By Jeff Knorr
Featured Art: Sarina’s Flowers by Sarina Winner, Nancy Dick, Wendy Minor Viny
But not just any night,
on the 26th floor of the New Otani Hotel
the night of your aunt’s wedding
your new uncle and I threw centerpieces,
beautiful flowers in glass volleyball-sized
vases out of the window of their hotel room
in downtown L.A. We dropped them, in
amazement, the air flattening petals of roses,
the baby’s breath. They blew outRead More
By Jeff Knorr
Featured art: Winter Dreaming of Spring by Nancy Dick, Norman Calkanic, Kate Goreman, Patty Mitchell, and David Dewey
What information could you possibly deliver—
that he’s safe, that the kite he put in
for the GED has come through.
If you know the party’s extension you wish
to speak to, you may dial it at any time.
To dial his reference number
and have a phone ring in his cell.
Otherwise hold for a representative—
The art in this summer online edition emerges from Passion Works Studio, a collaborative community arts center located in Athens, Ohio, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. “At the heart and soul of Passion Works is a core group of practicing professional artists with developmental differences. Offered a responsive structure, quality materials and welcoming space the artists reciprocate with wildly imaginative, beautiful creations that are fresh and approachable. Passion Works Studio invites makers of all abilities to work and thrive within partnerships celebrating the power of creativity, connection, and purpose.” New Ohio Review is proud to present these vibrant pieces as complements to our contributors’ writing.
By Abby E. Murray
Featured Art: Sunshine by Bill Dooley, John Marquis, Wendy Minor Viny
I’m at the fair to test
how American my blood cells are
and whether my heart
is the monster pumpkin I forced
from the mouth of a flower,
big as a tractor and thirsty AF.
When I say give me something fried
I don’t mean cubes of cheesecake
or spools of battered bacon,
I mean give me what I never thought
could be skewered in the first place,
give me executive orders,
give me stolen land
served on a stick and wrapped
in white paper smeared with oil.Read More
By Robert Lynn
on the first not quite warm day of March the park filled with the delusion of spring
our friends napped by the half dozen against a tree dogs gathered loose
bikini tops from sunbathers made maenads by 53 degrees we gave time away
in handfuls to the ducks pairs of men emerged from winter to wave lures
at the water an excuse to love each other without looking I read your
cheekbones’ anger at how I got more time than you before the good earth was
over fed you grapes the closest I could get to an apology for something I didn’t
choose someone sitting at our tree and very high asked Is this the Golden
Hour? and the light answered with yellow silence the way it does all questions
so obvious later walking you home I told a story how my parents fell in love
first drunk then again sober only after I existed I didn’t think you were
listening until the moment you stopped mid path mid sentence a way of making
me turn around you told me There isn’t time to do anything twice How
come? you let the light give its yellow reply I don’t want the world to end
you said when it does I will remember it this way the sun picking mulch from
your backlit hair your fresh burnt shoulders making the gesture for All this?
and I give up at the same time this last first day before the good earth was done
By Stephanie Early Green
Featured Art: Happy Couple Jason Douglas and Mallory Valentour
The first meal we share is ribeye steak with scalloped potatoes and three wilted strands of asparagus cowering on the side of each plate. He takes one bite of potato. I pretend to cut my steak but don’t eat any. I don’t want to ruin my lipstick, or get steak-fat caught in my teeth. We talk about our families, and how we both value the concept of family, and how we both hope to have families of our own someday. We agree that we have a ton in common. We find out that we both enjoy country music and have corny senses of humor. We tell each other knock-knock jokes. Mine are better, but I laugh at his, while still trying to look pretty. It’s difficult to laugh out loud and not look a little ugly, a little wild. The trick is to keep your eyes open, and gently scrunch your nose, but not open your mouth too wide, so as not to expose your gums. When a man sees a woman’s gums, he is put in mind of a horse, or a chimpanzee. That’s what my grandmother always said, anyway, and she was a smart woman.Read More
Featured Art: Family by Harry Grimm, Nancy Dick, and Carolyn Williams
By Erik Wilbur
I’ve been in America long enough. I’ve worked beside enough
I’ve met my fair share of honest hunched-over-the-dish-pit-scraping-
By Madeleine Cravens
I worry what it says about my character,
that I cannot picture the reality of sickness,
I just wake and read Whitman
and watch the sun on the brick
of the next-door apartment.
I have three cans of chickpeas,
half a bottle of wine. You have
a stronger sense of the anthropocene.
You buy soup, talk with your father.
You know microbes are alive
as they move across the grid.
And in France each small town
has a street named for Pasteur,
who made men dig drains,
convinced them to stop spitting.
I wash my hands with hot water.
I don’t want to be clean. What does it say
that I am fully on my knees to this,
that I admit such weakness willingly,
that should you want company
after any of your transatlantic flights
I would take a cab immediately
to your red and burning door.
By Gail Martin
Featured Art: Cicadas by Scott Brooks and Wendy Minor Viny
Real life was finally about to begin.
Remember the romance of the silver cigarette case
in college? The integrity of your firstborn’s eyelashes?
