VERSE – JUNE 2020

an open letter to (FUCK) you

by MEH

for making me add another body
to the list poem of hashtagged names
shot, choked, and strung together
in Emmett Till infamy.
HOLLY RAE GARCIA

HAD ENOUGH by Andrew Velzian

I neck another valium and lose count 

Of how many  

And how much 

I want this. 

HOLLY RAE GARCIA

BRITTANY GETTING DRESSED TO GO OUT

By John Grey 

 what looks 

sexy in the bedroom 

 feels so vulnerable 

in the street 


HOLLY RAE GARCIA

UNTITLED

By Lindsey Heatherly 

you confess you’re full of shit 

that truth is relative to yours and mine 

so you cut off your pinkie to prove a point 

and tap it over the pile in the ash tray 

yet you wonder why I keep silent 


A Banned Poem

By Clayre Benzadón 
 

Child, phones will always look like guns 

when they  blend into the  black  ground, 

where you’re  always chalked into sidelines, near  walls rebounding 

unmap, rewrite   resurrection— 

home  can  only exist  skyward.   

HOLLY RAE GARCIA


BUZZKILL

By Scott Manley Hadley 

Sometimes 

I would almost cry 

Because Toy Story 2: The Game  

Was just too hard


MICHAEL MCGILL

UNTITLED

By Michael McGill 

New York cars at dusk; 

a debutante on Cunt Mile; 

lust in concrete slabs. 

MY DAD NEVER TELLS STORIES ABOUT WHEN HE WAS YOUNGER

By Charlotte VanWerven 

Some mothers and sons have Nerf gun 

fights between chili pot barricades and 

warped Tupperware shields, 

but my grandma’s last son took out a 9 mm 

in her kitchen. 


BLUE LIVES MURDER 

By Leah Mueller 

The police are here to preserve disorder. 

Power concedes nothing to reasoned complaint. 

Justice won’t come without violence, and probably 

not even then. No one has anything left to surrender:  

no job, no home, no future. Everything stolen. 

Might as well burn the motherfucker down. 


HOLLY RAE GARCIA

UNTITLED

By Chris Prewitt 

Who am I to speak of love 

when I’m a chainsaw 

floating 

through a house of mirrors? 

JEFF PREWITT

LIFE IN CEDAR PLANKS

By Michael Luketich

“Virtual reality” is only virtual because we 

cling to the hope that reality is more than our minds 

deluding us into believing that we’ve moved. 




HOLLY RAE GARCIA

SHITHEEL

By Alane Ford 
 

Having done many a thing for no good reason, 

with no good outcome, and nothing to show 

was the preamble to this godawful love. 

If they ask why I’m with you, 

I’m just working on the scar. 


HRG

PAUSE

By Dave O’Leary 

Swarms of mosquitoes swirl and buzz  

in my living room. They dive bomb 

me and I swat, miss, hit myself in the face. 

But I do not curse the goddamned things. I breathe, 

sip my beer, ready for one more pass. 


PREWITT SCOTT JACKSON

CHECKING THE COUCH CUSHIONS FOR SPARE GOD

By Prewitt Scott Jackson 
 

pocketed alms slip into the tiny canyons 

of your latest Ikea 

 
the holy trinity divided by the fuckery multiplied by the treachery 

         equals  

sheer terror squared 


MINNEAPOLIS

By C.L. Butler 

tear gas consumed our lungs as we cried for justice 

we are fighting a war against corruption and constructed lies 

the people are tired of suffocating and no longer can be silent 

Molotov’s whiz by my head as we fight for the right to exist 

this was the day the city burned to the ground 

“Righteous Anger, 2020” By RODERICK CURRY

HOLLY RAE GARCIA

BBQ

By Arel Kassar 
 

They ran out of whole chickens at the store so I got a turkey instead and traded the six pack I had in my cart for two forties.

At the house I opened one of the malts and drank half, then I covered the bird in salt and pepper and shoved the bottle up its ass. 

HOLLY RAE GARCIA

VANCOUVER SPECIAL

By df Parizeau 

I had to get physical with him 
because he was so good with his mouth— 
like a Vancouver Special. 

