Jason Baldinger: “temporal, temporary and gone”

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temporal, temporary and gone

it’s black out in bar harbor
days after a thanksgiving 
prayer that was spoken
with no meaning, here it’s 
offseason and sunday
few residents creak 
through the vacant glaze
the early arrival of pitch black
the stars not shielded by light 

I follow a fiddlehead fern
down to a trout hatchery
where generations of tourist
feasted, fifty cents for each
wild caught dream cooked
over fire, picnic benches
for the family while you wait 

next month, i’ll be miles down coast
walking rehoboth beach with wine
stains and fireworks, dolle’s taffy
orange and boardwalk lights
lead me back from the mouth 
of breakers, footprints already
washed away, the infinite space
stoned and stealing time again
the new year a dragon
slayed at my feet 

these places, theses years
whisk by, dust in my beard
atoms along the air, no meaning
in moments anymore
it all builds to crescendo
I’ll never hear, this reality
a bubble, a vessel through 

tonight, memories flood
a mad swirl of stations 
some past, some present
some future, all materialize
temporal, temporary and gone

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About the Author: Jason Baldinger was recently told he looks like a cross between a lumberjack and a genie. He’s also been told he’s not from Pittsburgh, but actually is the physical manifestation of Pittsburgh. Although unsure of either, he does love wandering the country writing poems.  His newest books include: A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press), The Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) and A History of Backroads Misplaced: Selected Poems 2010-2020 (Kung Fu Treachery). He also has a forthcoming book with James Benger called This Still Life. His work has been 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 Ambiance

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Fiddlehead Fern” (2022)

Jason Baldinger: “i remember the royal river”

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I remember the royal river

I remember the royal river
a bleached skeleton, bones
calloused and raw
these forever miles
the only skin left attached
vermont rain soaked halos 
glow dry in cold july sunshine 

I remember the royal river
mile long rutted driveways
a peninsula that breaks
into islands, black flies 
tall grass and hippie 
mansions lost to the grid
I shake rain tent flaps
drying out in turrets
as backgammon days 
passed picking ticks
off golden retrievers 

I remember the royal river
the maine granite coast
lone trees clawing
to hold the rocks along
the atlantic, ice cold showers
this gaunt face in a tide pool 

I remember the royal river
tequila on the docks
fortification for a last days boogie
gather these atoms south 
with notions of sacco and vanzetti 

I remember the royal river
as a skeleton 
with a compass
left in place 
of memory

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About the Author: Jason Baldinger was recently told he looks like a cross between a lumberjack and a genie. He’s also been told he’s not from Pittsburgh, but actually is the physical manifestation of Pittsburgh. Although unsure of either, he does love wandering the country writing poems.  His newest books include: A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press), The Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) and A History of Backroads Misplaced: Selected Poems 2010-2020 (Kung Fu Treachery). He also has a forthcoming book with James Benger called This Still Life. His work has been 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 Ambiance

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing

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Image Credit: Detroit Publishing Co. “Picnic rocks, Kennebunk River, Kennebunkport, Maine” (1890) The Library of Congress Public Domain.

AIOTB Magazine’s 2022 Pushcart Nominees

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As It Ought To Be Magazine is proud to announce our nominees for the Pushcart Prize.

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Jason Baldinger: “Let Go of Atlantis”

Sam Barbee: “Hybrid”

Ruth Bavetta: “Signals”

Lisa Creech Bledsoe: “The Magician’s Handbook”

Susan Cossette: “She Waits Behind the Drapes”

Imran Boe Khan: “A Thousand Miles from Your Bedside”

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Thank you to our nominees and all our contributors this year who have filled our site with their stunning poetry.

