sensitive subject matter
please read with care
photograph by James Lilley
new cut road
Arches beneath the train clickety clack
Fiends shake itch and scratch
Morlocks hiding in the dark
Graffiti covered underpass, many call home
Haven littered with filth, broken souls.
Versification Regular Contributor
Punk of the Year 2020
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.
L’appel du vide (because everything sounds sexier in French).
L’appel (the call)………. Imagine, just imagine
L’appel (the call)………. what everyone would say if
she acted on the thoughts and
L‘appel (the call) ………. suddenly accelerated and
du vide (of the void)…… slammed into oncoming traffic
but they’re only thoughts so
of course she doesn’t.
Clare Roche lives and loves on Gadigal land, Sydney. Her work has been published in Uppagus, Shot Glass Journal, HOOTreview, Blue Bottle Journal and The Beautiful Space among others.
a time to plant and a time to harvest
I wonder if the mouse feels some fleeting relief in its very last moments, as the cat’s fangs so swiftly snap its spinal cord, knowing it will no longer have to live in constant fear of pain or death, that the very worst has now happened and whatever comes next can hold no mystery half as terrifying. Perhaps in that last moment the mouse is even grateful for the cat, for the mercy of an end so agonizingly anticipated and now finally arrived, death as deliverance, and might whisper what took you so long, old friend? on its final exhalation.
Elyssa Tappero is radically queer, vocally pagan, and just a wee bit obsessed with death. She writes a lot of weird shit inspired by the way the world works (and doesn’t) which you can find at onlyfragments.com or follow her on Twitter at @OnlyFragments.
past [n] future
hell [o] heaven
demons [w] saviors
David likes to stare at the trees in his backyard while tinkering with ideas for stories and romanticizing life as a writer. You can find him on Twitter: @norwoodpages
You never see a slow-moving cheetah.
Logan Roberts is a really serious, regular sized artist and writer in Florida. Tweets @hello_im_logan. Founder of A Room Full of Furniture @ARFOFpoetry.
a haiku by stephen toft,
a sex worker
gets in a cop car
Stephen Toft is a poet and homelessness worker who lives in Lancaster, UK with his wife and their children. He is the author of three haiku/tanka/minimalist poetry collections.
WHEN IN ROME
We are sitting in a restaurant in Rome, being fed a ruse of a tale—that it is here, in this low, cavernous space, Caesar Augustus was killed: stabbed in the back by his closest of comrades—Marcus Brutus. Regardless of this veiled sham of a story, I feel a pinch between my shoulder blades, a sense of loss as I think of losing my closest ally. A Midwesterner from the US, I instinctually order meat and potatoes. The waiter rolls his eyes. And I watch him, closely, as I unwittingly begin to roll my steak knife in my palm.
Keith Hoerner (BS, MFA) lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois. He is published frequently in lit journals like decomP, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and Litro—to name just a few. He is founding editor of the Webby Award recognized Dribble Drabble Review, and his memoir, The Day the Sky Broke Open, is a recent Best Book and American Writing Award Finalist.
He un-blocked your number and gave you a call. “Swamp?” You were already thinking about driving to his apartment and keying his car again, but he called because he wanted to see you too. The two of you walk the path your first date took, the final resting place of your lamented creation called love. You said you’d love him until the sun dies and becomes a cold corpse of a star. Your ashes colliding at the end of the world. He holds you and doesn’t promise you anything. You know in death you’ll have better timing.
Cristina Lezcano (@digitaldiarygrl) is a writer, living and breathing in the tri-state area. She’s completing her Bachelor’s in Literature and is often heard critiquing the Western literary canon. She has an Aquarius stellium and gets along with Virgos.
remember the witches
They came for us holding fire in their hands. They came with their egos dangling thick and loose between their legs, and waves of spit gathering in the creases of their mouths. They grabbed us by our hair with calloused hands accustomed to yanking and pulling, accustomed to dragging. They raged against us, their small selves swelling, grasping at the edge of power, trying to build themselves up, trying to drag us into their darkness, trying to be something more than small.
Kristin Kozlowski lives and works in the Midwest, US. Some of her work is available online at Lost Balloon, matchbook, Longleaf Review, Pidgeonholes, Cease Cows, and others. Her piece, “Salty Owl”, will be included in The Best Small Fictions Anthology 2021. In 2019, she was awarded Editor’s Choice from Arkana for her CNF piece, “A Pocket of Air”. If you tweet: @kriskozlowski.
her two loves
daisy loves me and heroin. sometimes she loves heroin a little more and me a little less. but on days where the dope dealer is either in jail or laying low, and the heroin is all but out of her system, she fucking loves me like i’m the last ice-cold bottle of coca cola in the mojave fucking desert.
