THE PUSHCART PRIZE

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Help us to choose 6 out of the 27 listed poems

From the hundreds of poems published by us in the current year we have attempted to select just six to be our nominations for this years Pushcart Prize. We failed dismally, only managing to get it down to the following twenty seven individual pieces. 
We have decided to turn to you our readers for help. 

So, what you need to do is read the poems, select a favourite and then cast your vote. The poll is open until the 31st of October at which time we will announce the winners and they will be our nominations.

You can vote as a signed in member, or you can vote by signing in with your Google+ or Facebook credentials. We will not be harvesting your information for use in later marketing, but if you chose to browse the site and decide to join it then we will be pleased to have you. 

Thank you for your help.
Shirley, Imogen & Dave.

The Long List.

 

 

The Ending & The Girl

no one thought to ask the girl –
she is young, and pretty, and the naive flower in the forest,
so she stays quiet, unquestioned and uninteresting.
or dead, depending on the ending.
no one thought to ask the girl –
if she felt scared or brave or kind,
if she felt used or empowered,
if it was dark inside the wolf,
or if his great big eyes left any light.
no one thought to ask the girl –
red-gold colorblind and dazed with sleep,
mothers were spinning
and fathers had axes shaped like broken bottles,
so she wanders from church to pond to graveyard
and wonders why there are no names on the headstones.
authors have dug through every piece of dirt,
turned every stone and left no story alone.
they speculate to no one and shake their dice
until a new interpretation appears.
but in each article, in every think-piece and editorial,
in all the narratives that have begged to be built,
the girl is left alone, small and cloaked and dead,
depending on the ending.

Nora Cornell  Issue 35, 15th September 2015

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Unhappy Alice

Opening the hours one by one,
gifts you cannot return
though they are ugly
and do not fit.
This ingratitude
is the other side of the mirror.
Just get through the day
and looking glass.
Someone may be smiling
somewhere, somewhen, again.

L. Shapley Bassen  Issue 35, 15th September 2015

 

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Stitching America

(for Gloria)

It started at Kansas, roughly centre,
and two strands of blue for back stitches:

the calm, smooth line of a river.
At each stitch, it felt as if she was by my side

instead of undergoing another round of treatment.
Her remission had been short-lived.

The map spread north from Wichita to the Canadian border
and west to Seattle and south to San Francisco, grew major cities

and landmarks: Mount Rushmore, the Golden Gate Bridge.
They triggered memories of holidays,

healthy times exploring new places and textures.
Recollections increasing as the stitches did.

Lake Michigan bloomed in two shades of blue as the map stretched
to the eastern seaboard then south to Florida, back across Texas.

Each cross-stitch neatly railroaded. Los Angeles the final city.
When I look at it, I see her welcoming smile.

I sent pictures of the work in progress.
Sharing urged me to finish so I could show her.

On a trip in the pine-scented valley of Yosemite
I watched two mule deer fawns thread through

the tall grass as their mother watched the setting sun.
I never found out what she thought of the map.

When I think of her, I see the bustle of Cannery Row
and feel the warmth and expanse of Monterey Bay.

Emma Lee  Issue 35, 15th September 2015

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After they closed the iron door there was silence

we stand together
apart as can be

together

undressed and cold
and unheated by
having skin chafe
on clammy skin

images of barbed
snowed landscapes
and dogs and a dazed
violin and that uniform

with its finger

a mother holds her
wide eyed daughter
for some air by the
showerheads, both
breathing as one

I see strange markings
scratches on the walls
and ceiling like nailbites

maybe the coming steam
will warm us a little
but if not then

at least we die clean

Roy Liran  Issue 26, 2nd April 2018 

________________

 


SO

Picking through it all
photographs books toiletries DVDs
Scrabble letters
a weight set used twice
a wedding dress
worn once
while so young       so in       love so
scattered now thrown around torn up by
the twister of a divorce not meant to happen
to the marriage not meant to be
so
we move past we move forward we move on
we lick the wounds and learn from the scars
use them as a road map to new lives
better lives
for since we didn’t kill each other we
made
each other so
much the stronger

Mike Griffith  Issue 35, 15th September 2018

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Of Lucy, The Art Of Lightness, And Of Gravity 

She stood in Gil’s backyard, under that apple tree

Gil’s parakeet once skedaddled to, & bet me she could kick her leg higher

than I or any boy could. I was 16,

she was Gil’s step-cousin. New in town since the fall.

