“Poem for Demetrius M. Salada, Admiral (RA) of the Golden Arc Spaceship” By Scott Silsbe

 

 

Poem for Demetrius M. Salada, Admiral (RA) of the Golden Arc Spaceship

Admiral Salada, I don’t know if it’s really true—
if the Golden Arc that you built got you to space.
By chance, I found myself in a small apartment
in Braddock Hills sifting through what remained
of your library—books rescued, I was told, from 
a house fire. Some of the better titles I noticed…
Experiences of Space in Contemporary Physics.
The Harmonics of Sound, Color, and Vibration.
Extraterrestrial Contact and Human Responses.
Effects of Nuclear War on the Pittsburgh Area.

The man who was selling the books handed me 
your old business card, which is how I know of
The Golden Arc. That and his story about how 
you just vanished one day after years and years
of telling people that you were building yourself 
a way to leave this cracked earth, busted world,
this unsustainable planet we’re breaking to shards.

I hope that your spaceship held up and got you 
to wherever it was that you were heading for.
I now keep your business card in my wallet as 
a conversation piece, as a souvenir from my job
to show off to people I meet. And I guess as a
small piece of your life, which I know little of—
just a small fragment from someone who had hope
of another world that was obtainable, if very distant.
Someone who didn’t care if people thought he was
stupid, crazy, or a dreamer of otherworldly dreams.

 

About the Author: Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit. He now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have been collected in three books—Unattended FireThe River Underneath the City, and Muskrat Friday Dinner. He is also an assistant editor at Low Ghost Press.

 

Image Credit: “Le voyage dans la lune, en plein dans l’œil!!”, a drawing by Georges Méliès of the vessel landing in the moon’s eye in the film Le voyage dans la lune Public Domain

 

“Unknown Soldiers” By Brian Rihlmann

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UNKNOWN SOLDIERS

There ought to be
a monument,
a sort of war memorial
for workers killed
on construction sites,
in industrial accidents,
for those chewed up
and spit out
by the cruel machinery.

For migrant workers,
underpaid foreigners
crippled by cut corners,
then banished
from this promised land
of stone faced natives,
not so far removed.

For those whose true genius
was stamped out in childhood,
and their lives burned up,
firewood reduced to ash
by the slow flame
of factory drudgery,
by the booze and pills
that made enduring it possible.

Unknown soldiers
fighting daily battles
every bit as important
to our way of life
as men in uniform.

But such a monument
would cover half the country
in a black granite slab,
a giant tombstone
where fields of grain stand tall.

So there will never be one,
of that I am certain,
just as I am certain
that somebody,
somewhere, someday,
will hate me
for writing this.

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About the Author: Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi autobiographical, confessional free verse. Folk poetry…for folks. He has been published in Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, The Rye Whiskey Review, Cajun Mutt Press and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry.
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Image Credit: Lewis W. Hine “Doffer Boys, Macon, Georgia” (1909) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

“The President Called the United States a Company” By Prince Bush

 

 

The President Called the United States a Company 

A Christmas mourning / I mourn God’s slain child
and Jesus Christ, a wall that’s hard to yield
to while crows eat / kids starve / ovaled stomachs 

feed on human flesh / hosts as repurposed
puppets or proponents purporting laws
and slips on behalf of Freudian slips 

            the President called the United States
            a company / and there’s truth / I too sing 

company / throwing precious repastures
away / enough to feed refugees they
say there’s no food for. I mourn a Jesús

             and Jesus / you might not / so how can I
             show you mercy?—replace Jesus with green

wood-plants / white people / you / must keep Jesús
because death is owned by a company
that must throw away precious repastures.

