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September 2012 Issue | Word Riot
Interviews | September 16, 2012

An Interview With Matt Bell and Jac Jemc

When Word Riot editor Jackie Corley suggested that Jac Jemc and I interview each other about our recent releases—her gorgeous debut novel My Only Wife, my novella Cataclysm Baby—she didn’t know that I had been Jac’s editor at Dzanc Books, the publisher of her novel. Once we disclosed that relationship, Jackie suggested that she’d be interested in a conversation between us about the development of Jac’s book and of mine, and so this conversation begins with the process behind our books, and then veers into book tours, our philosophies behind the names of characters (and the lack of named characters),

Issues | September 16, 2012

September 2012 Issue

INTERVIEWS An Interview With Matt Bell and Jac Jemc

REVIEWS Shock and Awe by Ethan Rafal

FLASH FICTION Blood a Cold Blue by James Claffey On The Line by Lee Wright

CREATIVE NONFICTION My Hour Was Up by Michelle Ephraim Try Not to Kill Anybody by Sean Finucane Toner

SHORT STORIES We, The Boys and Girls by Erin Kelly Those Who Know Better Are Sleeping by Jonathan Starke

POETRY The Haunting by James Babbs Ghouls by Jean Byrne Postscript by Chris Emslie Migration by Michelle Holmes Riding in the passenger seat while the driver is on crack by Mike Lafontaine

Poetry | September 15, 2012

Migration by Michelle Holmes

They don’t ask for passports at this border. Thank God, really, because what would I show? Think about my picture. I do. Half me then and half me now. How would mouth and eyes, delicate, reforming, ever match up even under such a glare?

It’s just been 10 weeks I’ve been crossing. Some days I go back and forth five times. The hot blur smear of it smells permanent.

Once, I thought you were my country. That I could find a refuge, your burning skin shelter, your low whisper walking me out, unarmed, across the DMZ. But the days pass

Poetry | September 15, 2012

Ghouls by Jean Byrne

I saw myself in the distance I ran and clung onto me With all my might I clung The ghouls came With their grasping hands Trying to tear me away from myself

But I hung on so hard They tried to pry open my hands But they couldn´t My nails dug into my back Mutated by the scrapes of the ghouls Their efforts would not cease

They pulled at my shoulders My waist, my hips They lifted me by the thighs Others at my ankles They pulled and pulled My hands dug further into me Opening my shoulder blades


Poetry | September 15, 2012

Waiting Room by Steven McLachlan

Out of issue rags, secretary mumbling, clinical white of: table, wall and chairs. Headset sleek, plastic, black, deep sighs escape each call. I’m not sick, clearing head space, preparing for a forward facing life.

About the author:

Steven McLachlan is a writer living in Melbourne, Australia. He founded the Melb-Lit writing group and is mainly interested in Literature, Technology and the Human Condition.

Poetry | September 15, 2012

Postscript by Chris Emslie

The world asks me Why are you still wearing your costume?

I don’t know how to tell it That I’m waiting for the sad piano overture For the confetti cannons to fire me Into the howling light

About the author:

Chris Emslie is assistant editor at ILK. His poems have appeared / are forthcoming in Vinyl, Red Lightbulbs and Lambda Literary Review, among others. He lives in Scotland but is pointing himself west.

Poetry | September 15, 2012

Finding Life by Matthew Lyall

a man marvellous who makes everyone jump. seems familiar – as well he might the very idea: it’s a good joke to him the host of the party. that unnerving shudder. a terrific gathering of people are lifelike portraits But what unites all the look of life itself, round the back and the hollow is only skin-deep. a sitter bodied forth full of life, in the same way as real people. how they get this potent look of life. startling. He must have looked so alive. the vitality slightly weak and wry. He looks like somebody living A head turn

Poetry | September 15, 2012

Probably It’s Not Okay by Mollie Wells

to hold the world, or most of the world, in contempt for things like — breathing — standing there — eating a sandwich — starting or trying to start conversations — courting the sensation of skin — on skin — not and never feeling wrung out or basemented — understanding small directions — both literal and however else — probably that is not an acceptable expenditure of emotional energy.

