Ryan Quinn Flanagan: “Cat Tequila”

Cat Tequila 

Gathered ‘round a glass of milk,
the only question now:
who will eat the mouse tail 
in the bottom?
Mess themselves up real good?
The tail sucks up all the milk,
you see!

About the Author: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, As It Ought To Be Magazine The New York Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.


Image Credit: Henry Pointer “The Old Bachelor” (1865) Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program.

Geneva Webber: “Do you think the lobsters”

Do you think the lobsters

in the tanks at Red Lobster
are really red?
Or are they brackish and imperfect

with the blue rubber bands
around their claws?
Do you think the lobsters

know they could live
half a century
if given the chance?

Do you think the lobsters
know we have to believe
they don’t feel pain?

We sometimes believe that
about our own species too.

Do you think
the lobsters know?

About the Author: Geneva Webber is a sophomore Creative and Professional Writing major and is minoring in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. She is a member of the Writing Club, is Vice President of P.A.W.S. (Pro-activism With Service) and her work has been previously published in The Insider. She has lived in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and small-town Michigan, and derives much of her writing from small, intimate, personal experiences.


Image Credit: Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The American lobster Washington: Govt. Print. Off., 1895.

Paul Jones: “Snake”


I used to be afraid in other ways.
When one fear comes another goes away,
I should count myself lucky in that way.
My fear of apes at night just fell away
when I saw a snake put a rat away.
Those fanged apes were dream creatures anyway.
The snake coiled and crushing. Death underway.
Those sounds. The hissing. A shriek. They outweigh
sleep's imagined deaths. They won't fade away
at dawn. Experience smooths night's highway.
Like rockets, fears race down the straight-away.
Then they take my head for their hideaway.
I used to be afraid in other ways.
But then I saw the black snake's weave and sway.

About the Author: Paul Jones poems have recently appeared in Hudson Review, Grand Little Things, Tar River Poetry, and not so long ago here in As It Ought To Be. His book, Something Wonderful, came from RedHawk Publications in 2021. In 2019, a manuscript of his poems crashed into the lunar surface carried in Israel’s Beresheet Lander. In 2021, he was inducted into the NC State Computer Science Hall of Fame.


Image Credit: Image originally published in Descriptiones et icones amphibiorum. Monachii, Stuttgartiae et Tubingae, Sumtibus J.G. Cottae1833. Public domain image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

CL Bledsoe: “A Lightness of Feathers”

A Lightness of Feathers

Who among us hasn't broken a collarbone falling
out of a tree after we climbed into a bird's nest
and pretended to be an egg? The ghost of omelets
gone wrong. Something with feathers condemned
to a passing glance. A side table. Somewhere dust
calls home. I’ll rebuild my life with doilies
and photos of surgeries I’d like to have. Did I mention
so-and-so died after a lifetime of regret and forced
choices? Never forget your name is on someone’s
Do Not Love Again list. No matter how you measure
it, you’ll never have what you’ve lost again. Another
name for insouciance. At least you’re not the kind
of bird that kicks the other eggs out of the nest
when you settle in. It’s the small victories keep
us going and coming. That’s how they get you.
I don’t even know what kind of tree it was.

About the Author: Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than thirty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, The Bottle Episode, and his newest, Having a Baby to Save a Marriage, as well as his latest novels Goodbye, Mr. Lonely and The Saviors. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.


Image Credit: Public domain image originally published in Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, London : Academic Press. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Sarah Carleton: “Guidelines for House Gecko”

Guidelines for House Gecko

Leave pearl eggs in dark spots—
behind sockets or bookshelves.

Crawl the walls on sticky toes, but if you see people,
scuttle to a crack and hide.

Squeak for help. Chirp for sex.
Eat bugs and multiply. 

Let the little ones dash across carpets 
but only at night.

You’ll last for years here, hovering 
in the laundry room, waiting for roaches

but even if a fleshy hand catches you and drops you
in the grass, don’t panic.

Remember, your name is House. 
You know where all the secret passages are.

About the Author: Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo, and knits obsessively in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, Cider Press Review, The Wild Word, Valparaiso, As It Ought to Be, and New Ohio Review. Sarah’s poems have received nominations for Pushcart and Best of the Net. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.

Image Credit: Illustration originally from Histoire naturelle de Lacépède. Paris: Furne, Jouvet et cie. Public domain image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan: “She Says Her Cat is in Love with Javier Bardem”





She Says Her Cat is in Love with Javier Bardem 

She tells me she sat up late watching
Being the Ricardos.

That it is better than you would think 
which is what everyone says about everything
but the apocalypse.

Throwing one of those scrunchies up in her hair
like trying to contain the mess.

A trick of beauty that she still turns heads.
Says her cat is in love with Javier Bardem.

Woke up out of a dead sleep on the couch
to watch him most attentively.

When she sleeps, she’s out,
she says.
She doesn’t do that for anyone.

I’ve taken to calling her cat Mrs. Bardem
the last few days.

