Cover Design: Julie Parent

First lines are tricky, needing to cajole and entice a reader to continue reading. A great first line compels a reader to burrow into a poem, a story, a play or an essay until suddenly, the rest of the piece is devoured. Clockhouse Volume 6 is filled with memorable and thought-provoking first lines that urge us to burrow into the words and worlds of  these talented writers.

This fall literary journals across the country, including Clockhouse, select nominees for the Pushcart Prize. The Pushcart Prize, instituted in 1976, annually recognizes excellent writing in small presses and literary journals.

Clockhouse is pleased to announce our nominees for the XLIV Pushcart Prize:


John F. Buckley, “Roll Call for Our Somebody Else”

Nikia Chaney, “the offering”


Chad B. Anderson, “But All This Comes After”

Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, “Tiger By the Toe”

Joel Tomfohr, “The Inviolable Rule of Love”

John F. Buckley’s “Roll Call for Our Somebody Else” begins, “Here I am, not not any Other. American/pride without reflection(.)” In startling turns the narrator negotiates identity,culture, prejudice and uncommon imagery and implores the reader to ponder these truths. Who is other if not one of us?

Nikia Chaney’s “offering” jumps right in with “this my knee moves/in two direction see front/and back and wrinkles at/the wrong touch”— then slicks to the mouth, to the neck, to the needs of living.  The body pleads and instructs with a topographical awareness of what is nested beneath each myofascial seam.

Chad B. Anderson’s “But All This Comes After”begins “The girl and boy stroll along the path curving through the trees to the river.” The murky Shenandoah winds through the day as the couple eases closer to an uncertain future. This day, however, will remain an indelible milestone in each of their young lives.

Soma Mei Sheng Frazier’s “Tiger By the Toe”immerses us at the get-go in a succulent and enticing beginning when Hildegard Oh-MacDonald (“Farmer”) returns home. “Aromas of hong shaorou–red braised pork, anise, rice wine–assail Farmer at the door.” We must keep reading as the nuances of this family are revealed.

In Joel Tomfohr’s “The Inviolable Rule of Love”the narrator’s memories are grounded in the bitter landscape of family and seasons: the cold, cold snow and the weight of a brother’s blanket, the equally frustrating ‘burning summer,’ and autumn mornings tramping through fields in search of game. Tomfohr begins,”My dad hunched over the shovel, his back broad, and thrust down and withdrew the fresh, heavy, white snow.” Memory, and the trauma that burden it, follows.

 Congratulations and best of luck to John, Nikia, Joel, Soma and Chad. Thank you for sharing your work. To read excerpts from these selections and to order copies of Volume 6, visit the Clockhouse website:

Submissions for Volume 7 are open until December 15, 2018. Please see the website for further details regarding submission guidelines. We look forward to reading your work.

Brenda Beardsley

Clockhouse Editorial Director