New Ohio Review Issue 4 (Originally printed Fall 2008)

Newohioreview.org 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 4 compiled by Julia Robertson.

Chefs

By Claire Bateman

Featured Image: The White Tablecloth by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin

So there the world was, right smack up against the proverbial edge of time. No one was surprised that some people were leaping from skyscrapers while others were attempting pointless last-minute conceptions of offspring; & that in every city & town, acts of extraordinary altruism & vindictiveness had become so common as to go unreported. And no one was surprised that there was a spike in the number of couples suddenly eager to be married, but the spike was so dramatic, in fact, & the usual officials (rabbis, priests, justices  of the peace, notaries public, & ships’ captains) were so beleaguered, that a squadron of kamikaze chefs had to be deployed to perform emergency nuptials for the multitudes of entities & identities demanding official union before the end of all things. Everyone knew someone who was calling for the chefs, those professionals capable of creating the alchemical events these transformations required, some of which would almost certainly release such molecular & ontological ferocity as to create titanic conflagrations, thus depriving some of the chefs of their precious last few weeks of life.

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At the Dinner Party

By Stephen Dunn

Featured Image: A Family Meal by Evert Pieters

As usual, we were trying to please each other,

so Ryan told a story about a water buffalo,

a lion, and a crocodile, which reminded

Julie about a coyote and a groundhog, and

I could not help but offer my favorite of

this kind—involving the tarantula

and its natural enemy the digger wasp. The

problem was that each story was true,

therefore that much more difficult to tell,

and each had in it an element of the fabulous,

and therefore the promise of a moral.

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Mercy

By Stephen Dunn

Featured Image: Improvisation No. 30 (Cannons) by Wassily Kandinsky

The music was fidgety, arch,

an orchestral version of a twang.

Welcome to atonal hell, welcome

to the execution

of a theory, I kept thinking,

thinking, thinking. I hadn’t felt

a thing. Was it old-fashioned

of me to want to? Or were feelings,

as usual, part of the problem?

The conductor seemed to flail

more than lead, his baton evidence

of something unresolved,

perhaps recent trouble at home.

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’69

By Kathy Fagan

Featured Image: Alfred Sisley by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

If it’s been ten times it’s been forty-five
I’ve checked the man out in the car behind
mine, teeth bared, laughing in my rearview.

I cannot stop myself from watching him,
sun full on his face. He’s all alone—
we are, among our fellow rush commuters—

and then it dawns on me: it’s Mr. Cahill
from sixth grade, my first male teacher (heart, be still!),
who taught sex ed to us in ‘69,

in Catholic school, till someone narked and he
was gone for good. Those days, we venerated
the venereal, reciting sex words right

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Constant Craving

By Kathy Fagan

Featured Image: Café Concert (The Spectators) by Edgar Degas

When Peter Byrne of the 80s synthpop duo, Naked Eyes, played for me his acoustic cover of k.d. lang’s “Constant Craving” in his studio over-looking Los Angeles, the peacock—not the NBC peacock but a real peacock among the many on the grounds—opened his fan as if the music were a potential mate. He strutted and shirred. He shimmied his many eyes. He’d been drawn to the music, then spotted himself in the sliding glass doors. He leaned in and turned for us like a Vegas show girl. He brought tears to my eyes. When the song was over I could barely muster, “What a tender version, Peter,” though tender wasn’t the word for the primitive if aimless seduction on the lawn.

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The History of Forgetting

By Lawrence Raab

Featured Image: Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder

When Adam and Eve lived in the garden
they hadn’t yet learned how to forget.
For them every day was the same day.
Flowers opened, then closed.
They went where the light told them to go.
They slept when it left, and did not dream.

What could they have remembered,
who had never been children? Sometimes
Adam felt a soreness in his side,
but if this was pain it didn’t appear to
require a name, or suggest the idea
that anything else might be taken away.
The bright flowers unfolded,
swayed in the breeze.

It was the snake, of course, who knew
about the past—that such a place could exist.
He understood how people would yearn
for whatever they’d lost, and so to survive
they’d need to forget. Soon
the garden will be gone, the snake
thought, and in time God himself.

