New Ohio Review Issue 19 (Originally Published Spring 2016) 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 19 compiled by Connor Beeman.

Letter to the Gone Lover, Late May

By Laura Maher

Featured Art: Idle Governer by Horatio C. Forjohn

If I needed to make a list for you
of all the beautiful things that have gone
on since you’ve left, the first thing

would be the line of bats leaving
the bridge at sunset, hundreds,
flying into the sky until they disappeared,

the effect making the mountains
to the west look more like a scrawled
suggestion of words than a skyline.

Or maybe what was beautiful
was that I could see something beautiful
that didn’t also make me sad, something

in the constant motion of so many wings,
the bat a thing that shouldn’t fly
but does, so unlike the easy lightness

of birds—something so beautiful in that
effort, the struggle of a bat against
the weight of its very bones.

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by Elizabeth Murawski

Featured Art: Sunset by Frederic Edwin Church

Too many women to count
rode behind him in helmets,
clung to his waist, wedded

to the wind in the dark
as the bike’s headlight pierced
the wooded hills, scaring

a deer, sending up an owl
in an explosion of wings.
I knew there were others

in line, grateful to share
one hour with the blue-eyed sun-god
worshiped for his light.

Always the nagging fear
he was never really there.
I saved his green bandanna for a year.

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Prayer While Driving Home After My Yearly Physical

By Robert Cording

Featured Art: The Pink Cloud by Henri-Edmond Cross

Sixty-six, my shoulders rounded, my arches flattening, I am,
Lord, a small man, now a full inch shorter,
I’m told, than I once was. And so I pray

that my end-of-life diminishment might prove the occasion
for some late opening of my cramped borders,
this no-exit, small country of the self.

Lord, what I wouldn’t give for a lifting up,
to be free of this strange human gift of making
something less out of something,

each day stunting the fresh opportunity—
as your better servant William Blake saw—to become
the towering giant, the four-fold angelic power

you wanted us to be, if only we didn’t make ourselves
tiny with our incessant self-interest, our hearts
clamped around our enemies,

our narrow sympathies and unrelenting prideful gloom.
Lord, at every moment I have been a beginner,
lost in the bewildering wilderness of my ignorance.

Now that I am smaller, I pray that it will be
easier to recede from the center of my picture
and find this unexpected reprieve from vanity.

Let everything around me grow taller Lord
and more vivid, newly made, like these autumn maples
oranging the air, or this roadside red-tailed hawk,

its wingspan blinding as it crosses my windshield,
the road for a moment dark, then bright,
bearing me on, a small man nearing his exit.

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The Stability of Floating Bodies

By Craig Bernardini

Featured Art: Dublin Pond, New Hampshire by Abbott Handerson Thayer

It was never my intention, when my father came to live with us, that he would live in the pond. Things just worked out that way. This was shortly after my mother died. My wife and I had never really spoken about what we would do in the event that one of our parents died. It had always seemed a little premature to have that discussion, at least where my parents were concerned. They were in their mid-seventies, enviably lucid, and as healthy, according to their physicians, as most Americans ten years their junior. But then maybe it always seems too early to have that discussion. Or maybe it was just that I could never imagine them apart. They had done everything together, my parents, gone everywhere together. There had been something almost tyrannical in their solicitousness about each other’s welfare. One day, it occurred to me that I didn’t have a single picture with just one of them in it. Were I ever to try to crop one of them out, the other would remain in the shape of the border traced by my scissors. Growing together, my mother had said to me not long before she passed, was the key to a healthy relationship; and grow together they had, like skinny trees, the trunks of which wound round each other in acts of mutual strangulation.

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Little Red Book

By Jeffrey Harrison

Featured Art: Le Code Noir by Pierre Prault

I unearth it while cleaning up my office,
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing
that my father sent me two years before he died,
its bright red cover like an accusation,
a yellow Post-it bearing his cheerful
half-script still attached: “Jeff—even if you read
only the first part of this book, you’ll get the gist.
Return it some time, no hurry. Love, Dad.”
I chose to place the emphasis on “no hurry”
and hadn’t cracked its little crimson spine
when, a year later, he asked me what I thought.
When I told him I hadn’t gotten to it yet,
he said he wanted it back, so he could lend it
“to someone who might actually read it.”
“But I might still read it,” I said half-heartedly.
“No, you won’t.” Which made me all the more
determined not to read it, so I said fine,
I’d send it back. But I never did—and then
he got sick, and our investment
in that particular contest seemed pointless.

