Sunday, August 06, 2017

New Poetry by Christine Burrows










Autumn pivot

March is endings
small sacrifices
no lollies for lent

May shucks you down
slim as a rock limpet
resisting coldening wind

April finds its fools, caught short
at daylight savings end, raking up
summer dreams amongst sodden leaves


- Christine Burrows 2017



Christine is a Melbourne poet, originally from New Zealand. Recent work has appeared in anthologies and journals, including Audacious, Cordite, Landfall, Westerly and Australian Poetry Anthology (2016). Her work explores diverse aspects and levels of human experience - trauma, loss and dislocation being regular themes. Poetry keeps her going.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

New Words and Images by Wayne H. W Wolfson

The Wig

Not just with me but in general, she had never observed all the rules of social etiquette which I found myself unable to disobey. Sending a RSVP to anything to which I was invited, being on time for an appointment, acknowledging holidays and birthdays via cards.

As a sort of experiment, I gave in, or more accurately, I gave up on all sense of formality with her.  It did not seem to faze her although my methods were faulty and the accuracy of my experiment were in question as we had never actually been that close.

Where I grabbing a drink after finishing a piece, I would linger far longer than had I just popped out for a break. If we ran into each other on one of these occasions, then we would spend some time together. There was something mercenary in her look when aroused which both appealed and repulsed me. I think the last time I saw her it had been the latter and so with only a faint echo of a warning klaxon in the back of my mind, I lost track of how long it had been.

I had achieved all kinds of things but when home I went to the same places as they offered me what I needed. The inspiration which they still gave me after these years of walking my streets, I am a sort of Antaeus of Midtown.

I had just come back from once again having been on the road. Now here I was in my favorite seat at my usual bar when she came in. Two years had gone by since our last encounter.

She had moved to Seattle. Instinctually my mind went towards reprimands for not having told me beforehand nor having been dropped a note once she had settled in. I saw the futility of uttering anything along those lines as it would not stick and it would waste my brief downtime on something neither of us would care to be part of. Instead my mouth twisted into a sort of grin which was not one hundred percent about mirth nor pleasure.

“So, what are you doing back?”

Her aunt had died and she was supposed to go through her house and see if there was anything she wanted before the rest was thrown out. I vaguely recalled an older witchy looking woman who drove a rusted-out Volkswagen that I had briefly met once in passing at a farmer’s market.

 “You should come, there is an overgrown garden which I bet you could do some amazing sketches of.”

It sounded jerkier than I had intended when I said yes but that I did not have all day.


I was surprised I had not seen her aunt out and about more often as her place was a quick walk from all my usual haunts. I stopped to tie my shoe but she had kept walking although at a slower pace. Looking at her from behind as I sought to catch up. The same jacket as ever. She had put on a few pounds but wore it well. What would she look like in a decade?

We let ourselves in but I could tell by how tentatively she walked over the threshold it was strange for her too. The place was not dirty but very cluttered. Piles of paperbacks, mismatched furniture, most of which had afghans thrown over their backs and arranged so that to walk to certain parts of the room one had to squeeze between two pieces set at odd angles.

“Do not worry, we are not going to be here all day. I am just going to check her bedroom as that is where her photo albums and anything which may interest me might be. Why don’t you go out back and sketch? You must leave something to hold the door open or it will lock behind you. Just use one of the paperbacks, don’t worry about it.”

The backyard garden was gloriously savage. At one point, great care must have been put into it as even with it having grown wild there was still loose bordered order to the groupings of herbs and vegetables.

Of course, I recognized the oregano and rosemary. Some of the others I used to know but had grown rusty in my identification. Looking at one cluster I found interesting I eventually snapped my fingers and said “Hyssop!” after which I looked around to see if anyone had seen me do so.

I became absorbed in my drawing until having grown thirsty. An hour had passed. I decided to go in and check on her. Squeezing by the piles of books that lined the hallway wall, I head towards the bedroom. The sound of her breath coming in sharp rhythmic patterns. I had avoided the potential drama of a fight by not having scolded her but would now have the even worse scene of having to provide comfort to her in her grief, something which I was terrible at in general.

