2016 Blog

Pushcart Nominations 2016

We’re happy to announce our nominations for the Pushcart this year!!

With each year of our existence, we continue to be both astonished and devastated by the talent and work of our authors that we publish. Read our nominees below and join us in celebrating their work.

Chelsea DingmanObedience
Trista EdwardsEquinox
Ángel GarcíaAntipode II 
Hannah Lee JonesDaughter of Cain
Phillip Scott MandelI Swallowed The Sword Of Shannara And Lived To Tell This Tale About It 
Anna Doogan – Heart(lands)

2016 Poetry

José Angel Araguz


When the man begging
on the train begins
his penitent’s stumble
and sway, the car thrusts
into silence. After each
of his God-bless-you’s
I feel myself bend,
neck yawed at first,
then fully craned.
The heads of others
bob and tremble
when he passes.
Were he to catch fire,
would I move,
would anyone cower
at the breaking light,
would anyone bother,
open their eyes to see
the hand of the god
whose hammer clanks
and clangs in rhythm
with the rattle
of the train
buckling along
in the dark.


When something like this breaks, it means
we must swarm around the narrow
stairway, our steps slower, the pace
set according to our sighs. Each
glance and gesture becomes a word.
My looking down and waiting speaks
to the old woman next to me:
after you. All the stars left in
the sky, all the calls and blinking
messages, the wintered sorrow
of all passing thoughts must now wait
until we are level again –
wait as we take turns returning
to our lives. When something like this
breaks, it means the words I wanted
to write before are different from
the ones I have got down for you.
These words are older than you think.


José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of six chapbooks as well as the collection Everything We Think We Hear (Floricanto Press). His poems, prose, and reviews have appeared in RHINO Poetry, New South, and The Volta Blog. A current PhD candidate at the University of Cincinnati, he runs the poetry blog The Friday Influence. A second collection, Small Fires, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.

2016 Poetry

Emily Rose Cole


After the burial—white ash, clay pot,
my tongue heavy as stone—I return
to this land whose language lacks
a word for home, this city

whose name I always
want to write
                         to lose.

In the park I watch the wind
crumple a small girl’s kite
under Pont Neuf’s center arch.

She wails.
                             The wind wails back

& I wish it would take me too,
pitch me up to join this carillon,
this terror of mourning.


I haven’t spoken in days.
In the courtyard, crows gather
dusk’s last light in their wings.
                                                        I lift my head—

they say the wind here cries
itself mad and I imagine a lost girl
grieving through the streets at night.

If I swallowed that wind,
would my tongue turn
to the clapper of a bell?
                                           Could I sing again?


The moon spools over the semis,
broken string of stars wheeling above the gas wells
that belch back their shine like a buzzard’s black eye.

October, & slush crusts the gutted asphalt, ice squealing
in the treads of the trucks that huff down Main Street, all day,
all night, waste water trailing them.

Can anyone here sleep anymore? Is there any road left
that leads somewhere I love? At the window, I search
for anything living. There—autumn’s last bats dive
& scatter, their wings sawing down the sky.


Emily Rose Cole is a writer and lyricist from Pennsylvania. She has received awards from Jabberwock Review, Ruminate Magazine, and the Academy of American Poets, and her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, Spoon River Poetry Review, Yemassee, and Passages North, among others. She holds an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is currently a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati. You can reach her on Twitter via @EmilyColeWrites or via her website at

2016 Poetry

Terrell Jamal Terry


I was sleeping inside my head
I walked with someone throughout a house
Empty of all furnishings
Stem of the city morning
I couldn’t enslave or extend it
My castle of blemishes
Why do you never see them see you
Without seeing feathery flames?
Bereft of the sun, I would not hold
I could sink into incivility
I can be an idiot
I claimed the walls were cages
Sometimes they were not
In the attic of other ways
I still mean every sound
The orange ball dips into the river
Liquid neon light
If I hide in a boat (gloomstricken)
I’d have to jump out
That’s not giving up
Write this down
I want a red composition
I want a blue composition
I want it black
For a stretch of time
A scar across memory


Terrell Jamal Terry is the author of Aroma Truce (Black Lawrence Press, 2017). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Literary Review, Green Mountains Review, West Branch, The Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Columbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA.



