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January 2012 Issue | Word Riot
Interviews | January 17, 2012

An Interview With D.N.Stuefloten by David Hoenigman

What’s your view of literature today?

Literature is dead, of course. It has been imprisoned by the universities, gutted and filleted by the Good Gray Ladies of Art, and walled off by the bottom line mentality of the publishing houses. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but all the great, quirky authors of the last century are either dead or dying. Marguerite Duras, Camilo Jose Cela, Robbe-Grillet have all passed recently. Has anyone risen to take their place? Is there another blind librarian in some South American town ready to continue the tradition of Jorge Luis Borges? Marquez survives, last

Interviews | January 15, 2012

An Interview With Alan Michael Parker by Colin Winnette

I met Alan Michael Parker during the spring of 2010. A month or so afterward, we had the chance to put together an interview in which we discussed his work and his attempts to explore the “boundaries between what a reader knows and learns.”

Alan Michael Parker is the author of two novels, including Whale Man (WordFarm, 2011) and Cry Uncle, along with seven collections of poems, Days Like Prose, The Vandals, Love Song with Motor Vehicles, A Peal of Sonnets, Elephants & Butterflies, Ten Days (with painter Herb Jackson), and Long Division (forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2012). He

Poetry | January 15, 2012

Of Certain Past by Don Antenen

It is over to say hath or whilst   gone and cannot return There is only time for certain humor Variously black or irony cloudless Which reserves hath and whilst Tied only as tongues Full plain I see Cannot speak vastness The insipidities are too great My hat has fallen   willed otherwise And mourned less the magnitude of loss.

Don Antenen

About the author:

Don Antenen lives in Philadelphia with the love of his life and two cats. He is the editor of Hey Small Press!, and his fiction has appeared in the Used Furniture Review and Weekday Journal.

Poetry | January 15, 2012

The Argument is Odin, God of War & Poetry by Dustin Luke Nelson

Listen to a reading of “The Argument is Odin, God of War & Poetry” by Dustin Luke Nelson.

In no other religion or mythology do the two intersect under a single deity’s domain, with the exception of monotheistic religions where the god is the god of all things.1 Hoarder of all our favorite intangibles. Does this give the poet a role as more than an honorary thinker. Does Odin value both war and poetry equally, and for that matter knowledge, of which it is also a god. Maybe it lists the hanged before poetry and knowledge, because the hanged

Short Stories | January 15, 2012

The Real Heroic Thing by Alex Luft

This will be fun, Mom said and drank whiskey from a coffee mug in the front seat of our 1992 Ford Taurus. She has rules against drinking straight from the bottle. She tilted the mug until it was empty and dragged the back of her hands across her lips, cussed because she smeared her bride-of-Frankenstein makeup. She was supposed to be the bride of Frankenstein, I think, or she thought black spandex and mascara were costume enough. There will be other kids inside, she told me.      While mom was trying to fix her makeup in the rearview mirror, I

Poetry | January 15, 2012

Black tie by Kelly Michael

Listen to a reading of “Black tie” by Kelly Michael.

Reopen your mouth there were a lot of girls swooned by your tongue once

now they just spill drinks and cry because of what happened to you

when you decided no not tonight not in this city again

Kelly Michael

About the author:

Kelly Michael is a writer and he lives in Hamilton, Ontario. He was once an undergraduate sociology student at the University of Toronto and now he is not an undergraduate sociology student at the University of Toronto. He thinks knitting would be a useful skill to have.

Poetry | January 15, 2012

The Year Of A Saint by Ryan Mohr

That was the year I hid behind a leafless maple tree watching some guy park his big-ass truck in the driveway of the house of the woman I loved, the year I drove myself to the E.R. because I thought I was having a heart attack. That was the year the recession got worse, the year I got laid off in March, the year Taylor Swift was voted number 57 in Maxim’s sexiest women alive issue. That was the year I flew to Colorado seeking detergent for the soul, the year I stood on Mt. Evans watching an orange sunrise,

Creative Nonfiction | January 15, 2012

Sealift Pacific Journal by Cliff Fyman

22 December 77 San Francisco

     They’re flying me to Guam! Where’s Guam?      Typhoid shot left arm.      Tomorrow Marine Transport Lines will put me on a 9 p.m. Pan Am flight to the Pacific where I will board a tanker that will hop around the Far East.

