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May 2014 Issue | Word Riot
Issues | May 16, 2014

May 2014 Issue

FLASH FICTION Encountering by Dan Corfield SCHOOL by Melissa Goodrich Compassion by Amit Majmudar Motor Magic by Steven Murray

SHORT STORIES What Have You Done? by Charles Rafferty

REVIEWS Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa The Shimmering Go-Between by Lee Klein

INTERVIEWS An Interview With Tsipi Keller by Cooper Renner

POETRY Two Poems by Kristin George Bagdanov Song for Saratoga Springs (or, a study in Clyde Barrow’s childhood) by Yasmin Belkhyr Diorama Where Two Baby-Dolls Kill Their Grandmother by Nandini Dhar Two Poems by Sara Henry Quijote by Kenan Ince THE ONLY THING WE HAVE TO FEAR IS THE

Reviews | May 16, 2014

Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa

Review by Virginia Baker

The world is shaped by movement. This migration is part of us, and so is the uncertainty. When we move from one place to the next, all we can expect on is uncertainty. This historical struggle of uncertainty is the bedrock of Kicking the Sky. Canadian author Anthony De Sa has been writing this first novel in his head ever since he was a young boy. De Sa was born and raised in Little Portugal, Toronto, the same neighborhood where his novel takes place. The author’s intimate familiarity with the setting allows him to depict it

Reviews | May 16, 2014

The Shimmering Go-Between by Lee Klein

Review by Christopher Allen

Any review of Lee Klein’s intricately layered debut novel The Shimmering Go-Between (Atticus Books, 2014) will be an exercise in restraint. The publisher, you see, has requested that reviewers avoid spoilers. Well, apart from giggling for 700 words, I’m not sure how I’ll pull off a spoiler-free introduction of this surprising, and surprisingly believable, story—but here we go . . .

On one of its many levels The Shimmering Go-Between is a love story: love between a man and a woman, a man and himself, the outer man and the inner man, the big man and

Interviews | May 16, 2014

An Interview With Tsipi Keller by Cooper Renner

Tsipi Keller was born in Prague, raised in Israel, and has been living in the U.S. since 1974. The author of nine books, she is the recipient of several literary awards, including National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships, New York Foundation for the Arts grants, and an Armand G. Erpf award from Columbia University. Her most recent translation collections are: Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of Contemporary Hebrew Poetry (SUNY Press); and The Hymns of Job & Other Poems, a Lannan Translation Selection (BOA Editions). Her novels include: The Prophet of Tenth Street (2012), Retelling (2006) and Jackpot

Poetry | May 16, 2014

Two Poems by Sara Henry


Listen to a reading of “Tidal” by Sara Henry.

It’s been sixty-two days since I saw you, and now the sea is looking for me. Salt water seeps under the door, slips through cracks in the walls. Somewhere, the moon is cackling. A hundred seagulls have found my woods, buried themselves in the pines like stars.

Long distance calls make your voice sound like a piece of lint on a windy day. There is sand in my hair, I say. There are shells. Lint-sounds on the line before I hang up.

At night I lie in the

Poetry | May 16, 2014

Two Poems by Emily Towhee Gordon


I’m not the marvelous cowboy I dreamed I’d be or his boot or scuff marks on toe of his brown leather boot. I’ve been grabbed by the scruff of my neck when entering

the women’s room, or for crooked smiles across the bar. It’s all rugburn, rough like the voice of Brendan Gallagher who yelled fuck yourself and die you fucking dyke.

It was the school parking lot, the heat off the macadam was searing. I flung my car door open, shook my arms like broken wings, spat in his face. He barreled down

Flash Fiction | May 16, 2014

SCHOOL by Melissa Goodrich

Listen to a reading of “SCHOOL by Melissa Goodrich.

All of the boys in school are breaking their hands. They come in with casts with two fingers and a thumb sticking out. It hurts to grip the computer mouse. It doesn’t hurt to fall asleep on the keyboard. All of the boys are right-handed. All of the boys have pierced mouths. On the break-room door I find the note: “I am taking today off because the air smells like perfume.” And below, in smaller print: “I am taking today off because suddenly I am aware of every nerve in my

Poetry | May 16, 2014

Quijote by Kenan Ince

Quijote by Kenan Ince [PDF]

About the author:

Kenan Ince is a poet, math graduate student and activist from Dallas. He is currently pursuing his PhD in mathematics at Rice University in Houston. His poems have been published in Black Heart Magazine and in Houston & Nomadic Voices, among others. He was a juried poet in the 2013 Houston Poetry Fest and a featured reader at Houston’s First Friday series.