We discarded alternate destinies like tired cards
in the Flinch deck. We were only looking forward.
Of course, like the teeth of beavers and horses, there
are parts of the past that never stop growing.
Garage – tree house – vacant lot kinds of cruelty–
how we took turns being mean.
And later, some serrated evenings, dinners
of bluster and recoil, dodge. Flowers sent
or not sent to someone’s funeral.
Mostly there are the years you watch
your neighbors’ cars slide in and out of their garage.
Between blue herons and tumors, you change
We were all surprised to find ourselves old
but really the signs were everywhere, and we
acknowledge we’d been told. Name one
important thing that has not already happened.
By Kathryn Jordan
Featured Art: Creative Abundance Flower by Wendy Minor Viny
The Helms Man, we called him. I mean the man in white
baker’s trousers who drove the Helms Bakery van
around our bright California cul-de-sacs and streets —
coastal hills carved to asphalt, tract, and pink ice
plant that we broke open to write on sidewalks.Read More
By Jeff Tigchelaar
Featured Art: American Gothic by Jason Douglas and Wendy Minor Viny
Volunteer vacations. That’s what
I’ll do, so help me. Go away
for a week at a time or two. You know, have fun,
help out. Save some
baby turtles. And I’m not going
to ask. It’s my money too. Money’s not
an issue. My husband’s
a doctor. Well not
just a doctor, my Lord: a forensic pathologist.
More of a scientist, really. He puts away
murderers. We’ve had – he’s had
death threats. We’re absolutely
not in the phone book. And he is
so addicted to his work. He’s always thought
he can just hand me money and
that’s it. Though, he does expect his
By Jeff Tigchelaar
Featured Art: Blue Cat by Dar Whitlatch, Jason Douglas, Mallory Valentour
Evenings, let me tell you, are for
coming down. Going home and getting
into bed. Or slippers, at least. Yeah I’ve got bunny slippers
and there’s no shame in that. My only child
is insane. I don’t care who thinks
what about my PJs, either. I sleep
in a faded 4X orange and green T-shirt worn for years
by my father before me. So thin you can see my nips.
If you were looking, that is.
At the mercantile today I couldn’t stop thinking
about how I always just keep looking – nodding –
at Dr. Prajeet even when I haven’t
the slightest what he’s on about.
How hard would it be
– wink – just to say “Dr. Prajeet,
if you wouldn’t mind reiterating a bit –
you know . . . in laywoman’s terms?” Just ask him.
Laywoman, Dr. Prajeet. That’s me.
I wonder what I’d say if Dr. P. asked me
to elope. Off to some far land. Or even if he just asked me
out. Dancing, maybe. Here in town. I wonder what my little
Richie would think about that. If you don’t want mommy
coming home with doctors, don’t be a grown man living
with mom. Maybe I’d say that to old Mr. Ricardo.
By Jeff Tigchelaar
Featured Art: Atlas the Pup by Troy Goins and Mallory Valentour
College is for people who think
they’re too good to work.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m fine
with a little college, as long as it’s
in a Lego set, like.
But the kind with full-size
buildings and professors . . .
that right there’s a different sack of bait.
But you know what? Life’s like a dogsled team.
Unless you’re in the lead, the scene don’t change.
All those pups, yipping and chomping
to get ahead and be up front . . . but
the top dog’s been chosen from the start.
And that one mutt might not have to
have his nose up the asshole in front of him,
but guess what he’s got right behind him. A dog.
And another dog, and another and another. A whole
damn pack, and a few feet back there’s a sled
and you know who’s standing on that sled?
By Sydney Rende
Featured Art: Cicada by Scott Brooks and Mallory Valentour
My ex-boyfriend calls from Florida to talk about his pubes.
“Are they weird?” he asks.
We go to schools in different time zones. Over the summer he broke up with me on the patio furniture in his backyard. I cried into his lap. He carried me to my car, then went inside to eat dinner with his family.
Now he plays lacrosse on scholarship at a school with palm trees and a rape problem.
“Why would your pubes be weird,” I say. My roommate, Jenny, shuts her laptop and listens from her bed.Read More
By Halle Ruth
Featured Art: Chowder by Troy Goins
Donna forgot about the cat. She had promised to take care of it when her sister went on another one of her vacations. But the cat slipped to the bottom of Donna’s to-do list until he was barely hanging on, his presence barely noticed and left to his own devices, roaming her sister’s home on his lonesome. Donna did not want the cat staying in her own home, choosing to sacrifice the time it would take to drive to her sister’s to feed it every other day rather than let its fur coat her hardwood floors.
She woke early that morning and decided to take advantage of the rare combination of a day off and unusually warm October weather to tackle the overgrown landscaping surrounding the house. At the beginning of summer, she paid a neighborhood kid to pull weeds and lay mulch, but the upkeep fell to her, and she hadn’t been particularly diligent about keeping the crab grass at bay. Her husband suggested hiring the kid again, but Donna refused. Everyone else in the neighborhood either cared for their yards themselves or hired professionals who drove around in logo-covered trucks that hauled riding lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and leaf blowers. None of them cheaped out and hired a teenager to do a half-assed job to save a few dollars. It was embarrassing that they even hired him in the first place, like they couldn’t afford to do any better than that. Ella, who lived across the street, would have never done such a thing. Donna was sure of it.Read More
By Haolun Xu
You start to grow old so fast, you notice how much you love home.