Standing in the doorway, I was surprised to not immediately see her as in my mind’s eye I had pictured her, sitting on the end of the bed, perhaps with some trinket in her hand sobbing. My eyes scanned the room.

Wearing only underwear and a bra, she was on the floor with her back against the closed bathroom door. The way her bottom jaw jutted forward then back and her nostrils slightly flared. She was not crying. Her body shook for a moment and in that moment, I forgot what jerks we both could be. She opened her eyes and looked at me. The sun caught the beads of perspiration on her forehead in jewel like shimmering.

“Where did you get the wig?”

“It was my aunt’s.”

Fini


Wayne H.W Wolfson 2017


www.waynewolfson.com




Thursday, July 27, 2017

New Poetry by Linda Stevenson










Dwelling

I live in one of the oldest, continuously
inhabited houses here, so walk carefully
in my gardens, delicate on flagstones
which might be brittling; sashay
kindly around my lawns, their intermittent
flowerings, probably better not to lean
on weak fence palings. I keep to that
old-fashioned way of open doors,
you can slip in without trespass,
if you’re lawful. In fact, if the windows
were cleaned well,
you’d see inside easily, all the rooms.
I occupy them all, simultaneously,
being shadowy and unlimited
in progression, doing kitchen things
in the lounge, carrying laundry
into the guest room, brewing a coffee
for you in the backyard shed,
grieving in hallway spaces,
decanting a red wherever.
I am as sharp as a spray of needle
grass, acute as that roofed angle of corrugation,
transparent as bricked-in walls hit by nuclear blast.
Be aware of history, my long trajectory
of residence and upkeep, my earnest
ownership, ancestral rights of home,
my sovereign right of welcoming.


- Linda Stevenson 2017



A founding member of Melbourne Poets Union, facilitator of poetry groups in gaols and community centres, contributor to anthologies. Chapbook “The Tipping Point” published in 2015, feature guest poet on Radio 3CR “Spoken Word”. Active as a poet within the online poetry sector, hosts regular Salons at her home in Frankston, Victoria.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Poetry by Mohammad Ali Maleki










Silence Land

I have doubts about my sanity:
not everyone can bear this much.
They stole all my feelings;
there’s no wisdom left in my mind.
I am just a walking dead man.
I am just a walking dead man.

I yelled for help so many times—
No one on this earth took my hand.
Now I see many mad things and imagine
how the world would look if it collapsed.

Perhaps it would be good for everything to return to the past;
for nothing to be seen on the earth or in the sky.
It would feel so good to be a child
again and go back to my mother’s womb.
For there to be no sign of me,
for me never to have gone crazy in this place.

What if the woolen jacket I am wearing unravels
and begins to fall apart?
Or the butterfly flies back to its cocoon,
or the autumn leaf grows green and returns
to its branch on that old tree?
What if the tree becomes a seed in the soil—
I sound crazy speaking this way!

It’s the outcome of being detained for four years
after seeking asylum on the sea.

What if that sea returned to its source
and flowed back to the river mouth?
If that river receded back up into its spring?
What if only the sun and the moon remained in the sky?
If I saw even the sun’s birth reversed,
watched it dissipate into space?
Witnessed the moon implode upon itself?

All things returning to their starting place…

How beautiful, to live in a colorless world,
everywhere silent and still.
The earth would be calm for a moment,
free of even one miscreant.

But what do you make of my vision—
am I sane or mad?


- Mohammad Ali Maleki 2017



Mohammad Ali Maleki is an Iranian poet and avid gardener who has been living in detention on Manus Island for four years. His poem ‘The Strong Sunflower’ was the first work published on Verity La’s Discoursing Diaspora project. Since then, Mohammad’s writing has been published by Bluepepper and by the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. He has been a featured poet on Rochford Street Review, and his poems and letters have been included in the Dear Prime Minister project and at the Denmark Festival of Voice.  His poem ‘Tears of Stone’ was shortlisted for the Red Room Company’s New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016 and received Special Commendation for extraordinary work in extreme circumstances.