Marco Fonseca is an aspiring writer that is crafting the chaos inside his head into stories, so he can share these stories with the rejects, the pariahs, and the loners. He lives in Florida and has a Bachelor’s in Philosophy from the University of Florida. You can follow him on Twitter @Spacewaste08
Versification Regular Contributor
Bob Carlton (Twitter @bobcarlton3) lives and works in Leander, TX. Living a life of no outward incidents worthy of note may be why he writes. Or not. At any rate, his meager publication record and two Pushcart nominations have turned him into an insufferable bore to those who must listen to him, especially unwary editors attempting to solicit interesting and exciting bio notes.
The bare walls, and mahogany planks devoid of footprints, shiver, a withdrawal of sorts from the angelic rush of black and white keys, warming fumes of blueberry pie, and pounding of nails in boards.
The last U-Haul box drops on the carpet. Cars roar by, bass speakers rattling the windows. Three frozen trays spin in the microwave before they’re abandoned on the table, untouched.
In the dark, a whisper, where’s daddy?
The cards glide out of the shoe, snapping against the green felt. Ashes nearly singe his eyebrow as he drifts above the chips.
“Sir? Wake up. Hit or split?”
JP Lor began writing two years ago after receiving his BA in English. Since then, he's written a handful of short stories, several mediocre poems, and two really bad novels. His works have appeared in The Dillydoun Review and CC&D Magazine. He just joined Twitter this month: @Jplor82.
When I closed my eyes
it was like a dark cave -
with a small light in the distance,
Where demons were trying
to escape through the light
Clay Ennis lives in Texas with his family. He enjoys watching The Houston Astros and eating Mexican Food.
photography & flash by
PROOF OF LIFE
Carrie knew exactly what she was looking for. The ruts of this road formed her dna, first on a bicycle, then in her mom’s old Toyota. But that was two decades and three boyfriends ago. That was open windows and kicking up rocks and pitching empty bottles at the cactus as she careened through the desert desperate for a way out. She forced her bare foot into the pedal and focused on the black ribbon sliding ahead of her through a break in the mountains. She kept the windows closed and drank tequila through a straw and broke back in.
Laurie Marshall is a writer and artist who regularly asks herself why she still lives in Arkansas. She’s an emerging writer over fifty whose dreams of literary fame are fueled by Nacho Cheese Doritos and fish tacos. She has achieved eight of eleven goals on the list she made when she was nineteen and figures that’s pretty good. Connect on Twitter @LaurieMMarshall. Check out her published work at www.SeeLaurieWrite.com.
Lonely Mothers raise boys
who grow fists and mouths to match the
fury of their fathers
And when she asks for them to simply love her
they showed her
VERSIFICATION REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR
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
y’know i wanna rip
this pair of red tights to the top
of my sex
scream topless at a waxing moon
too pure for my filth
Tiffany Shaw-Diaz is a nocturnal soul who can be found haunting her local library when not writing or wrecking havoc. Follow her on IG and Twitter @tiffanyshawdiaz.
harboring the shooter
RITA RIEBEL MITCHELL
He’s asleep on my sofa, that angelic face framed by long hair mussed and knotted, like when he was seven. I cover him with the blanket that I will later pretreat before washing. His black tee and ripped camo pants are stained and splattered but this time it isn’t paint.
I sneak into the kitchen, clenching the phone so hard my fingertips turn white. Hesitation. Tears flow. I tremble while punching the numbers. Nine-one-one.
Behind me the floor creaks. I freeze. His hot breath assaults my ear as he growls, “What are you doing, Mother?”
Rita Riebel Mitchell lives and writes in the Pinelands of South Jersey where she often walks in the woods to take photos of dead or disfigured trees for inspiration. She enjoys (tolerates) the long road trips that her husband plans. Find Rita on Twitter @rita_jr.
artwork by Taylor Blum
Harold crushed gravel beneath his muddy boots. Gray clouds swirled overhead like sickly sheep. He expected to taste dirt, but tepid air clung to his tongue, tasting of nothing.
“Is that deep enough?” Isabelle asked. Her plaster raincoat poked away from her sides, as rigid as a drawing she might complete with moldy crayons. Static sprawled her dark hair—similar in color to his—away from her face as she looked down.
