Brad Buchanan’s writings have appeared in more than 200 journals, and he has published four book-length collections of poetry: The Miracle Shirker, Swimming the Mirror: Poems for My Daughter The Scars, Aligned: A Cancer Narrative, and Chimera, now available from Finishing Line Press. His medical memoir, Living with Graft-Versus-Host Disease: How I Stopped Fighting Cancer and Started Healing, was published in 2021. He has also published two academic books and a third one, a monograph on Hamlet, is forthcoming from McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Professor Emeritus of English at Sacramento State University, he retired in 2017 for medical reasons: he was diagnosed with a rare form of T-cell lymphoma in February 2015, and after chemotherapy and radiation, he underwent a stem cell transplant in early 2016. The transplant, though successful, brought on temporary vision loss and disability, a compromised immune system, and an ongoing illness: first acute, then chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease. Late in 2016, he underwent an experimental treatment through a clinical trial for malignant B-cell lymphoma (caused by the Epstein-Barr virus); he is currently in remission.


It’s the deadliest beach in California,  
according to our elder daughter, 
but I don't see it.  
     We take a picture  
sitting on a huge bleached tree trunk 
beyond the blind ocean’s treacherous reach. 

She pleads with me not to go nearer 
to the rough surface.  
Seals, seagulls  
and pelicans brave the elemental 
menace that her brightly-colored, 
weathered toenails indicate.  

A crab’s disembodied pincer proves 
the threat obscurely justified. 

I make the upturned roots a throne 
and crown my safety with this majestic 
 My wife swims in the river 
behind us.  
      No tsunami claims us, 
despite the slapstick warning signs.  

We are four refugees, cautious explorers 
who have escaped a hurricane 
called cancer.  
Now nothing will ever 
be the same, not even on Jenner 
Air is misty to the touch 
of my shaking hands.  
A riptide  
within my blood rolls on 
and carries me  
 beyond the sound 
and puny fury of my family, 
until I glimpse between the breakers 
the washed-up, wasted corpse of an enemy. 

Gary Kruse has been published in Poetry Now, Litbreak, and Voices 2020. He began writing poetry in 2013 and has been active in area workshops and classes. He’s been a featured reader at three venues previously. He grew up in Iowa and moved to California in 1989, working as a retail store designer. He lives in Winters.

FIRE SEASON (first and second message)                 

Bandwidth’s too narrow    No calls, no mail   Texting’s OK    I’m OK   
That could change    In fact—just changed    On foot now   
Over there it’s closing in    Warm    Like hand in glove   
Other plain words    No one’s here.

Did my last text go through?    At 4:17    If so, glad you know the situation   
These words    Small    Plain    They give comfort in adversity   
Send more i.e. smoke, fire?    Wonderful that we can tell the truth now.