Friday, July 21, 2017

New Poetry by Ben Hession










Summer: an ellipsis

The Armageddon weather,
                  pervasive, the hot winds,
thunderstorm clouds
                  perdurant in each octant,
the nights tease away sleep: dreamy

reconciliation fills a plastic,
                  disposable shopping bag
lifting over backyard fences;
                   grit lands in the eyes
of all sinner pedestrians.

                    I cannot see straight
and that angers me,
                    I only have eyes for my ego;
hope watches a car-crash,
                    it's a voyeur crossing police tape
wanting action, baby -
                   looks for a body, looks for blood
moans that it's hungry, thirsty;
                   comes too early, grunting, falls
away, the psychopath.



- Ben Hession 2017


Ben Hession is a Wollongong based writer. His poetry has been published by Eureka Street, the International Chinese Language Forum, the Cordite Poetry Review, Verity La and the Mascara Literary Review, as well as the Live Poets anthology Can I Tell You A Secret? Ben's poem, A Song of Numbers,  was shortlisted for the 2013 Australian Poetry Science Poetry award. Ben is also a music journalist and is involved with community broadcasting.

Friday, July 14, 2017

New Poetry by Abigail George










The bone slums

    I think of the deepest tragedies
    that I have experienced. That

have made me become the woman
that I am today. I think of Antigone,

    Joan of Arc, the war of art, years
    gone by. I think of death and life.
    Instinct and emptiness. In the bone

slums. You will find the winter-themed of
the soul there. Stray cats. Kitchen tables that
have a rustic feel to them. Jam and bread.

    Forget this place of weeping.

The preparation for a daughter to become a mother.

    The yield and harvest of fathers.
    The yellow star on coats.

The strange pale fire in Anne Frank’s eyes.

    Jewish children in the fire of war.

In the fire of the concentration camps.
I weep for nightfall. All I can do now

Is look at it from a distance. Women
Covering themselves with the veil of

    justice. While men want freedom and I remember this.

That there is bitter relief to be
Found in the anguished wild.

When the final hour came, it
was a day of thunder, submission and falling.

That was the day the sun died.
That was the day the sun died.
That was the day the sun died.

And the bitter seed sung that all should
be free. That we should all be free and
hopeful. And forget the harvest of futility.


- Abigail George 2017



Abigail George is a South African writer and poet.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

New Poetry by Margaret Holley










Bob Boldman Does My Haiku

"Walking with the river, water does my thinking,"
birds my singing, wind my breath,
trees my patience.

While I gaze out the window, or when I fall 
asleep with a book in the afternoon,
sunlight does my dreaming.

Walking with the river, ripple does my dance,
my shining, stones my quiet,
trees my rooting,

roots my holding on.  When I grow afraid 
of my life, grasses do my greening, 
rain my grief.

Standing by the river, mute and empty,
all the waters singing to my thirst,
trees my leaf and fruiting.

When it is time to move out of my house 
of bones, river, do my flowing.  Wind, 
my rising.  Leaves, my letting go.


- Margaret Holley 2017


Margaret Holley’s fifth book of poems is Walking Through the Horizon, published by University of Arkansas Press.  Recent poems have appeared in Eclectica, Gnarled Oak, The Tower Journal, and Valparaiso Poetry Review.  Former Director of Creative Writing at Bryn Mawr College, she currently lives with her husband in Wilmington, Delaware, where she volunteers as a gallery guide at Winterthur Museum.

Friday, June 23, 2017

New Poems by Allison Grayhurst










Another Station

I raced to the perimeter,
stopping at the dot and
found the sun half-gone
like a kiss that never was.
I touched the tree and the tree
did not know I was there.
I peeled the skin from my fingers
to feel a deeper sensation.
The line and the ledge and the no-space in-between.
The devil is bitter and hard. I spoke to the devil
and held time with his eyes. But breaking free,
leaping from the circle - these aspirations
are growing up, taking long and slow breaths,
all the while, becoming
more formidable.


