Welcome To The

Fox Paw

Literary Blog!

About Us

What we do

Fox Paw Literary publishes fresh new writing on our blog. We welcome submissions of fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction and poetry.

We want to read your writing!

As writers ourselves, we know the feeling of waiting months to learn the fate of a story! While we can’t publish every submission, we do promise to read each one.

Congratulations to
our winners!

ACHIEVEMENTS

Creative Nonfiction

Nancy Cook, ‘Freestyle’

Fiction

Lizzie Lee, ‘The Peregrine’

Poetry

Caitlin Cacciatore, ‘Savage Stars’

Congratulations to
our winners!

ACHIEVEMENTS

Creative Nonfiction

Nancy Cook, ‘Freestyle’

Fiction

Lizzie Lee, ‘The Peregrine’

Poetry

Caitlin Cacciatore, ‘Savage Stars’

Read the Winning Entries!

FREESTYLE

Nancy Cook

 

            1

 

            The gate to the pool area creaks unnaturally loud as I pass through. It is early morning, early August. The sky has not yet reached full blue. My flesh is damp with dew, the towel around my shoulders far from adequate. Miss Pat, the camp’s athletic director, is already here, by the lifeguard chair. My entire cabin is here, huddled by the back fence. I am the only one of the Dolphins – third and fourth-grade girls – to attempt this mile swim. No one acknowledges me as I kick off my tennis shoes and drop my towel on the concrete.

            I’m assigned to Lane 4. On either side of me are girls 14-, 16-years-old. I hardly notice them. Miss Pat barks the rules: 36 lengths, no pausing at any time, switching strokes permitted only twice. I smooth my sides of lycra skin. Lazy water laps at my bare toes, smells freshly of chlorine.

            The shrill of Miss Pat’s whistle startles me and I’m almost afraid. I dive into the cold.

           

            2

            Over the next twenty years, I went to middle school, high school, college, law school. I was beautiful and smart. Viet Nam happened, and the sexual revolution. Easy drugs. Civil Rights took center stage. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Watergate followed. I earned money. I lost my virginity. I lost my confidence. Reagan got elected and turned the whole country back toward mean. Self-esteem went underground. I brought a baby home.

 

            3

            The last time (ever) I met with my women’s book group, we discussed a novel I’d selected, which had won numerous awards, about two mismatched young people trying to find themselves. The conversation went something like this:

            B: This was your pick, why don’t you start.

            Me: Well, first, I thought it was very well crafted. But mostly I loved the improbable        but credible relationship at the center, between these two damaged kids. Not plot-         driven,             just a nuanced interiority.

            L: What do you mean by that?

            Me: I don’t know. Subtle, a deft touch on painful subjects.

            D: You always have such an interesting perspective. I couldn’t relate at all.

            C: There was too much drinking for me. And too much sex.

            K: Indecent. I couldn’t believe anyone in this group would recommend such a terrible       book.

            P: At one point, I felt so dirty, I had to take a shower.

            C: It was all the drinking and drugs. What is the point of that?

            J  (shrilly): And the sex. How could anyone in this group think this a good book?

            P: Next time someone chooses a book with such violence, give me a trigger warning,        so I won’t bother to read it.

           

            No one acknowledged me. Was I so invisible? It was pure mean. I was almost frightened, but I dove into the cold.

            It’s not about sex and drugs, I said. It’s about growing up. Gaining confidence and losing self-esteem. It’s about co-dependence and the struggle for independence. Finding yourself and seeing yourself in someone else.

            You always have such an interesting perspective, D said again.

 

            4

            At ten, I swam a mile. I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be a missionary. I wanted to be daring and ride horses. But I was terrified of my father’s angry moods. I feared going to hell for a mortal sin of indecency that I didn’t actually commit.

            Now I fear the truth about myself. I’m terrified of my angers. I want honesty and freedom from too much responsibility. I can’t separate my own happiness from that of my daughter’s.

