New Ohio Review Issue 14 (Originally printed Fall 2013) is archiving previous editions as they originally appeared. We are pairing the pieces with curated art work, as well as select audio recordings. In collaboration with our past contributors, we are happy to (re)-present this outstanding work.

Issue 14 compiled by Andrea Gapsch.

The Best Man

By Brian Trapp

Winner, New Ohio Review Fiction Contest
selected by Stuart Dybek

Featured Art: Chinese Garden by Cooper Hewitt

Outside the bride’s village, I lean against the side of a silver Audi with Mr. Wu, my boss’s businessman friend. I thought we were going to his wedding, where  I will be his best man, but I guess as per Chinese custom, we are going to the bride’s house first. We have traveled twenty-five minutes into the Chinese countryside, where we wait for the rest of the wedding caravan. The second half of the dancing lion is late, and the head walks around with its neon-red body dragging behind, a giant mutant worm.

On the ride over, tall buildings gave way to dingy shops. The road narrowed, going from the usual off-white tiled apartments to the old-timey black-tiled Chinese roofs— the tops curved into crescent moons. Smoke spewed from small factories and then green patches of farms appeared, pieces from two different puzzles jammed into one another’s edges.

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Feeling Sorry for Myself While Watching a Really Bad World War II POW Movie on TV

Winner, New Ohio Review Poetry Contest
selected by Barbara Hamby

By Michael Derrick Hudson

The rest of them pinwheeled out of the dirty sky somewhere
over Schweinfurt. They burned as I clung

to my shroud lines huffing in a panic through the slobbery
fog of my oxygen mask, the frost stiffening

my collar’s wet fur. Three years later, what have I to show
for my long time in the bag? Bleeding gums,

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Looking on the Bright Side

By John Brehm

Featured Art: Nocturne by James McNeill Whistler

Death: at least it’ll give me a chance to catch
up on my sleep. No more tossing and turning
worrying about what’s going to happen next.
Unless of course my dreams of dancing girls
and hookah parties come true.

In which case it’ll give me a chance
to catch up on all the fun I missed
being too tired from lack of sleep. A
win-win situation.
Unless of course the dancing girls turn out to be
my former lovers, flitting before me
with vengeful or disdainful expressions
on their still painfully lovely faces.
In which case I can go on writing the poems
of failed love that failed to make me famous
when I was alive.
A suitable way to while away eternity.
Unless of course the hookahs are filled
not with tobacco but with heavenly peyote,
(food of the gods the gods left for us)
in which case it’ll give me a chance
to catch up on the deathless
bliss of boundless mystical oneness
my fear of death always kept me
from fully experiencing
here and now.

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Back Then

By John Brehm

Featured Art: Miss M. of Washington by Rose Clark

Everything was better back then.
Even my nostalgia was better, more piercing, more true.
I miss missing things that much,
but not as much as I missed
missing things back then.
Even my anxieties about the future,
which have indeed come to pass,
were more vivid back then,
more real. Reality itself seemed
more real back then—this clanking
stage-play only a fool could find
convincing—I fell for it all,
and it killed me, again and again.
Ghosts of myself wander
the cities I’ve lived in, thinking
of other cities, imagining me
here imagining them.
We nod to each other across
the years, the way the last line
of a poem will sometimes look
back, wistfully,
at the first.

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Irgendwo, Nirgendwo

By Dave Madden

Featured Art: Abstract Landscape by H. Lyman Saÿen

They sit like lumps at the kitchen table covered by a worn and graying cloth, milkdregs ghosting the glass of two tumblers. Their four feet dangle inches above the floor as Opa sucks his horehound. They can hear it slopping around, see it burrowing there behind his potato jowls. They smell the burnt-tire funk of it. It’s July and the brothers are long enough out of school that their stretched and empty afternoons have become kind of boring, they say. Nowadays, the two are mostly bored. Opa’s fat hand claps the table. He tongues his candy to the far end of the mouth and cries nonsense. There is no mostly, he tells them. No kind of. Either you are bored or you are not and if you are it is only you who is to blame. From the other room come the strangled words of their mother shouting at her mother. Opa nudges the boys out to the front porch. There he lowers his flanks onto a teak rocker. There’s an oomph and a curse and the old man begins to teach the boys a game.