These were the last days—Adam and Eve
tending the luxurious plants, the snake
watching from above. He knew
what had to happen next, how persuasive
was the taste of that apple. And then
the history of forgetting would begin—
not at the moment of their leaving,
but the first time they looked back.


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The Weed Whacker Makes Me Yearn for the Scythe

By Lawrence Raab

Featured Image: Valley of Aosta: Snowstorm, Avalanche, and Thunderstorm by Joseph Mallord William Turner

and all the other instruments of silence,
lawns mowed by sheep, for example,
their soft eyes fixed on the earth,
the small sounds of their labor never rising
to the upper floors of some vast country house
where, centuries ago, I’m hard at work
on a new poem for my patron. Right now

I’m distracted by the extravagant view,
which reminds me of the many consolations
of great wealth, although my subject
this morning is neither privilege
nor pleasure, but time—his choice,
following yesterday’s underappreciated ode
on virtue. Tell me, he said, what you think
I should feel, and I wanted to suggest

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Little Bird

By Lawrence Raab

Featured Image: Seascape by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

One cloud was following another
across a blue and passionless sky.
It was the middle of summer, far enough
from December for a man to feel indifferent
to the memories of cold, not yet close
enough to autumn to be caught up
in all its folderol about death.
Neither cloud looked like a whale
or a weasel, or any kind of fanciful beast.
All morning I’d felt my life dragging me down.
The view from my window refused to lift my heart.
The sight of a blank piece of paper
filled me with sadness. I wanted to set
my life down in a comfortable chair, tell it
to take a long nap, and walk away as if
I were somebody else, somebody without a house
or a family or a job, but somebody who might
soon feel with a pang precisely the absence
of everything I had. A cool breeze lifted
the curtains in the room where I was sitting.
A bird was singing. Had it been singing for long?
Far off there were mountains, but I didn’t
wish to go there. Nor did I yearn
to be standing by a lake, or walking
beside the tumult of the sea.
The little bird kept repeating itself.
I filled a glass with water and watched it tremble.


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So Near Yet So Far

By Angie Estes

Featured Image: The Holy Family with the infant Saint John by Valerio Castello

At the edge of the apparent
disk of a celestial body, known

as its limb, is the border
between light and dark, there

and not. First a gradual dimming,
then small crescent shapes appear

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Here Lightning Has Been

By Angie Estes

Featured Image: Bathers by Paul Cézanne

buried across the barren plateaus
of Provence, where stone altars
chiseled with FVLGVR CONDITVM
mark the point where lightning entered
the ground. Around each site, a wall
remains to keep the divine
fire of Jupiter’s signature within
the shafts and passageways
of the earth. According to Plutarch,
whoever is touched
by lightning is invested with divine
powers, and anyone slain by
its bolt is equal to the gods, their bodies
not subject to decay because
they have been embalmed
by celestial fire. Light,
when it leaves
the air, is the color of blood
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Anderson Inside the Hurricane

By Stefi Weisburd

Featured Image: A Vagabond Walking Along a Lane by Alphonse Legros

The wind has come to remind us of our wings — Mississippi artist Walter Anderson, who tied himself to trees in order to experience hurricanes

Lashed to the mast, ears thrashed
by sirens in the eyewall, Anderson
is the squall’s canvas, ravaged
by wind that wants to strip
his skin from skull
and howl.

Only yesterday he sank
to hands and knees
to understand the guano of green heron, to paint
the violet frog. Lying by a quiet lagoon, inking a white-throated
sparrow, he saw cadmium and red madder happily
flare in foliage. In the slash pines of Horn Island
where imagination fills the space between trees, art
defers the evil moment. Contour of bark
or butterfly is ballast; it calms the

