Friday, December 2, 2022

Pushcart Prize 2022 Nominations from the California Quarterly vol. 48, No. 1-4

A Question Mark in Flight by Maja Trochimczyk

California State Poetry Society is pleased to announce the following nominations to Pushcart Prize from the California Quarterly, vol. 48, issues no. 1 (edited by Maja Trochimczyk), 2 (guest-edited by Margaret Saine), 3 (edited by Bory Thach) and 4 (guest-edited by Deborah P Kolodji), published by the California State Poetry Society in 2022. Copies of honored poems are posted below.

1. Vol. 48 No. 1. “Waterfall Symphony” by Dana Stamps II

2. Vol. 48 No. 1.  “Light” by Frederick Livingston

3. Vol. 48 No. 2. “The Land I Long For” by Michael Fraley

4. Vol. 48 No. 3. “The Calling” by Ella Czajkowska 

5. Vol. 48 No. 3.  “Tule Elk Preserve in March” by Vivian Underhill

6. Vol. 48. No. 4. “Morning at Moore's Lake, Again” by Kimberly Nunes

Winner of High Honors from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, Pushcart Prize XLVII includes over 60 stories, poems and essays from dozens of small literary presses published in the calendar year 2022. The Pushcart Prize won the NBCC Sandroff Lifetime Achievement award, The Poets & Writers/ Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers citation and was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the seminal publications in American publishing history.

In last year’s Pushcart Prize, editor Bill Henderson noted that the Pushcart Prize, “the small good thing, has evolved into an international prize drawing nominations from small presses around the globe.” As always, the selections are made by a distinguished panel of Guest Editors and hundreds of Contributing Editors. The list of authors selected and encouraged over the decades, is immense. (An index to previous volumes is included in each edition.)

While I do not believe in poetry prizes, as comparing apples to oranges to mountains to seas is a futile operation, our nominations are fantastic, so enjoy reading them

California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 1, edited by Maja Trochimczyk
Cover Art by Diane Lee Moomey



                                           Droplets drum against

             rocks, a blue dragonfly’s 

                                   enchantment dances,

                              lilies perfume the amphitheater sky, 

                                          coconut sun —

                      screen slathered on,

                                   and nude sunbathers splash

               as they surface,

                                 then dive


                                        underneath. Echoes  

                   from a chorus of jumpers, 

                                  the jagged cliff’s ledge a stage

                      as summer mist—an ovation 

                                           as happening wetness hits— 

           croons its steamy scores.


            Dana Stamps II

  Riverside, California


Going Somewhere... by Maja Trochimczyk


Mendocino, California

sunbeam alone
               is a poem
but on this fallen log
              with you

everything is
              tongue tip

who was I?
              sweating brick 
by brick
             in gilded cities

as if 
     to impress 
the heavens
     with my cleverness

as if
     to invent 
             as alive

as this urgent
melting into
             our veins

             pine-steeped air
Earth was made 
             for breathing

     I become
             and cloudless

Frederick Livingston
Mendocino, California

California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 2, edited by Margaret Saine
Cover Art by Michael Kostiuk



The world I want lies under the waves,

Under many chilling leagues of water,

Beyond the reach of common daylight.


Pale stars illuminate its deep blue sky

And trees of giant girth cover the ground

They’ve occupied for countless years.


The land I long for is wakened at dawn

By the clear notes of flowing birdsong

From the leafy crowns of the trees.


The story was never told to me in school,

I only know it to be true because...

My blood and bones have taught me so.


         Somehow I will find a way

              To reach the forest floor

         Through a door I cannot say

              Is made of gravestone or of wood,

         But which is no less real to me

              Than any ordinary day. 


Michael Fraley

San Francisco, California


California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 3, Edited by Bory Thach
Cover Art by Ambika Talwar



Take my hand, we shall drink golden starlight

from the brass chalice of curiosity,

adorn our hair with stars' glittering light.

We shall clothe ourselves in silver moonlight

and blush our faces with sunlight’s kiss,

and dance through the dust of time unmeasured,

whirl till we are dizzy with awe

and drunk on the songs of the universe.


I have not truly known freedom until

I have shaken off the chains of attachments

to this world, this low-land

—of biological, mechanical, electric—

of static, of moving,

till I felt the seductive

beckoning of the ephemeral,

the limitless melody of cosmos.


I measure myself in dawns and twilights,

in inhales and exhales, breathless moments,

in dreams and daydreams and nightmares

as I unravel into blooming.

I am a flower eternal, floating,

drifting soundless in space on the waves

of the darkly enchanting oceans

of nebulae in purples and pinks.


And I dare you to not heed my calling,

and I dare you to resist the pulling,

the fire, the resonance in the bones

which leaves the traitorous flesh a-trembling.

And I hail to you: Come! We shall walk down,

down to the center, down to the core,

down to the end of all, down till it’s up,

until it becomes the beginning.


                                                                      Ella Czajkowska  

                                                                      Beverly Hills, California

The Spiral by Maja Trochimczyk



Here it is midmorning and the valley is singing to itself.

Listen to the bees

thrumming to the trees in bloom like a hum in the chest

for comfort. The hawk unfolds from the cottonwood

a mosaic of pottery shards and the ravens

croak like stones dropped in water, down the back

of the throat. Feel the earth pulling you close.


It is not nostalgia, to cling to the marshy ghosts

of a parched lake, the water snakes who swarmed

through the rattling reeds.


The breeze picks up and the hawk returns.

The heat rises and the plains begin to wave.

One shell-white egret sits in the shush

of leaves still translating wind into sound.


Someday all this will have silted away, the halo of song

arcing above this small pond, the calf chasing the birds.

The birds translucent below the sun.

Once this was underwater

And is

And will be again.


                                                             Vivian Underhill                                                                                                                                            Allston, Massachusetts

Gold Waves by Maja Trochimczyk

California Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 4, edited by Deborah P Kolodji
In Production - Artwork not selected yet


By eight a.m., the mist, like ghosts exiting, bustles and fades
in every direction, spheres barely there,
until they aren’t.
            Quickly, slowly, the sun casts in.
The lake turns dark mirror, speckled with night dust
and featherings—the occasional dragonfly
stringing along morning’s heat. Reflections of trees—
and clumps of trees, borders
            onto other realms, all the same as this one.
Sudden sounds—a cormorant propels
the surface like an engine. At the floating dock, hops
to join another, then settles, observes the air, the sky,
            all the nothingness of the world before them.
Black from beak to tail, to webbed toe, yellowish dob
on the other one’s head, he has not moved, but to nibble a wing.
The wet one holds her wings aloft, waggles tight,
steady beats in eastern sun, diaphanous, melting to brown,
            she continues, thus—I know so little—
have gendered them to my own pleasure.
With pen and notebook, sun hat, and poncho
over my pajamas, shoes
            I slide on and off in cool sand.
The birds contemplate—an avian thought matrix, untouched.
            One steps a quarter turn, intent, drying her body.
So much patience here. And time.
And yet—I can see the watermark on the shore reeds, the lake
            is lower than last year, that much dangerously
lower. There’s a flash of red
on one cormorant’s bill, somewhere, the same bullfrog sounds
at a depth that matters, somewhere out of sight.

Kimberly Nunes
Ross, CA

Autumn Lakeshore by Maja Trochimczyk





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