Sue Blaustein: “Microscopy”

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Microscopy

What’s under our skins?

                Show me –
through an illustrated cut-out,
                an incision
or window – what lies
                under soft
and folded flesh.

                What’s in there?
Zoom in, then in once more
                to see. Cell structures
revealed by swirls stained
                purple. Vacuoles,

membranes – pores
                endowed
with intelligence! Chemical
                locks, chemical
keys – receptors.
                Shapes.

What’s under our skins?

(My mother knew – from
autopsies and slides).

Away from the flaws
                and heat,
the embarrassments
                of flesh –

                attentive
and schooled
in the wonders
of magnification,

my mother
in her working days
spent hours
at the microscope.
What’s under our skins –
                our skulls?

The more you magnify,
                the closer in –
cellular, molecular,
atomic, sub-atomic ­-
everything starts
to look strangely the same.

Is that a womb, or a brain?

Fundamental
and fundamental.
                Shapes.
Coils of DNA, twitchy
                in a nucleus –

the secret codes and keys
accounting for the ways
                my mother and I
are alike and unalike.

                My mother –
who pored over
The Double Helix
when it first came out –
who could write lines
in a trip journal like:
our capable guide endlessly
                over-informed us.

                I stay informed.
I read about the frontiers of biology –

                Virus,
prion, shred
of protein.
Electron sharing and bonds
creeping along the boundaries
                between
living and non-living –
                things known,
and not yet known
                in her time,
                her prime.
                On that last trip
for which she kept a journal,
(she’d been a widow for more
than a decade by then)
she woke thinking she’d slept
all night and it was breakfast.

                It wasn’t.
It was dinner. Some other
travelers set her straight
                and she wrote:

I was informed that I was dis-oriented.

                Shapes and
chemicals create
                relationships.
Tastes and tics, a way
of making
                sentences.
A preferred way
to spend your days.
Until reaching a point
at which you,
                or yours (on
your behalf) say:
                This isn’t
what I’d call living…

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About the Author: Sue Blaustein is the author of “In the Field, Autobiography of an Inspector”. Her information can be found at www.sueblaustein.com. Recently she contributed a poem to a “The Subtle Forces” podcast episode and was interviewed on the “Blue Collar Gospel Hour”. A retiree, she blogs for Milwaukee’s  Ex Fabula, serves as an interviewer/writer for the “My Life My Story” program at the Zablocki VA Medical Center, and chases insects at the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center.

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Image Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston “Students in a science class using microscopes, Western High School, Washington, D.C.” (1899) The Library of Congress

Victor Clevenger: “Contemporary Tanka”

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girl in yellow dress
looks like a bobblehead            
sings peaches by bieber
searching for canned chow mein            
half hour before closing time

        face painted like clown
        cute missouri girl dreaming
        she’s a red balloon
        being twisted tightly into hearts
        by a lover’s hands

out the madhouse
man with trucker hat desires
denver omelets
light on the onions
still enjoying a fresh breath of freedom

        st. joseph
        loud thunder & sex screams
        echo through hotel walls
        three episodes into golden girls
        i open my first seltzer

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About the Author: Victor Clevenger spends his days in a Madhouse and his nights writing.  Selected pieces of his work have appeared in print magazines and journals around the world; it has also been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize.  He is the author of several collections of poetry including Sandpaper Lovin’ (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017), A Finger in the Hornets’ Nest (Red Flag Poetry, 2018), Corned Beef Hash By Candlelight (Luchador Press, 2019), A Wildflower In Blood (Roaring Junior Press, 2020), and Mourning Eyes (Between Shadows Press, 2021).  Together with American poet John Dorsey, they run River Dog. He can be reached at: crownofcrows@yahoo.com

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More by Victor Clevenger:

$5.00 Wok

Milkman’s Mustache

Thursday Evening in September

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Image Credit: “INTERIOR VIEW LOOKING EAST – White Crystal Diner, 20 Center Avenue, Atlantic Highlands, Monmouth County, NJ ” The Library of Congress

Sarah Daly: “A Photograph of Two Women”

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A Photograph of Two Women

Echoes persist,
even when the
photograph has faded.

