Paul Koniecki: “1976”

 

 

1976

the Bicentennial Minute
is playing on the cathode
ray tube in the corner

in the yard around
the house you’ll own
for fifty years

half-full November
is an annual feast
eleven twelfths gone

and i am ten
someone said an old score
i am the skin of broken grapes

in the house alone
to hide or burn it down
your drinking makes me drunk

fire requires an accelerant
hiding is another kind
heart racing faster

holding one’s breath
takes oxygen
away

the harder you try
to be an empty room
each year i blow one more candle

wishing beyond invisibility
to disinvent
myself

 

About the Author: Paul Koniecki lives and writes in Dallas, Texas. He was once chosen for the John Ashbery Home School Residency. He is the Associate Editor of Thimble Literary Journal.

 

More by Paul Koniecki :

today the sky is
a flag that helps everyone

 

Image Credit: Benjamin Franklin Upton “Portrait of a little boy named, Frank” 1851–1856 Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Christopher Carrico: “Skepticism, Fantasy, and the QAnon Shaman”

Embed from Getty Images

Skepticism, Fantasy,

and the QAnon Shaman

By Christopher Carrico

 

 

“It looks like Floki has taken Congress!” my Mom texted me as the horned, painted, spear-wielding “QAnon Shaman” with neo-Norse tatts took the Senate floor.

“Where was the security?!” people asked. Well… they were right there aiding and abetting. The Capitol Police opened the gates and let everyone in.

 

We’ve been social distancing for 10 months, and the radical skepticism which has been eating away at us for years seems to have taken on even more malignant forms. Young earth creationists and climate change deniers helped pave the way for anti-vaxxers, “fake news”, “pizza gate”, “Plandemic”, and Trump claiming that he won the election in a “massive landslide victory”.

I find myself slipping into quarantine solipsism sometimes myself. A neurotic patient, turning away from reality because it seems unbearable. None of the social tools of reality testing readily at hand.

Who will talk back to the fantasy world that both the Viking LARP-er and the American President are living in? The postmodern constructivists who suddenly plant signs in their yards claiming that “Science is Real”?

Oddly, perplexingly, Empiricists have been enablers for Mysticism.

Usually thought to be among the Mystics himself, I have no idea who Yeats was thinking of when he said, over 100 years ago, that “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” But I can’t count the times I’ve thought of that quote over the course of the last three decades.

For the left, for decades we’ve seen defeat after defeat, causing us to question everything that we thought we knew. Even ideas of a minimum of social democracy are ruled out of line and targeted for elimination. In just the few months leading up to lockdown, we’d seen a wave of new assaults against Latin America’s Pink Tide, including a coup in Bolivia, and we saw liberals close ranks and portray moderates like Corbyn and Sanders as dangerous radicals.

Meanwhile the far right exploits these moments of skepticism and doubt: adding a dispute with the germ theory of disease to its ones with climate change and evolution. Unafraid to directly assault reality. Each morning our days start with news briefings of neo-fascist surrealism being taken to new heights.

We have no reason whatsoever to think that lukewarm liberals will clap back when and if they are at the helm. “Return to Normal” and “Nothing would fundamentally change” are their slogans. And they will use our Trump and COVID-era fears as pretenses for reinforcing the workings of the National Security State. They will refuse to directly confront the radical right – in the name of “unity and healing” for the “whole nation”. Imagine a scenario in a few years when a leader a lot like Trump emerges, but who is not a completely incompetent ass. Will the strength of American “democratic” institutions protect us then? There is no telling where it will all end.

Continue reading “Christopher Carrico: “Skepticism, Fantasy, and the QAnon Shaman””

Sonya Wohletz: “Piñon Tree”

 

Piñon Tree

In the old schoolyard there is a piñon tree,
Stooped and curled in the palm of a gentle slope,

A shelter where we drew alliance from a shadow.
We prognose her promises in fine-twigged fingers

viscid and clear issuing forth from the strips
Of bark that flays itself in offering to the sun.

