2017 Pushcart Nominations

Our 2017 nominations were selected from Weaving the Terrain: 100-Word Southwestern Poems, the third collection in our series, Poetry of the American Southwest.

  • “Dream: Taos” by Virginia Barrett
  • “Cementerios de Nuevo Mexico” by Gregory Louis Candela
  • “La Llorona as Barfly” by Pat M. Kuras
  • “Vanishing History” by Kate D Padilla
  • “Proof” by Steven Schroeder
  • “The Hoodoos” by Karen Skolfield
    Back to top »

    2016 Pushcart Nominations

    Our 2016 Nominations were selected from Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, Circumference of Light by Bruce Noll, and the 2017 Texas Poetry Calendar.

  • “Kaddish” by Carol Alena Aronoff, published June 2016 in Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems
  • “Grief” by Robin Bradford, published June 2016 in Texas Poetry Calendar 2017
  • “From the Gage Hotel” by Lesley Clinton, published June 2016 in Texas Poetry Calendar 2017
  • “Not Yet” by Bruce Noll, published September 2016 in Circumference of Light
  • “Angelina Sees Father Damian Again” by Alana Torrez, published June 2016 in Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems
  • “I Am Rose” by Loretta Diane Walker, published June 2016 in Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems
  • Kaddish

    Mi esposo wanders the mesa finding solace on the rim of moonless night.
    Miguel, born of conquistadors, bears secrets whispered only in the night.

    Along the Rio Grande, he hears the shofar of his ancestors calling him to pray.
    Fragments of psalms passed through la sangre, he recites before bed each night.

    How can he wear two faces without confusion or regret? Without giving himself away?
    His heart is weighed down by the santos he turns toward the wall each night.

    His neshama, veiled by piety, outward devotion to Catholic rite, longs to be free.
    I offer him a continent of stars and succor, as we come together to love at night.

    As rezador, he must guard the sacred texts, remember the proverbs and prayers.
    He will stand with the men in a hidden room as they daven on Shabbos night.

    During the day, he mingles, oil and water, with the trinity: culture, politics, religion.
    Bird of prey, he must watch for snakes and scorpions, relaxing vigilance only at night.

    Where is the grace in the Edict of Grace? Why does blood drip from wings of tolerance?
    Miguel writes our history with his boot in the sand, cries out his sorrow to the night.

    Eyes toward Jerusalem, he prays for a world he believes was meant to be.
    Déjame morir y ser enterrado como un judío: his last words echo through the night.

    Carol Alena Aronoff

    The speaker is a Conversa/Crypto-Jew named Isabel (Hebrew name Raquel) who lived in New Mexico with her family during the 1600’s. kaddish: memorial prayer; shofar­: ram’s horn; la sangre: blood; neshama: soul; rezador: prayer leader; daven: pray; Shabbos: Sabbath; Déjame morir y ser enterrado como un judío: Let me die and be buried as a Jew.

    Back to category top »


    The tiny lemony leaves of thyme
    still hold drops of last night’s rain.

    I want to strip
    root vegetables
    of their ugliness:
    carrots, onions,
    small potatoes,
    and beets.

    I want to walk through the world
    with my hands stained,
    with the blood of things
    that flourish
    in winter.

    Robin Bradford

    Back to category top »

    From the Gage Hotel

    we walked a bit
    to hear music

    a night train
    conjured itself

    in a theatrical sweep
    riling the stillness

    churning brine of
    elsewhere over us

    screeching friction
    pulsing at the joints

    then leaving us
    at its wake

    as the restless
    often do

    on doldrum nights
    this one anyway

    I forget my heart
    didn’t jump on, sail

    that forged ambition
    over waves of desert

    I startle to find it
    still in my chest

    Lesley Clinton

    Back to category top »

    Not Yet

    He was there again
    last night, the quiet footman
    waiting by the bed.

    In all that quiet
    on the edge of dark he knew
    I lay still, not dead.

    I was full aware
    of his indifferent patience;
    neither of us spoke.

    It was not my time
    for him to bend and help me
    slip into that yoke.

    Bruce Noll

    Back to category top »

    Angelina Sees Father Damián Again

    Padre, I had never met
    a person so far from home.
    Your eyes like scurrying beetles

    afraid of bigger things,
    afraid your god —
    that pale sun —
    would diffuse.

    My tongue molded words
    like hierba and fuego
    but you did not tell me
    words are the ghosts of real things.
    Every time I spoke
    white smoke poured from my mouth.

    Did I blame you?

    Only if you counted bodies.

    The worst of the world
    sank in your skin.
    What could you do about that?
    Keep your skin.

    I grew, had children.

    If a man came to me
    with the ocean sloshing
    between his ears
    I did not stop to ask
    the name of his god.

    What grace I found
    I found
    in the open hand.

    Alana Torrez

    Angelina was a Hasinai woman who assisted Spanish missionaries active in Texas during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Written accounts from the Spanish and French provide only a few tantalizing bits of information: she left her village to learn Spanish at Mission San Juan Bautista, spent time mediating and interpreting for various parties, and helped save the life of a French officer. Damián Massanet was a Franciscan priest who in 1690 helped found San Bernardino de la Caldera in the area of Angelina’s village. Some of his writing has survived in which he mentions Angelina, particularly her “bright intellect” and “striking appearance,” in addition to noting her desire to learn Spanish.