One of those first at everything blondes who tan gold in a day.

Filigreed with leaves, applauded by a bob of apples, she hiked high

her delicious thigh, that gleamed in the day’s

silk light as if she’d slicked it on her skirt, & toed at the fringes of the tree;

gravely, lightly, she touched her lips to skin; she let her leg trawl

down. Okay, she said, now you, come on…

But I’d no idea what a come-on was—all pratfall

I was—all ache, & rawness—so I just kicked. I don’t recall, even,

grasping that my plant foot had flown up with: only the trees’

wheel; my back smacking the grass; my shoe loosed into a sun-daze

of sky, to roost where the marauder parrot had. As Lucy high

C’ed her delight, at what she’d not known she wanted: one dumb new friend

to laugh with. I dreamed her once, shinnying in to let her gold legs loll;

toeing & dangling my sneaker in a sway of fruit. Out on her merry

limb again! My model, my fledgling years, of how to fly or fall.

Derek Kannemeyer  Issue 35, 15th September 2015

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The Foundland

How I envied those laughing women
who came into the coffee shop
after their ‘Mums-to-be’ yoga class
in their bright, multi-coloured clothes.

I pictured myself in purple tights
with layers of black-and-white cotton tops
wrapped around with long scarves
and my belly swelling week after week.

All that doesn’t matter now.

I didn’t have a swollen belly
wrapped in colourful cloths
but I swathed you in a scarlet and yellow chitenge
and carried you snugly on my back.

You pressed your right cheek
and your two tiny-fisted hands
between my spine and shoulder blade.
Your ear sought the love-dove

lub-dub of my heart.
I felt your heart beat too
as you tuckled down
into your woven amnion.

Together in the long afternoons
we journeyed under mango trees,
rested in the handcrafted wicker chair
to the buzz of bees busy with fallen guavas.

The current is strong
and there are many waves
to take you
to the Foundland of Mothering.

Bernadette Crawford Issue 35, 15th September 2015

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Irises

Lizzie met Gabriel. They married.
Rossetti only painted Lizzie.

No one else could paint her.
Lizzie had a stillbirth, and

died of a laudanum overdose.
The night before she died,

Gabriel painted Lizzie,
hair threaded with irises.

On the window glass, he scratched–
with Lizzie’s wedding ring—

a line from his sonnet:

“I was a child beneath her touch,
–a man, when breast to breast we clung.”

He placed his poems in her hands,
closed the casket, drank, and died.

He dug up the sonnets first
or how could I recite tonight?

Laugh again, and go pick some irises

Tom Paine  Issue 35, 15th September 2015

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when mountains move

a fervent wind
finds my window’s unlatch
and twelve hundred pounds
whispers
it’s gone home from the shadow

its white tail
distances my reach
and twining fingers
needed feel of silken threads
finds only air

i’m running
but you corner at a gallop
my callings to echo
upon hoof prints now made of stars

you have left the farm today
and i cannot follow

leaving behind the
little girl eyes held sorrow
of a woman without a horse
to wish upon

Bev Smith Issue 34, 6th August 2018

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Ritual 

He washed the body she told me,
their first-born, a ritual cleansing
only he could do.

I thought of him then
in his careful meticulous way,
imagined him dip, in the warm water basin,
a soft cloth, so tenderly squeezed to damp,
lightly pressed to her pallid skin,
his quiet touch on her pale freckled face;
her eyelashes curled,
the slope of her nose,
the blue famished lips,
down to her white stilled breast,
the dipped hollow beneath her arms,
her ashen finger tips.

Washing
with a slow raw devotion,
her silent unlived body,
his final act of love.

Eithne Lannon Issue 28, 30th April 2018

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Lynx, Denmark, 2016

Don’t I just take
an amazing snapshot;
one eye, one ear.

Don’t I just take
an amazing snapshot;
one eye, one ear,
and very little else.

Don’t I just take
an amazing snapshot;
one eye, one ear,
and very little else,
apart from the darkness.