A flame incandescent with the need for rain
Cries hoarse in the blue cradle of a desert noon.

I throw pumice stones in ellipse, one by one, then air—
powdered cast-offs patterning an elegant script

Across skins, telling of a heart, the vixen vein, or dog dream.
I didn’t aim for anyone there among the rabbit

Brush, amidst the smell of Easter and all the shells
Of the first story cracking open. A fragile yolk

that cannot be responsible for what I see entrailed.
This, the shrine that carves itself into a waking earth

With its slicing axis of damp and salt. The maternal blood
Swallowing speech into its quiet palace. I wonder how

Sorrow and pain have shaped the throat of grace. The
Blood council warns: “Do not invite anger here,
deceit, nor regrets. do not dissolve the home we are
Making for you here in thought.” I’ve

Lost the thread now of a poem where I stand beside
A boy or a tree and confront all of the deaths

I could not watch, the mother of each that places
Doubt on the cool ground beneath that tree,

Who places the rocks in my hand, who speaks
The word for throw in the language of forgiveness.

 

 

About the Author: Sonya Wohletz is a writer and researcher whose interests include colonial Latin American art, the motions of the planets, bats, the weather. Her work has appeared in Latin American Literary Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Unlimited Literature, and others.

 

Image Credit: William Bell “Piñon tree, Kanab Cañon, Utah” (1872) The Library of Congress

Paul Corman-Roberts: “Evolved Reptile Brain From Arrakis”

 

 

Evolved Reptile Brain From Arrakis

Evolved reptile brain wants to burn it all down.
Evolved reptile brain plateaus
at the spilling edge of nihilism
the real reason
Atlantis took a dive.

Big Reptile prayed for the meteor.
Big Reptile
                          got the meteor.

The simplest of details
like that little detail
left unattended
lying
in the corner
on the floor.

So many cannot rest
until this detail is secured.
Some move on to the other details
lying in other corners
they continually forget about.

We make so many excuses for our heroes
that we don’t make for our friends.
We make too many excuses to our friends
because we don’t imagine them as heroes.

I don’t know what it is
about tonight
but this feels
like one of those
very rare nights
when everyone is going to be ok.

And I don’t mean like “Oklahoma” Ok…
          …or maybe I do.
I’m not actually an authority
on what “ok” is.
It took me a long time to learn

I want the fucked up horrible dreams.
They make me feel relevant.
I get that these are a blessing.
I get that I’m lucky
                          they are only dreams.

I promise you are safe with me.
Please don’t hate me for that.

It’s too easy to say our masculinity is toxic.
It is actually much worse than that.
It’s a one-way ticket into the abyss.
They didn’t make a map for the way out.
But sooner or later we all go in.

 

 

About the Author: About the Author: Paul Corman-Roberts is the author of the forthcoming full length poetry collection “Bone Moon Palace” forthcoming in Spring 2021 from Nomadic Press. Corman-Roberts is an original co-founder of the Beast Crawl Lit Fest in Oakland CA where he organizes and teaches.

 

Image Credit: Digital art adapted from Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, London: Academic Press, [etc.],1833-1965. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Samuel Prestridge: “Feeder”

 

 

Feeder

Scrabbling colors–birds rioting seed,
a broadcast punctuated
by squirrels
                         as I hand feeders
from limbs, rails, poles, to my short wife.
She fills them, hands them back,
a Saturday task done
for luck, for variegated finches;
dull republican sparrows; blue jays,
braying fundamentalists; and,
this morning, one bald cardinal—
alopecia or a mate’s black
savagery.
                     The morning rhymes
with dirt-roads, years arranging
rearrange the evenings’ crows’
F’koff! F’koff! or hearing one night, two cold
stanzas into a poem that gave me only
two, a fluttering, then silence quilting
the beat before the rasping, bitter
call of the existentialist bird,
pure pique drawn naked
over a cheese grater. 
                                         It cried once,
flew away, never returned,
or at least, I never heard it.
But there’s a resonance, even now,
something in me saying Yes . . . yes, you’re right.  