- Allison Grayhurst 2017


Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 1050 poems published in over 425 international journals. She has sixteen published books of poetry, seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com   

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Poetry by Richard Manly Heiman










Andromache at Pergamon

When you wake from a mid-day nap to bees droning through orchids and gerberas by the sluggish fountain, or you're cane-walking slow through ancient Boğazkere vines and cherry groves, raw as a

slashed throat clogged with gurgling clots it all comes raging back. The sudden fall, the tumbling high-pitched shriek cut off mid-flight by limestone ramparts. Florid smears in horse-shit dust, the phantom pain in your uterus. But such a tiny

sacrifice. No more night terrors to console, a baby's dreams of bronze-skulled monsters. Still you replay gallops round  and round, the bloody bare crown thumping along, splitting over and over again, sanity fracturing, oozing hope like yolk, gelatin eyes squeezed tight to block

absurdly calm extinction. Now each morning he stares back with mead-rimmed eyes. One who looks just like the one who murdered and then loved you. He stares, and death is trite, and no strong-built heart walls can keep the wailing in.


- Richard Manly Heiman 2017


Richard Manly Heiman lives in the pines on the slope of the Sierra Nevada in Northern California. He works as a substitute teacher and writes when the kids are at recess or playing on their cell phones. Richard's work has appeared or will in Rattle, Into the Void, Bop Dead City and elsewhere. He is a two time 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee. His URL is poetrick.com.

Monday, June 19, 2017



Call for Submissions 

The June Open Reading Period 

Black Lawrence Press seeks innovative, electrifying, and thoroughly intoxicating manuscripts that ensnare themselves in our hearts and minds and won’t let go. During our June and November Open Reading Periods, we accept submissions in the following categories: novel, novella, short story collection (full-length and chapbook), poetry (full-length and chapbook), biography & cultural studies, translation (from the German), and creative nonfiction. 

 Black Lawrence Press accepts submissions exclusively through our online submission manager, Submittable. We are not able to accept submissions via email or postal mail.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

New Poetry by Jim Conwell










Envy

They were a haphazard collection,
several soldiers
and some Indians
and a knight or two.
And some of the cereal packet Indians
were only the colour of the plastic they were made from.
But I know what they felt like in my hand.
The distinct characters of each of them.
And I remember their vivid colours.
The red and blue of the warrior’s tiny shield.
And the living grey of the desert soldiers’ uniforms.

We shared adventures, deadly ambushes, bombardments
with stones and missiles.
And even though I already knew the advice,
I built castles in the sand and other fortifications for them
and they defended them
even against overwhelming force.
They had died many times
as I dug them out of collapsed tunnels
And ruined walls.
Always finding them ready to fight again.

But when I looked across the garden fence
and saw Eddy’s military convoys –
the khaki might of his
tank carriers, mobile missile launchers, armoured cars,
the helmeted and goggled outriders of his professional army,

my small force of international mercenaries
faded sullenly into the long grass.


- Jim Conwell 2017


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


Monday, June 12, 2017

New Poetry by Kathryn Guelcher










Not Sleeping

Actually, I have many hearts
in circulation.
You have the only whole one.
New ones grow...
for song, guitar,
the beginning of each summer,
trips planned, taken.
These hearts sprout small
from very little:
platelets, plasma, 
longing, time, rain.
Tenderly, they grow and expect little,
and later fracture under loyalties.
But the large old heart you’ve got
has roots like the Yucca,
stretching for ground water
in the heat of the desert,
though here, definite seasons 
have blurry edges.
And like the Yucca, this heart of mine,
that is yours,
blooms certainly and silently,
if unpredictably,
and won’t be dug up.
The stems are phallic,
like so much else--
lightening bolts, this pen,
the imagined line between
your fingers
and the space bar you strike
between words
pulsing worlds, 
ideas...
of youth fading
of love lasting
of children, impossibly ours,
showing us, again and again, 
joy’s endless capacity for laughter.


- Kathryn Guelcher 2017



Kathryn Guelcher teaches English in the suburbs of Chicago at Carl Sandburg High School where she received a grant in 2013 and co-founded a Visiting Writer Series for students. Since first appearing in Bluepepper in 2012, her poetry has appeared in Lost Coast Review, Memoir Journal, Brev Spread, George Bilgere's Word Play, Orange Room Review, Fat City Review, yourdailypoem.com and more. Her husband and three children keep her laughing and are her favorite travel companions, Their cat, Big, is treated like a celebrity in the house-- and still manages to complain about it. Follow her on Twitter @KathrynGuelcher 

Friday, June 09, 2017

New Poetry by Louise McKenna










Racehorses 

Traffic slows in this 50k zone
as if hard held by a jockey.