He pushed a clump of dirt onto the cardboard box. “Yes.” Soil, neither wet nor dry, continued to patter as they said goodbye to Isabelle’s first friend.
Taylor Blum is a fiction writer doomed to never adequately write down her dreams. She has since stepped back from the adjunct hustle of teaching composition to college students and now works a 9-5 as a technical writer. Some of her work can be seen in Glassworks and Widener Ink. Twitter: @TaylorBlum96
M. T. COOMBE
in my subconscious.
You have to understand,
in my childhood
was synonymous with
Ambien is not a narcotic.
M.T. Coombe is a queer multidisciplinary artist living in the UK. He is fascinated by the idea of modern fairy-tales. His writings are based on youth / obsession / loss / addiction / dreams / mental health / folklore and apocalyptic landscapes. He has been published in XRAY Lit, Misery Tourism, Expat Press, Bear Creek Gazette, SCAB Magazine and more. He is currently writing his debut novel. Find him at; www.trashprincemusic.com/writing and https://twitter.com/trashprincemuse
ARTWORK BY M. T. COOMBE
online when you
could shop local?
Matt is a writer from San Francisco, California who enjoys making chocolate cake. Sometimes (as seen above) he is terrified of such chocolate cake. You can find him on twitter at @MattHsu19.
you spread my legs to find i already have wings
Poet. "There's plenty more where that came from."
Publication Credits: Frogpond; Wine Cellar Press; Akitsu Quarterly; Cold Moon Journal; Poetically Magazine; FreshOut Magazine; Versification; Lothlorien Poetry Journal; Wales Haiku Journal; Briefly Write Magazine, Inklette Magazine; Mycelium Magazine; Japan Haiku Society - Haiku Corner (UK), Presence; Paddler Press; and Modern Haiku. Longlisted in the 2021 Frontier Digital Chapbook Contest.
a smile a day keeps death away
A persistent susurrus penetrates the
brain fog. Pop pretty pink pills to hide the
crazy, don the mantle of humanity and
spread chapped lips. They like smiles.
I suppose it must mean I’m happy to be alive.
Jaecyn Boné (he/they) is a disabled, queer, Asian-American writer and artist. After writing fiction for most of his life, he recently branched out to poetry, much to his surprise—he failed the poetry section of his fourth grade language arts class because he spent the whole time doodling. They live in Billings, Montana, USA with their spouse, two kids, their sister, and possibly a ghost or two. Find him on Twitter @Charli_Bone
IT MUST'VE BEEN SOMETHING I ATE
Like the crow you made me
choke down. Its talons
razored my guts to ribbons
until the truth finally spilled out
and I fell at your feet, eviscerated.
Versification Regular Contributor
Named after a character from the 1960s soap opera The Secret Storm, Kip has had no choice but to live a soap-operatic life. He is a writer, photographer, art dealer, and teacher living in Ohio. His most recent book of poetry—Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and so on—is available from Kelsay Books. | Website: kipknott.com | Twitter: @kip_knott | Instagram: @kip.knott
melissa llanes brownlee
Your tiny fingers gouge out the eyes of the furry blue creature they placed in your lap to make you smile while your sisters sit around you, their own smiles plastered on their faces, eyes searching for approval. You offer your prize, the discarded and eyeless carcass splayed across your prettiest dress, to the cameraman, the halo of light glinting off your teeth that haven’t come loose yet, waiting for strings and doorknobs to yank them out.
Melissa Llanes Brownlee is a native Hawaiian living and writing in Japan. She plays the ukulele and tries to art. She's got some work in a couple of places here and there. She tweets @lumchanmfa and talks story at www.melissallanesbrownlee.com.
art and poetry by
bryan william myers
I’ll bet she poops with the door closed
and ravens intermixed with verboten peppermint gumdrops
fall from broken windows where white space used
to be occupied by ice-cold droplets of emptiness, she thinks
Bryan was born in New Jersey. He began writing there, in a silent revolt. In 2019, he traveled to 12 countries. He spent nearly two years in Vietnam during COVID-19. He escaped a six-week lockdown on an overnight bus to Hanoi, returning to the USA for the first time in three years via Tokyo and Toronto in the sky. After getting vaccinated on an alcoholic friend's floor, he escaped to Puerto Rico. This year he sold his first pilot. He writes plays, stories. He's self-published 15 books. Now, he's busy writing about sports betting. He'll be traveling again soon. Website: bryanwilliammyers.com.