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.
Droplets drum against
rocks, a blue dragonfly’s
lilies perfume the amphitheater sky,
coconut sun —
screen slathered on,
and nude sunbathers splash
as they surface,
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
LIGHTMendocino, Californiasunbeam aloneis a poembut on this fallen logwith youeverything istongue tipfingertipheartbeatwho was I?sweating brickby brickin gilded citiesas ifto impressthe heavenswith my clevernessas ifto inventanythingas aliveas this urgentsyrupmelting intoour veinswarmingpine-steeped airEarth was madefor breathingsuddenlyI becomeblueand cloudless
Frederick LivingstonMendocino, California
THE LAND I LONG FOR
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.
San Francisco, California
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.
TULE ELK PRESERVE IN MARCH
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 will be again.
Vivian Underhill Allston, Massachusetts
MORNING AT MOORE’S LAKE, AGAINBy eight a.m., the mist, like ghosts exiting, bustles and fadesin every direction, spheres barely there,until they aren’t.Quickly, slowly, the sun casts in.The lake turns dark mirror, speckled with night dustand featherings—the occasional dragonflystringing along morning’s heat. Reflections of trees—and clumps of trees, bordersonto other realms, all the same as this one.Sudden sounds—a cormorant propelsthe surface like an engine. At the floating dock, hopsto 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 dobon 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 ponchoover my pajamas, shoesI 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 lakeis lower than last year, that much dangerouslylower. There’s a flash of redon one cormorant’s bill, somewhere, the same bullfrog soundsat a depth that matters, somewhere out of sight.Kimberly NunesRoss, CA