William Taylor Jr. “Mr. Sanchez”

 

 

 

Mr. Sanchez

Mr. Sanchez was my hospital roommate for three days
when I had to go and have my aortic valve replaced.

He was 83 years old, deaf in one ear,
and scheduled for a triple bypass.

He had near constant minor pains
and was always pressing the nurse call button
and describing his current level of discomfort:

It’s a one, now…or a two…wait…three…definitely a three…

A nurse would come and give him handfuls
of little pills that dissolved beneath his tongue.

Oh…it’s back down to a two, now…one…zero, it’s zero now, thank you…

The nurse would go away and within a few minutes
Mr. Sanchez would be pressing at the button again.

Nurse, it’s back to a two…maybe two and a half…

The nurse would return with more little pills
and it went on like this throughout the day.

Whenever the nurses changed shifts
the new nurse would have to check Mr. Sanchez’ vitals
and ask him the same series of questions:

Did you used to smoke, Mr. Sanchez?

Oh yes, too much.

For how many years did you smoke?

I started at 16, so about 60 years I guess.
I usta smoke about 3 packs a day.

Really?

Oh yes, I was a merchant marine, and that’s what we did –
smoke and drink, smoke and drink…

You have a tattoo, Mr. Sanchez?

I sure as hell do.

Mr. Sanchez  pushed up the sleeve of his gown
to reveal the face of a pretty young woman
and a faded name scrawled beneath.

I got this in Okinawa in 1963.

Mr. Sanchez sat up and started
to tell the story of the woman’s face
upon his arm but the nurses only
wanted to know what color of jello
he preferred for lunch.

He always asked for red
but they only had yellow
or green.

 

 

 

About the Author: William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The American Journal of Poetry. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. Pretty Words to Say, (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry.

 

More by William Taylor Jr.

“The Fire of Now”

“One of Pessoa’s Ghosts”

 

Image Credit: drawing from Outlines of Human Physiology by George Hayward (1834) public domain

William Taylor Jr: “A Seventeen Dollar Glass of Wine and the Early Works of Matisse”

 

 

A Seventeen Dollar Glass of Wine and the Early Works of Matisse 

I’m drinking overpriced wine 
in the cafe at the Museum 
of Modern Art on a Tuesday 
afternoon.

Summer is done and the tourists 
have gone back to whatever sad places
spawned them.

Everything is quiet and civilized
as I sip the Chardonnay of the day
while reading about Baudelaire
and his miserable genius.

The women are pretty
in skirts and dresses
whispering to each other
as they gaze upon some lesser 
work of Edvard Munch.

Everything is clean, white and pristine
while outside are all the things 
the headlines drone on about:

cancer and freeway crashes 
things on fire and the inevitable 
collapse of every decent 
thing we’ve ever known.

But it all seems so far away 
and meaningless when 
compared to what Matisse 
achieved in his later years

and it feels pointless 
to dwell upon such dreariness
when confronted with Warhol’s 
comic book yellows 
and reds.

Here the mistakes of our past
have been captured and neutralized
handsomely framed and placed 
upon the walls with gilded 
plaques of explanation

so that we might see
and soberly contemplate
for a moment or two
before moving on 
to something else 

and then back downstairs 
for another glass of wine 
before everything
closes.

 

About the Author: William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The Chiron Review. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. Pretty Words to Say, a new collection of poetry, is forthcoming from Six Ft. Swells Press.

 

Image Credit: “Henri Matisse Working on a Paper Cut Out” Creative Commons Public Domain

Revisiting 2019: Our 50 Most Popular Posts of the Year

 

Dear As It Ought To Be Magazine Readers,

As we enter the next decade, I want to thank all of the writers and readers who have made our tenth year so successful. I take enormous pride in working with so many talented and inspiring writers. Without your brilliance and generosity of spirit and intellect, none of this would be possible. It has been a great privilege to publish your work on our site, and I hope to continue featuring diverse perspectives, challenging ideas, and unique voices for years to come. As a way to look back on what we accomplished in 2019, I have complied the 50 most popular posts of the year based on internet traffic and clicks.

Thank you again to everyone who wrote for, read, and promoted AIOTB Magazine in 2019. Let the 20s roar again!

Chase Dimock
Managing Editor

 

Poetry

Jason Baldinger:

Ishrat Bashir:

Jai Hamid Bashir:

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal:

Jeffrey Betcher:

Ace Boggess:

Daniel Crocker:

John Dorsey:

Ryan Quinn Flanagan:

Tony Gloeggler:

Nathan Graziano:

Cord Moreski:

Jeanette Powers:

Stephen Roger Powers:

Jonathan K. Rice:

Kevin Ridgeway:

Damian Rucci:

Anna Saunders:

Larry Smith:

Nick Soluri:

William Taylor Jr.:

Alice Teeter:

Tiffany Troy:

Bunkong Tuon:

Agnes Vojta:

Kory Wells:

Brian Chander Wiora:

Dameion Wagner:

 

Nonfiction

Daniel Crocker:

Nathan Graziano:

John Guzlowski:

Cody Sexton:

Carrie Thompson:

 

Reviews 

Chase Dimock:

Mike James:

 

Photo Credit: Fire Works At New Year’s Eve via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

“One of Pessoa’s Ghosts” By William Taylor Jr.

 

 

One of Pessoa’s Ghosts

Under the kind and forgiving influence
of three glasses of cheap red wine

I haunt the city like
one of Pessoa’s ghosts,

adrift in the beauty and the terror
of an ordinary Tuesday afternoon.

At Vesuvio Cafe the tourists
drink and laugh at balcony tables.

I take my wine and sit among them,
the soft music of their faces,

my heart forever breaking a bit
for something I can never
quite name,

and it’s all I’ve ever
asked of the world.

 

About the Author: William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. He edited Cockymoon: Selected Poems of Jack Micheline, published by Zeitgeist Press in 2017. From the Essential Handbook on Making it to the Next Whatever is his latest collection of poetry. 

 

More By William Taylor Jr.:

The Fire of Now

 

Image Credit: Eugène Atget “Petit Bacchus, 61, rue St. Louis en l’Ile” (1901) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

“The Fire of Now” By William Taylor Jr.

 

 

The Fire of Now
for Ursula Nichowski

Sometimes it feels like there’s not much
other than the fact of death
waiting just beneath the flimsy
surface of it all,
and the crass dullness of our hours
wearing us down like the ocean.
The poets are useless, having
broken with the music of things,
the day an unfortunate
accident no one will cop to.
You find no solace
in the misty gray sky
or the sad old buildings
propped against it,
still haunted by ghosts
of decent things long gone.
You wander the streets
in the soft rain
looking for that old place
with the perfect juke,
but they tore it down
and replaced it
with a world of safe spaces
when all you wanted
was a bit of pretty danger.
And then suddenly her face
like a prison break,
her lips like a pardon
from this world and the next,
reminding you that the fire of now
is forever equal
to the smugness of the void.
You are struck by the bravery
of her beauty in the face
of whatever remains of things.
You tell her as much
and she laughs and says,
why don’t you write
a poem about it,
and you do.

 

About the Author: William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. He edited Cockymoon: Selected Poems of Jack Micheline, published by Zeitgeist Press in 2017. From the Essential Handbook on Making it to the Next Whatever is his latest collection of poetry. 

 

Image Credit: Giuseppe Arcimboldo “Fire” (1566)