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Pushcart Nominees

Each year the CQ editors nominate especially fine poems

from our published CQ issues for the Pushcart Prize.

Congratulations to our 2016 Pushcart nominees:

 

Outsider Among Nuns by Carrie Johnson

                    from CQ Vol. 41, No. 4

Because by Craig Cotter

                    from CQ Vol. 42, No. 1

Avila Beach, 1911 by Russell Bunge

                    from CQ Vol. 42, No. 2

Voices We Might Hear by Marilyn Robertson

                    from CQ Vol. 42, No. 2

The Wind Up Russian Gulch by Jeff Ewing

                    from CQ Vol. 42, No. 3

Rain by Rosemary Ybarra-Garcia

                    from CQ Vol. 42, No. 4

 

We present the six poems in the pages below.

OUTSIDER AMONG NUNS

They are what I want to be, made of steel simplicity,
and knowing that I won’t be, let me tag along, anyway,
a refugee from the outer place they also flee.
With eager gratitude, I weed the chapel garden,

and go boldly into dark woods, to clean the graves.

Rain fell through a mesh of tree boughs,
tapped-tapped here and there on fallen leaves,
and former fallen leaves, mulching it all
into the sweet fragrance of decay.
I did not pray for the dead sisters who,
bedded down side by side in silent absorption,
all appetites surrendered to perpetuity,

wanted for nothing from those above ground and hungry.

One late night in Rome, I found churches everywhere
with doors and depths open to the street. Inside each,
against the wall, a crowded stadium of candle flames
lent room, always, for another. And I, a foreigner alone

in dark hours, seated my prayer among them, and let it blaze.

So it was, when the nuns in denim habits
showed up where the graves and I were, with potato chips,
Lays hosts for all, a welcome dry wafer on the tongue in rain,
but better yet, communion
in that rapture of a salty crisp crush in the mouth

it’s just human to love.

                               Carrie Johnson

                   San Diego, California

BECAUSE

In tribute to "Breakfast" by Diane Wakoski

We were driving

unpopulated New Mexico

no people that is

going north

or some other direction

summer, blue sky

your poetry

                        taking us

when "Because" came on

from Abbey Road.

We were driving west

or some other direction

their voices tiled

New Mexico.

You sat beside me

as my CRX flew east

or some other direction

more perfect

than nipping basil

on the poached egg

because we weren't alone.

                                        Craig Cotter

                                        Pasadena, California

AVILA BEACH, 1911

The sun in May shines down
on a few buildings and pier
that are the town, white.
The ocean is brown, the waves,

white against white-brown sand.

A photographer stands on the pier;
his camera on a tripod
is facing away from the sun
toward the hills, too close
to focus on any sky or horizon.
And there, in a field, a girl
is held poised, forever,

gathering blue-eyed grass and poppies.

In time, the photograph has yellowed,
the paper has cracked brown
through the white waves; and the hills,
the closeness of the hills

has turned brittle and has flaked away.

And the differences,
what would they be,
if the girl had never sat in that field,

nor picked those wildflowers?

 

                              Russell Bunge

                             San Luis Obispo, California

VOICES WE MIGHT HEAR

The wind says, It’s so far.

The trees say, It’s so close.

The wind says, Time is growing short.

The trees say, Roots are good to have.

They argue like this all afternoon.

Meanwhile, across a field, sheep graze

on the last of the green, and two standing stones,

having solved all their differences, praise the silence.

                                        Marilyn Robertson

                                        Felton, California

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