THE BOOB AWARDS: 2022
2022: the year we didn't send in Pushcart noms in time.
So, we made our own awards: the Best of Our Bullshit Awards.
Here are the winners.
Announced January 1, 2023.
---from our online features---
the THIS MAKES ME CRY award
“Afterschool Activity” by Jennifer Ly
my mother’s version of a playdate is dragging me with her to the supermarket - just me pushing a shopping cart behind her, weaving in between the other families as she buys herbs i never learn the names to, spices she can only identify by taste; we can go play my mother says when i am older and still have no choice: a thirty minute drive from our house just so i can press my knuckles against the dozens of burlap sacks of rice that line the aisles like they are my age, friends, my skin capitulating against the coarse fabric and giving into scratches while grains of rice move to accommodate, lets my body for a second assimilate even when it bleeds; things made in vietnam are more resilient so it make sense that i still cannot carry fifty pounds of rice; i never grew strong enough in america: vietnamese opera plays over the speakers like a rave concert like a throbbing headache, i cannot translate the noise into melody, and at 28 i drive her because she’s even more reckless than i am i sit in the car and i wait for my mother, watching for the shape of her, spine curved and stooped like a dấu hỏi more and more as the years go by, mistaking another woman’s distant voice for hers, i forget what she was wearing today, she is one face in a sea of many and am i also the problem that i have been writing about in western media, she bends her head in the crowd, she lifts her hand, a lighthouse that’s constantly coming to me, parting the waters and the lands; we have been playing hide-and-seek and one day she’s going to stop letting me win.
the BACK OF HOUSE award
“ready for your next entry” by nat raum
in which you feed me
and tell me i’m pretty
on every inch of this block
039 pm bar
tbl 51/3 chk: NAT/BAR 51 2/14/?? 8:56 PM
1 valentine’s day i picked up a host shift
ADD the hollow growing inside of me since your brother
dumped me over text in october
3 hours into the night
ADD the fourth or fifth time i brought the water pitcher back
to expo and felt your eyes pull mine in like melting
ADD my lack of plans
ADD your well-placed questions and subsequent
1 double MRT tequila soda (mine)
NO fucks left to give
1 pitcher of natty boh each
ADD a menthol between both our lips, lit with the same
lighter flick behind your other hand
ADD a whispered dig about how your brother said he wasn’t
ever serious about me
ADD your knees touching mine one too many times
2 glances both ways to make sure no one sees us
ADD parking your silver camry under a tree around the
corner from my house
SPEC PREP climb in the backseat with my tights around my
5 strands of ruby hair glinting on cloth seats
ADD bootscratches to the interior your roommate would
have ruined us for
1 OPEN LIQUOR
A POUR OF SCOTCH I CAN’T AFFORD FOR YOU
ADD promotions, yours and mine
NO explanation for read receipts every night
ADD two or three dozen lies by omission
NO reason to hold on until next artscape over a year later
when the mahou keg kicked and i sobbed into my shift
the FRAGILITY IS COOL award
“If You Give a Horse a Jacket,” by Mahalia Sobhani
I’ll cry. It almost kills me,
the little coats on the petulant mares,
the steam rising from the cows at daybreak off I-94.
When the kid sister says I don’t want to go to school
and You don’t even care. It almost kills me,
to be so lonesome I could cry,
so lonesome I could die,
so lonesome I revert to rhyme.
So lonesome I could buy a sundae and eat it in my car
and it would be the highlight of my week.
So lonesome I could start posting on my Instagram story again.
It almost kills me, the placing of eggs
into just one basket. The sheer risk—I choke on it.
I am not a brave woman. I daydream
of taking a baseball bat to a windshield—
of righteous violence and surety—
of being the aloof black-hatted cowboy who comes to town
to teach ’em all a moral lesson—I dream
of shooting straight from the hip.
In fact, I need the thermostat at 68 to fall asleep,
caffeine within an hour of waking.
It almost kills me, how far I am
from who I thought I’d be. The fragility of it all—
the cruelty of the casual—
the cows don’t get jackets! God! It almost kills me.
the LET ME READ A WHOLE BOOK ABOUT THIS CHICK award
“Protagonist” by Ariel Clark-Semyck
my protagonist wanted to write you this poem herself, but she got whisked away on unexpected business. a sizable detention record delivered her unto the respectable fold of the church’s youth choir. they were rehearsing carol of the bells when she stumbled from the tip of my middle finger, crashed through the cathedral rafters & landed on the risers all knock-kneed, a startled fawn just spilt from the womb. my protagonist may look brand-new, but she’s actually an ancient spirit of scorned love, reanimated. a jealousy specialist, the hot-cold of purgatory lay hidden in her jawline pimples & pleated skirts. she spent last saturday at the steakhouse behind a quivering menu, watching you spoon-feed your girlfriend the tenderloin. she spent her last allowance on flour & milk, perfecting your mother’s cake recipes. the youth choir has her occupied on weeknights for now, singing up & down the major scales. but soon enough, my protagonist will be back on your block, in your alley, leaning against the brick of your house like that old queen-sized mattress you got rid of last month, the smell of you still on its springs as it awaited the garbage collector’s embrace. she’ll likely have mastered the minor scales by then. perhaps you’ll hear the notes whistling by your window. don’t be alarmed-- it’s all really quite flattering. her fervor, the way she’d worship your heart, as if eating a rotisserie chicken with her bare hands.
