Friday, August 29, 2014

New Poetry by Brian Beatty

The End of Trouble

Everything my teachers
committed to 
their blackboards

looked to my eyes 
like a chalk outline of a body. 

Mind you, I never saw 
anyone killed

or heard so much as a rumor 
of children
actually murdered

or disappeared 

but bully threats
and that common small town fear 

of being bored to death
I’ll never forget. 

I feel chills right now. 
To my bones. Don’t you?

Bored to death is real.

If nothing more, I learned that much 
from all those unamused

I likewise recall 
sending me to stick my nose 
in the corner

for talking to my friends 
Mark and Chris — 

two guys who both wound up dead
before forty for reasons 
I only remember don’t matter. 
One in prison, one just 
fucking around.

How did I survive? you wonder.   

By hiding inside 
books where I knew 
I’d never be found.

- Brian Beatty 2014

Brian Beatty's jokes, poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including The Bark, Conduit, Elephant Journal, elimae, The Evergreen Review, Gulf Coast, Hobart, McSweeney's, Opium, Paper Darts, The Quarterly, Seventeen and The Sycamore Review. He sometimes performs as a storyteller.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Poetry by Michele Seminara


They used to be joyful 
the pictures of babies 
used to pertain to me.
But today my belly is swollen with portent 
and I note with unease
that my haruspex is a man. 

Female seers are reserved for life
and I am an obedient bag of death, 
viscera spread on the gritty screen
waiting to be read.

The ancient technician gives no indication;
although he seems a little kinder 
on the way out than 
on the way in...

Later  the children rolling 
like pups in the ocean of my bed 
we point at the funny photos 
of mummy's insides and say  look,
it's those black spots that are the problem.

- Michele Seminara 2014

Michele Seminara is a poet and yoga teacher from Sydney. Her writing has appeared in publications such as BluepepperTincture JournalRegime andVerity La. She is also a poetry reader for Verity La, as well as being the journal’s incoming managing editor.  She blogs at and is on twitter @SeminaraMichele

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Poetry by Howie Good

The Heavy Shadow of Prior Encounters

I keep my voice low,
like a spy passing secrets.

When they ask my name,
address, date of birth,
I answer as if answering
might mean something.

Somewhere near here
there must be a leaden sea
and someone unknown
to me walking beside it,

carrying a blank page
for the lives I’ll never lead.

- Howie Good 2014

Howie Good's latest book of poetry is The Complete Absence of Twilight (2014) from MadHat Press. He has several poetry books forthcoming, including Fugitive Pieces (Right Hand Press) and Buddha & Co (Plain Wrap Press)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A new piece by Phillip A. Ellis

Interview with John Ashbery conducted by Daniel Kane

DK:‭ ‬In‭ "‬What Is Poetry‭" ‬you write,‭ "‬Trying to avoid‭ ‬/‭ ‬Ideas,‭ ‬as in this poem‭ ‬.‭" ‬Is it possible to avoid ideas in poetry‭?

JA:‭ ‬Come on,‭ ‬Lieutenant,‭ ‬let's get out of here.‭ ‬Young man,‭ ‬run along and play.

DK:‭ ‬This makes me think about some student poetry I've read,‭ ‬in which students decide before they have put pens to paper that they will absolutely write poems about,‭ ‬say,‭ ‬their fathers hitting them on the head.‭ ‬The results are often rather predictable narrative poems that describe what happened and petition the reader to feel a certain emotion.‭ ‬I like your idea of beginning a poem without really knowing what's going to come out of it.

JA:‭ ‬No illusion.‭ ‬Lieutenant is dead.‭ ‬Kirk to Enterprise.‭ ‬Come in.‭ ‬Lieutenant,‭ ‬can you be prevailed upon to bring them the news‭? ‬All my senior officers turning against me‭? ‬Even a starship captain appreciates a compliment like that,‭ ‬Lieutenant.

DK:‭ ‬Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process behind‭ "‬What Is Poetry‭"? ‬For example,‭ ‬we've got a‭ "‬frieze of boy scouts from Nagoya.‭" ‬There is also a mysterious‭ "‬they‭" ‬in the lines‭ "‬Now they‭ ‬/‭ ‬Will have to believe it‭ ‬/‭ ‬As we believed it.‭"

JA:‭ ‬Not really.‭ ‬He seems he's overcoming his resentment.‭ ‬Kirk to Enterprise.‭ ‬Lieutenant‭?

DK:‭ ‬I'm glad you told us about the medieval town with the frieze of boy scouts from Nagoya,‭ ‬because learning that you basically made this image up out of a variety of events lets people know that they can make things up in poetry.‭ ‬This way,‭ ‬one knows one doesn't have to rely on fact all the time.

JA:‭ ‬Coronation‭?‬.‭ ‬You did what you could.‭ ‬And the great misery which you now face.

