2022 Pushcart Prize Nominees
Giving thanks to our writers this Thanksgiving holiday, EIL is pleased to announce its Pushcart Prize nominees in 2022:
“One day he decided he wanted to live”
by Richard Jones, published January 6, 2022
“Dispatch from Planet H” beginning, “I stand in a dark landscape…”
by Julie Brooks Barbour, published March 9, 2022
“Someone Just Like You”
by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, published August 3, 2022, in Dog Days
“A Nurse’s Aide Walks Home at Midnight”
by Karen Weyant, published September 5, 2022, for Labor Day
“How Gratitude Finds You”
by Bethany Reid, published September 5, 2022, for Labor Day
by Patricia McMillen, published September 11, 2022
…and with ongoing thanks to Bill Henderson and the Editors at Pushcart Press for all they do for writers and small presses!!
Please click the links to see these poems in the context of their original publication in Escape Into Life, and, for your convenience, here they are gathered below, in a new context!
One day he decided he wanted to live
in Vienna, to waste the summer musing,
maybe all of autumn, too, drinking sweet
tea in cafes and eating Sachertorte, listening
to Mozart and Brahms. He took a tour
of Freud’s house and wanted to lie down
on the famous sofa and tell the doctor
his dreams and who his mother was.
Walking the avenues in the twilight
the world became a system of symbols
he could not explain but found charming.
Sometimes he would jot foreign phrases
he would whisper for their exquisite sound.
When winter came to his narrow room,
he wrote many elegies for the Viennese light.
Dispatch from Planet H
I stand in a dark landscape. Only stones and stars attend me. My voice cracks after months of disuse. Then a steady, clear peal. After what seems a long time, another person speaks into the air. I answer back. She turns her face to me. She resembles stones and stars in her solitude. Surely she is my own reflection. Who else would stand here with me? Then she moves in her separate place. She calls again, sounds nothing like me. For a while, only the two of us lifting voices. The sky awash with stars.
Someone Just Like You
Have you ever met someone
who reminded you of yourself?
Is this world large enough to
house someone that is just like you?
Would this person be as mean
and cold just like you could be?
Would this person be kind at
heart like you could be sometimes?
Is it too much to ask for?
I think I would rather have a dog,
who could guard the door and keep
my doppelgänger away from me.
A Nurse’s Aide Walks Home at Midnight
Tonight, it’s Snoopy scrubs, a loose braid,
and a small bruise on her cheek,
where old Mr. Richards, lost in a smog
of dementia, lashed out, thinking she
was someone who once hurt him.
Her sneakers slap the sidewalk as she dodges
sidewalk cracks, and passes two closed restaurants,
a dusty antique store, and a church,
its sign tells her Repent, For the End is Near.
Near Dusty’s Bar & Grill, last call is ending,
and those spilling out the front door whistle
and call to her, Take My Temperature Baby.
She thinks of Mrs. Dillon who once
taught Sunday School and now mutters
Bible verses in her sleep. She thinks about
Mr. Benson who used to bartend and how he
amuses her by illustrating mixed drink
recipes with a cafeteria combination of coffee,
cream and sugar. At the corner of Chestnut
and Main she thinks about stopping
at the one open convenience store for a hot dog
or a bag of beef jerky. In five hours,
she will be up again, in six, covering a shift for a friend
whose daughter is sick. She lights a cigarette,
breathes in smoke, lemon hand lotion
and antiseptic cleansers, and turns to head home.
How Gratitude Finds You
He sits hunched over the coffeeshop counter
cleaning and reassembling a carburetor,
his tools a toothbrush and screwdriver.
A coffee cup at his elbow, a pack
of Marlboros, red and white, crumpled
beside it. The waitress fills his coffee
and you watch her face as he flirts,
her brief smile. You were once
that waitress, and that young,
standing on the dented linoleum
pretending to care for the sweet-talk
of some gaunt hobo though you knew
he hadn’t money for a tip.
It’s Thanksgiving, the restaurant nearly empty,
your own family sitting at the table
at home without you, taking hands to pray
over their meal. Carburetor man
gathers his things and goes outside.
Flare of a match in the parking lot
beyond your window, his cupped hands.
Smoke wafting like grace,
like the gratitude that slips over you,
a warm blanket over thin shoulders.
For the hot turkey sandwich you eat alone.
For the knowledge that tomorrow
you’ll be home. Gratitude for this man’s life,
and for the young waitress, wringing
out a towel and scrubbing the counter clean.
Poor old god. We’re all you’ve got
and not nearly as smart
or pretty as you hoped.
Poor old god!
We’ve wrecked your best planet,
without leaving so much as a thank you note.
Poor old god. We’ve no way to repay you,
no way to remake you
even with our opposable thumbs, our billion-neuron brains.
All we can do is wish you
better luck next time,
more resilient tigers, frogs with teeth,
and put the banyan tree in charge.