Jason Baldinger: “hymn to groundhog day”

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hymn to groundhog day

this café is contrary
a strange anomaly in a land of diners
walls paper brick with watercolor mustangs
one calendar, two posters of the hulk
one hulk decal on the cooler
I wonder about the calendar to quality ratio
    an equation mastered in blue highways
then wonder how many hulk posters equal a calendar

the waitress says her son raises groundhogs
I don’t know what to say
maybe she’s fucking with me
I look deep in the hulk’s eyes
this year he has forty-two groundhogs
I say, that sure is a lot of groundhogs

bessemer tunnels and carbon snow
a few towns away
my mother’s family settled in the 1850’s
dropping the A and E
dropping the family crest
marrying into a family with a township named after them

a yellow sign juts from the snow in surrender
I miss the america I grew up in
I want to believe this is a statement
on a widening gap in equality
on the erosion of class
on the working persons giving everything away
on the ways we allow government to fail
     in not mandating social responsibility

instead, it’s another absurd conservative screed
about the good old days that never were
times when people went to church
family values happened and abortions didn’t

the stop signs have addendums
one says stop touching me
another stop, hump me
the last stop and dance
these winter messages so conflicted

I hunt frozen snakes along the kiskiminetas
here in the bleak of february
I fill myself with enough gray
to crush the restlessness that grows each snow

punxsutawney
ten hours after the groundhog
he saw his shadow
so did this town

there is no evidence this civilization
still tries to understand weather
through the eyes of animals

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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: Image originally from The quadrupeds of North America. v.1. New York,V.G. Audubon,1851-54. Courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library. Public Domain.

Jason Baldinger: “let go of atlantis”

 

 

let go of atlantis

jerry believes in ivory soap
he believes in starched collars
his spine is straight
he says all the flying plagues
of florida are near sited
don’t give them room to smell

I missed the manatees
out in some cove near
the launch pad that’s etched
in our consciousness
I see it in the rearview
and I want to write about
shoveling snow as a boy
about dreams exploding
about hot cocoa
and christa mcauliffe

jerry says for fifteen bones
they’ll give me a sea kayak
I can paddle over the surf
to a barrier island all my own

out there cooking hamburger
helper over a pocket rocket
Ill turn back/ahead time
ill forget my couth
and go native

going native is a racist term
meant to minimize
the people who were killed
so this land could be our land
a universe of violence

it seems that every inch
of this land is steeped
in blood, I wonder
if a barrier island
off the coast of the atlantic
may be one of the few places
I can step where that blood
doesn’t well up a hot spring
of unacknowledged history

I’m gonna stay out
an island a mile away from
civilization, the sun paints
the sky every twelve hours
every day the ocean
steps a little higher
when it reaches my neck
Ill know its time
to let go of atlantis

 

 

About the Author: Jason Baldinger is bored with bios. He’s from Pittsburgh and misses roaming around the country writing poems. His newest book is A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press) with The Afterlife is A Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) coming soon. 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 bands The Gotobeds and Theremonster.

 

More Poetry by Jason Baldinger:

This Ghostly Ambience

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing

 

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Sunrise on a Florida beach ” (2014) The Library of Congress

 

Jason Baldinger: “time went the way of the buffalo”

 

 

time went the way of the buffalo (for diane wahto)

I know wichita
from a gas station
overlooking the interstate

a jaw dropping sun
rise over the flint hills
I pulled my hoodie
against october

with eight hundred miles
ahead, one last
gasp of wichita
before wagons west

it’s sad we never met
we should have had breakfast
but time went the way of the buffalo

I would have loved to hear
in person, your story
of marching five miles in kalamazoo

you and your friend
against the vietnam war
you and your friend
all dressed up in high heels

 

 

About the Author: Jason Baldinger is bored with bios. He’s from Pittsburgh and misses roaming around the country writing poems. His newest book is A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press) with The Afterlife is A Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) coming soon. 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 bands The Gotobeds and Theremonster.

 

More Poetry by Jason Baldinger:

This Ghostly Ambience

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing

 

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Mounted buffalo head at the Hotel Paisano in Marfa, Texas” (2014) The Library of Congress

Revisiting 2020: Our 50 Most Popular Posts of the Year

 

 

Dear As It Ought To Be Readers,

 

Despite everything 2020 threw at us, AIOTB Magazine was fortunate to receive so many brilliant poems, essays, interviews, and book reviews from writers around the world. Below, I have assembled the 50 most popular posts of the year based on the amount of hits they received. I know that few people will look back at 2020 with fondness, but maybe reviewing these posts from the year is a reminder of the resilience people have to continue to create in a crisis, and to channel the anxiety of the world into writing that connects us.

