As It Ought To Be Magazine’s Nominees for the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology

 

As It Ought To Be Magazine is proud to announce our nominees for Sundress Publications’ 2019 Best of the Net Anthology.

 

Poetry

Ruth Bavetta “A Murder”

John Dorsey “Anthony Bourdain Crosses the River of the Dead”

Mike James “Grace”

Rebecca Schumejda “i don’t want this poem to be about the death penalty, but it is”

Bunkong Tuon “Gender Danger”

Kory Wells “Untold Story”

 

Nonfiction

Daniel Crocker “Mania Makes Me a Better Poet”

Nathan Graziano “The Misery of Fun”

 

Congratulations to our nominees and thank you to all of the writers and readers who have supported As It Ought To Be Magazine.

 

Image Credit: Henry Pointer “The Attentive Pupil” (1865) Digitally Enhanced. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

“Homework on Uranus” By Nathan Graziano

 

Homework on Uranus

I am washing the dinner dishes while my son,
shoulders slumped at the kitchen table, groans

about his science homework while my wife
waits with the patience of a beach stone

beside him, tapping a pen and pointing 
at his assignment. “Concentrate,” she says.

My son moans like a beaten dog then starts 
reading his assignment and begins laughing.

“Dad, this article says that Uranus is a ‘gas giant.’”
He buckles over, grabbing his gut, hysterical. 

My wife glares at me, a laser beam of derision,
hoping against hope that I’d be the father-figure,

explaining to my twelve-year old son that Uranus jokes
are sophomoric, that he needs to concentrate

on his school work and not succumb bathroom humor
or fatuous planet puns and concentrate, son. 

Concentrate. Instead, I drop the pot I’m drying 
and haw, a hearty guffaw. “Uranus is a gas giant!” I say.

My son blows a raspberry on his forearm, tears
streaming down his cheeks, and my wife stands up.

“I’m done. You help him with this,” she says to me
and leaves the kitchen, leaving my son and me, both

in middle school, giving wedgies in the locker room,
pulling fingers in class, laughing in the face of maturity.  

 

About the Author: Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014), Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com.

 

More By Nathan Graziano:

Explaining Depression To My Cousin

Punchline

 

Image Credit: Photo of Uranus from NASA. Public Domain

“Punchline” By Nathan Graziano

 

 

Punchline

Here’s a joke in a loose poetic form.
Let’s be honest, people like reading
jokes more than they like reading poems.
In my older age, I’m becoming a realist,
like my father warned, only he used
the word “conservative.” Which I’m not.
At one time, I sat at this same desk
and believed that a poem could touch
the world and make the smallest dent
in whatever armor protects us from us.

So a poet walks into a bar with a parrot
on his shoulder, and the bartender says,
“Hey, where did you get that thing, bub?’
And the parrot says, “Starbucks. There’s
a ton of them.” Funny how that turned.   

 

About the Author: Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014), Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com.

 

More By Nathan Graziano:

Explaining Depression To My Cousin

 

Image Credit: “Wallace & parrot, 2/29/24” (1924) Library of Congress

“Explaining Depression to My Cousin” by Nathan Graziano

 

 

Explaining Depression to My Cousin

 

It’s melodrama shot execution-style on a sidewalk.

It’s a pit in your stomach stuffed with fluff.

It’s two a.m. with morning’s foot pressed to its throat.

It’s me grabbing your hand and crying on your shoulder.

It’s words desperate to find a sentence that loves them.

It’s an airless dream then waking, suddenly, suffocated.

It’s not losing a job, a loveless marriage or the desertion

of a childhood dream that once made you smile.

It’s the pill you have to take twice a day, knowing

it’s not resolved with exercise or diet or thinking

the positive thoughts that positive people think.

It’s mustering the courage to wake up tomorrow and dress,

one stupid leg after the next laborious leg, and press on.

 

About the Author: Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014), Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com.

 

More By Nathan Graziano:

“My Bipolar Ex-Love”

“The Misery of Fun”

 

Image Credit: “Nos” by Ismael Nery Public Domain

“The Misery of Fun” By Nathan Graziano

 

The Misery of Fun

 

I was holed up, purposefully, in my basement—the place where I hermit when I’m not obligated by work or another adult responsibility to leave and confront the outside world—when my wife came down the stairs, her heels clacking against the hardwood. She was holding her phone, staring at the screen. “So,” she said.

I knew that “so” and something was coming that I wasn’t going to enjoy hearing. “What is it?”

So my dad texted me, and they’re planning a trip for next April and inviting us and the kids,” she said.

“Tell me it’s not Disney World.”

“Disney World isn’t that bad,” she said with a lilt in her voice. “It’ll be fun.”

My head dropped into my hands. My wife was going to use the kids, who are now teenagers, to try to convince me into willfully entering the lost circle of Dante’s Hell.

And all of this would be done in the name of “prescribed fun.”    

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon—-which I probably am—-the idea of Disney World…hell, state of Florida alone, is enough to induce an anxiety attack. I’d rather be strung up by my toes and beaten with a broomstick than to stand in a 45 minute line next to a family of sunburned and overstuffed Midwesterners. There will be thousands of people with the same expectation: to have “fun” on the boat trip through It’s a Small World. Hop on, everybody, it will be a blast, everything you’ve waited to experience, so much fucking fun that you’ll pop like a fun-sucking tick.

“I’m not going,” I told my wife. “I don’t have enough Ativan to make it through a week there.” Continue reading