Don’t I just take
an amazing snapshot;
one eye, one ear,
and very little else,
apart from the darkness
that is my cage.

Don’t I just take
an amazing snapshot;
one eye, one ear,
and very little else,
apart from the darkness
that is my cage.
I have nothing to say.

Don’t I just take
an amazing snapshot;
one eye, one ear,
and very little else,
apart from the darkness
that is my cage.
I have nothing to say.
My lips are sealed.

Don’t I just take
an amazing snapshot;
one eye, one ear,
and very little else,
apart from the darkness
that is my cage.
I have nothing to say.
My lips are sealed.
I speak volumes.

Gordon Meade Issue 27, 16th April 2018

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POGROM

.They could not bury them fast enough,

the rain thick and slippery, the mud a river,

and in the morning’s blue sky, a whip of cloud,

pink haze, great green vines hugging short trees to strangle them,

Wide-open eyes came through the silk of earth

and we could identify many we had known

before the men came, and the cruel women with them.

Much had been stolen from us in the night.

Much had been broken: doors, glass, flooring fifthly with blood,

flesh caught on splinters and doorjambs, a wetness of fear.

Stains go away in time, but the exposed faces

staring upwards, no, those faces remain with us like skin,

a deep rash itching so badly we cannot stand in ourselves.

Michael H. Brownstein Issue 26, 2nd April 2018

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Flavour

A cake the shape of a corpse

In the Summer heat rotting through

Its sugar fumes and eggs gone off by –

Had it been three months?

The cancer that riddled her bones and played organ failure in her like a bold child?

I lick the end of the bowl

The batter sticks to my teeth greedily

I cannot get enough of it

As the cake rises in the oven

Her body will be lowered to the ground

The only difference is air

I wonder if lemon was even her favourite flavour?

Dermot Christophers Issue 11 ,030917

________________

 


Kintsugi Life

When hot water hit the bowl,

prisms of sunlight danced

on sharp edges. We delivered

it to a Zen expert restorer,

who works his mastery

in broken things. Intricately

weaving, a kintsugi life,

wabi sabi, subtle fingers

trace gold dust into flaws.

Imperfect beauty, no longer pure,

becomes aesthetic,

an incomplete splendour.

In a world that worships

the new and perfect,

an unpretentious ideal,

he cares, healing damaged scars.

Mindfully, this craftsman

focuses on beauty,

where it lies. This man

with his wise eye,

sees restitution

in fragmented pottery,

believes completion

lies with him, not the piece.

An archipelago of gold,

resin, acrylic, lacquer –

he invites wholeness

out of broken pieces.

Tentatively he paints,

with love, a golden seam

into shattered shards.

Kintsugi life, wabi sabi…

 Attracta Fahy issue 12 15 Sep 2017 

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Blindfold

(for my mother)

Blurred. My actions don’t work

Properly. I forget but don’t know until

I realise I have gone wrong. I forgot to

Add cheese; boiled an empty kettle;

Chopped leek not onion. I don’t understand

Why I can’t make a dish I bake every week

Blindfold.

She is worse. Repeats. Picks threads from

A blanket.  Drops them. Asks nonsensical questions.

Desperation. I watch, try to level

My spirit. Keep my mercury in place.

In the grey afternoon.

She reads aloud the blurb

On the back of Matilda, over and over.

I nod, affirm, again and again.

I am infected with her dementia

Of confused. I feel abused.

 Kate Ennals Issue 12 15 Sep 2017

________________

 


He crawled

He crawled before walking,
ran before flying,
collected punctures and marks,
opened a gateway to fantasy
leaving carnage on the runway.

Turbulent episodes’ ensued;
a ridge of low pressure descended
until he crashed and burned,
crawling childlike from the wreckage.

This man who’s tattooed forearm reads
‘only god can judge me’
the same who’d prayed for the man in the next bed
is judged by pious, cold case detectives
who pour over his rap sheet;
fold arms and bleet,
pointing to behavior
ignoring symptoms or cause.

Three critical weeks in the hands of
benevolence in baby blue,
a metal tree bearing vital fruit,
a legitimate cocktail flowing through vines,
fuse into the stillness of his being.

Pink Floyd now whispers into his ear
as we, his parents,
each with a role to play
wait blameless on the bright side.