    Back to category top »

    I Am Rose

    This is what you’ll find if you unzip history,
    music pulsing in the cage of my ribs.
    In the dark pipe of his longing,
    my man makes a song for me.
    White notes burst in his belly
    when he thinks about the full nectar of my lips.

    He keeps my name in the pocket of his tongue,
    calls me his yellow girl.
    Anonymity doesn’t keep me safe
    from the long arms of lust.
    My beauty is a magnet.

    He sings of diamonds and dew;
    the hard light of my eyes is a hammer
    drumming against hungry hands
    reaching to lift the skirt of my womanhood.

    Heat climbs down the ladder of morning
    three rungs at a time, descends on the day
    with a heavy foot; he tells me he’s leaving.
    I listen to his reasons, promises of return.
    My face waters with sweat, tears, knowing
    I will not take him back into the folds of my love.

    This quiet dusk I watch the sky float in the Rio Grande,
    dream of the waves of muscles swelling
    across his broad back, the camber of his mouth,
    hard handsome face softening when he backs
    away from me. I remember our fingers sliding
    off the cliff of our grasp, the cavern of emptiness.

    I shudder; the next touch will not be his.
    I feel the petals of my want withering
    along the pebbled-stone of distance.

    Loretta Diane Walker

    “The plaintive courtship-themed 1853 lyrics of ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’ fit the minstrel genre by depicting an African-American singer, who is longing to return to “a yellow girl,” a term used to describe a mulatto, or mixed-race female born of African-American and white progenitors. This iconic song of modern Texas and a popular traditional American tune, has experienced several transformations of its lyrics and periodic revivals in popularity since its appearance in the 1850s.” ~ The Handbook of the Texas Historical Association

    Back to category top »     Back to top »

    2015 Pushcart Nominations

    2015 Pushcart Nominees Leah Billingsley, Jane Chance, Sandra Boike Cobb, Michael Harty, Cindy Huyser, and Ricki Mandeville

    2015 Pushcart Nominees Leah Billingsley, Jane Chance, Sandra Boike Cobb, Michael Harty, Cindy Huyser, and Ricki Mandeville

    Our 2015 nominations were selected from the 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar.

  • “Tadarida Brasiliensis” by Leah Billingsley, published June 2015 in the Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, Week of June 12
  • “Enchanted Rock” by Jane Chance, published June 2015 in the Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, Week of March 20
  • “Armadillo” by Sandra Boike Cobb, published June 2015 in the Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, Week of July 10
  • “Pillagers” by Michael Harty, published June 2015 in the Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, Week of June 5
  • “Harvest” by Cindy Huyser, published June 2015 in the Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, Week of November 20
  • “Out on County Line Road” by Ricki Mandeville, published June 2015 in the Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, Week of December 27

    Tadarida Brasiliensis

    The underside of Congress Bridge where bats
    hang out all day, contains a budding storm
    that spirals loose at dusk, casts sonar nets
    to catch a million meals in tiny form.

    Bats dart through twilight air with easy swoops
    to forage on thick clouds of bugs just where
    lone egrets, swallows, swifts and droning troops
    of dragonflies criss-cross niches. Out there,

    bats don’t stay long. When feasting on the wing,
    they pass right overhead, dive out of sight.
    They take their catch, move on as lingering
    red clouds adorn the sky then swallow light.

    The bats in silence circulate through town:
    soft velvet gemstones of the Violet Crown.

    Leah Billingsley

    Back to category top »

    Enchanted Rock

    This lazy mountain
    long and pink as a lady’s thighs
    a lady lying on her side, listening
    for her lover.
    Trees blanket her long afternoon.
    Sleep and dream, woman
    whose desire time mounted
    in granite.
    You mistress

    without sin.
    Atop you a muscled wind brandishes
    cloudy fists
    to beat you around,
    stoned sister
    too tough to notice,
    and anyone who tries to move you.
    Mean the wind you never mind
    and mute the man who climbs you.

    Jane Chance

    Back to category top »

    armadillo —
    once a rambling Quonset hut
    now lies belly up

    Sandra Boike Cobb

    Back to category top »


    We must have been dizzy, must have drunk
    too deeply of all that space around us,
    city boys moved to the country, away
    from alleys and sidewalks and houses next door.

    Must have tasted the same elixir
    as conquering armies, resistance suddenly
    vanished, restraint forgotten, opportunity everywhere.
    We looked for things to ravage.

    Found an outbuilding next to the waterwell,
    laid siege with clods and rocks and BB guns.
    Not a window survived. Doorway breached,
    interior looted of its rusty machine parts,

    floor crunching with glass shards
    and we joyful amid the wreckage
    that whole summer of transgression,
    entranced by the music of smashing jars.

    Michael Harty

    Back to category top »


    Our hands open, bare
    branches in supplication.
    Our feet, creatures
    Month by month
    green dreaming of seedpods,
    the sagging weight of fruit.
    Seed case wooden as heel stack
    or plank, a habit of petals.

