Frank C Modica: “Language of Love”

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Language of Love

sunlight dusts the kitchen
like a whisper
the food-stained handwritten
index card rests
on a pile of week-old ads

the pasta machine
sits  ready for the white flour,
water, and Crisco
mixed and measured
with familial fingers and eyes

after the final pass
through the hand-cranked machine
many hands take turns
with the rolling pin
to shape the dough
into soft rectangles
a plume of flour
covers everyone like snow

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About the Author: Frank C Modica is a cancer survivor and retired teacher who taught children with special needs for over 34 years. When he isn’t writing he’s riding a bike or volunteering with various local agencies. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in Blue Mountain Review, Lemonspouting, and Fahmidan Journal. Frank’s first chapbook is forthcoming from Alabaster Leaves publishing.

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Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “An Amishwoman rolls dough to make small fried pies inside the farmhouse at Yoder’s Amish Home, an authentic Amish farm that began accepting visitors in 1983 near Walnut Creek in central Ohio, along the “Amish Country Byway” Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Public Domain.

John Dorsey: “A Chicken Strip in the Shape of A Seahorse”

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A Chicken Strip in the Shape of A Seahorse

sold by a high school girl
in a hairnet
who can’t swim

is proof
that god
once danced
underwater.

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About the Author: 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 Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), and Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020). 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.

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More By John Dorsey:

Anthony Bourdain Crosses the River of the Dead

Punk Rock at 45

Perpetual Motion

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Image Credit: Digitally enhanced image from Arcana, or, The museum of natural history : London, Printed by George Smeeton for James Stratford,1811. Public Domain. Image Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

AIOTB Magazine Announces Our Nominees for the 2021 Best of the Net Anthology

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As It Ought To Be Magazine is proud to announce our nominees for the 2021 Best of the Net Anthology, published by Sundress Publications.

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Nadia Arioli: On “I Walk Without Echo” By Kay Sage

Frank Gallimore: The Shape of My Name

Ken Hines: What the Children Know

Dan Overgaard: Drifting Off

Ilari Pass: Delayed Rays of a Star

Melody Wang: All That My Mother Cultivates

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Congratulations to our nominees, and thank you to everyone who contributed to AIOTB Magazine this year!

-Chase Dimock
Managing Editor

Jason Baldinger: “these blue veins (for lilly portage)”

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these blue veins (for lilly portage)

there’s a copy
of leaves of grass
aging in the back window
of my saturn, cover now
sunbleached, dog-eared
torn, well toned
with car windows down
pages wriggle free
to blow in the wind
of interstate america

I brought walt along
for ceremony in 2012
on day two of 75
cross country travels
getting down to the real
america wherever

on morning two
with reverend copilot
in that green corner
neighbor of the lake, harliegh cemetery
we read whitman at whitman
while he brushes whisps
of the civil war’s hair

I tramp a perpetual journey
look for the soul in these eyes
this lost nation
looking for myself
in the mirrors of maps
strewn across front seat

walt has traveled with me since
a talisman for luck on these
endless miles where anything
is a moment lost in the weight
of every other moment
where every city fades
in the full throat of the rear view

I can’t count all the small town stars
the fireworks and sunsets
all the loneliness found
across these blue veins

like that years pass
I’m standing in a carwash
vacuuming the saturn
for one last ride
holding this dog-eared
abused talisman

I can’t throw it out
in a trashcan, in the last
of winter’s light even if
it is wholly disposable
it carries weight, o
how sweet the silent backward tracings

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About the Author: Jason Baldinger is from Pittsburgh and looks forward to roaming the country writing poems again. His newest books are A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press) and The Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press). A History of Backroads Misplaced: Selected Poems 2010- 2020 (Kung Fu Treachery) is forthcoming later this year. His work has been published widely across print journals and online. You can hear him read his work on Bandcamp and on lp’s by The Gotobeds and Theremonster.

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More Poetry by Jason Baldinger:

This Ghostly Ambience

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing

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Image Credit: Digitally altered photo of Walt Whitman. Public Domain.

Ronnie Sirmans: “Cygnus”

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Cygnus

    Homo homini lupus.
    (A man is a wolf to another man.)
                – Latin proverb

We think we are wolves.
I often don’t see the lupine
although I know most of us
can live quite carnivorously.
But the ravenous I admire
comes from the Latin cygnus.
A man is a swan to another man.