David Ratcliffe Issue 13 2 Oct 2017

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Funeral rites for the death of an artist

After the piano piece of the same name by William Alwyn

Japanese fans tap, a close up of tears shed on national broadcast
black was strictly forbidden

sixteen eulogies torn
from the raw canvas of rouged goblets overflowing

with sentiments portrayed at the end of so many operas
every color represented splashing

rainbows and brassy kaleidoscopes
national theatres lent costumes besting grand couturier red carpets

poets did not heckle, masked as Greek choruses, their declaiming
simultaneous, each with his verse

dealt a universal harmonization of life
this final celebration coronnated with gardens of white blossoms

a tour de force of a thousand greenhouses, politisation with tweezers
to bear this everlasting perfection

musicians played brocaded melodies
of minor intervals as acrobats and ballerinas leapt behind the pall bearers

unified in turquoise, the color of her eyes when the lights were just so
her lips pursed in a fate-defying

“I have loved you all
in the momentous eternity of  silence caressing each of my words, drowned

out, muted, overwhelmed by discordant tremolos, yes, I shall love you all
in this last breath beyond my death …”

Alfred Booth Issue 13 2nd October 2017

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The Shoulder

Let us think of Kafka

in the arms of Milena Jesenská.

He, who had already

coughed up blood while swimming

in the Civilian Swimming School

where he often chose to spend

his leisure hours. Anything to escape

the drudgery of the Asbestos Factory,

the tyranny of his father, the law,

and business, business, business.

He loved and feared

her living fire. He stands

and kisses her left shoulder

as she draws back her blouse.

Milena Jesenská, the firebrand,

who was to die years later, in Ravensbrück.

Let us picture them together,

the weight of her almost

uncovered breast upon him.

Since he has come to love her

he has discovered his love

for the world, a world in which

he has lately come across her left shoulder.

He kisses it,

the way a man

might kiss the head of his new-born child.

 Derek Coyle 12 Sep 2017 Issue 12

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Never Afraid

When my children were small, I read stories
to them about witches and wolves.
There were demons beneath the rocks,
ogres hiding behind trees.
We were never afraid.
Even when the small girl was torn
to shreds and her body left scattered
by the sea, we knew she would return.
In stories, the dead
always return, though they never talk
about their blood, their bones.

In life too.
The dead return always,
again and again from the dirt
where we buried them, their ashes
reaffirmed. Are they resentful,
having been gone so long?
Is that why their hair burns, their eyes
dried out, drained of light?
You could ask them, one by one,
in the night, if only you could find
your buried voice as it lingers in a new grave.

Steve Klepetar Issue 22, 5th February 2018

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THYRZA’S FLOWERS

My aunt could name the flowers on our walk
as through the lane, her voice announced

the Greater Celandine and helped us pick
the fairy fruit of wild strawberries.

I know the names and hear them in her voice:
through the meadow, Shepherd’s Purse,

Milkwort, Ragged Robin and Hare’s Foot,
Red Clover and a Lady’s Mantle for our game.

Through the woods, an eye for detail and
love of clarity found Columbine, Red Campion,

Enchanter’s Nightshade and Pimpernel
whose scarlet petals close to signal rain.

Stigma, filament, sepal and carpel
detailed in the neat writing of her notebook,

and still we’d run to find another flower,
to test her power to charm us by her naming.

.Jude Brigley  Issue 32, 25th June 2018

 

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He Loves Me, Really

This warm bath is a comfort
though it raises the bruises.
Perhaps if he has to look at them
he will feel just a little ashamed.
Then he will curl at my feet
and pour apologies like treacle.

He loves me, really.

I cannot guess which things
will upset him,dinner too cool,
shirt mis-ironed, letter unposted.
I know the tension before
the tennis back-hand,
the hardened edge of his hand,

He loves me, really.

It wasn’t always like this,
It used to be flowers, chocolates,
the ring, the wedding, the kids,
but I just wasn’t good enough,
so he gets frustrated,
understandably – it’s my fault,

He loves me, really.

He is looking at me now,
brown eyes impenetrable,
I cannot read his smile,
whether he intends a caress,
or a punch, a single word
from me will trigger his undying….