DK:‭ ‬I'm not so sure a lot of students do think that way.‭ ‬I remember having writing teachers insist,‭ "‬Write what you know‭!"

JA:‭ ‬How many‭? ‬We didn't do anything like that.

DK:‭ ‬Yes,‭ ‬that is the problem.‭ ‬I think orders like‭ "‬Write what you know‭" ‬get interpreted to mean‭ "‬Write only what you've actually experienced in real life in real time.‭" ‬It's nice to know from you that we can pick and choose among time,‭ ‬history,‭ ‬and imagination so that we can write a poem that sounds good and feels good.

JA:‭ ‬Why shouldn't they answer our questions‭? ‬They don't think we can do anything to stop them..‭ ‬Quite an enigma,‭ ‬isn't it‭? ‬Try another channel,‭ ‬Lieutenant.‭ ‬Yes it is good.

DK:‭ ‬If a teacher stopped you on the street one day and said,‭ "‬Mr.‭ ‬Ashbery,‭ ‬whether you like it or not,‭ ‬I'm going to assign‭ '‬What Is Poetry‭' ‬to my high school students and tell them to write variations on it-help me find a way to do this,‭" ‬what would you say‭?

JA:‭ ‬What happened to him‭? ‬I did,‭ ‬Gorgan.‭ ‬My beast is gone.‭ ‬It lost its power in the light of reality.‭ ‬I command again,‭ ‬and I ordered you here.

DK:‭ ‬Can people still write about flowers without sounding flowery about it‭?

JA:‭ ‬I place you in the hands of our chess master.

DK:‭ ‬I read‭ "‬the thin vertical path‭" ‬as representing predictable poetry.‭ ‬I thought you were making a funny kind of editorial comment on poetry that gives us the obvious-the‭ "‬flowers‭" ‬of conventional poetry.

JA:‭ ‬What was your impression‭? ‬No,‭ ‬what are the ingredients‭?

DK:‭ ‬Are there such things as wrong interpretations,‭ ‬or do you distinguish more along the lines of imaginative interpretations versus dull,‭ ‬unenthusiastic interpretations‭?

JA:‭ ‬Yes.‭ ‬They may walk into a trap.

DK:‭ ‬You ended‭ "‬What Is Poetry‭" ‬with a question mark.‭ ‬Are there any virtues in ending a poem with a question mark or some other sign of indeterminacy‭?

JA:‭ ‬Lieutenant,‭ ‬if I'm to be the Captain,‭ ‬I've got to act like one.‭ ‬Yes.‭ ‬They may walk into a trap.

DK:‭ ‬Is there anything you want to add to our discussion of‭ "‬What Is Poetry‭"?

JA:‭ ‬Yes.‭ ‬My ship.‭ 

- Phillip A. Ellis 2014

Monday, August 04, 2014

New Words and Pictures by Wayne H. W Wolfson

Saudade (for Marina)
At first I was trying to make my mind up where to go as I had no place to be. Initially, I was slowly swaying from side to side. Had anyone caught me, I could have pretended to merely be shifting from one foot to the other. Then my head would move diagonally to the right, my neck pulling the rest of my body after it. When everything was caught up, my head would then go to the left. This back and forth gave my body the slowed down locomotion of a tadpole swimming; both my hands, thumbs hooked on the outside were tucked into my pants pockets.

I had to cross the dance floor, no one except the bandoneon and guitara seemed to notice me so that I had to weave among the moving couples; a vast richly colored, crillion hedge maze which took me the length of one song to complete.

I look up; there were two layers of stars out tonight. The ones which dotted the green and black cords that were strung from one tree to the next all around the plaza and then those that were higher up. Higher than where even the angels swim, faintly dotting the ripe stone fruit skin colored sky. Those others were too far away and tiny to be real. Beauty too can be like that.

- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Poetry by Scott-Patrick Mitchell

a roman matron

! sisters of sabine, listen: all men
are weak when disrobed of state
(& composure. it is we, daughters
of the she-wolf, who shall bring 
him to his knees

   . come, we say
, rest that handsome nose on the 
bosom of our pillow & weep us
your insecurity: how what you 
feel is, by your own creed, not
real; that you know all empires
must die; why you are secretly 
guilt embodied for your theft of
the dead, battlefield's bowerbird
, a carrion of all culture, adjunct 
, an appropriation of everybody 
     . nothing you 
have is truly yours , & you have
the whole world in love with 
your roman nose

  . even we, the 
sisters of sabine, are borrowed

? your downfall: believing that 
we believe in you, are bound &
honour you true. that we are oh 
so dutiful

    ! ha, no, dear roman
fellow, we are just suckling an
opportune colosseum to bring 
you your fall

. rome wasn't built in 
a day, but it will burn to the 
ground in just one night, like 
everyman can ignite: we’ll
make you burn in more than
just one way

        . now come &
succumb & we’ll let our kin
-dling through the gates to
make night burn as day

- Scott-Patrick Mitchell 2014

Scott-Patrick Mitchell (SPM) is a performance poet and fashion blogger from Perth, Western Australia. His work appears in New Poets 1 and Performance Poets: Fremantle Poets 3, both published by Fremantle Press. At current SPM is Australian Poetry's July online poet-in-residence. For more on SPM, visit either or, or even check out his Facebook fanpage.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New Poetry by Rico Craig

Suvorov Square

At night, novels stroll on gravel 
pathways; whispers and powdered 
cheeks lifting with each white 
breath. Their confessions are fur-lined, 
necessary, worn to the thread. 

