Awake

By Richard Schiffman

Featured Image: “Rendezvous in the Forest” By Henri Rousseau

Already morning ignites
the high wicks of the pine.
A few birds trilling,
don’t ask me their names,

or my own as I stumble
out of bed on sea legs,
rub my eyes until stars appear
like ships still foundering

on the reef of night.
But when I open them again, day
is fully rigged and sailing off
with me on it.


Richard Schiffman is an environmental reporter, poet, and author of two biographies. In addition to the New Ohio Review his poems have appeared on the BBC, in the Alaska Quarterly, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, Writer’s Almanac, This American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and other publications. His first poetry collection “What the Dust Doesn’t Know” was published in 2017 by Salmon Poetry.

Originally appeared in NOR 11.

Unfinished

By Richard Schiffman

Featured Image: “Houses of Parliament, London” by Claude Monet

“It is not known why they were not finished,”
the curator noted of two hundred later canvases.
Turner’s work becoming increasingly unhinged—
cyclonic sunbursts, hills skipping like rams, crepuscular
curtains, reeling cliffs and brimstoned cities.

Read More

Take Your Trash and Make it Fly

By Devin Murphy

Featured Image: “Shoes” by Vincent Van Gogh

One night a month, people in my hometown outside of Buffalo, New York, put their large trash items on the curb for the sanitation department to pick up the next morning. Our neighbors would drag out old Whirlpool appliances, ironing boards, and whatever else the weekly garbage route couldn’t take. On those evenings, my Dutch immigrant mother loaded me into her rusted-over white 1970 Chevy Caprice station wagon with its vinyl side panel, and we’d slowly cruise the streets picking through the refuse.

Read More

Tauromaquia

By Deborah Casillas

Featured Image: “Standing Bull” by Jean Bernard

The days dragged on, steady ticking of the clock.
My mother’s cancer; surgery, injections, drugs.
Long afternoons I sat in my grandfather’s library
looking at books. Shelves of books about bullfighting—
la lidia, combat; la corrida, the running of the bulls.

Read More

The Swans

By Anamyn Turowski

Featured Image: “Woman with a Butterfly at a Pond with Two Swans” by Jan Toorop

She bought the swans because of the empty pond. Lonely; that’s why, really. She saw two swans in profile in a poultry magazine she’d picked up at the dentist’s. She paid $1500 for a pair. As if swans could change anything. Her husband says she needs birds like she needs a hole in her head. A lobotomy, she thinks, that’s what I need. Every time she stares out the window toward the pond, the empty water makes her cry. She charged the pair on a new credit card that came in the mail that day. What’s the interest on that card? You never read the fine print.

Read More

Standing on the Desk

By Donna L. Emerson

I am twelve years old in Mr. Ody’s art class and he’s teaching me to use an
eraser on my watercolor of rain and sun. To make the sun stream like spotlights
through the clouds. He moves the eraser by placing his hand over mine. He rests
his hand on my wrist a little longer.

I start to back away.

He asks me to be a model for the class. He lets me stand on his desk. He says,
Don’t take your eyes off her. Let your pencil try to draw her without ever stopping
your looking and drawing. I’m glad I wore my new turquoise skirt and
flowered blouse. Mr. Ody pulls his chair out to see better.

While Danny Sessa makes jokes, I can feel Mr. Ody’s eyes. He’s staring. I turn
red, start to joke back and Mr. Ody says, Just stand still and be quiet.

This was the beginning of the first time.

Read More

The Jaguars of Southtown

By Amos Jasper Wright IV

Featured Image: “The Repast of the Lion” by Henri Rousseau

Forty days passed without landing a sale. For a while, I felt sorry for myself, and then self-pity shifted gears and boiled into a rage that curdled everything   I touched. The BP spill down in the Gulf had put a damper on auto sales. The economy in general was in shambles, but this town hadn’t prospered much since the Red Mountain cut. Meanwhile, we’re dumping good, hard-earned USD into foreign countries and our Harvard-educated Kenyan president was doing all  of jackshit about it. Instead of buying new cars, people just drive them longer. Used to I could sell forty cars in a month. You don’t need a Harvard degree to do that.

