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February 2014 Issue | Word Riot
Issues | February 16, 2014

February 2014 Issue

FLASH FICTION Deck Story by Ken Cormier The Dismantling by Michael Credico Interview with Kipfel by Rupprecht Mayer Supercharged Folly by Z.E. Ratches The Blue Stage by Eldon Reishus Talking Ink by Stuart Turnbull

SHORT STORIES Red Alert by Thomas Kearnes Fat Brother by Portland Riley

NOVEL EXCERPTS Rebrand by James Matthews Tollbooth by Bud Smith

EXPERIMENTAL Five Pieces by Parker Tettleton

REVIEWS What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned by Sherman Alexie Einstein On The Beach Again by Fred Skolnik

INTERVIEWS An Interview with Poe Ballantine In Conversation: Derek White and Cooper Renner

POETRY #Trending by Terry Belew Elegy for

Interviews | February 16, 2014

In Conversation: Derek White and Cooper Renner

Derek White runs Calamari Press & blogs at

COOPER: You’re widely noted both as author/illustrator and as book designer/publisher, but for a moment at least, let’s talk about reading. Your interests clearly range far beyond the minute explorations of daily life in 21st century America. What foreign author is the latest addition to your list of favorites? What draws you in to his/her work?

DEREK: I’m not sure I’m that widely known for anything & don’t mind being somewhat off the radar. And I don’t pride myself with being much of a reader either, especially in regards to what’s

Reviews | February 16, 2014

Einstein On The Beach Again by Fred Skolnik

It was only in the early 1990s that I came to know the music of Philip Glass. I had heard his Violin Concerto on the radio and was immediately attracted to it, so at the first opportunity I went out and bought Music in 12 Parts after finding it noted with high praise in a CD guide that I had in the house. After a few minutes, however, I realized that what I was hearing, which had the effect on me of a broken record, was what I would be hearing for the next three hours and found myself thinking,

Interviews | February 16, 2014

An Interview with Poe Ballantine

By Bart Schaneman

There’s a little town on the Pine Ridge of western Nebraska called Chadron. Not too many have heard of it. If anyone would care to listen, you might be able to explain to them that this unknown area of America has its own particular landscape. It’s not quite plains, nor is it simply forest or mountains. It’s all of these things and none of them at once. There’s a little state college there, but it’s mostly a cow town.

The essayist and novelist Poe Ballantine ended up there the first time in 1994 much the same way

Reviews | February 16, 2014

What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned by Sherman Alexie

Hanging Loose Press 2013 156 pages ISBN: 978-1934909-32-4

Review by John Yohe

As a break-out short story writer, then a break-out screenplay writer, then a novelist, and most recently a National Book Award-winning author of the YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, it’s easy to forget that Sherman Alexie started out as, and remains, a poet, and a good one. Some of his poems have been chosen for the yearly anthology Best American Poetry, and I would argue that his success in other genres is because he is a poet, and brings to them his unique

Novel Excerpts | February 16, 2014

Tollbooth by Bud Smith

Tollbooth is a novel that was published by Piscataway House.

Synopsis: Jimmy Saare collects tolls on the New Jersey Parkway. He’s had a mental snap, as a result, is becoming uncontrollably fixated with the 19 year old Gena who works the copy machine at Officetown. Despite his wife Sarah’s impending pregnancy, Jimmy pursues his desire for Gena, unexpectedly becoming more entangled with the strange manipulations of an anarchistic teenager, Kid with Clownhead, who wants to start his own destructive cult when he grows up.


Shrieking tires startled me from my magazine: swimsuit girls kissing deep in tropical water.

Poetry | February 16, 2014

Elegy for Myself in an Antique Store by Marty Cain

Listen to a reading of “Elegy for Myself in an Antique Store” by Marty Cain.

I descend into the endless basement, ash-stained sofas stacked to the mildewed ceiling, & the old woman hovers by me as I go down. How about an armchair? she says, we got loads of armchairs, and I say no thanks, just a desk— how about this mirror? she says, and I stare at my scratched reflection with pink flower stickers stuck in corners, & say, I just want a desk, somewhere to write. She points me to one, & I slide open each drawer, the

Novel Excerpts | February 16, 2014

Rebrand by James Matthews

The exquisite cadaver will drink the new wine. (Surrealist fragment)


(Mike Rebrand)

Let me count the ways I fucking hate Noalsy. Could probably sue him on more than one count as well. Defamation, if nothing else. Saying I’ve got no personality! I’ve got more than that workaday knucklefuck in my back pocket. More than most people actually. I collect them.

