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August 2012 Issue | Word Riot
Reviews | August 16, 2012

The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail by Gregory Sherl

Review by Spencer Hendrixson

Gregory Sherl’s The Oregon Trail is The Oregon Trail is a sexualized and romanticized collection of poems that invites its readers (such as myself) who may not have ever played the infamous “educational” video game as children, into the world of fording rivers, expressive oxen and that damn banker from Boston. Sherl creates a narrator who tells his wife he has “never held a nail the way I hold your chin,” and their children: Child #1, Christopher, who “holds himself like he’s allergic to his own skin,” and Child #2, Wendy, who carves phrases into oxen;

Reviews | August 16, 2012

The Last Repatriate by Matthew Salesses

Review by Sara Habein

I told myself, “Just because this is a short novella does not mean you are going to stay up late and read the whole thing at once.”

… And then I read the entire book at once.

Matthew Salesses’ The Last Repatriate is a Koren War story told from above. Teddy Dickerson, a heartbroken man from Virginia, endures three years in a POW camp before finally repatriating to America.

Imagine winter at the doorstep of Manchuria, Teddy with a black eye, bones like poles in a kite of skin. The POW camp is a

Reviews | August 16, 2012

Growing up Dead in Texas by Stephen Graham Jones

Review by Edward J. Rathke

A memoir told as fiction or fiction made into memoir, so how much is fact and how much is fiction? The answer to this, I think, is: Does it matter?

Whether factual or not, it sounds true. It feels true. And when telling a story, that’s what matters. And Jones builds a world here, builds Greenwood, Texas, a place I have never even been within 1,000 miles of, a place most of us have probably never seen and never will see. He does not build it in the way Joyce built Dublin or Balzac

Flash Fiction | August 16, 2012

Before the World by Eric Thompson

Ross would have you believe me guilty of making out with his sister, Grace, in their family’s Aerostar van in the parking lot of a Taco Jerry’s, while listening to the copy of “Dark Side of the Moon” that I’d stolen from him the previous week. I maintain that Grace made the first move. She made it by picking me up wearing a Pink Floyd t-shirt, which is grounds for arousal, and then as soon as I’d put the album in she pulled off the road. She straddled me, then bit my face in appreciation. Her shirt covered only one

Flash Fiction | August 16, 2012

Driving Neutral by Joseph Han

Listen to a reading of “Driving Neutral” by Joseph Han.

At the stoplight a man wearing a tattered red cap and a piano key grin starts spraying blue stuff at the windshield. He gives me a thumbs-up with a squeegee in his hand. The hood keeps popping under his palms. My little sister watches as splotches of bird crap fizz with his sprays. She points, makes a fist, mimes rolling up the window.      The car is low on gas and I’m afraid we won’t make it to the station, and ballet practice afterwards.      “Let’s compromise,” I say. “It’s

Flash Fiction | August 16, 2012

At Some Small Hour by Spencer Hayes

Listen to a reading of “Ambush” by Spencer Hayes.

My ears bleed to the rhythm of synthesized pop. I sip my beer. Head sticks to the sides of the glass like age rings on a tree.      I see them—mom, dad, kid—no more than ten, fifteen feet away, eating, laughing, making the most of it. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed mom chomps salad. She’s got on this violet dress with red flats and a white cropped jacket. She looks good, too good, in fact, for her corn-fed husband with his Marine Corp high-and-tight. Their kid is like the millions born every day, but

Creative Nonfiction | August 16, 2012

Ocean of Ash by Kirsten Perry

I begin to undress, let the night taste me piece by piece. I have brought you to the shore, to the place you loved most. The water is cold as it drinks in my toes. I open the urn, feel the crunch of ash trapped in the seal. The wind whips me, takes some of you; I pour you into my palm. The ash is softer than I expected, yet coarse with specks of bone. I cover myself in you, spread you across my nakedness. Down my arms, legs, across my stomach and breasts, into my hair. I drop the

Short Stories | August 16, 2012

Dead in the Head by Chelsie Bryant

He winked at me when I went in Big Boy. He was at a booth near the kitchen in the back, slouched down, chin up, watching me walk. He winked and spit, pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it. Then with a grunt like a whistle he burned me with it, between my thumb and pointer. I thought he had a fucking ashtray—thought he was going to reach for it, say sorry. Like a movie, hold my hand. I’m sorry. I deserved that much. But then there was a sudden weight stinging my skin, a yelp. People

