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Best of the Net Nominations for Poetry 2022

By Flapper Press & Clayton Clark:

The Best of the Net is an awards-based anthology that highlights the work of writers, poets, and online publishers. The project was created in 2006 by Sundress Publications for the ever-growing digital literary landscape to bring together online magazines, journals, and creators toward honoring digital publishing.

"We believe this effort is integral in decentering the literary canon as well as promoting and amplifying voices that are imperative to good literature, responsible culture, and the understanding of today's social climate." —

Over the past year, the Flapper Press Poetry Café has had the honor of featuring an outstanding collection of poetry and interviews from poets around the globe, and we are excited to announce our nominations.

With the help of poet & painter Clayton Clark, serving as guest poetry editor, Flapper Press is proud to present (in alphabetical order) our nominations for Best of the Net in Poetry for 2022! Congratulations to all our nominees!


Flowers on a Train

Flowers fall off her shirt

onto the floor a sea of flowers

as she texts into her phone.

And because like her I’ve cried

under sunglasses, into my tea, under

the shower’s hot water,

at the top of the steps between classes

I inhale the violet, the tangerine,

the rose.

Flowers fell off my skirt one Christmas,

punch at a party, attentions of the bass player

staggering to get more

into his glass. I needed

a refill, staring at white lights

hung on the kitchen’s bare walls.


close enough.

Then the band started up

and he took his place

next to the piano, the drums,

and my saxophone boyfriend.

As we drove back over the Bay Bridge

I compared musical temperaments

while the punch wore off, like coming out of


Flowers on a Train, why do you cry,

a saxophone player in your coffee or did you wake

in the middle of an impermeable song,

honeyed sweater, sunglasses on your curly crown.

You can reach me a few seats away—

your flowers crawl up my legs,

thick velvet pile,

silent wet.

— Laurel Benjamin


CC: I loved the surreal reality of this poem. Such wonderful, striking imagery, and the empathy is contagious. The language is surprising and the scenes, so vivid, yet they feel slippery as memory. It’s beautifully drawn, tender, and colorful. I love that the speaker asks, “Flowers on a Train, why do you cry, a saxophone player in your coffee.” It’s such a unique way of seeing. I feel it all as I have joined them on the ride.


Old Woman

She doesn't sleep, or so she says—catnaps, dozes in fits

in her world chair by the east window, witness and some say

conjurer, but they don't know—I know—I see through the blinds

the way her eyes burn like roses. God’s awake, she says,

when the rest of you are sleeping on porches, in alcoves,

under highway on-ramps or in city parks—let's just say

she's not without sympathy, but she's seen it all—even that

horrible summer they came out of the sewers with code

marks on their foreheads, bumping into trees and fences

until one found an opening in the fabric of your dream

and they all started filing in. All she does is snap her fingers,

and up in smoke they go. So, call her crazy, call her an old bat,

but I tell you, you’d have been burned at the stake or thrown

in a lake of fire if it weren't for her and that eternal laugh.

— Douglas Cole


CC: So many great images and sensations in all three of his poems, but I kept coming back to the “Old Woman.” It haunted me in a great way. I felt her, so alive yet beyond what we think of as real. I loved that she sits in “her world chair,” such a great phrase, and I loved that the speaker feels he knows more than all those who comment on her existence. He sees “through the blinds the way her eyes burn like roses.” I felt (still feel) that burn and blossom. I liked the conversational language with an off-kilter, otherworldly aesthetic that kept me completely grounded there or, at least in my head. I continue to hear her “eternal laugh.” Fantastic!


Zelda Fitzgerald

Zelda, Westport 1920

Your friends have gone back to the gray clapboard shack

where the spirits of witches with cats

conjured yesterday’s revelry in the dark—

the stars reflecting on the Sound

and everyone dancing to the sound of the fizz

in the gin and the waves like music

rolling off ragtime, cooling to a jazzy trot—

woodwinds and brass pulsing above the static

of the phonograph, and now you, damned, beautiful girl,

sit on the shore and see the glimmer of orange blossom light,

your wild heart beating the dirge of fading night.

Today. Today you will live as you please,

thump in a junk—zozzled, fried,

high on hopes, not thinking of tomorrow and tomorrows.

If only. If only there were so many tomorrows.

— Heather Nanni


CC: I was so happy to be introduced to Zelda and love when poetry teaches me something without being didactic. The language and sound in this poem captures the time and feeling so beautifully. I felt the music, the gin, “yesterday’s revelry in the dark.” The poem feels like a dance full of pleasure, sorrow, and longing. It’s a wonderful step into another’s life or dream, and that melancholic ending rolls out like a wave that won’t return.


