What Comes Next

By Maxine Scates

Featured art: A Flowering Cactus: Heliocereus Speciosus by Pierre-Joseph Redouté

Life’s police car, lights flashing, on the sidewalk

in front of McDonald’s and two boys on the bus stop,

one boy moving quickly away from the other

who raised his hands and dropped his pack as the officer

approached, gun drawn. But how did the cop know

which one he wanted since both wore watch caps

and gray parkas and carried backpacks? He seemed

certain enough as he handcuffed the boy

then helped him into the back of the cruiser

his now gunless hand almost gently dipping the boy’s head

into what comes next, all we don’t see swallowing him, the

signal changing, day swallowing me until this morning

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New Ohio Review Issue 9. Originally printed Spring 2011.

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 9 compiled by Gryphon Beyerle.

Fly

By Joyce Peseroff

Featured art: Street Musicians by Eugène Atget

A small fly hung around my kitchen mid-October.

It didn’t buzz. Outside wet shape-shifted, drop to

flake: knock-knock of rain, a who’s there of snow.

The fly tiptoed on the meat-cutting board where I aimed

to smash it like a head of garlic. It bounced wall to wall to

wall, baby trapped in the balloon that was a hoax.

Was it my mother’s perturbed spirit warning me that blood

stains? Of course not. Last of its kind, Robinson Crusoe landing

on a kitchen island, the fly needed to be warm.

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Happiness

By Ellen Bass

Featured art: Indian Mother with Her Child by Adam Clark Vroman

I had a student once who was so depressed

she wanted to die. She was a young single mother,

lonely, poor, watching other girls

go to parties and bars while she was home

cutting the crusts off peanut butter sandwiches,

reading The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream.

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Solstice

By Maya Sonenberg

Featured art: The Vanishing Race (Navajo) by Edward Sheriff Curtis

Eight o’clock, nine o’clock, ten o’clock on a summer evening—it’s time to close the eyes, allow the breath to deepen, and sleep. The neighbor’s cat sleeps under the camellia bush and the neighbor’s baby has given up her screaming and sleeps in her crib; the hummingbird babies sleep in their nest perched on the Christmas-light wire strung across the porch ceiling; boys and girls everywhere put on their pajamas and brush their teeth; grandparents, all four of them, rest underground. In this house, though, the children call for glasses of water, kick off their sheets and pull them back up, ask for stories about the grandparents they’ve never met, count airplanes going in for a landing at SeaTac, their red lights blinking down through the trees, tell each other jokes through their open bedroom doors, and throw pillows at the back of any parent who dares suggest it’s time for sleep. Yes, darlings, you’re right: while light still fills the sky and the first star appears and then the others, and while your parents sit on the porch steps with their glasses of wine, trading stories, it’s impossible to think that this vast middle—life—will ever end, that anything will ever die. Now, before dark sets in, watch all the colors fade to gray: the last stripe of orange sunset in the west; the blue sky pulsating overhead; the cedar and eucalyptus and dogwood all dissolving into dark—a gray and then a darker gray that is the color of our house walls, headstones, and storm water rushing over Snoqualmie Falls. At the falls today, after playing in the hot sun and the icy rocky riverbed, attempting to catch minnows, you hiked the slowest hike in all creation back up the steep slope you’d run down an hour before, scuffing the gray dust with your toes, and moaning about your aching legs and parched throats and sweaty backs and lack of ice cream, but once we got back to the city, you decided you hadn’t had enough of the outdoors and insisted we stop in Volunteer Park where you, Ezra Jacob (grandson of Jack and great-grandson of Jake) and Phoebe Rose (granddaughter of Phoebe and great-granddaughter of Rose), sat side by side on the swings and pumped yourselves up and up and almost out over the fence separating the playground from the cemetery, out over blackberry bushes and hydrangeas, out over the chain link and then the short clipped grass and the monuments, so that if you’d let go, you would have sailed toward a waiting angel who would lift her stone arms and catch you, happy for the chance to save someone, happy for the reprieve from guarding a grave.

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Luna de Miel

By Melanie Unruh

Featured art: The Herwigs by Edouard Antonin Vysekal

I like to practice what I’m going to say in therapy each week. The opening line is always the most important part because it has to be something attention-grabbing that still makes me sound stable.

I slept pretty well this week, except for Tuesday, when I stayed up all night watching a marathon of The Wonder Years. They played the one where Kevin touched Winnie’s boob.

It’s been six months, eighteen days, nineteen hours, and six minutes—give or take—since I last saw James.

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Dear Doris Day

By Pamela Davis

Featured art: Untitled (Surreal Abstraction) by Benjamin F. Berlin

I trusted you to never change, when I was 15, and needed
to believe men and women sat up talking all night,
like the movie with you and Rock Hudson joking in a satin bed,

both of you in men’s pajamas you buttoned to the chin.
Alone in my room crammed with horse figurines, you
were all that stood between me and what hid under the sheet—

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July 4th, 1984

By Maggie Mitchell

Featured art: Figures by Benjamin F. Berlin

Maddy is thirteen, almost fourteen. Her chest is as flat as a boy’s and she does not own a pair of Jordache jeans.

“I hate Fridays,” she tells her mother. What she means is that she hates everything.

“I know you do,” says Jude, understanding perfectly. “I’m not sure what you want me to do about it.”

“It feels like I’m in prison. There aren’t any windows in there.” She’s referring to her room behind the bar, to which she is more strictly confined than usual on Friday nights: Jude insists that she stay out of the way when it’s crowded. “I can hear people but I can’t see them.”

“Why would you want to see them? They’re adults at a bar.”

“But that’s all there ever is,” Maddy rails, not even caring if she makes sense. “Adults at a bar. I wish we could be normal.”

“That’s what you keep saying. You tell me what normal is, and I’ll see what we can do.”

Maddy whirls around and storms into her room behind the bar, daring to slam the door. She knows only what normal isn’t.

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The Lecture

By Billy Collins

Featured art: Wrestlers by Thomas Eakins

If all of time were poured into a salt shaker,
human history could be represented by a single grain,
the professor of astrophysics claimed
as a shaft of light illuminated his head,

leaving me to marvel at how
there would be room inside for everyone—
for Mary Magdalene and Isaac Newton
and every month of the Hundred Years’ War,

and Andrew Marvell would have a place to think,
a garden in which to dwell,
and you would be in there as well
and your ex-boyfriend, the cheap bastard,

with his ridiculous sports car parked by a lake
in some small boring town and me
shaking the shaker furiously
over a plate of blackened fish and boiled potatoes.

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