Every January – Sam Bixby-Bland 


the curbside creek 

‘round a Tahoe road 

beckons the passing minivans 

to pull over from “the I-80” 

and share a Kodak Moment.

Beneath the powdered pines 

crinkled, dead leaves, 

seized and separated by the ice, 

sit like sordid memories 

under layers of frost. 


They could never be 

swept up in a lazy breeze 

to hover over neighboring roofs 

or slip under a passing chassis 

or settle down in a pile 

with their crumpled kin 

for a long, dark sleep in a garbage bag. 


Laguna creek runs every January. 

Sun brightens every blade of grass 

along its edges. The joggers rush 

past rows of back gardens 

where western pond turtles vacation. 


The black-tailed jackrabbit perks 

its tawny ears up 

towards the calls of Canada geese; 

their morning shadows kiss the creek water 

and I watch the dead leaves rush through. 



Untitled – Casey Cousins

I didn’t know I was looking for you
until I found you. Your lovely brown
eyes smiling at me, drawing me in, awakening
my soul. Should I make the first move?
Am I ready? Do I know what I want; what I need?
I couldn’t get your face out of my mind. I had to decide.
I wrote you a message, telling you about me.
I sent it, crossing my fingers, hoping you would
see the truth in my eyes; in my words.
I’d had a rough time. I was broken, a still pain
in my heart that had gone unspoken. Would you
understand? Would you care? Would you see the
person behind the pain? Could you see the real
me and make me feel alive again? 


So you replied and so it began. We chatted and
laughed for hours. We talked about families, life,
love and emotional scars. So much in common, but
still so different.
Time just flew by and before I knew, the feelings in
my heart just grew and grew. Am I crazy? Is this for real?
Do I dare tell him how I feel? We’ve never met, but yet,
I feel like you are truly my other half. You take away the
pain, make me smile and make me laugh again. 


You’ve made me feel like my life will be full of love
and understanding, when I am feeling bereft and the
darkness is overwhelming. Sometimes things are hard,
as life often is. We will have our ups and down when the
way forward seems unclear. You need to know that I want
you to always be here, to be your lover, to be your friend,
to walk with you wherever life takes us.
I know you’re not as sure, you have your fears and doubts.
I know that I’m a lot to deal with; sometimes I’m too much.
Past heartbreak and experiences colour my emotions – grey
and black. Sometimes the darkness weighs heavy on my back.
You bring out the colours in my heart and mind, make the world
bright and darkness fade far behind.
I’m sorry for the times I overthink and over-feel, when I crave
reassurance and the pain is too real. Every day I try to stop and
breathe. Please, tell me you won’t just leave. 



Pharmacy Graveyard – L.C. Winters 


Hidden beneath a broccoli skyline, 

As you exit Spring Bank, 

Heading towards the train tracks, 

You see the remnants of a 

Crumbling cemetery.

Stones tainted moss green, 

Its occupants long since 

Reunited with the soil below; 

Predisposed to be decomposed. 

Salt to the pepper of the earth 

Ash like dandruff among dirt.

The borders boxed in 

As the basketball court to its north. 

An industrial bakery exhales 

Mixing with the smell of night life 

Exuded by Princes Avenue pubs.

We spend so little time considering 

Where we might spend our years as dust. 

Never once does it occur to us 

That we might need to be bleached away 

Like dirt in derelict houses. 

The council whispers of a mass exodus; 

The dead are rising in the old city 



Without You – Joe Spivey

I’m The Beatles without Ringo. 

I’m the 2000s without The Strokes. 

I’m sex without Marilyn Monroe. 

I’m Brandon Lee without The Crow. 


I’m Wallace without Gromit.  

I’m Howard Overman without Misfits. 

I’m New Girl without Schmidt. 

I’m a school boy with no PE kit. 



Dear – Matt McGivern  

This mirror presents a cruel reflection; a man

defined by his years, not his life. Like Cezanne

I am chained to this image – a creature of habit

cowering in the darkness like a frightened rabbit. 

Old eyes and thin lips appear like a stranger to me

and I pray only to God – a desperate plea

to release this burden; to strip away the years

until I am young again. This thing is not as it appears,

not yet dead and buried, not yet food

for the vultures. Still, I must admit the body is crude.

The skin – stretched like crepe paper – is ghostly white

and creased; I wonder, is it like the rings of a tree? Spite

forces me to look away, an iron will not to vomit. This

glass is poison like when our lips first met with a kiss,

when time was a friend; now a trickster in the dark

haunting my memories, circling me like a shark.

I weep. I weep when I think of those glory days

when I was a firestorm, forging my path without delays.

I was a champion – a warrior – and the people did cheer 

for me. Now look at me. I am but a sad old man, dear. 


Photo Credit: Karim Sakhibgareev on Unsplash