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Late January Protest Against The Betrayers of The Dream

By David Rivard

Featured Art: New York Street, 1902 by Childe Hassam

In his leather snap cap & undertaker’s suit of
shiny polyester black, one of those resisters
of the transmitted order—an aging Marxist lost boy—
alarm all over his shyly determined, axe-sharp face,

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By David Rivard

Featured Art: City at Night by Arthur B. Carles

Phil Rizzuto, shortstop, the Yankees’
Scooter & play-by-play announcer & The Money Store’s
man of a certifiably trustworthy nature,
but invented for me first in war stories told
by my father—
on a South Pacific island naval air station
maybe it’d be fun to put Scooter
in the game, brass thinks
a sports star visitor to war zone
great theater of operations P.R.—
but basketball, not
civilization-beating baseball, basketball
my father’s game—
“I could take him,
he couldn’t get by
me”: sayeth Norman
Rivard, testimony of
a former All-State point guard
1942 season Mass state champs
team captain
Durfee High School Fall River;
his torpedoed destroyer sunk
by a two-man Japanese sub

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At a Pet Shop

By Tom Whalen

Featured Art: Red Parrot on the Branch of a Tree by Ito Jakuchu

When the parrot took the cracker I offered, it said:

“Thank you, my friend. You’re the first person to give me anything to eat in decades. There is no a priori order of things. I thought I had been living the good life, but what did I know? The poet fell sick, traveled to the capital, needed words, painted his curtains bright green. A sumptuous village girl threatened me with a cheap lighter. Night after night watching the corpses of rodents turn to bone. I remember when my mother took me to the city, remember how her perfume gave me a high. After that it took me years to find a mate. Night work. Elocution lessons. A treatise on Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen. I kept to the plan I started with. Death is not an experience, food is.”

Then it fell from its perch with a thump, and from its beak an ant exited soaked in the parrot’s blood.

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By Michael Casey

Featured Art: Bathers 1890/94 by Paul Cézanne

with a singular total probity
he fantasizes about women in our building
the actual social interaction is nil
or rather minimal and centers around coffee lines
the young coffee lady
at the corner stand he calls Casmira

her real name is Dishwava
but he doesn’t like that name
Diswaba the deck he says
and the large-hair customer at the IHS stand
he calls Ingrid
and the willowy customer on the HR floor
he names Karen
you can imagine his surprise when
he found out Karen’s real name is Karen
subconsciously now he thinks
there’s a mind connection
the world yet a more beautiful place
there are single women in our office
attractive and even affable
why don’t you pay some attention to them
I ask he says he read somewhere
how an in-office relationship
is bad very bad
if one is looking for happiness

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this is it

By Michael Casey

Featured Art: Fruit Piece by Hannah Brown Skeele

about the new guy?
this is the thing
he misappropriates
as in you’ve seen
my banana-label collection
stickers on bananas

I have the original collection
that exists in the office
he saw what I was doing
and he copies it
he has a collection now
and I assure you
it is not as extensive
as egregious
as mine
although I am wondering how
he got so many different Ecuadors
but how can you be civil
with someone essentially a thief
other than that he’s all right

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for Claude Monet

By Michael Casey

Featured Art: Water Lilies by Claude Monet

I mean the excitement level
was just about in negative numbers
as my sister’s basketball team
lost its seventh straight
and after it

the girls are jumping up and down
in total glee
genuine happihappihappiness
the reason? they broke the magic number
ten in the losing score
they didn’t actually break it
but they finally made it to that number
no sense of perspective
in art too you have to see
my sister’s painting
of the flour mill with water wheel
the central subject of which is a frog
amidst the water lilies

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My Lovers #1-5, or Why I Hate Kenny Rogers

By Donna Baier Stein

Featured Art: Sibylle by Camille Corot

What follows is by way of explaining what happened last Sunday, when I had more of a brush with sex than I’ve had in the five years since my divorce. What follows may explain my disappointment.

You see, the first man I fell in love with turned out to be gay and hanged himself from a tree along Highway 1 in California.

The second left me when I got pregnant. He was much shorter than me but had lovely lips and gentle eyes.