    Seed husks clamor
    over cluttered clay, recall
    shells so dearly spent. We want
    and wanted them; they hush
    themselves, casings crack
    beneath our boots. We bend
    beneath branches, feel litter
    stutter our fingers, see the sagging
    weight lifted. We gather shells
    we will break our teeth opening,
    so hungry for their fruit.

    Cindy Huyser

    Back to category top »

    Out on County Line Road

    Snow comes down slow and lacy. I look up into it, open
    my hands, dissolve its temporary stars on my palms.

    The silence, the night’s gauzy breath. Dark boughs
    of evergreens lined white at the roadside. Small freights

    of snow melting through my lashes. A shift: the snow grows
    urgent, whets itself against a rising wind that slants it west.

    My cheeks relish the sting, grow raw. Inside my boots
    my numb toes twitch. Go.     The mad snow globe in my chest

    whirls and bursts, spins out a little blizzard of ache and urge.
    Go.     Turn my back to the whitened hill and the house.

    Ruin the perfect pale complexion of the fields, lay down
    a trail of crumbling prints between the laden pines.

    Leave everything: my rooms and the fire, the boxes of letters
    and my books. Walk and walk in an alabaster trance.

    Plow stride by stride until nothing is familiar. My tracks filled
    level, trail erased. The broken night slashed white,

    the winter moon obscured. Trudge on, scarcely cold.
    Stumble past the last fallen fence and disappear.

    Ricki Mandeville

    Back to category top »     Back to top »

    2014 Pushcart Nominations

    Our 2014 nominations were selected from the 2015 Texas Poetry Calendar and Wingbeats II: Exercises and Practice in Poetry.

    2014 Pushcart nominees Jan Benson, Meg Day, Judy Jensen, Margaree Little, Susan Rooke, and Rebecca A. Spears

    2014 Pushcart nominees Jan Benson, Meg Day, Judy Jensen, Margaree Little, Susan Rooke, and Rebecca A. Spears

    adobe walls at dusk —
    crickets knit the names
    of the lost

    Jan Benson

    Back to category top »

    Adrift, the body senselessly resists

    Nothing is as it was. The day fully
    occupied but scarcely registered.

    The alarm of a red fox
    from field to fallow field. The flight of rock doves

    into the oaks’ open arms. Clouds hurtle
    across steel skies. To slow is to fall.

    The open hymnal, open grave, open
    uninscribable surface of water.

    Rock and root slowly draw rain up through
    grassblade and branch, leaf and rough light.

    An uncle steps forward and, wordlessly,
    tucks a daisy under, into the dirt.

    Judy Jensen

    Back to category top »

    After Some Time Has Passed, But Not Too Much Time

    The cranes in Whitewater Draw would still fly out to gather corn from the fields, coming back to the water at night, only the fields wouldn’t be kept by anyone.

    And the man who brought the horses to the wash in the morning, riding one, holding the reins of the other, would be like a ghost limb to them.

    His weight would lead them back for a week or two until they could shake it off.

    Even the thought of the memory of her would be gone, hood of her sweatshirt up, hair blowing out in the evening as you walked home.

    Warm night of wanting, of not touching her, which is a kind of story—

    The stories would become like the image of Apollo in the drawing the artist made with ink on vellum.

    In the drawing, the struggle between the god and the python is obscured by a thousand feathers scattering.

    Would the images of her scatter like that?

    Light falling across her by the pools of water you’d walked to in the Catalinas, yellow leaves on the cottonwoods, blue dragonfly landing on her knee.

    We could stay here, you said, half-joking, though already you’d gotten up to leave.

    Smell of lavender, tattoo of a red and green dragon on her back—

    And the man you both met at the side of the road near Douglas, black clothes, black backpack, who’d been walking through the desert for two days since he crossed.

    He would have arrived, gotten used to a life of mundane difficulties, forgotten how he had to hide in the grass behind the fence.

    It’s like make believe, you tell your friend, explaining how you’d gone back that night.

    You’d left water, cans of Vienna sausages, cereal bars, lit a candle for him in the mud of the road between the farms.

    No, your friend says, it’s like a carefully placed wish.

    And he gets up, goes out into his living room, looking through books to find the clues he’d known when he was in the hospital.

    I could see it, he says, I could see how the world was going to change:

    Is it like a door now, you want to ask, with the smallest amount of light coming through the bottom?

    Is it like your mother, years after she forgot her own name, then remembered it, when absence slips across her face?

    Margaree Little

    Back to category top »

    Aubade for One Still Uncertain of Being Born

    Lie still. Make their desperate hunt for your heart
    beat them frenzied & let them second-guess
    your muted tempo as counterfeit for their own.
    Press your palm, still learning to unfurl,
    to your den’s wet beams & steady yourself
    against the doorjamb of your lair; it will be time
    when it is time. If your mother is a horse—& I am,
    I am—let her approach Troy with you still hidden
    within. Let her carry you like a bouquet of splinters
    in her belly of timber still hot from hatching
    at the future for firewood like it was a family tree.
    All your life they will surround you, will stalk & strain
    to hear that ballad from your canary pipes, will tempt
    your quiet cover, will kick the keg of your desire
    until it is dented nameless; all your life they will try
    to say you are built for something else. It begins now—
    so hush, hush: be nothing, just this once.

