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June 2011 Issue | Word Riot
Poetry | June 15, 2011

These Are Our Nights Here by John Kuligowski

Little Lady burned silent and I’d never thought a snoutfull of drugs would cause me such problems like tigers buried in asphalt or drunken pianos dancing on the Persian rug— patterns rhythming down just turning into a stew of syllabic stupidity at 11:11 then you know each of us must be going his or her separate way yes you say yes and even the clock says alright

About the author:

John Kuligowski currently lives and writes in the the core of the Midwest, otherwise known as the Armpit of God.

Creative Nonfiction | June 15, 2011

Wax Statues Set 1 by Robert Stapleton

I wondered what might happen if some cool writers looked back into their baseball-playing histories and created prose poem documentary baseball ‘cards.’ Below are the first five cards of a longer project I’m working on with some friends.

Wax Statues #1


The hat, a light blue one year, a maroon the next, a yellow the last, remains on. The bill of the cap was bent in an arc: God knows that no child keeps things flat—it lets the sun sit above your eyes and earns a punch to the arm. The hat, light blue,

Poetry | June 15, 2011

Two Poems by Brad Liening


This woman’s only got one boot. This man’s got two boots but only

one foot. This is how the story ends: everyone gets married.

Later, everyone dies. In between the pony delivers its secret payload

and the war is won, but still in the night

the great noose tightens and even the birds hunker down,

those whose instinct is to fly. Even the dodo.

Even the chicken crossing the road to its doom-laced punch line.

Every good joke requires something important be left out:

the poison-tipped rapier, the blank page at your eulogy.


Flash Fiction | June 15, 2011

Shadows by Joe Dornich

Listen to a reading of “Shadows” by Joe Dornich.

On her arm is a tattoo of the Eiffel Tower in the middle of the desert. From his place at the counter he watches her work the grill. Cracking eggs and flipping bacon. Plating food. It’s tight back there and she barely has enough room to turn around; she’s a big woman. She reminds him of all the great beasts locked away in zoos.

A waitress sticks an order slip on a metal wheel. This happens every couple of minutes, her rushing back and forth to the same spot. She is

Flash Fiction | June 15, 2011

Nothing To Be Ashamed Of by Gerri Brightwell

When Shirley came in from the shops and found him lying flat-out on the kitchen floor, his skin purple and his mouth gaping wide, she said, “You’ve really done it this time, haven’t you?”      She shook her head and dumped the groceries on the table, which made the wine bottles rattle—both of them empty and all the whiskey gone too. He’d promised her, but she should have known better than to leave the drink where he could find it.      His arm was in front of the fridge. With one foot she nudged it to the side. Then she

Short Stories | June 15, 2011

Meta Incognita by Steve Finbow

And, strangely, I heard the sand to stir at my back, and I looked round very quick, and the sand rose upward in parts, and sifted back, and there came to my sight odd things that did move and curl about.

William Hope Hodgson – The Night Land

Frozen earth. Water tinkling. Wind chimes. Snap of ice. Breathe in. Light out. Watch the boat dragged under smooth and viscous. Within seconds, it’s lost beneath a smudged screen of ice. Castaway. Cast adrift. I hear the ship’s horn seal my exile. A puff of steam. Nothing here. Except the whiteness. Nothing

Interviews | June 15, 2011

An Interview With Peter Grandbois by David Hoenigman

Peter Grandbois

Peter Grandbois is the Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” and Borders’ “Original Voices” author of The Gravedigger, The Arsenic Lobster: A Hybrid Memoir, and Nahoonkara. He teaches at Denison University in Ohio and can be reached at

What projects are you currently working on?

I find that I work best when I have multiple projects at various stages of development. The reason is simple. Having things to work on drives away the terror and despair that seem so much a part of the writing life to me. And working on a new project you are

Poetry | June 15, 2011

Two Poems by Maria Veres


Big belly Open hands Brown eyes Laugh lines

No shoes Not very tall Ponytail Wrinkled robe

The kind of person who gets frowned at, whispered about: Is that a woman or a man?