I felt like I was hallucinating. 

It’s the kinda thing my mom would find sexy. 

TWO POEMS WHEN WE KNEW IT WAS OVER

By MacKenzie Moore 
 

I left, you left, we 

nudge the knob louder, you, my  

LA turnaround  ||||

Pushing down and out  

crumpled receipts, and the part  

where we named the dog 

HOLLY RAE GARCIA

CALL IT 

By Jessica Frelow 
 

cradle your breath in curves of my body 

drown me in the rap of your words 

mystify the passion trapped behind foul lips 

rattle open waists, in the will of your infatuation. 

It’s yours. 

LATE NIGHT CALL

By Jasmine Flowers 
 

I done told you. America’s made of blood.  

Let them make a hard-ass bed and lie in it. 

I know this: I love me, and God loves me.  

They can keep that hate right on outside. 

You can’t put your knees on God’s neck. 

HOLLY RAE GARCIA

AFTER THE END COMES THIS

By J. Bradley 
 

Rapunzel strokes what remains of her golden stair;  

the prince left a month after her diagnosis. 

Build a tower to live in, she says to her visiting granddaughter.  

Keep your hair short. Give no man the chance to disappoint you.  

two viruses too deadly

By Laura Owens

commuter fumes recede

to make way for those

meeting a premature end

at the hands of “our protectors”

at least the air is clean in heaven

HOLLY RAE GARCIA
HOLLY RAE GARCIA

WATERBOARDING IN THE WATER CLOSET

By Jay Miller 

we’ve been up 4 days straight now i can’t look you in the eye 

this squatter’s lifestyle and failed music scene 

ain’t cuttin’ it for me last week i found secret gospel 

and bled myself dry eating my heart out because 

god is dead i’m dead broke and poverty and godlessness is punk 


HRG

Hands 

By Sean Cho A.

Eleven is imaginary. 

See?

There’s no fun in logic.

WHEN WILL WE  

By Q.M. Hall

say fuck the American Dream and allow our hearts to break for our brothers and sisters 

around us ­ 

            their homes are burning. 

when will we weaken  

            our selfish, white walls 

and be held accountable for Destruction  

we continue to cause 

HOLLY RAE GARCIA

FATHERHOOD

By Eric Lochridge 

is performance art— 

bold actions, no explanations 

shoot a pheasant in the yard 

  say nothing 

finish breakfast 

(This poem was inspired by an anecdote in Episode 193 of The RobCast.)

ERIC LOCHRIDGE

May 28th, 2020 

By Wilson Koewing 

I fell asleep watching Minneapolis burn on my iPhone screen.  

Black smoke billowed from the Auto Zone; flames reached from rooftops like pleading hands. 

As I removed my contacts in a dream, my fingernails became sharp and scratched my eye. 

Puss oozed out and when I looked up into the mirror, my blue iris had turned pallid white. 

Despite the fear and pain I knew was coming, I repeated the process with the other eye.    

HOLLY RAE GARCIA


LISA LERMA WEBER

UPON REFLECTION

By Lisa Lerma Weber 

Sometimes I say fuck you to the girl in the mirror 

and sometimes she gives me the finger and  

sometimes we get drunk on vodka and tearfully beg  

forgiveness for the fucked up things we’ve done  

to each other in the name of love. 



HOLLY RAE GARCIA

TENDER OBJECTS 

By Olivia Braley 
 

in the kitchen i tenderize the steak mechanically / the mallet connects with the flesh in cruel smacks / the meat gives itself to the force of my blows / like i give myself to the man / flattened under the weight of him / there is the same violent sound / of hard on soft / the same methodic rhythm / of two bodies brutally colliding 

HOLLY RAE GARCIA

S.T. BRANT

FOUR QUESTIONS

By S.T. Brant 

Shall such immortal harmony in Being be silenced by a mortal rage? 

Shall it be untuned through false conduct? 

Shall the infinite within go fightless to a cage? 

How can any flesh make peace while a god dies inside its breast 

That challenges it to Life? 