Streets, once saturated,
are but a fine thread,
a trace of mourning.

Traffic, once an omnipresent rush,
is hushed and silent.

Skyscrapers are reduced to needles
stuck crookedly in a pincushion.

Days are lost,
others are embalmed,
if we listen closely,
can we hear their laughter?

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About the Author: Sarah Daly is an American writer with work in The Round, Litbreak Magazine, and Cabinet of Heed.

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Image Credit: Louis Fleckenstein “Portrait of Two Women Standing Outside” Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Lorraine Henrie Lins: “OST DOG”

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OST DOG

I admire the way they miss you,
those large neon-green posters stuck
sight-level on every light pole in town,
making sure we know your face–
that one floppy ear and roundish white
patch just under your eye.

You’ve been missing for so long,
that even I have begun to look for you,
feel that small whisper of despair on my daily drive
where I imagine the way you might sit by the door,
eye to eye with the doorknob, head cocked, ready
to bolt into the wide open yard.

I have started to miss the way you would have
slept by my feet as I worked at my desk,
the tip of your nose tucked under the smooth
curl of your whip tail, and smile to myself,
remembering how you must have done
that little dance with your feet when
it was dinnertime, the hard of your nails
ticking the kitchen floor as you moved.
You’ve been away so long that I have begun
to watch for you in the harvested corn fields
and down the sidewalks of the streets we pass,
as if you might be just around the next corner.

It’s been long enough for the faded posters
to lose their call, to wilt under snow and rain,
forgive the staples that held them to the creosote poles
and surrender the photocopy of your picture
so that all that remains is their weathered plea.

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About the Author: Lorraine Henrie Lins is a Pennsylvania county Poet Laureate and author of four books of poetry: All the Stars Blown to One Side of The Sky, I Called It Swimming, Delaying Balance and most recently, 100 Tipton.  She serves as the Director of New and Emerging Poets with Tekpoet and is a founding member of the “No River Twice” improvisational poetry troupe.  Lins’ work appears in wide variety of familiar publications and collections, as well as on a small graffiti poster in New Zealand. Born and raised in the suburbs of Central New Jersey, the self-professed Jersey Girl now resides along the coast of North Carolina.  www.LorraineHenrieLins.com

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Image Credit: Thomas Eakins “Portrait of a Dog” (1880-1895) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Michael Catherwood: “Suffocating Lawns of Skylark”

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Suffocating Lawns of Skylark
          —After D. H. Lawrence’s “The Mystic Blue”

In its waking, fresh daylight wanders
as morning settles on the railed lawns
that reveal the empty toil. Alone,
our damp surgery of lawnmowers

ensure our ignorance while we trim
away time to a row’s end.
                                                    We’ve set up
this ruse to keep us masked, to hide the cuts
emptiness brings, where endless whims

stage our survival and sharpen
crumpled distances. Our blood disappears.
We have cut and aligned repetition

in these mechanical rows—are deadened
by the fatigue of senses, the grid here
a false infinity we have fashioned.

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About the Author: Michael Catherwood’s latest book is Projector from Stephen F. Austin Press. Recent poems have appeared in The Common, I-70 Review, Pennsylvania English, and Common Ground Review. He’s the former editor at The Backwater Press and Associate Editor at Plainsongs since 1995. He’s a cancer survivor and lives with his wife Cindy in Omaha.

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Image Credit: John Vachon “Resident of Greendale, Wisconsin, mowing lawn” (1939) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress

AIOTB Magazine’s 2022 Pushcart Nominees

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As It Ought To Be Magazine is proud to announce our nominees for the Pushcart Prize.

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Jason Baldinger: “Let Go of Atlantis”

Sam Barbee: “Hybrid”

Ruth Bavetta: “Signals”

Lisa Creech Bledsoe: “The Magician’s Handbook”

Susan Cossette: “She Waits Behind the Drapes”

Imran Boe Khan: “A Thousand Miles from Your Bedside”

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Thank you to our nominees and all our contributors this year who have filled our site with their stunning poetry.

