Alex Z. Salinas: “Pen Dream”



Pen dream

I dreamt I was a silver pen strangled by
T.S. Eliot / caressed by Pablo Neruda / left
Alone by Philip Levine / dipped in salsa by
Juan Felipe Herrera / stuck between 
Terrance Hayes’ lips like his last cigarette 
For the night / not once did anyone’s hand 
Grip my body / slide it across fresh paper / 
Gwendolyn Brooks, mama bear and auntie
Of poets, was the only one who came downstairs 
And whispered a promise in my ear / suddenly 
The party ended / I woke with a huge headache /
Realized the throbbing was actually in my heart /
That I longed to be an object of desire and, resist
As I might / be smashed like dirt clung to my feet.


About the Author: Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. He serves as poetry editor of the San Antonio Review. His debut feature-length book of poems, Warbles, will be released by Hekate Publishing in fall 2019.


More By Alex Z. Salinas:

The Great Thing About Driving With A Crack In Your Windshield


Image Credit: Diego Rivera “Young Man with a Fountain Pen” (1914) Public Domain

Mike Acker: “Ex”



is said with such ease, such nonchalance
when what’s meant is the once beloved
the once esteemed once revered

before the universe decided to test the bond
and the bond failed, before the tear, the rip
sometimes terse, often sustained

regardless, the ex, a two-letter word
packed tight like a small, thick scar
long after the slash


About the Author: Mike Acker lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has lived in various parts of the world; his early education was in German and French. While living in California, he worked as a professional translator. Mike enjoys writing short poetry, especially with the intent of exploring the possibilities latent in a single image.

More By Mike Acker:
Image Credit: Jacob Byerly “Portrait of a Woman” (1852) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Larry Smith: “The Story of Rugs”



The Story of Rugs

They cover holes in the earth
we walk upon when all else
has let us down.  
Woven by elders from the 
hair of sheep fresh shorn
their faces kiss our feet.
For days at a time 
the old sit in silence
peddling and bobbing
to continue our line.

And so, their deaths
move us closer to the time
when no rugs are spread before us,
and their faces are worn through,
when empty spaces
fill our hearts.



About the Author: Larry Smith is a poet, fiction writer, and editor-publisher of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio where they feature a Working Lives and an Appalachian Writing Series. He is also the biographer of Kenneth Patchen and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He lives in Huron, Ohio, along the shores of Lake Erie.


More By Larry Smith:

Forget Math and Science


No Walls


Image Credit: “Two women making rugs on porch” The Library of Congress

“Transplant” By Tony Gloeggler



Everyone tells me
I’m a lucky man,
blessed and fortunate
to have four willing donors.
And I know they’re right,
people wither away 
waiting for kidneys 
on endless lists
with no guarantees. 
I’ve talked to doctors, 
did extensive research 
and came away convinced
it’s a highly successful 
procedure. Everyone’s 
encouraging, assuring me
it’s not nearly as bad 
as last year’s open heart 
surgery and my two friends 
with transplants are both 
alive and living normal lives.  
Yes, I am so sick of dialysis 
treatments, three times 
a week for three and a half 
hours a day with its sudden 
blood pressure drops 
and crippling cramps
that leave me hobbling
around like a slow motion
half dazed zombie who only
wants to sleep my life away
that I’d do almost anything.

My youngest brother proved 
a perfect match. We’re looking 
at July when his work slows down
and his wife’s school breaks 
for summer so she can watch 
their kids while he recovers. 
There’s no way to thank him 
and yes, I can hardly wait. 
Except my mind keeps 
filling up with thoughts 
of  something going wrong, 
something bad happening 
to him during the operation, 
and then who will tell me 
what to say to his wife, 
to his kids, Daniel and Lexie.


About Tony Gloeggler: I am a life-long resident of New York City and have managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. My work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Rattle, The Examined Life Journal, Raleigh Review, New Ohio Review, Stirring and The NY Times. My full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) which focused on my job and the autistic son of a former girlfriend. My next book, What Kind Of Man, will be published by NYQ Books in 2019.


