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The Last Time

The Last Time

By Steve CushmanPublisher: Unicorn PressISBN: 978-0-87775-116-8.Genre: PoetryPrice: $18.00
Available from: Unicorn Press

Steve Cushman is the author of three novels, including Portisville, winner of the 2004 Novello Literary Award. He has published two poetry chapbooks, and his first full-length collection, How Birds Fly, won the 2018 Lena Shull Book award. His new collection, The Last Time, is forthcoming from Unicorn Press in 2023. Cushman lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, and works in the IT department at Cone Health.


The Last Time takes us through life’s middle-inventory, those moments when any celebration in the present is quickly met with a memory of the past—a reminder of what we are without and how that can take from us more than we have to give. Even simple pleasures can have a ghost attached. It is here where marriage and parenthood teeter on the joys brought on by the everyday against the backdrop of how things ended before. There is a fear that tragedy is cyclical, that all the yearning in the world won’t fill an absence. But these poems resist the cruelty of memory. Here is a speaker consciously trying to plunge forward by taking the time to stand still. Memory is not an omen or a haunt, but a chance to see who we were to understand who we are. That is how we connect. That is how we connect in this space. These poems remind us that every moment of our lives is worthy of remembering, of seeing it through, and in that act, we are never truly without.

RAY McMANUS, author of PUNCH

Steve Cushman’s The Last Time is a book of the many-layered American suburb and those who live there. In these conversational poems, Cushman immerses us in the oft-ignored details of a life filled with aging parents, marriage, children, and the day-to-day of professional work. A place where a mother offers valuable help as her two men head off on a Scouting trip. A place where neighbors will retrieve your stolen shoes, where the local barkeep will put you in a cab saying, ‘watch for bumps . . . [you’re] transporting precious cargo.’ Cushman’s poems are accessible, poignant, and, at their best, will help you to remember all of the blessing in your own life. Fans of Billy Collins or Galway Kinnell will find much here to enjoy.

Terry Kennedy, author of WHAT THE LIGHT LEAVES HIDDEN