He loves me, really.

Vivien Jones  Issue 20 8th January 2018

________________

 


A Dark Quiet Street in Segovia

Today, I wandered down an old street
so quiet, my footsteps whispered
I was being followed.
So I turned around, back
towards the noise, towards
the cafes & restaurants
stuffed full of nattering locals,
to the square where florists
offer fermented perfume,
where the sky’s puppeteer
swings the selfie sticks
of Japanese tourists,
where the stench
of cigarettes & fried food
scratches the tip of your nose,
because, you should always
let your nose lead the way,
away from old quiet streets
where the ghosts of Machado
& Unamuno play chess,
throwing you unwelcoming eyes,
where disrupting
the unsettling silence
reminds you
you are alone,
wandering down old dark streets
you are not supposed to be.

Stephen Byrne Issue 29, 14th May 2018

_________________

 


Modjadji V

The Rain Queen died in a high valley in the Drakenburg Mountains.
Her body would be kept for weeks, water poured across her chest,
stomach, thighs, eyes, catching in the tightness of her hair, distilling
the fatherness of her, the motherness of her, the childness of her.
It is to make a potion of her, this distillation of the Rain Queen.

She would sit always at the mud porch of her hut scrutinising, waiting
for visitors to disregard. She would make it rain when she wanted –
whether she wished her bananas to grow or not – that was her prerogative.

Never mind the anomaly of her small kingdom’s catchment above
the dry plains beyond the Indian Ocean, the scoop of clouds contained
in that crevice was called by her. At her death she had no daughter

but in Johannesburg unseasonable precipitation began and continued for several days.

Emma McKervey Issue 29, 14th May 2018

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Pilgrim

Here I am bumflapping
at the edge again.

The crumpled gown refuses
to close, unpainted toes dangle.

Check my bag – phone, bruised
antenatal card.

I think of ribbons tied to branches,
scallop shells pinned to cloaks,

of IVF, of incubators.
Bring the card to my lips.

Finola Scott Issue 22, 5th February 2018

________________

 


It Could Have Been You

In the queue she stood,
alternating hips
to bear the post-menopausal
spread, the watch snug
snaked around the wrist.

Her weary arms were splashed
with age spots and irregular moles,
which sprouted dark hairs.
Limbs weighed down
by curved shoulders
that bore the brunt of sadness,
making do

and getting through
all the disappointments.
She too wore Scholls, this stranger,
who unaware of my stares
shuffled in the queue.
I remembered
mother’s hard, cracked heels,
the skin rough as a pumice stone,
despair always tagged along,
a sullen child, two,
three steps behind

and her handbag slung
over an arm, the finger fidgets
picking skin from
the digits that penned
our birthday cards,
letters hemmed with local gossip,
a backdrop to the other stuff,

more than enough
for any mother to endure.
I’ll do my best,
as you did yours.

Lorraine Carey (Editors Choice issue)

________________

 


Crying On Christmas Day

I would want you to see my Christmas
photo, but everything
conspires to make me cry,
My mother a thorn on my side
I pull with tweezers
But she keeps putting them back
Again, and again and again.
My son is going to leave
with a simple notice.
He boxes the cement wall
when I ask him if he’d
greet his Pop a merry xmas.
I imagine you reading my poem instead
Because you will see rivulets
On the sand of the close dead sea.

Shalom Galve Aranas Issue 21 22nd January 2018

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Polly

Mam ran away
after Dad gave her two black eyes
and made her nose bleed.
She fell into the river.

Dad put Polly
into an empty coal bag
after the funeral.
Put it in his van.

Me and Mam
used to give Polly stale bread
soaked in warm milk
every morning.

Dad said,
he was going to throw Polly
into the river,
‘cos she had mange.

He scrunched his beer can,
threw it in the fire,
then fell like a sack of rotten apples
into his chair.

Snored so loudly, the glasses
on Mam’s dresser shook.
I snuck out the front door,
crawled into the back of his van.

It smelt of cigarettes
and green diesel.
Polly scratched
the inside of the coal bag.

I cut it open with Mam’s bread knife.
Out she jumped.
I gave her one last cuddle
and whispered, “run away.”

Anne Walsh Donnelly Issue 13 2 Oct 2017

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