New Ohio Review: Issue 17 (Originally Published Spring 2015)

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 17 compiled by Benjamin Ervin. 

Chandler Brossard

By Kevin Prufer

Feature Image: First Snow at Veneux-Nadon by Alfred Sisley, 1878
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington


When I was twenty years old
and desperate and broke,
I worked part-time in a used bookstore
in Middletown, CT.
I hated my job, hated the cramped store,
hated the paperbacks
that came there as if to die

+

and more than anything,
I wanted to write something lasting,

a novel I scrawled in notebooks
called “Black Wing”
about a dark-haired girl,
prized during the day for her beauty and intellect,
who by night
killed off poseurs, the ill-read, the clumsy-of-mind,
the bombastic, thick-fingered, and mean.

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Ground Swell

Featured Image: Ground Swell by Edward Hopper, 1939 Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

Big Media

By Kevin Prufer

Just a glass of water for me, thank you.
One ice cube. Thanks. Just one.
But you should order what you want. Don’t be shy.
And don’t worry about me. Water is all I eat.
That ribeye looks promising, doesn’t it?
The charcuterie platter? The bay shrimp in a nest of deconstructed kale,
drizzled with truffle oil?
Get what you want and I’ll watch you eat, sipping from my glass of water
like a brilliant bird whose plumage once adorned ladies’ hats, but is now
available only on the black market,
please don’t mind me.
Did you read about how they beheaded another captured soldier?
Cut his head right off, clean as you like. I know, it’s
terrible. Awful, really. It ought to be a crime,
but the water flushes me out, gives me an inner clean. A kind of peace.
All this war must have been hard on you, the bodies and IEDs and the
threatening
music. It certainly was hard on our nation, and we weren’t even
there. Broccolini, yes. That’s for him. And the foie gras on toast with foraged
mushroom and lemon foam,
he’ll take that. I love the look of those cauliflower florets, like petite puffs of
smoke!
The raviolini afloat in broth like misfired paratroopers!
You’re sweet, but much too thin. You should eat.
They’ll send you back and you’ll be nothing but bones
beneath skin. Did you see how they sliced his head right off?
What do you think of my hat?


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Love You Excavation Work

By Donald Platt

Featured Image: Diana and Actaeon (Diana Surprised in her Bath) by Camille Corot, 1836

 

I am texting you

some trivial message like “Am at grocery. Where are you?”

using Siri,

 

the intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator,

oracle inside

my iPhone. But when I sign off, saying “Love you

 

exclamation point,”

Siri translates it as “Love you excavation work.” I send the message

anyway.

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Tuesday Night

By Corrie Lynn White

Featured Image: Madison Square, Snow by Allen Tucker, 1904
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

I lay the sweet potatoes on
the roasting pan on their backs
or bellies—I can’t tell. The oven
is heating and the cat box

needs cleaning so I dip the plastic
shovel into the litter and grieve
that Frankie doesn’t go outside—
sit high in a tree or roll in

a lush patch of clover. I stare
out the window at the neighbor’s
raised beds and convince myself
he’d eat all their basil, puncture

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There’ll Be an Enormous Party

By Patrick Ryan Frank

Featured Image: Merrymakers at Shrovetide by Frans Hals, 1616-7

Tumbling down that wide Niagara of laughter,
the blonde girls and the gray-haired men beside them
swirl away through picture after picture.
If there’s champagne, there’ll be a waiter’s smirk.
If there’s an ice sculpture, it will be a swan
weeping for its flaws. If there’s a pool,
a horrible beautiful woman will end up pushed
and the garden will quiet just to hear her thrash
within the weird slick of her ruined silk—
and then the jokes and it all begins again.
Oh vanity, why won’t you leave me home?
Why must you pull me by the elbow down
that crowded hallway then leave me by the wall,
awkward as an interrupted joke,
adrift in the back of half the photographs:
a face turned too far left, mouth spread too wide
to grin, gaping as if to gulp back breath?


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Hooked

By David Yezzi

Featured Image: The Battle of Love by Paul Cézanne, 1880
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

She’s a friend I take some nights for pain.
Dosage is an issue. We maintain

an equilibrium, but it is hard:
the IV drip of texts, the memory card

of photos we filled one fall by the sea.
What’s good for her is mostly good for me,

but pressure-points that ease her nerves today
may frazzle them tomorrow. Tough to say;

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Let

By David Yezzi

Featured Image: Pink Roses by Fidelia Bridges, 1875
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

Across the net,
she wilts and falls
behind, so I let
a few balls

slide by
in the midgy air
and drawn sky
of late summer.

