Announcing AIOTB Magazine’s Pushcart Nominees

 

 

As It Ought To Be Magazine is proud to announce our nominees for this year’s Pushcart Prize

 

 

Mike James: “Saint Jayne Mansfield”

Hilary Otto: “Show Don’t Tell”

Diana Rosen: “Hollywood Freeway”

Ronnie Sirmans: “Sloughing Words”

Bunkong Tuon: “Lisel Mueller Died at 96”

Agnes Vojta: “Everybody Loves the Person Who Brings Muffins”

 

 

Congratulations to our nominees and a big thanks to all the writers who shared their work with AIOTB Magazine this year!

 

-Chase Dimock
Managing Editor

 

 

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Grover Beach Sunset” (2020)

Ronnie Sirmans: “Sloughing Words”

 

 

SLOUGHING WORDS

They say a single pencil
can write about 45,000 words. 
When I was a kid and wanted
to sharpen a pencil at home, 
I would always turn to Daddy  
and his handy pocket knife.
I didn’t realize each sloughing 
meant words falling to the floor.
Synonyms, antonyms, homonyms
drifting among the dusty motes.
I had persuaded my parents 
to buy a Crayola big box
with the built-in sharpener—
which didn’t work on pencils, 
I would discover while I marveled
at the 64 colors before they dulled.
I was the kid who would wear out 
burnt sienna, maize, peach, mahogany,
goldenrod, bittersweet, and even silver 
for use as flesh tones when I colored. 
I stayed dutiful with homework,
numerals in addition to words, 
and so I’d often ask Daddy
(that’s what I called him at first
before trying synonyms like Father,
palindromes Dad and Pop, finally 
settling on Pa, as utilitarian as pi or po) 
to sharpen, unblunt, dedull my pencil. 
If you’re more a geometer rather
than a wordsmith, did you know
a pencil can draw a 35-mile line?
I could never make it that far:
Daddy’s small blade conjured gray dust,
infinite points falling off a straight course.

 

 

About the Author: Ronnie Sirmans is a digital editor at an Atlanta print newspaper, and his poems have appeared in The South Carolina Review, Tar River Poetry, Deep South Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, Sojourners, America, and elsewhere.

 

More By Ronnie Sirmans: 

The Word with the Schwa that’s Really a Short U

Remembering the Great Flood in the Frozen Food Aisle

 

Image Credit: Odilon Redon “Conque marine” Public Domain

 

 

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“The Word with the Schwa that’s Really a Short U” By Ronnie Sirmans

 

THE WORD WITH THE SCHWA THAT’S REALLY A SHORT U

My new friend’s from Boise,
and I remember: as a boy
reading the word and mis-
pronouncing it as “Boys.”  
Some words seem to say
themselves to us. Like love.  
Has anyone moved lips
and tongue with a long o
to whisper to their true “loave”?  
Instincts may shape the syllable,
from inaudible caul, borne by
fluid breath like spoken words.
The pronunciation, its middle is u,
but not mouthed as “you,” but rather
the sound of our uncertainty, “uh”
— announcing our confusion over
how to grasp the word’s meanings,
a rainbowed fish still in the currents,
that we can’t catch with our bare hands
but need strong jaws like the bear
or a hook that snags the mouth
and lips, causing a bloody wound.

 

About the Author: Ronnie Sirmans is a digital editor for a print newspaper in Atlanta, and his poems have appeared in Gargoyle, The South Carolina Review, Tar River Poetry, BlazeVOX, The American Journal of Poetry, Deep South Magazine, and elsewhere.

 

More By Ronnie Sirmans:

“Remembering the Great Flood in the Frozen Food Aisle”

 

Image Credit: “Studio Portrait of a Man Posed with Fishing Gear / The Fisherman” Artist Unknown.  Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

“Remembering the Great Flood in the Frozen Food Aisle” By Ronnie Sirmans

 

REMEMBERING THE GREAT FLOOD IN THE FROZEN FOOD AISLE

0 g. Zero grams: No trans fats, according
to the big numeral and letter on the label.
As I rolled my cart past the frozen foods,
I’d first read zero grams as a word: Og.
The giant who died in the Great Flood.
Or did he?  Some say this freakish ruler
accompanied the ark. His anaconda-fingers
holding tight, his oxen-calves wrapped around
any wood that would not break, his walrus-torso
pressed firmly, resisting the rough breakers.
This supercenter — tools, groceries, sundries,
scented candles and oils of deserts and tropics,
live fish for pets, frozen-boxed fish for eating —
could serve as a modern sepulcher to the king.
Did Og relate to the pachyderms? Did Noah’s
daughters swoon? Can sea elephants blow kisses?
Or did this king’s domain and lineage conclude,
not like the dinosaurs in ash, but in a deluge?

I navigate toward an open aisle
in the archipelago of checkouts,
lighted numerals above cashiers
are north stars guiding my passage.
As I wait, I think Og shows: How little
we know about some very big things.
I get lost in some sermons’ sameness.
In church this Sunday morning,
they might even talk about Noah
or the other fantastic seafarer Jonah,
but I am instead listening to the beep
as an infrared scanner says this
is the price I must pay for a case
of bottled water, so much water.

.

About the Author: Ronnie Sirmans is a digital editor for a print newspaper in Atlanta, and his poems have appeared in Gargoyle, The South Carolina Review, Tar River Poetry, BlazeVOX, The American Journal of Poetry, Deep South Magazine, and elsewhere.

 

Image Credit: Digital photo collage by Chase Dimock