Photo: Rockwell Kent's Wilderness, Pictoscribe - on VisualHunt

Gull Eggs

"It seems that we have both together by chance turned out of the beaten, crowded way and come to stand face to face with that infinite and unfathomable thing which is the wilderness; and here we have found OURSELVES—for the wilderness is nothing else." (Rockwell Kent)

If you're living in a goat shack

for an adventure of the spirit

thinking of two women and

death a hundred times a day

on Fox Island, Resurrection Bay

between Bay Harbour and

near what is today Kenai

Fjords National Park

just you and your son of nine

thirteen miles from Seward

at the open end of the Bay

painting like one possessed

cooking playing flute cutting wood

and motor-boating the area round

on rare hours of decent weather

temperatures above zero °F

no incessant wind storms, drenching rain

squalls of hail or snow, you're hungry

in need of a pick-up

tired of fishing or corn-meal mush

try Barwell Island, many

gulls breed there, their eggs

are delicious.

— E. Martin Pedersen


CC: To begin a poem with the question, “If you’re living in a goat shack for an adventure of the spirit thinking of two women and death a hundred times a day,” what’s at stake? Everything! And, it takes place on “Resurrection Bay.” As a reader, who could ask for more? The imagery and struggle are there from the get go. I’m so in it, right off the bat; I feel like I need a jacket, maybe a life-jacket. This short and powerful poem is so intense that when I get to, “at the open end of the Bay painting like one possessed,” I’m trying to catch my breath and continue to do so, nearly freezing, until I get to, “try Barwell Island,” phew! And finally, that beautiful ending, it’s humorous, a great image and in such contrast to the fervor of the previous lines. I can breathe now. I just love the humanity in this fantastic poem.

I was also glad to learn about Rockwell Kent and his wonderful paintings. I’ll now have to read Wilderness.



I have been invited to a free luncheon

at Chop Suey Palace to discuss my golden

years. Also, a complimentary steak dinner

and tour of Summer Lake Village,

retirement Mecca for active, older adults.

My father got similar missives in the mail

when I cared for him at his Oklahoma home

among slide-rules, ledgers,

and Grandpa’s Civil War diary.

Summer Lake Village must wait –

while I poke the fire into blaze,

my fishing tent its only protector. The jagged

portal into Lake Nipawin drips liquid threads.

Under ice, a restless shadow ripples.

The Walleye circles. My exhaled breath –

a white spike – and the moaning winds pray

for the biggest one I’ve ever seen

to take the bait, thirty pounds, at least.

The arctic gale snarls, billows canvas.

The pegged shelter’s four corners ping,

snap free, and the Walleye strikes like Sedna,

goddess of the sea. In the storm’s howl

my meek pavilion soars away. Twenty yards

down-wind, the discarded cape of it

collapses from sky, slides across the lake.

Squall-whipped flames

and my now snared fish begin

their death-thrashing. Sedna help me!

I can’t lose this trophy,

can’t die of hypothermia –

The fire needs tending.

I rise from the rocker,

retire the poker from its stand,

settle into my hassock by the hearth.

The dropped missives blacken in flames.

I consider an active retirement

in Manitoba where the largest Walleye

of the season can win twenty grand,

about the price of membership

at Summer Lake Village.

— Alan Proctor


CC: I loved his take on the unwanted mail starting with an invitation. It invited me into the poem. I fell into the story of caring for and losing a father. In the heart of the poem, I felt the cold wind and struggle out there with the fish, the loss of his “meek pavilion,” and the plea for help from Sedna. “I can’t lose this trophy, can’t die of hypothermia” resonated with me, as it’s how I felt when my mother was dying. It was fun at the end to return to the Summer Lake Village. All of his poems were beautifully rendered and heartfelt without falling into sentimentality, and I enjoyed the depth and humor. They feel honest.


Clayton E. Clark is a poet and painter, born and raised in San Pedro, California. Her poetry appears in SALT, a literary magazine edited by Christopher Buckleyand, and WHILE YOU WAIT, an anthology edited by Laure-Anne Bosselaar. Find more on her website

The Flapper Press Poetry Café.

Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.

Submission Guidelines:

1. Share at least three (3) poems

2. Include a short bio of 50–100 words, written in third person. (Plus any website and links.)

3. Share a brief backstory on each submitted poem

4. Submit an Author's photo and any images you want to include with the poems

5. Send all submissions and questions to:

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