William Fellenberg, “Beauty and Beast”

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Beauty and Beast

She wasn’t the first girl he loved
He could do it with one hand tied
Behind his back
And a rope around his neck.

After he took the first few bites of her
He proposed, Marry me
She said Yes, which was all it took
To push a pillow over love’s face.

The end seemed better than he deserved
She asked that he see himself out
He obliged, closed the door softly
Their parting spare—but quite civil.

She pressed her back to the door, held her breath
Then heard his hooves clomping outside
Finally, a peculiar cry—quite beastly
As he skidded down the slaughterhouse ramp.

 


Bill Fellenberg was born in Yokohama to a Japanese shop girl and an American GI. The family came to America in 1953, when he was four. From the age of seven, Bill was raised by his paternal grandparents in what was then rural New Jersey. After enjoying a career primarily in the arts and in higher education, Bill pursued his long-held dream to write full-time. He is presently completing his memoir, Sayonara Cowboy, about his early childhood in postwar Japan and his transition to life in the USA. He’s presented his poetry and prose at various venues in the New York Catskills and the Delaware River Valley of Pennsylvania. He received awards in two categories for writing excellence—in poetry and in creative nonfiction—at the 2016 Pennsylvania Writers Conference, sponsored by Wilkes University’s MFA program.


 

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Kevin Shyne, “Parked in the Sixties”

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Parked in the Sixties

How could I have been so naive
too self-absorbed to pray for murdered nurses
hardly hearing shots of a clock tower sniper
believing the Saigon thugs we called allies?
But I was 15
books and papers spilling from my locker
legs locking up at a two-mile finish line
mouthing words of Beatles songs.

How could I have been so shallow
averting eyes from napalmed villages
not showing up at protest rallies
unappalled by race riots broadcast live?
But I was 16
parading behind a pep rally float
sharpening number 2 pencils for entrance exams
trembling, phone in hand, a girl’s voice in my ear.

How could I have been so vain
not sick with grief over Martin and Bobby slain
not sobered by black-gloved fists on Olympic gold
not fearing for classmates bound for war?
but I was 17
a yearbook under my arm
car keys in my pocket,
a tassel looped on the rearview mirror.

Before the soul is plowed,
before amazing friends blend into the crowd,
before the innocence goes,
God must be taking pictures to laugh at later.
Why else make the Sixties so over the top
as if cruising all night in a blue Dodge Dart
slowing to park
soft clicks of the engine cooling
bench seat adrift in a sea of cars
the windshield a mirror of stars?

 


Kevin Shyne is a professional writer whose work once appeared in national magazines, corporate annual reports, and employee newsletters. Turning to poetry in his retirement, he has had poems published in Poetry Breakfast, The Lyric, Poetry Porch, and Blue Heron Review. In addition, as a volunteer in a group that is organizing a creative writing festival for high school students from seven schools in rural Illinois, Kevin is starting to realize that being a poet is about more than writing poetry.


 

B. J. Best, “dimes of whiskey”

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dimes of whiskey

you want to fall,
now washing smoke
in the sparkled harbor

as a calm hammock
hangs the forest of craters
and small waves.

my relocable mother
would shower water
in the curlicues of stars.

oh, i’ve moved me
with a boat, my feathers
twinkling in the wind,

and i love how you
order dimes of whiskey
to burn off the lake,

the excalfous ashes,
the sleeping hours
of the swan.

 


B.J. Best is the author of three books and four chapbooks of poetry—most recently, Yes (Parallel Press, 2014). He lives in Wisconsin. His poem is a collaboration with torch-rnn, a neural network library that writes words one character at a time. The neural network was trained on Best’s own body of work from the past twenty years. The resulting poems, therefore, are his own writing rewritten by a computer, then edited by Best. Torch-rnn was created by Justin Johnson, based on work by Andrej Karpathy. It lives on GitHub.


 

William Miller, “Boy Scout Field Trip”

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Boy Scout Field Trip

We walked up and around
Mt. Cheaha, a troop
in the summer rain.

I didn’t complain, didn’t mind,
found an arrowhead,
then two.

