Pushcart Prize Nominations
for poems published in 2016
Julie Brooks Barbour, “No Exchange”
Published August 3, 2016
Jennifer Finstrom, “I Confide in Helen of Troy About My Divorce”
Published February 10, 2016
Erin Coughlin Hollowell, “In vessels that sail, my words sail”
Published November 9, 2016
Richard Jones, “Father and Son”
Published August 10, 2016
Catherine Moore, “Luttra Woman”
Published October 26, 2016
Janeen Pergrin Rastall, “After the Attack”
Published November 16, 2016
Please enjoy these wonderful poems plucked from the poets’ solo features here at Escape Into Life or from special follow-up poetry features, such as our Dog Days poems. You can click on each poet’s name to see more work, or on the links listed at the end, and click here to see more wonderful dog portraits by Elke Vogelsang. As always, it was difficult to choose our Pushcart nominations from all the fine work we share with you, and we encourage you to support the annual Pushcart Prize anthology to find more wonderful poetry and prose!
I would not put a price on the first dog
I loved. I would not pawn her triangular ears
or the food stuck in her jaw
that I massaged loose. What is dear
cannot be coined or managed by a till.
Her sharp bark was reserved for motion
in her domain, whether man or squirrel.
Her paws could not bear the cold
ground covered with snow. No exchange
for those quirks. No exchange for
her prance or the turn of her head.
Blame me for sentimentality, that old bore.
When she died, I reduced her life to ashes.
I keep her close with no cash value.
I Confide in Helen of Troy about my Divorce
but she finds husbands boring.
So I tell her about old admirers,
where they are now. I show her
an email from one that I know will
interest her. He’s an archaeologist,
going to Sparta. “Can you believe it?”
I ask. He writes, “It’s my birthday…
I’m drunk. I’m 48. So have a good
night, sweetie.” But she is only
interested in the part where he’s
going to Sparta. She thinks that
he is looking for her, back when
she was young, in the years
before there were husbands.
In vessels that sail, my words sail
Consider me washing dishes
after dinner. A bowl, a ladle,
small chime of teaspoons.
Outside, the mountain is the elegant
magician’s assistant. Watch as the sun
cuts her in half.
Now she hides behind low clouds that glow.
Now the big reveal. Light and vapor.
If I could shoot
this beauty into your breast like a clean
If I could open you up
to the grace and plunge of water
sluicing over a white and blue
Oh Mother, I would
fill you to brimming with this shine,
Show you how a strand of spider-silk,
connecting the nothing
in front of me with the nothing
yet to come, sparks as it sails
on the unseen air.
Father and Son
Riding his bike home from middle school,
a car struck William—
the car gunning fast into moving traffic,
the driver looking the other way.
Pushing the ruined bike with its kinked tires,
William somehow made it home.
still wearing his black helmet,
he showed me the bent handlebars,
the stripped metal cables like torn veins.
I looked to see if he was hurt
then held him as he wept against my chest.
The mangled bike on the lawn,
I opened the door and brought him inside the house.
They had my skin, these snails, mottled, etched in brown scars. As did the bloodworms slick with this oil-dark world inching for seed. And the raspberry plant roots were whiskered like an old chin. We almost looked the same underground— clay made, soft spread. My face would always be twenty, though, if it had survived.
After the Attack
the examination room makes
her shiver. All the Woman’s Day
cover girls smile up with plump lips
from a basket beside the bed.
She concentrates on how
the paper sheet crackles
when her calves quiver, how her thigh
bruises blend into the gown’s
periwinkled hem. When the doctor presses
open her legs, she clutches
the bed rails, above her shoulder,
a landscape: blue skies,
field shimmers. Sheaves of wheat
graze rays of light. Among the crops,
a dark aisle grows. A man slices
a furrow beyond the mat, the frame.
Only she can hear the swing of his blade.