A Life Well Lived


By Shane Kroetsch

I want to know what it means to live a life well lived.

I reach out for answers but like all things it’s subjective. The definition is based on our intentions and fears. My experience is not yours. Yours could never be mine.

You told me once it’s about being able to forgive or to fall in love after you’ve been hurt. I wish I had listened. I wish I could go back and stop myself from becoming cynical and isolated. I look at the faded picture in my hand and know it’s far too late for that now.

Shane’s first published work, a collection of short fiction, will be published in February 2019.


Happy Moments


By Rickey Rivers Jr.

You ruin those happy moments
because you think they are not real
and are only a dream.
They are real
but like a dream
something you thought
would never come true.

Rickey Rivers Jr was born and raised in Alabama. He is a writer and cancer survivor. His work has appeared in Fabula Argentea, ARTPOST magazine, the anthology Chronos, and Enchanted Conversations Magazine, among others.

The Barrel’s Inner Sanctum


By Todd Mercer

“Houston, we have a problem,” I say through a slit in the door, but it’s no entre. Speakeasies and the paranoid, always changing the watchword, the pass-phrase. “The bad dog is on the porch,” says the guy behind me. The door opens for him. Every clubster/hipster in town struggles to get into The Barrel. Spit back the right words, plus make the grade on the club’s unspoken dress code, then we’re golden. Finally. Inside it’s our shot at sixteen-dollar drinks. Jane’s getting fitting use from highly impractical shoes. I play Mister Bigshot under neon, here with all the beauty people.

Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018, won 1st, 2nd & 3rd place of the Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prizes, and the won Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Prize. Recent work appears in The Lake, The Magnolia Review, Praxis and Softblow.



By Michael Thomas Ellis

I am not a gnarled desire grasping
for a younger persuasion
nor a groomed garden cutting
to be tossed once withered.

I may have veined hands
and sweetbreads not fresh-baked
but I laugh deliciously
and live to knead your dreams.

So let me be your Persian cat
dug deep in the quilts
to be remembered
and found
without thinking

and I will reward you

with my purr.

Michael Thomas Ellis is looking forward to next year, trying hard to be an optimist.

The Stare


By John L. Malone

“What are you staring at?”
“Me? Why?”
“We are watching you unraveling.”
“There’s a word for that, a German word like watching people in road accidents.”
“Please don’t get distracted. Continue unraveling.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“We’ve been watching you. You won’t be able to prevent it.”
They were right. I was like one of those wall-mounted paper towel dispensers. Once the roll starts unraveling there’s no stopping it and I wasn’t done yet. There was still a meter or more of me to go.

John Malone is a South Australian writer of short stories, flash fiction and poetry.



By Dr. Debbie Engelmann

Because, if we choose to call “an issue” a challenge rather than “crisis”;
Because, we can look at hardship as an opportunity rather than an obstacle;
Because, we can ask, “what did I learn that makes me better?”;
Because, we can take a breath and do the difficult things;
Because, our courage does not depend on the weather,
the economic forecast or a whim;
Because, we choose to know the most significant
elements of life are laughter, learning, and giving our finest effort to each endeavor;
Because of these things, each morning is a pleasure and every day a success.

Dr. Engelmann says, “As a writer and natural intuitive healer, my purpose is to guide others on their path of finding peace within themselves through my writing and sometimes through my practice.  To help ‘wounded souls’ open their hearts and shine their unique light upon this world.”

The Bouquet


By Dianne Moritz

When I left that last time,
You handed me a bouquet
Of roses, daisies, and
one lone bud of artichoke
Poking from its center.

After the flowers wilted,
I kept that artichoke
For many days
In a blue, ceramic bowl,
Its heart dried, brittle.

Dianne writes poetry and picture books for kids. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals including Earth’s Daughters, Long Island Quarterly, Adelaide Literary, The Haiku Foundation and Haiku Universe.