AIOTB Magazine was perhaps the only constant I had in 2020 that began and ended the year exactly the same, and completely intact. I have all of you contributors and readers to thank for that. Thanks for keeping me sane and connected to a community of writers when I most needed stability, creativity, and human connection in my life.

I have no idea what 2021 will look like, but if you keep reading and supporting each other’s work, you’ll at least have three new pieces a week on AIOTB Magazine to count on.

 

-Chase Dimock
Managing Editor

 

Poetry

Omobolanle Alashe:

Jason Baldinger:

Rusty Barnes:

Jean Biegun:

Victor Clevenger:

John Dorsey:

Ajah Henry Ekene:

Loisa Fenichell:

Jeff Hardin:

John Haugh:

Mike James:

Jennifer R. Lloyd:

John Macker:

Tessah Melamed:

THE NU PROFIT$ OF P/O/E/T/I/C DI$CHORD:

Hilary Otto:

Dan Overgaard:

Rob Plath:

Daniel Romo:

Diana Rosen:

Damian Rucci:

Leslie M. Rupracht:

Anna Saunders:

Sheila Saunders:

Alan Semerdjian:

Delora Sales Simbajon:

Nathanael Stolte:

Timothy Tarkelly

William Taylor Jr.:

Bunkong Tuon:

Peggy Turnbull:

Brian Chander Wiora:

 

 

Reviews

Chase Dimock:

Mike James:

Arthur Hoyle:

 

 

Interviews

Chase Dimock:

 

Nonfiction

Brian Connor:

Cody Sexton:

 

 

Micro Fiction

Meg Pokrass:

Jason Baldinger: “Kings Bridge Armory May 6 1919”

 

 

Kings Bridge Armory May 6 1919

we were so bloody tired
we could barely conjure emotion
the soldiers would pass
silver trays, ashen faces
we were machines
spooning food
little talk

visions of the dead
reflect in their eyes
light of their souls
barely strobe
perhaps this is all
perhaps this is all that’s left

he wasn’t gone
little more light
if only a little
the look on his face
maybe a crumbled smile

a red rose in the button
of his pocket. I, shocked
alive for a moment
some color in drab time
very possible I blush
suddenly exposed
suddenly acutely aware
of feeling once again
as if I forgot
we were human
for a second

this still life

my eyes drawn to color
his voice recognizes, gaunt
they were showered
in roses yesterday
everyone in the village
wanted to kiss
the heroes of the 77th
who were they to argue

I didn’t see his hands
until now, the rose
materialized there
slight of hand
magic of an actual smile
eyes shaking
he passed it to me

 

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:

This Ghostly Ambience

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing

Jason Baldinger: “where are you now benny santiago?”

 

 

where are you now benny santiago?
(for tony gloeggler)

improbable opening day
the swelter of july
the fate of the season
the fate of the country
hangs suspended
in this unsafe air

it’s been years since
I made it to an opening day
last one so cold
the stadium universally
voted a campfire
as between eighth
inning entertainment

previous year was shirt sleeves
forty year old benny santiago
whacked a triple
even from the upper deck
you could see his eyes wide
digging for second, spare
parts strewn across the diamond
he slides winded into third

I wasn’t thirty yet
I already knew
what that run meant
how each stride felt
benny retired the next day

I look over this year’s opening
day roster, selfish I know
the ‘rona cost a chance
to see a historically
bad pirates team lose
over a hundred games

I’ve sat through seasons
like that before
listening every night
to a roster of aaaa players
not looking for wins
hoping for attrition

I don’t think this season
will ever finish, suspended
in an open ledger like’ 94
no boys of october
the crisp of autumn
ushered in without ceremony

tonight stallings
the backup catcher
drops a single, brings in two
the bucs never catch
the cards though

they need magic
come the ninth
with a couple runners
on, only one out
they get lightning instead

harmless double play ball
game ends, soon forgotten
stadium lights blink out
the dustbin of minutia

I turn off the radio
settle back into a book
breathing water in humid night
sometimes it’s attrition

where are you now benny santiago?

 

 

 

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:

This Ghostly Ambience

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing

 

 

Image Credit: “BASEBALL DIAMOND, LOOKING EAST – Roosevelt Stadium, State Route 440 & Danforth Avenue, Jersey City, Hudson County, NJ” The Library of Congress (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
either

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)