Wolves can pull like vicious tides,
while swans push wakes of silence.
Canine hairs scatter like fallen leaves,
while feathers are a welcome snow.
Swans carry a grace of awareness.
Whether ivory or ebony or other hues,
their bodies can iridescently blind us.

A swan is a man is a wolf too.
A man drowned when a swan
protecting his mate overturned
the thin kayak and kept the man
from swimming safely ashore.
Old wives’ tales (and old husbands)
say male swans who are defending
a mate, a nest, or their supposed honor
can break a man’s arm—or his heart.
Swans will hiss. Swans can bite.
You say: but they have no teeth.
Let me tell you, they do, they do.

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About the Author: Ronnie Sirmans is an Atlanta print newspaper digital editor whose poems have appeared in Tar River Poetry, Deep South Magazine, Atlanta Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Fathom, and elsewhere.

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More by Ronnie Sirmans:

Sloughing Words

The Word with the Schwa that’s Really a Short U

Remembering the Great Flood in the Frozen Food Aisle

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Image Credit: Digitally enhanced image from A natural history of birds London :Printed for the author, at the College of Physicians in Warwick-Lane,MDCCXLIII-MDCCLI [1743-1751, i.e. 1750-1776?] Public Domain. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Maryfrances Wagner: “Love Should be More Like Yarrow”

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Love Should be More Like Yarrow

One small leaf will speed decomposition
of a wheelbarrow full of raw compost.

Its root secretions activate disease resistance
of nearby plants.  It intensifies

medical action of other herbs, a booster
that enhances the power of others. Meant

to heal, it staunches cuts and wounds, aids
colds, and fevers.  Blood cleanser.  Easer

of toothaches.  Drought tolerant.  Content
to live in pastures, embankments, roadsides,

waste ground, and from a ditch, it waves
to us with its feathery foliage and yellow blooms.

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About the Author: Maryfrances Wagner’s books include Salvatore’s Daughter, Light Subtracts Itself, Red Silk (Thorpe Menn Book Award for Literary Excellence), Dioramas, Pouf, The Silence of Red Glass, and The Immigrants’ New Camera. Poems have appeared in New Letters, Midwest Quarterly, Laurel Review, Natural Bridge, Voices in Italian Americana, Unsettling America:  An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (Penguin Books), Literature Across Cultures (Pearson/Longman), Bearing Witness, The Dream Book, An Anthology of Writings by Italian American Women (American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation), et.al.  She co-edits I-70 Review and served as Missouri’s Individual Artist of the Year for 2020.

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More by Maryfrances Wagner:

Dreaming Through Covid

Losing Cousin Carolyn

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Image Credit: Digitally edited illustration from: Eclogae plantarum rariorum aut minus cognitarum Vindobonae :Sumptibus auctoris, typis Antonii Strauss …,1811-1844. Public Domain. Image courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library

Tony Brewer: “Pity for Sale”

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Pity for Sale
after Ferlinghetti after Gibran

Pity the bee who has no country
its fuzzy swollen appetite
and hardwired love of CANDY
Pity the window gladly accepting
so many waves of heat and hand
fogged with condensation of desire
Pity the vegetable in its untouchable packet
disguised as itty-bitty seeds
that are mere possibilities
Pity the failed backup
and MAKE IT NEW!
Pity the ambulance so lonely
it stalks my next-door neighbor
twice this year alone
Alone
Pity the billionaires in love with zeros
No! fuck those clowns right in the zero
Pity the worker who identifies with a king
Pity the tree dragged down by sweet honeysuckle
the redbuds pinking the woods
telling us it is time
Time
Pity the time it takes to feel
the time it takes to unfeel
to unlearn to unlove to unseal
Pity our ranks and forms
a slot for everyone when we all
would be better off marked OTHER
My country ’tis not insane
but copes horrendously
Sweet land – sweet liberty
ask any busy bee

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About the Author: Tony Brewer is a poet, live sound effects artist, and event producer. He is executive director of the spoken word stage at the 4th Street Arts Festival and president of the National Audio Theatre Festivals. His books include: The Great American Scapegoat, Little Glove in a Big Hand, Hot Type Cold Read, Homunculus, and brand new from Alien Buddha Press, The History of Projectiles. Tony has been offering Poetry On Demand at coffeehouses, museums, cemeteries, churches, bars, and art and music festivals for over a decade, and he is one-third of the poetry performance group Reservoir Dogwoods.

