In the Winter of my Sixty-Seventh Year

By Susan Browne

Featured Art: pass with care by Gina Gidaro

I feel the cold more
I stay in bed longer
To linger in my dreams 
Where I’m young
& falling in & out of love
I couldn’t imagine then
Being this old     only old people
Are this old
Looking at my friends I wonder
Wow do I look like that
Today I wore my new beanie
With the silver-grey pom-pom
& took a walk in the fog
I thought I looked cute in that hat
But nobody noticed     maybe a squirrel
Although he didn’t say anything
When was the last time I got a compliment
Now it’s mostly someone pointing out
I have food stuck in my teeth
Did my teeth grow     they seem bigger
& so do my feet     everything’s larger
Except my lips     lipstick smudges
Outside the lines or travels to my teeth
Then there’s my neck
The wattle     an unfortunate word
& should have never been invented
These winter months are like open coffins
For frail oldsters to fall in
I once had a student who believed
We can be any age we want
In the afterlife
I’m desperate to be fifty    
Six was also a good year
I saw snow for the first time
At my great-uncle’s house in Schenectady
My sister & I stood at the window
I can still remember the thrill
Of a first time     a marvel
Life would be full of firsts
I met my first love in winter
He was a hoodlum 
& way too old for me     seventeen     I was fifteen
I could tell he’d had sex or something close to it
He had a burning building in his eyes
He wore a black leather jacket     so cool & greasy
Matched his hair     he broke up with me
Although there wasn’t much to break    
All we’d done was sit together on the bus
Breathing on each other
It was my first broken heart
I walked in the rain
Listening to “Wichita Lineman”
On my transistor radio
I need you more than want you
Which confused me but I felt it
All over my body    
& that was a first too    
O world of marvels
I’m entering antiquity for the first time
Ruined columns     sun-blasted walls
Dusty rubble     wind-blown husks
I’m wintering     there is nothing wrong with it
A deep field of silence
The grass grown over & now the snow


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Critical Insect Studies

by Tom Whalen

Featured art: Still Life with Poppy, Insects, and Reptiles by Otto Marseus van Schrieck

One more step and we are out of the circle and have entered the domain, equally delineated and autonomous, of a different species.
—Vladimir Nabokov, “Father’s Butterflies”

My wife departed on the day I began in earnest my Critical Insect Studies. Before this date, I had only jotted down a few thoughts and titles, cut and pasted a few class papers, nothing more, but I was sure, as much as I had ever been sure of anything, basking in my certainty like an oiled blonde in Cannes, that I had found, at age twenty-seven, the subject on whose wings my career would soar from campus to campus, lecture hall to lecture hall around the globe, sometimes Sam coming along, though increasingly, I imagined, taken up with his own concerns. Perhaps we would have had children by then, or new avatars, I didn’t know, or perhaps we would have drifted apart, he wanting nothing to do with me or my fame. Read More

All That Shimmers and Settles Along the Roads of Our Passage

by Mark Cox

Featured Art: Still Life by Ben Benn

 

After seventeen years, I return home to my ex-wife,

without the cigarettes and bread,

without the woman and children I left her for,

older, empty-handed, and yet

to the same clothes

still in the same drawers,

as if nothing has changed. Read More

Coyotes

by Terri Leker
Winner of the 2019 New Ohio Review Fiction Contest, selected by Claire Vaye Watkins. Originally published in New Ohio Review Issue 26

The coyotes moved into the woods behind my house just after I learned I was pregnant. On a quiet June morning, while my husband slept, I pulled on my running shoes and grabbed a leash from a hook at the back door. Jute danced around my feet on her pipe-cleaner legs, whining with impatience. It would have taken more than this to wake Matt, but I hushed her complaints with a raised finger and we slipped outside. A light breeze blew the native grasses into brown and golden waves as we wandered, camouflaging Jute’s compact frame. She sniffed the dirt, ears telescoping as though she were asking a question. When we reached a shady thicket of red madrones and live oaks, I unclipped the leash and wound it around my wrist.

