Pushcart Nominations in 2018
We congratulate our Pushcart Prize nominees for 2018. Please click the various links to see more poems, features, and award features, and to see more art by Matheus Lopes here at EIL. These poems resonate now, together, and with this art, in interesting new ways.
Rob Carney, “Lynx Music” [October 31, 2018]
Jeannine Hall Gailey, “Blood Moon, Flare, Coyote” [October 24, 2018]
Virginia Smith Rice, “Out From Under” [September 19, 2018]
Angela Narciso Torres, “Watch” [November 21, 2018]
Yvonne Zipter, “On Berteau Avenue” [July 11, 2018]
The lynx knows all about quiet,
his ears grown long to hear more of it.
He sharpens his claws on the trunk of it,
carries it home. And his paws
ghost over snowdrifts,
and lakes are asleep
under ice sheets,
and the stars seem frozen
like an orchestra, waiting to begin . . .
has anyone seen the conductor?
Where has she gone in her night tuxedo?
The lynx looks ready to tell us something,
but only in the speech of violins.
Matheus Lopes, Building a Galaxy
Blood Moon, Flare, Coyote
The blood moon was heavy
in the sky. A coyote darted in front
of us in the car on the way to the hospital.
I learned this disaster was named “flare,”
like a solar flare, blazing in the brain,
creating bright halos of inflamed nerves,
causing messages to darken, flame out –
legs, vision, uncertain hands fumbling,
dizzy, ready to fall. Like the moon itself
was falling out of the sky there, not set
among the stars but jarred, uncertain.
It has betrayed us, no longer a bright beacon
but a prophesy where the moon is dark as blood,
a witch’s sign, a bad omen, a magic
you cannot hold safely within you.
Matheus Lopes, Alternate Ending
Out From Under
And so we arrive here
together. And rage, breaking
everything within reach, but not one
another. And rock in this dark, tunelessly
humming, feet flat on the floor.
And learn that memories can be
outgrown, if not outrun. And wait
for the snow that will not stop
to stop. And raise the stakes,
growling at every tree. And face the dawn,
arranging our selves in this frayed
skin light for the outside world. And keep
an empty bag by the door, ready to bring
nothing with us into the skittish day.
Matheus Lopes, Thousand Eyes
Here in these cracked
walls of mortar and wood,
of mother’s daily erasures
and father’s thinning
wrists—here in this
rests my father’s watch
its gold weave band
gone from amber to
dun, the latch empurpled
to iridescent plum. The time
is always 5:17, the second
hand still at forty-two,
the face’s tiny window declares
Thursday the twenty-first
of some long buried month.
Why the second hand, and not
the third? By what magic
did minutes keep ticking
by a few shakes of his wrist
as though he were playing
maracas, solemn-faced, while
mother put on her makeup? What
made the dots, one for each hour,
the hands that moved with the sun
glow green in the dark?
Why that day, that minute,
that second? The mute face stares
through years of scruff and grime.
My father dozes in his chair.
A symphony lingers to its close,
the conductor beating time.
Matheus Lopes, In Between
Where Children Still Don’t Step on Cracks
Everything here is broken. An old red wagon rests
overturned on an overgrown lawn, flower pots lay
cracked into pieces, a deflated plastic football sinks
into a weed-ridden lot. Paper birch bark curls and peels
like old paint, back porch banisters splinter.
Parked trucks rust, houses shrink, and garden sheds
sag to the side. In small gardens, beetles chew
tomato plants into long rows of shredded skeletons.
A robin’s nest falls from a tree, baby birds smashed
on the street below. A hopscotch game fades,
a faint outline like a chalk drawing from a crime scene.
And children, still chanting the old nursery rhyme,
jump over places where sidewalks buckle, where
tree roots grow and push pavement blocks out of place.
They are afraid that even an untied shoelace, a slip,
a fall, will demolish what is left around them.
Matheus Lopes, A Way Out
On Berteau Avenue
Lines so deep in his face they are small ravines.
A few yellowed teeth ride the wave of his jaw,
as he tells me about his trip with his father
to a greyhound track in the sixties. His hand
strokes my dog’s long face. She leans into him.
“We were leaving, and he said to me, ‘This
is the losers’ pen.’ And sure enough, a guy comes out
and puts them down, one by one,” his free hand
a gun now, recoiling one, two, three times.
“Twenty of them,” he says. “I said, ‘Get me the hell
out of here, dad.’” He shakes his head. Eyes wet
with cold or old sorrow revivified, he looks down
at my sweet greyhound. “You’re safe now,” he coos.
“You’ve got a good home.” And as if on cue,
she peels away from his legs to lean
against mine. He returns to his shovel,
boots crunching on fresh, white snow.