dECEMBER

special edition

a VERSIFICATION

degenerate

DISTURBING WORDS

GRAPHIC CONTENT

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Fucked Christmas

by Yash Seyedbagheri

Now on sale, visions of sugarplums dancing in people’s heads


which you can buy for 25% off


and still be 75% in debt

just like Santa’s elves, doing slave labor in malls

while indolent fathers drink, passed out naked in a hall. 

Shawn Berman

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"Sudden Changes" - AES

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

by Phoenix Leigh

Spent Christmas Eve unwrapping Jesus’ body bag 

With my hands and my credit card, snow-struck. 

Last Christmas, I called child protective services,  

same teeth chattering, same bloody nose.

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Barratt Fierens

Autumn AKA The Beautiful Death

by Barratt Fierens

You are majestic decay

All ribs and brown wrap

‘70s wallpaper 

Low dazzling  sunlight across

littered muddied slopes

Good to the Last Drop

by Fred Shrum, III

The bottom of the bottle

Makes its way to my stomach

Liquid gold

Ignites my nerves like flame

 

I think I made a mistake again

But I don’t know when

I don’t know what day it is 

 

I stumbled up the driveway Christmas Eve 

Sometime between late and early

What have you done

She screamed 

What have you done 

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Gerardo Pelayo

Gratias tibi

 

 by Theodoros Chiotis

The only thing I remember is

       the faces that looked like a mural:

          I was licking the globes of their eyes while  

     trying to figure out the most efficient combination

of benzos, anticonvulsants and knives.

Sara Dobbie

chestnuts roasting on an open pyre

by CJ Knight

no christmas tree needed

nothing to celebrate anyway

besides-

feels really weird to party for god’s son

when you know he has no interest in you at all

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Brynna Ferguson

welcome

by Vic Nogay

the live oak trees have low branches

 

that creak in the sway of strung ghosts,

 

who linger on lands bearing murderous names,

 

where the blood-stained banner still flies

 

beneath the star of bethlehem.

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Deep End

by Brad Beau Cohen

Concern yourself with where to simmer
in broken water is where you choose

 

bladderwrack skin nap shiver
of fishbones choking pipes

 

driftwood candles a blown wish
for deep end reek & acoustics

 

that ring out to explain away
the storm-wrung bath detritus 

"Storm-Wrung Bath" - Jessica Rae Lewis

Park Street on December 25

by Sreemanti Sengupta

the night is throwing up its last carnivals

bored sinatras dunk their fedoras at broken elvises

i try to hold on to the vision of cold smoke

struggling against the biting wind

leaning like phantom santas unto frosted bakery glasses

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"Decadence" - Sreemanti Sengupta

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Akash Ali

Serves One

by Helen Bowie

The citalopram haze settled


Like dry ice on sliding doors


Vegan Christmas style dinner for 1


Staring so long into the freezer


The freezer stares back at me

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last year's christmas morning

by Laia Sales Merino

we were fucking in your room while 

your roommate and i shared a joint 

then we waited for my taxi outside

all hungover and electric, speaking portuñol 

then a couple with their kids came out all elegant

they stared at us and we all shouted 

merry christmas! 

Gina Sales Merino

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Kiley Lee

silent screams

by Ankita Sharma

Like eerie desolate mansions

Where silence screams stories

There was something in those eyes,

Unsettling, silent yet screaming

 

When she pawned her only gold earring for milk

Merry Christmas

by Bob Carlton

in a corner

of the bar

growing old

alone

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Kip Knott

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Akash Ali

Pretty Lights

by Logan Roberts

Couldn’t tell if it was the

 

Christmas lights or the painkillers

 

that made the house

 

burning down so jolly.

