Let's be forthright about this, even a tad starchy: in a publishing scene fast backing off from quality and lapping up the flashy and no-account, Pushcart's annual anthology of the previous year's best work from the small presses can no longer be complacently accepted as a showcase of ""alternative"" literary endeavor, we have to see it, responsibly, as mainstream. Pushcart III, in fact, doesn't require a selling by means of its big names; though the selections differ in quality, everything included is honest, serious stuff, the wide fan of editors insuring heterogeneity and even the welcome daring lapse. So we'll just highlight a few of the fine things herein. Essays: Robert Hass' rich, personal digestion of an early Robert Lowell poem; John Gardner's companionably reactionary sermon on ""Moral Fiction""; and, best of all, Israeli writer Pinchas Sadeh's breathtakingly brilliant meditation on Deuteronomy. Poetry: imaginative and bold work by William Sprunt, Nobel-winner Vicente Aleixandre, Seamus Heaney, Jane Cooper, Hugh Seidman. Fiction: a lovely/horrifying metaphor of pain/politics by C. W. Gusewelle called ""Horst Wessel""; a chunk of old epic polished up modernly but minus all coyness by George Payerle, ""Wolfbane Fane""; and--the topper for us--Wesley Brown's exhilaratingly chancey ""Getting Freedom High""--the man has got himself a voice ! Pushcart's annual effort, then, is ignored--i.e., unbought--at some risk in a weakening literary culture.