The Heartland Review Press

2020 Chapbook Contest



and 25 copies




2019 Winner and Pushcart Prize nominee


M.H. Perry

From The Country We Live In


Fragile Animals


I picked tomatoes before it started to rain,

soft as breasts and pink as first menstrual blood

except where the hornworms had bitten them.


We trapped another raccoon last night,

yellow eyed and stained by our biggest blueberries.

This is the fifth one this week and my husband is in no hurry

to drive to the next county to set him free.

His sister dangles from the apple tree,

a green Mutsu in her teeth.


I must have fallen again. Tiny red stars of petichia

drip from my eyebrow.


My husband has moved back into our bedroom,

and I wake to find him watching me.

He has an odor I don’t like,

something sweet

that lingers.


Last week’s storm shattered the cypress tree

and in the tangle of limbs and leaves

I trapped a cottonmouth on the tines of my rake.

A young one, still red as the conifer litter,

its white jaws thrown open like a hearse.


Grey cat won’t leave my side today.

If I sit, she sits in my lap.

If I lie down, she curls between my breastbone and hips.


A honeybee lights on my arm to graze.

Maybe that smell is coming from me?


I make tea for a friend and we sit

in the kitchen where we can see the birdfeeder.

The birds are magnified by her pleasure,

their browns become burnt sienna, ochre, ecru

or good dark chocolate and crème brûlée.

She hardly says a word, just looks at me and smiles.


I would like to be one of those birds,

well fed, safe in the Ilex Opaca,

happy to be here, able to be over there,

in the long sky over the hayfield

wheen the mosquitoes rise up out of the dew.


When I was happy, I drank, sometimes too much for my own good.

An icy flute of champagne, a good fuck,

the monarch larva munching on the milkweed plants.

Especially the monarchs, those tiny stripes,

black, yellow, green layers like a Lepidoptera ratatouille.


I hate it when a box turtle I admired yesterday

turns up halved by the mower today.

I am tired of wax moths dislocating my bees.

I can’t abide the dead butterflies on the truck bumper

or the pelts stacked like kindling in the shed.

I love it when coyotes read the dinner menu

out loud.


A year ago I could walk with you

to the blackberry patch.

The berries were so heavy

they broke the grass.

Tasha Cotter's third book of poetry, Astonishments, will be released in 2020 with FutureCycle Press. She is also the author of the poetry collections Some Churches (Gold Wake Press, 2013), The Aqua Notebook (Anaphora, 2019), and three chapbooks. Her work has appeared in journals such as Contrary Magazine, NANO fiction, and Thrush. A graduate of the University of Kentucky and the Bluegrass Writers Studio, she is a recipient of grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Center, and the University of Kentucky Women's Forum. She makes her home in the San Francisco Bay area. Tasha is represented by Alice Speilburg of Speilburg Literary and can be contacted at tasha dot pedigo at gmail dot com.

Send no more than 32 pages of poetry in a Word document. Include a cover page with contact information and a 40-50 word biography. No personal information should appear on any part of the manuscript. Doing so, automatically disqualifies entry. Poets may use our submittable  link below to enter or mail the $25 donation by check or money order to 

THRP 2020 Chapbook Contest

c/o Sandi Howard

600 College Street Road

Elizabethtown, KY 42701

Deadline is postmark February 23, 2020