A Pushcart Nominee

I’m honored that Sleet magazine has nominated my poem “Learning to Float” for a Pushcart Prize. Pushcart’s Best of the Small Presses series has been published since 1976. About 200 small presses and literary journals choose six nominees each for inclusion.

Other 2020 nominees from Sleet are George Moore, who lives in Nova Scotia; Stephanie Cummings, New York City; Mark Simpson, Whidbey Island, Washington; Carol Barrett, Bend, Oregon; and Epiphany Ferrell of Illinois. Read my poem at http://sleetmagazine.com/selected/palen_v12n1.html.

Poems at Sleet, Hamilton Stone

I’m very happy to have a poem, “Learning to Float,” in Sleet, at http://sleetmagazine.com/selected/palen_v12n1.html.

Be sure to take a look at the other content, poetry and prose, in this sharply edited online magazine.

Also I have two poems, “Blue Piano” and “At the Supermarket After an Early Snow”, included in the latest issue of Hamilton Stone Review, which came out this week. The poems are at http://hamiltonstone.org/hsr43poetry.html#palen

While you’re there, check out Urbana Poet Laureate Will Reger’s two poems in the same issue, at http://hamiltonstone.org/hsr43poetry.html#reger

New Work Coming Out Soon

I’m delighted to have work coming out soon in five magazines — two of them places that have not published my work before.

I’m a returning contributor to Sheila-Na-Gig, with two poems; Sleet with one poem; and Off the Coast, with one poem.

I’m a first-time contributor to Hamilton Stone Review, with two poems, and Flint Hills Review, with a prose memoir of my father’s clothing store in a small town in the Midwest.

I’ll let you know when the publications occur and will post links.

Also, I’ll be reading this Friday on Zoom with poets and prose writers published in the latest issue of Ocotillo Review. 

Poetry Reading Saturday, July 25

I’m attending the Woodstock Mayapple Writers’ Retreat this week on-line and want to invite you to a  reading at 6 p.m. Saturday evening. (Early start because of the time zone difference). 

I’ll be reading poetry, along with poet and prose writer Helen Ruggieri of Olean, N.Y., and Pushcart Prize winning poet Nancy Takacs. We’ll each read about 15 or 20 minutes on the Zoom format.

The reading, one of four to be held nightly beginning Thursday, can be watched live on the Mayapple Press Facebook page or Mayapple Press Livestream on YouTube. The readings also will be archived.

Hope you can join us.

New Poem in ‘Ocotillo Review’

My poem “Campbell’s Tomato Soup” just came out in the food-themed Summer 2020 issue of Ocotillo Review. So happy to be in this fine magazine.

Here’s the poem.


Long before it was a series of prints on canvas
that helped make Andy Warhol famous and rich 

and long before it became something to sneer at
by foodies and people who never cook at home

and long before it was renamed Classic 
to distinguish it from the 18 other choices

including Disney Mickey Mouse, Healthy Request,
Harvest With Basil, and Parmesan Bisque,

it was something my mother served for lunch
with saltine crackers, peanut butter and milk

because it saved time for her, to open a can,
add water, heat it in a pan and pour,

no parsley garnish, no swirl of anything on top,
just plain hot soup in a bowl in a tiny kitchen

that looked out on a chicken coop, a vegetable garden,
an unpainted wooden gate where tramps left marks

to tell each other that if one came and asked
he would be fed. He would be fed.

‘Learning to Float’

My poem “Learning to Float” is out in the current issue of Sleet, one of my favorite places to be published. A link to the poem is here — http://sleetmagazine.com/selected/palen_v12n1.html

And here’s the poem:

Learning to Float

For Dale Trinka, YMCA  

Boys twice my age tossed me into the deep end.
I was five. The sunlit chop flashed blue and gold
as I sank, gulped water, struggled up and sank again.

Somehow I reached the gutter, pulled myself up
into their laughter. I wondered why nobody cared. 
Deep in my brain, the little amygdala wondered, too.

In my early middle age you taught me to float:
Lie back, you said. Relax, keep your butt up.
No matter how deep the water is, you’ll be okay.

And I became a fanatic, a born-again swimmer, 
learning all the strokes, doing laps every day,
even holidays if I could find an open pool,

until I kicked that, too, and at last floated free.

Manaster Poem in Off the Coast

Champaign-Urbana poet and translator Robert Manaster has a poem in the latest issue of Off the Coast. “Standing at the End of Yet Another High Holy Day Services” appears in the Summer 2020 issue, at https://www.offthecoastmag.com/summer-2020-issue#/standing-at-the-end-of-yet-another-high-holy-day-service/

Manaster’s work has appeared in Rosebud, Birmingham Poetry Review, Image, Maine Review, Spillway and elsewhere.

Great Lakes Review Takes a Poem

My poem, “Beater on the Ice,” will be coming out in Great Lakes Review, an on-line magazine that focuses on writing about, and writers with a connection to, North America’s great inland sea. My poem is an imagining of a practice in some small northern towns of leaving an old car out on the ice and betting on when it will fall through — the official arrival of spring. I’ll put out a link once it comes out. This is my first publication in Great Lakes Review, and I’m very happy about it.