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March 2013 Issue | Word Riot
Issues | March 15, 2013

March 2013 Issue

REVIEWS David Foster Wallace was Wrong: Why John Updike Mattered and Always Will by Art Edwards

FLASH FICTION A New Space by Caitlin Barasch Toll by Colleen Kiely

CREATIVE NONFICTION The State of Women: August 26, 1920 by Tara Gilboy This Lingering by Kelly Miller

STRETCHING FORMS I Lie In A Way That Knows Me by Parker Tettleton

SHORT STORIES Me and My Sister and the Bear by Owen Clements The Unreliable. by Edward Mc Whinney Grady George–Man of the Hour by Jim Meirose

POETRY The Mermaid’s Lament by Mckendy Fils-Aime Confession by Emily Maloney NO ONE GETS OUT OF

Reviews | March 15, 2013

David Foster Wallace was Wrong: Why John Updike Mattered and Always Will by Art Edwards

I read David Foster Wallace’s collection of essays, Consider the Lobster, after finishing his A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never do Again and being so inspired I wrote a 12,000-word essay about Van Halen using its title story as a model. I greatly looked forward to Lobster to continue my nonfiction trek with Wallace. I’d finished Infinite Jest a few months after learning of DFW’s suicide, a book that lack of time and jealousy and maybe a little good sense necessitated skipping until then. I wrote two separate reviews of Infinite Jest for its fifteenth anniversary in 2011, where I

Experimental | March 15, 2013

I Lie In A Way That Knows Me by Parker Tettleton

I Lie In A Way That Knows Me

The first sentence is a labyrinth. What’s here—or was—is a kitchen sex mirror, knifed breathing. She’s reading a train on time; reading a time on a train. There are eyebrows in quotations regarding the softest instances of your mouth.

Before Minutes

I ask for an ask. The second sentence begets. This is wandering & we’ll pre-order fuck you. Flashes swim as they may.

We See Films

This sentence is a state on the rise. Six minutes before eleven begins We’re ones in slept math. I begin, you rise. Vegetables are less fucked

Creative Nonfiction | March 15, 2013

The State of Women: August 26, 1920 by Tara Gilboy

The Victorious

In order to see it, the women rise before dawn. They fry eggs for sleepy-eyed children, make the beds, brew coffee for husbands. Too excited to eat, the women scrub their faces, pin up their hair, and lace into corsets. They kiss sons and daughters goodbye. This morning, their children will stay with a neighbor. This morning, the women board streetcars into the city, like their men. The lines into DC, usually drab with dark suits, are bright spots of color. Lacy handkerchiefs flutter; gloved hands wave; women cry out to greet one another. “Today!” they shout. “Today

Flash Fiction | March 15, 2013

Toll by Colleen Kiely

Her days were one car after another, but that Tuesday morning while she wondered if she should buy fancy shampoo to wash the freakin’ fumes out of her hair or just chop it the fuck off, a Subaru hatchback pulled up and a twenty-something blonde wearing a fuzzy white sweater rolled down her window, said “Just a sec,” dug into the depths of her shoulder bag, checked the console, glanced at the floor, then squeezed the wheel and sighed, “Look, I don’t have any change, so just open the gate, lady, okay?” and as the beeps and curses rushed down

Short Stories | March 15, 2013

Grady George–Man of the Hour by Jim Meirose

Grady George wakes with an urge to go out on the street.      Outside, the buildings lean in on him. A stranger approaches.     You did good, fella, says the man, shaking his hand. You did good—     Huh? What did I do?     Oh, you know—don’t be so modest. The thing. You’re the man of the hour.     Grady walks past the man. What the man said was foolish; oddball. He has done nothing. He walks on and a policeman approaches him.      Hey—Grady—Grady George?     Yes, says Grady. What’s the problem, officer?     The policeman hooks his thumbs in his belt and smiles.     No

Creative Nonfiction | March 15, 2013

This Lingering by Kelly Miller

Virginia asks my name and who my people are. For the third time in ten minutes. With each leaden blink she forgets my story, and opening her eyes is again surprised to find a strange young woman beside her bed.

If Virginia would only sleep peacefully, I’d gladly stare out the window at car bumpers, the occasional cat’s ass, and various trashcans stacked askew.

Virginia’s bedcovers rustle. I hold my breath and try to disappear into the burnt orange hospital chair. Virginia plucks and pecks at the bedspread. Capturing a chunk, she brings it to her eyes. Surprised. Like a

Flash Fiction | March 15, 2013

A New Space by Caitlin Barasch

Listen to a reading of “A New Space” by Caitlin Barasch.

