INCLUDING THE WINNING POEM
OF OUR FALL CONTEST
cover art by Kip Knott
READ WITH CARE
The gravel tore my back
as the Pastor spread my thighs
and I wondered if he spoke of my resistance
to his Saviour
Who seemed to forgive Him – Every time
THIS POEM WON THE VERSIFICATION FALL CONTEST 2021 JUDGED BY POET, JAMES LILLEY
Amy-Jean Muller is an artist, writer and poet from South Africa who lives and works in London. Both her art and writing explore culture, memory, mental health, identity, and sexuality. She has exhibited her art in South Africa and London. Her writing can be found in various publications and is a regular contributor for Versification and The Daily Drunk. Her book, Baptism by Fire, was released in January 2021 through Close to the Bone. She also writes transgressive fiction and is currently completing her first novel and collection of short stories. | amyjeanmuller.com | Twitter: @muller_aj | Instagram: @amy_jean13
He stepped back in from pissing-
"There were red dots pointed at me."
Right before pigs kicked in that flimsy side door,
they got word we were cooks, but we were just addicts,
who smoked it all yesterday.
Hoss Chapman is a worker and poet from Southeast Missouri. Holler at him on Twitter @ChapmanHoss or firstname.lastname@example.org
Poison rolls into the rainy street &
nighthawk on the fence post tries
to warn the drunks stumbling out
the happy hour overtime,
but they all get caught up on
old sounds of their mother's lullabies
Clem Flowers (They/ Them) is a poet, eldritch horror, & soft spoken southern transplant living in a mountain's shadow in Utah; Nb, bi, and queer as the day is long, they live with their wonderful wife & sweet calico kitty. Found on Twitter @clem_flowers.
Dad’s lawyer called to say he’d asked for a mushroom and sausage pizza, coffee, and chocolate cake. The pizza was my favorite, when I was a kid. Dad hated mushrooms. I didn’t tell the lawyer this.
She said I was on the list. He’d said he didn’t want me there, but he’d put me on the list, and the prison said OK. So I could watch, if I wanted. Next Tuesday.
I thought of that song, Wayfaring Stranger. Would he be going home, to meet my mother? Maybe, but I sure as fuck hoped not.
M. Roanoke is a queer folk artist based in Kansas City, Missouri. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rejection Letters, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Bullshit Lit, and elsewhere. Find them on Twitter @GangyRothstein.
a solid possibility
the corner of the cabinet
so hard and so promising
perhaps I could orchestrate
to take myself out
death by furniture
Allison Black is a queer, disabled writer with a dark and twisty brain and a BA in Creative and Professional Writing. Her latest words can be found at Rough Diamond Poetry and Sledgehammer Lit. She currently resides on Dja Dja Wurrung land in regional Victoria, Australia, where she spends way too much time on Twitter (@crashing_silent).
settling the estate
Everything feels too big for the house now. The sagging couch where my mother used to sleep to escape my father. The large-screen TV my father would curse whenever his teams lost. The marble kitchen table and over-stuffed chairs that never once hosted a family meal. The four empty dog bowls that weren’t put away even after all the dogs had died. And the shadow of the childhood I worked so hard to leave behind. I hear it lumbering across sun-bleached floors upstairs as I navigate the cluttered landscape below. When it falls silent, I know it has hidden itself, like all the monsters that used to live under my bed, just waiting for the right moment to spring out and reattach itself to me.
Kip Knott's most recent book of poetry, Clean Coal Burn, is available from Kelsay Books. His first collection of short stories, Some Birds Nest in Broken Branches, is forthcoming in 2022 from Alien Buddha Press. You can follow him on Twitter at @kip_knott and read more of his writing at kipknott.com.
My aunts were formidable — one confined to her bed, her family tethered to her hypochondria. The other floated and spun in unpredictable directions. No one could catch her.
Mikki Aronoff’s writing pops up in odd places! A two-time Pushcart nominee for poetry and one for short story, she is also a nominee for Best Microfiction 2022. She has an unsettled relationship with ants, but not with dogs.
Fresh out of high school and a month into their anniversary, eighteen-year-old Jack was hired as a stockroom boy for nine dollars an hour, which made Janet, his eighteen-year-old bride, ecstatic, so they celebrated with a bottle of stale Muscatel from the state liquor store and a forty dollar a night hotel room with holes in the wall and a vibrating bed, and feeling a little tipsy, the newlyweds explored their bodies well into the night until sunlight peered through the torn blinds, when the moment passed changing the family dynamic from “husband and wife” to “one on the way”.
John Lane has fiction published in Boston Literary Magazine, The Drabble, Six Sentences, 101 Words, The Disappointed Housewife and other venues. John's fiction has also been published in several horror anthologies. His story about a tragic playground incident was featured in the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai: 100 Stories, 100 Supernatural Stories podcast. John is a member of Horror Writers Association and an Army and National Guard veteran.
two pieces by,
JULIA RUTH SMITH
Between Front Doors and Kitchens.
We have no bruises but our bones are Bic Biros in tin cans.
189,9 Kilometres to Tirana
There’s that photo of the dead boy; his leg scratching behind his ear like a cat; the sailor’s monument, an anchor that couldn’t keep him still.
Guess it isn’t only mariners and mermaids who are lost at sea.
Julia Ruth Smith is a teacher, mother and writer of small things who lives by the sea in Italy. You can find her in Sledgehammer Lit and Full House Lit; scribblings elsewhere. Emotional and exaggerated in real life and on Twitter @JuliaRuthSmith1
When the aliens came down
Eleanor May Blackburn
we descended so gently
we hardly made a whisper
the whisper descended as
I snapped and snapped and
Eleanor is a mentally unstable northern English lass. She likes to think of herself as an actor and a writer- but sometimes she's unsure of either.