Home means a local mall, it means a place with a little Thai stand with all the world in the pocket.
You walk in with mystery.
People ask you with curiosity if you’re a student, if you work, if you have kids.
You laugh with charisma. You say you’re looking forward to all your time in the world.
London, maybe, next week. But next week never comes. Today just has too much of you in it.
But you’re adventurous, right? You order a new thing everyday. A meal that can be held in your hands, it is the best part of your day. It’s the biggest pillar of your lunchtime.
One day, you have a beautiful combo. Pineapple and shrimp, rice and chopped veggies.
It’s perfect. It’s yours,
you eat it more and more each next month, every other day, every day. You gorge yourself in it,
you start to smile more and more each time,
they start to cheer whenever you come over. You ask, do you know me, and they say yes! of course we know you! They’re all so happy, you’re family now.
But they stop asking about London. They stop asking where you’re going,
they suddenly have all the jokes of a lifetime to tell you.
And they stop asking for your name,
they don’t need to know what it is to know who you are.
By Shelagh Connor Shapiro
Featured Art: Birds by Jonathan Salzman and Tibetan Monks visiting Passion Works Studio
We sit in the car, my mother and I, outside a large white barn with black trim. It’s a pretty barn—less than a mile from our home—and my sister Maura keeps her horse here. The horse is Culotte. His previous owner called him “Just Cool It,” but Dad said that was too much of a hippy name. He is a proud Republican. During the last election, I picked up one of the dropped campaign buttons outside the voting booths. You aren’t allowed to wear the buttons inside. The vote is private, sacrosanct.
We have stopped, as we do each morning, for Maura to feed Culotte. In March 1972, I am nine. In five minutes or ten minutes, when Maura comes back to the car, Mom will drive me to the William E. Miller Elementary School. She will drive Maura to the parking lot of the A&P, where Mrs. Besaunceny and three other students meet every day to drive to Columbus School for Girls, an hour away. CSG has no room for me in the fourth grade class. I’ll join the fifth graders next year.
Our breath is frosty in the car. I ask my mother to repeat her question.
“If your Dad and I ever got a divorce, who would you want to live with?”Read More
By Tamara Miller
Once I bought a beautiful tongue at a second-hand store. It was an impulse buy; I probably paid more than it was worth, if it was even worth anything at all. After I got it home I felt a little ashamed and regretted my purchase. What did I need a second tongue for while my own just wasted away in my head, unused? But the thing about this new tongue was that it liked to wag. When my god-given tongue locked down tight against my teeth, this second tongue would start in, first about righteousness and then about salvation, until I realized something terrible: my new tongue had caught religion. It was a preaching kind of tongue, silvery and sly as the devil. I tried to silence it, with candy and pride and fear, the way you do with tongues, but it would not deviate from the path of righteousness it liked to march up and down my esophagus like a parade of Stormtroopers. Shut-up, I called with my other tongue. Please. Shut-up before someone hears us. Before someone realizes we are not who we say we are.
By Sara Moore Wagner
Featured Art: Floating Guy, collaboration between Passion Works Studio (Athens, Ohio) and Colores del Alma (Chile)
When I used to read my son the book
where the outcast girl becomes friends
with the alligator, where they dance
in the sewer to the burt-burp of her
tuba, I would imagine he was the gator,
that one day he might find someone
to teach him not to put everything
in his mouth, to go into the water
where he’s meant to return—when
I read my daughter that book, suddenly
I see the girl, tiny soft body in the mouth
of the gator, being pulled down into the
swamp with her tuba blaring. And
the story has always been about this gator,
how he’s not meant to live in regular
society, how neither is the girl so they
find each other and even though he eats
all the local dogs, he leaves her alone
and she saves him. When I am walking
with my daughter downtown, a man
comes up to me and moves his hands
around in my face, gestures at
my daughter until I’m lying
on the sidewalk with my arms around her,
folding her into me like a pair of socks
in a suitcase, like a lolling tongue into
a mouth. And I’m yelling at the construction
workers come help me—and they do,
rushing out in their orange vests. And I think
in that book, these would have been the villains;
in that book, my girl would have risen and danced
for the man who wanted to pull her out of me
like a tooth, would have shown him how to live
in the civilized world, how to cover
his fangs, let them out at night when the slow
lull of the Ohio river takes them so far away
from her home, from her mother that he
thinks about his nature. How even this
little make believe world wasn’t built
for the girl. How even still, it’s my girl’s favorite
book. How even still, I read it.
By Jim Cole
Featured Art: Chameleon by Scott Brooks and Mallory Valentour
The New Girl’s boss was fired. Then, her boss’s boss was fired.
People said her boss’s boss had, like, this vein of ore trapped deep down in his large body – imbedded, inscrutable. When he said Good morning that wasn’t usually what he meant. When he laughed it was not at what you supposed. Inside, he longed to fire you.