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  • Writer's pictureImagine a Bird

The Pushcart-nominated poem, I Can Hold My Stomach Like a Bag of Dough

With much fluffy esteem and thankfulness, I am happy to announce that my poem from QUIVER, “I Can Hold My Stomach Like a Bag of Dough,” has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize!

What is the Pushcart Prize? It is simply recognition, through a publication, of the best works to come out of small presses. Here is a more detailed description:

The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America - including Highest Honors from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Since 1976, hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in our annual collections. Each year most of the writers and many of the presses are new to the series. Every volume contains an index of past selections, plus lists of outstanding presses with addresses.

The Pushcart Prize has been a labor of love and independent spirits since its founding. It is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 60's and 70's.

Nearly any recognition would be an honor (especially as the Queen of Rejection Letters), but more in alignment with QUIVER's journey would be the hope that the Pushcart publication of the poem would comfort and/or awaken at least one, additional person. Big bonus if it would charge even more readers with a jolt of love for their own “fleshy vessels.” This monster of a world still has a long way to go towards altruism, so it is imperative that we protect and treasure our own minds and bodies in the meantime. The poem is from a bio woman’s – my – perspective, but oh, if all voices of all genders (and of all ages) could shout this piece 'round the globe, how amazing that would be!

As always, I’ve included an audio recording of my reading in this blog post. Each time I speak this piece aloud, my heart wells up and my mouth spreads into a huge smile.


I Can Hold My Stomach Like a Bag of Dough

standing up straight

hands placed above thinning pubes

fat resting in palms and fingers


perhaps gratefully.

In a mirror

I float arms

bend elbows into perfect right angles

relax muscles

see upper arm flappers.

I twist body

look at back accordion folds

draped on either side of spine.

Cheese curd thighs.

I don’t smile

yet, I do not cringe

after 50 years: an inventory of body.

May a woman’s self-love simply entail

noticing without scorning?

I watch and

I avow this living moment in fleshy vessel

say “Thank you,”

turn away from mirror

dress textured, edible, dynamic, instrumental body.

Go out into the world.


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