    Meg Day

    Back to category top »

    Like a Cotton Sheet Unfolded with a Snap

    The desert dust billows before sinking, lying
    smooth. Sometimes the winds, hot or cold, will
    lift the edges with a flap, a gritty flutter. Dust
    is the fitted suit we come to wear.

    The sky bores us all to death, white-chipped
    cobalt blue, a coffee mug upended in a “none
    for me, thanks” gesture to the great hands above
    that hold the pot tilted over someone else’s land.

    They say dust is made of the skin cells we shed
    into the air like smoke, of meteoric bodies
    sifted through the fine weave of space. In this
    desiccated carcass of the West, dust is made of

    mammal scat brittled in the sun, grasshopper wings
    buzzed to powder, rust mined from derelict strands
    of wire. From this dust our lives are formed.
    When it cakes the corners of our eyes we call it sleep.

    Susan Rooke

    Back to category top »

    The Vanishing Point

    Dallas Love Field, 22 November 1963, 2:45 p.m.

    The jet lifts so slowly it could be a memory,
    made silver in the sun, that skims the surface
    of Bachman’s Lake and takes time
    folding its reedy legs into itself, extending
    its white shawl of wings when it feels a wind
    to hold it aloft or

    could be a dream: it passes like one before us,
    moves beyond cambered cirrus
    toward a vanishing point and wonder
    why some god or chance left us to watch it
    lumber so heavily, its great seal a plaster
    on its side. We already

    perceive what we’ve lost, don’t we,
    trapped inside this eye of improbability?
    It turns to revolution, to a thing unimagined
    and we are at the wellhead to raise
    its sealing stone, but find nothing there,
    try to make meaning of it

    when all there is to make sense with
    are egrets rising from cattails and salt grass
    while space around us fills with wind
    invisible and whole, a thrust of air
    bolsters us when we hold inside
    much too much.

    Rebecca A. Spears

    Back to category top » Back to page top »

    2013 Pushcart Nominations

    Pushcart Prize nominees Patricia Spears Bigelow, Diane Durant, Carolyn Tourney Florek, Claudia D. Hernandez, Ed Madden, and Susan Rooke.

    2013 Pushcart Prize nominees Patricia Spears Bigelow, Diane Durant, Carolyn Tourney Florek, Claudia D. Hernandez, Ed Madden, and Susan Rooke

    Lesser Nighthawk

    Beyond the front porch a small voice rises,
    trilling the same note again and again,
    not fancy, yet it smooths out the wrinkles of the day
    as I stand in the yard, listening
    under a bright moon, a few stars
    the lesser nighthawk calls out into darkness
    with a voice barely stronger than a small frog’s

    then far off in the valley of shadows
    another, on the same low note, chirring,
    back and forth they call, answer, call,
    creating a swaying bridge of sound
    over the dark chasm as the moon moves on.

    Patricia Spears Bigelow

    Back to category top »

    Phenomenon of the Vortex

    Compared to its size, a vortex can transport energy over considerable distances, and its power is often underestimated. I knew the feeling: I was the only girl on the baseball team for years. Before I even reached the plate, the outfield crowded in, certain I was a swing and a miss at best. Coach gave me the sign. Digging my toe deep into red dirt, I laid down the perfect bunt. The path of a coyote across the desert can be marked by a succession of small dust devils. I ran like the wind.

    But I’m older now. I know that centripetal force is an inward force, that a dust devil is only a minor whirlwind, that the plural of vortex is vortexes and vortices. And that there are others: hurricanes, neutercanes, tornadoes, whirlpools, waterspouts, cyclones, mesocyclones, drain whirlpools, smoke rings, bubble rings, sunspots, sand pillars, Martian dust devils, steam devils, coal devils, fire devils, leaf devils, snow devils, landspouts, gustnadoes, mountainadoes, and eddies, just to name a few. I know that friction causes loss.

    The axis of a tornado is imaginary. I swirled an olive jar full of water, dish soap, and rainbow glitter as rubbish and beheld my own phenomenon.

    Diane Durant

    Back to category top »

    Over Flat Creek Near Round Top, Texas

    While the earth breaks the soft horizon
    eastward we study how to deserve
    what has already been given us.

    ~ William Stafford, “Love in the Country”

    There is something about a creek or small stream
    with its slow, reflective water,
    pebble- or mud-bottomed,
    which holds the sky and turtle as one.

    Where duckweed grows into a floating carpet,
    it is impossible for us to touch the water.
    The steep bank is so tangled with wild rose and fallen trees
    it would be foolish to try.

    It’s hot, the air still and almost silent except
    for the vireo we know by its song.

    I love these places, seemingly of no significance,
    where the dirt road crosses over Flat Creek.

    The vireo scrambles the air in its declaration of home.
    The water is lazy. A turtle parts the green surface
    and swims into the sky.

    Carolyn Tourney Florek

    Back to category top »

    Ardor de Cuerpo

    mis movimientos
    repetitivos —

    Arrancar hojas,
    deshojar pieles,
    ahogar la mente.

    La sensibilidad
    se empaña con cada

    La vista pellizcada
    se fastidia de tanto ver,
    de no ver nada.

    La espina quebrantada,
    desdoblada se estira

    Repetir, Repetir,
    sin pensar.

    que tiemblan —

    Se doblan repetiendo
    el rechinante grito
    del hueso ardiente.

