Issue 64, Spring 2021

Editor’s note

A.E. Decker

Greetings, readers!

As I type these words, the sun has been shining for the past three days. By the time they go into print, I have every hope that the sun will be shining and the white and lavender crocuses will be pushing up along my walkway. All this is a long-winded way of saying that spring has finally arrived, and with it, a fresh issue of The Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Thank you for reading, and I hope you too are enjoying a sense of renewal.

The theme of our spring issue is “Thoughts of Love.” Too often—

That break was deliberate. Just as I was about to expound on my own thoughts of love, my cat, Bucky, jumped onto my lap, purring his head off and kneading my leg with his claws. And, although I wanted to finish this column, I hesitated before shooing him away—then let him stay. Because love takes many forms. Too often our thoughts instantly go to romantic love, but there’s also the love between parents and children, between siblings, friends, or even the love one has for an occasionally pesty black-and-white cat. Above all, the editors hope our love of reading and writing is evident in this issue.

Our featured story is Matt McHugh’s “Anti-daughter,” featuring a woman with an extraordinary and off-kilter mind detailing her love for her parents. Justin Neff’s “The Storm” also explores the love between parent and child, while Marie Anderson’s “The Right Wedding” gets a little more romantic with it. BWG member Pete Barbour’s tale, “Her Beautiful View,” is a study in love for one’s home, while Christine Eskilson’s “The Neighbor Next Door” is a darker tale depicting what can happen when love grows twisted and obsessed. Finally, “Capturing Beauty,” by our featured poet, Mir-Yashar D. Seyedbagheri, explores the contrast between the hard world of numbers and the soft one revealed by moonlight and poetry.

In addition to our stories and poetry, I am also proud to announce that our interviewee for this issue is none other than BWG member Christopher D. Ochs. Chris has recently published a dark YA fantasy novel titled My Friend Jackson about a poor girl from a rough neighborhood who is befriended by a chameleon with otherworldly powers. Jackson, which has been getting excellent reviews, is thrilling, a little scary, and thought-provoking, and we at the BWG are all extremely proud of Chris. I hope you enjoy reading about his process in writing My Friend Jackson.

Finally, we have our usual Betty column with helpful links for writers, and guest editor Janet Robertson explaining how she uses the technique of redaction on poems to inspire her writing. It’s a lovely issue, and we hope you love it.

I may be using “love” too much. But, then, I’m thinking about it.

Happy reading.

A. E. Decker

Featured story

“Anti-Daughter” by Matthew McHugh

I owe my life to antimatter.

Specifically, to an experimental antiproton therapy that eliminated an inoperable glioblastoma when I was eight months old. You wrote in your journal that without that treatment, I wouldn’t be alive. But I wouldn’t be without you and Mom, either. Now that you’re in a coffin, being wheeled up the aisle of St. Agnes, I can’t tell you that I know that. I never could. But I want you to know I know.

Read more . . .

Featured poetry

“Capturing Beauty” by Mir-Yashar D. Seyedbagheri

statistics rise from screens,
but don’t establish variables. how many
waltz to Tchaikovsky at midnight
or shower beneath evening’s peach and pink
every shadow welcoming, like an eight-year old child?

Read more . . .

Also in this issue

Interview with author Christopher D. Ochs

Short story by Marie Anderson

Short story by Peter Barbour

Short story by Justin Neff

Short story by Christine Eskilson

Literary Learnings by Janet Robertson

Betty’s Tips

2021 Short Story Award

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