Cimmone (no animals were harmed for the sake of this photo)

WHAT DO WE OWE YOU

By Justin Losey 

We don’t owe you our lives 

     Down to the last drop 

We don’t owe you our dimes 

     Fuck you and your shops 

We don’t owe you shit 


Mileva

WHAT STARS ARE MADE OF
By Mileva Anastasiadou 
 
That’s how life must be, she said, as they made love, up and down,  
back and forth, always, until the swing crumbles down and it all ends. 
That’s how they spent life, on a swing, up and down, back and forth, falling and rising,  
pulling and pushing, until they jumped high into the night sky and became stars, that is life, 
until it all ends, not with a fall, but with a blast, remnants of life orgasms hung bright in the sky. 


HOLLY RAE GARCIA

TOO SOON 

By Roger Li 
 

As his pancreas weeps, he smiles: 

for he had been a wheelchair pusher to his wife and 

had sold his house to pay off the debts of his greedy children and 

had dropped talk of seeing the world so that she could bear the pain of old age. 

He didn’t cry. He didn’t ask for help. His children cried. Only to fight over the measly inheritance. 


PINS IN AMERICA

By Kenleigh Gilbert 
 

I will stab pins into America 
in hopes it will not spread to the rest of the world 
Each marks the grave of a life lost 
They have lied to us about freedom 
It has never been free 

Kenleigh

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

Please share if you’re able.

This poem is dedicated to the BLM movement.

Many poems in this issue are dedicated to the current movements in our world today. Please be brave. Please use your voice. Please be strong.

Lyrical Commentary: TOOL || guest author RYAN DIEHL

photo credit: album cover, TOOL

Over the years, I have consistently admired Tool, a progressive metal band. Tool’s song, “Lateralus” (featured on their 3rd studio album, which shares the same name) is undoubtedly one of my favorites, primarily because of their cleverness regarding the song’s lyrical rhythm structure with relation to its meaning. 


In this song, Tool’s vocalist, Maynard James Keenan, conveys a message of vulnerably pushing forward: to spiral out into the unknown and to see where it may take you. The phrase ‘spiral out’ is a reoccurring message throughout the concluding lyrics. More notably, what I appreciate most about “Lateralus” is the intentional use of mathematics Tool embedded throughout this track.


Adding to this lyrical exposition of ‘spiraling out,’ the band intentionally incorporates the Fibonacci Sequence into the rhythm structure of the song’s verses. The Fibonacci Sequence is a series of numbers which form a spiral if the sequence continues onward from its starting point. It starts with 1; then the second number is also 1. From this point on, every number is the sum of the previous number. 


For example:

1

1+1=2

2+1=3

3+2=5

5+3=8

8+5=13

(and so on…)


So, you have 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987…etc.


This mathematical sequence also exists in nature, such as the spiraling pattern of sunflower seeds in a sunflower, as well as the numerical sequence of many different types of flower pedals, leaves and branches, pine cones, pineapples, nautilus shells, snail shells, storm systems – the list goes on indefinitely.


During the verses of the song, the syllables of each word used are also Fibonacci numbers and are rhythmically spaced as such:


Black (1), then (1), white are (2), all I see (3), in my infancy (5). 

Red and yellow then came to be (8), 

Reaching out to me (5). 

Lets me see (3).

As below so above and beyond I imagine (13). 

Drawn beyond the lines of reason (8). 

Push the envelope (5). 

Watch it bend (3). 

The 2nd verse is the same, aside from an additional section in the middle which states: 

There is (2), so (1), much (1), more and (2), beckons me (3), 

To look through to these (5), 

Infinite possibilities (8).

In addition to the verses, the time signature during the chorus of the song switches from 9/8 to 8/8 to 7/8, resulting in a 9-8-7. Consequentially, 987 is the 16th number of the Fibonacci sequence as well. This deep level of consideration Tool gives each of their songs, is an undeniable reason this band will infallibly remain one my personal favorites. 


