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November 2009 Issue | Word Riot
Novel Excerpts | November 16, 2009

Forecast: Chapter 36 by Shya Scanlon

Forecast is being serialized semiweekly across 42 web sites. For a full list of participants and links to live chapters, please visit Also, FORECAST found a home at Flatmancrooked and will be released in hardcover in Spring, 2010. Chapter 35 is available at PANK Magazine and Chapter 37 is available at 3:AM Magazine.

Helen asked for a moment to wander.

“It’s your trip,” Blain said, after looking at his watch.  “But we’ve gotta get going soon if we’re going to meet up with Busy at your friend Asseem’s place.”

“Right,” Helen said.  “Of course.”

“Assuming you picked the right

Reviews | November 15, 2009

The Delicacy and Strength of Lace: Letters Between Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright

Paperback: 112 pages Graywolf Press (October 27, 2009) ISBN-10: 1555975437 ISBN-13: 978-1555975432

Review by John Madera

With all kinds of worthless chit chatting and twitter jibber jabbering going on, The Delicacy and Strength is less a reminder that epistolary literature is a lost art, but more a revelation that its possibilities are still available, if one avails his- or herself to it at all. Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright met only two times, the first time at a writers conference in Michigan and the second in a New York City hospital where Wright lay dying of cancer. Between these

Short Stories | November 15, 2009

After Fall by Ryan Ridge

Listen to a podcast of Ryan Ridge’s “After Fall.”

The stop sign at the lip of the cul-de-sac had been graffitied. It read: Don’t Stop. So we didn’t. We continued past burnt out sedans, the remains of SUVs, and on to the former Dodge City country club.  There was smoke in the air and the evening sky looked dead. Behind the pro shop, Uncle Lester pissed next to a busted Coke machine while I hot-wired a golf cart.  We rode down the overgrown fairways, through the sand-less sand traps, over the dead greens.  On the back nine we came to

Poetry | November 15, 2009

Three Poems by Martha Clarkson

We are happy to introduce Martha Clarkson as Word Riot’s new Poetry Editor. –WR STAFF

How She Described Her Ex-Husband When the Police Called

He’s the man who wants to live on Park Place but can only afford Virginia, the Pennsylvania line running through his backyard, fast as a chance.

He’s the hat who owes a luxury tax.

He’s a no-trump bid without all the aces. A queen finesse,eight ever, nine never, that fails to fallinto the dummy just right.

He’s down a trick.

Just call him Colonel Mustard, pinning Miss Scarlett against the conservatory wall but rubbing noses (literally)

Poetry | November 15, 2009

Two Poems by John Sweet

Rorschach Blood

Five fingers one to three thru five

Dipping into the darkness

It hangs on the pads, filling my prints

Palmreader couldn’t predict such happenings

This paper smudged with surrounding light

Rorschach bloods and my silence speaks too loud

This mortar and bone office with frames &

Cush leather chains onto my belt

Tighter n tighter I press into the cushion

Welting my waistline

Intent on those fingers

Dilating pupils

Pinpoints of refraction from spectacles

Perked on hook nose

A perfect disguise for acceptance

Flash Fiction | November 15, 2009

The End by Rob Bass

Listen to a podcast of Rob Bass’ “The End.”

And they all lived happily ever after, the ferry cleared the bridge before it was lowered and Haruki’s dragcycle outraced the Dirtbike Vandals, and Tom finally worked up the courage to confess his love for Heather, and Jack learned to live in the woods in harmony with all the other creatures of the forest and in time the bear became the best friend that he had ever known, and the faceless conglomerate was prevented from buying up all of Mac’s land, so that his family would be able to stay for

Poetry | November 15, 2009

Two Poems by Mather Schneider


don’t go out to dinner with two white haired old ladies, your mom and your aunt who you haven’t seen in ten years. Don’t listen to them as they rave about the new restaurant in the mall where the children run feral and a clown lurks in the corner painting pictures and the bartender has acne. Jesus, the vegetables will be juiceless and cold, there will be a pile of pepper on the steak, your fries will sit in the tanning-window like the fingers of a Miami snowbird. The onion rings will be baby-oil greasy, the

Reviews | November 15, 2009

Dealing with Men by Robin Stratton

Review by Casey Quinn

Most people spend their lives really trying to understand the delicate balance of what makes a relationship work. They meet people, they date, some get married, some don’t and all the while they are learning from each interaction a little more about the opposite sex. Learning a little bit about themselves.  What makes them tick, what they like and dislike, who is the right person and how they can tell.

