Timothy Tarkelly: “Neil’s Dad”



Neil’s Dad

I knew a man in Titusville
who had everything.
He gutted the house
when he first bought it.
replaced every old thing
with something built to shimmer.
A garage door for every crisis,
but mostly parked out front.
Kitchen counters carved
from Italy’s earthen crust,
but most nights, he ordered in.
Had his walls painted
with the fruits of ancient labor
but lacked the rigor
to turn the lights on.



About the Author: Timothy Tarkelly’s work has appeared in From the Depths, Philosophical IdiotBack Patio PressRusty TruckCauldron Anthology, and other magazines, online journals, etc. He has had two books of poetry published by Spartan Press: Luckhound (2020) and Gently in Manner, Strongly in Deed: Poems on Eisenhower (2019). He also runs Roaring Junior Press, a chapbook publisher that specializes in small runs of sci-fi/fantasy, horror, and pop-culture infused poetry. When he’s not writing and publishing, he teaches in Southeast Kansas.


More by Timothy Tarkelly:

Hastings: A Remembrance


Image Credit: Egon Schiele “Porträt eines Herren” (1910) Public Domain


Tessah Melamed: “And Other Drugs”




And Other Drugs

His sheets smell
Like smoke and sweat and sex
Like someone else’s perfume
Like the kind of shampoo that makes men feel like men
Like a last meal on death row
Like the pain of failure and the reluctance of letting go
A worst case scenario,
Black ice on the parkway,
The last drop of vodka sliding down a swollen throat,
Ten minutes before last call,
A complication, the exception to the rule
Two cracks in a sidewalk met with an Oedipal shoe
The distinct taste of a relit joint,
The stale regret she recognizes as her own.
Her sheets smell
Like smoke and sweat and sex
Like the last petal of a pink rose
Like sleep on a rainy Sunday
Cocaine and Pabst Blue Ribbon
Someone’s best friend screaming through a closed door
Like running away
Like driving drunk
Creating a home beneath unwilling skin
A 711 parking lot at 3am
The moon and all her secrets
A string of pearls ripped off the neck with a shaking hand
A slight fear of falling
And the hurt he placed under her pillow for the fairies to find.



About the Author: Tessah Melamed is a writer from New Jersey. She wants you to know that nothing she does is fun, but you can follow her on Twitter @wherestessah if you insist.

Image Credit: Erich Salomon “Murphy Bed” (1935) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.


Alan Semerdjian: “The Politics”




So many voices in the room
all missing each other

like a laser beam circus
or the part in the movie

where the thief needs
to infiltrate the stash’s safe

or get the remaining pearls
but the zig zag of red

lines is in the way (he mustn’t
touch the line in his routine

or else all hell will break
loose in the form of sirens

and bells, cutaways and fades
to possibly a sprinkler

system about to go off as well);
we are those obliqued lines

in hot pursuit of anything
but each other, too electric

to touch or embrace for long
or extend the figure of a

shoulder out for a head to lay
on, to cry on, and/or while

the thief steps over us—too
easily, now that we think about

it—and gets to what he must,
inevitably, get to, which is,

of course, whatever is behind
that goddamn unforsaken door.



About the Author: Award-winning writer, musician, and educator Alan Semerdjian’s writing has appeared in several notable print and online publications and anthologies over the years including Adbusters, The Brooklyn Rail, and Diagram. He released a chapbook of poems called An Improvised Device (Lock n Load Press) in 2005 and his first full-length book In the Architecture of Bone (GenPop Books) in 2009, which Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Balakian called “well worth your reading.” His most recent work, The Serpent and the Crane, which is a collaboration of poetry and music focused on The Armenian Genocide with guitarist/composer Aram Bajakian, was released this past April.


