New Ohio Review Issue 9. Originally printed Spring 2011. 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.


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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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.
Then she collapsed with heart disease
and spent the next few years waiting for a transplant.
The strange thing is, now she was happy.
Every day, almost every breath, was semi-ecstatic.
She was a modern-day Chicana Rumi,
hanging out with the Beloved, grateful just to touch His hem.
I find I’m telling myself all the time now,
look how you lift one foot and then the other,
all the nerves and synapses firing together.
Look how you reach for a carton of blueberries
and eat each dusky globe, one by one.
Look at the spotted dog tied to the newsstand,
drops of saliva sliding off his tongue,
and the cracked Bic lighter in the gutter
shining a watery turquoise blue.
Even when your heart is a used teabag
you can lie down in a warm bed,
even though you cry half the night
with the window open a little
to let in the stars.

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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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What Comes Next

By Maxine Scates

Featured art: The Girl by the Window by Edvard Munch

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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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.

This week I only made twelve lists.

My cat bears a striking resemblance to my therapist, but this isn’t because of their matching whiskers so much as the fact that they both make the same frowning concerned face when I tell them about my life. Boots and Dr. Andrews, who has tried without success, to get me to call her Maggie, are not formally acquainted.

Read More likes buttered toast, vulnerability…

By Elizabeth Powell

Featured art: Tujunga Canyon by Walter Elmer Schofield

My love lives in a little tiny box
Made of pixels and engineering. When I write him
He writes me back and when he writes me
Back, I write him. Even though we exist
Me/him, here/there: one day our band
Of consciousness will grow outward,
When science puts chips in brains
So all mysteries can be known—
Delusions, proclivities, sentences.
For now imagination a gangly vine
Grabs for a life. He has been so busy
Writing a narrative where he has no wife
That she has disappeared. So much first-person
Construct and banter. He has
A vixen schoolteacher held down
On the bed of his mind. And when he
Writes me he makes me
And when I make him I write him.
We are invented, in part,
By the wanting and not having
Of others. Soon someone else
Will pick him out of his little box
And begin again, wait for him
In the rain in front of the coffee shop
Where inside the donuts harden like
He can’t, and the red counter chair swirls empty
As if trying to conjure something so close.
But so close is almost, and almost is really
Far, still. She tries to pick him out of the crowd,
Ever hopeful, though night comes on like emergency.
And he is two places at once, virtual and real.
My love lives in a little box. Someone
Is making him
Into something else now.

Read More is a Match–

By Elizabeth Powell

Featured art: Edna by Robert Henri

I knew you really wanted to meet me,
But I had the sneaky feeling you were an uber-Aryan
Chiropractor with homoerotic tendencies,
That maybe I should re-up with my academic
Asperger’s husband, and wear muu-muus on Saturday nights.
But I met you anyway before your snowboard race.
The style gel in your crew cut looked like ice,
Your red coat was puffy. You were disappointed
That my hair didn’t look like my picture. You implied
I was a liar. We walked down Main Street in Stowe
Past scented-candle-buying New Jerseyans
And Gnostic punk-rock townies eating baguettes,
My nose beginning to run in the cold,
Until we came to the cemetery and after you
Talked about your lying ex-wife, and your pretty ex-girlfriend,
You talked about a pair of little green baby shoes
That made you realize you were now too old
For children and I thought of the poetic
Significance of shoes, how used and alone
They stood for death. Your incoming text messages
Beeped us all the way to my car, which was German
But somehow not Aryan, where you told me good luck,
Shook my ungloved hand, then thought better
And gave me a hug
As if I were a patient on your ward.

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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—

the straining warm blossom that held me in thrall. I believed
you’d always be Rock’s chum, immune to Cary Grant’s mink-
lined smile. I’d be like you, beehive my hair, keep my knees tight.

We could have driven forever, you and me and Rock
in a two-tone convertible he steered with his big, clean hand.
How could you fall for Clark Gable, a man with a moustache,

and clearly too old? A burglar’s eyes. Safecracker hands.
In the movie you played his teacher in twinset and pearls,
eyes big as pies when he cocked one leg over the edge of the desk.

I needed you to report him to the authorities, not follow him
to a nightclub. Later there would be torn sheets, cigarettes,
counting the days between periods. Bad men with keys.

But I never imagined you’d go out of style, show up in the tabloids
bloated and hazy, surrounded by stray dogs, and, last I heard,
living alone.

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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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At the Mall

By Carl Dennis

Featured art: Youth by Frederick Carl Frieseke

It’s a long time now since the cedar tree
That you and Martha Spicer inscribed
With your twined initials was reduced to shingles
For a house later torn down to make way
For the Northtown Mall, the very mall
You walk now on rainy mornings.
In a few more weeks of the exercise program
Prescribed by your doctor, you should feel the strength
Lost with your triple-bypass finally returning.
Then you’ll confront the years still left you
With the zeal they merit, or the fortitude.
Be sure you’re in line when the mall doors open,
Before the aisles fill with serious shoppers
Intent on finding items more sturdy
Than their bodies are proving to be.
Could Martha Spicer be among them?
What you felt for each other back then
Didn’t survive the separation of college,
Though now it seems careless of you
Not to have kept in touch. Maybe you’ve passed her
Unrecognized as she’s looked for gifts
To make her grandchildren curious
About the world they live in, a book, say,
Devoted to local trees. On the cover
A cedar stands resplendent, the very kind
She carved her initials in long ago
With a boy whose name may be resting now
On the tip of her tongue. Try to imagine her
Hoping he hasn’t wasted his time on wishes
That proved impractical, like her hill house
Bought for its vista that proved in winter
Inaccessible to a snowplow. If he made that mistake,
Let him move back to town as she did
And focus like her on keeping her windows open
So a fragrance blown from afar can enter
When it wants to enter, and be made welcome.

Read More


By Carl Dennis

Featured art: Soap Bubbles by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin

Even in Dante’s inspired version,
Heaven and hell don’t seem like regions
Appropriate for humans, being too static,
Too imbued with notions of the eternal.
Yes, for the sake of justice, the violent
Who get away with murder on earth
Ought to feel a heat more fiery
Than the coals of rage that burned inside them;
The betrayers of friends and patrons deserve a chill
Colder than the ice in their arctic hearts.
But shouldn’t their sentences have a limit?
Won’t their victims, the pillaged and trampled
And rolled to the wall, eventually grow
Uncomfortable in the balmy realm of the blessed
At the thought of their oppressors
In endless torment? Won’t they decide
A determinate stay is long enough?
It isn’t our place to stand in the way if Abel
Throws down a rope at last to Cain,
If Jesus takes Judas by the hand.
So hell, if imagination wins out,
Ought to be slowly emptying,
And then heaven as well, as the saints
Return to earth to help the sinners
Learn what damage they can undo
If they give themselves to the effort,
And what damage they’ll have to leave as is.

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