Wednesday, March 22, 2017

If There's Time by Donal Mahoney

It’s an old clock
hanging on a wall
in a small room 
on the third floor.

We go up there 
four times a year 
exchanging clothes
to mark the arrival 

of another season. 
Not much else in there 
except my wife’s vases 
and our yearbooks from 

the Fifties and some 
good novels we hope 
to read some day
if there’s time.

Once a year
the clock stops
and I bring up 
a new battery.

But not this year.
I told the clock don't move.
Stay right there 
and we’ll stay with you.

Donal Mahoney has had work published in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Black Poppy Accepting Submissions Again

~ Black Poppy is accepting submissions again. Poems will be posted on a rolling basis.  I can never seem to keep the journal closed for very long. I guess you could say it haunts me, even when it's not around.

Visualization by Martin Williits Jr.

We all have a place to go — 
we just have to get there, 
                                     a secret place. 

I’d be hauling bodies out of combat zones 
while bullets chewed the scenery into bits, 
and I’d be elsewhere — 

                                     back home 
on the farm, plowing (or was it a girl) 
planting seeds — 

                         I’d have to numb myself, 
going in, sprinting out, murmuring 
like a flock of starlings, 

             my mind would gather like that 
explosion of scattered flight, 
and somehow, killing never found me, 

             I’d rendered myself invisible, my mind 
lathering suntan lotion on a woman 
lying on a stomach, after removing her top, 

and when I came back, trying not to relive the past, 
visualizing no more War, but like a boxer, 
if I heard the bell, I’d go back again and again.

Martin Willitts Jr recently won Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, November 2016. His recent full-length is "How to Be Silent" (FutureCycle Press, 2016), and his recent chapbooks are “Martin Willitts Jr Greatest Hits” (Kattywompus Press, 2016) and Turtle Island Editor’s Choice Award for his chapbook, “The Wire Fence Holding Back the World” (Flowstone Press).

Monday, February 6, 2017

Richard Schnap

Dear Readers & Poets,

I know I recently closed this journal, so I don't know how many of you are still subscribed or reading Black Poppy, but I wanted to share some sad news I received this morning about fellow poet Richard Schnap. As you know, he's been a constant contributor to this journal with his poetry appearing just about every month. He was one of my favorites and also became a good friend to me. His partner emailed me this morning and told me that Richard passed away on Christmas Day. I had no idea and I'm still shocked and completely saddened by this news. I just can't believe it.

I published a chapbook for him last year, under Flutter Press, titled A Wind from Nowhere. He was so excited about finally putting together a collection of poems. If you're interested in purchasing a copy, it is available at this link: or on I'd like to make it available until the end of the month because I know so many of you enjoyed his poems as much as I did. After the end of February, I'm going to retire his book as I don't feel it's right to continue selling it when he's no longer here. All royalties will be sent to his partner, Alice.

Update:  I'm going to continue selling Richard's chapbook through Flutter Press. However, the press will not be earning any royalties, they will continue to be sent to his partner.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Topper by David Gross

I called him “Top Cat”
like the cartoon character, 
he liked it.
We were restoring 
Altgeld Hall 
at the university.
Drinking was his passion
and coupled with a 
finely honed black humor 
everything he said 
came out Shakespearian. 
Born in Liverpool
to an unknown mother, 
his father raised him. 
Gorged with ghosts from 
a childhood zig-zagging 
Europe, working circuses 
with his old man. 
Never said what they did.
One Monday he didn’t show,
no one thought much about it,
but by morning break 
someone tied the name 
nobody knew in the headlines 
to the “drunk little hippie”
that worked with us, 
who laid down 
on a railroad track
and fell asleep.

David Gross is the author of four chapbooks, Cup of Moon (Bull Thistle Press, 2000), What We Never Had (tel-let, 2004), Because It Is (tel-let 2005), and Pilgrimage (Finishing Line Press, 2009). His poems and essays have appeared in journals such as Big Muddy, Blue Collar Review, Cape Rock, Common Ground Review, Hummingbird, Kentucky Review, Modern Haiku, Naugatuck River Review and Snowy Egret. He lives with his wife on a small farm in the hills of southern Illinois.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Egyptian Garden, Biddulph Grange by Eira Needham

Bluebirds extend their wings
to flank a jonquil sun
above the entrance.
Twin sphinxes guard this door,
amid neatly clipped yews.

We creep into the mastaba,
spooked by a twilit passage,
where it's difficult to focus.
In the ensanguine chamber ahead
a grotesque figure squats.

Ape, attendant to Thoth, 
bathed in blood light awaits -
sculpted in feathered cape 
with oblong buckle fastening. 
Long ears frame a hog like face.  
Nostrils flare; mouth grimaces.

Returning down the tunnel
we will rediscover brightness -
yet to the left there's a short-cut
up steep stone steps, that vanish
into darkness, offering a portal
to the unknown.

Eira Needham is a retired teacher, living in Birmingham UK. Her poetry is eclectic and has been published in print and online. Some of her publications are in The Linnet’s Wings, Voices from the Web 2016 and Poetry Pacific. She has also been Featured Writer in WestWard Quarterly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Like Dawlish Winter Train Tracks by Paul Tristram

She remembers ‘Feeling’ it
rather than ‘Hearing’ it
start to buckle and give way inside.
Never really strong to begin with
yet enough to generally keep afloat.
Unwashed for two more days now
and another sickening afternoon
with just cigarettes for breakfast.
The cupboards are not bare
just untouched,
it’s her heart or soul or both
which lay empty.
There is still money in her purse
but the bills keep changing colour
and mounting up.
Brushing teeth is like climbing Everest
She now understands 
why children draw arrows through hearts
upon the covers of schoolbooks…
it’s a form of cosmic telepathy.
You can tread water
trying to keep sane all you like
but when you are fighting 
a losing battle with yourself
it’s never your nice, bright side
which comes out the winner.
Most people are quick to be cruel,
there’s a degree of safety in solitude.
Loneliness; a ‘Mental Echo’ 
trapped inside like toothache and cancer
which is physically and emotionally
the most Horrific thing you can go through.

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet.  Buy his book 'Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press)