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Red Light” (2020)



AIOTB Magazine Announces our Nominees for the 2020 Best of the Net Anthology



As It Ought to Be Magazine is proud to nominate the following poems and essays for the 2020 Best of the Net Anthology




Rusty Barnes: The Act of Working

Caroliena Cabada: True Story

Leslie M. Rupracht: Hess Trucks and the End of the Double Standard

Anna Saunders: The Delusion of Glass

Dameion Wagner: I Have Returned Home

Brian Chander Wiora: We Might Have Existed





Cody Sexton: The Body of Shirley Ann Sexton

Carrie Thompson: I Don’t Want Your Hug



Thanks to all of our nominees for sharing their work with As It Ought It To Be Magazine!

– Chase Dimock
Managing Editor




Image Credit: O.F. Baxter “Pointer Dog” (1860s) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program


DS Maolalai: “The work-horse god”




The work-horse god

the hearse: an old
station wagon.
rust on its flank
brown as horses
at pasture
and prayers
being told
to a working
horse god.

the man in the casket
raised careful
as matchsticks
and shoulders to folded
back seats. then shots
at the sky
for his time
as a captain. rifleshot

the stink
of exhaust.



About the Author: DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)


More by DS Maolalai:

A Perfume


Image Credit: C.S. Price “On The Range” (public domain)

Elana Rubin: “For B”




For B

He chews a pen, the problem scrunched inside
the corner of his lip. He hasn’t quite
resolved it, but he’ll work until it’s right.
It’s 3:00 AM, and I’m asleep. Outside
my room he crouches to untie and slide
his shoes off. I don’t hear him come at night
or in the morning when he leaves, a slight
impression in the mattress on his side.

I never bought those silly sayings: “True
love conquers all,” the whole “soul mate” ordeal,
but I can see what might lead people to
when I wake up at dawn to pee and feel
him next to me. The infant sunlight slows
to soak his cheeks, an ink smudge on his nose.



About the Author: Elana Rubin is a rising senior at the Johns Hopkins University, majoring in the writing seminars. While she loves both fiction and poetry, she has a soft spot for form. Her poem “Student” has been published in Issue Eight of Minute Magazine.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Sunset” (2019)




Some choice cuts from

The Ghosts of Our Words Will be Heroes in Hell,

the latest book project by




Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner!  /  Jason Ryberg

The wind is whipping up
little cyclones of dust and leaves
in the ditch by the side of Old 40 HWY,

and there’s a star-shine gleam
to the chrome ball-hitch
of the pick-up truck in front of me,

and there’s road-side fences to the future,
telephone poles to the past,

and the sun, like a cyclop’s murder-red eye
is climbing up from behind the horizon
and right into my driver’s-side
rear-view mirror,

and Walk, Don’t Run by the Ventures
is playing now on the radio

and there, above it all,
a lone falcon or hawk sits, calmly,
surveying its little fiefdom from the top
of a billboard sign that reads,

Beef, it’s what’s for dinner!

You got that right, pal.



When You’re Poor  /  Damian Rucci

when you’re poor
you’re always fucking
or fighting

always fucking because there
is never anything to do
but thrust & moan

when that’s done
then you’re fighting
fighting to keep the lights on

fighting to keep the bills paid
fighting to find change to do the laundry
& fighting with the landlord
about that fifty bucks
he’s still missing

but it could be worse
you could always be waiting again
waiting for the electricity company
to finally kill the lights

waiting for that check to hit
the mail box
waiting for the winds to blow
luck your way for once



The Finger Has Got to Come Off  /  John Dorsey

crazy mark crushes his finger
in the back of a dump truck

instead of going to the hospital
he examines the bone

each angle
like the rings on a tree

each crack
a ridge of undiscovered country

clues to a past
that even he can’t quite recall

weeks go by
and the skin
just won’t heal

he says he’ll have to
cut the meat off himself
before it starts to stink
like a dying animal
left to rot
in the woods.



Lost Man’s Candle / Victor Clevenger

standing at the end of a cold day
we think about how it is always here
in some form good for a glow
hanging from a rope
tied to a breeze

it’s a lost man’s candle
the moon

creating the dull between the trees
branch’s shadows like arms reaching out
for a waist to grasp in dance
& we’re near

but there is no melody left in our breath
tonight     & there is no whistle
from the lips of the wind either

just the random cries of wild animals
that we’ve all heard
a thousand times before

as we stood there like fools

too fucking stubborn
to just find

a good path back home



The Ghosts of Our Words Will Be Heroes in Hell is available from OAC Books, and can be ordered via spartanpresskc@gmail.com or by contacting any of the poets on Facebook.