The third seemed promising: great sex, red-gold hair, tall. We met in a magical way. At a certain time on a certain day of the week, we passed each other going opposite directions on the campus of the University of Kansas. This was the sidewalk near the Student Union, which was burned down by hippies in 1972. I may have known one of the people who did it but I’m not positive about that. If it was the person I’m thinking of, he’s now an executive at an insurance company in Florida, with two kids.

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By Rosanna Warren

Featured Art: Augustus Saint Gaudens II (Saint Gaudens and his model) by Anders Zorn

As if you rose out of your coffin—as if
my heart was your coffin—you rose
yesterday in the sapphire faceted light
of syringes, hospital sheets, and toxic Niagara mist
you painted into a glossy forever.
I felt again your weight upon me
that Manhattan night in our quasi-childhood.
You moved lovelessly upon me, almost angry—
anger I almost allowed myself to know—
as we lay on a borrowed floor trying to make
what might be called love. You broke
each spell. The way Proust discovered love
in captured rats squealing as the hat pin probed
their vital organs. I was a slow student, I learned
dumbly, blindly. And graduated
to my own destructions. The white rats scamper
through your landscapes of pill bottles and blood,
chopped trees and massacred Adirondack deer
and I dream of knocking all the books off my shelf
so that in the light breaking from those pages
I might behold, not hold, your broken face.

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The Skirts and Blouses are Hatched

By  Tam Lin Neville

Featured Art: Irises by Van Gogh

My mother had been failing for several years, slowly, but minimized the signs. We, her five grown children, were not to worry or be diverted from our lives. When it came, the time of her dying seemed to open of its own accord, its span neither too short nor too long. We had several weeks to talk, to tie up loose ends before the illness closed in and became a kind of weather we could no longer work around. On December 14, l997 she died at home in the company of her children and grandchildren. Snow was falling in Keene Valley, the small town in the Adirondack Mountains where she had lived for thirty-five years.

Emily Neville, my mother, was a well-known writer for young adults, and my relationship with her, as the oldest, a daughter, and also a writer, is complicated. Sometimes it seems like a difficult poem I have memorized but don’t yet understand. During her lifetime I was wary of such a strong, capable figure so close to me. My Aunt Mary, the sibling closest to my mother in age, once remarked, “As a child there was no point in doing anything—Emily could always do it better.” But she was a gentle person with no heavy-handed ways an oldest child could legitimately dispute, though I did resist her increasingly as I entered my teens. Since she was almost universally liked and respected my opposition put me at odds, not only with my mother, but with everyone I knew.

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Delivering Christmas Dinner to My Daughter, Second Shift Charge Nurse on the Alzheimer Floor

By  John Bargowski

There’s no easy way in, or out,
warned the LPN who buzzed us past
the locked double doors,
led me and my wife down the corridor
to the nurses’ station
where a handsome man, tall,
and maybe sixty, wrung
his hands while he stood over
our daughter’s desk
repeating her name—
the way we had at her birth
when we were listening in it
for the ring of a bell—
begging her to walk him back
to school because he feared
the bullies who’d tripped him
and washed his face with snow
when he’d delivered papers
on his Ferry Street route,
and before our daughter uncovered
the steaming dish we’d brought,
she took his hand,
walked him around the floor
past wandering patients
and whirring machines
then back to his room
to help him search for his galoshes
and gather his school books
while his wife stood outside his door
reading the little wishes
in the greeting cards
taped to his tinseled
and holiday-lighted door frame,
the hem of her velvet pants
dripping and salt-stained
from the parking lot slop,
her Gloria hair-clip
with streaking star
and tarnished angel’s trumpet
blowing silvery notes
sideways through the frizz
coming loose from her perm.

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Up on Blocks

By Jim Daniels

Featured Art: Winter Scene in Moonlight by Henry Farrer

His father limping
from his stroke,
throwing his lunch pail
into the back of his pickup
like some stubborn, gimpy
shot putter, then driving off
to the job they gave him
after his rehab: steering
a hi-lo through the greasy plant

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The House

By Brian Swann

Featured Art: The House on the Edge of the Village by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Leaves twitch. A wren flits. A rope between trees sags. By the well-head a few stranded dandelions.