 

About the Author: Prince Bush is a poet attending Fisk University. His work has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, SOFTBLOW, Cotton Xenomorph, Protean, and Mobius, among others. More work and biographical information can be found at pbush.com

Image Credit: D.R. Payne “Border monuments 223, 224, and 225, along the California-Mexico border” (1892) The Library of Congress

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

“A disappearance” By Dameion Wagner

 

 

A disappearance

I would like to disappear

into my thin white

body I am day- 

dreaming again of

you and him 

my blue eyes 

are open 

two lips,

are four when they

met in secret

in a kitchen 

where people 

prepare food &

eat because they

are hungry and 

cannot wait 

wait wait don’t 

think for a minute

before you take

a bite of that

Tonight give me 

a kiss  if I die in

my sleep.

 

About the Author: Dameion Wagner lives and works in Columbus, Ohio. His work has appeared in Crab Creek Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Gordian Review among a few others. He has also written reviews for Heavy Feather Review and The Rumpus. He won Miami University’s 2017 Jordan-Goodman poetry Prize judged by Janice Lowe, and most recently was the 2018 recipient of the Academy of American Poets University Prize. He received his MFA from Miami University’s Low Residency program. 

 

Image Credit: William Henry Fox Talbot “The Bust of Patroclus” (1843) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

“And Why Am I a Free Man?” By Ace Boggess

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“And Why Am I a Free Man?”
         —Paulo Coelho, The Zahir  

time is the most valuable element
on any periodic table

spend it
give or lose it
wear it around one’s neck like gold

or clamped on wrists
like iron shackles

breathing it in takes a moment
but the exhale lasts a lifetime

less with good behavior

I mined years for their raw hours
spent & spent

another dinner in some sad café

 

 

About the Author: Ace Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018). His writing appears in Notre Dame Review, Rhino, North Dakota Quarterly, Rattle, and many other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

 

More By Ace Boggess:

“Why Did You Try to Sober Up?”

“Are Your Emotions More Or Less Intense?”

 

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “View from the inside of the clock face on Portland, Oregon’s, historic Union Station’s 150-foot-high tower” (2018) The Library of Congress

“The Inner Life of Midwesterners Rarely Spoken: A Review of Marc Frazier’s Willingly” By Chase Dimock

 

 

The Inner Life of Midwesterners Rarely Spoken:

A Review of Marc Frazier’s Willingly

 By Chase Dimock

 

     In the poem “Iterations” Marc Frazier claims “There is no limit to the times a poet can mention the body.” Frazier’s latest book Willingly is true to his own words as nearly every poem is about inhabiting a body or the embodiment of ideas and emotions:

this body that stirs, or fails to
this barely defined shoulder
my body beside someone’s but not yet yours.

Frazier’s bodies are sites of memory, pain, desire, and the hope of transcendence through sensual connection with other bodies. These bodies are both familiar and alienating: his own body ranging from childhood to middle age, the alternately tender or cold bodies of lovers and objects of desire, and the bodies of his family members wracked with mental illness and the ravages of old age. Thus, Willingly is about how bodies are shaped by their environment, nurtured or neglected by family and community, and legible through scars:

Body, exhausted by metaphor–limited, earthbound.
Words can’t capture how it falters, breaks,
how there may be something more.

Words cannot capture a body in the sense that capturing means possessing and immobilizing it the way the possessiveness of desire sometimes wishes we could. But as a poet, Frazier’s words can depict the impressions of the body in motion, the way it ages, cowers in pain, and yearns for the touch of others.

      Frazier begins his collection with the poem “little death; dissociative identity,” which sets the tone for his subsequent explorations of identity and desire. I imagine “little death” as a reference to the French “la petite mort,” a term that refers to the after effects of an orgasm. As the majority of the poems intersperse recollections of his dysfunctional family and meditations on his sexuality from childhood to present, the idea of sex culminating in a small death frames this relationship between his identity as a gay man and his upbringing in the midwest. The pleasures of the body mean that a part of him must die: namely the lingering trauma of a childhood that shamed his queerness as a man and an artist.

