“Summer Girls in Pale Chiffon” by William Childress

When I was twelve, I lost my heart
to lovely girls as sweet as art.
Their womanhood did almost shine,
but still, with innocence and time,
and new to lipsticks and ribands,
they kept virginity in their minds.

I did not know what power hexed me,
only that its surges vexed me;
day and night perplexing dreams
wrapped me in the dear perfumes
of soap and scents I wanted close,
and skinny limbs miraculous.

In my backwoods country shire,
when spring released its vernal fire
and drove young animals to play,
I did watch those dear girls fly
like blossoms through the swinging door
of Tom McCaffree’s ten cent store.

God to me was very good
on windy days. From where I stood,
I saw their legs, the little fawns,
through clouds of billowing chiffon.
How instinctive their retrieve
of yellow fabric, soft as dreams.

Many a girl I’ve courted since,
and some liked plum and some liked quince,
and some liked anything I brought
that raised the beating of their hearts.
But no one’s ever matched the charms
of the summer girls in pale chiffon.


Twice-nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, William Childress is an ex-paratrooper, Korean War veteran, and former National Geographic editor-writer. He has an MFA from the University of Iowa. His 15-year newspaper column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch resulted in a regional bestseller, Out of the Ozarks. In a 51-year career, he has published five books, 5000 magazine articles, 7000 photos, 350 poems, approximately 30 short stories, and a chapbook called Bumblebee Wars.

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“The Fabulists” by William Childress

Best in my view to have left god alone,
secure in his cold, unreachable realm,
not to have made him the subject of psalms
for old Jews to scatter around like bones.
Best to believe each preposterous myth,
every hope-filled fable from ancient days,
swathed in ignorance, the hallmark of faith,
required superstition to kneel and pray.
Best to sell bits of wood, holy ark and cross,
guaranteeing luck if we’re properly awed,
or send lay preachers prayer money and costs
so they can scorn logic and say, “There’s a god.”
Best to believe that those fables still shine,
in a book created for stained glass minds.


Twice-nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, William Childress is an ex-paratrooper, Korean War veteran, and former National Geographic editor-writer. He has an MFA from the University of Iowa. His 15-year newspaper column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch resulted in a regional bestseller, Out of the Ozarks. In a 51-year career, he has published five books, 5000 magazine articles, 7000 photos, 350 poems, approximately 30 short stories, and a chapbook called Bumblebee Wars.

Issue #6, August 2011

Table of Contents, Issue #6

Editor’s Note

2011 Summer Fiction Contest

Fiction contest winner: “Consider the Gap” by George Sawaya

Fiction contest honorable mention: “Mulciber” by Sean Hogan

Fiction contest honorable mention: “The Smoking  Bun” by Lucinda Dupree

Fiction

“Jackpot” by Lindsey Walker

“Switchback” by Roger Real Drouin

“Meet Me by the River” by Nels Hanson

“All the Right Notes” by T.R. Healy

Flash Fiction

“Tore Up” by Dale Wisely

Poetry

“Monroe County Line” by L. Ward Abel

“District Court as Community Theater” by Al Maginnes

“If I Rise” by Amit Parmessur

“Summer Girls in Pale Chiffon” by William Childress

“The Fabulists” by William Childress

Prose Poetry

“Incurable” by Howie Good

Essays

“Regional ‘Othering’ in Hershell Lewis’ Two Thousand Maniacs!” by William Matthew McCarter

Multimedia

Photography by Molly Hand