    Claudia D. Hernandez

    Translation below:

    Ardor of the Body

    To resume
    my repetitive
    movements —

    Tear away leaves,
    unpeel layers,
    drown the mind.

    The sensibility blurs
    with every
    twist and turn.

    Compressed sight withers
    from constant looking,
    without seeing anything.

    Split, the deteriorating
    spine unfolds,

    Tedious, Tedious,
    without thinking.

    that tremble —

    They fold repeating
    the screeching shriek
    of the ardent bone.

    Translation by José Hernández Díaz

    Back to category top »


    We looked for a body,
    though there was nothing

    but a brush of gray
    down where the bird

    slammed the pane,
    its ghost traced in gray

    dust, wings spread,
    an angel. This was proof,

    though we remembered, once,
    downtown, coming across

    a tiny owl at the foot
    of the bank tower,

    where it fell.

    Ed Madden

    Back to category top »

    Near Year’s End

    In these burnt candlewicks
    of days, the dry north wind
    blows the scent of cold fires.

    The bundled sky lets fall
    no water. Through the night
    hours we huddle, listening.

    Coyotes like dark surf
    surge through the yard,
    babbling of stars and smoke.

    Susan Rooke

    Back to category top »     Back to page top »

    2012 Pushcart Nominations

    Dante in Texas

    After months of drought in Midland,
    in the middle of a basin where the sea once tossed
    (the sea now vanished, like everything becoming
    something else), last night a spat of rain
    fell against the plastic skylight in the kitchen—
    a sound so long unheard, I thought it caused
    by some other element—perhaps the crackle from
    an unseen fire. All forms fluctuate through
    other forms. Dante fled from Florence,
    sentenced to burn alive, burning then in exile
    with words. Last night’s rain
    could have been a burning language,
    summoning the denizens of Midland
    through the sphere of fire to stand
    under a night sky suddenly blessed
    by clouds returning, tears of exile ended.
    Summoning us outside to shed our clothes
    and shuck our lumpish bodies, veined and
    varicose from brisket, beer and barbeque,
    chicken-fried steak, more beer.
    Though when I ran outside to hear
    and feel the pattering music of the spheres,
    the night was falling silent
    and the streets were already dry.

    Stan Crawford

    Back to category top »

    La Posada

    If I don the dress I will be Mary,
    Great with child.
    My want will be upon me;
    Waddle will I a bit,
    Swaying from porch to path,
    My two selves denied entrance.

    Holy and profane I will come to you,
    Asking for succor, crying piteously as in olden days.
    It is scripted that you remain indoors:
    My face will hang in your porch light,
    Your feet will approach the door,
    You will see, through the peeping hole, my face,
    And yet you will back away.

    Cars will move down the street where it has rained,
    Red and yellow lights reflecting;
    They will go quietly like owls in evening,
    Their tires invisible and silent in darkness.

    My feet will touch the pavement; I will stay earthbound;
    But pacing the roads, my body will become complete
    Where the pains touch me here, and here:
    It will be spirit knocking. I will imagine
    Doors that do not close, a car slowing,
    A welcoming voice that utters these syllables: Come in.

    Cathy Downs

    Back to category top »


    Winter’s hard, brittle       branch broke as predicted.
    Hunters knee-deep in snow       found the fox they had expected.
    The usual wren tapped       at the rain barrel’s mirror.
    Old choruses drummed the air       up and down the streets.
    Joints turned on their spits,       cups brimmed and sloshed.
    The candle burned to a swirl of wax       like a robe heaped on the floor.
    Sleepers remembered the dark       drawing itself over their heads.
    They mumbled a few worn words       without any need for waking.
    The North Star, rooftop ice,       rattle and gnaw of wind,
    the burrowers nosing closer,       all these fell into place,
    as did the blind dog barking,       the fire smothered in the grate,
    the kitchen faucet left to drip,       blankets warmed against the stove.
    The gelid sap, the unwound clock,       the mute owl keeping watch,
    frost attending at the windows   —   these held out for something new.
    The stillness near morning,       a nail pulling against a timber.

    Monty Jones

    Back to category top »

    Marlin, Texas

    A horse idly munches grass
    next to an abandoned parking lot
    as I pass business after business

    for lease. The road is crumbling
    beneath me, but the Ebenezer Baptist Church
    has a fresh coat of white paint.

    It’s a quiet Sunday in Central Texas,
    worshippers nothing but blurred images
    behind stained glass. They don’t know

    I’ve once again opted for tater tots
    instead of God. I like to think
    the fabled curative mineral waters

    of this once-thriving town
    have become the ice in my soda.
    Smiling wide, I swear I feel better

    as I head back to the highway.
    The horse has moved on to some plants
    bursting out of the rusted trunk

    of an abandoned car. He seems content
    to gorge himself all day,
    like this soft light mirroring the clouds

    in the windshields of the faithful.
    They emerge slowly and carry their songs
    home, strangely hungry.

    Robert Wynne

    Back to category top »     Back to page top »

    2012 Texas Poetry Calendar Awards

    Selected by Barbara Ras


    On hot days you could find him
    down by the river and up a tree,
    enjoying its cool. If she stood on tiptoe,
    arms stretched skyward and he reached
    his hands through the branches,
    he could lift her into the leafy treehouse
    where they’d be hidden from view.

