaugural book launch below....

Dear friends,

 It’s been a steep learning curve but after a year of furious scribbling, editing and proofreading my first poetry collection, Engraft, is finally a reality! I’m honoured to join the stables of Island Press, Australia’s oldest surviving poetry imprint, which for forty-five years have been publishing some of Australia’s finest poets.
 As we all know, financially, writing and publishing poetry is a thankless task, fuelled primarily by passion. That’s why the support of readers is so important!
 It would great if you could come and celebrate the launch of my first book, and in the process support the continuing activity of Island Press. If you can’t make it, copies of Engraft can be ordered using the form below.
 A free copy of a previous Island title is yours with every book purchased at the launch. Children are more than welcome to attend so long as they are under the direct supervision of an adult.
 Hope to see you there!
 (Invite and details below. Feel free to pass it on!)


Michele Seminara’s first poetry collection Engraft explores the darker aspects of the human psyche and relationships. This debut collection by a strong new poetic voice is being launched by distinguished poet Martin Langford. 

Some commentary on Engraft:

“Engraft is a masterwork. Seminara's deep gift lies in her fusion of the viscera of life with a transcendent poetic vision. By turns terrifying and tender, loving and lost, Seminara is a major new voice in contemporary poetry.” –Charles Bane, Jr.

“Michele Seminara’s analytic prayers, domestic fables and eloquent centos work their ludic wit and charms in the house of loss and disturbance. She is not afraid to say ‘beauty’ in the language of economy engrafted with careful flourishes.” –Michelle Cahill

"Engraft is chock-full of tender, brave poems with emotional depth. Seminara's work displays control, deft pacing, and a fierce commitment to witness with clear eyes the horrors we commit upon ourselves and each other. A book filled with variety and surprise which you will want, and need, to return to many times." –Melinda Smith


Les Wicks’ Getting By Not Fitting In – the 13th book 
by one of Australia’s most well loved and respected poets.
Launched by Chris Mansell

We are having a launch for both books at:
Friend in Hand Hotel
58 Cowper St, Glebe
(upstairs bar)
Saturday 6th February 2.30pm
For details ring 0414 767 089

If you can’t make it you may wish to order a copy (or more!)
I wish to order (       ) copies of Engraft at $20.00 each.
Name & Address................................................
Cheques should be made payable to Michele Seminara & sent to 1 Seebrees St, Manly Vale, NSW 2093. Contact to order via paypal or direct credit. 
You can also order direct from Island Press at 29 Park Rd, Woodford NSW 2778.

Friday, January 15, 2016

New Poetry by Jim Conwell

Clearing, off Nordic Drive

The wind has picked up and
is passing through the trees like
freight on the move, whilst
a tiny sparrow works the leaf mould at
the foot of the nearest oak,
it’s dark trunk going straight up to
where the light is most abundant.

Unwitnessed, the
logs over there across
the clearing would
continue to lie,
the symbiotic processes of decay would
still move inside them. Sometimes
the wind would pick up to
a fury and another tree would
go over or simply die from
natural causes. The branch that
has fallen near the corner of
the deck would still
rear up until
its body became too soft to
bear its weight and
it fell prone on
the leaf mould, rolling
sideways a little before
coming to rest again.
Over time, and unwatched, this
clearing would slowly fill with

- Jim Conwell 2016

With an original background in Fine Art, Jim Conwell has worked in mental health for thirty years. He has had poems published in magazines in the UK, Ireland, and North America and had two poems shortlisted in the Bridport Poetry Prize 2015. He lives in London.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Poetry by James Walton

At Cumberland River

At Cumberland River
our love burnt itself out
we fucked ourselves senseless
there where the cabins hid away
between the declining sea and track

Now Otways fires
lick around those memories
receding into themselves unquiet
like pages of tumbling favourites loose
among themselves in an unforgiving too hot wind

Blowing open blowing closed
scorched remnants have their say
dropping parachutes of silky words
trying to make a landing of pillowy remorse
where we laid bare the wide brim of what had been

- James Walton 2016

James Walton lives in the Strzelecki Mountains in South Gippsland, Australia. He has been published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers, and many journals and anthologies. He has been short listed twice for the ACU national Literature Prize, is a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, and Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition.  His collection ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ is available. He’s been a Librarian, bred Salers cattle, and was a public sector union official for many years.