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IPA's Pushcart Prize Nominations for 2022

Phoebe Bubendorfer


A red-throated loon
mired in a slick of oil
strains her neck
in each effort
to lift her body
from the toxic sludge.

One last quiver
of wings.
She lowers her head
to her breast
eyes closed in
Rainbows in her feathers.

Bill Graeser


Fire never seems to mind
whether it's the curl of a candle wick
or a bed with baby sleeping.

So it was with the whales
beached in Oregon
and the not knowing
what else to do
with the corpses.

If we were but fire
we would not mind either.

But we are also water,
even one drop of which
forms a tear.

Those who were there that day,
who lit the match
and beheld the flames
on fiery wings rise,

they will never forget
the trembling of the sea
in their chest.

John Mitchell


The buffalo stands still in the wind.
Staring ahead, huge, not even bothering
To guard its flanks.
Mysterious, majestic, silent.
Misplaced in this warm world,
Waiting for the next interval of ice,
Watching the horizon for the return
Of glaciers and the arctic birds,
Screaming from the cold, blue sky.

Lily Nelson


            You are nine
      Lying on the front room couch
                        And time is thick like jelly
Fever has made the world soft
            And golden
                        Honey coating your skin
                  Stuck in your ears
      Heavy enough that moving feels like wading through a pool
                        Except worse
           Except slower and more tiring
                  Like the world is a blanket wrapped around your shoulders
And now the world is burning
            You can't smell the smoke
      But your skin feels like you've become a star
                  A bright heat coursing through your veins
            Flesh pasty and pale
      The world is too bright and hot for nothing to be burning

Lucille Morgan Wilson


The fingered notes play up and down my spine
like gentle ripples in a laughing stream.
Caresses linger, freeing by design
sweet fantasies I had not dared to dream.

A swell of melody weaves shining chords
into my reverie, pulls me along
with silver strings. Such leading, peace affords.
Staccato notes, both delicate and strong,

strew in my path bright nuggets of delight:
a momentary rainbow after shower;
stars bursting through the canopy of night;
the dance of carillon bells from a tower.

The final quarter notes fall clear and sweet
and drop a host of bluebells at my feet.

To read poems of previous IPA Pushcart Prize Nominees:

IPA Nominees for the 2021 Pushcart Prize

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