Eugene tears a letter into wishes that trail 
at his feet, Pushkin follows aiming 
his quill. Anna Karenina sits with her daughter, 
picking strands in a cats-cradle; Tolstoy nibbles 
a banana and tries to ignore their laughter. 
Raskolnikov badgers his shoe laces 
thinking of the coffee house where 
Dostoyevsky waits, texting rhapsodies to his bookie. 

In the morning, their mute footsteps 
are raked over by sturdy women. Nearby,
oblivious children parse the ribs of fallen
leaves, collecting handfuls to flutter and crackle 
at the hush between each rasping scrape.

- Rico Craig 2014

Rico is a writer and creative writing teacher, currently sharing his time between poetry, prose and working on pantomime scripts with school students. Recent work has been published at Cordite and Doctor T.J Eckleburg Review, and is forthcoming in Meanjin. For links to publications please visit: 

New Poetry by Robert Halleck


They came from the
school next door.
the Thursday before 
Christmas Eve.
Boys and girls of
color in a hotel
of lily white.
Eyes wide they
gazed upwards.
White shirts
White blouses.
They sang like saints
and left silently
taking Christmas 
with them.

- Robert Halleck 2014

Robert Halleck is a retired banker living in Del Mar, California with two retired racing Greyhounds. He has been writing poetry for over 50 years and has published two volumes of his collected works. His recent poems have appeared in The Camel Saloon, The San Diego Annual Poetry Anthology, The Scapegot, The Boston Poetry Review and other publications.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tail lights Fade

It has been quite some time since I graced the world of blog with my pickled observations, and for that I apologise dear reader. To be honest, events of both a private and public nature have overwhelmed me somewhat, but after a difficult twelve months I feel the old fire returning.

I probably don't need to point out that the world, like my garden, has got a lot less tidy in that time. Australia has morphed from something of a geo-political backwater to the sun-parched Belgium of a new Asian paradigm. The word "Caliphate" is back after lying dormant for almost 100 years, ensuring a widening rift between Sunni and Shia the world over. Israel Israel Israel, the background static of my life, like my crazy neighbour's un-tuned radio.

Need I go on?

But the great buzzword in this country at present would seem to be "fairness", an almost quaintly archaic concern with the widening gap between rich and poor in both income and opportunity. What has prompted this sudden shift from "me" to "us"? Well,  Bluepepper is yet to be convinced there has even been a shift.

The ideological position of the current Federal government should not be a surprise to anyone who has taken even a passing interest in politics over the past 20 or 30 years. They are merely the pointy end of the Thatcher/Reagan "revolution" of the 1980's, an untiring and ultimately successful effort to reverse the trend toward a more re-distributive society in favour of unfettered opportunity for the individual. That this happened to coincide with the rise of the so-called "Me" generation of cashed up boomers is no accident of history. As Thomas Piketty recently highlighted in his book, "Capital in the 21st Century", much of the "equalising" of the 20th century was the result of the dissipation of capital by two world wars and the recognition of a "shared ordeal" that propelled governments to take measures to distribute wealth and opportunity more evenly. It was, after all, that great Prussian militarist, Otto von Bismarck, who led the way by founding the first welfare state back in the 1870's, realising that by so doing he was stealing a march on the socialists. But memories fade. The "us" appears to have become a "them" versus "me".

In this "society" atomised by competition between autonomous entities, any sense of a shared identity is difficult to find. What has come to be known as "Identity Politics" has run parallel with a widening gap between the haves and the have nots, as those unable or unwilling to organise to promote their interests fall further and further behind. That racism still thrives in such a context should really be no surprise to anyone who has even the most rudimentary understanding of human nature. Either we yearn to be considered exceptional, singular, or to belong to a group that considers itself as such. Rather than accept, and revel in, our universal heritage and destiny, we seek to rise above, either individually or collectively. Empathy in such circumstances, like truth in war, would appear to be the first casualty.

