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)

 

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