First Place Winner: Hereditary

I have a twitch sometimes. I keep my left eye open in my sleep.
That hole in the bathroom door was not me.
The scar on my forearm, an accident. Burst vessel in my eye,
the blackened palms, tire marks on I-25—not me.
The patch of scalp, doorknob through a bedroom wall,
knife wound across the cabinet’s face, the sixth time
we replaced a set of wine glasses, TV hurled like a dodge ball,
the cell phone torn in half—I am not crazy, this is just Thursday.
I live alone, pay rent and taxes. I cook and fold laundry.
There are no monsters here, I don’t see ghosts.
I did not sleep with a razor in my teeth last night.
I do not keep count of my 16-year pill collection.
Haven’t had a drink in 43 hours. I have four alarm clocks
and too many shoes. This morning, I ripped open a tin can
with my own hands, cursed a man at the bagel cart. One time,
I said, Ma, calm down, and she slapped me so hard I forgot her name.
Jeanann Verlee is a former punk rocker who wears polka dots and collects tattoos. She is author of Racing Hummingbirds which earned the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal for poetry, and her work has appeared in a number of journals, including The New York Quarterly, Rattle, and FRiGG. She is a poetry editor for Union Station Magazine and director of Urbana Poetry Slam at Bowery Poetry Club in New York City.

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