I am not so blinkered as to advocate a return to the old politics and old economics of the last century, paired as they were with rampant nationalism, racism, imperialism, etc. But I am just old enough to remember a time when matters of justice and equity were at the forefront of political debate, when the economy was there to serve the people rather than the other way around. Although limited in scope by many of the "isms" alluded to previously, there was a sense of the collective good and a detestation for elites that many in this country now find risible. In its relentless pursuit of surplus value, capitalism continues to present a challenge to democracy which is, after all, nothing more and nothing less than the tyranny of the majority. Neo-liberals chafe at this definition, and in their effort to circumvent it have allowed oligarchy (the expression of minority will) in through the back door, and we have become entranced by this minority of glamour and wealth even as it robs us of our birthright.

This is where the role of the artist, and especially of the poet, is crucial. For poetry is above all the art, perhaps even the science, of empathy. The poetry of identity is not what I am talking about here. Such poetry is merely advocating tribalism by another name. It may capture the imagination of journalists for whom empathy is rarely a governing instinct, but it is not poetry as I understand it. Great poetry speaks to a universal sense of inheritance and destiny, and as such should serve as a counter-weight to the increasing influence of a wealthy and powerful minority.

In the words of the Persian poet, Rumi:

This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor...Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

In other words, raise your head from the trough, dear reader, and look around.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

New Poetry by Juan Pablo Duboue


Pain is a part of me as much as writing is a part of me
Sometimes it’s bloating and unbearable,
Though at times it is quite manageable.
Migraines come and go like the jasmines in my garden.
Summer intensifies and 
Winter harbours grudges. 
Blame it on the rectified cervical lordosis
Blame it on my insomnia 
Blame it on you, on me, on them
On them, on me, on you.
Psychosomatic disorders 
you name them.
I know the Rorschach by heart 
and the inkblots dye my mind. 
Imagination’s running wild
as the oil spills on the butterflies.
Not a penguin, but a butterfly 
Not a penguin, but a butterfly.
Haunting crows circle 
my sheets, an orgy of feathers 
and cawing at midnight.
They tear my limbs apart
My intestines open 
My aorta bleeding poppies in July.
I do not see myself as fat
I am not overweight 
It’s the eating that I dread
For food makes me gag
I cannot seem to hold it.
Body rejects what mind decides is past.
Bags have transmuted from a grayish green to black 
People seem to stare at me
As if I were a terminal patient
There’s nothing terminal in me 
My conditions are chronic 
They let me rest 
They let me have my days
And then the cycle starts
Again and again and again.
An episode here and there 
When life’s good it’s every four months
Otherwise it’s every month
A cramp 
A shock
A needle stuck into my neck 
A syringe plunged into my back.
It’s dying and resurrecting every time
Every four months, lucky me.
Doctors say it’s in my mind
Shrinks say it’s in my blood 
Daddy says it’s on his family’s side
Mother says just stop the nonsense 
You’re fine.
Thank you for your insights
But the pain is still concrete
I can touch it 
I can grab it
I can chew it
Feel it twisting me
From the inside out 
A thousand claws 
Toying with my insides.
Feasting over me.
A common depersonalization,
fear of a heart attack,
a nervous breakdown.
The acute onset
cradles me to sleep.
I am one with the attack,
a sisterly feeling
of impending death;
Pain is a part of me as much as writing is a part of me.
I know the Rorschach by heart 
and the inkblots dye my mind.

- Juan Pablo Duboue 2014

Juan Pablo Duboue was born in Mendoza, Argentina in 1986. Currently pursuing a masters in Contemporary English Literature, he works as a teacher, interpreter and translator. Apart from writing poetry and short stories, Juan Pablo is also a singer and a ballet dancer. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

New Poetry by Craig Kurtz


The curious manner in which
you brush indigo from your laughter;
the quaint style you have so it’s true
you demur future out of your sighs;
the upwards of your carmine,
the almost of your close by;
what I like about you
is nothing less than these sounds.

The uncanny motion you now
when you coax golden from out of your when;
the original tone you perpend
spins lavender terms with a grin;
the oblique of your then,
the amber surprise of your that;
the part about you I like
is the everything far uppermost.

You might be simply circumstantial
or rather singularly definitive;
you have a manner unpredictable
that knows how to upend a circle’s return;
and when I hear your magical,
I can see a far geography;
what happens is openly in white
with additional ineffable. So, there!

The perplexing technique you affix
when you auburn the former utmost;
the classic soon of the next you possess
is inevitable with blue swoops of good luck;
the innermost was a hint,
the outer-seeming is this:
what I love about you today
is the everything achieved hitherto.

- Craig Kurtz 2014

Craig Kurtz lives at Twin Oaks Intentional Community where he writes poetry while simultaneously handcrafting hammocks. Recent work has appeared in Bird’s Thumb, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Blotterature, The Blue Hour, Drunk Monkeys, Fishfood & Lavajuice, Literati Quarterly, Indigo Rising, Harlequin Creature, No Assholes, Reckless Writing and The Tower Journal.