Is this
letting her win
a Judas kiss,
the warm sin

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The Abandoned

By Chaitali Sen

Featured Image: [Landscape with Cottage] by Marie-Charles-Isidore Choiselat, 1844

The husband is still explaining it on the day of the parent-teacher conference, and the wife still carries on as if she doesn’t understand. The twins will be home early, their school day shortened so their teacher can meet with parents all afternoon.

“Is the school too difficult?” she asks.

“How do I know? That’s why we talk to the teacher.”

Their appointment is at three o’clock, and it will take almost an hour to get there. He will be away from the shop too long. When is she supposed to start dinner? She can carry on for as long as she wants, he says, but on this he has to be insistent. This reversal of roles must reverse back. She is the mother, the one who should know the details of her children’s schooling.

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By a Car Door

By Mark Belair

Featured Image: Interior of the Colosseum by Ippolito Caffi
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

A little boy
in superhero underpants
is made to change clothes
by the open door
of a battered family car
parked on a busy street, his gaunt
mom managing the maneuver
though not quite bothering
to block him from view,

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Three Sacraments

By Brooke Champagne

Featured Image: The Dogana and Santa Maria della Salute, Venice by Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1843; Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of
sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but
a powerful medicine and nourishment for the
weak . . . Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace
rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a
tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there
is a place for everyone, with all their problems.

—Pope Francis, “The Joy of the Gospel”

The true vision and knowledge of what we seek
consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness
that our goal transcends all knowledge and is
everywhere cut from us by the darkness of
incomprehensibility.

—Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses

Holy Unction

I’m nine years old the day my mother dies and comes back to life and, if I ever believed at all, it’s the day I give up on Christ.

The reverse might be expected—miracles, the power of prayer—but when I make my final judgment, I don’t know yet, won’t know for a long time that she has died and returned. At that point, I’m only told she is pregnant and there are complications. The baby, my would-be half-sister, is gestating at twenty-three weeks and because my mother is sick, must be delivered. Everyone waits and prays. Doctors work and pray.  At school, my teacher’s hand on my shoulder  a few seconds too long in that comforting way, her eyes say: I’ll pray for you. Before bed I press my hands into a teepee and try earnestly at first, then only pretend to pray.

My mother’s singular death-day memory, she recalls later, is the moment when according to Scripture, she might have seen the light, though here the primary sense was smell:  a priest with severe halitosis read her the last rites.

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At the Narrows

By Meredith Davies Hadaway

Featured Image: The Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer, 1899

Now, when even midday sun holds shadows,
and only the wooden boats are left, bless
scarred hulls and splintered pilings.

Bless the hands that still twist eel into lines
of hard commerce. Bless the motor’s stutter
declaring, yes, we will go out. Bless the foul

mud that peppers the gunnel, the ascent
of the bait, its twitch as it goes over the roller.
Bless the slow crab, too greedy for stink to see

the net coming and the basket, slats leaking
a scrabble of claws. Wanda J, Alice Rose,
Edna—grubby river angels, decks swollen

with rain, smelling of brine and rot, all divot
and slop—bless your deadrise, your hard
chine, your rudder. In the morning, all will

blur into mist. Crabs will begin their exodus
to deeper waters. We tell ourselves they will
be back. May this, too, be true.


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We Buy, Sell, Trade

By Betsy Sholl

Featured Image: A Farm in the Sunlight by Meindert Hobbema, 1668
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

Ideas are one thing and what happens is another.
—John Cage

Weather or axe—who neglected or hacked
to make this bag of piano keys, this

clatter of loose scales in a paper sack,
fifty-two whites, the yellow of stained teeth,

a few of them chipped: some upright or grand,
its music collapsed in a racket of chainsaws

cutting up belly and legs for scrap.
Warped wood, the thunk of stuck notes—

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Looney Tunes

By Nathan Anderson

Featured Image: Summer Morning by David Lucas, 1830

Nah, it’s not that, I wouldn’t call it that, I mean molested
that’s like TV stuff, and Brenna
she’d be real nice sometimes like flesh and blood should.
Bring me back a chocolate frosty just because.
Anyway, I’d just as soon say we’re done,
or you want I should go through it all like I did in June
with the last one? Twice now—and this just goes to show
the system’s jacked—twice I’ve waited, asked the front desk ladies
and waited, I said people I need a little help and you’re telling me two hours?
In all this hospital you’re telling me there’s no one I can talk to now?
I said what about the dude mopping floors? Is he around?
Can I talk to him? Or do I go ahead and slit my wrists right here?
So they hauled me up to you, another white coat
working the psych ward. A woman. What’s up with that?
No offense or nothing. That’s just how they do me
down on first-floor, where everyone else on earth is. You ever one of those
ER docs I see running around? The way I figure it, a woman like you
doesn’t need to run. You’re all put together—you know, like a car
that’s just come off the line . . . . But okay, this isn’t about you.

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