      In “Synopsis” Frazier gives us exactly that: a run down of his infancy to manhood: “mother threatens to kill me during the seventh month of my life… mother is admitted for insulin and electro-shock therapies…I have to survive my father a difficult battle to win.” Living with a mentally ill mother and a stern Catholic father adds up: 

I live as a person
divided
the religious youth
and the man
cruising men
my fragile self fueled
by porn alcohol

While an upbringing does not determine one’s sexual orientation, it does heavily inform how one navigates their sexuality and what they want to get through it. By alternating poems about his family from the nostalgic to the traumatic with poems about his loves and lusts, Frazier’s poetry investigates how the wounds of the past drive us to heal through desires of the flesh. 

        All discussions of sexual desire carry the stigma of taboo in our culture, yet Frazier’s poetry is unafraid to be vulnerable and confessional. His work is especially brave because he does not merely reveal erotic desires, but also the pain of rejection, the lingering feelings of inadequacy, and the moral ambiguity of his sexual past. In two back to back poems, “Without Words” and “Sergio”, Frazier connects his difficult relationship with his mother to a failed romantic relationship. Addressing his mother, he writes: “Even now, I stiffen when you hug me,/ frozen in an infant’s body”. Through poetry, he attempts to find healing for his trauma:

Each word I write aims to uncover the damage,
to express trauma that happens before language

But a body remembers what happened.
How I want to surrender, to let you reach me:

My body’s wanting to love is not the same as loving
though wanting to be loved is the same as loving

The problem of wanting to love and be loved in a traumatized body that cannot process or receive love as the mind wants emerges as well in Frazier’s poems about sexuality. In these poems, he explores the dual nature of sex: the sensual and the carnal. I was particularly struck by some of the poems in which he positions the carnal as a reaction to the frustrations and disappointments in trying to make a sensual, romantic connection. In “Without You” he writes:

I bring bodies alive with a quarter
        Watch them laboring
Like pistons and cylinders,
        Without sound

To unlearn the beauty of you
        the pornography does best

When a body he loved slips away, he responds with a carnal possession of another, virtual body he can always control. In “Sergio” this reactionary attitude is echoed as he writes “the more I have sex, the more I get even.” It’s brave to explore this unflattering, yet all too human and universal aspect of frustrated desire. 

      Despite the strong focus on a traumatized past and painfully honest poems about the darker and stickier elements of desire, Frazier’s book still maintains a certain level of optimism in the promise of sensual connection through bodies. In these poems, he crafts some of his most beautiful images and lines. In “Architecture” he writes

I hear each cell crave to be more
my desire to be less
anchored deep in the kiln of your chest

In “Heart Tide” Frazier writes of the hope for transcendence through vulnerability:

My clear heart rests in your hand
                  beyond death’s fingers
                  It holds itself, freed of geography and time.

That line beautifully sums up the aspirations of Frazier’s book. We recover traumas through the body. We feel the pain of shame, rejection, and frustration through the body. But at moments, bodies can intertwine and transcend the damage of the past and the physical constraints of the present. There are indeed no limits to the times a poet can mention the body, and through poetry we reshape and we rethink the bodies we inhabit each time they are mentioned.

 

Willingly is available from Adelaide Books

 

About the Author: Chase Dimock is the Managing Editor of As It Ought To Be Magazine. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois and his scholarship has appeared in College LiteratureWestern American Literature, and numerous edited anthologies. His works of literary criticism have appeared in Mayday MagazineThe Lambda Literary ReviewModern American Poetry, and Dissertation Reviews. His poetry has appeared in Waccamaw, New Mexico Review, Faultline, Hot Metal Bridge, Saw Palm, and San Pedro River Review among othersFor more of his work, check out ChaseDimock.com.

 

More by Chase Dimock: 

A Review of John Dorsey’s Your Daughter’s Country

A Review of Jumping Bridges in Technicolor by Mike James

Leadwood: A Conversation With Poet Daniel Crocker