Paul Jones: “Magnificent Frigatebirds”

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Magnificent Frigatebirds

Who loosed these bright red balloons,
these breeze drifting drops of blood,
ripe fruit of mangrove clusters,
regents of the rookeries?
They dive to tease the manatees,
to take aloft flying fish,
to torment both gulls and terns,
to tear apart jellyfish.
We paddle near to their nests.
We can see their fragile legs
counter their broad sail of wings.
Nature seen in such detail
has so much magnificence.
Their height-hidden mysteries
are brought down near earth’s surface,
to the tight bundles of brush
where a fledgling tests his wings.
We can see now that he is
sky hungry. Almost ready.
Hear his beak’s impatient clack?
He will soar but never sing.
To be this close to flying
is what it means to be young.

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About the Author:  Paul Jones has published poetry in many journals including Poetry, Adirondack Review, Red Fez, Broadkill Review and here in As It Ought To Be as well as in cookbooks, in travel anthologies, in collections about passion, love, and in The Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 – Present (from Scribner). Recently, he was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and two Best of the Web Awards. His chapbook is What the Welsh and Chinese Have in Common. A manuscript of his poems crashed on the moon’s surface in 2019. His book, Something Wonderful, is now available from RedHawk Publications (and your favorite bookstore). Also in November 2021, Jones will be inducted into the NC State Computer Science Hall of Fame. Jones is Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers Network and a member of the Carrboro Poets Council.

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More by Paul Jones:

Something Wonderful

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Image Credit: Image from La galerie des oiseaux Paris, Constant-Chantpie,1825-1826. Public domain image courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Sarah Carleton: “Buzzards”

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Buzzards

I
On the highest branch of the tallest tree
after the rain, they open their bent-umbrella
wings and claim breezes
till they’re dry enough to puff

and then loom, black-hole sentries
surveying the neighborhood,
consolidating all the world’s shadow
and leaving the light for us.

II
Three vultures grip the top of the fence,
peering at the yard behind ours,
shrunken heads

stuck to a bad smell,
charcoal coats tucked close
like Dickensian funeral directors.

III
The driveway flickers
with hawks and buzzards circling,
waiting for us to leave.

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About the Author: Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo, and makes her husband laugh in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and New Ohio Review. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.

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Image Credit: Image from The birds of North America New York, U.S.A. Published under the auspices of the Natural Science Association of America, 1895, c1888. Public domain image courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Candice Kelsey: “We Didn’t Bother with the Rose Garden”

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We Didn’t Bother with the Rose Garden



at the Huntington Library
we trekked toward
the tussled little squares
of horehound
licorice lavender mignonette
and heliotrope
waiting impatiently
like overgrown graves
with bamboo souls
hovering mid-trellis dance
for people like us
who strolled on occasion
when the weather was just right
past the tearoom
into the Herb Garden sustenance
of thumb and forefinger
rubbing like grasshoppers’ legs
to release the scent
of garlic chive and lemongrass
even lovage borage
or sometimes marjoram
such funny words
that seem to rub together
now and release the memory
of a time when my children
had no interest
in the predictability of roses
preferring again and again
the chaotic clusters
of sweet alyssum
which I’ve come to learn means
worth beyond beauty

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About the Author: Candice Kelsey teaches writing in the South. Her poetry appears in Poets Reading the News and Poet Lore among other journals, and her first collection, Still I am Pushing, explores mother-daughter relationships as well as toxic body messages. She won the 2019 Two Sisters Writing’s Contest and was recently nominated for both a Best of the Net and a Pushcart. Find her at www.candicemkelseypoet.com

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Faded Rose” (2021)

Holly Day: “Scales and Cataracts”

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About the Author: Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been an instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her writing has recently appeared in , and Hubbub, GrainThird Wednesday, and her newest books are (Anaphora Literary Press)The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body, (Weasel Press), (Shanti Arts), and (Wiley). Book of Beasts Bound in Ice Music Composition for Dummies

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Image Credit: Angelika Hoerle “Female Bust” (1920) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee