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VERSIFICATION

ADDICTION RECOVERY

THIS ISSUE IS DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO FACE ADDICTION & RECOVERY AND TO THOSE WHO ARE NO LONGER FIGHTING THE BATTLE

july 2021

COVER PHOTO BY MARK DANOWSKY

INTENSE SUBJECT MATTER PLEASE READ WITH CARE

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Left alone, grass grows six inches each month, fast enough during spring, after the Easter morning her daughter dialed 911, crying for cereal and attention, to overtake the porcelain ashtray on the front stoop, dewy eggs arranged on the lawn after dark, and faded unicorn stuffed between the blinds and glass of the bedroom window, until the man next door, credit line open for the coming tax sale, cuts the grass to ease the neighborhood conscience, mulching any salvation into jagged scabs of purple and pink.

ABANDONED

DAVE HERSHER

mark danowsky

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AES

Reasons I Got High Five Times in One Morning

 

  1. I had to get out of bed.

  2. There were no refills left.

  3. I needed to feel something.

  4. My commute was a killer.

  5. I’d made it to work alive.

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COLUMNS

JAMES LILLEY

To combat my substance misuse

they gave me pharmaceuticals

my prescription doesn’t last

the fourteen days.

mark danowsky

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mark danowsky

Head Banger

steve jenson


timeless, takes

no time.  heavy 

 

metal tragedy,

nearly comic.

 

hanging out-

side the door.

 

flipping off the 

hood, wasted.

 

dead on the 

road in the club. 

UNTITLED

D CALDWELL

Too lazy to tie a noose
I sit—full to the brim
Never voiding myself
In hopes of exploding

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oscar boyle

ALL THE LITTLE PILLS

The yellow ones when you need to be tidy, when you must scrub the ghost of last night’s mascara from your eyes, pull on a pair of panty hose and punch a clock. Black ones to rev your engine, launch you into a soft cushion of oblivion on which you’ll fly through an infernal tick-tock of day. Red ones to slow your lizard tongue. Pink for when your mother calls out to Jesus Mary Mother of Christ, when she pleads with God and you for the millionth time to end this. The green ones for when you will end this. 

Sarah Freligh

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AES

SPECIAL FEATURE:

two poems | two photos

by kat huckins

binge/purge/restrict/repeat

 

feeling empty

is almost as intoxicating

as filling myself to the brim

and forcibly emptying myself again

to get back to feeling empty

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28 days a liar

 

how are you? you ask

oh just fine. i reply

and pretend that im now 28 days clean

and that i wasnt shoving my fingers down my throat

for the third time that night

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poetry and artwork by Kat Huckins

a family pack of cigarettes

 

Isabella Melians

 

last wednesday we gathered 

around the campfire and deer carcases:

listen to your father when he says 

hold the match in your right hand

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isabella melians

THEY SAY BLOOD IS THICKER

Kip knott

 

 

The docs have given you a week.

The Greyhound from Seattle to Columbus

takes 3 days plus 4 transfers I can’t miss.

 

 

58 hours and 35 minutes to feel the Oxy

rattle in the bottle against my thigh 

with every pothole and bump in the road.

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kip knott

two works by

jp seabright

one good pill deserves another

 

Benzodiazepines colour my dreams

Diazepam, Zoplicone and Fluoxetine

share my bed, but still I don't sleep.

Cipramil, Temazepam, Seroxat

- let me not be mad, not that -

Amitriptyline trips the switch,

I rattle with a druggie insomniac's twitch.

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barratt fierens

Proverbs 31:6-7
 

From the public library to the public house, I seek solace and resuscitation. The library is my cathedral, a silent space for prayer. Sanctuary from the ever-growing gloam of loneliness, surrounded by the warm worn offering of words, placed reverently on shelves.

But alcohol is my altar, where I prostrate myself to a higher power. The song of songs, the holy throne. I praise the blessed spirit as I raise it to my mouth. I crave its sanctifying touch. 

Bent to its will, until it breaks me. But still, it’s the purest form of worship that I have ever known. 

 

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barratt fierens

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salivate

 

婕 Venus Cohen



I'm sober now

but I still get a sick rush when

Abigail orders a 

coke at Applebees

mark danowsky

QUESTION

ADAM KELLY MORTON

The question is: Do I wanna go back to piss-soaked mattresses turned up to dry at the open window; bruises and caked blood on my face from who-knows-where; fights on rooftops and in alleys with wild haymaker punches that never land on the other guy; loved ones leaving multiple messages to see if I made it home okay; blackouts so black and countless that they’ve become months and years of life forgotten; murderous fucking hangovers that are manageable; lost jobs and friends and loves and self—after thirteen years and more in recovery, do I want to go back? 

