Every year, hundreds of presses nominate poems, short stories, and novel excerpts for the Pushcart Prize. Pushcart Press has been judging and publishing the winning selections in its annual collection, Best of the Small Presses, since 1976. "The Pushcart Prize," writes the editor, "has been a labor of love and independent spirits since its founding. It is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 60's."
Ancient Paths is pleased to announce the nomination of six poems for the Pushcart Prize:
AQUACATE by Douglas Brandow
GOD'S NEW CLOTHES by Edward Ahern
CARRYING BOOKS by Damian Jay Clay
A GARDEN OF EDEN by Yevgeniya Przhebelskaya
AMALA by Andy Conner
A THANK YOU NOTE, SIXTY YEARS LATER by Derek Kannemeyer
All six of these poems were published in Ancient Paths Online in 2018.
Ancient Paths has been publishing quality literature on subtle religious themes for two decades. Seventeen issues of the magazine were published in print from 1998 to 2012, when Ancient Paths became an online publication. The magazine was a 2000 Writer's Digest National ‘Zine Publishing Awards Merit Winner. To follow Ancient Paths online, visit the Facebook page and like the page. You can read the full text of the nominated poems below. Best of luck to the Ancient Paths nominees!
by Douglas Brandow
The wound was superficial
but we dressed it anyway,
the peroxide dripping off his wrist
onto his pants and then the floor:
the pickup had careened off the road,
dropping into a ditch.
Ephraim smiled, "Muchas gracias!"
It rained hard, thundering.
The voices of the seminarians singing Vespers
could be heard above the storm.
Later, they filled balloons
and prepared tortillas for the coming feast:
the parish priest was returning
from a distant city on a distant mountain
and they missed him.
While he was present darkness was far away
and memories of the guns faded,
merging into sounds of Winter rain.
The cross on the church was still there
after all those years.
GOD'S NEW CLOTHES
by Edward Ahern
So little left of the old garments.
The fewer and older priests
face us robed in apologies.
Shrill tailors of God's message.
Costumed nuns have died away
replaced by off the rack laity.
The churning suits and dresses
That draped across the pews
have worn thin and sparse.
And churches are cast off
Like Good Will overcoats.
And strictures are raggedly observed.
Yet some of us still wear faith,
Displaying hand-me-downs in a church
no longer fashionable.
We're not dressed as we were,
and unsure of holy style,
but hopeful of our future ensemble.
(for Alistair Wisker)
by Damian Jay Clay
A month after you died
we emptied your study.
Your wife said, Take this down
then handed me a bin bag
full of clothes.
Your piebald jumper
was at the top.
For Simon, it was your black sandals,
thrown carelessly in the bin,
looking like bits of bats
or broken umbrellas.
We filled the boxes.
Still, we needed more –
each tome and folder
expanded as we packed.
On a shelf, books
are light and ordered.
Packed into boxes –
backbreaking and lost.
When the room was empty
I remembered a day in February:
I watched the snow fall
as you talked about Eliot
and Hemingway, the joyful specificity
of violence within my prose,
the use of dashes –
A GARDEN OF EDEN
by Yevgeniya Przhebelskaya
I got cut in line to the shower
by my incontinent father-in-law.
In the summer heat,
our household is reverting into Eden
with an overgrown adult in diapers,
and two caregivers
blissfully splitting chores.
walks, like a metronome,
back and forth
to the bathroom.
He knows pain,
but he does not remember it.
He remembers love:
It is like this poem -
tired, but not ashamed.
by Andy Conner
Hands a small, white flannel
To a woman
With two small boys
In socks and shoes
Than she makes in a year
Amala wonders how
One so meticulous
Washes her hands
Of good manners
In her sterile airport uniform
Through the plate glass expanse
At the big birds
On the tarmac
Amala peeks at the big birds
Preparing to migrate
She’s never heard of
In the other universe
Amala hums a film song
Peeks at the non-regulation colours
On her toenails
Beneath her sterile airline uniform
With no customer to hand
Takes a small
Wipes the taps
With a silent smile
With a silent prayer
Wipes the taps
Kisses the flannel
Then wipes again
For the extra shine
That just might
At His own reflection
At her shoeless fledglings
And grant them flight
[Footnote: Amala means ‘hope’ in Arabic and ‘pure’ in Hindi.]
A THANK YOU NOTE, SIXTY YEARS LATER
by Derek Kannemeyer
The boy who pried my wife from the sea's
sea snake jowls when she was eight years
old must be what, eighty now? If he's
battled through its tug and suck to here.
She never learned who he was: some kid
swimming thereabouts who saw her flail.
Whose hands winkled her up high then slid
shed of her, safe out of the sea's swell.
She sat, hard, in the shallows. She shook
off a sputter of surf and blinked clean.
She saw his two spindly knees crook
and pivot; his pink heels kick and drain.
No one noticed. She never told. I'm
not sure, really, gratitude's the word
for that glazed churn of the heart, sometimes,
when disaster hasn't quite occurred;
doesn't seem real enough to have done;
world in its sky again. We should write
a note, to thank something, thank someone.
But it's just the old miracles. Breath. Light.