Congratulations to our Pushcart nominees this year!
The Pushcart Prize is an annual anthology since 1976 recognising literary excellence in the small press. It was founded by such luminaries as Anais Nin, Paul Bowles, Joyce Carol Oates, etc.
It is an extraordinarily difficult task to whittle down the countless contributions of our writers into six.
We are most grateful to Alarie Tennille, our prize nomination consultant, who reads tirelessly throughout the year and makes suggestions for many of the prize categories. We would be lost without you, Alarie.
To recognize the outstanding talent of our writers, we now nominate annually for Best of Net, the Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, Best Microfictions, and the Fantastic Ekphrastic Awards.
Please join me in congratulating this year's Pushcart nominees!
Letter with Green Sky, by Brenna Courtney
Sacred Crypt, by Portly Bard
Widowhood, by Sandi Stromberg
On Planet Set by Joseph Cornell, by Mary McCarthy
February’s Loss, by Rebecca Weigold
You Are Here, by Sheila Lockhart
Letter with Green Sky
I hope to God that you are silver
all over. The dock is slick
with ghosts and bird leavings, and winter has ballooned
into a groaning, glacial
brain, an animal of which
even the brooding,
secular face of St. John the Baptist
would approve. I am curious to know
where it is
you keep your qualms. Mine
are strung around the hip and
jangle lightly as I walk. You would think
they are some kind of dark burgundy,
the colour of shame, but really,
they are a lot like
what you cannot see — that is,
specifically, the sky
which has so thoroughly crushed me
into conjuring a
reason to bear it. Someone wrote me with the confession
that they no longer knew
how to look at a flower, and, you, I’ve caught it
too — the light beams wobble, fall
off the eye and it’s like
all that fever
had been studiously misplaced. It’s the same
with the moon, with trees, with flame.
The silver of the waves. Perhaps you
wear a rosary around the neck, like they tell you
not to. Harbor a flair for rumination. The rowers
whoop like prophets; I pocket
the smallest echos. Their backs threaten rain.
So well large windows frame eternal earth
as art of sea and sky, of soil and rock,
where cycle of decay will feed rebirth
of life that briefly clings to waning clock.
For elsewhere, you commemorate the works
in gallery you see as sacred crypt
where hope of immortality still lurks
for those that found their eye and hand equipped
to render fragile permanence as art
bestilling what forever might be seen
as all a witness speaking dared impart
that conscience in its moment could convene
as presence eyes unborn would later share
with artist resurrected who was there.
"Yves [Tanguy] was my only friend
who understood everything,"
Devoted to the surreal, she wandered
torturous mazes, painted empty
scaffolding when her husband suddenly died.
Depression and decreased eyesight haunted
“Watching the Clock” and “Tomorrow is Never.”
It was “The Passage” she didn’t want
and yet brushed onto canvas. A woman
shorn of lover-wife persona. The landscape
of widowhood, its barren fields and
rocky support. Her art’s geometry.
She remained faithful curator
of Tanguy’s art. Until she painted
“The Answer Is No.” Until she chose
a bullet, had their ashes
offered to Brittany’s wild coast.
Your heart stopped and February
collapsed under the strain
of the news. A chill caw
pierced my bones:
There must have been something
wrong…as though I had
botched spinning a wool blanket.
You were not a mistake.
Not a mishap. Not a malfunction.
Your body was the size of a down feather,
finespun breath and skin…
is loss any smaller when it is
Lullabies flapped and circled,
alighted at my feet. I crowed
your name as though my wails
could bring you back, as though
in frantically turning under the
bitter ground I could find explanation,
comfort, but the field only shuddered
and gave up its dead
while God watched in silence
perched in the skeleton of ash.
On Planet Set by Joseph Cornell
I don't have much to give,
a few worn treasures
on a weathered tray
plucked from the ash heap
of a broken life.
Two shells the sea
has polished into pearl,
a row of glasses
ready to hold tears
or fine champagne,
and two maps of heaven,
the swirl of the milky way
drawn like a scarf
across night’s body,
filled with stars
that trace the outlines
of gods and monsters
measuring their way
through centuries of sky,
I offer you these
as gift and invitation,
emblem and souvenir
of the plain magic
that asks nothing more
than wonder, the held breath
of our most profound
You Are Here
watching a bumblebee
squeeze its furry abdomen
into foxglove fingers
you’re trying to work out
how long it takes for a pollen molecule
to travel from the soil up to its calyx
you’re getting close but now you see
another galaxy has formed
a splotch of swirling grey
in a pink universe how many is that now?
you count them one two three
five hundred and sixty seven
and the letters too
directing pollinators to the hidden source
of happiness and why not you?
a message for bees
can’t be that hard to decode
it’s alphabetical after all a matter of
triggering the right responses
now the rain splashes silver curtains
smearing pink and cream
its drops tap-tapping on cups
their pipes vibrate with fugal harmonies
truths which must be recorded
with mathematical precision
using special symbols on graph paper
no easy task but the beauty of it
oh the beauty of it makes you weep
if only you could grasp its exactitude
its magnificent systems everything
would be clear
there was a time you could enjoy
simple pleasures of line patterns of colour
as you would looking at an abstract painting
no need to search for meaning everywhere
until one day you started counting
the number of flowers on each stem
the number of bees ones twos threes
stacking up behind your eyes
and you began to see
how every flower contains a universe
that demands investigation
how you could read their messages
how they insisted on it
you’ll have the answer worked out
very soon you just need one more
(nominated by The Ekphrastic Review)
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