I brush my teeth on the patio, rinse and spit with the hose. The sun makes sweat bullets of my armpits. I drive to the store for eggs and chicken and a pint of ice cream, opening the sunroof in the rain. My fingers tap out a beat on the steering wheel as I sing in the shower. My daughter accompanies me on the grand piano in the backseat, balancing the keys on her lap. She doesn’t know much and won’t be good. I drop her off at soccer

Poetry | March 15, 2013

Confession by Emily Maloney


The couch in the living room is so loud it keeps me up at night. Between the hours of 11 pm and 3 am I check on it: sitting in the damn thing makes it quiet, almost reasonable, and if I pet it for long enough it eventually falls asleep.


I don’t. Instead, I give birth to a baby watermelon. In the morning my roommate slices it open with one chop and we eat it for breakfast. It’s like an ape, I tell myself. We are all victims of circumstance, my roommate says, and I hack away another

Short Stories | March 15, 2013

Me and My Sister and the Bear by Owen Clements

My sister tells me that she thinks we should steal a bear.      She is lying on the sofa with her eyes closed, thinking. She thinks for a few more seconds then tells me that she didn’t mean steal, because we wouldn’t be keeping the bear, no-one should keep a bear. We would be freeing the bear. We would take it round the city and to the beach and let it have a good time.     My sister works at the zoo and she used to love it. Now she hates it. She says that over time you get to know

Short Stories | March 15, 2013

The Unreliable. by Edward Mc Whinney

On my way out the other day, my neighbour, ground floor, first door, Mrs. Manning, grabbed me before I reached the street.

I need to talk to you, she said.

I’m in a hurry, I tried to say but it was no good.

Collared, I followed her into the uneasy atmosphere of her home.

The arctic airflow, she said, I don’t know what I’m going to do. The outside tap in her yard would freeze over if not insulated and the back gate was off its hinges, at last rust had gotten the better of them,

Poetry | March 15, 2013

[24] by Randolph Pfaff

Listen to a reading of “[24]” by Randolph Pfaff.

I am afraid of you speaking to old photographs instead of me. Of the morning sun burning my name into wet cement as I sit in a chair, the window looking through me all afternoon.

The world outside is learning a language I cannot understand. If the drowning light and the rising wind are signs of change, they don’t know enough to recognize it for what it is.

One thing bleeds to another. Twilight is fuel for the dreaming; sunsets are rouge for clouds. The mystery was how to make every

Poetry | March 15, 2013

NO ONE GETS OUT OF HERE ALIVE by Bradford Middleton

Listen to a reading of “NO ONE GETS OUT OF HERE ALIVE” by Bradford Middleton.

No one gets out of this thing alive you realise You said this in the simplest tones As if you weren’t in the process of writing your own death certificate

Get me a whisky; I’ll buy one back on Wednesday When my giro arrives, is that ok? Sure I say, knowing it’ll never come back as cash

Trade, that’s the nature of the street Want to buy tobacco? Don’t go to the shop Go to this pub at 6 today and they’ll be someone selling

Poetry | March 15, 2013

Sphinx by MF Nagel

I Was Beauty once Beauty all In cat-eyed knowing.

They came Priest Poet-King and Princelings To sleep To weep In their dreams at my feet

Barefoot, Bonaparte brought flowers for Josephine.

And Cleopatra, Cleopatra laughed. At such burnt offerings. (There are regions Cesar never knew)

I was Beauty once Beauty all Keeper Of Alexander’s dust And drinker of desert wines Memory and time

Beauty once Beauty all Silent now In cat-eyed knowing.

About the author:

MF Nagel was born in Anchorage, Alaska. She lives with her family in the woods near the banks of the Matanuska River, in the

Poetry | March 15, 2013

The Mermaid’s Lament by Mckendy Fils-Aime

Some days when you called I didn’t reply, preferred the sound of screaming ships

But at night, I’d sleep on bubbles, and dream of sneaking into your

room, curling up to you, the safest net I’ve ever felt. You’d hold me like a clam shell and run fingers through my seaweed hair.

Then I’d wake, read the messages, your voice a siren filling the ocean with my name. I’d look for you, scraping myself against the earth.

But I don’t know if you’d do the same, search as messy vermilion, burst into sea foam. Would you love me