25 December 77 Port of Guam

     The other two seamen and I have been treated okay. Upon arriving, a driver met us at the airport and took us to this hotel, private rooms, bath, radio playing Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, a view of sea cliffs, coconut trees, and

Poetry | January 15, 2012

After by Ruth Baumann

Of course, the if’s, the desperate imagining.

Now throat a lily pad, breath an oversize frog. No wonder night & day are such enemies, take as long as possible to relieve each other: the new shapes of everything, exhausting, resentful. Hours, taut, stretched, turning the mind to spandex or elastic or different stressed, breakable thing.

These are the knowable hardships. But of the others: dreams, at least, cannot be stopped. Alternate dooms. Alternate un-dooms. Alternates, dooming.

It is disgusting, one might reasonably think, the smallness one        present past future.

They might also brood into their coffee cup after a long dark

Novel Excerpts | January 15, 2012

Friday, March 28, 1997 by Donald Breckenridge

Part 2

(read Part 1)

Bill thought of taking her picture as she stood on the shore of Sylvan Beach. Sarah had removed her sneakers and socks, rolled up her jeans, and stepped into the dark gray water. “It’s sooo fucking cold!” He was standing five yards away when he framed her in the viewfinder and focused. She looked down at the miniature waves breaking around her ankles just before he took the picture.      “Why were you playing a role?” Bill asked. Sarah’s shoulders were covered with gooseflesh, “I guess in some stupid way I felt that if

Poetry | January 15, 2012

Origins by Caroline Davidson

I am thinking about how to make a more resilient leather. I think dyeing goatskin with sumac does this. You are thinking about how to construct ruins. Constantine’s foot, for example. Huge severed marble ankle on which to pose for pictures. Are we not allowed to sit. This postcard of a tiny cat resting on his big toe lets you reflect on expanse and ownership. Still, I worry the pigeons will find us and chip away at our limbs. You wonder how to make skin flame-retardant and I say to hell with the cat postcards but I love them I

Short Stories | January 15, 2012

My Friend Kathleen Quigley, and Her Lover’s Grandmother’s Wedding Dress by Beau O’Reilly

The retarded man upstairs, he’s overrunning the bathtub again. The fourth or fifth time this week. The ceiling is caving in. Paint and plaster dripping like old moss. I could go up there and talk to him again, but I hate to. When I first moved in here—it was my first apartment after my father’s death and the departure of my beloved—I would sit on the couch, eating sausage and chips, with the channel changer in my hand, just clicking through. I was miserable, but it was a miserable of my own choosing until the retarded man upstairs started to

Experimental | January 15, 2012

Compartment C, Car 293 by Gladys Justin Carr

They are standing together at the station. It would seem their lives are traveling in the same direction. But this is not that story. You could probably guess how long they’ve been at each other’s throats. They wanted to be joyful, but happiness eluded them. So this is their good-bye. Suddenly, he vanishes. (He is no longer on stage in this reenactment.) She is seen alone in compartment C, Car 293, wearing a wide-brim hat, reading a book about the artist, Edward Hopper.

In the next scene, a strange woman enters the compartment, holding a whip and a pair of

Poetry | January 15, 2012

Origin Story by James Ducat

     – after Gregory Pardlo

I was born at the meridian of two autumn mornings. I was born far from here, where they nail husks to the door.

I was not born in this sweetgum flower desert. I was born during a battle of birch trees in the New England woods.

I was born at a neap tide and smelled of scallops and sand. I was born in rain.

I was born loudly. The nurse said, He is trying to forget. I was born to forget.

I was born to give last rites to fallen nuns. I was born near

Poetry | January 15, 2012

Slide Instruments by Suzanne Marie Hopcroft

She meets you down on the left side of moonshine, threads that gleam lapis filling the shuttles in her hands. Your brass arpeggio

bones are shining and the grass is wild, warm. Her laugh rises frail in the night, beats like blue bird wings, makes you eat your

fear of pillowed sounds. Lean into it. Swallow her thin chortles and let them throb against your bare-beveled ribs from the inside.

Suzanne Marie Hopcroft

About the author:

Suzanne Marie Hopcroft is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Yale University and writes from New York City, where she