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2021 Pushcart Prize Nominees

Cecil Morris, volume 2 number 4

Hole In The Head Review

her inside gives nothing away

at our daughter’s autopsy, the doctor opens her

like a question and the comforting burr of bees

alive among mandarin blossoms in spring sun

rises, swells—a sound sweet and angry, freighted

with her story, chapters unbound—then black wings beat

as crows assault the air, a dark and noisy lift,

a plethora, too many for her narrow chest,

for the shrinking receptacle of our one girl,

who, more or less than glass, now gives all her secrets

to antiseptic air, to purple latex gloves,

to blood tests and magnetic poles, the blur of crows

in crowded tumult rise, a different kind of hide-

and-seek, the truth comes peek-a-boo, through feathers fanned

for flight, confusion of shapes and shades, to us still

the mystery she didn’t share in the twenty years

since she left our home, the golden straw of our girl

to woman spun, enigma machine idling

in the hall of don’t ask, don’t volunteer, don’t look,

this blonde stranger casting aside our hand-me-downs

of chin and eyes and long limbs and inside what else,

beside the crows, a chattering next of songbirds

at dawn or dusk, incomprehensible but bright,

the foreign language of siskin, junco, house finch,

perpetual blush and flutter, a palpitation

of wings so nearly weightless they float above her

and tell us no more than crickets do as day fades—

that night has arrived and day departed, the end

and beginning, everything at once as always,

and we have only questions and no answers,

no finish to our daughter’s ending, no final

revelation as doctor closes our daughter.


Jean Kane, volume 2 number 3

Hole In The Head Review

Making a Stink

I huffed oil paint

like glue. With turpentine