But here it is again, this little red book
so unlike Mao’s, as if my father were making
a move from beyond the grave. Okay, my turn.
Is it because I need to prove him wrong
even now, or that I want to make amends
belatedly for disappointing him yet again
that I open the book and begin reading?
Or am I doing it in his honor? And is he
still trying to tell me I invested
in the wrong things?—poetry, for instance.
“Counting angels on a pin,” he said once.
Which is just the kind of cliché I find in the book.
Later, though, he claimed to like my poems,
the funny ones at least. And if we drew a graph
of our relationship over his last decades
it would look a lot like the Dow: a steady ascent
with several harrowing jagged downward spikes.
The little red book says nothing about those,
though it does advise not getting too caught up
in the market’s dramatic nose-dives.

Unless, perhaps, you’re trying to realize
your loss—another topic that the book,
with its rosy perspective, blithely avoids
as it enthuses on “the miracle of compounding.”
But instead of getting annoyed I feel an odd
joy: my father could have written this book.
He too was an optimist who liked to talk
about money, and so I used to ask him questions—
What’s the best kind of mortgage to get? Is life
insurance a good idea?—and those led
to some of our least fraught conversations.
That’s why he gave me the book. And he
was right: I get the gist after two chapters.
And the suggestions seem helpful, if limited—
I even underline a few sentences.
Still, that other book, the one about losses,
would be more complicated, and harder to write,
its author finally coming to understand
that, no matter what the future brings,
he won’t be able to ask his father’s advice.

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By Luiza Flynn-Goodlett

Featured Art: Dark Clouds by Louis Eilshemius

The caul we’re born beneath, its gaze drives
mystics to fits. Constant as parents never are,
it blinks back cumulus to examine us, offers
no opinion. Unlike old gods, nothing troubles
it—rains withheld, not censure, just drought.
Some tire of scrutiny, shelter in offices, under
newspapers. It doesn’t mind, proffers an open
eye to all—the seabirds that caw at its margins,
delayed ships, the drowned who clawed toward it.

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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
in the summer kitchen
where they’re making
my mother laugh
without me
carrying their prize
over invisible trails.

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By Krista Christensen

Featured Art: Abstract — Woman by Carl Newman

It is out of a need for precision that I search for words, wading through thesauri and dictionaries and -pedias, crawling into the tunnels of -ologies and -onomies and -ectomies, mining deep for a more accurate reflection of self than dry medical terms like bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

I’m not even sure how to pronounce that last word, though it’s a thing that’s been done to me. Perhaps the two o’s bleed together into one sound, like the two o’s in moon, my two ovaries like white orbs hovering in one sky: oophorectomy. Or possibly the two o’s mirror the guttural softness of the pair in brook, like the one tinkling through the lot behind my home: oophorectomy.

When I look it up, I find that both o’s get equal play. Medical dictionaries give the pronunciation oh-uh-for-ec-toh-mee. A perfect irony that even in sound, the two o’s are piled on top of one another in the beginning of the word, as if there are more than enough to go around. There’s a sense of excess, of plenty and abundance, when really the word is all about what’s missing, about evacuation, about empty space. An O, a zero, the absence of value.

Nothing is ever straightforward in female anatomy. Even using the term hysterectomy, a casual term in comparison, brings up more questions than it answers. Repercussions of this surgery are nebulous, confounding: it could mean that a woman has lost just her uterus, but kept her ovaries, and so would not need to make the choice between synthetic hormone therapy or instant menopause. Even if a woman loses just her uterus, it’s possible she’d keep her cervix, that her vagina wouldn’t be sewn shut at the top, that she wouldn’t become a dead-end, a U-turn, closed for business.