2016 Poetry

Monica Lewis

“first kiss”

we will meet each other like hawks who, at first tender, soon nip, nip nip nipping until tiny cries pierce out, deep from our guts, talons clawing the bark of the conifer to fine dust. i a sharp-shinned hawk (accipiter stratus) only slightly more pale and spare than you, will be caught in my tree, at just about its height, in the night, and it will be my eyes, orange lit moons flitting through the leaves that pull you, you a black sparrow hawk (accipiter melanoleucus), somehow drawn north, now lost, black belly, white breast, with a dove in your beak. you’ll not know i’ve not eaten in weeks, and that this hunger has been a choice. i am white-breasted, black-backed, so when we flutter together we become one monster bird of night and light. you’ll first offer the dove, and we will share the feathered flesh, the snapping bones, until below us, the tree seems dusted in snow and then you will kiss the gold of my cere. i will hook my bill into your nape. you’ll wiggle your bill down into mine. this close, you’ll notice my underparts are blue-gray, a startling flash of topaz when flecked by light. and your belly glistens both night and day, like a black beetle’s shell. like a black beetle’s shell, we are hard, yet smooth, soft if touched gently, cracking to ooze if pecked at and with this nip nip nipping it is clear, we will not let up till we’ve nipped to the juice.

“(lies to tell yourself when you are sad or happy or drunk or sober or woke or dreaming):”

they love you
no one loves you

you love yourself

love exists, but only in
inhuman things,

a tree or the sea sexed in sun or moonlight
a pup’s tongue,
a spider’s precise,
skinny, scattering sprint,
the sleep-waking space,
the blinking licks,
the dusky/dawny/drunk/druggy in-betweens

on the ledge, on the edge,
still sprung.

how we both always know:

you saw my status
i saw your status
you saw my text
i saw your text
you saw my tag
i saw your tag
you tweet\i tweet
you saw my retweet
my snap, my IG

you saw, i saw, you saw my saw,
i saw you saw my saw, until finally,
one of us saw a saw seen more than the last saw,
so the lies i tell myself when i am see-sawing?

life is a mirror, like the tree, like the sea
like you see and i see but we are flicking,
fading, stunk-dead bugs, so what do we do
slipping into seas and trees,
still hitting refresh, refresh, refresh?


Monica Lewis
lives in Brooklyn, New York and holds an MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts. Both her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The James Franco Review and her poetry in FLAPPERHOUSE, Breadcrumbs, and the anthology, TOUCHING: Poems of Love, Longing, and Desire by Fearless Books. She is a VONA/Voices alumna, an assistant editor for NOON, and the Media Director for The James Franco Review.

2016 Poetry

Theodora Ziolkowski

Kraków, Poland

In the salt cathedral below ground,
our guide tells us couples say their vows
before the salt virgin,
in view of the salt Pope John Paul II.

Above ground, I ate zapiekankas in the Rynek Główny,
thought I tasted ghosts in the raspberry syrup
the barman pumped in my beer.
My cousin Anna gave me an amber necklace,
stories her daughter Gosia translated
into English from her mother’s native tongue.

Crammed into the Wieliczka elevator
with the other tourists and their cameras,
souvenir salt lamps and maps,
I try not to look down
as we rattle to the surface:
the ground everywhere and nowhere,
arm to arm and waist to waist,
drawn by my ancestors’ hands —
vacationers peopling the bucket.


I believe in the impression
              the moon left on my makeup,

              the narrow gap in October
              that makes my sister a Scorpio

              and me a Libra, but I do not
              believe in the cookie that said

              Time heals all wounds
              Keep your chin up

And to think I felt sorry the cookie
              was already cracked when the waitress

              left it, which is why I gave my husband
              the whole one and saved the broken one

              for myself. My husband and I differ
              in the following ritual: He believes

              we must finish the cookie before
              reading its contents, whereas I know

              we are not the first to accept what
              is freely offered — a worm can tap

              out the heart of a fruit — and so I will
              not indulge in what could be rotting within.

When I say it is only in photographs
              that a woman is able to measure

              her own transformation,
              I am speaking hypothetically.

              Because to behold a body at its breaking
              point is as comfortless as the fortune implying

              this woman has all the time in the world,
              when the woman in this story is not the woman

              in every story. Of what we offer this woman
              to destroy, may this presumption be among them.


Excuseless, to repeatedly pass
through revolving glass doors,

the whoosh of my entrance
and exit magnificent. Call it

magic. I curate my shopping
to nude-colored clothing,

picture the witch’s legs
swallowed by a fallen house

when I flick off the fitting
room lights. I drive daily past

cemeteries. Put pressure
on the gas while holding

my breath, refusing to
exhale before I skirt past.

I am most aware
of how time flies in

the morning to the extent
it takes me to dress,

wait for my mirror to blow
me a kiss before I show it

my trick: Now watch me
pull a corpse from my hat.


Theodora Ziolkowski’s poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in Glimmer Train, Arts & Letters, Prairie Schooner, and Short FICTION (England), among other journals, anthologies, and exhibits. A chapbook of her prose, Mother Tongues, won The Cupboard’s 2015 contest (judged by Matt Bell); Finishing Line Press published a chapbook of her poems, A Place Made Red, also in 2015.