The racehorses are being walked at dawn:
the same horses I see each morning

at this junction between night and day,
their breath recorded on the cold sheet of air,

steam from their backs in the thin light, rising.
And the same men

like dockers in fluorescent coats,
are pulling them along,

as if they were hauling
freight or lumber.

Each car and bus
seems to make the horses flinch and stagger;

a black light in the quicks of their eyes 
that I have seen before

in those of a wounded bird
I once nursed in my hand,

the rapid timer of its heart
palpable beneath egg-thin bones—

or those of the colt filmed after the race
tottering on a snapped radius

as women in fascinators sat
knocking back flutes of Moët et Chandon.


- Louise McKenna 2017


Louise McKenna’s work has been published in a number of Australian and overseas journals.  Her chapbook, The Martyrdom of Bees was published last year by Garron Publishing.  In 2013, Louise was shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize. She lives in Adelaide and is currently working on a full-length book of poetry.

Monday, June 05, 2017

New Poetry by JD DeHart










Stone Ballerina

How strange, in shapes
of granite or marble,
the thin leg rises, the toe
refuses to curl, standing
the entire being on one small
fragment of space, while
a cardinal settles on her 
outstretched finger, threatening
to upend the ensemble,
bringing the dancer down
in a series of pebbles.


The Power of an Edit

Take your acumen and point
it somewhere else.
I've got no use for parsing
each verb that comes out of
my mouth.  Do not question
my absence of comma, my
floating appreciation of apostrophes.
Life is just a series of nouns
and other words.
Is that a prepositional phrase
in line three?  No manner
or matter.  I'll not reduce my utterance
to a series of critical marks.


- JD DeHart 2017


JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  His work has recent appeared at Strange Poetry and Cacti Fur.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

New Poetry by Abigail George










Because a ghost was in my blood

I can feel the rain even
 when I close my eyes.
Taste it in my mouth. Here’s the fabulous
ambitious sun. A warning to
all who dream of living
and making it good in
the big city. The land is
black at night. It haunts.
It haunts. Filled with shadows
 and light and despair. I
face beating fears in the
moonlight’s rural country.
The haunting abandonment of
touch scores my personality in
some indefinable way. The
discipline and source of silence
  marks me like death.

Faith can break you.
  Transform the fire in your heart.
The compass that I
  hold in my hand helps
me navigate my passage
  north. The constant heat
of the day shining for
  all of its worth in all its
silken slumber. Liberty
  is master. Proof is mistress.
I find pleasure in my
  mother’s garden. The sun glides
across my spirit. Winged sphere
  and harmless burn. The sports of
earth. My grief is published here on the page.
  Grief, I don’t want to
forget you. Your triumph fierce. The sea is made up of
  the vibrations of a
purple light. Tide and current washed
   up on the shore.
You’re a shadow of a
telephone pole. All things lovely beating down my door.
The foam blooms a white kind of spray.
Mankind’s soul is a faithful progress.
She has a starling mouth. The lips of a mermaid.

   I can still taste the rain in my mouth.


- Abigail George 2017


Abigail George fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film and television production at Newtown Film and Television School opposite the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. She is the writer of Africa Where Art Thou (2011), Feeding the Beasts (2012), All About My Mother (2012), Winter in Johannesburg (2014), Brother Wolf and Sister Wren (2015), and Sleeping Under the Kitchen Tables in the Northern Areas (2016). Her poetry has been widely published in anthologies, in print in South Africa, and in zines from Nigeria to Finland, and New Delhi, India to Istanbul, Turkey. She lives, works, and is inspired by the people of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

New Poetry by Jonathan Beale










Birth of the bridging epoch

1960’s

‘Everything is purged from this painting but art; no ideas have entered this work’, 1966 – 68, John Baldessari

This sprinkled form Jacques de la Villeglé
‘Angers’ 59 the shell was about to break and burst….
Within this conscience manipulation

This footprint to forge a path.