the MODERN LOVE award
“My Wife and I” by Daniel Tovrov
My wife and I play this game where I point out women whose bodies I want my wife to have. I pick all different types, to be fair and jocular, but most often I pick skinny, small-breasted women with thigh gaps and narrow boy hips very much unlike my wife’s womanly hips and womanly figure. I think maybe the game makes her sad sometimes, but she’s beautiful, perfect, and a good sport, and when we get home after playing a round she puts on the yoga pants and we do nasty things.
To be human is to create rituals; this one staves off famine and our more devilish spirits. My wife is much more successful and self-realized than will ever be, and she tolerates an amount of humiliation so that I may not feel too emasculated, impotent, resentful. We are stable and often happy. It’s unfortunate, to revert to this ancient order, but we’re the only couple we know that never fights. Some dishonesty is important, and can be a comfort.
In the evenings, after my wife returns from her draining day of winning bread, we sit at the bar to drink vinho verde and eat oysters by the dozen. It’s an unspoken and accepted fact that we’ll live out our life childless, and this decadence is our way of proving this is our preference. A child is anyway a promise that you will leave humanity better than you found it, but we’ve exhausted so much time trying to make each other happy that we’ve no lessons to impart to sons and daughters on how to navigate a life justly. Instead, my wife pays the mortgage and I pay for the shellfish. We are built to last.
When I say I love that woman more every day, it’s true. I follow her like she’s Buddha himself. After a village of oysters’ shells have been flipped in front of us, she takes me home and wraps me up with those wonderful womanly thighs and she puts my head on her fertility goddess breasts and my entire being consolidates into a warm, fleshy orb of contentment the size of a cauliflower. If I could, I’d live my whole life as this happy orb, and I think everything I do is an attempt to do so. Oh yes, we’re just children pretending at adulthood. In another ritual, as she holds me she asks if she makes me happy and after I’ve responded I ask her the same question back, pitying anyone who is healthy and unaffected. For there is a robust balance to things, or so the Buddha has taught me. Sublimate the nasty, needling parts and let goodness be. We’re just two cauliflowers, each one absorbing the other, and looking for new ways to hurt one another in order to give birth to another day.
the READ and re-read award
"My Body Is Made of Sand” by Kalen Rowe
They saw themselves getting ready for bed and slept under the same roof. They had chances to meet each other. They loved poetry and shared poetry and ate poetry and threw up poetry and hugged poetry and laughed poetry and talked in poetry and looked in poetry and slept in poetry and cried in poetry and promised in poetry. They fed poetry and washed poetry and walked poetry and put it in their hair and put it in on their tongue and changed their clothes with it. They jumped into the middle of a cold springwater pond and dried out in poetry. They giggled in poetry while the sun spilled paints over clouds and rolled over the edge. They whispered a line at a time to each other and kept poems that never end inside magic boxes. They mocked the vain professors of poetry and swooned at the intimate, quiet professors who treated poetry like tissue paper they kept folded up in some secret compartment on their person at all times. They wept on stoops and in tents and by campfires. They asked if they could touch each other until they touched the little moon that pokes like a toy light out of a person’s heart. They each had a moon that came out across the sky whether through the day’s blue milk or the night’s eyesocket in desert mountains. They could’ve lived like this forever, nomadic epicureans gazing at our wasteland’s most beautiful deserts: rubber rabbitbrush, apache pocket mouse, cyanobacteria, little blue stem, gypsum. They made love on the highway going 80mph between 18 wheelers, through valleys and cities that might’ve seen them. Their homes would often sneak up on them and remind them of other lives that require them. They kept listening and heard that buzzing wave that sometimes passes like a moon through moments, telling them what they really want. They held each other in a tent on a cliff as a storm tugged the poles and blew off flaps like kites that wanted to take them into the canyon. They burned seaweed and dry bones between tree skin. They each took turns building fire into cones or crosshatches, laying their take from a hurricane's shored trash or a camping host’s trailer raid onto the twinkling coals like roses. They watched fires burn broken black mirrors into logs. They slept in an empty tent staked to sand that sleeps even with a million bodies massaging it and woke up with bites all over their butts. They spoke a language like a windchime in a world of bells, like a marble spinning inside a circular freeway, like the inside of a tire. They found holes in their bodies to let themselves out or took off their bodies completely. Their blood pumped with the creativity of lack. They wanted to communicate like water pouring just onto the edge of a sphere so that it mists and humidifies. They listened like a cave smoothed out by slow water pouring over rock. They wanted what the soul is like, a spinning spinning, gravity-less marble, ice on ice, falling through an endless sieve and being infinitely defined.