Sometimes, it’s just like that.     

Not for what we offer, birds come,
not because not offering would keep them
here or away. 
                             Small charities suggest,
suggest, suggest, suggest, each repetition
feting the air thicker, stubbing any move
against an ignorant amazement
that isn’t anything but a lack 
of anything else. 

Once, Fort Worth, I saw Deke Birds fall
from St. Patrick’s cathedral.  Conical lumps
sprouted wings, veered upward inches from smash,
worked air to gabled roof peak
for yet another hurling.
                                                 They didn’t feed as they fell,
weren’t gaudy about it, weren’t attracting mates.
The plunge was itself, the rushing down,
wings clamped to succor a plummet
so intense it seemed a longing,
a sidewalk smack avoided
by a feather’s breadth. 
                                            Dropping,
they sang, their cry, a large tear
drawn upward through a slide whistle.

I don’t know all the birds outside
our window, don’t want to know,
don’t know why, but we feed them,
not for what’s done, but that they’ve come,
that they’re here, and we know as much. 

                It’s not so much a hoping
as a way of living in lieu of.  We do; 
they come.  They’d come, anyway,
but in our doing, we welcome
the scrabbling wings, the hunger
toward which we raise our hands.

 

 

About Samuel Prestridge: I live and work in Athens, Georgia.  I have published articles, poems, essays, and interviews in a wide range of publications, including Literary Imagination, Style, Appalachian Quarterly, Paideuma, Poem, and The Southern Humanities Review.  

 

Image Credit: Illustration from A popular handbook of the birds of the United States and Canada,. Boston,Little, Brown,1903. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Ace Boggess: “Holy”

 

 

Holy

Don’t recall which day pills
began to count me among their followers.

Old enough to make better choices,
too young to understand fear controlled them

as if I were a scrawny mutt trained to cower.
There are gods others worship &

gods they hide behind
like holy drywall harboring mice.

Which were mine? I bowed to them,
bent, broke, sacrificed while I muttered pleas.

My gods wanted nothing from me
except everything.

 

 

About the Author: Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry—MisadventureI Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It SoUltra Deep Field, The Prisoners, and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled—and the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, Rattle, River Styx, and many other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia. His sixth collection, Escape Envy, is forthcoming from Brick Road Poetry Press in 2021.

 

More by Ace Boggess:

Rock Garden

And Why Am I A Free Man?

Why Did You Try To Sober Up?

 

Image Credit: “Head from a Statue of a Youth” Roman 100 B.C.–A.D. 100, Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Lynn White: “Imagination’s Real”

 

 

Imagination’s Real

Back in the day
before elderly women
preferred to become blonde,
grey turning to blue was common.
“Look at that lady there, she’s got blue hair.
Look, mummy!” he said loudly,
“I don’t like blue hair, do you!”
as she squirmed with embarrassment.

Blue was a dead give away

of aged artifice
as, unlike blonde
natural hair can never be blue,
it doesn’t bend the light like feathers
to make that specialist refraction
of reality.

So it was a dead give away

of pretense
or fantasy,
of unreality,
or imagination.
But sometimes that’s perfect,
perfectly fit for purpose.
“Look at the horses in that painting.
they’ve got blue hair!
Look, mummy, look” he shouted,
“I like their blue hair, don’t you?
It makes my imagination real!”
She laughed in agreement
and thought there was an artist in the making.