In Robin Stratton’s chapbook, Dealing with Men (ISBN 0-9753211-3-7), she takes the reader on a journey of various interactions and displays the results of what happens

Poetry | November 15, 2009

Seven Poems by Charles P. Ries

November 2009 marks an end of an era at Word Riot: Poetry Editor Charles P. Ries is bidding us farewell. We are incredibly grateful for the countless hours Charles has devoted to the magazine and the discerning eye he took to submissions. He will be missed.

Charles has two books of poetry coming out in early 2010: Girl Friend & Other Mysteries of Love that will be published by Alternating Current Press, Leah Angstman, Editor. And I’d Rather Be Mexican that will be published by Cervena Barva Press, Gloria Mindock, Editor. The following poems will appear in these two books.

Poetry | November 15, 2009

Two Poems by Mia Wright

but I am not so miraculous

they are running

like black bile

bruised from the nose

of the state

dripping into streets

America’s pastimes

or past –

the same shit            panic            dead bodies

on them now

as then

and yes, Christ is among them.

for 37 cents worth of gas

he called me “angel”

at Wal-Mart.

I wanted to kiss

his face            but not taste

his dirt.

saviors are like that

wearing the grime of

human souls on their t-shirts

thanking us anyway.


pan in on holding tank

of Negro bodies –

make sure you see the smell

Reviews | November 15, 2009

The Secret History of New Jersey by Tony Gruenewald

Review by John J. Petrolino III

Tony Gruenewald’s The Secret History of New Jersey is a wonderful collection of satirical, reflexive, quasi-political, lyrical and humorous poems.  Gruenewald’s Secret History is broken up into to chapters or “exits” as he describes them (throughout the collection Gruenewald constantly refers to transportation, the road and to highway systems themselves).  The first, “Exit 1-The Secret History of New Jersey” contains many poems of reflection and of the past.  “Exit 2-New York City, Boca Raton, Bluefield, W.Va., Afghanistan” is loaded with more of Gruenewald’s observations and opinions.  Though, both parts are filled equally with his

Poetry | November 15, 2009

Three Poems by Chris Deal

left union on the adams side, and i don’t know this city, but i know where i need to be, should be, east congress, off of state, directly maybe ten blocks, a twenty minute walk last time i, we, did it.

in the cab on the way up to drop her off, little flakes of what could grow into snow dot the windows, forming shapes only a child could create. i trace them with my fingers. she hops aboard and there she goes, away into the night, away from me, moving out towards the curve of the horizon.

no real

Poetry | November 15, 2009

Two Poems by Joan Goldberg

The rain quickly comes I get absorbed by a fallen kernel And cry from the sword grass

I belong to someone Who didn’t watch the rain Ate breakfast Went to work Was number 3 or 4 in line For the bathroom Didn’t sneak a cigarette Toilet water locates skin But where is the rest I want to lie down Whoever you are You may touch me


A quiet hour before dusk When the sun beds early in winter Slanted crows skew the roof Share a part of my scattered perspective

Does sea meet sky or is it the

Poetry | November 15, 2009

Two Poems by David Barger

The night I found a string attached

The Whimsical Logomaniac

Black is the new gray Where blue is the new tone for yellow.

Glossy smeared became the new fubar Which was twice removed From the slang word associated To the word fucked.

Bling covered the strange and abusive Forms used with saying gold.

Puffing on a fag no longer Holds any merits with cigarettes; Though getting lewinskied Still is highly favored with cigars.

Asshole is unfortunately still Asshole no matter how shitty A person behaves Unless it is accompanied by the Prefix major which then bears A heavier weight in

Interviews | November 15, 2009

An Interview With Judith Skillman by David Hoenigman

Judith Skillman’s eleventh collection of poems is “Prisoner of the Swifts” Ahadada Books (  Her manuscript “The Never” was a finalist for the FIELD/Oberlin Press Award in 2009 and is forthcoming from Dream Horse Press in 2010. “Heat Lightning: New and Selected Poems 1986 – 2006” was published by Silverfish Review Press, Eugene, Oregon, 2006.   The recipient of an award from the Academy of American Poets for her book “Storm” (Blue Begonia Press, 1998), Skillman’s work has appeared in Poetry, FIELD, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Seneca Review, and numerous other journals and anthologies. An educator,