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Image Credit: Digitally altered image from The natural history of insects Perth :Printed by R. Morrison Junior,1792. Public Domain. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Larry Smith “Guitar Lesson”

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Guitar Lesson 

My guitar has lost sound
shed like snakeskin
in a desert of neglect.
Wood and strings longing
for touch dry up and
barely whisper their song.

And I beg forgiveness,
shoulder in embrace,
fingertips stroking the pain
into song. Each day,
each hour, each moment
our love revives.

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About the Author: Larry Smith is the editor-publisher of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio, also the author of 6 books of fiction and 8 books of poems, and most recently Mingo Town and Memories: Poems. A retired professor of humanities, he lives and works along the shores of Lake Erie in Huron, Ohio.

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More By Larry Smith:

No Walls

Union Town

At The Country Store

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Image Credit: Juan Gris “Still Life with a Guitar” (1913) Public Domain

Ruth Bavetta: “Spell to Name the Unnameable”

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Spell to Name the Unnameable

Light small fires against the screen
that separates close from distant.
Petition the sea tern to spin the compass,
the horse to silhouette the sky.
Burn mushrooms, magazines,
and mayberries salted with stars.
Balance rainbow upon rainbow
until there is no trace of longing,
no residue of what was lost.
Follow the red clay road
over the hill to an unspecified town
where the houses are unnumbered
and the answer lies buried
under the doorstone. Leave
your footprints leading away.

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About the Author: Ruth Bavetta’s poems have appeared in Rattle, Nimrod, American Poetry Review, Tar River Review, North American Review and many other journals and anthologies. Her books are Fugitive Pigments and Flour, Water, Salt (Futurecycle Press), Embers on the Stairs (Moon Tide Press), and No Longer at This Address (Aldrich Press). She has been a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee.

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More by Ruth Bavetta:

Wildfire

A Murder

Neon Boneyard

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Take Off Sunset” (2021)

Mike James Reviews “Erotic” by Alexis Rhone Fancher

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Mike James Reviews

Erotic

By Alexis Rhone Fancher

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Some poets bring a very cerebral enjoyment. Think of the pleasure of watching John Ashbery’s mind work as he leaps from surprise to surprise, tossing out great lines as extravagantly as a child tossing candy from a parade float at Christmas time. A reader comes away from his work with a voyeur’s amazement akin to watching a skilled acrobat do trick after trick.

Alexis Rhone Fancher’s work offers a different enjoyment. Though her poems display tremendous skill, it’s the stand out nearness of her images and the relatability of her stories which are most striking. She writes about break ups and disappointing relatives, about first lusts and “the regret that hides outside.”

As the title suggests, this collection is broadly concerned with sex. There’s a lot of it, with men and women. The narrator seems aware of every desire and records them with vividness. Her often long titles are a lot of fun and prepare the reader for what’s ahead. For instance, the collection’s second poem is titled, “Tonight I Will Dream of Anjelica, My First Ex-Girlfriend, Who Taught Me the Rules of the Road…” The title ties into Angelica’s T-Bird and what takes place there, which is a lot. The narrator tells us, “I’ve always been driven to sin.”

She writes poems about one night stands where, “We are each bodies, hard-wired for pleasure, / destined for momentary blooming / then extinction.” And she writes poems about relationships which linger past their shelf life. She tells us, “Tonight I am ripe for forgiveness.” She tells us, “We had a history / all dead ends.”

What’s most exhilarating about this collection is the number of risks it takes. So many of these poems would not work for less talented poets. Fancher is fearless in her approach to subject and form. This collection contains prose poems and free verse. It contains litanies and Americanized haiku. Fancher reinvents them all.

One of the best poems in the collection, “White Flag”, is based on an Edward Hopper painting. Fancher adds a sensuality to the occupants of Hopper’s world. Loneliness is what can come the night after a hook up or during the weeks after a break up. She tells us “No one paints loneliness like Edward Hopper paints me, missing you, apologies on my lips.”

Thankfully, no apologies are needed for these stunning, life-filled poems.

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Erotic; New & Selected by Alexis Rhone Fancher
New York Quarterly Books, 2021
Poetry, $21

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About the Author: Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines, large and small, throughout the country. His 18 poetry collections include: Leftover Distances (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), and Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), He has received multiple Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations.

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More Reviews by Mike James:

Mike James reviews Mingo Town & Memories by Larry Smith

Mike James reviews “Dead Letter Office: Selected Poems” By Marko Pogacar

Mike James reviews Beautiful Aliens: A Steve Abbott Reader and Have You Seen This Man? The Castro Poems of Karl Tierney