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

Jason Baldinger: “cape henlopen blues”

 

 

cape henlopen blues

among the coastal pine
the herons, the fescues
I look up on a sky
that hangs heavy
with words unsaid

horizon catches fire
standing on a sandbar
washed in red and lighthouse
tide roars the other side of the cape
I say a prayer for a friend
and his wife, I say prayers
then throw them in the ocean

north star hangs above
thumbnail moon
miles davis “shhh peaceful”
fills the car, my niece
asked my resolution
I told her I didn’t believe that
I told her time is not linear
that the narratives
the timelines we follow
don’t kowtow to calendars
it’s something understood
better as you get older

no fireworks tonight
warm december
I escape light pollution
to hail orion’s stars
a joint on my lips
gulls fight the noise
of an approximately
infinite ocean. alone
on the dunes
time has passed

 

 

 

 

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: “Cape Henlopen” (1891) The Library of Congress

Jason Baldinger: “another monochrome day”

 

another monochrome day

at the dog leg light
with the ghost
house, memories
of prohibition era
bathtub gin leaking
fumes into an ever
darkening sky

pillsbury sign
skirmish of endless rain
noise spills out of
the horoscope lounge
another soulful strut
drunk takes wings
glides past george aiken’s
while corner horns
street lights blow
along to a four beat

the coffee shop
clings to a revolving
door of hangovers
it seems every soul
is wider this morning

saucers of the moon
lost in the iris
of this old neighborhood
song, I swear
I’m breathing again
fingers tap on steering
wheel, light blinks green
hand spun turns
chooglin’
another split atom
another monochrome day

 

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”

 

Photo Credit: Russell Lee “Drinking at the bar in Pilottown, Louisiana” (1938) The Library of Congress

Jason Baldinger: “it was a golden time”

 

it was a golden time

been on the road
long enough now
to feel like three
mummified frogs
dried in a tejas mudpuddle

a woman in a wal-mart
parking lot shouts
I don’t believe you
should leave a baby
in a car, even if its running

I’m gonna steal what I need
some scoundrel hunter
gatherer from ancient time

there’s a dead bear in an irrigation
ditch, it left me with the strange
feeling I’ve been here before

the windshield grows
a mustache, I see the world
clearer in my dreams
problem is, I never
remember my dreams

 

 

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”

 

Photo Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Deserted truck stop in Sierra Blanca, made a virtual ghost town when the interstate highway bypassed it in Hudspeth County, Texas” (2014) The Library of Congress

Revisiting 2019: Our 50 Most Popular Posts of the Year

 

Dear As It Ought To Be Magazine Readers,

As we enter the next decade, I want to thank all of the writers and readers who have made our tenth year so successful. I take enormous pride in working with so many talented and inspiring writers. Without your brilliance and generosity of spirit and intellect, none of this would be possible. It has been a great privilege to publish your work on our site, and I hope to continue featuring diverse perspectives, challenging ideas, and unique voices for years to come. As a way to look back on what we accomplished in 2019, I have complied the 50 most popular posts of the year based on internet traffic and clicks.

Thank you again to everyone who wrote for, read, and promoted AIOTB Magazine in 2019. Let the 20s roar again!

Chase Dimock
Managing Editor

 

Poetry

Jason Baldinger:

Ishrat Bashir:

Jai Hamid Bashir:

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal:

Jeffrey Betcher:

Ace Boggess:

Daniel Crocker:

John Dorsey:

Ryan Quinn Flanagan:

Tony Gloeggler:

Nathan Graziano:

Cord Moreski:

Jeanette Powers:

Stephen Roger Powers:

Jonathan K. Rice:

Kevin Ridgeway:

Damian Rucci:

Anna Saunders:

Larry Smith:

Nick Soluri:

William Taylor Jr.:

Alice Teeter:

Tiffany Troy:

Bunkong Tuon:

Agnes Vojta:

Kory Wells:

Brian Chander Wiora:

Dameion Wagner:

 

Nonfiction

Daniel Crocker:

Nathan Graziano:

John Guzlowski:

Cody Sexton:

Carrie Thompson:

 

Reviews 

Chase Dimock:

Mike James:

 

