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December 2009 Issue | Word Riot
Issues | December 15, 2009

December 2009 Issue

INTERVIEWS An Interview With D. Harlan Wilson by David F. Hoenigman An Interview With Chelsea Martin by David Moscovich An Interview With Hillel Wright by David F. Hoenigman

CREATIVE NON-FICTION My Father’s Ghosts by Addie Hopes Propofol by Jake Wolff

FLASH FICTION Love in the Time of Valkyries by Melanie Browne Closer by Joly Herman Tucson by Neila Mezynski Blue Pinto by Mark Reep The Closed Door Has a Glass Handle That’s as Blue as the Hope Diamond by Rhoads Stevens

SHORT STORIES Black Eagle by Colin Clancy Immortality and Tow Trucks by Tom Fillion

POETRY Three Poems by Drew

Creative Nonfiction | December 15, 2009

Propofol by Jake Wolff

I wake up before I’m supposed to. The endotrachael tube presses against the base of my tongue and disappears into the empty space past my tonsils. The texture feels rough against my throat, ridged like the bark of a tulip tree. I don’t know what it means that I’m awake—this could be bad, I think, and yet I can’t seem to talk myself into panicking. It must be the sedatives.

There are two doctors standing over me. They look the way people look in distant memories—hazy at the center, sharp and bright at the edges. They have auras. I know

Reviews | December 15, 2009

Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball

Review by John Madera

Dear Michael Kimball,

Strangely, instead of writing “Reviewed by John Madera” above, I wrote: “Reviewed by Michael Kimball.” I have, as you can see, already fixed the mistake. I’m not sure why I initially wrote “Reviewed by Michael Kimball.” It wasn’t a conscious thing, something I deliberated over. I wasn’t thinking of using some kind of Borgesian conceit or metafictional trick. It just happened that way. I also didn’t know that I was going to write a letter to you, hadn’t planned it, until after I had typed out some of my favorite passages from your

Poetry | December 15, 2009

The Collector by Amylia Grace

He’s collecting new ways to make me come,Upside down and backwardsIn the park on his face,The window ledge,With his thumb on the subway.It’s all just aerosol whipped creamOn the pout of his fleshy lipsWhen he muscles down the night sky,My damp flesh too much cathedralFor such a confirmed agnostic.He’s collecting new ways to make me comeWhich add up to chocolate ants and cherriesOn the tone of voice he uses when he is inside me,(confessions before the guillotine).

Poetry | December 15, 2009

Island by Christian Ward

The elderly I visitedat the care home near my schoolslowly turned into an island.Months became sand, white bedsheetsfrothy surf. Nurses abandoned their jobs and wandered amongst the new landscapes like gulls and oystercatchers looking for prey.I walked along the shore, collectingshells that I hadn’t seen before.Holding one to my ear, I heard a songthat had always been tucked away.

About the author: I am currently working as a writer in London, UK. My work has appeared in The Emerson Review, The Kenyon Review and elsewhere.

Creative Nonfiction | December 15, 2009

My Father’s Ghosts by Addie Hopes

Lightless, the van tramped the path. Whenever I hear this story—in all of its incarnations, in the versions that feature Mona and the versions (like my mother’s) that don’t mention her at all—it always begins without light. This is my father’s creation tale, his making. And so it begins in the dark. That silver van was older than either of them, and it rumbled and spat, yet my uncle drove slowly and without headlights in hopes that he and my father would go unnoticed. They called it this—the path—because it led between town and the place they’d made camp for

Flash Fiction | December 15, 2009

Closer by Joly Herman

Listen to a podcast of Joly Herman’s “Closer.”

He pulls and she rolls away. He smells like leather. He pulls her back. She’s not convinced that she wants him. He pulls at her again. Sandpaper sobs next door. She stiffens herself against him. He strokes her arms; he puts his knees between her legs. She lets him have her and then she falls asleep.

She is climbing out of the shower when Sylvia walks into the bathroom, naked, a toothbrush crammed into her mouth.

“Ciao, Josie.”


“You sleep good?”

“Si.” Josie covers herself with a hand towel.

“You go today

Flash Fiction | December 15, 2009

Blue Pinto by Mark Reep

Listen to a podcast of Mark Reep’s “Blue Pinto.”