Issues | August 16, 2012

August 2012 Issue

REVIEWS The Last Repatriate by Matthew Salesses The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail by Gregory Sherl Growing up Dead in Texas by Stephen Graham Jones

FLASH FICTION Driving Neutral by Joseph Han At Some Small Hour by Spencer Hayes Before the World by Eric Thompson

CREATIVE NONFICTION After Mass by Edward Mc Whinney Ocean of Ash by Kirsten Perry

SHORT STORIES Dead in the Head by Chelsie Bryant

POETRY Six Poems by Bryan Frederick Brown Hell of a Tavern by William Cullen Jr. Reverse Catastrophe by Ramona Itule-Patigian Two Poems by Tyrel Kessinger Signs by Peter Kispert Someone Left

Creative Nonfiction | August 15, 2012

After Mass by Edward Mc Whinney

The other day I stepped into a church to attend mass. The small congregation in the city centre church, St. Francis, was well spread, all eyes on the priest illuminated by light from a cupola above the altar. The interior of the dome was plastered with mosaics of saints gathered around the central figure of Our Lord. There were even saints flying around in the air. St. Patrick was very prominent standing there on a grassy knoll, crozier in hand and a lovely green cap upon his flowing, white locks. Christ himself had a long, lean face with a neatly

Poetry | August 15, 2012

Six Poems by Bryan Frederick Brown

Girl III

Meaningless distractions to stop her shaking Her aching saying what do you want to do? Trying to understand is just another hobby.

Girl II

True maudlin girl sucking your thumb Walking through titan your smile ignites It’s all I can do to not think of you Your downtown door awaits Both praying I’ll soon arrive

Rich maudlin girl what wealth you carry Your beauty undecided fills my heart I am a man tortured to decision Let be your desire and forgotten past

Maudlin girl see you’re wanted By boys playing games to fake marriage To homes without laughter

Poetry | August 15, 2012

Three Poems by Jim Robinson

Listen to a reading of “Three Poems” by Jim Robinson.

Mary Andrews

Glues her eyes To the gilded lattice, The pattern of rounded crosses— Like aircrafts in a square of sky, With Father Flanagan behind them: The abstract face of God, Observing war. Her husband’s in Afghanistan. She stole a purse from JCPenny.

Peter Kerwin

Sold second-hand pianos for a living. He’d walk into Maxine’s On Sundays and exchange A wad of singles for A scroll of scratch-offs And a couple packs of Kools. His father was a millionaire Before he lost his mind. They found him at the

Poetry | August 15, 2012

Two Poems by Tyrel Kessinger

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night

Keep em’ comin’ Joe. Joe only smiles, pours the drink. Clark Kent has the blues, Joe. You know that? Joe only shakes his head, asks how a guy who can catch bullets could ever have the blues. Because they all think he’s Superman, Joe. Joe only laughs, says but ain’t he though? No man is a superman Joe, not even Superman. Joe only grins, figures his friend has had enough. Keep em’ comin’ Joe. Joe only smiles, decides to pour one more drink. Joe, when I go, I’m leavin’ it all to you, buddy.

Poetry | August 15, 2012

Confessions of an Artist by Madhumita Roy

My tribute to existential angst was once marred by unsolicited cleverness, another time by the chirpy rhythm, and worse still by too much lyricism and also the lack of it.

I ransacked my body for images. I tortured my mind for confessions. I revised my rhythms for accuracy. I traveled heaven and earth for transitory yet eternal moments.

I weaved myths in to magic. I merged content and the form. Then I distrusted cloying ornamentations– For what is authentic is the poetics of immediacy.

I distrusted myself– For what is me but a product or a structure? I distrusted poetry–

Poetry | August 15, 2012

Hell of a Tavern by William Cullen Jr.

The Baptist bartender says the father of all lies lives in a bottle but comes out at happy hour to give folks that warm glow.

About the author:

William Cullen, Jr., is a veteran and works at a non-profit in Brooklyn, NY. He’s married and has two college-age sons. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Camroc Press Review, Gulf Stream, Pirene’s Fountain, Red Poppy Review, Red River Review, Spillway and Wild Goose Poetry Review.