Stuff the leaves inside your bra to dry up breastmilk. They’re shaped just right to cup your boob. Feels like a frozen underwire. Green ruffles might peek out: this is not the day for that little black dress. Pull your sweatshirt over the wrinkly lumps, and pray you don’t get in a car wreck. Those nice EMTs have seen every brand

Flash Fiction | June 15, 2011

See You in Tribeca by Maggie Shearon

I’ll be in Tribeca for a wedding and I want to call you and tell you that I’ll be going there. From the plane I’ll see the mountains in white jackets and watch the prairie turn to glass. Steel and stone will block the sun and trap the heat, once I reach the city.

I’ve told you how I sweat when I garden and you’ve said you’d lick the salt from my collar bones. I liked it when you said it, but I don’t think you’d really do it. I’ll have to wash the garden off my knees before I

Flash Fiction | June 15, 2011

Ward by Nathan Blake

Our land was swaddled within a mountain, bereft of sunlight. For sustenance we licked the algaeic underbellies of stones. Distinguishing was a luxury we could not understand, our minds were still blooming flesh-folds of cognitivity. Father and I left the mountain. The grief we felt revealed itself in the sound of horse-claps, far off, without manifesting horses. We settled in a seaside meadow of bloodroot, pulled back the soil in sheets, and buried ourselves, refusing further displacement. Our eyes were coated with gelatinous skin, and we spent our time calling out to find each another. A wandering ascetic taught me

Short Stories | June 15, 2011

What You Missed by Robin Slick

My brother’s email arrived five days ago at 8:13PM.       “He passed at 6:15 tonight. The rest of this is so bizarre it would make a good Larry David or Seinfeld episode.”      That I would learn of my father’s death this way made perfect sense. What I did not expect was to be shaken by the news.      My father was a bad guy. When I made the decision to cut him out of my life several years ago, I knew that I would have to face this day eventually but I assumed I would be at peace and feel nothing.

Flash Fiction | June 15, 2011

Bee Trees by Rolli

Listen to a reading of “Bee Trees” by Rolli.

I was wheeling through the trees, on the wheelchair path, just in awe of the trees, when I realized their leaves were black and yellow, and were actually bees.      Life is hard when you’re a wheeler, I mean a wheelchair person, but the hardest thing about life, I find, is wheeling away from angry bees.      They covered me. I was head to toe bees. Like a beard of bees, only over my whole body. I flopped right out of the chair. It felt like they were eating my skin.      After about

Issues | June 15, 2011

June 2011 Issue

INTERVIEW An Interview With Peter Grandbois by David Hoenigman

FLASH FICTION Ward by Nathan Blake Nothing To Be Ashamed Of by Gerri Brightwell Shadows by Joe Dornich Shawano by Jessie Koester Bee Trees by Rolli See You in Tribeca by Maggie Shearon

SHORT STORIES Meta Incognita by Steve Finbow Zombie Killer by Lacey Martinez What You Missed by Robin Slick

CREATIVE NONFICTION Wax Statues Set 1 by Robert Stapleton

POETRY These Are Our Nights Here by John Kuligowski Two Poems by Brad Liening Anger by Judith Skillman Two Poems by Maria Veres Snowfall by JD Winslow

Poetry | June 15, 2011

Anger by Judith Skillman

Each time I wash them my sheets soften, so I wash them every day. Once the world was like this— white, shining, its gleam like the sun behind my eyes, an afterimage on a bright morning. I take towels down to the river and pound them to hear the sound of fists. I rinse my fear in the mouths of crocodiles, carry the weight of water on my head. Clay jars spill, soak into my spine’s mud-brown circles, compressed now like the earth of the broad path others walk. Always to the same canal full of minnows, a stream wedded

Flash Fiction | June 15, 2011

Shawano by Jessie Koester

In my mother’s letter she told me that my dad had named the deer Darlene. That once Darlene started hanging around the yard—grazing in the clover, standing stock-still, staring at them through the picture window in the living room—my mother knew it was over for their marriage. She wrote: “Darlene is a true beauty, exotic in a woodsy way. Her big black eyes are quiet with confidence. We both know it. She has me defeated.”      I swore I’d never go home again to Shawano, but I thought my mother might be going crazy and I wasn’t sure my dad