More By Tony Gloeggler


“Visitor’s Day at the Group Home”

“In the Building”


Image Credit: Henry Gray “The Relation of the Kidneys from Behind” (1918) Public Domain

“The President Called the United States a Company” By Prince Bush



The President Called the United States a Company 

A Christmas mourning / I mourn God’s slain child
and Jesus Christ, a wall that’s hard to yield
to while crows eat / kids starve / ovaled stomachs 

feed on human flesh / hosts as repurposed
puppets or proponents purporting laws
and slips on behalf of Freudian slips 

            the President called the United States
            a company / and there’s truth / I too sing 

company / throwing precious repastures
away / enough to feed refugees they
say there’s no food for. I mourn a Jesús

             and Jesus / you might not / so how can I
             show you mercy?—replace Jesus with green

wood-plants / white people / you / must keep Jesús
because death is owned by a company
that must throw away precious repastures.


About the Author: Prince Bush is a poet attending Fisk University. His work has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, SOFTBLOW, Cotton Xenomorph, Protean, and Mobius, among others. More work and biographical information can be found at

Image Credit: D.R. Payne “Border monuments 223, 224, and 225, along the California-Mexico border” (1892) The Library of Congress

As It Ought To Be Magazine’s Nominees for the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology


As It Ought To Be Magazine is proud to announce our nominees for Sundress Publications’ 2019 Best of the Net Anthology.



Ruth Bavetta “A Murder”

John Dorsey “Anthony Bourdain Crosses the River of the Dead”

Mike James “Grace”

Rebecca Schumejda “i don’t want this poem to be about the death penalty, but it is”

Bunkong Tuon “Gender Danger”

Kory Wells “Untold Story”



Daniel Crocker “Mania Makes Me a Better Poet”

Nathan Graziano “The Misery of Fun”


Congratulations to our nominees and thank you to all of the writers and readers who have supported As It Ought To Be Magazine.


Image Credit: Henry Pointer “The Attentive Pupil” (1865) Digitally Enhanced. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Charlie Brice: “The Truth About Indecision”



The Truth About Indecision

Our poetry reading was a great success
even though the heavens opened that day
in Pittsburgh and turned Maple Avenue,
our street, into Deluge Boulevard.

“The only time I believe in a supreme
being,” I told my wife, Judy, herself a poet
who was to read that night. “Only a god
could be this nasty,” I said, falling into the same

self-centered lunacy that my religious friends
favor. “This is god’s revenge upon my poor
atheist self,” I proclaimed, but she (for in
my atheist lexicon, god is an angry woman)

relented, the rain stopped, and it was 
standing room only at our reading.

What I really wanted this poem to be
about was the day after our reading 
when our friends fell in love with the 
flowers and trees Judy had planted

in our back yard. They didn’t even mind 
the organic calling cards our poodle, Mugsi,
had left for them, but that’s not what 
I wanted to write about either.

It’s the names of flowers that inspired
this poem. Why do they call them Rose 
of Sharon? Why not Sharon’s Rose—just
the kind of economy an editor requires.

What of these gorgeous bursts of pink
we call azaleas? Are there zaleas that
azaleas negate, as amorality negates morality?
And where are the lips that tulips connote? 

Looking at them a strange misshapen mouth
comes to mind, but lips? Were marigolds
originally Mary’s gold? What happened
to the apostrophe? Has someone named

Mary ever traded a marigold for goods or cash? 
What a bright and colorful world it would be
if Marys, or Kathys, or Larrys, or Johnys could
trade marigolds for movie tickets, tomatoes,

maple syrup, or bacon and eggs—especially
bacon and eggs. What if flowers became currency?
People could pay off mortgages with roses,
their cars with orchids, rent with dahlias,

and their college debt with peonies. But here’s
what I really wanted to write about:

Day lilies, the only aptly named flower 
in our garden. They are lilies that last
a single day—like the fame of a poet,
or the bloom of Buddha’s final breath.


About the Author: Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Main Street Rag, Chiron Review, Permafrost, The Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere.


Image Credit: Kazumasa Ogawa “Group of Azaleas” (1896) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.