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Degeneration

By Stefi Weisburd

Featured Image: Stoke-by-Nayland by John Constable

Through the forest’s dark persistence, hugging
the relentless road, you search the inevitable
for the sad address, then find yourself paused

in front of the driveway, just
before your halogens startle the dim
windows, the porch out of joint, in that moment

before you are knotted irrevocably
to the future, to her avocado refrigerator whining
like a beast, its gullet full of Ice Age ice cream and the odd

trap-sprung mouse in a Ziploc, before the legions
of art magazines piled in solemn cairns and the Old Countries
purpling her arms, her throat’s

dry drapery and the keys to abandoned
rooms clutched
like a crucifix. In that moment

before her body slips
out of itself and she dampens the floor, before
her ears traffic in the static of her dead

father’s scolding, before her dull
doe eyes fever with fury and shadows hunch like Dante,
before she calls you “Mother,” demanding

you wipe her ass, before her heart cherries and
Tolstoys, in that moment, turned in the driveway, before
all that, back out. Gun it.


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Travel: Choler

By Neil Shepard

Featured Image: Old Sarum by David Lucas

For Robinson Jeffers

We had come to the Great Wall’s end
in the desert of Jiaguyuan. Our tempers flared
across the crumbled battlements, out into the red heat.
There were weeds, thorns, a few hard-
shelled bugs. Love reduced to a black
carapace, under which a stinger,
a biting mouth, a reflex, a poison.

Heat withered our patience. Our bowels,
stung by a virus, made us say words we’d regret—
peevish, pernicious—wo yao, wo yao,
I want, I want, and nothing else.
We both stormed off—“stormed”
could have brought some moisture
to this desert, but no, this storm

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Watchman, Tell Us

By Michael Chitwood

Featured Image: Mountain Brook by Albert Bierstadt

The thief was none other than the wind.

The thief was the color of nickels.

The thief hummed in the downspouts, around corners.

I’ve already told you.

You should know better.

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Facing

By Maya Jewell Zeller

Featured Image: A French Market Scene, possibly Boulogne by David Cox

At seventeen I worked after school
and most weekends for a local grocery,
and when it was slow I would straighten
the shelves—we called it facing—
which helped me memorize where everything was,
right down to the canned loganberry topping
Eleanor loved for her cheesecakes
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Tableaux Vivants

By Katherine Lien Chariott

Featured Image: Icebound by John Henry Twachtman

1: Winter

Here is the beginning. I’m walking down the sidewalk and then the curb, sidewalk and curb again, under a sky full of tiny sad stars that light up this city  as well as they can, but not as well as the neon signs all around me, not as well as the rainbow glitter of the Strip, just five miles away, I’m walking with the glitter and the neon and the stars, in front of the Sav-On Drugstore and then past it, towards the Dottie’s—video poker and snacks, cheap smokes and booze, twenty-four hours a day. I go into the Dottie’s, with money in hand for two packs of Reds, and a hey there to the man working security. I’ve seen him before, know that brown skin and that smile, so I can look at the carpet instead of at him while I tap my hands on the counter, waiting o be rung up. He’s watching me, I think, and when I look at him, I know. Just like I know he hasn’t seen or doesn’t are that I came in with someone. 

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Uh-Oh Time

By Kenneth Hart

Featured Image: Odalisque by Jules Joseph Lefebvre

It’s uh-oh time again when a woman asks me out
after a year of being on my own
and her number on the bar napkin is the permission slip
to stop hating myself

Stop walking around all day in sweat pants, stop leaving
a nest of dental floss stuck to the tiles
where it missed the garbage can

I’ve got to start taking better care of myself
is what her voice on the answering machine suggests
Got to get back on the StairMaster Got to learn new recipes

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Having Not Heard Back from You

By Kenneth Hart

Featured Image: The Print Collector by Honoré-Victorin Daumier

I suspect you must be dead.

If you are reading this,
then you are not dead—

after I chose the wine,
and teased the waiter for spilling a little on my good shirt;

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The Way Things Look

By Kenneth Hart

Featured Image: Pity the Sorrows of a Poor Old Man! by Jean Louis André Théodore Géricault

Some things are easier than they look
and some things are harder than they look.
Riding a bike, for example, is easier than it looks,
unless you are five and your feet don’t reach the pedals.
Playing guitar is harder than it looks, as is milking a cow.
Fall down when you are skiing,
forget someone’s phone number, be used by others as a bad example—
failing is easier than it looks.
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