Tool’s album, Lateralus, received many accolades, including double platinum recognition, a Grammy for ‘Best Metal Performance,’ and a ‘No. 123’ on Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s “Definitive 200” list. As a writer, musician, and a fan, I highly recommend this album to anyone who fancies progressive metal.

about the author

Ryan Diehl is a self-taught musician and singer/songwriter from Kansas. So far, he has spent the vast majority of his life tying to write his best song. Sadly, he is also his own worst critic, so it is safe to assume he may never succeed. Nevertheless, he continues to pour his heart and soul onto the keys of his piano in relentless pursuit.

Ryan


new poetry contributor, LISA LERMA WEBER

Why did we need Lisa on our team? Every poem Lisa writes is packed with raw, intense emotion. She holds nothing back. You may remember her poem, “Upon Reflection,” in our June issue. Lisa’s poem received quite the response – many readers connected to her honesty. She’s a wildcard; the subject of her poetry ranges all over, but her Verse PUNCH is always there. Welcome, Lisa!

Lisa Lerma Weber lives in San Diego, CA. She writes so she doesn’t explode. Her words and photography have appeared online and in print. When not writing, she enjoys boxing, dreaming about weird shit, and singing terribly.

Follow her on Twitter @LisaLermaWeber

welcome SARA DOBBIE, reader at Verse

Look, we are overworked misfits and we need help. We asked Sara to join the team because she’s kind of got a good thing going in the writing biz and she loves to promote other authors. Sara will be helping out when Travis and Cimmone are fighting over incoming submissions.

Sara Dobbie is a writer from Southern Ontario, Canada. She loves reading, playing guitar, and hanging out near bodies of water. Follow her on Twitter @sbdobbie

New Poetry Contributor, Rami Obeid

We’d like to welcome Rami Obeid to the Versification team. He’s an emerging writer who is incredibly talented. His raw prose is a perfect fit for Versification time after time, and so, he’s now a regular contributor – our first.

Rami Obeid is a poet from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His mission statement is to make his writing as honest as it can be. He lives in a subway car and listens to Gypsy Jazz.

Follow him on twitter: @obeid_ro

JUNE 2020: OUR AUTHORS EXPOSED

Please take a moment to read about our authors.

Special thanks to: Travis Cravey, Chris G., Holly Rae Garcia, and Lindsey Heatherly

Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, from Athens, Greece. A Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best Small Fictions nominated writer, her work can be found in many journals, such as Okay Donkey, Kanstellation, Open Pen and others. Despite her strong irony detection skills, she believes in positive thinking and happily ever afters, but only on sunny days and full moon nights.

Mileva

Clayre Benzadón is a punk feminist poet who resides in Miami, Florida. Clayre Benzadón is a third-year MFA student at the University of Miami, Sinking City’s editor, and Broadsided Press’s Instagram editor. Her chapbook Liminal Zenith was published by SurVision Books. She was awarded the 2019 Alfred Boas Poetry Prize for “Linguistic Rewilding”, and has been published by The Acentos Review, Pussy Magic, Kissing Dynamite, and Hobart (as well as other publications). When she’s not obsessing with her Gemini sun/rising and Virgo moon personality, Clayre attempts to bake and cook without injuring herself (or doing anything else for that matter; her roommate has coined this phenomenon the “Clayre Effect”.)

Clayre

S. T. Brant teaches in Las Vegas. Growing up he played bass in a band badly. The band was good, but he wasn’t. He was made fun of once at a show because everyone else could improvise, and he couldn’t, so he played… just various notes that didn’t fit. He moved on to writing thirteen page poems without periods in some rebellious attempt to overthrow infinity. How’d that go, S? 

S. T.

J. Bradley is the author of On the Campaign Trail (Long Day Press, 2020). He lives at jbradleywrites.com.

Actual photo of J.

Olivia Braley (she/her) is a Reader at Longleaf Review and pursuing her Master’s of Liberal Arts at St. John’s College. She can be found talking about poetry, feminism, and her armpit hair on Twitter @OliviaBraley.

Olivia

C.L. Butler is a Black and Dutch poet, essayist, and notebook graffiti artist. He severely misses playing bike polo and traveling. You can find some of his work on Medium, The Bayou Review, and on the NewPagesBlog

C. L.

Sean Cho A. is an MFA candidate (underpaid composition instructor). He likes some of this poems (but not the published ones, besides this one. This one is groovy). 

