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May 2011 Issue | Word Riot
Flash Fiction | May 15, 2011

Still Life with Mo by William T. Vandemark

Pregnant with a watermelon, Maureen “Mo” Johnson, sex worker and shoplifter, tugs at her dress. Adjustments made, she heads for the exit, humming to herself. Humpty, her pet turtle, will dine well tonight. Fruit salad for everyone.      Leaving the store, Mo recognizes the security guard from a port-wine stain on his forehead. Saturday night, unable to rise to the occasion, he’d demanded his money back. “You’re crazy,” Mo said. “Happy endings are never guaranteed.” She jumped from the passenger seat as he shifted his pickup into gear.      Now, his thin-lipped smirk greets Mo once again. Mo tries to

Experimental | May 15, 2011

Standard Service Contract: Final Notification and Escort by Tim Bass

1. Overview      This document establishes a formal and exclusive Contractual Agreement regarding the retention of Grim Reaper, Inc., for delivery of the express professional services to be stated herein. All terms, conditions, descriptions, and fees spelled out below and on subsequent pages, if any, shall constitute a legally binding business arrangement between Grim Reaper, Inc., and the undersigned party(ies). Specifics of this Agreement are outlined as follows. 2. Services to be Rendered      I, ____________________ (insert name, hereinafter to be referred to as “Contractee”), an appointed, anointed, indentured, condemned, or otherwise selected Believer in (check as appropriate; you may

Flash Fiction | May 15, 2011

The Abstraction Pool by M. Thomas Gammarino

Listen to a reading of “The Abstraction Pool” by M. Thomas Gammarino.

Wilma went down to the pool the other day only to find it filled with rigor. It wasn’t but a couple of days since Johnston had found a swirl of categorical imperative in the deep end. It used to be we’d just get physical stuff—bicycles, rat carcasses and the like—but the vandals are getting more sophisticated. I never would have taken this manager gig if I’d known all these headaches were in the job detail. The only reason I did take it was so we could have a

Poetry | May 15, 2011

Two Poems by Kenneth P. Gurney

Listen to a reading of “Enlightenment” by Kenneth P. Gurney.


When I was twelve and a half the puberty experience struck me like lightning and, metaphorically,

set a smoldering ember in the framework that was my childhood self.

My knees hurt so much from the growth spurt— six inches in five months— that I learned to sit down and read books: hundreds of them on many topics, but not sex-ed.

I continued to ride my bicycle all over Chicago-land sometimes roaming as far west as thirty miles from home out into the prairie and corn fields among people who