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Sad Rollercoaster

By Jared Harél

Feature image: The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun, c. 1805 by William Blake

My daughter’s in the kitchen, working out death.
She wants to get it. How it tastes and feels.
Her teacher talks like it’s some great, golden sticker.
Her classmates hear rumors, launch it as a curse
when toys aren’t shared. Between bites of cantaloupe,
she considers what she knows: her friend’s grandpa lives only
in her iPad. Dr. Seuss passed, but keeps speaking
in rhyme. We go to the Queens Zoo and spot the beakish skull
of a white-tailed deer tucked between rocks
in the puma’s enclosure. It’s just for show, I explain,
explaining nothing. That night, and the one after,
my daughter dreams of bones, how they lift
out of her skin and try on her dresses. So silly! she laughs,
when I ask if she’s okay. Then later, toward the back-end
of summer, we head to Coney Island to catch
a Cyclones game. We buy hot dogs and fries. A pop fly arcs
over checkerboard grass, when flush against the horizon
she sees a giant wooden spine, a dark blossom,
this brownish-red maze all traced in decay. She calls it
Sad Rollercoaster, then begs to be taken home.


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Just Like All the Girls

Read by the author.

by Francesca Bell

Featured Art: “The Sea of Memory and Forgetfulness” by Madara Mason

I always knew

a man waited for me somewhere
with hands that fit the particular curves
of my treacherous body.

Whether I watched for him or not.
Whether I believed.

Sometimes, in dreams, he entered me from above,
like a coffin lowered slowly into a grave.

Sometimes he held me hard from behind.

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The Importance and Depth of “Ohio” in Two Poems by Rita Dove and Ai

by Marcus Jackson
Featured Art: Linez and Boxez – Felicity Gunn

In poems, Ohio—as word, as a set of landscapes, as a cradle for psychological, emotional, and cultural exploration—exists with significance and versatility. Derived from the Iroquois word that means “beautiful river,” Ohio, as a name, is vowel wealthy, bookended by o’s, assuring that its mention brings a sonic vitality and depth. Ohio, in terms of topography, is rolling plains, glacial plateaus, Appalachian hills, stretches of bluegrass. Due to its proximity to the Great Lakes, and its general position on the continent, Ohio has hosted all of the following: major, ancient routes used by Native American tribes to travel and trade; pivotal exchanges between Native American and European fur traders; the ruthlessness and violence brought on by the heightened European demand for exportable goods and by the grueling process of colonization; numerous battles fought during extended, armed confrontations or wars (Pontiac’s Rebellion, the American Revolutionary War, the Northwest Indian War, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War); hubs and final stops for freedom- seeking slaves along the Underground Railroad; early industrialization; and destinations for African Americans leaving the Jim Crow south during the Great Migration. To many poets and readers, the mention or involvement of Ohio can at least subconsciously educe some of the locale’s extensive identity. Looking closely at two poems by Rita Dove and Ai, we will examine a few of the elements and forces that the incorporation of Ohio brings to the texts.

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Weanie Tender, PO

By Jennifer Christman

Like the dry, hot winds of Santa Ana itself, the sound came in waves. Pop-pop- pop-pop-pop. Weanie Tender didn’t know from where. Weanie Tender didn’t know from what. Staccato bursts of varying lengths and speed, then brief re- spites. Now, however, is a different story. There’s a constant vibrato. Take any moment—take this moment—Weanie can hear it, by God. Pop-pop-pop-pop- pop. He can feel it. He need only focus his mind to detect what’s on the order of a cosmic palpitation. Pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. Weanie is a low-level PO. He wants to be a detective someday.

“Force’s under attack,” says his partner, Dom, wolfing Chick-n-Minis from his own private 20-tray, steaming up the cruiser. Bag-of-bones Weanie is crum- pled in the passenger seat.

“You hear it now?” says Weanie, drawing in a sharp, short breath.

He and Dom are on break outside the Chick-fil-A on Bristol. Weanie can’t sit still lately. He jiggles his legs and wrings his hands, listening, deeply, to what he’s now thinking must be an engine running—that’s it, an engine running rough, like an outboard motor, and snappy, pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. But that would require a boat, and water. And the city, the entire county, is landlocked. And the seismic index is low. Weanie checks daily.