 

            5

            It’s early afternoon, early August. Distant traffic, a few bird songs, voracious grasshoppers, and random splashes collide to muffle voices of children in the pool and picnickers on the grass. The air is diffuse with chlorinated bathing suits, barbecued meats, clover, dry grass, and damp towels. Above, the glassy sky is a giant camera lens that captures the whole scene and its cast of characters: the group of women in deck chairs reading books, beautiful young bodies aware of their beauty, a tired red-faced baby wailing while a tired father changes her diaper, the lifeguard barking commands, preteens clustered together by the back fence. Like beads on a choker, people circle the enormous municipal pool with their common lives. Meanwhile, the pool’s six wide, double-length lap lanes are completely empty. They issue an invitation. A dare.

 

Nancy Cook runs “The Witness Project,” a program of free community writing workshops in Minneapolis designed to enable creative work by underrepresented voices, and also serves as flash fiction editor for Kallisto Gaia Press. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been awarded grants from, among others, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the National Parks Arts Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, and Integrity Arts and Culture. Learn more at NancyLCook.com

Creative Nonfiction

THE PEREGRINE

Lizzie Lee

 

The peregrine comes from nowhere, the proverbial bolt from the blue, its flight
smooth and razor-sharp, a lethal little crescent of pure diamond focus, and
fast, lightning-flash-fast, quicker. The starling on the fencepost erupts in a
great panicked crash of feathers, darts left, right, left again, zigzagging
frantically upwards, the peregrine a feather-breadth from its tail. The
starling is frenzied. It beats its wings, seeming to struggle in the still air,
flailing like a drowning man.

            We feel its fear, down here on the
ground not six feet away. We don’t breathe. Our hearts hitch in our chests. She
jerks a hand towards mine but doesn’t take it. Twenty-six years old then and I
had never seen a creature afraid for its life before.

            Later she will say the starling was
calling, screaming even, harsh desperate little shrieks, but I only remember
silence, and clarity. Two silhouettes against the clear blue air; the
starling’s moth-flutter, the peregrine’s scissor-glide.

            We watch, stone-frozen, as the
starling makes a mad corkscrew twist in the sky, shooting over the peregrine’s
back, and the falcon turns too, all dancer’s grace and hunter’s focus. They
flash above our heads so close I swear their wing-beats tousle our hair as they
pass. We spin like ballerinas on the spot but they’re gone. We stand there in
silence for a few long minutes, searching the sky, but they’re gone. Air as
empty and crystalline as ever.

            She writes a song about it, years
later. I wish it had been a triumphant return to form, as determined and sure
in itself as the peregrine had been, but it’s out for months before I even hear
it. Jake’s the one to find it, plays it for me as I drive him back to
university one cool spring morning. I feel a strange lurch in my stomach at the
sound of her voice – a little older, a little smoke-cracked, still something of
the spirit-world about her. More witch now perhaps than the sprite she had been
before. But beyond that, nothing. How I wish it had been a good song. Doesn’t
stir a thing in me and I was there.

 

Lizzie Lee is a graduate of
the English Literature & Creative Writing BA at the University of East
Anglia, making a tentative return to writing after many years as a bookseller.
She is originally from Rye, England, and is currently living in Vancouver,
Canada, where she is working on a novel

Fiction

the savage stars

Caitlyn Cacciatore

 

off in the distance

someone is learning

to make fire.

 it is a solitary engagement;

a silhouette bent

under the weight

of modern ineptitude.

 I watch them in the fading light;

here, fodder added to fuel

the flame; there, warm breath

blown upon an ember

which refuses to die.

 

in the space it takes to blink –

in the void between what you said

and what you meant;

the kindling becomes a conflagration.

 

I see you there

standing in the glow of the pyre

you built from washed-up detritus;

flotsam, jetsam, driftwood;

I do not need to speak

the language of mourning

to understand

that silver speech

slipping not from your lips

nor through your teeth;

or the way I can hear

your heart beating

in its cage;

or how you howl

in the shadow of the moonlight

and crane your head up

to the sky; now and forever

stained with the blood

of the savage stars.