The ever decreasing decade – it speeds - on –
Crashing down as a pinball

Perceptions – dimensions from God to Giving Birth*
To the Arena.** To a new ethic another morality –
The politics grow evermore malleable identical to the core

Spaces grow into forms and naming becomes necessity…
by necessity. As the images grows into the fabric of society
from the whole sequence of Fibonacci one boby, one head,

two arms, Plica semilunaris***, five fingers….

In this strange mirror – the stress crack –
as it creates – reforms and cracks again –

as the artist becomes a philosopher breeding questions
from the title-less, strange, peculiar, abstract, obtuse.

as originality bred by gin and other elixirs. As too many
seeing to find take the wager ‘drugs are a bet with your mind.’°
Win. Lose what remains

Miles Davis’ discography II an effigy from Jean-Michel Basquiat
Stuns a bemused world a door opens.

All the things I know but of which I am not at the moment thinking 1.36P.M; June 15 1969, 1969 °°

*Monica Sjoo ‘God giving birth 1968
**Frank Moore Arena 1992
***Third eyelid
° Jim Morrison
°° Robert Barry


- Jonathan Beale 2017


Jonathan Beale has numerous poems published over 50 journals around the world. His work can be found in such books as ‘Drowning’ and ‘The Poet as Sociopath’ (Scar publications). His first collection of poetry ‘The Destinations of Raxiera’ is published by Hammer & Anvil. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Destinations-Raxiera-Jonathan-Beale-ebook/dp/B018F6GWQ6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1452199641&sr=1-1&keywords=jonathan+beale

His second volume is looking for a publisher and he is currently working on his third volume. And is included in Macabristas d'Honneur 

His work has recently been published in Anti Heroin Chic, Dissident Voices, Red Fez, Sheepshead Review, Aphelion, Linnets Wing, aaduna, Horror Sleaze Trash, et al. He studied Philosophy and lives in Surrey.



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Poetry by Michele Seminara










Second Coming

It seems I am the problem child, again.
Father speaking on Mother’s behalf
that nitrogen cold gaze.

I bathe in it; it burns —
it always burned.
But now my skin is bound
in bitter scales.

How forlorn, to be the black one;
I don't show it.
Let them beat their breasts
and rail — I won't.

Instead, I involute, secrete this note: 
beware the coming of the twice-born child.


- Michele Seminara 2017


Michele Seminara is a poet, editor and yoga teacher from Sydney. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Cordite, Mascara, and Tincture. She has published Engraft (Island Press, 2016) and a collaborative chapbook, Scar to Scar, with Robbie Coburn (PressPress, 2016). Michele is also Managing Editor of online creative arts journal Verity La. She blogs at https://micheleseminara.wordpress.com/. 

'Second Coming' is from Michele's forthcoming chapbook, HUSH, to be published by Blank Rune Press on 1 June. 

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

New Poetry by Natalie Crick










Swan

I scrub mouse blood from the floorboards
Imagining ice,
Imagining throats.
The dead stay dead.

A necked Swan
Sits disgraced,
The pale bone poking through, a
Sword rising from a lake
Sharp and still sheathed.
The bone is so white
I could have carved
It from wax,
Soft as bees,
A candle without a flame.

Forever Winter, the sky
Looks cold, pink as a clot
In the mouth
When the lights go out.


- Natalie Crick 2017


Natalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, The Chiron Review, Rust and Moth, Ink in Thirds and The Penwood Review. This year her poem, 'Sunday School' was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

From the Eye of the Storm

Colin Dodds
Brooklyn, NY 2017


Regular readers of Bluepepper will likely be familiar with the name Colin Dodds, but as a poet rather than a novelist. Judging by his bibiography, however, it would be fair to judge Dodds as a novelist first and a poet second. Such distinctions are, of course, a personal matter, but any writer with six novels already under his belt, three collections of poetry, as well as two screenplays, has a fair claim to call himself anything he wants. On top of a string of awards, Dodds has won what many may regard as the ultimate accolade from no lesser a light than the great Norman Mailer himself, who said of Dodds’ novel, The Last Bad Job, that it showed “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Having raced through Dodds’ latest offering, Watershed, in only a handful of sittings, I have to agree with Mailer (not something I am in the habit of doing). The style is simple, uncluttered, but the writer has a gift for magical turns of phrase as well as a natural ear for rhythm. Francis Bacon’s famous quip about “the burden of the conveyance” springs to mind: there is none of it here.