Read More

Trust

By Liz Kingsley

Featured Image: “Pattern from L’ornoment Polychrome” by Albert Racinet

First he slept with someone else and later while he was busy sleeping, she slept
with someone else. No, before he slept with someone else, she slept with the
lawyer across the street who gave good oral argument. She did not tell him
about the lawyer. Their time together was privileged and she knew her rights.

Read More

The Farm

By Spencer Wise

Featured Image: “Poppy Fields near Argenteuil” by Claude Monet

We’re on our way to meet Charlene’s family for the first time, listening to Townes Van Zandt in the car, and Charlene’s saying, “‘Pancho and Lefty’ is me and my Daddy’s song,” when I suddenly smell fire. All along Highway 33, the smell of wood burning. She laughs. “Don’t laugh,” I say, “might be a forest fire.” She says, “First time south of the Mason-Dixon, and now you’re Woodsy Owl.”

Read More

When People Watch You

By Nathan Anderson

Featured Image: “Tingletangle” by Edvard Munch

I’m not like those crazy people.
The people that watch me
are real. I can see them.

Never mind the mailman. That blue coat
nearly swallows him. You never know
what’s under there—and he’s, well,
rather strange looking,

like a boy with a bald spot
bent over thick black shoes
and that bag he cradles

Read More

Stupid Sandwich

By Nathan Anderson

Featured Image: “The Grocer’s Encyclopedia” by an unknown artist

So yeah, we all have these moments that suck
because what they mean
is like a mystery, like the Mariners last year
good a team as any, traded
what’s-his-name, the fat one, for that Puerto Rican dude
with a wicked right arm
and didn’t even make the playoffs.

Read More

Intervention

By Shannon Robinson

Featured Image: “The Card Players (Les Joureurs de Cartes)” by Paul Cézanne

I called my mother and told her about my plan. My brother, Christopher, was visiting Ottawa for just a few weeks from Berlin, where he’d lived for the past ten years. He rarely visited, and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for us to talk to him, as a family, about his drinking problem. I explained how we would each write a letter beforehand, expressing our concerns, and then read them out loud to Christopher, one by one.

“Okay, dear,” she said. “That sounds fine.”

I was reading students’ workshop fiction when the phone rang. It was my older sister, Leigh.

“So Mum called me. She was really confused. She says she doesn’t know what you were talking about.”

Read More

Opening the Cottage

By Christina Cook

Featured Image: “Houses and Figure” by Vincent Van Gogh

Jays scrap in the maple
while I sit with my absence
of sound, and a bottle
of last summer’s wine.

I should be bleaching
the mouse-scat floor,
scraping their fur
from the spaces

Read More

Remembered Grace

By Jim Daniels

My mother rolls her walker through the rug
like pushing a dull reel mower through high grass.
She cannot see, so maybe the simile should be sound instead—
like bad jokes from a dull boor. The brittle thread of escape
snapped long ago, sewing kit trashed, needles only and constant
from pain—knee/back/hip. Blurry edges of God rim
her miraged vision. She burns a sandwich on the grill
but not herself—thrill enough to earn a pill. Today
she’s skipping church, and it’s just next door. She calls me
from the kitchen to carry her cup back to her chair—no free
hands. She must watch where she lands when it’s all freefall
and whiffs of Jesus not happy with her. I’m a tourist
with a bad map. She’s a local with time. She waves her hand
as she talks, one graceful thing. She flirts with air.

Read More

Speed of Light

By Mark Irwin

Featured Image: “Blossoming Cherry on a Moonlit Night” by Ohara Koson

Married in Beijing, they had their names carved on
a grain of rice. Mai wore a yellow silk gown. He wore
a black suit. Embraced in the photo turned sideways
they resemble a tiger scrambling through strewn mums.
That evening they ate salted mango and shrimp. He
can still taste that, see the tortoise-shell clip sun-
splintered in her hair. That evening continues, stalled
like the sea-filled drapes in their room. For twenty
years he worked at a lab that accelerated protons. Here
are photographs of their two girls on Lake Michigan,
then in Zermatt, standing before the Matterhorn,
whose moraines, cirques, and ravines resemble those
through two names magnified on a grain of rice, or
of that shadow looming through the CAT scan of her brain.


Read More