I mean, take this: I give a master class on how to better yourself in the blink of an eye, and he goes and seals me up in a bloody mausoleum for my trouble. And posts a pissed

Experimental | February 16, 2014

Five Pieces by Parker Tettleton


I took a January test today – she’s twenty-four in seven months. For another country, on Friday, it’s the year of the horse. I wait for the train home with a blank screen used to predict arrivals on my left. It was zero in Chicago when I woke & where we are thirty-nine. It isn’t thirty-nine now. I’m halfway to twenty-seven this Valentine’s Day. The train lets me off at the convention center then I walk north. It’s 2014. I couldn’t be more or less West Germanic.

Valium From Mandy

I can be reached from the fist underneath my

Poetry | February 16, 2014

#Trending by Terry Belew

My ex would send me ads for engagement rings                                                                              I’ll never afford,                          models in wedding dresses and tuxedoes                                    at an exotic resort                       where the weather is always plain. The supple curve of the bride’s hip,            the stubble trimmed with exactness on the groom’s cheek, That is what romance was to her,                                                     two mannequins                         on vacation forever.

I don’t even know what romance is, but it can’t be                                                                       these constant updates.                      Some girl I met at a party                                                just took a long walk, a best friend from school had twins,            my brother is sick of women,                        a guy I worked with                                                        got shot in the back                                     over cocaine, someone is getting married

Poetry | February 16, 2014

Two Poems by Stephen Donald

Indianapolis, IN

She breaks an hourglass over her knee, white sand canonizing the grooves in her legs coming down in the rhythm of a prayer to puddle at her feet.

The city’s charm is that it’s the only one for miles; finally there are bridges to jump from, drifters and granite tongues come to cut themselves.

They speak in barbiturates, confessions,

the low murmur of a wasp nest.

It’s scripture she says the way I feel in the shadow of a train. It’s so reassuring to see a bird could live here, too.

We Could Have Been Atlantic And when

Flash Fiction | February 16, 2014

Interview with Kipfel by Rupprecht Mayer

Listen to a reading of “Interview with Kipfel” by Rupprecht Mayer.

A huge desk separated us. Kipfel sat straight across on the more important side. A polished, deep black stone slab with a zipper down the middle—a desk unlike any I had ever seen. I’ve always believed that superficial conversations amount to little. Kipfel appeared to be of the same mind. He pulled open the zipper, the stone components clacking asunder with a comforting sound. Then—smoothly, noiselessly—he pushed the two stone tablets further apart. He rolled forward with his chair, grasped the hollows of my knees, tugged me to him.

Poetry | February 16, 2014

The Gravity of a Clear Blue Sky by Lisa Mecham

Listen to a reading of “The Gravity of a Clear Blue Sky” by Lisa Mecham.

From one-hundred-and-ten stories high, the difference between the wind in my hair and the wind in the trees is the infant’s soft grip and his bite at my breast. Still, it could have been cloudy that day. Rain smells like blood long before it hits the earth. On the table, a molten bowl, a splayed raven picked raw for wings of feather and wax. Even the woman who jumped tried to make a parachute with her skirt.

About the author:

Lisa Mecham’s work has appeared

Flash Fiction | February 16, 2014

Deck Story by Ken Cormier

You regret that thing you wrote to your colleague in a group e-mail so that everyone in the department saw it, and while on the one hand you were only reacting to something he had written, which was far more uncomfortable and offensive than anything you said, in the end you regret getting drawn in, and let’s face it, your comment was personal whereas his was general. True, his was small-minded, bitter, and deplorable in every conceivable way, but it was not directed specifically at you, the way yours was at him.

It’s not as if you called him

Poetry | February 16, 2014

We, Animals by Victorio Reyes

For Justin Torres

You’re right kid. We are animals.

Upstate Puerto Rocks.             Wepa!!!

Comin’ up in a land of Big Dick Trucks. raised by gringas, knowin’ more about Genny Cream Ale             than Medalla.

But yo, we can eat rice and beans with our buffalo wings all day!

And I was drinking Adirondack Cola when my cousins was drinkin Maltas.

But my godmother’s moms would come up from Loisaida and make some mean pastelillos on the weekends. So it was all good.

But people who ain’t animals can’t understand the way riverbanks replace beaches, and smallmouth bass replace el sábalo.