The girl at the Quikfill’s polite enough, no more.  Sean thanks her and she says Welcome, but doesn’t spare a smile. Hard to blame her, working here; they’ve probably been held up more than once by guys fitting his general description: White kid in a hoodie, broken nose, looked cold. Well, he can’t do much about the broken nose, and he’s too cold to lose the hoodie.  Still, he’d like to see her smile.

Today gas is up again, and a rusty blue Pinto Sean’s not seen before is nosed up

Poetry | December 15, 2009

Death to the mystical muse by Idris Goodwin

Listen to a podcast of Idris Goodwin’s “Death to the mystical muse.”

when her head tilts a snowflake gentlylands upon her eye lash & the windstirs & the lunar flirts with day sky shewill generously flick the star beams offher shoulders & they will plummetfrom the clouds where she sauntersnaked & awesome amongst the writer’sfresh brewed black tea

i hope she drowns

Poetry | December 15, 2009

yes by Ryan Manning

you keep talking about literature

i can’t stop thinking about sex

i just want to have sex with you

can we please stop talking about literature and start having sex

all i can think about is fucking

i want to date rape you a little

please let me date rape you a little

just let me put the tip in

trust me i’m a doctor

language, sexual content and nudity

let’s have premarital sex

let’s get married and have sex on our honeymoon and never speak to one another again

that sounds dreamy

About the author: Ryan Manning was born

Poetry | December 15, 2009

Three Poems by Drew DeGennaro

Listen to a podcast of Drew DeGennaro’s “Yellow Dots.”

Yellow Dots

Meg bellies up to the barOrdering a shot, no lemon, no salt Extending her stomach, those yellow spots Spread over the nose, her cheeks coveredSwimming in red rivers pupils wideNeedle sized holes hike up her arms Slithering like snakes Hot pink lipstick, leather skirt, low cut shirt, Push up bra, those pink leather strapsHer heels keep her off the ground.

Listen to a podcast of Drew DeGennaro’s “Welcome.”


It’s been some time since my husband and I were fascinated with the sky. Or by the stars that drape

Poetry | December 15, 2009

Love is an iceberg by Thomas Newcomb

All hail monogamy,the finest liner on the sea!and there’s still room on board, so come on baby,we too can be happy.A watertight commitment,there’s no way this ship is going down.Not now, not ever,not with this love we’ve found.The pianist is playing our song in the lobby,they’re throwing rice on the top deckand lovers are lining the railingsbeneath a fading zodiac.But love is an iceberg,an unforeseen, emotional warhead.Love is an iceberg,and its lying just ahead. The captain’s drunk again,but he’s trying his best to avoid the assail.“It’s gonna be a rough ride” he screams.“but in the end love will prevail!”But love

Flash Fiction | December 15, 2009

Tucson by Neila Mezynski

Stabbing rain. Torrents pound the yard into trenches. A straight unblinking line. It takes all in its path, uprooted plants, bewildered pets, Uncle Bert running after Mel … back to Tucson to the flooded arroyos roaring past our door. The growl of thunder, lions at play; jagged light, a sharp knife through tender skin. Trees and houses barely visible through heaven’s wet dream. Tucson. Small. I grabbed a limb of a floating mesquite tree. Took me out of town, past cars floating on the highway, no one at the wheel. Boats without a sail. Me. Tucson.

Poetry | December 15, 2009

Two Poems by Tammy Ho Lai-ming

SOMETHING IS ROTTEN Peter, I heard you, you hurt your wristsWhen being tied to the chair.It was an internet cord, not dental floss.

Peter, I saw you, you weren’t eating enough.She threw away the ham that was still good.

Peter, I heard you too,When you laughed with other boys.They were making fun of you.You were too bright, ‘the geek’.

She hurt you. She was in tears.That didn’t mean she cared.They knew their laughs would not last.

Peter, it’s too late to revenge now.She’s dead, as all parents eventually are.And they, those little bastards,They grew up lousy and they know it.

Poetry | December 15, 2009

EARTHQUAKES by Reynard Seifert

i live in oakland right now

the earth quakes sometimes but i don’t feel it

my girlfriend will ask ‘did you feel that’ and i will say ‘no’

this makes me wonder

am i ‘disconnected’ from ‘the earth’ or something

am i ‘afraid of commitment’

am i really that self-involved

i wonder

i tend to fidget

i am always burning calories, fidgeting

is that why i have ‘high metabolism’

i wonder

at age twelve i was diagnosed with add

is that why i fidget

is that why i do not feel the earth quake

i wonder

is it ‘good’ to