 

Caitlin Cacciatore (she/hers) is a queer writer and poet who lives on the outskirts of New York City. She believes poetry has the power to create change and brighten lives, and wishes for her work to be an agent of forward motion. She won first prize in Bacopa Literary Review 2020 for poetry. You can find her at caitlincacciatore.wordpress.com

Poetry

Creative Nonfiction

Creative Nonfiction Shortlist

Casey Canright,
‘The Skin’

Carrie Lynn Hawthorne,
‘When the Frost Came Early’

Tara Thiel,
‘Waiting’

Morgan Christie,
‘Stampeding Elephants’

Kelly Proctor,
‘the answer comes in a fogged mirror’

Nancy Cook,
‘Freestyle’

Elizabeth Ramirez,
‘little apocalypses’

Elaine Erola,
‘Under Foot’

Layla Sabourian,
‘Amoo Khosroo’

Fiction

Fiction Longlist

Craig Barnstrom,
‘CAPTCHA’

Voyo Gabrilo,
‘No Man’s Land’

Lizzie Lee,
‘The Peregrine’

Melissa Ridley Elmes,
‘Keeping Promises’

Steve Bates,
‘The Intolerable Mr. M’

David Kern,
‘Laps’

Thomas Misuraca,
‘Boarders’

Bryan Starchman,
‘Hell Hath no Fury’

Bridgette Walden Boothe,
‘Composting’

Merle Kinney,
‘42DD’

Lance Nixon,
‘Alien’

Hyten Davidson,
‘Drowsy’

Miodrag Kojadinovic,
‘My Name is Aditya’

Gabriel Parker,
‘The Red-Tailed Hawk’

Fiction Shortlist

Steve Bates,
‘The Intolerable Mr. M’

Lizzie Lee,
‘The Peregrine’

Melissa Ridley Elmes,
‘Keeping Promises’

Kurankyi Dadson,
‘Winter Sun’

Carolyn Huizinga Mills,
‘Shampoo’

Bryan Starchman,
‘Hell Hath No Fury’

Voyo Gabrilo,
‘No Man’s Land’

Thomas Misuraca,
‘Boarders’

Merle Kinney,
‘42DD’

Gabriel Parker,
‘The Red-Tailed Hawk’

Poetry

Poetry Longlist

Animashaun Ameen,
‘Gay Grief’

Caitlin Cacciatore,
‘Ode to Summer’

Riley Danvers,
‘Death Howler’

Kelly Hegi,
‘Emancipation’

Emilia Kamadulski,
‘Common Poorwill’

Harps McLean,
‘blouses and outskirts’

Adrian Potter,
‘Nightfall’

Ron Bernas,
‘An Early Snow’

Caitlin Cacciatore,
‘Savage Stars’

Martins Deep,
‘so long, you’ve saved your kiss for a gravestone’

Shurouq Ibrahim,
‘Heredity’

Kristy Kwok,
‘On Valleys’

Amber Moss,
‘Poseidon’

Juheon Rhee,
‘Childhood’

Ron Bernas,
‘Peonies’

Beth Copeland,
‘Self-Portrait as Mountain

Sarah Guy,
‘I Didn’t Keep Your Presents’

Anastasia Jill,
‘Lantern’

John Leonard,
‘Psalm’

Cassady O’Reilly-Hahn,
‘Bacardi in the Lenin Closet’

Myles Taylor,
‘Anti-Elegy for all the trans
people who are still alive’

Maggie Bowyer,
‘Cavities’

Allison Cundiff,
‘Fig Tree’

Sophie Hall,
‘Spaghetti-Odes’

Anastasia Jill,
‘Thong’

Jody Mason,
‘Drywall’

DL Pearlman,
‘The Dragonfly who
Crossed the Chesapeake
Bay’

Kimberly Thornton,
‘Pancakes from Scratch’

Poetry Shortlist

Animashaun Ameen,
‘Gay Grief’

Allison Cundiff,
‘Fig Tree’

Kristy Kwok,
‘On Valleys’

Ron Bernas,
‘Peonies’

Martins Deep,
‘so long, you’ve saved
your kiss for a gravestone’

Amber Moss,
‘Poseidon’

Caitlin Cacciatore,
‘Ode to Summer’

Shurouq Ibrahim,
‘Heredity’

Juheon Rhee,
‘Childhood’

Caitlin Cacciatore
‘Savage Stars’

Anastasia Jill,
‘Lantern’

Contest update

Our writing contest is just past the midpoint and there are 96 entries! I am reading them all, but also will be announcing two well-qualified

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Let the reading begin!

Sometime last night our contest reached our limit of 300 entries! Four editors/judges are now reading them. Results will be announced later this month.

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