From the opening line I defy any reader worth the name not to feel themselves hooked:

Raquel figured if they were going to kill her, Tyra probably wouldn’t have taken so much time explaining the parachute.

And so the roller-coaster ride begins.

Raquel is, ironically, one of the least interesting characters in this admittedly crowded novel, even though she is the narrative pivot. Actually, more like the eye of the storm, the still point. The storm was already raging well before she found herself strapped to a parachute thousands of feet above the earth., which is why Raquel found herself in this situation in the first place. It’s not that she’s exactly dull. The woman is far from dull, but she is a facilitator-by-proxy around whom others act, or react to forces acting against her. She is beautiful and smart to the point of being cursed  rather than blessed. 

Like the start to any great novel, the reader feels as though they have opened a door onto another world, in this case onto a mystopia (my term for a mild dystopia), a recognisable enough world just knocked a little off kilter. In a world of Brexits, Syrias and President Trumps, this mystopic movement in literature is fast becoming a crowded market place. But Dodds writes with restraint, not forcing either the pace or the tone of the novel. Perhaps the closest he comes to testing the reader’s credulity is in a bizarre re-enactment of the September 11 attacks in which convicted criminals are forced to fly planes into replica Twin Towers, but the whole spectacle is portrayed so convincingly, complete with the voluntary martyrdom of an alt-cult “Ludlite” inside one of the buildings in a futile protest against the anaesthetising effects of the digital age, that even this jaded reader had no trouble buying it. The “Ludlites” are a seemingly spontaneous movement of young people against the digital “Web” in all its ubiquitous manifestations. They decry leaders or any form of manipulation or compulsion, but as is the way with such well-meaning attempts to “correct” the course of history, leaders emerge armed with pretty words and nefarious motives. In this case it is a mysterious figure known as “The Geometress”, although she is far from the only shadowy figure in a novel which is in large part an exploration of people’s motives in a world whose moral compass appears all but broken. Sound familiar? Welcome to mystopia.

In fact, perhaps the only character in this novel whose motives remain clear and honest throughout is Norwood, into whose arms Raquel literally lands in the most bizarre of circumstances at the very start of the novel. The most opaque character of all, and the real driving force of the novel, is the millionaire Rudolf, nee Hurley, nee Ostanze, a corrupt ex-senator who appears to be inhabited by some mysterious entity that has allowed him to live for a very very long time, the hints are for millenia. I would say more about him, but any review of such a frantic narrative requires so many spoiler alerts as to render any overview almost unreadable. And unnreadable is something this novel most definitely is NOT.

If our review copy is anything to go by, Dodds appears to be putting this novel out under his own imprint. It begs the question why some major publishing house hasn’t taken this title on. But more and more writers at the moment appear to prefer the autonomy of self-publishing. I can think of at least half-a-dozen publishers, however, who would give this novel a great deal of consideration. Any publishers out there who happen to follow Bluepepper, and who may be interested, can purchase an advance copy by clicking on the novel's title at the top of this review. The only slight reservation Bluepepper had with the novel was with the rather fiery denouement, but on a second reading it sat better, reminding this reader that it is beholden on us as much as the author to hold all the threads together.

- Justin Lowe
Bluepepper 2017


New Poetry by Jim Zola










My Two Cents of Reasoning is Spent

The world rides on top of a butterfly, 
a ladder leans into nowhere. My shadow 

plays a shadow song. Inside the piano, 
keys caw. The night is bright green between 

black branches. A mouth opening wide 
enough for death. Here comes the train. Wider. 

Stars pop and salt the air. This is to say 
sadness stands outside me, a stranger

in a monkey mask. I wait for him 
to ring the buzzer. He lifts one arm. Then the other.


