Mike James: “Almost Autumn and Time to Go”

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines throughout the country in such places as Plainsongs, Gargoyle, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Chiron Review. His fifteen poetry collections include: Journeyman’s Suitcase (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule), Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He served as an associate editor of The Kentucky Review and currently serves as an associate editor of Unbroken.

 

More By Mike James:

Grace

Paul Lynde

Oh Daddy, Give Me A Quarter For The Time Machine

 

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Although this photograph of Ingalls Pond, near Hiram in western Maine, was taken a few days before the fall equinox, autumn colors have already made an appearance” (2017) The Library of Congress

Timothy Tarkelly: “Neil’s Dad”

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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.

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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.

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More by Timothy Tarkelly:

Hastings: A Remembrance

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

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Tessah Melamed: “And Other Drugs”

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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.

 

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

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

 

Poetry

 

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

 

 

Nonfiction

 

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

 

Elana Rubin: “For B”

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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)

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

 

 

Some choice cuts from

The Ghosts of Our Words Will be Heroes in Hell,

the latest book project by

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

 

 

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)

 

Jason Baldinger: “Beauty is a Rare Thing”

 

 

 

Beauty is a Rare Thing

on the back deck
of a civil war farmhouse
that survived gated in Pimlico
you pulled out these perfectly
rolled joints, the Reverend ran
into the woods to make water
on abandoned washer dryer combos

we watch the ghosts of owls
in an ancient walnut tree, you tell
me of your wife’s affair, your daughter
and the relationship you struggle
to keep together. Fritz the cat
sprays the basement floor
all your art piled up/ forgotten
age and time passing
depression its own hair trigger

I’ve heard it said
beauty is a rare thing
it seems my artist friends
know this and fear this equally
we scatter to document it
we post it where we can
proof this whole fucking human
experiment isn’t completely
futile

that night we read in your shop
to six people, we ate in some
shitty bar in the Inner Harbor
you felt you had outlived yourself
depression pulled you in
I’m never sure you got back out

that night I couldn’t sleep
I got lost in the painting
in the dining room
flipped through myriad
books of photography
thinking on all our
faulty human prayers
after a couple years
I saw you again
friends heard
you were struggling
we came to watch
baseball, talk records

I spent the evening djing
while friends raided every room
trying to get you to sell
impossibly rare lps

after all these years
working around music
I see it like paintings
like poems, like sculpture
as something you can’t truly
own, we pass it, accept it
it feeds us as then we abandon
it to memory

I saw with each record
a look, painful
wash your face
you didn’t understand
couldn’t accept these things
were the sum of your legacy

after that the depression
pulled you back I didn’t
see you again, social media
tells me this mortal coil
finally shook you, I hope
somehow as you found
the end to this life
that life finally
gave you some peace

 

 

About the Author: Jason Baldinger is a poet from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He was recently a Writer in Residence at Osage Arts Community, and is founder and co-director of The Bridge Series. He has multiple books available including the soon to be released The Better Angels of our Nature (Kung Fu Treachery) and the split books The Ugly Side of the Lake with John Dorsey (Night Ballet Press) as well as Little Fires Hiding with James Benger (Kung Fu Treachery Press). His work has been published widely in print journals and online. You can listen to him read his work on Bandcamp on lps by the bands Theremonster and The Gotobeds.

 

More by Jason Baldinger:

“I forgot the earth and heaven”

“When Cancer Come to Evansville, Indiana”

“blind into leaving”

 

Image Credit: Lee Russell “Bartender and owner of tavern on the southside of Chicago, Illinois ” (1941) The Library of Congress

Howie Good: “People Get Ready”

 

 

 

People Get Ready

Any one of us is every one of us, if you get what I mean. I want to tap this guy and that guy and that woman on the shoulder and tell them, “You can’t be lost in your own world all the time.” But, of course, I won’t. The train is approaching the station, and the degree of courage required to board keeps multiplying. I look at the gray faces of the other travelers skulking about the platform. If they only knew that the same gene that gives birds the ability to sing gives us the ability to speak!

 

 

 

About the Author: Howie Good is the author of THE DEATH ROW SHUFFLE, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

 

More By Howie Good:

The Third Reich of Dreams

Two Prose Poems

 

Image Credit: Jack Delano “Freight train operations on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad between Chicago and Clinton, Iowa. Every time a train is passed, the rear brakeman of each train steps out on the caboose platform, and if all is well, as in this case, gives the other brakeman the high sign” (1943) The Library of Congress.

Ken Hines: “What the Children Know”

 

 

 

What the Children Know

On a concrete bench in a hospital courtyard
I wait while my wife gets an MRI,
her own personal snapshot of the future.
The only painful part, I was assured,
is the thinking.

Nearby, cries erupt from children
at the hospital daycare center—
one of their parents, perhaps, now sliding
my wife in the lamprey jaws of the scanner.

The children’s sorrow spreads like a stomach bug.
A teacher’s voice wafts across the playground
Shhh y’all … What’s the matter?… C’mon now.

But the wailing only swells
filling the courtyard with birdlike
shrieks and hollow moans.

Nurses on break look up from their phones
a man in a wheelchair opens his eyes
nuns carrying lunch trays pause mid-stride
all of them wondering, like me,
what the children know.

 

 

About the Author: Ken Hines writes essays and poems on matters he finds puzzling. Some of those pieces have found their way into Philosophy Now, The Millions, Barrelhouse, and Mocking Heart Review. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

 

Image Credit: National Photo Company “Playground” (between 1918 and 1920) The Library of Congress (public domain)