 

 

About the Author: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Peach Velvet, Light Journal and So It Goes. Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/LynnWhite-Poetry-1603675983213077/

 

More by Lynn White:

“We Should Have Seen It Coming”

 

Image Credit: Samuel Gottscho “Helena Rubinstein, 655 5th Ave. Hair dryers” (1961) The Library of Congress (public domain)

Revisiting 2020: Our 50 Most Popular Posts of the Year

 

 

Dear As It Ought To Be Readers,

 

Despite everything 2020 threw at us, AIOTB Magazine was fortunate to receive so many brilliant poems, essays, interviews, and book reviews from writers around the world. Below, I have assembled the 50 most popular posts of the year based on the amount of hits they received. I know that few people will look back at 2020 with fondness, but maybe reviewing these posts from the year is a reminder of the resilience people have to continue to create in a crisis, and to channel the anxiety of the world into writing that connects us.

AIOTB Magazine was perhaps the only constant I had in 2020 that began and ended the year exactly the same, and completely intact. I have all of you contributors and readers to thank for that. Thanks for keeping me sane and connected to a community of writers when I most needed stability, creativity, and human connection in my life.

I have no idea what 2021 will look like, but if you keep reading and supporting each other’s work, you’ll at least have three new pieces a week on AIOTB Magazine to count on.

 

-Chase Dimock
Managing Editor

 

Poetry

Omobolanle Alashe:

Jason Baldinger:

Rusty Barnes:

Jean Biegun:

Victor Clevenger:

John Dorsey:

Ajah Henry Ekene:

Loisa Fenichell:

Jeff Hardin:

John Haugh:

Mike James:

Jennifer R. Lloyd:

John Macker:

Tessah Melamed:

THE NU PROFIT$ OF P/O/E/T/I/C DI$CHORD:

Hilary Otto:

Dan Overgaard:

Rob Plath:

Daniel Romo:

Diana Rosen:

Damian Rucci:

Leslie M. Rupracht:

Anna Saunders:

Sheila Saunders:

Alan Semerdjian:

Delora Sales Simbajon:

Nathanael Stolte:

Timothy Tarkelly

William Taylor Jr.:

Bunkong Tuon:

Peggy Turnbull:

Brian Chander Wiora:

 

 

Reviews

Chase Dimock:

Mike James:

Arthur Hoyle:

 

 

Interviews

Chase Dimock:

 

Nonfiction

Brian Connor:

Cody Sexton:

 

 

Micro Fiction

Meg Pokrass:

Bryan D. Price: “Progress”

 

 

Progress

I like to imagine that from out of the blue
people from my past will come over to our house
and I will be sweeping the floor as barefoot as a nymph
and everything will be turned right side up in the yard
and I will be all sober—listening to “How I Wrote
Elastic Man” and in the backyard the tomatoes
will not be wasting on the bush and we will walk and talk
about straight things like the curry plant Claire put
next to the sage that turned out to be a fraud
and they will be impressed with all my progress

 

 

About the Author: Bryan D. Price‘s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Posit, the UCity Review, Diagram, and others. He lives in San Diego with his wife, a dog, and a cat named after Pina Bausch.

 

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Rosebud Opening” (2020)

M.P. Powers: “A Room Forever”

 

 

A Room Forever     

Lying in an almost palpable silence,
the only thing he can hear is the blood
pulsing softly round his ears and the thin
noise that roused him from his sleep,

a noise like a lever-shaped door handle
turning, or an overturned automobile
on a pre-dawn highway, its wheels
spinning like silk. He rolls over on his side,

faces the empty wall. He can almost hear
the furniture breathing. He can almost feel
ghosts passing through him. He’s been
awake in this room for years, for years,

his mind charged with electricity,
something inside him reaching out of him
every night, anxious to become a sleeping lion,
a tree on a mountainside, a falling leaf.

He lay there listening as the coral-pink

light of dawn bleeds through
the underside of the curtains.

 

 

About the Author: M.P. Powers lives with one foot in Berlin, Germany, and the other in South Florida, where he rents out construction equipment. He is the editor of 11 Mag Berlin, and has been published recently in Red Fez, Chiron Review, Slipstream, Neuro Logical and others. His blog can be found here: https://mppowers.wordpress.com/ 

 

Image Credit: William H. Mumler “Unidentified man with a long beard seated with three “spirits” (1862) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.