Holidays:

by Rami Obeid

Out maneuvering speed demons

To get dinner from the dollar store

 

Picking up presents

From the pharmacy

 

Passing out in front of the tv,

Watching Mr. Bean get his head stuck

In a turkey

Sara Dobbie

Different Bells

by James Lilley

I jingle, the empty bottle of bells,

Swerving all the way,

Oh what fun it is to be an addict,

I always have to act the prick.

all over my new silk pajamas

by L Scully

on christmas eve

i scratched my face

until it bled

Sara Dobbie

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Kip Knott

Residential School of Tongues

 

by Kevin Gooden

Sister Agatha nailed my tongue to the desk

 

Said Native language is speaking in tongues

 

Father Bruce stuck his tongue in my cunt

 

Made me recite the lord’s prayer while he raped me

 

Then the fuckers made us use our tongues to sing Christmas carols

Lol, Procrastination

by Bina

It's already ten past ten and looks like

I haven't done this, I haven't done that

I'm a big pile of shit that should roll up

into a ball of candy crack and die

- Santa

Sara Dobbie

Taco Bell Is Open on Christmas

by Meagan Johanson

The papery crinkle

of the takeout bag

is almost like

opening presents.

In Red Ink

by David Hay

My mother is brain dead, 

and my dad sectioned; 

I have a cigarette and nothing 

but time to remember  

how things were when  

everything was simple. 

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Shawn Berman

CHRISTMAS DAY

by Amy-Jean Muller

           I remember when Santa came to repossess the car on Christmas Day

He rang the doorbell

           and there were no surprises

then mom cried 

 

           and it wasn’t the last time 

Chris G

Cocktails that Show Red Light Through Them, On the Rocks

by Abigail Swire

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m alone 

at a corner bar in Reno.

(Just a short walk in the cold, too dry for snow.)

I guess I was 21. It never mattered.

We spent the day in the warehouse by the tracks 

making neon signs for the Passion Club, bone cold,

with a barrel of burning objects.

You say you’re no good for me. You’re going out

alone to do what you do. 

There’s a man beside me going on about Area 51.

And it’s only when I get up and put on my coat I notice the

sign above my head:

“Ladies, please do your soliciting discreetly.” 

Sara Dobbie

Unexpected Gift

by Kip Knott

The dog ate the fruitcake and shit
a festive yule log beneath the artificial tree.

No amount of pine-scented candles and incense
can mask the odors of Alpo and citrons

 

that festoon plastic branches like garlands.

Sara Dobbie

[a friend gets laid in an unmarked grave]

by K. K.

-oh-god-this-is-less-like-

-Mar-y-Shell-ey-more-in-trus-

-ive-thought-of-se-men-slow

-ly-seep-ing-down;-

3 AM Shower​

by Austin Davis

The shampoo you left in my tub is called “Himalayan Salt.” 

I don’t know what the fuck that means, but it smells like snuggling after sex 

so I rinse my hair six times. I feel like an alien pretending to be human,

reading a newspaper upside down on the subway. I twist the knob 

hotter and hotter until the pipes squeal inside my walls, until the pain glows on my skin, 

until I can’t feel anything but my body softening to bone. The drain gurgles 

something sad, as if to say, everything is random and no one cares, baby. 

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Sara Dobbie

Divorce Proceedings

by Iqra Naseem

my neighbour the butcher licks sugar from his knuckles. i haven't seen his wife for days but i imagine her to be smoking a hole into his chequered flesh. he puts a hand down his throat and pulls out a larynx in barbed wire. she finds what's left of me in the kitchen sink.

fragments of a childhood nap

by Megan Nichols

desert air           december         early evening        seat belt pinch         shh shh!

soft slam            window crack                 wait       fetal position           wait

watch strangers           wait                     stay silent            wait

                                   her return                     her shame smell           her smoke

that buzz                    busted headlight                    vengeful curb           ice cream

 

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Shawn Berman

David  Calogero Centorbi Presents:

A Long Time Away From the Manger

After a hard day in His father's woodshop, Jesus and His buddies went out for wine and fish at the Garrison, a Roman bar and tattoo parlor. 

 

They got drunk.  And rebellious. Then they got inked.

 

When Jesus came home He showed it to his father. Joseph bowed his head, hiding his eyes. 

When He showed it to his mother, Mary gently put her hands over her heart and began to weep.


