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N!P’s 2016 Pushcart Prize Nominations

Nostrovia! Press is excited to announce our nominations for The Pushcart Prize:

  • Bob Sykora – “We Sleep With Computers”
  • Elle Nash – “the moon”
  • Emily O’Neill – “Need to Know”

While we’re sharing these poems with you, a final reminder that our 2016 Chapbook Series can be found as both free PDF downloads, as well as limited edition, pay-what-you-can printed chapbooks. Do check them out if you haven’t!

But for now, enjoy these fantastic poems:


We Sleep With Computers
by Bob Sykora

Most nights they just sort of lie there—they don’t
really do much. A new kind of nightlight,
pulsating next to our faces, humming
louder as their fans grow angry with dust.
Comforting us with the same TV shows:
Frasier over and over. Some nights we
watch people fucking on our computers.
Some nights we pass out clicking through pictures—
a party at your college apartment,
an impromptu trip to the beach. Some nights
I fall asleep with your face next to me
on the screen, four years ago, hair blonder,
wearing that plaid shirt you never gave back.
Some nights our computers die while we’re asleep.


the moon
by Elle Nash

a list of the identities i inhabit include

pretty girl eating salad at mod market
counter reading a book

night hands coming in from cold air
to rest on my nearbody

animals eating each other

really wanting to touch your throat right now
but speaking slow

putting my cellphone on my chest to
feel my heart beat against it

daughters of lesser nobility

the texture of water

sowing the myth i tell myself
which is that i can hold my liquor

the sound of gunshots on tv

the orgasm and when it’s happening
is everything but then it ends and
it’s nothing

asking when did we become wolves


Need to Know
by Emily O’Neill


I’ve burned the dress I never wear & taken back my summer
plumage. We’re both hollow boned & ribs floating away
from tiny coals. Confession: I’ve never not

wilted under somebody’s thumb
but lately there’s a woman with an ax
& a floral jacket & I’m her. My trash cigarettes,

chipped teeth. Trick knees. Green & gold & needle & thread
& here’s a song I don’t sing to anyone. Welcome to the garden of cats
wound & hissing. Welcome to headstones falling

through my fingers like Pez or pennies. I’ve always been
sweetly useless. Confession: I’m afraid of kissing
you like a cherry pit, like a crab unstrung from his shell.

I practice on my hand. Make a fist & tongue the knuckles.
I don’t know what certainty tastes like
but do know there’s spit & blood. A slick wrong

Minnesota lake. Let’s go swimming. I’m not embarrassed
of having a body or what she wants without asking
permission. Confession: I’m more unholy than you’ve imagined.

Blasphemy’s the dress I can’t remove. Freckle & needle
& Dalmatian jasper & here I am salting my shoulders, telling the truth
too soon. Confession: you keep your eyes closed

& it feels modest which is sometimes perfect.
Also, something I’ve never been. I don’t know how
not to live in filth. Welcome to the room I can’t clean.

Welcome to the shy insides of what no one bothers keeping.
I’ve been collected silver & snuffed candles & seen too much
of myself charred with want. Confession is a sacrament

& I still believe in those. I still believe my knees
could offer who to be. How to fold. I’m trying to listen for once
when I hold the umbrella over us

because it’s always raining & I am never clean.


Because it’s always raining & I am never clean
I’ve decided to stop disguising me. Here are the claws, me
teething where your neck turns, me spilling

then bubbling like an egg broken on a flat grill.
Me unbuttoning you with my mouth because I’m good
at mouths because you say so. You close your eyes

when trying to remember. Remember me to sleep & I’ll wasp
burrow into the ground. Welcome me to swallow you
whole & I’ll do it. Call me a fish gone blind

at the bottom of everything. Lighted lures
on the ends of every hair strand. I’m soft & glowing.
Wish you’d tell me where you keep what you know.

Is remembering a muscle? I think so. I strongly regret
not bottling our Sundays for future use. Welcome me
back to the table, unshowered. I’ll crack

an egg or six, poach them into soft orbit. A planet
for your thoughts. Nickel for your slotted wrist. Wind up
& count by lumens. One firefly in the garden is a moon to somebody

small enough. The water piles up & stands in a crescent.
A city you know I’ve not met yet. Have I known you years
without realizing? I think so. I’m good at predicting

who will matter by how the thought of them spreads.
We have a fevered future. Welcome me to hunger wisdom.
I wish you’d tell me where you keep me. If

I’m really the sugar in how you say my name.