Sean

Jessica Frelow is a storyteller. She lives and writes in the New York metro area. Read more at Jessicafrelow.com

Jessica

Alane Ford works in organ donation and writes punk lyrics in hospital parking lots throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Alane

Jasmine Flowers is a well-watered poet from Birmingham, AL. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Rejection Letters, perhappened mag, giallo, and Mineral Lit Mag. She wonders if jasmines are her favorite flowers. Follow her on Twitter: @jas_flow.

Jasmine

Kenleigh Gilbert is a 19 year old writer and self-proclaimed Aspie from the western region of North Carolina. In her spare time she also enjoys traveling, photography, and spending time with her pets. 

Kenleigh

John Grey is an Australian born, US poet with a liking for travel (can’t do that at the moment) and eating in restaurants (also forbidden) who’s been quarantined into writing much more poetry in the past two months than is healthy.

Lindsey Heatherly is a writer and pharmacy technician living in Upstate South Carolina. She enjoys writing about the messy stuff and prefers grit over convenience. You can find her on Twitter: @rydanmardsey

Q. M. Hall is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief for Grimm Tales Journal,Assistant Editor for the Grimm Fairytale Rejects Book Blog, and has edited various other literary journals. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence and is an alum of the Kettle Pond Writers’ Conference. Her words have appeared in the Scarletleaf Review, Breadcrumbs Magazine, the Grief Diaries, and more. You can find her on Twitter ( @qmhall_ ).

Q.M.

MEH is Matthew E. Henry, a multiple Pushcart and Best of the Net nominated poet. The author of Teaching While Black (Main Street Rag, 2020), his recent works are appearing or forthcoming in Baltimore Review, Bryant Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, The New Verse News, Ploughshares, Poemeleon, The Radical Teacher, Rejection Lit, The Revolution (Relaunch), Solstice, and Spiritus. MEH is an educator who received his MFA from Seattle Pacific University, yet continued to spend money he didn’t have completing an MA in theology and a PhD in education. His work can be found on MEHPoeting.com.

Matthew

Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. His work is forthcoming in (Mac)ro(Mic), Tiny Molecules, The Fiction Pool, The Loch Raven Review and The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. 

Wilson

Justin Losey is a pixel artist and sometimes writer, who lives in a small Midwestern town with his wife and dog.  Follow him on Twitter @crunchiestaco where he praises food service workers (and the occasional cheesy gordita crunch).  This is his first published work.  

Michael Luketich lives in Florida, but calls Ohio home. A writer trapped in a lawyer’s body, his work appears when it has a chance. He’s the author of a book that implores you not to read it and a self-help book for other books.
Twitter: @mikeluketich

Michael

Roger Li is a high school student from the Chicagoland area. He primarily focuses on the journalistic writing form, and has published in local newspapers, such as “Journal & Topics,” but enjoys to fill the other part of his time with flash fiction and poetry. Besides writing, he likes to road bike, run, play chess, and hang out with his friends. He has a husky named Wilson from Texas. 

Roger

Lisa Lerma Weber is made of equal parts dreams, questions, and guilt. Her words and photography have appeared in numerous publications. When not writing, she enjoys boxing. Follow her on Twitter @LisaLermaWeber 

Lisa

Eric Lochridge (he/him) is just hanging out to see what happens next. Find him @ericedits / ericedits.wordpress.com

Eric

Scott Manley Hadley (@Scott_Hadley) is Satire Editor at Queen Mob’s Teahouse and was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2019. Publications include Bad Boy Poet (Open Pen, 2018), My Father, From A Distance (Selcouth Station Press, 2019) and the pleasure of regret (Broken Sleep Books, forthcoming late 2020). Scott blogs at TriumphoftheNow.com.