 

It’s a question. Always will be.

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cimmone

underaged

ROY DUFFIELD

              under under-

                                      aged whisky’s influence

                                                             ’sin fluent fluent in glue n’

stuff sniffed, snuff’s enough

                                      ’s enough dis-

                                                             still under, still raging

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roy duffield

my 10 year-long addiction to pepsi

fizza abbas

 

//I wallowed in dark-black syrup:

cough, cold/fierce cold, or a mix of two//

lost seven years/found new beginnings/

exams, bruises, abuses, truces — no pill,

only syrupy-syrup - this one solution to

all// Kidneys bored, made pretty, pretty stones, oozing the same colour–my body's ode to pepsi.

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kip knott

WATCHOUSE INTERVIEW

AMANDA MCLEOD

 

Sitting in a cube, grey-blue, impersonal, sterile like the feeling you get when someone tells you you’re not doing enough when you’re already doing everything you can. Cut the air with a knife but if you had one here you’d be charged and nobody really wants that, not even the victims, of which you are one. Wait in fluorescent buzz until release becomes a sliding door. Look at the bars, feel the cold air and stares and remind yourself this is no place for a child.

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mark danowsky

the good and the bad

 

penny sarmada

 

 

I gave you my shirt, the soft green one from Roots, because you liked it and it looked better on you anyway. He stole it, the way he stole everything from you, and destroyed it, the way he destroyed everything about you, turning your Colgate smile into sour smack breath, your gentle hair into a coarse wasp’s nest, your tanned body into swirls of bruised flesh. I wanted you back but you couldn’t come. I remember a time from before your fortress of scarves, when I played Ted Hawkins in the car and you died for his strong, homeless voice.

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mark danowsky

in the heart of hearts

SHWETA RAVI

 

Myna pilfered pills. She guzzled vitamins in hues of nail paints in ovals, bevels and almonds after two teaspoons of brunch and supper. Ample voids had walked into her, she couldn’t afford another deficiency. The voids and vitamins dogfought like disenchanted couples shrinking her into an overdosed misshape. She urged to be laid in a bulbous bottle, watered with multivitamin syrups. In her dream, a chinchilla crashed the bottle. She woke up writhing like a sea-spat fish. In the throes of death, she discovered how intimate she was with breathing. She rose and ambled away, gulping a swoosh of gale.

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kip knott

PINE FURNITURE

CHRISTIAN ALDANA

 

rifling through your

pine dresser when your syringe 

drew blood, big brother 

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kip knott

WHAT YOUR COUNSELOR THINKS

amy-jean muller

 

               When I found out you died

from the boy who taught you heroin

It was difficult not to wish

He’d gone

               instead of you 

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mark danowsky

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AES

FAMILY SECRETS

ABIGAIL SWIRE

Addiction is a sensual thing.

When I think of it I hear beer tabs popping, smell the wafts of this is the last time

as some frantic chick with my voice pounds on the door.

I hear the early morning phone call I was always waiting for --

the low hum of numb telling our son you’re gone.

And the muted pound of your heart, always racing,

barricades against all the monsters they swept under the rug.

when you die outdoors it's a crime scene

Christina Xiong

They wore hazmat suits into my uncle’s trailer, dodging yellow crime tape. Every surface caked in vomit. He died outside, beneath the sky. Surrounded with cigarette butts, empty Budweiser cans. Pneumonia in his lungs, cirrhosis in his liver. His AA book pulled from ruins, interpreted under a Lumberton moon. Tall pines sway. His parents’ graves, high in mausoleum walls due to floods, bodies rigid in drawers, cords of lumber. His ashes went to people who no longer speak to us. I think it was her final straw, losing her favorite brother.   

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mark danowsky

AUTHORS EXPOSED

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DAVE HERSHER

Once upon a time, Dave Hersher was almost an English teacher.  Now he lives in Massillon, Ohio where he spends every day telling his kids the stuff they listen to was ripped off from The Who and STP.  Be the first ever to like one of his tweets @davidjhersher or visit him at davidhersher.com.

Attachments area

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steve jensen

Steve Jensen is an Iowan living in Seattle with his wife, kids, and dog.  There were brief stops in Kansas City, St. Louis, and London along the way.  He will always want to know the size of your town.  

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SARAH FRELIGH

Sarah Freligh is the author of four books, including Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize, and We, published by Harbor Editions in early 2021. Recent work has appeared in the Cincinnati Review miCRo series, SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Fractured Lit, and in the anthologies New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction (Norton 2018) and Best Microfiction (2019-21). Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and grants from the Saltonstall Foundation and the New York State Council for the Arts.

