Announcing AIOTB Magazine’s Pushcart Nominees

 

 

As It Ought To Be Magazine is proud to announce our nominees for this year’s Pushcart Prize

 

 

Mike James: “Saint Jayne Mansfield”

Hilary Otto: “Show Don’t Tell”

Diana Rosen: “Hollywood Freeway”

Ronnie Sirmans: “Sloughing Words”

Bunkong Tuon: “Lisel Mueller Died at 96”

Agnes Vojta: “Everybody Loves the Person Who Brings Muffins”

 

 

Congratulations to our nominees and a big thanks to all the writers who shared their work with AIOTB Magazine this year!

 

-Chase Dimock
Managing Editor

 

 

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Grover Beach Sunset” (2020)

Diana Rosen: “Mrs. Reagan, Who Lived Next Door”

 

 

 

Mrs. Reagan, Who Lived Next Door

Mrs. Reagan, (Elizabeth only to childhood friends,)
walked ramrod straight even into her nineties
as if her Lord and Savior was watching.
A believing Methodist doing all the good she

could all the times she could, showed thrift,
practicality, by example, weaving rag rugs,
preserving her garden gifts into winter’s food,
storing seeds in coffee cans for next season’s

sowing. She made the best popcorn while
babysitting us on the rare nights our parents
went out, amusing us no end with her drum roll
after-popcorn snores. Her thrift, coupled with no

small amount of style, showed in the clothes
made for our dolls. She only ever raised her voice
to my sister and me when she caught us
gobbling plump Concord grapes peeking

through the wire fence between her massive
garden and our unkempt patch whose only
proofs of nature: fuzzy pussy willows
tickling noses; under chin reflections of buttercups;

sunny dandelions seeding into feathery bristles
blown away with our wishes; gigantic crab apple
tree, a canopy for summer reading. “Look at that
old man,” Mrs. Reagan pointed at through her

dark kitchen’s window (electricity was for
nighttime only.) The man, bent like a toppled
letter L, lumbered down the unpaved alley
towards the garden gate, another day older and

deeper in debt to the masters of anthracite. He’d
settle in front of their aged television set,
the screen barely six inches, sipping on soup
served with stale saltines, his wife’s effort to

“make dinner,” unchanged for the five decades
they were wed. She often commented,
“Mr. Reagan said …” although no one ever heard
him speak or even saw him except for those

work day plodding-alongs in the alley behind
the garden where his wife, in frayed hat, sturdy
work gloves, sensible dress (always hand-made,)
rested on the swing under the oak tree, “just a

second” before returning to her corn stalks
towering several feet above her, the Roma
tomatoes plump and sun-reddened, the usual
yellow wax and long green beans, squash, peas.

Today, as I was rinsing out the jar of tomato
sauce to store some rice, the mailman arrived
with a letter from her daughter:
“To the astonishment of all, Mother decided

to lie down for a nap this afternoon, and that
was that. She was ninety-eight and longed
to be one hundred, but that was not to be. Still,
it was a long, useful life, and for that we are grateful.”

 

 

 

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:

Hollywood Freeway

Dinner at Six

 

Image Credit: John Vachon, from the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress) Captioned: “Nothing wrong with these shelves. Shelves like these may be built in a well-ventilated cellar, cave, or closet where it is cool, but not cold enough to freeze, and where there is no strong light. They are wide enough, they are built of strong boards, and they are braced with sturdy supports. One hundred feet of twelve-inch shelving will hold five hundred jars. Notice the orderly arrangement of jars. All foods of one kind are together” (1939)

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”

Diana Rosen: “Dinner at Six”

 

 

Dinner at Six

Just like every night, our family sits around 
the canary yellow Formica and chrome table, 
on stick-to-your-thighs matching vinyl chairs 
eating a wintertime meal of the fifties: gray 
canned peas, home-made potato soup,
a good chunk of meat. We talk about our day, 
what my sister and I learned in school, how 
piano practice went, stories from the store,
till I can’t resist and ask still another riddle 
which reminds my father of a joke which 
reminds my mother of an even older one, 
and around the table we go, playing can you 
top this? Mom leaves to answer the phone,
returns walking slower, looking older. Mary
can’t come to clean tomorrow. Remains 
of a soldier near Seoul. Her husband. 
We lean against our padded chairs, silenced 
dancers in a frozen ballet of sorrow. For 
once, my sister and I get up, clear the table 
without being asked, keep to our room 
where we hold hands stretched between
matching corduroy-covered beds, listen 
to the murmuring voices downstairs. 

 

(This poem originally appeared in KISS ME GOODNIGHT, Stories And Poems by Women Who Were Girls When Their Mothers Died edited by Ann O’Fallon & Margaret Vaillancourt)

 

About the Author: Diana Rosen writes essays, flash fiction, and poetry with work published online and in print including Ariel Chart, Dime Show Review, and Zingara Review, and many others. An essay will appear in “Far Villages” from Black Lawrence Press, and poems are forthcoming in Poesis, Existere Journal of Arts & Literature, the art and poetry anthology, “Book of Sighs”, and a hybrid collection of her flash and poetry will be published as  “Love & Irony” by Redbird Chapbooks.

 

Image Credit: John Vachon ” Dog sleeping under kitchen table in farm kitchen. Cavalier County, North Dakota ” (1940)