For me, the word hysterectomy doesn’t begin to cover it.

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Lieu d’hiver mémoire

By Angie Estes

Featured art: The Sky Simulated by White Flamingoes (study for book Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom) by Abbott Handerson Thayer

You can find them each year
               for a brief while only
in winter—a drop of red and yellow
                              sealing wax dashed at the end of
               their stems to prevent the loss
of moisture—because the squat,
              copper-russeted pears of the ancient
variety Passe Crassane will not ripen
                             on the tree no matter how long
              you let them hang, as if they had taken
St. Catherine of Siena’s advice
               to Make yourself a cell in your
own mind from which you need never
                              come out, the way the goldfish
                on late autumn evenings
circle all night, flicking
                their tails in the fireplace.
What kind of pear is
                              sweetest? Bartlett, Seckel,
                Comice? Oboe d’amore—mezzo-
soprano of the oboes—is Armagnac
                brown, its mouth, a pear-shaped
opening. Autumn is so oboe,
                               but then winter is near, so close
                to hinter, to did you ever, no
never, to once I might have
                tried. En hiver it might
as well be hier, but who are
                               the dead of winter, are they
                the same as the dead of night?
In the Lumière brothers’ black
                and white film, le trottoir roulant
carries Parisians on its rolling sidewalk
                                across the bridge to the Exposition
                of 1900. We watch them move
toward us, though like Hamlet, they never
                take a step: “If it be now, ’tis not
to come; if it be not to come, it will
                               be now; if it be not now, yet
                it will come.” Our 1955
turquoise and white Pontiac smiles
                in the snow while my mother finishes
dressing for church. Stationed
                                in his suit and tie, my father rests
                his hands on the steering wheel
as the car idles and warms,
                while in the back seat, my brother
and I wait for my mother
                              to appear, our breath rising
                like smoke signals.

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Stick Season

By Sydney Lea

-For Peter Gilbert

The one that precedes my season is the one that always shows
in those quaint calendar photographs, the one that brings the tourists
to a scene that is sumptuous, granted—exorbitant on the sidehills,
most of the leaves incandescent, drifting or plunging downward
to scuttle along the roadbeds like little creatures reluctant
to be seen, yet wanting us to notice them after all.

But give me this: middle November, season of sticks,
of stubborn oak and beech leaves, umber and dun, which rattle
in gusts that smell so elemental they stab your heart.
The trees—the other, unclothed ones—are standing there,
gaunt but dignified, and you can look straight through them
to the contours of the mountains, stark, perhaps, but lovely

in their apparent constancy. That gap-toothed barn
houses space alone since its owner died. Do you remember
Studebakers? That’s one over there, a pickup truck,
flat-footed among the sumacs. Painted green way back,
these days it has taken the hue of these later leaves I love.
Old age has changed the mountains too. They’re rounder now

than once, worn smoother. Everything is for a time.

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Good for What Ails You

By Elton Glaser

Featured Art: Winter, Monadock by Abbott Handerson Thayer

                                                                                                  He too would live: like the rats among the ruins,
                                                                                                     but nonetheless alive.
                                                                                                                                  —Antal Szerb, trans. Len Rix

It’s the first fresh day
After a winter so hard
I disappeared inside myself,

Nothing out there but cardinals
Like drops of blood against
The creamy desecrations of the snow.

Ah, there’s the shit we need,
And the shit we don’t need,
And the shit we end up with.

I seem to be returning to
Some form of infantile intelligence,
On the sloppy side of the brain:

Mumblings over the oatmeal, nights
Broken by clumsy sleep, hands
At the mercy of small machines.

We come out of nowhere, and we go
Into nowhere. Should I stick
My fingers in my wounds,

Like a good little Dutch boy?

Even in the barren precincts
Of the cold, there must be love,

Though love does not travel well—
It needs its own terroir,
A discipline of flinty soil where

The roots struggle, where they work
Hard in the hot sun, until
Deprivation makes the fruit sweet.