Scott

Michael McGill is a poet from Edinburgh, Scotland who has recently had work published by Lunate, FEED, 24 Unread Messages, The Cabinet of Heed and detritus. His overheard comments and photopoem projects regularly appear on Twitter and Instagram.
Twitter: @MMcGill09 Instagram: michael7209

Michael

Jay Miller is an editor and writer living in Montreal. He enjoys windowshopping outside of butcher shops and engraving studios. His presence and purity is indicated by deep hues of a cyan-magenta colour in a conventional Ehrlich test. If the shade appears faded, it’s likely imitation Jay; if this occurs under qualified supervision, ingest immediately and dial your local poison control to receive a full refund. In any other case, always remember: bunk is junk.

Jay

Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona. She has published books with numerous small presses. Her most recent volumes, “Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices” (Czykmate Press), “Death and Heartbreak” (Weasel Press), and “Cocktails at Denny’s” (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears in Blunderbuss, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She won honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest. 

Leah

Mackenzie Moore is an LA based writer. She smears mustard on everything and has trouble drinking water. 

MacKenzie

Laura Owens writes from a small apartment in Oxford, UK, and animates characters in videogames for a living. When she gets some downtime, you’ll find her with crochet hook in hand, or tweeting @laurabethowens.

Laura

Dave O’Leary is a writer and musician living in Seattle. He keeps watch over the Little Free Library across the street and he misses the cats.

Dave

df parizeau is a french-canadian writer who has more teeth in his mouth than the average adult. his work has been featured online and in print by a smattering of publications. he has a firm belief in the 3-0 curveball and that cherry is the best pie. Twitter: @belowtheeaves Website: dfparizeau.com

df

Chris Prewitt. Appalachian. Paradise Hammer (SurVision Books). Neosurrealist. So…a surreallbilly?

Charlotte VanWerven lives in the Pacific Northwest and regularly conspires with the cloudy weather. Their work has appeared in Into the VoidEastern Iowa ReviewGold Man ReviewThe HelixColumbia College Literary Review, and others.Follow on Twitter: twitter.com/CVanWerven

Andrew Velzian: Andrew holds a BA Hons in Creative Writing and has several stories and poems published both online and in print. He currently works as prose editor for Blanket Sea Magazine and contributing editor at Barren Magazine. He recently returned to Orkney after living in Vietnam where he now teaches English as a second language.

Andrew

Arel Wiederholt Kassar writes disproportionately about poultry. He’s from San Francisco.

Arel

A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief, C. Cimmone

VERSIFICATION was created to expose art. We were not created to promote ourselves. Taking on a lit journal is a lot of work. You’ve got to be dedicated to the art. You’ve got to have passion for creativity. I had reached a point of my writing journey where I found myself more interested in OTHER author’s words – not just my own writing and publishing grind. I was able to step away from myself and recognize the amazing talent in authors who may have little or no exposure – and great writers I’d never taken the time to research. I also consider myself a bit of a ‘weirdo’ and enjoy off beat and rebellious work. After suffering great loss in my personal life, I had many hours/days/years to consider where I stood in my writing journey.

I believe strongly in every author (minus those who are abusive) and work diligently to expose their voice. Additionally, I stand firmly with the Black Lives Matter movement, as I always have. Many literary journals are withholding publication due to this. While I support all literary journal editors and their decisions, I had to come to my own decision.

In May of 2020, our inaugural issue began with general submissions. Slowly but surely, the strong voices surrounding the movements taking place in our world began to come in. As I accepted one powerful piece after another (and often with tears), I knew why this magazine came to creation when it did: TO EXPOSE THESE VOICES.

We hope you will enjoy our first issue: JUNE 2020. The pieces are in no particular order – except for the first poem, which hit me with such intensity that I reached out to the author. We respect social media darkness during this painful time, but we urge you to read the words denouncing racism and hate. These authors have something to say to the world.

We have included our poets who have versatile pieces as well, and urge you to respect these individual author’s Twitter accounts as they have requested. If you have questions about ‘sharing’ certain authors on social media, please message me @diefunnier, email us, or utilize our CONTACT form.

Furthermore, ANY ACT OF DISRESPECT, HATE, ATTACKS, ABUSE will be handled immediately. If you are a reader or writer who experiences any unsavory act regarding pieces published by VERSIFICATION, contact Travis or myself immediately. We don’t fuck around.

May this find you as best as it possibly can during this time. My door is always open.

Yours,

C. Cimmone