Twitter handle: @sfreligh

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isabella melians

Isabella Melians is a junior attending school in south florida. She is a managing editor for Armonía Mag and a reader for Outlander Zine, Kalopsia Literary, and Midlight Mag. Most of the time though, she can be found rewatching horror movies on Netflix and putting crystals on one of her cats.

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婕 VENUS COHEN

婕 Venus Cohen is a mixed, transgender creator. Their body of work explores the intersections of surrealism and identity and can be found in, or is forthcoming in, Nat-Brut, Singapore Unbound, The Academy of American Poets, Fahmidan Journal and more. They are the founding editor of LUPERCALIApress. They can be found wading in a salt marsh, upside down on a pole, or on twitter @hyfemme. 

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roy duffield

Roy's an editor over at Anti-Heroin Chic, a journal that puts those on the outside inside. His words are known to frequent shady establishments like Versification, Cephalopress's Ink Sac, BlazeVOX, Into the Void and The London Reader's Raves & Resistance: Counterculture Stories.

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CHRISTIAN ALDANA

Christian Aldana is an MFA candidate at the University of San Francisco. When not reading & writing, you’ll likely find him on a Bay Area trail, running, eating mountains, & listening to James Brown. This haiku is in conversation with my childhood where I had an addict in the room next to me. 

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CHRISTINA XIONG

Christina Xiong is the author of Ghost Monogamies (Ghost City Press) and The Gathering Song (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Cotton Xenomorph, Brave Voices Magazine and others. Voted most likely to become a cult leader. One fiction professor predicted she would write "airport novels." Tweets: @AzureXiong 

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joan kwon glass

Joan Kwon Glass, author of “How to Make Pancakes For a Dead Boy” (Harbor Editions, 2022,) was a 2021 finalist for the Harbor Review Editor’s Prize, the Subnivean Award, & the Lumiere Review Writing Contest. She has many years of grateful recovery due to membership in a 12-step fellowship.  Her poems have recently been published or are forthcoming in Diode, Kissing Dynamite, trampset, Rust & Moth, Rattle, Mom Egg, Honey Literary, Lantern Review,  Literary Mama, Barnstorm & others. Since 2018, Joan has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize. She tweets @joanpglass & you may read her previously published work at www.joankwonglass.com.

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D CALDWELL

To read more about D, visit https://www.anubyss.com/ and to read more about the artist Oscar Boyle, please visit https://www.oscarmarcusboyle.com/

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kat huckins

Kat (she/her) is a full-time illustration student and part-time dabbler of combining words around until they sound nice enough - and from Kansas City, MO. If you’re reading this, it probably means she got published somewhere. Awesome. She likes drawing girls and spending time with her friends, her girlfriend, her cat, and her roommate's dog. In her free time, she likes to play games and open the same phone app seventeen times just to close it again. Mental health, eating disorders, trauma, and recovery are what Kat likes to write about most. She can be found @ kathuckins on most social media. Kat hopes you have a very lovely rest of your day.

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jp seabright

JP Seabright is a queer writer living in London, who works in “information security”. They can’t say more than that, because then they’d have to kill you. Their work has been published in various print and online journals, much to everyone's dismay. They are Assistant Editor for Full House Literary Magazine and their own work can be found cluttering up the internet at https://jpseabright.wordpress.com/ and on Twitter @errormessage 

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ADAM KELLY MORTON

Adam Kelly Morton is a Montreal-based husband and father (four kids, all eight-and-under), who teaches acting and writing for a living. He's had stories published in Canada, the US, Europe, and the UK, and has a piece in “A Wild and Precious Life: A Recovery Anthology” published earlier this year in London, England. Adam is currently working toward an MA in Creative Writing from Teesside University, UK (distance).

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amanda mcleod

Amanda McLeod would happily sit outside in the woods all day if pesky real-world stuff would leave her alone. She's an award-winning writer and artist who's obsessed with trees, and a whiskey connoisseur. Look for her book Animal Behaviour at Chaffinch Press, or track her down yourself on Twitter and Instagram @AmandaMWrites. If you still can't find her, look for the nearest river. She's probably there.

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shweta ravi

Shweta Ravi is a writer lured by both, the simple and the spell-binding. She uncannily incarnates in unknown lives until her own ghost insists on claiming her back. Her work has appeared in The Cabinet of Heed, Feral Poetry, Melbourne Culture Corner, Ayaskala, Commonwealth writers and Women’s Web. She was shortlisted in the Strands International Flash Fiction Contest-12 and long-listed in Retreat West Micro fiction and Furious Fiction contests.

THANK YOU FOR READING