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January 2010 Issue | Word Riot
Issues | January 20, 2010

January 2010 Issue


An Interview With Jeffrey Lewis by David F. Hoenigman An Interview With t. kilgore splake by David F. Hoenigman


Kamby Bolongo Mean River by Robert LopezReview by John Madera


Just ’Cause You’re Paranoid… by Joe Clifford The Switch by Abby Rotstein


“Não há Antídoto para Esse Veneno.” by Shane Cohn Brotherly Love by Matthew Dexter Eyes Turned Skywards by Ryan Dilbert Three Days by HV Whitehead


The Cape by Z.Z. Boone A Happier Tree by Patrick Allen Carberry Penumbra by Rachel Ephraim


Five Poems by Holly Day Six Poems by

Reviews | January 15, 2010

Kamby Bolongo Mean River by Robert Lopez

Reviewed by John Madera

With all of the almost necrophilic releases of famous writers’ unpublished works (the recent posthumous publication of Nabokov’s The Original of Laura comes to mind), you might think, especially because of its affectless prose, its despairing tone, its absurdities and monotonies, that Kamby Bolongo Mean River is the last treasure trove from the Samuel Beckett estate:

I didn’t forget about the you in how are you but when I think too much about one word and then another I sometimes decide I’ve had enough of the words and will listen only to the voice from then

Interviews | January 15, 2010

An Interview With t. kilgore splake by David F. Hoenigman

Mention Upper Peninsula poet/photographer t. kilgore splake [lower case by choice] and a lot of words come to mind: talented, innovative, disciplined. But perhaps, beyond those obvious truths, the word “dedicated” best describes the Ren Dancing Graybeard Bard of the UP.

splake is a man who lives his art 24 hours a day with an early-to-bed, early-to-rise regimen that would befit a man given to the military lifestyle. In two decades since he left his professorship at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek for the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the uncertain life of a full-time writer, splake has

Interviews | January 15, 2010

An Interview With Jeffrey Lewis by David F. Hoenigman

Jeffrey Lewis

Jeffrey Lewis was raised in New York City and is a maker of comic books, tragi-comic folk narratives, and head-smashing garage rock – all of which meld together into the band currently known as Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard.  With brother Jack on bass and David Beauchamp on drums, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard incorparate a disparate blend of influences from 60s acoustic psychedelia like Pearls Before Swine to the experimental art-punk of the Fall and the urban lyricism of Lou Reed, sounding a bit like if Woody Guthrie fronted Sonic Youth.  Live shows also incorporate “low

Poetry | January 15, 2010

Six Poems by Doug Draime

When Rock n’ Roll Was A Teenager

When rock n’ roll was a teenager,Great Balls Of Firewas throwing punchesat a man twice its ageon a gravel parking lot inWestport, Illinois,laughing and drinking Jim Beamstraight fromthe bottle,between ducks and jabs.

When rock n’ roll was a teenager,Heartbreak Hotelhad its finger up the local car hopafter she closed down A&W for the night,her hand around its hard dick,pumping it slowly,in the back seat at the drive-in movie,Marlon Brandoin the Wild Oneson the screen.

When rock n’ roll was a teenager,Only The Lonelywas in the county jail locked up fordrunk and disorderly, readingTropic

Flash Fiction | January 15, 2010

Eyes Turned Skywards by Ryan Dilbert

Listen to a podcast of Ryan Dilbert’s “Eyes Turned Skywards”

While supposed to be studying for her American History exam, Sherri invented a rocket fuel out of Nyquil. She held the sloshing, crimson liquid in a tin and marveled. Her roommate Andy ate KFC at his computer. It wasn’t until Sherri flew out the window, until her jetpack exhaust set fire to the rug, that Andy raised his head.    “Sherri?” he said, “Sherri?”    Sherri zipped through sharp, cold air. Her pixie cut waved like thin, brown flags. Students heading to class saw her zoom by; her frock coat flapped about her knees.

Experimental | January 15, 2010

Out of Sorts by Rose Sullivan


I’m not sure why I started running, not even sure when.  I just know that one morning, on a belly full of warm yolk and dry toast, I filled the tank of my car and never looked back.


