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.