Every step we took
was one step away from
my house, the den where

my mother quoted scripture
in a loud, angry voice;
my dad drank vodka

mixed with nothing.
Down there, in the valley,
my family once lived,

Creeks who planted corn,
fished for mudcat.
My grandmother was one…

Drenched, we stopped
at the mouth of a cave
tall enough for even

the scoutmaster to walk into.
He held up a lantern,
and pointed at the twisted,

stone shapes. Some grew up,
others down from
the dark ceiling.

“This cave is old,”
he said. “These formations
older than Jesus.”

And we slept that night
in sleeping bags,
in a place blacker

than midnight,
though I felt completely safe,
hidden in the earth.

 


William Miller’s sixth collection of poetry, Recovering Biker, was published last fall by The Edwin Mellen Press. His poems have recently been accepted or published by The Penn Review, The Connecticut River Review, Negative Capability, Canyon Voices, and Aura.


 

B. J. Best, “what ripples are”

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what ripples are

i want the bells, the sundry of sunburn
in the skin, of white that can’t be clouds.

you were the map about a kitchen of rains,
the treasure of a garden of stars.

the wind with an antique talk about water.
is the lake too sad, you with many swimming said?

windows standing in dust. sudden the talons,
and whatever we drought, you want.

who sabotages at the stars? i want the sun
pressing bones. you want the weather of flashing,

a boat simple, wind over an amazed cattail lake.

 


B.J. Best is the author of three books and four chapbooks of poetry—most recently, Yes (Parallel Press, 2014). He lives in Wisconsin. His poem is a collaboration with torch-rnn, a neural network library that writes words one character at a time. The neural network was trained on Best’s own body of work from the past twenty years. The resulting poems, therefore, are his own writing rewritten by a computer, then edited by Best. Torch-rnn was created by Justin Johnson, based on work by Andrej Karpathy. It lives on GitHub.


 

Wanda Deglane, “Self-Portrait as Coral Reef”

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Self-Portrait as Coral Reef

I’ve sunk down to the depths of the blue,
a little corpse drowned eons ago when my head
was forced under. The air burst from my lungs
and my stinging eyes were glued shut.
Millennia have passed since I’ve succumbed
to the tides, and with them the land masses
have shifted, the waves rock the world
in a nightly lullaby, and yet here I am still, and
I haven’t moved an inch. But my skeleton is no tragedy,
where I lie is no graveyard. Tear open my cages
and find in my crevasses and deepest recesses
that I am teeming with life in its most beautiful forms.
Fish of all shapes and sizes swim through what once
was my nose and behind my eyes, raise their families
in my bountiful lungs. The starfish attach themselves
to my ancient skull, kissing me daily and whispering
their thanks. An octopus coils his many tentacles
around my pelvis, looking for whelks and krill to feast on.
My arms are eternally outstretched—give me your lost
and your homeless, oh Mother, let them find in me a haven.
I want to build planets inside me, and layer my deadened bones
in softest beauty, in color, in life, forever and ever.

 


Wanda Deglane is a freshman at Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Her poetry has been published on Dodging the Rain, r.kv.r.y, and Spider Mirror, and is forthcoming from Porridge Magazine and elsewhere. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and lives with her huge family in Glendale, Arizona. When she isn’t writing, she paints and spends time with her dog, Princess Leia.


 

B. J. Best, “an all so cancer”

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an all so cancer

—of course, my inky angel. it’s really surgery.
who made the world have time? but we love you;
the horizon’s just an old blue morning
on the decay: the spangle of song in the air,
the wind crawling to smoke the newspaper birds.

so work, how to be building sizzling objects
or a lost churn. you can’t take your things into the new:
the season of a purr, not the forest
of butter and the country west of your pills.
the lightning clouds close in the gods
and the presidents of conversations.

i want to be while i am dreams
across the sunset night.
you’re a cat with cancer,
and all was a little place, you say.

 


B.J. Best is the author of three books and four chapbooks of poetry—most recently, Yes (Parallel Press, 2014). He lives in Wisconsin. His poem is a collaboration with torch-rnn, a neural network library that writes words one character at a time. The neural network was trained on Best’s own body of work from the past twenty years. The resulting poems, therefore, are his own writing rewritten by a computer, then edited by Best. Torch-rnn was created by Justin Johnson, based on work by Andrej Karpathy. It lives on GitHub.