- Jim Zola 2017



Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children's librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook -- The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) -- and a full length poetry collection -- What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC


Tuesday, May 02, 2017

In case you hadn't noticed, dear reader, we live in interesting times. Alert but not alarmed is our running credo at Bluepepper, and in line with that policy we are currrently

CALLING ALL POETS


Bluepepper believes that perhaps now more than ever this troubled rock needs the wisdom only poetry can distil, so get out your quills and parchment and submit per the guidelines at the top of the sidebar.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New Poetry by Gerald Bosacker










The Almost Horse

Nothing more stubborn or more a fool,
than the genuine Arkansas mule,
that hill folks consider a farming tool.

Why would some obstinate half wit
fit his dumb mule with bridle and bit
then hope to steer this hybrid misfit?

Yes, they can out-pull a normal horse,
yet what they do with all that force
is stubbornly pick their own way of course.

Making a stopped mule to get up and go,
perversely just holler out whoa,
then what makes them stop, I do not know.

Male donkeys functioned as the mules dad,
and compliant mares turn quite sad
seeing the strange offspring they then had.

Hybrids might help the corn grow so tall 
but cross-breeding did not help at all
farmers to put mules in a horse's stall!


- Gerald Bosacker 2017


Originally destined to become a crusading journalist or witty editorialist, Gerald Bosacker was forced by family responsibilities to abandon his part-time jobs and night school classes at the University of Minnesota, to work fulltime in the graphic arts salesman. There, his love of the well chosen word enabled him to become a successful graphic arts supply salesman who migrated upward, propelled by serendipity coupled with his tolerance and empathy for faulted people, to become senior vice president of sales for a large international printing chemical company.   

Promoted much beyond his ambition and capability, he jumped at early retirement at his first opportunity. Gerald Bosacker now lives in Montanas, awaiting discovery of his social commentary skills. He has resumed his first love, weaving words into prize-winning poetry and surprising short tales that borrow heavily from the fascinating people he met in his world-wide travels.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Poetry by Abigail George










Must travel

(for my sister)

The day has
a moth like quality to it. I make a cup of tea (always for one). 
Boil the
water in the
microwave oven while

old poems
make way for new poems. Once, I lived in grassroots country. Rural
countryside.
Mbabane, Swaziland.

(Boarding school). Slowly
my flesh is emptying out. Winter making way for spring’s milky sweetness,
summer’s pleasure and
waves of heat, autumn’s gift.

Slowly, I climb back
into their world. Standing in the sun sipping my cup of tea for one.
I sit and watch the
afternoon warming the page in front of me.


- Abigail George 2017


Pushcart Prize nominee, Abigail George, is a South African poet and writer, aspirant playwright and young adult novelist.She is a regular contributor to the webpages of Africanwriter.com, Bluepepper, Hackwriters.com, Itch, LitNet, Modern Diplomacy, Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine, Piker Press, Praxis Magazine Arts and Literature, Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Vigil Pub Mag. She has lived in Port Elizabeth, Swaziland, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Her lit work has been published in various anthologies, numerous times in print in South Africa, and online in zines. She blogs at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5174716.Abigail_George/blog

Friday, April 14, 2017

New poetry by Linda Stevenson










Another Beat

How to escape the old rhythm,
because
it plays around, perpetual,
weaving classrooms out of nursery,
found bookends, bound songs,
the modelling of phrases,
inclusive
of current tongues, media,
the gymnasia
of dead classics.

Heritage of inland, shore, cliff,
bluestone and tent city; heritage
of Atlantic;
drownings and wailing starvation
up against the bardic, keening.

Read me bedtime,
rolling me over into soothed,
the merry beats recounting
in long cadence.

I listen to my own reading,
walk away from it glutted,
unsatisfied;
because
there was another way I wanted to speak,
not rolling off my tongue, not glib,
not generationally easy
with inheritance of poem...

but gaunt, under-stressed, built
on rough syllables
and guttural noise,
with bare rhyme,
a murderous tsunami,
not the plangent, bleating sea,
not civilized,
but
the gutted voice
of human.


- Linda Stevenson 2017


A founding member of Melbourne Poets Union, facilitator of poetry groups in gaols and community centres, contributor to anthologies. Chapbook “The Tipping Point” published in 2015, feature guest poet on Radio 3CR “Spoken Word”. Active as a poet within the online poetry sector, hosts regular Salons at her home in Frankston, Victoria.