HeartWood Broadside Series 2018 Finalists

(selected by 2018 Judge Ron Houchin)


Grant Clauser
Hatfield, PA

Onion Snow
          A Pennsylvania Dutch term for spring snow.

Snow rose all night around the crocuses
and streams overran with Easter's excess,
one season competing with the next
the way the smell of an old dog
lingers for the nose of the new one.
You hoped this winter would be different,
that December’s moon glow promise
would last only as long February,
and when it left it'd take the worry
of gravel, the slough of salt
away with diminishing snow banks.
Think of the edges of an exit wound,
how it first blooms like a tulip
then over time the ridges close up,
fading, with luck, into a field of skin
that survivors browse their hands over.
Think of the dance the new dog will make
as he senses the first crush
of fresh grass under his feet, his nose
wakened to new shoots and rabbit trails.
Even now while you line the onions up for planting
another web of snow coats the dogwood buds,
freezes fox tracks in the mud,
another news flash of death
in a school or backyard or city street
and the heart, still trying to break
out of winter, freezes up again.

Grant Clauser lives in Pennsylvania and works as an editor, writer and teacher. He is the author of the books Reckless Constellations (2018), The Magician's Handbook (2017),Necessary Myths (2013) and The Trouble with Rivers (2012). Poems have appeared in The American Poetry ReviewCortland ReviewPainted Bride QuarterlySouthern Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry and others. Twitter: @uniambic

Cathie Sandstrom
Sierra Madre, CA

The Living and the Dead
               after John Berger

 In the center of a vortex
of light, spinning filaments
around me. We touch
at times—you and I—
an imperfect exchange:

That sunset, how I knew
with  certainty those gilded
edges of cloud defined
a shoreline, the lake of light
where you now live; three

months later, seeing
a painting so like it I knew
the artist had depicted
not only where you are
but where I’m going.

If  I am in the core of space
and you are in the surrounding timelessness,
then I have lost you
in this dimension only.

A military brat, Cathie Sandstrom has lived in four countries and ten states. Twice a Pushcart nominee in 2017, her work has appeared in The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Ekphrasis, Cider Press Review, The Comstock Review and Lyric, among others.  Anthologies include Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. Her poem “You, Again” is in the artists’ book collection at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the University of Southern California Library. She still expects to hear from the Pentagon any day now.

P.E. Portal
Victoria, BC, Canada

Salty Dreams

Lurid leaves
you were pointing to
the truth,
but mother said that
like waves,
are dangerous,
so I took a bicycle to my feet
and leaning through
streets of oily imagination
I crawled my adolescence, all
scraped shins and
burning tongue, I arrived
at the beach

to wait

and suddenly, the tide
came in with
arching back and
drooling fish
and threw itself onto
my painted pearls,
eating my lacy ankles
with froth and blood
and mystery wood,
until a yell so primal
as the pounding surf
wrenched itself from me
and down I went
onto the sand, into the sand,
scraped out to sea,
a slippery seal of
otter-soaked contortions

into adulthood

I don't know what
happened to that bike,
but at night, sometimes,
when bells ring all around me
and stars fall in my eyes,
I trip upon those wheels
once more and ride
across the pooling sky
back to my mother and
my daughterhood, to
rainbow-slicked car parks
and dandelion friends.
and I linger there
in the shame
and the hope,
in the beauty and the vice
of what is still possible
and what

can no longer be

resting only
and at last
in paper temples
where seagulls screech
their salty dreams.

P.E. Portal is an emerging writer living on the wild west coast of British Columbia, Canada. She writes about the nature of truth and the truth of nature. She is completing her first chapbook, "Paper Temples