The cat seems to get embarrassed
if cat embarrassment away from the little box
is such a thing.

Throws litter all over the place.
She never did that before.



About the Author: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, As It Ought To Be Magazine The New York Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.


Image Credit: “One of the “smart set” (1906) Courtesy of The Library of Congress (public domain)

Matthew Wallenstein: “Washington”






tide. Across the bay 
the mountains are blue in moving fog. 
in the brown grass. 
Headless and skinned.
About the size of a dog. Max says 
he thinks it is a deer that went 
In the ocean and drowned, 
washed up on shore. I nod, 
I don’t smile and I don’t mention its flippers.
Around a bend 
on the beach we find another—
skinned, headless. 
Its ribs grey, yellow, bending 
from its pile of body. It smells 
like seawater and rot. 
The flippers are splaying out 
more obviously this time, 
he sees them. 
“Oh,” he says, “it’s a seal, they are seals.”
I don’t let him forget 
that he thought it was a deer 
that went swimming.


About the Author: Matthew Wallenstein is a writer and tattooer. He lives in the Rust Belt. Much of his work concerns growing up in poor rural New Hampshire, the deportation of his wife, and mental illness, though it also captures every day life.


Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith, “A distant shoreline view in a Washington State town fittingly called Long Beach, since it advertises its 28-mile-long Pacific Ocean strand as “the world’s longest beach.” (2018) The Library of Congress

Marissa Perez: “Shark Smile”





Shark Smile 

Saturday night out and
I swallow an oyster⸺
adductor muscle, pericardial cavity, party-streamer gills⸺
I have no intention of
consuming the shell, so
I leave it empty and
winking with the sheen of departed

How absence is also presence
with serrated teeth so
pretty they can be looped
around my summer-nipped
in beachfront gift shops⸺
from their host
when they puncture prey and
cannot tear the meat off

If I had been born with
a body that ended at my collarbones
and with a mouth
less sophisticated than
a bivalve’s
I would have never
been desired
only respected



About the Author: Marissa Perez is an undergraduate student from Massachusetts. She became the 97th recipient of the Glascock Poetry Prize in 2020 and has appeared in Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature.


Image Credit: Image from: Iconografia della fauna italica Roma: Tip. Salviucci,1832-1841. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Ruth Hoberman: “Planaria”






Over pie, Len talks about worms. Dice them,
he says, and each regrows its missing parts!  

His eyes glow under tangled brows, entranced
by immortality. I picture eyeless

mouths groping for their eyes and mouthless eyes
their mouths. Hungry for their hunger, old

in need of new. We’re old, our gray hair wild
and worried as brambles clinging to a cliff.

The question is where to look. He looks for doors
from body into bliss or second chances—dicing

as self-renewal? recycling as lizard or crow?
Anything to start again. I fork a peach wedge

on my plate. Sweet in my mouth the slice,
the talk with friends.



About the Author: Ruth Hoberman mainly lives in Chicago. She writes poetry and essays, which have been published in such places as RHINO, Calyx, Smartish Pace, Naugatuck River Review, and Ploughshares.


Image Credit: Image from The Great Barrier Reef of Australia;. London :W.H. Allen,[1893]. Courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library

Lorraine Henrie Lins: “OST DOG”





I admire the way they miss you,
those large neon-green posters stuck
sight-level on every light pole in town,
making sure we know your face–
that one floppy ear and roundish white
patch just under your eye.

You’ve been missing for so long,
that even I have begun to look for you,
feel that small whisper of despair on my daily drive
where I imagine the way you might sit by the door,
eye to eye with the doorknob, head cocked, ready
to bolt into the wide open yard.

I have started to miss the way you would have
slept by my feet as I worked at my desk,
the tip of your nose tucked under the smooth
curl of your whip tail, and smile to myself,
remembering how you must have done
that little dance with your feet when
it was dinnertime, the hard of your nails
ticking the kitchen floor as you moved.
You’ve been away so long that I have begun
to watch for you in the harvested corn fields
and down the sidewalks of the streets we pass,
as if you might be just around the next corner.

It’s been long enough for the faded posters
to lose their call, to wilt under snow and rain,
forgive the staples that held them to the creosote poles
and surrender the photocopy of your picture
so that all that remains is their weathered plea.



About the Author: Lorraine Henrie Lins is a Pennsylvania county Poet Laureate and author of four books of poetry: All the Stars Blown to One Side of The Sky, I Called It Swimming, Delaying Balance and most recently, 100 Tipton.  She serves as the Director of New and Emerging Poets with Tekpoet and is a founding member of the “No River Twice” improvisational poetry troupe.  Lins’ work appears in wide variety of familiar publications and collections, as well as on a small graffiti poster in New Zealand. Born and raised in the suburbs of Central New Jersey, the self-professed Jersey Girl now resides along the coast of North Carolina.  www.LorraineHenrieLins.com


Image Credit: Thomas Eakins “Portrait of a Dog” (1880-1895) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.