We are delighted to announce the winner of our annual short-form contest in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction: congratulations to Deborah Pless for her poem and I remember being poor okay

Deborah Pless lives in rural Western Washington. Her previous work has been published in BMP Voices, MTSU’s Shift, and Kindred Magazine, among others.

and I remember being poor okay

the sweat on the back of your neck prickles
as you calculate the value of all the cans you found in the trash
(outside your friend’s apartment, late, after she had gone inside)
and the regulars at the bottle return
whistle and holler at the size of your haul
(or your ass)

those cans will buy rice and flour,
apples, and one piece of
cheese on sale –
because you’re poor and somehow you haven’t learned yet how to cook rice and beans but you will, baby –
and the rough homemade bread you make will give you a gut infection
that steals your appetite for a week and stretches your groceries
even further,
a double win

until the clouds break, and water pours onto streets made slick with oil never washed away
rainbow puddles collect into rivers and rush down storm drains that you chase
because there, cans collect,
ripe for the picking
and you, you just need each nickel to give you a reason to stay


Congratulations also to our finalists:

Kelle Schillaci Clarke (She/Her) from Seattle, WA

Kelle Schillaci Clarke is a Seattle-based writer with deep L.A. roots.  Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Superstition Review,  Pidgeonholes, Barren Magazine, Bending Genres, (mac)ro(mic), Flash Frog, Cease, Cows, and other journals. She’s on Twitter @kelle224.

Pamela Donison (she/her) from Delta, BC, Canada

Pamela Donison, JD, has been a writer in one iteration or other her entire life. Currently a practicing attorney, she has published numerous non-fiction articles, three chapters in legal anthologies, short fiction, and is currently editing her first full-length novel, Sugar Plum, a murder mystery set in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Lila Rutishauser (she/they) from Somerville, MA.

Lila Rutishauser is a twenty-year-old poet. She currently works at a nursery school, where she writes in the spare moments between yogurt spills. Lila is a Bridge Editor for Brooklyn Poets and plans to transfer to Smith College in the fall.

Nathaniel Thames (he/him) from Arlington, Texas

Nathaniel Thames is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also teaches AP Language and Composition for Arlington ISD. His current works examine rural life in Texas and all the experiences that may contain.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered! We love reading your work.