    Too young to work, too old to play,
    they’d stare at each other wordlessly
    smiling like maniacs, eating green
    grapes, a breeze lifting the damp hair
    off their foreheads, arousing in them
    a restlessness they didn’t yet understand.

    That boy is dead now. The tree, too.
    Today, by the river, even the wind is still.

    Erica Lehrer

    Back to category top »

    Prayer for a Calf

    The summer bubbled fire ants and burdock thorns
    and glistened in waves dappled
    by the shadows of buzzards.
    We watched the stock tank inch down
    and preferred to talk about box scores and neighbors’ daughters
    over the rainless sermons of weathermen.
    We drove ten counties north for good hay,
    something free of local briars and baling wire,
    our old pickup hemorrhaging gasoline with every mile of road.

    When the calf was born,
    we managed to muster a feint of optimism,
    at least in the comparative cool of morning
    over bacon and good thick coffee.
    But the mother we knew was over-equipped:
    her teats swelled to the size of beer cans,
    and the calf could find no way to nurse.

    We had seen this with her before:
    this cruel genetic curse.
    She was a good cow,
    but poorly suited for motherhood.
    So as the days got on,
    we closed our windows at night,
    choosing silence over coolness.

    Soon, we’d drive the fences and find the thirsty leather remains
    and all our eyes would turn stone, like the pasture turned to caliche.
    But for days, we offered silent prayers
    for a calf to turn snake, unhinge its gentle jaws,
    and take in the warm, wet sustenance
    we hoped our world could offer.

    J. Todd Hawkins

    Back to category top »


    To walk out in the warm morning,
    pick up the paper—the one you know
    is full of wars, hunger, slayings—
    still, to feel warm grass under bare feet,
    see mockingbirds and wrens
    that survived both last week’s storm
    and the cat next door. To see
    that a rose and a blue cornflower
    opened over night and that a vagrant
    compost squash is blooming under cover
    of the legitimate potato patch
    is no small thing.

    Beverly Voss

    Back to category top »     Back to page top »

    2011 Texas Poetry Calendar Awards

    Selected by Cyrus Cassells

    Waiting Inland for the Hurricane

    In the morning, gray and distant,
    there will be coffee and the waves
    of a child’s laughter when the images
    of inundation give way
    to Saturday morning cartoons.
    Then, they say, will come the wind, rain.

    We will putter nervously, bearing
    the uneasy silence of pretended calm
    as we hang old sepia family pictures
    in the stairway.

    Those grim faces from behind decades
    of storms and loss will stare
    and judge their progeny’s faith.

    We will know the places they show
    on the news. We will have strolled
    their sunny seawalls and tasted their ice creams,
    soft like rainbows must be.

    We will know it is futile to tie this world together
    with chain-link fences and swing sets.

    Perhaps we will lose the young oak
    we struggled all summer to free of fungus.
    Perhaps we will lose more.

    But now the house only sleeps
    and the wind chime
    only whispers the delicate peals
    of painful anticipation.

    J. Todd Hawkins

    Back to category top »

    Saturday Market

    A man should be planted horizontally,
    toes up, eyes toward heaven
    with a tombstone at his head
    so he remembers when he doesn’t wake
    in the morning that his days on earth are done,
    his work and land passed to the next generation
    who, with luck, will labor as long and scratch
    as much from the hardscrabble forty acres
    as he did, and with more luck than he had save
    enough to send the kids to college so they won’t
    have to race the morning sun to the fields
    or sweat a bucket of Texas dew before crating
    their produce and packing it into the bed
    of a rusty pickup parked on the shady side
    of the barn all gassed for the race to Austin
    in the morning and a booth at the farmers’
    market where slickers will sip iced tea
    while they squeeze and pinch and sniff
    and quibble about prices, each hard-won
    bargain another line on the old man’s face,
    another scar on the back of his hands.

    Dr. Charles A. Stone

    Back to category top »

    Bacchus in Texas

    Bacchus, a terra-cotta mask,
    grimaces, gape-mouthed
    on the garden wall.
    He’s an expatriate under live oaks,
    although the sun sets as outrageously here
    as it did behind black cypresses
    and the raw ocher oven
    where he was first fired.

    Moss has worked its way into his frown,
    has given a cast to one of his eyes,
    has split the curl of his lip.
    The children watch him warily,
    especially when one girl is brave enough
    to tease the daddy longlegs
    quartered in his throat.
    Then, their pulsing communion disturbed,
    the critters whisker down his chin.

    Bacchus and I rarely converse now
    about the old days,
    but at the Feast of the Assumption,
    Ferragosto, we usually remember
    how the heat of a Roman summer
    would explode the cones of the umbrella pines,
    graveling a dusty piazza with pignoli.
    And, last year, when a spider webbed
    a monocle over his bad eye,
    I took his picture.