2016 Poetry

Nicole Santalucia


My brain is leftover cake in the freezer;
it’s trapped in a ziploc bag
and if the freezer ever stops freezing
my cake brain will melt.
The chocolate frosting looks like blood
and this bag of brains begins to rot.
My brain is cold out here in Pennsylvania
where black and white gunshots
echo above the train tracks,
where trains carry boxes full of hearts
pass the prison… where I sit now
with Rashanya and Elizabeth and Chelsea;
we sit in a cold cinderblock room
wearing red shirts and pants.
We heat up Pennsylvania from behind bars.


but not the one baking in the sun at the bus stop
or the worm that my brother made me eat when I was 7.
This worm has never been cut in half;
it doesn’t come out when it rains.
The worms in New York and the ones in Pennsylvania
are related to god and sometimes I smell them in a drinking glass
fresh out of the dishwasher. I swear that the difference between
the worm that is god and the worms that live in our guts
has made me regurgitate my desire to drink, swallow it again, then recite
Emily Dickinson, but in my recitation I get the words wrong.
Instead of a narrow fellow in the grass I imagine something narrow
and sly in my pants.


The cows and apple trees and tractor trailers
thump between the prison yard and the university.
Sometimes I chase a heard of cows out of my classroom
and the earth thumps. The word of the lord thumps.
The word thump breaks my ribs. Brown battery operated
cows thump through traffic. Factories thump and farmers
thump. The warehouses are full of thumps. The sky thumps
to the ground when I get home from work and kiss my wife.
When two women fall asleep in the same bed
the stars thumpthumpthumpthumpthump
like bullets that have been hovering
over our heads since the beginning of time.


Nicole Santalucia is the author of Because I Did Not Die (Bordighera Press). She is a recipient of the Ruby Irene Poetry Chapbook Prize from Arcadia Magazine for Driving Yourself to Jail in July and the Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize from The Tishman Review. She received her M.F.A. from The New School University and her Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University. Santalucia teaches poetry at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and brings poetry workshops into the Cumberland County Prison.

2016 Poetry

Ashley Mares


Give me, my love, the fragments
of your prayers: the remnants

                            of your bones. Remember
                            that time our bones crashed

into each other: how
our bodies broke but nobody

                            noticed. Tell me how this
                            is your sea: the constant flow

of prayers: if the words soak
long enough in the waters

                            then they dissolve into bones, into
                            the hope from our wet eyes.

Show me, my love, your open
wounds: your veins like the

                            currents. Show me your folded
                            hands: how your fingers

come together like a
ribcage. How folded hands

                            keep your heart in place. Tell
                            me: what it does it mean to be

together, to be


This is how my body began unravelling: I heard
a raven sing into my bones – let’s plan

a murder: a gathering. A longing of unpinned
lungs. And I remembered this: a man’s

hands…a deboning. How a piece of me falls
while my body appears whole. I never

understood this: how a young girl’s prayer
can say somebody love me and the words

raise goose bumps on tree limbs like a cool
breeze. How spirits aid: filling the night air like

constellations. I let them rest in my
ribcage: this is enough to keep my body

breathing. Because my body says please,
says no more. I fled deep into

the forest: into tree limbs – how I clutched them
like they were my mother’s outstretched

arms. I remember feeling the moonlight sink
into my skin: how my lungs opened. How my

bones ached. And I saw that my ribs were fashioned
from my mother’s hope. She always said to honey

my prayers with words like be with me
always. And so I learned what it meant to be

broken yet whole: be marked by a prayer that
says, Lord, love me until my dying day. How

these body aches allow a young girl to feel
spirits inside her lungs: be gathering among

the star-scattered sky and see how pinkened
skin means breathe, means enough.


Ashley Mares has poetry that has appeared or is forthcoming in Menacing Hedge, Whale Road Review, Rogue Agent, Hermeneutic Chaos, Whiskey Island, The Indianola Review, White Stag, and others. She is currently completing her J.D. in Monterey, Ca, where she lives with her husband. Read more of her poetry at and follow her @ash_mares2.

2016 Poetry

John Andrews


This song is Scheherazade sweet:
take cover immediately. And my husband,
more so future husband, more so storm

chaser follows the wind north when
the beat drops. The emergency radio sings:
there are already two dead a few counties

over and the wind wants more bones,
a sycamore spine white as ivory,
like the one in the front yard humming

spring. I need a song to drown out
the breeze. My hands can’t conduct anything
anymore, can’t herd our black cat

back from the window, can’t convince
the dog into the bathtub, can’t count
4/4 well enough to lay a needle on red

dirt records without shaking like the night
we met. You asked me to hold your pitcher,
I did. I asked you to stay till morning.