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Arrangement in Gray and Black

By: Laurie Rosenblatt

Featured art: Composition with Black and Gray by Claude Ronald Bentley

In the straight-backed chair
for hours for hours after
a drug-stilled night for hours
after dream-hungry sleep she sits
in the straight-backed chair
unmoving for night
after night after leaning spent
against the steel surface
of sleep after staying by habit
on the right side of the bed
as if as if—

although some time does go missing

as if an owl passed like a ghost
its wing-beats deepening the silence
before the milkweed
from that half-dreaming
streams away.

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Haunting Houses

By: Jacqueline Doyle

Featured art: The Customs House at Varengeville by Claude Monet

In the movie I’m watching with my husband, “A Ghost Story,” a woman lies in bed with a lover and tells him a story. “When I was little and we used to move all the time, I’d write these notes and I would fold them up really small. And I would hide them.” “What’d they say?” he asks. “They’re just things I wanted to remember,” she says, “so that if I ever wanted to go back, there’d be a piece of me there waiting.”

*

We were in elementary school when my best friend moved out of the red house on the lake. She was moving hundreds of miles away, the rooms had been emptied, and we ran all over the house leaving tiny notes about our enduring friendship. There was a door in the upstairs-hall ceiling with a ladder to the attic, where we tucked notes in hidden spaces under the eaves. There was a small door allowing access to the bathroom pipes on the second floor. A dark basement with several rooms and pipes on the ceiling. Our footsteps echoed as we ran up and down stairs.

*

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No One Dies in Fiction Anymore

By: Kaj Tanaka

Featured art: Heart of Darkness by Sean Scully

I. Sherman Alexie

Once again last night, a dead woman appeared to me. She spoke my name and asked me to help her back into the world of the living. She said she was so close to me; it would only take a small caress and she would be flesh and blood again. I didn’t move. Her face hung over my bed until the dream resolved itself, and I was awake again, and this morning was gray and cold just like yesterday morning and the morning before.

This morning, I heard our neighbors’ little daughter crying in the room above us amid the crashing of furniture while her parents fought. The crying and the fighting were so loud my wife wondered if we should call the police—we decided not to, and then my wife left for work, and the fighting died down. I texted my wife to let her know things were quiet again. She texted me “okay.”

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Safehouse

By Sandy Gingras

Featured art by Pierre Châtel-Innocenti

Pull up any rug, there’s a hole.
An easy chair sits on a trap door, which leads to
a slide. I am still surprised, after all these years,
how many tunnels are in my house.

In the basement, which is under the place
you would consider the basement, is
what I call “the secret room.” But all my rooms
are really secret rooms. It has a large
colored map on the wall, a folding table under
a fluorescent light, a red couch.

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Nightmare on Elm Street

By T. J. Sandella

Featured art by Vrouw aan kaptafel

Though they’re meant to be our protagonists,
we detest these teenagers
who fall for the same tricks and traps
in every film
and because they keep coming back
dumber and hotter
decade after decade
with their perky breasts and discernible abs
and the way they throw themselves mercilessly
against one another
in backseats and on twin beds
and because they smoke cigarettes
and slug soda and beer
and because dialysis and diabetes
will never creep like Freddy
into their dreams.
Because they’re always in love
and loneliness is as unimaginable
as feigning sleep
so the person next to you
will stop kissing your neck
though you still care for her
and he’s still beautiful
or maybe you don’t
and maybe he’s not
or maybe the workday has emptied you
of desire for anything
but seven hours of silence
and maybe these are the words you say
that can’t be forgiven. Curse the children

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Serenity Room

By Linda Hillringhouse

Featured art: Buste van een oude vrouw by Anonymous

There are five recliners in a circle,
each with a spongy blanket.
The lights have been dimmed,
but an aide has left behind her walkie-talkie
and it sounds like it’s ready to lift off.
My mother is in one recliner, I’m in another,
an easy way to spend time now that she’s afraid
of the color red and distrusts windows
as if the glass weren’t there and the fingers
of the dwarf palmetto would reach in
and pull her down into its dark center
to cut out the last cluster of syllables
huddled beneath her tongue.