    Christine Boldt

    Back to category top »     Back to page top »

    2010 Texas Poetry Calendar Awards

    Selected by Mark Doty

    Late Spring, near Leakey, Texas

    This green season comes, in morning’s green
    light, the sun dangling small and bright
    in a green sky—a flash of fin, sunfish
    suspended, cool and luminous in the green
    water. Everywhere we look, the past—pawprints
    at water’s edge, trees that keep repeating
    themselves, small birds playing hide and seek,
    cliffs of rock, striated and grained, remnants
    of sediment, pressure. The sun rests on a bluff,
    beside a cross someone built, a memorial.
    Light drifts across the green water.
    We cross the stream, dry our feet, pull on
    shoes, roll down our jeans. Here, though nothing
    is said, there’s a sense of something moving
    through us, a sense of water and rock, darkness, light.

    Ed Madden

    Back to category top »

    Flying with the Crows

    That first night we roosted to dreams of grain,
    And the blackest dropped down his head where we
    Huddled as one. It was too cold for rain.

    My feathers shivered when they fell, dark coal
    Mined from the hole of the year, and hunger
    Rotated like a cash crop in my soul.

    Ah, but the plums, fixed fast in their sweetness
    By the chill! And the thicket where they hung
    Not a keen moment’s flapping to the west.

    Skins, pulp—a supermarket for the beak,
    The savory allure of dull hides
    Inviting us to fold dun winter’s speech.

    Turn cows on the corn—doughy, sad, and slow. . . .
    My appetite rumbles like a taut snare;
    My caws are brighter than the drum of snow.

    Jerry Bradley

    Back to category top »

    October Round

    Wind comes from the north now
    like a clever joke. The stars
    repeat themselves and we don’t mind.

    Improbably blue days join hands
    and stride by, fast and faster, past
    the old escarpment, where live oaks

    still glow green like brand new
    dollar bills. How long we’ve traveled
    to arrive just here, as clean

    as cats, and kinder. By midday
    the gold is raised, the joke
    is still on us, and we don’t mind.

    Stan Crawford

    Back to category top »     Back to page top »

    2010 Next Generation Indie Award, Karla K. Morton

    Indie_Book_WinnerRedefining Beauty, Karla K. Morton’s stunning book of poems from Dos Gatos Press, won the 2010 Next Generation Indie Award in the Women’s Issues category.

    Read more about Redefining Beauty »

    Back to page top »
    This is a blank image inserted for design purposes.

    2009 Texas Poetry Calendar Awards

    Selected by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

    Slice of Life

    Luby’s    a Texas woman     my age     farm background
        chemical plant background     maybe     Beauty Shop hair
           gay son     dressed younger than his years
              dark skies     rainy afternoon     another norther     incoming
      cozy     in the cones of light     over the plates of     anything
        took your fancy     in the serving line.     This is what’s nice
           about a forty-year-old boy     no commitments     Sundays     not
      what she once expected     but more attention     than some get.
    Snippet by snippet life goes on     over recorded music.
        Palm trees     grackles     out the big tinted windows
           back in the lot     the whole day     will seem brighter
              for a minute     nice surprise     a little one     but take it.
    He drives her home.     He drives him home.     One by one     me too
        we let ourselves     into dark houses     full of mirrors.

    John Gorman

    Back to category top »

    Crossing the Lake Houston Bridge

    I notice something odd. To my left,
    the lake is a drab olive green, the water churning,

    metallic blue clouds and rain over Beaver Run,
    where Mama and Daddy used to live.

    But, to my right, blue sky and calm waters. And
    I drive between these two extremes,

    so close to that dividing line, trying to make it
    home before the rain drifts further south. Then,

    as if part of something I’ve long forgotten, a snowy
    egret appears overhead, coasts like a paperboy

    on a bike, resting tired legs. It glides from the dark
    into the calm so gracefully, flaps its wings

    to begin again. I think, what a perfect word for that
    movement, gracefully, and pray to be carried

    home on the wings of those three syllables. To be
    lifted when I fall. To be lifted again.

    Mary Agnes Dalrymple

    Back to category top »

    The Ripe and the Unripe Fruit

    The unripe can’t understand what it feels like to be ready.

    In the season of sweet melon and cantaloupe,
    The grapes cannot know their own luscious ripeness,
    The heavy readiness to let go of the vine.

    The green wheat, just beginning to sprout,
    Like some poor child, all vanity and ego,
    Thinks it wants to be young forever.

    When pistachios crackle open
    By moonlight, they are joyfully sighing,
    Why did we not know?

    Chris Ellery

    Back to category top »     Back to page top »

    2008 Texas Poetry Calendar Awards

    Selected by Kathleen Peirce

    Blind Lemon Jefferson’s Body Is Brought from Chicago
    to Wortham, Texas, by Pianist and Labelmate Will Ezell

    New Year’s Day, 1930

    No car, no chauffeur. Two ashen horses
    nicker wet and close through the storm’s static,
    each hoof strikes a nail in the coffin’s lid.
    It’s not the blizzard’s ardor stayed church bells:
    it’s the weight of unmoored boys underground.
    Stayed, the heart—in fields opening wide between beats—
    sinks below the rhythmic counterpoints
    of abundant drought and scant harvest.
    Stayed, the mind—under the years’ chorded streams—
    revisits bright, bright green seedlings strumming
    in warming furrows, the feracious Texas soil
    turning itself inside out, steaming, to receive.