Rain opens stones so they shine. A crow calls with the voice of a hammer. The rain stops. The sun enters with the voice of a crow. Heat turns day to distraction and the trapped mind wilts. A hawk calls and small mammals dive for cover. Sky goes carillon, dwindles, cooling off until the moon fills windows and stains rooms. A door swings and things go strange as if they had to. If you hear a voice you hear a voice. I walk through the empty house, carefully, a cat’s whisker. When I get to the top floor, over the moonlit roofs I can see the prison and the small zoo. They must be able to see me here where I’m training the self to lose itself, the way the stream ignores the stream.

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The Novel

By Brian Swann

Featured Art: Icebound by John Henry Twachtman

In the novel I’m writing there are no people, no “characters.” And if you expect a plot you’ll be sorely disappointed. There’s little to count on and precious little to critique. Beautiful language is absent; there is almost no language of any sort so you won’t see any reviews praising its style or humanity.

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All Eyes

By Billy Collins

Featured Art: Moonlight on Mount Lafayette, New Hampshire by William Trost Richards

Just because I’m dead now doesn’t mean
I don’t exist any more.
All those eulogies and the obituary
in the corner of the newspaper
made me feel more vibrant than ever.

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By Billy Collins

Featured Art: The Cock Sparrow by George Edwards

Up to this point
I had assumed that He and I
had little or nothing in common

but one morning as I sat
in a blue Adirondack chair
in the middle of an expanse of lawn

though I seemed only
to be staring into space,
I realized that I, too,

had my eye on a sparrow,
who hopped around a little
in the grass then hurriedly flew away.

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Close Call

By Tamara Dean

Featured Art: Willows and White Poplars by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

In the shower she takes a swig of beer, sets the bottle on the edge of the tub, and begins prying leeches, flat and large as house keys, from her cold toes, the top of her foot, her ankle. She places three in a line next to the bottle, where they lie motionless, though alive. Thinned blood threads over her feet. When she and Neil moved to the country four years ago, miles downriver from his family’s farm, he taught her to peel off leeches rather than douse them with salt, which he said might make them vomit and spread disease.

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What Forever Means

By Maria Nazos

For some lovers, it’s two parallel lines inked smoothly through time
by God’s hand, until he can’t keep his wrist steady,

or his pen dries up, so one of you runs out of color. One partner tries to pencil
the other back to life,

reads a story from her youth while she lies half-awake, as
a somber hospice hovers.

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By Todd Hearon

Featured Art: Northeaster by Winslow Homer

We have to remember the stakes are merciless.
It takes more to get out of this life than what you
          put into it.

That didn’t come out right. It takes more
to get out of this life more than—

It takes a goddamned lot to get out of this life.

Nobody ever said it was going to be anything better
than a round of poker on the raft of the Medusa.

It’s not who wins the game that counts.
Nobody wins. It’s who gets out least lost.

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No Try, Only Do

By Alan Rossi

Featured Art: Forêt de Compiègne by Berthe Morisot

I gave Saul a room. Two years prior, he had left me for Utah. He left me for the wild, for backcountry slopes. He wanted to be in glossy magazines and have his ponytail flowing out behind him in pictures, carving some mountain, dropping through powder. He spoke like this, dropping through powder. I tried to tell myself I couldn’t be too mad: he paid more attention to skis and skiing forums than he did to me. In Utah, he grew his hair long and beautiful and got in some of those magazines, though mainly he just put up pictures of himself on the Internet. I know, I looked at them all, wondering if he was thinking of me when he was hiking up the slopes, skis on his back, or whether he might get a distant glimpse of our life together when he was on top of one of those mountains and looked east. He was gone for two years, but to me it seemed a lot longer. I often thought about all the other girls he probably had sex with and how people probably loved him and how he was living this wild, free life, and I was still in East Tennessee with my brother and mother and the probably comparatively lame Blue Ridge. So when I found out he was coming back because he had seriously injured himself and could no longer carve or ride or hike or otherwise put his health in danger in backcountry powder, I was happy and told him he had a room waiting. I wanted him to come back in the same state he had left me in: miserable and alone.

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By James Davis May

Featured Art: Woman’s Head by Albert Besnard

She says, I think you think too much
when you talk dirty.

They are, in fact,
having sex when she says this—
he’s above her and had just kissed
the inside of her ankle, which now rests
on his shoulder. He asks what she means.

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