You did. Come back out of the wind,
I want to hear the unchained shower
melody you sang me awake with

the next morning. Put the track on
repeat, hide in the darkest room,
in the darkest corner, dig my teeth

into my knees, till the storm ends.


John Andrews’ first book, Colin is Changing His Name, is forthcoming from Sibling Rivalry Press in Fall 2017 and was a finalist for the 2015 Moon City Poetry Prize. Other work has previously appeared in Redivider, Assaracus, Burnt District, Pembroke Magazine, and others. Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Oklahoma State University where he serves as an Associate Editor for the Cimarron Review.

2016 Poetry

Will Cordeiro


Again the baths are running
              or maybe they’re only laughing
where logic’s turned white

noise. Hallways ricochet soft
              thunder. Each voice is counterfeit.
Needles serpentine crewel-

work our young failed suicide
              keeps stitching—every second
thought’s a fruit embalmed in

juice. Our afternoon’s used up
              without a lick of booze. The young
widow stares at the mantelpiece,

which must mean something,
              must. The few returning
from our garden (plump

pumpkins whose faces now
              collapse; stiff weeds gone limp
in beds) lift sheets and fall

to endless sleep. The harpist’s open
              eyes resemble sucker centers; her shock
of hair, like brainwaves leaking.

Lockdown at five. Faint rusted
              wires. Warped chain-links catching
dusk. A chill. The pill-pink flakes

of paint along my toenails dust
              as I pull up my starched, stained
sheet. Florescent lights seem injured;

the trees, unnerved. A bored nurse
              blurs on waxen floors. And cursed,
each gurney squeaks. One fat,

last housefly twitches on the sill.


All the people were life size, even the dwarfs. Do not—do not, I say!—finish reading this sentence. Now we have a “situation” on our hands. Oviparous as language, as anything expelling eggs from its hole. Then a rain came to wash away the scent of rain. A great line of ants wriggled into and out of the inkpot. Windows conjured us translucent. Sputnik and spattered, every bijou a catchall. A twist-off. Offshore or outsourcing, these were merely some of the variant texts. While the health inspectors no longer termed it a smoke break, the dancing bears went on bumming their cigarettes. Blips at the checkout, bleeps on the newscast. Nonetheless, an effluent flubbing around. Yup, it’s halfway between a grape and a raisin—feel it yourself if you want to. I should have specified: like reading Gombrowicz, that kind of squishy. No, more like the illegitimate stillborn of mathcore and screamo. Do-nothings thumbing their noses, docents tsk-tsk-ing. A murk-making muck-about, that’s what he was. Notable for his attached earlobes. Salamandrine and twitchy, whatever got eyeballed. Light like an avalanche, light going into shock. Splutters of doohickeys, spasms of gitchygoo. As the flat earth went bucking and buckled like a mechanical bull. Such back-and-forth -upmanship, all part of the game. These arguing mirrors. Dear hot-pants, milord, Mister Ass Master, O the jiggy-bit jailbait of jazzercise butt! You’re just another sheep poet, if you will. Afraid to merz up the dictionary. For we live, indeed, in a time of signs and wonders, no less at present than in the days of prophets. Stop with your deodorized blurb-droppings, y’ol’ goot! The violence is that the violence is most often erased. Buddy up with the pain; there’s a peen and a poon, one on each body. Now inflict such dialectic on your thoughts. Ad blitzes for those ticked off were on the uptick. “—It just, guh, pulled the wool right out from under me!” Icecaps that crackup, mantels dismantled. And what, you’re worried about uninstalled updates? See, I polished off another; I’ll take it to my masterclass next week. This-all so-called downheaval of curators, au pairs, and other factotums. Rural-ish realists getting medieval. So my therapist insisted, one stray look could collapse quantum states. Of course, the weather still mattered, residual rainfall, the wind chill and chilblains, the whole savage fallout, notwithstanding the chattering classes.


Will Cordeiro received his MFA and Ph.D. from Cornell University. His work appears or is forthcoming in BOAAT, Copper Nickel, Cortland Review, Crab Orchard Review, Drunken Boat, Fourteen Hills, New Madrid, Painted Bride Quarterly, Phoebe, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Whiskey Island, and elsewhere. He is grateful for a scholarship from Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a Truman Capote Writer’s Fellowship as well as residencies from ART 342, Blue Mountain Center, Ora Lerman Trust, Risley Residential College, and Petrified Forest National Park. He lives in Flagstaff, where he is a faculty member in the Honors Program at Northern Arizona University.