Years later on that abandoned, dark, Thursday night, as He knelt in prayer in that foggy, dank, garden, He realized then why His tat--Born To Die-- pained His parents so horribly on that youthful night when He came home from the bar.   

Hot Lava Holiday

by Nate Hoil

Santa took too long with my Christmas wish,

 

now I’m selling my soul to the Devil.

Find me tied up and gagged in your mother’s bathroom.

I’d blow kisses at anyone who cared to look.

Fuck poetry. All I hear is a leopard print g-string

rubbing against a stripper pole.

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Nate Hoil

authors exposed

BINA

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A solid 20 years old, Bina is currently living and studying in the city of Cambridge, UK, but hails from up north in West Yorkshire - God's own country. She enjoys knitting, bouldering, the colour red, hills, digestive biscuits, and forming collages out of pictures of diseased organs. Bina also likes writing and reading dark poetry (naturally).

HELEN BOWIE

Helen Bowie is a poet, performer and podcaster based in London, UK. Helen has one cat, and several bafflingly strong opinions on highly trivial matters. You can find her laughing at internet culture and ranting about structural inequality on her podcast @yabunreasonable, and her tweets about food, words, politics and sadness @helensulis

BOB CARLTON

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Bob Carlton (Twitter  @bobcarlton3) lives and works in Leander, TX.

THEODOROS CHIOTIS

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Theodoros Chiotis’s work has appeared in Litmus, Datableed, Forward Book of Poetry 2017, 3:am, Adventures in Form, Shearsman, Riggwelter, Prototype, Perverse, Aleph, Lune, aflimpseof, Tripwire, amongst others. He lives in Athens, Greece but his head is all over the place. Find him on twitter @selfcoding.

BRAD BEAU COHEN

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Brad Beau Cohen’s (he/him) poetry has been published globally by Fourteen Poems & Elska Magazine, American literary journal Versification Zine, anthologised twice by Fincham Press, exhibited in The Hilbert Raum and SomosArt House. His erotica ebook ‘Outside These Lines’ (Berlinable) debuted at No. 8 on Amazon’s gay erotica bestsellers list. Cohen is a queer writer from Guernsey based in London. Cohen is currently approaching publishers with his debut chapbook. More information about him can be found on his website bradcohen.co.uk. His social handles on Instagram and Twitter is @bradbeaucohen

AUSTIN DAVIS

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Austin Davis is a poet and student activist currently studying creative writing at ASU. Austin is the author of “The World Isn’t the Size of Our Neighborhood Anymore” (Weasel Press, 2020) and “Celestial Night Light” (Ghost City Press, 2020). 

BARRATT FIERENS

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Barratt loves to write about the unnoticed, the unthinkable and the real but not realised. He lives on the edge of a woodland in a valley in Yorkshire, England.

KEVIN GOODEN

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Kevin Gooden is a Canadian writer with many First Nations people in his family. He writes about numerous topics and has words at The Sirens Call, Dwelling Literary, The Daily Drunk, and others. He looks forward to the various insanities of 2020 ending in 2021, so we can get back to work on improving our regular crazy stuff, and treating each other better. He says the envelope will never move, unless someone’s willing to push it. He’s on Twitter @KevinGooden

DAVID HAY

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David Hay is an English Teacher in the Northwest of England. He has written poetry and prose since the age of 18 when he discovered Virginia Woolf's The Waves and the poetry of John Keats. These and other artists encouraged him to seek his own poetic voice. He has currently been accepted for publication in Dreich, Abridged, Acumen, The Honest Ulsterman, The Dawntreader, Versification, The Babel Tower Notice Board, The Stone of Madness Press, The Fortnightly Review, Nine Muses Poetry, Green Ink Poetry, Dodging the Rain, The Morning Star as well as The New River Press 2020 Anthology. 

NATE HOIL

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Nate Hoil is a demon disguised as a human. His demon body is not very hot. You can find more of his work at natehoil.com. He’s on Twitter @natehoil.