I look over to see if she’s sleeping
and her eyes are open as though
she’s forgotten to close them. Maybe
she’s on some dusky street where half-drawn
figures drift and sounds almost blossom
into meaning. Maybe she opens a door
and her aunts from Brooklyn are there
and clutch her to their mountainous breasts
where she could stay forever.

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Ancient Stone Coin, Diameter Six Feet

By Claire Bateman

In dreams it escapes its keepers,
rolls away, accelerating
as though trying to leave
its huge ungainliness behind,
sensing a destiny of shrinkage
through millennia of metals,
feeling its way toward pure ideation
so it can flow freely between hosts,
reunited with thought itself
from which it was first
thrust into the world
to thicken into matter.

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The Pale Man

By Michael Pearce

Featured Art: We Both Saw a Large Pale Light, plate 2 of 6 by Odilon Redon, 1896

Last time I saw my dad was at
the cemetery on Pilgrim Hill,
pale as a ghost but he wasn’t dead.
He stood over the grave of his grandfather,
the hero of our family.
I called out to him and waved and
he turned my way—he looked sad
and then he looked ashamed and
I felt bad for him until I understood
that his shame was directed at me.

No point in pondering his disappointment,
I know I’m a failure in his eyes and
there’s no way back to the sunshine of his pride—
the boy of great promise is long dead and here I am.
And there he was—he turned away from me
and peered right through the gravestone
and into a glorious dream of the past
where a brave man stood against the mob
and brought reason to our torn-up town.

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Night Dodge

By Jill Leininger

Every philosopher I haven’t read is drunk and arguing
             in the same Dodge Chrysler. I swerve
to miss them, blinded in their sublime 60-mile-an-hour
             wake along the dotted divide. Looking back,
how odd! There was no way to distinguish one pipe from
             the other, Spinoza from Kant, yet I knew,
in the sudden, smoky fervor of that car, who they were:

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Black Ants

By Fay Dillof

Featured Art: Crumpled and Withered Leaf Edge Mimicking Caterpillar (study for book Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom) by Emma Beach Thayer

Unable to sleep,
I imagine a blob
of ants, erupting
from a faucet.

If they puddle,
that will mean sleep.

But if each ant
descends on a crumb,
steals what it can
and lumbers robotically off,
which they do,
branching in veins across the tile floor,
then I’m left
listening to the sound
of my two sisters
downstairs
in the summer kitchen
where they’re making
my mother laugh
without me
again,
carrying their prize
over invisible trails.


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Regarding Isabelle Huppert

By Tom Whalen

Featured Image: The Unicorn Rests in a Garden (from the Unicorn Tapestries), 1495-1505

Yesterday as I reread Hubert Hoskin’s translation of C. A. van Peursen’s Leibniz (1966/69), I couldn’t help but think of Isabelle Huppert. As with Leibniz, experience alone cannot account for her performances, but I don’t think, regarding Isabelle Huppert, I need concern myself with eternal truths residing in the mind of God. Judge advocate, nun, prostitute, mother, dressmaker, postal clerk, piano teacher, scientist, abortionist, war bride, writer, hostage, thief—whatever the role or source (Euripides, Diderot, Goethe, Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Maupassant, Conrad, James, Zamyatin, Crnjanski, Genet, Bataille, Duras, Highsmith, Bachmann, Rendell, Jim Thompson), energies feed the performances of Isabelle Huppert from without and within.

Have you seen many of her over one hundred films? Retour à la bien-aimée, for example, or Eaux profondes, Pas de scandale, Sans queue ni tête, La séparation? Are you older or younger than Isabelle Huppert?

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Fear of the Bird Migration

By Darren Morris

Featured Art: Bird by Peter Takal

I was attempting
the old familiar,
the regular slog,
when I slipped into
missing her again,
the child my wife and I
would never have.
Sometimes she was
a girl and sometimes
a boy. But like heaven,
I held her there
in my mind, a place
of light where nothing
is done, but all is felt.
She was a multitude.
The great uncapturable
plasm of love. Often
she was only
a finch’s thin line across
a rice-paper sky, tearing
through all stations of life.
The way she might
have worn her hair,
or adorned the surprising aspect
of surface-self for appeal.
Or how the supremacy
of personality might emerge,
wriggling out as it does.
Or the first run-in with Read More