There’s an old microwave in the trunk next to some bags of plastic flatware.  I can hear the glass tray banging around inside.  I feel like that a lot.  Like a metal thing with something clear and breakable crashing around inside me.  I have never owned a pair of high heels but my mother’s were red

Creative Nonfiction | January 15, 2010

Just ’Cause You’re Paranoid… by Joe Clifford

An excerpt from the memoir Junkie Love

I haven’t seen Becky in a month. Snowstorms wrack the Northeast as I arrive on a Greyhound bus from Southern California. The boy she is staying with is named Jerry. They met in college, before becoming junkies. Before she met me in a Vermont rehab and I took her with me to San Francisco. We weren’t in SF long before the police came looking for us. We’d been printing phony checks on a computer to support our dope habits. We fled. Becky returned to her family in Vermont. I tried to reunite with

Short Stories | January 15, 2010

A Happier Tree by Patrick Allen Carberry

Listen to a podcast of Patrick Allen Carberry’s “A Happier Tree”

The man knows almost nothing about trees.  He tries to picture an Oak as the doctor speaks at length about his new condition.  The doctor uses doctor-talk, sees that most of it goes over his patient’s head. The man isn’t sure what started him thinking about trees. Linden and Birch and Sycamore.  Do their leaves turn orange or yellow or red?  The doctor takes a deep breath then gives the simplified, layman’s explanation: “It’s petrified.”  The “it” is the small Abductor Pollicis Brevis muscle at the base of the

Flash Fiction | January 15, 2010

Brotherly Love by Matthew Dexter

Woke up, hair all over my lap and a black plastic apron noose-tight around my neck. It took a moment to focus on the mirror and see that my head was shaved. Spent years growing the hair and now it was chopped down like a tree. I see the Greek letters painted across the apron.     Duct-taped to the barber’s chair, the metallic tape reflected speckles of light which bounced from ceiling to mirror like a disco ball. I was naked, could feel the apron rubbing against my skin. The room stank; not just of debauchery, something sicker. I’d soiled myself.

Creative Nonfiction | January 15, 2010

The Switch by Abby Rotstein

Last time I went to the gynecologist, he inserted something warm and stiff into my nether regions.  Some will claim it’s all part of the exam; I say he tried to knock me up. The speculum is usually cold.

Perhaps my doctor didn’t try to get me pregnant, but he did ask when I wanted to have a baby.  He was insistent, not because I was getting old (I’m 32), but because my ovaries have problems.  I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which sounds scary until you talk to your girlfriends and find out (most) everyone has it – your cousin,

Short Stories | January 15, 2010

The Cape by Z.Z. Boone

Roger hears from Danny a year after his wife dies — an email sounding more like a high school kid than the fifty-five year old man he is:


Long time. How’s bout you 2 cum out to the Cape this weekend and meet the new babe?  I’ll drink you under the table, you wimp.

Danny, Spawn of Satan

“You want to go to Cape Cod this weekend?” Roger asks his wife at dinner.

“And do what?” she asks.

“See Danny. Meet his new wife.”

“I don’t know,” she says. “I really hardly know the man.”

“Come on,” he says.

Flash Fiction | January 15, 2010

Three Days by HV Whitehead

The coat was all I took. It wasn’t even a nice coat, an attractive coat, a coat that people would admire, want to wear or want to own. It was just a coat. Thick with sheepskin, drenched with the smell of home. I never got the chance to say goodbye, but I did get a split lip and a hand job on the Greyhound bus to the city.     On my first day I made $7.25 by not asking for money. I ate a six inch Subway sandwich and drank a coke. Though you couldn’t tell by looking at me, I

Short Stories | January 15, 2010

Penumbra by Rachel Ephraim

“Don’t be shy now,” Mama Rita says as she welcomes Andy and me into the cramped apartment. “Come in, come in. One visit is all you need, and I’m glad you’ve made yours today.” Andy squeezes my hand and we enter. If she hadn’t referred to the ad directly, I would have thought we were lost; it’s not what I expected. There’s a rusty bike in the corner and an empty crib next to an old TV. I can see her un-made bed, and her red satin sheets make me uncomfortable.

Mama Rita is wearing a robe and slippers. Her

Flash Fiction | January 15, 2010

“Não há Antídoto para Esse Veneno.” by Shane Cohn

Listen to a podcast of Shane Cohn’s “Não há Antídoto para Esse Veneno.”

Next mistake: I decide to actually tell her—that I got her sister pregnant.

I brought out the Teacher’s Whiskey, and had her sit with me on the floor. We had a few. She started telling me that we should probably stop drinking like this. I asked her if she would like to move up to the table. But that wasn’t what she meant. She meant how we were killing ourselves or something. Just then I remembered this phrase from our Portuguese phrase book—we used to try to