    Judy Jensen

    Back to category top »

    Midday, Midsummer

    All morning the wind
    blew rain out of the black
    trees now a weave of sun
    waves across a wall
    of nandina vanishing
    like a ball it’s so bright
    cicadas start winding up
    their missionary pitch
    a quick overcast and the
    eyes have it a welcome
    shade by the pool side
    into the shadow of which
    the shadow of a tiger
    swallowtail lurches
    giantly light as a bat.

    Kurt Heinzelman

    Back to category top »

    Early in the Morning, on the Road, near Franklin, Texas

    Her skirt clings to her the way fog clings to a flower.
    Her legs are curled up, her sleeping face soft like a saint.
    Driving for hours a man thinks about how things are measured,
    about how coffee always tastes better in small towns.

    Her legs are curled up, her sleeping face soft like a saint.
    St. Augustine said the eye is attracted to beautiful objects.
    Coffee always tastes better in small towns;
    the treasures of the destination make us take the trip.

    St. Augustine said the eye is attracted to beautiful objects.
    The full moon makes her skin glow like a statue.
    The treasures en route make us take the trip.
    I start out thinking in terms of miles and hours

    but the full moon makes her skin translucent like a statue.
    Her breathing is as fragrant and sure as moonflowers
    and I stop thinking in terms of miles and hours.
    She’ll wake up in a little while and touch me with her bare toe.

    But for now, her breathing is as fragrant as moonflowers.
    Driving for hours a man thinks about what makes things holy.
    She’ll wake up in a little while and bless me with her bare toe,
    her skirt clinging to her the way fog caresses a flower.

    Alan Birkelbach

    Back to category top »     Back to page top »

    2007 Texas Poetry Calendar Awards

    Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye

    From a Reluctant Shut-in to a Confirmed Recluse

    The birds notice first, talking it up among themselves
    In dialects of bird talk that differ regionally.
    It criss-crossed my mind
    Like a flock of fractious grackles
    How terribly quiet it would be
    If the birds all left suddenly.

    In my currently depressed and wingless state,
    I could not hope to simulate
    Their timeless flight across the sky—
    These earthbound words
    As close as I can come
    To their more exuberant medium.

    Joe Blanda

    Back to category top »


    Not done, should have done, could have
    done, would have done, might could
    have (if you live in Texas)—was that
    what the woman walking a block behind me
    this morning in crisp sunlight and a leaf-filled
    breeze was saying loudly on her miked cell phone?
    (I turned for a moment, thinking she spoke to me.)
    Or was that the incantation of my
    January thoughts on the state of my life
    (today, at least), insistent
    in its hammering repetition,
    in its withering accusations?

    Cathy Stern

    Back to category top »

    And Still She Watches

    She watched the sky move toward El Paso
    and how the impossible reds relaxed in their going.

    She watched bands of small gray birds fly
    forward in uneven lines over dim rooftops

    without looking back, without asking.
    She watched her own shadow standing, the shape

    of what remained, expand to three dimensions
    until the air hardened around her and she hardened.

    She watched until the black heaven, the absorption
    of all color, began to fray at its tentative horizon,

    starting it all again and she went in to start the coffee.
    She watches hours for days and collects her nights

    in pieces like a woman who watches for morning
    and loses one night at a time.

    Allison Smythe

    Back to category top »    Back to page top »

    2006 Texas Poetry Calendar Awards

    Selected by Robert McDowell

    Passenger Station, Texas

    It keeps its memories of Texas swing,
    excited children on their way to far-off
    Dallas, trainloads of soldiers leaving home
    or coming back at the end of World War II.
    Forlorn, its windows vibrate only to
    the passing freights; its rooms lie empty
    save for now and then a boy or two
                entering on some dare.
    Never having seen a huge black engine
    full of noise and heat and steam
    that made more timid kids run back
    to their fathers’ sides, they have no
    frame of reference to make the place
    more than just some dusty wooden
    furnishings or secret haunt of creatures
                of the night.
    But then, imagination has a way
    of making history seem real.
    So on a quiet day, if you listen carefully,
    you’ll hear the engine up the track,
    and if you watch with eyes that still believe
    you’ll see the train come lumbering past,
    filled with people smiling wide. They’re
    going home, you know, while the rest
    of us will have to wait awhile
    there beside the track, shaded by
    the station at the city’s downtown edge.

    Ralph Hausser

    Back to category top »


    In early winter on a Texas day,
    I turn the corner on my way back home
    from anywhere, and pansies greet me
    with persistent bloom.

    When I was young, I cherished
    snowfall and the way our street lamp
    caught like shutter frame the
    glistening ice on frozen bough,
    the drift of powder white.

    I could be longing for those icy days,
    but as the velvet pansies dress the walk,
    they dance while breezes chase
    my cares into their show
    of purple flight.

    Sharon E. Young

    Back to category top »

    Summer in Texas

    We swam all day,
    all summer long.

    Swam till our eyes
    were as bloodshot
    as the town drunk’s,
    till our skin wrinkled
    like sheets in the laundry basket.

    We dove for pennies in
    chlorinated water strong enough
    to kill polio.
    Dunked and splashed
    each other till we were limp.

    Crawled to the side of the pool
    spread our bodies
    on the prickly St. Augustine grass,
    and tanned our hides.

    Robin Cate

    Back to category top »     Back to page top »