I’m really the sugar in how you say my name
but more desert than dessert this time. Rock & salted
chocolate. The long blue line to Wonderland. Where

are you? Buried? Bitten? How thick
is the blood today? How little do you notice
the difference in heat? What’s it like to come

from sand & hate glass? What’s it like to scream
only with the corners of your mouth
eyes rolling because I say so?

I took my dress off for you—an invitation
to keep seeing what you shouldn’t take.
You won’t just take & I like that.

You hesitate & I bite harder. I want you
stuck like river bending in a valley.
What’s it like to hate sand & shatter

anyway? I want to push the stove & fill you
like an alley. Here, my fingers. Little ghosts. Here,
your fingers troubling me like rain

haunts the freeway in a dream. Confess
your sins like you don’t sin
properly. I’m rotten

in ways you can’t stand reading.
Lips. This. Hips peeled from denim.
I want to sweat your sound. You, loud

in a haze of smoke I’ll braid into a crown.
Happy birthday, flower spine. I’m your plaster
sieve. I leak & catch & leak & leave

without wanting elsewhere. Without losing you.


Without wanting elsewhere. Without losing you.
Without the usual serrated exchange of invasions.
You know. The dance nobody teaches.

We’re all just magnets waiting to be dragged
somewhere different, yeah? Just little poles
one wrong breath could manipulate.

I won’t breathe if that’s what air means.
I won’t breathe or ruin anything.
I’m not fishing for affection or playing

towards entrapment. Let it all be voluntary.
No declarations made beyond what skin remembers
& wants us both to keep. More time as a souvenir.

A second round. No shot glasses.
There are ways to get lost properly. Muddled
sugar & peel against the bottom of a tumbler.

Our thumbs dancing across each other.
A little ice & two fingers more. Wine wine
wine then the warmth is a cab & me ribboning apart

before you’ve pushed past my clothes. I’m aware
how impractical it will be to revive a sense
of what’s possible. To tell every story.

We skinny. We simmer. We strip
slow. Take weeks to find a bedroom.
Haven’t drunk myself sick since or cared much

for spreading thin on toast at anyone’s request.
You, the only one asking if I’m okay without pushing.
I could go & that would be fine. Close the door

before pressing into a new mattress. Escape.
But I return to see where this will land. Your hand on my knee
at the movies. Your mouth open when

I changed clothes on the street
without blushing. Confession: I’m glad
you didn’t laugh. Glad you haven’t left.

I won’t breathe a word until you’re done with me.


I won’t breathe a word until you’re done with me.
( I’m lying ) I’ve told absolutely everyone
who needs to know I don’t have time for them

because I’m eating French fries in bed, writing
you another letter just so I can lick the envelope.
I keep my corners folded in because it’s practical

& name only the worst parts because it’s not. Who can say
what rots? Who could tell me what I need if I don’t know myself?
The trick to belief is avoiding questions. Never ask

for what you don’t already know. Honesty isn’t complex
but it is difficult. My first kiss hinged on a boy not believing
my age or inexperience. I’ve tried to be older & open

ever since. A man told me it’s impressive to get engaged
then fail to wed. According to strangers I’m twice as impressive
as girls my age. A trick to play in conversation. If I told you

I could love you, what would happen next? I’m terrible
at math & monogamy, but I try exquisitely. We don’t have time to worry
what this looks like to anyone. I had to be here in person.

To steal an eyelash & make a wish. Happiness belongs to June
& I live in September. What if I show up pink & restless?
What if I’ve told you far too much? I want

more freckles & a cup of Assam tea & you
you you drowsy, teaching me to lie still
through noon. I want eggs even though I hate them

& to take you to breakfast in Minnesota. I want you
to hear I’m glad that you exist. I am. So glad.
To meet you again. I wasn’t ready the first time.

I’ve burned the dress I can’t wear & taken back my summer.

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