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. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

New Poetry by Donal Mahoney

Mostly Basie with a Little Bach

Whenever I see a new woman, I know 
I should look at her hair and her eyes and her smile  
before I decide if she's worth the small talk
and the dinner later 
and whatever else she may require 
before she becomes taffy, 
pliant and smiling. 
But that never works for me.
Whenever I see a new woman, 
what matters to me is never 
her hair or her eyes or her smile;

what matters to me is her saunter 
as I stroll behind her.
If her moon comes over the mountain
and loops in languor, left to right, 
and then loops back again,
primed for another revolution, then
I introduce myself immediately
no matter where we are, 
in the stairwell or on the street
and that's when I see for the first time
her hair and her eyes and her smile  
but they are never a distraction since
I'm lost in the music of her saunter.

Years ago, tall and loping Carol Ann
took a train to Chicago, 
found a job and then one summer day 
walked ahead of me on Michigan Avenue 
while I surveyed her universe amid 
the cabs screeching, horns beeping, 
a driver's middle finger rising. 
Suddenly she turned and said hello 
and we shook hands and I saw her smile 
dart like a minnow and then disappear 
as she frowned and asked   
why was I walking behind her. 

I told her I was on my way to the noon Mass
at Holy Name Cathedral and she was welcome 
to come along. The sermon wouldn't be much, 
I said, but the coffee and bagels afterward 
would be plentiful, enough to cover lunch.
And Jesus Christ Himself would be there.
She didn't believe me, not at all, 
and she hasn't believed me since. 

That was thirty years ago and now
her smile is still a minnow
darting here and there but now 
it's more important than her saunter 
which is still a symphony, 
mostly Basie with a little Bach.

And I no longer traipse Michigan Avenue 
as I did years ago looking for new moons 
swirling in my universe. Instead, 
I take my lunch in a little bag 
on a long train from the suburbs
and I marvel at one fact:
It's been thirty years since I first heard 
the music in her saunter
and Carol Ann and I are 
still together, praise the Lord. 
Who can believe it? Not I. 
Carol Ann says she knew 
the ending from the start. 
Lord, Almighty. Fancy that.

- Donal Mahoney 2014

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney 
has had poetry and fiction published in The Galway Review, Revival, ROPES and other publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. 
Some of his earliest work can be found at

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Poetry by Vladimir Swirynsky


- for Barbara

Her name is Elizabeth Bishop,
bare footed and tipsy toe hanging
a picture on the wall, afternoon
peaking with the wrap-around-drama
of heavy drinking.
Half finished poem
in the typewriter reaches
out for the moon, for Lota
Lota de Macedo Soares.

I find myself with a tear in my eye,
the Cleveland International Film
Festival ushering me to love’s
doorstep, a hundred paces from
the House of Blues.

I needed this, the profane energy
of the Portuguese Romance language,
a chance encounter, the stop-motion
of happiness that keeps betraying me.

lover of stone steps, the painter
of beauty, give me the empty hours
of mood indigo, the things the heart
has forgotten, the shoestring
of a sunset.

Vladimir Swirynsky 2014

 Vladimir Swirynsky survived school and went on to serve and survive in Vietnam. In time he got married, but unfortunately, they didn’t live happily ever after. The marriage died, but a poet was born.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Poetry by James Walton

Pax Romanus (I, II, III)

Spare us, the Conquered


The fascist weeds the garden
Such love in pulling out,
Care granted to save the soil and replenish
With self made compost of previous remains.
They should have known his bitter truth
Of all he did for them unrequited;
In gentle torture he weeps for his people,
And how the day goes down so normally
As the lorries remove without haste
The handiwork so finely crafted,
To bring in bloom again
The preferred order of lines.


The comrades have been in a good paddock
How they strut their fat nonsense,
Believe the message is about them
So polished now and commentators
On everything thing they know and don’t.
Credit cards of bosses in hand
Wheel and deal with the best of them,
Stroke the impatient flank
Believe the stories they tell
With such ferocious plausibility,
Saddle the old chargers
Taunt the capitalists with rust
Shake the state with the workers’ flag.


Death squads have no imagination
The graffiti has only one colour,
A backwash where the pockmarks
Are the dots we link with rainbows
Made from the tears of all lovers
Children mother father brother sister.
The old city glistens in this rain
Painted with our crayons,
Ground out each night with the latest news
Who is missing who will fight.
So  many colours stain our fingers
They make us face the wall now,
Not knowing  never seeing that hope
Is streaming incandescently
From the streetlamps in our hands.

- James Walton 2014

Lives and works in the Strzelecki Mountains in South Gippsland and has had work published in a number of anthologies and journals, and the Age newspaper.

Monday, June 23, 2014

New Poetry by Jeremy Page

Measuring Happiness

I suppose it would be possible
with enough scans, syringes,
charts and such, to say
with some certainty, ‘This is,
on the favoured scale, how
happy you are: seventy two.’

Not bad. Of course, not like IQ –
one expects less (fluctuations, too).
How one feels, recorded quarterly
and plotted. In five years
we could look back at our lives
like a seismograph:

compare notes, print and frame
certificates, give medals to those
nearest the top, the most improved.
‘Keep it up son,’ we’d say.
‘What improvement!’ ‘What growth!’
Like biro markings of height 

in a door frame. Yet, as we age
I suppose the medals, the certificates
would, like pens long out of ink,
be put in a drawer somewhere:
lost and forgotten about.
One can only get so tall.

- Jeremy Page 2014

Born in New Zealand in 1988, Sydney-based poet Jeremy Page has just completed a Master of Creative Writing at the University of Sydney. He was first published last year in the Australian anthology Stoned Crows, and with his study complete (for now) he is currently in the process of collecting and editing work for further publication attempts.

New Poetry by Robbie Coburn


greyed morning a nightmare of waking into sobered light
the chilled palm still formed on the glass 
dry skin settles into the gale air without radiance
after blacked sleep  surges of wind disturb the senses
delusion  sets into consciousness   propels 
further obscurities   as the eye adjusts
    to be a poet is to live with ghosts
leaving the house  think of  misjudged breath 
fleeting in the lengths of unfamiliar bodies
and the night  no different wiped in its unresolved law
run through the miles of road   cars carried cityward 
grounded in the country dirt spread beneath brick as cinder
     in the centre of this thought continues   nausea lasting days
even this   passes time before the game
 will realise itself.

- Robbie Coburn 2014

robbie coburn was born in June 1994 in Melbourne and lives in the rural district of Woodstock, Victoria. 
His first book-length collection of poetry 'Rain Season' (Picaro Press) was published in 2013. He is well into a second collection, titled 'the other flesh'. 
A chapbook, 'Before Bone and Viscera' is forthcoming from Rochford Street Press in 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

New Poetry by Colin Dodds

The Urgent Center Expands

The urgent center expands,
takes the newspaper as its skin.

As it went in history,
so ran the NFC wildcard game.
The religiopolitical Saints
overran the astrological Rams.

Aside from that, the story was familiar and unchanged.

The linemen were terrifying,
though easily persuaded, hulks.

The receivers were handy
with the razor and the getaway.

The running backs went straight home
and would be foremen someday.

And the quarterback was the driven patrician
with nothing but an immense promise
and an immense burden for a life.

- Colin Dodds 2014

Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. He’s the author of several novels, including WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Dodds’ screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. His poetry has appeared in more than a hundred publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. You can find more of his work at