K. K.

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K.K. is a recent graduate from the UK learning how to read and write and think again. The leather jacket is fake (but don't tell anyone). The other month she saw the sea for the first time in a year. She thinks about it sometimes.

CJ KNIGHT

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CJ Knight (they/them) is a queer college student from Chicago who, despite their best efforts, knows very little about the world, and even less about themselves. But they are very happy to be here! You can find them twirling in the rain to Earth, Wind & Fire or on twitter as @tangocolleen

PHOENIX LEIGH

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Phoenix Leigh (they/them) is a poet, maybe. You can find them in Glass Mountain and Stone of Madness Press and some other places, if you're really looking. You can also find them on Twitter @phoenleigh.

JAMES LILLEY

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James Lilley, 33, Married Father of three. From Swansea, Wales works by day as a network engineer, is a retired professional boxer and active Bareknuckle Fighter and MMA fighter. Has been writing as a hobby since he was young, deciding to take the hobby more seriously this year enrolling for a Part Time Degree in Creative Writing.

IGRA NASEEM

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Iqra Naseem (she/her) is a high-school student and poet from the UK. Her work is usually inspired by themes such as individuality and identity and is published in HEBE poetry magazine. Find her on Twitter @ohnoiqra

MEGAN NICHOLS

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Megan Nichols works as a copywriter and lives with her son in the Ozark Mountains. Her poetry has been published, or is forthcoming, with Pretty Owl Poetry, All Female Menu, and Cold Mountain Review.

VIC NOGAY

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Vic Nogay writes to explore her traumas, misremembrances, and Ohio, where she is from. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Versification, Anti-Heroin Chic, (mac)ro(mic), Ellipsis, and other journals. Twitter: @vicnogay. Read: linktr.ee/vicnogay.

LOGAN ROBERTS

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Logan Roberts is an artist and writer in Ohio. His chapbook, It's a Knife, is available on Amazon. His current project is titled 1,000 Poems. He isn't sure if he will make it to 1,000, but he's going to give it a try. He tweets @hello_im_logan.

LAIA SALES MERINO

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Laia Sales Merino is a poet from the Catalan Pyrenees currently based in Barcelona. Her work can be found inharana poetry, I’ll Show you Mine Journal and perhappened among others. She is currently out of work which means that she's smoking and cursing from a different balcony every week. Fuck. IG: @lai_to_the_sound

SREEMANTI SENGUPTA

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Sreemanti Sengupta hates talking unless it’s with a green dot, the ones that glow with every breath. Being naturally impractical, she is perpetually heartbroken. She edits The Odd Magazine and tweets at @sreemantisen. Read her stuff at https://senguptasreemanti.wixsite.com/sree

YASH SEYEDBAGHERI

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Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program in fiction. His story, “Soon,” was nominated for a Pushcart. Yash has also had work nominated for The Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net. A native of Idaho, Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others.

ANKITA SHARMA

A writer, artist and a compulsive book hoarder, Ankita Sharma resides in India. When not petting other people’s dogs, she can be found writing, reading or creating artworks. She has authored four books. Her poetry has been published in anthologies such as the BRAG Magazine (UK), Versification Zine and Lakdi Ka Pul-II and III. Her artworks have appeared on the cover pages of a few Indian and international books. Her latest novel ‘The Linear Tide’ is on Amazon world wide. Quite happy being a daydreamer, an over-thinker and a misfit, she posts her works on Instagram @ankita.s.26 and yells on twitter @AnkitaSharma_26

FRED SHRUM III

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Fred Shrum, III was born near Washington, D.C. and grew up in Florida. He graduated from the University of South Florida. He enjoys the beach, music, tacos, baseball and all things crime.

art contributors

AES / AKASH ALI / SHAWN BERMAN / BRYNNA FERGUSON
BARRATT FIERENS / NATE HOIL / KIP KNOTT / KILEY LEE
JESSICA RAE LEWIS / GINA SALES MERINO / GERARDO PELAYO
SREEMANTI SENGUPTA



 

THANK YOU FOR READING