Poetry | May 16, 2014

Song for Saratoga Springs (or, a study in Clyde Barrow’s childhood) by Yasmin Belkhyr

Listen to a reading of “Song for Saratoga Springs (or, a study in Clyde Barrow’s childhood)” by Yasmin Belkhyr.

A cabin built by broken hands, watermelon too crisp to be sweet, a girl picking stones at the bottom of a lake. A boy paints a deer green. His father shoots it anyway. Later, his house floods, the cattails drown. I skip rocks hollow as his teeth on a lake of salt. In the end, the geese don’t die. The sky dark as a closed fist. A boy peels starfish from wet sand, drowns turtles, understands Texas as locked bathrooms and

Poetry | May 16, 2014


what i worry is that the light will never go dark, but will

expand, ever endlessly, until the whole fucking planet is encased in flames & we have

all been consumed like we are nothing but fuel for the sun

to swallow; like that big star hanging in the sky is so blinding

that we can’t none of us see where we are going, only where we have been, so we walk

backwards on our hands crawling in the dust.

About the author:

William James writes poems and listens to punk rock – not always in that order. He’s

Flash Fiction | May 16, 2014

Motor Magic by Steven Murray

Listen to a reading of “Motor Magic” by Steven Murray.

Because I wanted to believe that a man’s grasp of the deep mysteries of the internal combustion engine certified his command of the mysteries of maleness itself, I play-acted the role of the creator of those wheels, the individual who had somehow conjured it from a mass of metal on a garage floor in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The machine was a mask, a charmed exoskeleton that protected me from thoughts about my inadequacies; my voice an extension of its glass packs’ throaty roar. I never felt the equal of

Flash Fiction | May 16, 2014

Compassion by Amit Majmudar

When you arrive at the cell in the prison basement, the fat man is chained to the ceiling by his wrists and ankles, and the skinny man is on all fours below him, supporting the fat man’s weight. To your surprise, it is the skinny man who is screaming, the skinny man whom you have been called in to diagnose and treat. The fat man appears asleep.      You announce yourself as a doctor and assure the skinny man that you are here to help him. He is very grateful and crawls out from under the fat man, who begins

Poetry | May 16, 2014

Water to Wine by Sarah LeWarn

Today I lay in an aluminum cooler on 5th avenue, wrapped in plastic tubing like the clinging fingers of a drunken flirt. Blood given for the sake of others. I try my best to nod along, when people tell me I am doing something good.

I have always found a melancholy thrill in watching the watercolor fluid drain from my arm, a release akin to slitting one’s own skin, but far less theatrical. For this bloodshed, you are rewarded with cookies. For the other, with scar tissue and averted eyes.

I was always too Catholic for cutting, stigmata miracles imprinted

Poetry | May 16, 2014

Two Poems by Joshua Young

Texas to Ohio

don’t talk to me about love, your shoulder’s got those ridges, & your neck lengthens when you talk about trains. i want you to put away that cellphone, those photos only send you home. the stairwell does not echo, the cargo van is a stick shift. touch my fingers again, i will not think of bellingham, franklin street. i want you to look up at me. because we are both drunk. & yeah, we’re really drunk.


the calendar is a year late & those deer click across the brick            those black squirrels wait near the exits.


Poetry | May 16, 2014

Diorama Where Two Baby-Dolls Kill Their Grandmother by Nandini Dhar

Down the alleyway inside the grandfather clock, two thumb-sized little girls drag their grandma by her hair. The girls share something with their grandma: immaculately carved faces with bullfrog eyes. The grandma has high cheekbones, sandpapered to table-top perfection. These two girls. Sisters. Just like us. Have cleaned their grandmother’s face of its eyes. Plucked them and tossed them out in the open. We – my sister and me–caught the ceramic eyes with our two hands, have cleaned the dust from their crevices. But we do not know what to do with these perfect grandmother eyes. Eyes that insist upon