William Taylor Jr. “Mr. Sanchez”




Mr. Sanchez

Mr. Sanchez was my hospital roommate for three days
when I had to go and have my aortic valve replaced.

He was 83 years old, deaf in one ear,
and scheduled for a triple bypass.

He had near constant minor pains
and was always pressing the nurse call button
and describing his current level of discomfort:

It’s a one, now…or a two…wait…three…definitely a three…

A nurse would come and give him handfuls
of little pills that dissolved beneath his tongue.

Oh…it’s back down to a two, now…one…zero, it’s zero now, thank you…

The nurse would go away and within a few minutes
Mr. Sanchez would be pressing at the button again.

Nurse, it’s back to a two…maybe two and a half…

The nurse would return with more little pills
and it went on like this throughout the day.

Whenever the nurses changed shifts
the new nurse would have to check Mr. Sanchez’ vitals
and ask him the same series of questions:

Did you used to smoke, Mr. Sanchez?

Oh yes, too much.

For how many years did you smoke?

I started at 16, so about 60 years I guess.
I usta smoke about 3 packs a day.


Oh yes, I was a merchant marine, and that’s what we did –
smoke and drink, smoke and drink…

You have a tattoo, Mr. Sanchez?

I sure as hell do.

Mr. Sanchez  pushed up the sleeve of his gown
to reveal the face of a pretty young woman
and a faded name scrawled beneath.

I got this in Okinawa in 1963.

Mr. Sanchez sat up and started
to tell the story of the woman’s face
upon his arm but the nurses only
wanted to know what color of jello
he preferred for lunch.

He always asked for red
but they only had yellow
or green.




About the Author: William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The American Journal of Poetry. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. Pretty Words to Say, (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry.


More by William Taylor Jr.

“The Fire of Now”

“One of Pessoa’s Ghosts”


Image Credit: drawing from Outlines of Human Physiology by George Hayward (1834) public domain

Jason Baldinger: “this ghostly ambience”



this ghostly ambience

stop me if you’ve heard the one
about the pregnant waitress
and the zamboni driver

yeah, I can’t think of the punchline

what would you expect, holding
my breath and drinking a beer
at the same time is a new skill
like spiritualism, I practice it sparingly

I’m trying not to think about the soul
of the prime rib in front of me
or to notice past myself waiting
at the bar, another beer
and a photo of an illuminated
zippo sign before I shuffle
up to buffalo, catch a predator

ever wonder if leon czolgosz
got into heaven?

I overhear the pregnant waitress
say she still hopes they’re here
in twenty years, the sentence
was innocent in her mind
now it’s dead on the floor

I would go through the stacks
for another conversation piece
but fuck all, sometimes
it’s best to leave it there

dead. I’ve got my mask
there’s a sunset out there
where american flags
outnumber people
I should strike up conversation
with my addled sense of wonder instead

pregnant waitress returns
offers me another beer
suddenly dusk is nonsense
suddenly american flags are nonsense

I missed this ghostly ambiance
mask off, yes to beer
i suppose I spend more time than
I thought talking to the dead



About the Author: Jason Baldinger is a poet from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and  former Writer in Residence at Osage Arts Community. He has multiple books available including the chapbook Blind Into Leaving (Analog Submission Press) as well as the forthcoming Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) & A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery). His work has been published widely in print journals and online. You can listen to him read his work on Bandcamp and on lps by the bands Theremonster and The Gotobeds.


More Poetry by Jason Baldinger:

When Cancer Comes to Evansville, Indiana

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing


Image Credit: ” INTERIOR VIEW LOOKING EAST – White Crystal Diner, 20 Center Avenue, Atlantic Highlands, Monmouth County, NJ” The Library of Congress (public domain)


Andres Cordoba: “The Summer The Apricot Tree Died”



the summer the apricot tree died

I had been asked to tend to the still ripening
apricots that hung as small green bulbs
from the branches of a young tree
in its first flower.

Sown two falls ago.

Father pat the earth with hesitance
as he first lay the seeds to rest.
He smiled before pressing up his glasses
with a dirt covered finger tip.
It then began to rain.

Steady mercies.



About the Author: Andres Cordoba is a Massachusetts born writer. He has received honors such as the Ginny Wray Poetry prize, the Thayer Fellowship For the Arts, the Patricia Kerr Ross Award, and was named a 2019 Breakout 8 Writer in poetry by Epiphany: A Literary Journal. His work has appeared in Italics Mine, The Gandy Dancer, Gravitas, and Epiphany Journal. A real self-starter, a go-getter– a team player, if you will– his mother refers to him as the Michael Jordan of mutual losses.


Image Credit: Pomologie française: Paris, Langlois et Leclercq,1846. (Public Domain) Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Jon Bennett: “Roundabout”




He was looking at a traffic map
thinking about his son
“Put a roundabout here,” he said
An anarchist in college
he read about the Paris Commune,
Mutual Aid, a lot of George Orwell
Then he had kids
“…those roundabouts take
some getting used to…”
and his son was named
after Jack London, but
now he was a Republican
a good kid though
He bought a house
and had a mortgage,
and was often
almost satisfied
“…in the end
it will work out better
for everyone.”



About the Author: Jon Bennett writes and plays music in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find more of his work on Pandora, Spotify and other streaming websites, or by connecting with him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jon.bennett.967.


Image Credit: Wassily Kandinsky: “Circles in a Circle” (1923) public domain

Diana Rosen: “Hollywood Freeway”




Hollywood Freeway

Jazz transports from the John Anson Ford stage,
crowds entertain from their seats, everyday angst
dissipates on every downbeat. No recluses, no
agoraphobics, no shy people in the audience, just
lovers of this pure American music. Danger
accompanies me after the concert as I cross
the concrete overpass, stories high above
this strip of the Hollywood Freeway with racing
crayolas of cars seen in splatters through open slats
in walls shorter than I am. Purple wildflowers wave
from the western hillside, shout, Go Now! No, Wait.
Go Now. I gauge the speed of traffic. Are the drivers
alert? No, not now, too many, too fast. Now! Now!
I run faster than I know I can, jump like Joyner, land
like Lewis on the indifferent sidewalk, run downhill
without stopping til I reach the crowded Hollywood Bowl
bus stop with people oblivious, full of Mahler. I stand
nonchalant, hunt for exact change, cradle the coins
in my hand, step up into the Number 20 where I collapse
into the cracked leatherette seat scratching my thighs
hello. I say a thank you to the God of Errant Jaywalkers
and, yes, the Ray Brown bass solo was totally worth it.



About the Author: Diana Rosen writes flash, poetry, and essays with recent published flash and poems in Existere Art & Literature Journal (Canada), Potato Soup Journal, and WildforWords (UK) and an essay in “Far Villages”, an anthology from Black Lawrence Press. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. To view her work, please visit www.authory.com/dianarosen


More by Diana Rosen:

Dinner at Six


Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Nightime skyline view of Los Angeles, California, looking north over the U.S. 101 (Hollywood) Freeway” (2013) The Library of Congress”

Jennifer R. Lloyd: “Hill Hours”






About the Author: Jennifer R. Lloyd is a former journalist and longtime logophile. No longer churning words into newsprint on the daily, she sweats out the demons in South Texas or purges them onto the page. In her spare time, she explores poetry, flash fiction and magazine writing. Her poetry has been published in the San Antonio Review and her flash fiction by 101 Words and Zeroflash.


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Sunset in the Valley” (2018)

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:


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”



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.


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