About the Authors:

Jason Ryberg is the author of thirteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be  (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry  letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Standing at the Intersection of Critical Mass and Event Horizon (Luchador Press, 2019). He lives part-time in Salina, KS with a rooster named  Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

Damian Rucci is a writer and author of five poetry books including his latest Don’t Call it a Relapse (Punk Provincial Press 2019), founder of the Poetry in the Port reading series, and was a Poet in Residence at the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri. He can be contacted at @damianrucci on Twitter and damian.rucci@gmail.com

John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Press, 2017) and Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize.He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

Victor Clevenger spends his days in a Madhouse and his nights writing poetry. Selected pieces of his work have appeared in print magazines and journals around the world. 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), and Corned Beef Hash By Candlelight (Luchador Press, 2019). Together with American poet John Dorsey, they run River Dog.

Paul Koniecki



today the sky is
a flag that helps everyone

you asked me to rub
my hand through your hair
natural and relaxing not relaxed
and i am a prayer bead
in a dream about cocoons

inside the prayer bead
is every room we will
ever visit and
the floors
activate only for us

opening lights and a place
to dance out loud or in quiet
celebration your shoes
need no excuse
or barefoot in the sand

like the southernmost tip
of mexico and all the pins
we put in the world-map
one of us hung up
on the wall of our first place

the second story i ever wrote began
when girls were petals and
i was an ignorant boy
now reality is a floor
and the lights

are all the space needed
for a slow-dance
see the night blooming
moon-flowers writing
to us from

the southernmost
tip of the moon
every time we see each other
is the first time again
because they like the view



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.


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Sunset” (2020)


Hilary Otto: “Show don’t tell”



Show don’t tell

Don’t say people get off on power
Say he licked his knife blade clean

Don’t say a tie is a symbol of status
Say he pulled his tie taut between white-knuckled fists

Don’t say he was privileged and benefited from good connections
Say his swimming medals clinked together like coins

Don’t say he is depraved
Say he smirked several times during a 5 minute police interview

Don’t say he will get off.



About the Author: Hilary Otto is an English poet, teacher and translator based in Barcelona. She reads regularly in Barcelona in both English and Spanish, most recently as part of the Berlin International Poetry Festival. Her work has been published in Popshot Quarterly, Black Bough Poetry and Fixpoetry, as well as in anthologies.


More By Hilary Otto:



Image Credit: “Portrait of a Man” Unknown Artist (about 1850) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Anna Saunders” “Golden Chain”





At 13 you lay with him on the grass
looking up at the trees’ cascade of saffron fire

as he tells you it is called Golden Chain
he turns and touches your blonde hair, smiling.

The flowers are sheeney
yellow mouths with extended tongues,
something else you cannot name yet.

How could you resist reaching
for the flaxen stalactites
pendant from the tree.

Afterwards sickness,
your body writhing in the night

learning what love is – reaching to the sky,
ripping flowers from the bough
eating, hungrily.

Then the sleeplessness, the aching heart.


All parts of the common laburnum are poisonous – the bark, roots, leaves and especially the seed pods. They contain the alkaloid toxin cytisine. Consumption of this can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, frothing at the mouth, convulsions and even death through paralysis



About the Author: Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox (Indigo Dreams) and Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams, Spring 2018). Anna has had poems published in journals and anthologies, which include Ambit, The North, New Walk Magazine, Amaryllis, Iota, Caduceus, Envoi, The Wenlock Anthology, Eyeflash, and The Museum of Light. Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. She has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue.


More by Anna Saunders:

The Delusion of Glass

In The Drowned Woods


Image Credit: Sämmtliche Giftgewächse Deutschlands Leipzig :F. Voight,1854. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library