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Flapper Press Announces Nominees for the 2022 Pushcart Prize in Poetry

By Flapper Press:

Please join us in congratulating our poets Gaby Bedetti, Maril Crabtree, and Debbie Theiss, whose poems have earned our 2022 Pushcart Nominations for Poetry. These selections exemplify the fine body of poetic work we have shared with you throughout this year in our Flapper Press Poetry Café.

Read more about the Pushcart Prize and the nomination process here.

Thank you to all our contributors and congratulations to our nominees!



I love singing harmony

but a dissonant closing chord

holds tension and motion

and makes the moment beautiful

like the crow of a city rooster.

When my five-year old would ask

a question I couldn’t answer,

she’d announce, “It’s a mystery!”

We preferred the mystery.


About the Poem: During a break from singing, I overheard our choir’s music director bantering with the accompanist about a tone cluster at the end of a hymn we were rehearsing.

From Flapper Press Poetry Café Poetry editor Annie Newcomer:

There is a question that is fun in the asking,"What is the most important word in a poem?" Of course, the answer is "every word." In a short poem this is especially true because there is little-to-no room for error or misstep. The imagery, storytelling, and choice of words in the short poem "Rooster" is perfection. In only 8 short lines, the poet provides a contradiction and then with no literal answer leaves us satisfied with an elusive answer. Harmony chords and musical notes are generally used to produce a progression, having a pleasing effect. And yet . . .

a dissonant closing chord

holds tension and motion

and makes the moment beautiful

How do we account for this contradiction being true?

It's a mystery.

And must rest inside the beholder.


Dancing With Elvis


He rounds the curve on my suburban Memphis street.

Music blares from his gold Cadillac. He looks at me,

eyes misty but pouring into mine.

like they’ve found home. Stars drift from his mouth

when he says my name (how did he know my name?

But then I know his.) He says


(he knows i'm a woman though i'm barely fourteen)

and i say sure, glad i've put on my new white shorts

and washed my hair so it flips up

instead of having to be dragged into a ponytail

(he sees so many women in ponytails

and i am different, i will save him).

i climb into that big rich leather front seat

and sit in the middle, not hugging the door,

sure of myself, sure that he'll see that i can give him

what nobody else can. He smiles that lazy smile

and his dimples come out and i get woozy

and want to fall right into his mouth, dive in and slide

into his insides, find the part of him that nobody sees

and pull it out, shining, the golden calf

truly worthy of worship. He takes my shoulders,

draws me close, curls his arm around me, can't he hear

my heart thumping louder and louder, my blood buzzing—

let me stay here driving with Elvis forever.


I round the corner of Beale Street,

heart of the tourist section.

I see him, standing in the Visitors' Information store,

four-color smile with dimples pasted on, the man

whose legs twitched and made my teenage gut itch

every time they did — Here he is, a life-size cutout posed

under the sign saying "Welcome to Memphis," those

famous hips cocked and loaded, ready for action. He says


and he seems to remember our dream drive.

His cardboard heart comes alive as I put my arms around him,

give him the love I've had locked away all these forty-odd years.

We rock back and forth.

I am wearing those new white shorts again. This time

I know it's too late to save him but maybe I can save

myself. I can give myself this blessing,

anoint myself with the golden memory

of what never was, yet existed, whispered me

into the flesh-and-blood-real-woman years,

helped me sit in the middle of the seat,

not hugging the door, willing to take the ride,

dance the dance, open my mouth and let the stars come out.


About the Poem: I remember endlessly playing “Heartbreak Hotel” on my 45 rpm record player—a good song to daydream to! Not everyone is an Elvis fan, but I think a lot of us can relate to our famous heroes or heroines in a similar way.

From Flapper Press Guest Editor Clayton Clark:

“Dancing With Elvis” by Maril Crabtree is a shooting star of a poem. It fires like a streak of light across the sky, or in this case around the streets of Memphis, Tennessee. The language shines with palpable imagery that doesn’t just ride the surface but reaches deep inside. Desire to be enough, to be more than enough in our world, expands this poem, ostensibly about a rock-god and fan, into a universal story of dreams, longing, and, ultimately, gratefulness. It’s a wonderful tale told with humor and grace that brings a triple twist to the term “joyride.”


Number 395

"Sometimes you can only say with color what you cannot express in words."

—Georgia O’Keefe

My camera’s shutter clicks a fourth, then fifth photo,

the lens attempts to capture Ghost

Ranch; its burnt shades on folding mountains,

red-brick mudstone, tan sandstone.

But snapshots blur the lone cottonwood,

bent as if quenching its thirst in a spring, wearing a crown

of harvest moon. Autumn foliage hides its branches.

Golden-red and tangerine-yellow leaves blush in the setting sun.

I pick up my journal, write pasty phrases unequal

to saturated hues of the tree. Then, I remember O’Keefe—

her color chart—over 500 colors, always with her as she paints.

I note 395, 397, 398.

*Parks and Points anthology Wayfinding (March, 2021)(originally published in Parks & Points, April 2018).


About the poem:

The idea for the poem “Number 395” occurred when my husband and I were visiting Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. This was the home of Georgia O’Keefe, and much of her work reflects the famous landscape surrounding this area. We were there when the foliage was breathtaking.

In this poem the photographer struggles to capture the beauty.

From Flapper Press Poetry Café Poetry editor Annie Newcomer:

Scholars have long held lengthy discussions on whether Art is an imitation of Life (Nature) or whether Life (Nature) imitates Art. In the poem "Number 395," Debbie Theiss is prepared to tackle this quandary, poetically. Like any good pragmatist, though, she insists we go to the source. Her poem, like a map or a Garmin, sets us on a path of delightful navigation. Even though Theiss warns us with her epilogue where her mind set rests, she builds her poem in a clever way, using all the tools of narrative poetry found in excellent storytelling to catch us off guard. Ultimately, she directs us to Georgia O’Keefe’s color wheel to describe the beauty she is viewing and sharing. This is when we realize that we have landed, not in a field of expected colorful words but of unexpected numbers. This surprise ending feels magical.


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 the 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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