The trouble is

I can tell you, in abstraction — every ocean — every mass — every lovely thought postcarded — every box of bittery wine — every glyph and

Poetry | September 15, 2012

The Haunting by James Babbs

I whisper her name emerging from my dream and it sounds like something foreign like something forgotten suddenly returning to the light and I have no idea what time it is and I’m frightened by the shadows crawling along the walls I whisper her name with my eyes closed against the light and it’s springtime again in the valley of death the ghost of her kiss still haunting my lips and my tongue yearning for the taste the relentless beat of my heart and I don’t know how long I’ve been in this room

Poetry | September 15, 2012

Riding in the passenger seat while the driver is on crack by Mike Lafontaine

Listen to a reading of “Riding in the passenger seat while the driver is on crack” by Mike Lafontaine.

In my early twenties I did everything in my power to avoid responsibility it was easy for me as I received some inheritance money from my dead father – well easy if you call getting beat up most of my childhood – easy – but that’s another poem.

I left everything behind in Sydney and traveled across each province of Canada – getting drunk and meeting people I settled in Vancouver for a time and I was working on a

Creative Nonfiction | September 15, 2012

My Hour Was Up by Michelle Ephraim

Listen to a reading of “My Hour Was Up” by Michelle Ephraim.

A year ago, while walking past a tattoo parlor in downtown Boston, I had a sudden urge to get my first tattoo. This was no youthful lark. I was 42, married, with three little kids and a full-time job. I’d been en route to Whole Foods (grapes, crackers, hummus) and The Gap (swimsuit for toddler). But in an instant I was rooted on the sidewalk, envisioning a wiry, goateed man in a leather vest happily etching out my request—the word lieben, the German infinitive to love, in black

Flash Fiction | September 15, 2012

Blood a Cold Blue by James Claffey

Listen to a reading of “Blood a Cold Blue” by James Claffey.

I collect the lint from my navel in a small jar we found by the bayou in New Orleans. I hope to weave it into a catgut replacement so I can restring my tennis racquet. So I collect, so I weave—then restring and take to the courts again. I run drills for hours each morning, the force with which I strike the ball is fearsome. Surgical precision. I have 0% body fat, despite the pizza I eat from the Onion Field, and the two Cahill sisters—angels both— who

Short Stories | September 15, 2012

We, The Boys and Girls by Erin Kelly


“Why are you crying?” I lean down and put my arms around her. She is heavily made up and in a short, dark red dress that only she could wear. Her lipstick is smeared and her mascara is gone. She shakes her head and nuzzles into my hug.      “As your all-knowing best friend I will restate my recommendation. You need to forget about him,” I say. She lets out a wail and holds up an envelope. I snap it from her hand and take out the photo inside. It’s Marty. With a girl.     “What? Who is this? Where

Creative Nonfiction | September 15, 2012

Try Not to Kill Anybody by Sean Finucane Toner

Listen to a reading of “Try Not to Kill Anybody” by Sean Finucane Toner. The MP3 will give readers some insight into how Sean, who has been sightless since 1995, works. From Sean: “About the MP3 — it is one of the voices I hear when I write. One or two words might not come through to the untrained ear, but it may give a sense of my world.”

All along, I thought it was the Vodka speaking. I assumed my Canadian friend Roger’s “We are going to get you behind the wheel of a car again,” was jest, or

Flash Fiction | September 15, 2012

On The Line by Lee Wright

Listen to a reading of “On The Line” by Lee Wright.

My night is an eight-hour blur of warp and woof, shuttle and loom, coffee and cigarettes. It is a dull ache in the legs and a stiff lower back. And, always, the oily stench of the machines—forty year old, greasy green monsters with clever acronyms for names. After less than six months on the line, my heart pumps in time with the thrum, thump, scrape; with the clank of one particular beast. My hands, not yet properly callused, split and bleed in its service.     At other machines, people talk,