We haven’t seen each other in ten years. He asks me about all the things he did to me when I was a child. The soap in my mouth. The belt across my back. The times he dragged me under the shower, fully clothed, like an inmate of the asylum, five years old. He saved my life, so he tells me. Once. I remember the coffee and the burn.
How convenient that he forgot all the other times he tortured me, so he could pose as the hero of my life.
Daniel Schulz is a U.S.-German writer, researcher, and factory worker known for his short story collection Schrei (Formidabel 2016), his work as curator of the Kathy Acker Reading Room at the University of Cologne, and as editor of the book Kathy Acker in Seattle (Misfit Lit 2020). His work has appeared in journals such as EbR, Mirage 5, Gender Forum, Fragmented Voices, Versification, Café Irreal, L'absurde, Cacti Fur, Mono Fiction and The Wild Word, as well as in the anthologies Tin Soldier (Sarturia 2020), Corona-Schnee (Salon29 2021), Jahrbuch Lyrik (AG Literatur 2021), and Heart/h (Fragmented Voices 2021). Lliterarywise he cannot help but be a misfit. IG @DanielSchulzPoet
No, I don’t mind making the sandwiches for the picnic—it’s strangely satisfying to slice the cheddar
for your Ploughman’s using the same knife I hack at my wrists with, the one I keep hidden
up my sleeve on days when I’m not safe in my own skin, the one I sleep with on nights when you’re away
and I don’t trust my own heartbeat, the one I reach for when I need clarity to shine through the insanity,
with its unfailing black handle and mirrored serrated blade, that I grip and use to jab and twist
when I need to feel Something other than This—honestly, it’s no problem!
I don’t mind making the sandwiches at all.
HLR (she/her) is a prize-winning poet, working-class writer, and professional editor from north London. She is the author of History of Present Complaint (Close to the Bone) and Portrait of the Poet as a Hot Mess (Ghost City Press). Twitter: @HLRwriter
NARCO XMAS CARD
dizzy-faced thin glassy-eyed boy
cheesing for camera
busted shielding in his mom’s stringy arms
her smile beams high as fuck
she’s real god damned proud of her son
Kim Denning is a Latina poet from Texas who loves loud guitars and teaches at The University of Texas at Austin. She murdered romance by winning Versification Zine’s 2021 Kill Cupid contest. Her poetry is featured in Last Stanza Poetry Journal, FERAL, OpenDoor Magazine, Pareidolia Literary, the Valley International Poetry Festival’s Boundless Anthology, Adanna Literary Journal’s Women in Politics special edition; and will soon appear in Essential Voices: COVID-19 Anthology.
she retreats to her bedroom
filled with sadness
peaks through curtains
the lots of vacant motels
empty like her womb
Victoria Toykkala (v.m.t) currently resides in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She is currently spending her days writing and reading poetry with her two cats, Quincy and Raya. Besides writing, she enjoys coffee, hiking and photography. You can follow her on Twitter @vmtpoetry.
David Calogero Centorbi
Consider Now The Logic Of Loss
And be filled with the sparkling water
Consider the stone shards of loss,
Filling you again with the same wet light.
Consider now, how why loses its voice
When logic and shard come together,
And the sparkle will be your blood-tear scream
The still night embraces,
And at that moment says,
“Welcome, I have been waiting.”
David Calogero Centorbi is a writer that in the 90's earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Now, he is writing and working in Detroit, MI. He is the author of Landscapes of You and Me, (AlienBuddha press.) AFTER FALLING INTO DISARRAY (Daily Drunk Press) He is a regular monthly contributor at Versification. He can be found here on Twitter: @DavidCaCentorbi. Blog: davidcentorbi.blogspot.com
Can you feel it?
I do, slowing seeping away
I am so cold, we die together
On the concrete floor, empty house
Hollow soul. Won’t see January.
James Lilley, 33, is a married father of three from Swansea, Wales. He works as a network engineer by day, is a retired professional boxer, and an active Bareknuckle and MMA fighter. Lilley has been writing as a hobby since he was young, recently deciding to take the hobby more seriously by beginning his degree in Creative Writing.
Miami. The night my father walked through the sliding glass door and broke his hand. The night he gave up drinking for ten years. The night he became a Christian Scientist.
The air thick with the mildew of humility. The metallic tang of blood in my nostrils. My mother reciting the 91st Psalm, little-girl-me at the table repeating the only prayer I knew—there is no spot where God is not, there is no spot where God is not, there is no—
Glass chunks clattering on the tiled floor, my father gliding through the door like Jesus walking on water.
Amie McGraham grew up on an island in Maine. After 18 years of roaming the beaches of California and fjords of Norway, she finally got a damn degree in English. Her work has appeared in a shit ton of lit journals you’ve probably never heard of. She can be found @senior_moment_, tweeting a novella: #thisdementedlife.
my father keeps up mother's garden after she dies
My father still keeps up the garden surrounding the weathered planks of the front porch, his tomato plants towering six feet tall, feathery leaves weeping over the tops of mother’s old hydrangea bushes. She would never have let him plant them so close to her hydrangeas, would never have let the waxy red orbs cast shadows over her pastel blossoms as she watched from her rocking chair. But he is no longer governed by her, and I wonder if he ever takes pleasure in the emptiness of the rocking chair as he clips his juicy tomatoes from their shackles.