And what wine will I have?
Here, at the open edge of things,
I’m like a spruce that hugs itself

Against the ice and the night wind.
But sometimes there’s comfort
In the certainties of burlap, and more

Sure footing on grit than marble gives.
And even a thin sun feels warm
After three dead months deep below zero.

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A Meadow

By Lee Upton

Featured Art: Autumn (L’Automne) by Arthur B. Carles

The wife isn’t supposed to know, but Lucy knew. She knew about her husband and her best friend, Maria. Had known for nearly two years. And now Maria’s brother—a stranger—was coming to visit. Did he know about Maria and Owen? Did he think he was visiting to reveal the affair, to confess on Maria’s behalf? Lucy hoped not. She would resent that.


Lucy got the news from Owen before he left for work. He turned at the front door and told her—as if he almost forgot something so important. He didn’t want to be late, and so there wasn’t time to talk. She followed him outside.

“He’s coming? When?”

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Phone Call

By Stephanie Rogers

Featured Art: Figure with Guitar II by Henry Fitch Taylor

When I got the phone call, I listened
to my sister’s voice give
no hint, at first, that overnight,
like that, her life had changed.
I said hello and flipped through
a book on the nightstand, knowing
deep down, from all my missed
calls, that she was preparing
to tell me something
important. How are you? I asked,
trying to delay what I knew already
I didn’t want to hear. And after
her silence, then, I sat straight up—I was still
in bed—my eyes blinking
awake, the automatic
coffee pot dripping into the quiet,
and I said it: What’s wrong, Heather?
expecting for one singular moment the death
of our father, the sniffed
pills, the heroin finally ending
his life. But when she said
nothing, I demanded, this time, hearing
the pitch of her voice fill with the sound a brass
instrument might make breathing
a low note, barely
audible, into the crashing,
noisy universe. And she said it: Joel killed himself
last night, choking
on “killed,” and when I said, Oh
my god Heather
oh my god, she understood, she told me
later, for the first time,
that her husband was never
coming back. The sun peeked through
the window blinds. It flashed across
the framed faces of his daughters, who I pictured,
for a second, on the swing set
behind their house, their father pushing them
higher each time they swung back to him, further
away each time, further away.

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We Remember You for Now

By Stephanie Rogers

Featured Art: Figurative Abstraction by Unknown

Now when my heart beats, it sounds like
crunched leaves skittering, the revving up

of a broken-down Honda. I can’t visit him
at a cemetery, or even the park. Scatter

my ashes there, he asked, and then injected
god knows how much, enough to warrant

a coroner call. Hahaha. Joke is Heather said nope,
stuffed and stored him in the back

of our mother’s closet. He lives there now,
sucking up the radiator heat. Joel, damn,

man. Come back and lick the spilt fizz off
the Budweiser can again. No one here

is going anywhere if I have a say, and how
didn’t I have a say with you? You plunged,

you syringed, each time needling—gentle,
I hope, as my grandmother crocheting

a winter hat for your oldest girl. I won’t
for long torture myself for you, I thought,

biting into a string of candy hearts around
my neck, your kid insisting, eat it, the sick-

sweet sticky hands of a two-year-old with
a dad resting inside a shoebox next to

a bowling ball. You did it. Congratulations.
I’m elated. I’m devastated. I’m a copycat

singing your songs to your girls to sleep.
Listen, creep: we remember you for now,

but now is a ragged dog, dragging its bum
leg along the buzzing halls of a new house.

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By Tina Tocco

Featured Art: Still Life by Earl Horter

We’re in Omaha when I know. You’re out bootlegging—running, you call it—for that man from Tinker’s, a deacon at First Baptist, he says, though his name is Kinsky. I curl on a cardboard cot imagining my quilt from Pomeroy’s when the big Chicago woman, hair steam-strung from the laundry pots, stands downwind. “Only two reasons to stay with a man, but only one to stay with a man like that.” She has brought the necessaries. They clink in a feed sack the pattern of girls’ dresses. There is not much for me to do, but I do it quietly. It’s one jug of Tinker’s mash for quietly. The Boston girl, she warns, paid three.

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