Photo Credit: Fire Works At New Year’s Eve via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Jason Baldinger: “getting any feed for your chickens”

 

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getting any feed for your chickens

it’s raining on Kansas Boulevard
city drains into warehouses
three tacos sit on the front seat
I find a parking lot, smother
them in spicy salsa
chase them with horchata
wait out the rain

eight hundred miles
through grasslands
riding on the ghost of buffalo
there’s a diner with a green
chile cheeseburger waiting

this is closing in on some
twisted truckers hymn
six years on the road
I’m gonna eat well tonight
hey we can’t all be Dave Dudley

Shawn you’re right, we’re shaved apes
poets shambling nowhere
crawling on our stomachs

there’s been many nights
I’ve been within seconds
of jumping in my car
pedal down non-stop
until three days later
I find myself in the desert

usually in that moment
whoever I’m with realizes
I’m serious, starts to talk me down

you know brother, unemployment
warps one’s mind, it should be
about finding yourself, instead
it’s all pressure, inadequacy
redefining yourself by work
I’ve said it before
you are free, we all are

if you ever hear the phone ring
at six a.m. you find my voice
saying you got five hours
pack a bag, we’re going
to Albuquerque, you’ll know
it’s fucking serious, there’s
cheeseburgers and chilies waiting
all we gotta do is get gone

 

 

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”

 

Photo Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Large metal chickens for sale at the Pottery Ranch pottery store in Marble Falls, Texas. Such chicken yard art is quite popular throughout Texas” (2014) The Library of Congress

Jason Baldinger: “blind into leaving”

 

 

blind into leaving

I’m drinking beer
in a bourbon town again
the waitress raised eyebrows
suspicious, I lock eyes
on an alligator and a shark

the beltways of Kentucky
are kind, no stress, no trucks
no cops. set the cruise
just north of 80, miles
dissolve easy, still
if I dive into bourbon
now, I’ll be slobbering
in moments, there’s
somethings you can’t
drink away

guitar player works
Statesboro Blues
more Allmann than McTell
the sunset was rosewater
in the rearview tonight
I wanted to hold my breath

waitress wants to know
if I need another
I need an I.V
she sees it, tells me
these are good people

it took three tries
to get a room
the lobby was full bloom
Kentucky, every toilet
full of shit. the waitress
brings me a third
she’s been monitoring

I down it one magic swallow
broke down engine
guzzles gasoline
wizard guitarist is on
fingerstyle Sweet Leaf
I tip as I walk blind into leaving

 

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”

 

Photo Credit: Jack Delano “Shipyard workers stop in for a “beer” after work. In a bar just outside the Bath Iron Works. Bath, Maine” (1940) The Library of Congress

“I forgot the earth and heaven” By Jason Baldinger

 

 

I forgot the earth and heaven

every morning this 
city introduces me 
to a new shade of gray

I’m wearing a t-shirt
of an old friends
long dead country band

the ocean’s a rocks glass
overfull with ice
a trick to sterilize the taste

I saw a crass sticker
on a kia soul
a voice in my head says maniacal laugh

there’s a pitcher of beer
waiting for me
I’m almost sure its a cry for help

she drops her head on my shoulder
irrigation systems, telegraph poles
I say, I love you, sorry yr suffering

it should be a regular greeting
in this cathedral
the noise is unbearable

 

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.

 

Photo Credit: Lee Russell “Native of Olga, Louisiana drinking at the bar. Note the branch of tree used as a mosquito switch” (1938) The Library of Congress

“When Cancer Comes to Evansville Indiana” By Jason Baldinger

 

 

When Cancer Comes to Evansville Indiana

she says they stayed 
in casinos every night
they ate like kings
steaks, all you can eat crab legs
the best pork chops she ever had

she shovels mashed potatoes
with white gravy in her mouth
asks when the waitress’s surgery is
they speak in hushed tones
the conversation breaks down
into promises of future prayers

when cancer comes to Evansville Indiana
mortality is another strong wind
lost in the yellow flowers
that stain the fields here every May

mortality is just another wave on the Ohio

 

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.

 

Photo Credit: Arthur Rothstein “Truck driver in diner. Clinton, Indiana” (1940) The Library of Congress