Susan Cossette: “Magadelen with the Smoking Flame”

Magadelen with the Smoking Flame
-after Georges de la Tour

You see the polished skull
settled under my now-empty womb,
the books of scripture on the desk,
the unadorned wooden cross.

You see the leather scourge.
I am the perfect lover of Christ,
correcting myself daily,
now perfect penitent.

You will not see the red welts
on my back or upper thighs,
only remorse in lowered eyes.
Sweet burn, delectable wound.

The oily candle plays its tricks,
slim shafts of light on cave walls.
Peering into shadows,
I pay respect to the power of the dark.

My mind plays tricks on me.
Is it mother, laid out at solstice,
her face plump and purple,
the monsignor saying rosary?

Or something else drawn
out of the dark night of the soul,
longing for light.

About the Author: Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, The New York Quarterly, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press) and Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press).

Image Credit: Georges de La Tour “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame” (1640) Image courtesy of Wikimedia

AIOTB Magazine’s 2022 Pushcart Nominees





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


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”


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

Susan Cossette: “She Waits Behind the Drapes”




She Waits Behind the Drapes
-after Edvard Munch


Gaslit shadows from St. Cloud Street slip through the windowpane.
Unannounced, pecking at her bruised feet.

The otherness has begun.

Hallowed room bathed in crepuscular light,
Occupied only by shadow and impossible stillness. 

The nurses feed her warm chicken noodle soup,
Record vital signs.

She imagines her daughter lying beside her,
Warm breath, soft cheek.
The child remembers things she can no longer.
Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup,
Christmas mornings, drinking warm cocoa after ice skating.

The child is 1,368 miles away.
In her mind,
She is there—
A responsible mourner in training.

Prepared to face the menace,
Prepared to let the dead enter her,
A living organism of memories.



About the Author: Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up (2017), she is a two-time recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, Adelaide, Clockwise Cat, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Ariel Chart, Poetica Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.


Image Credit: Edvard Munch. “The Girl by the Window,” (1893). The Art Institute of Chicago. Public Domain