New Ohio Review Issue 2 (Originally published Fall 2007)

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 2 compiled by Gina Gidaro.

From The Presence of Their Passing

By Andrew Mossin

Art from Creative Commons

The Old World

I am unable—words can’t recover it. A landscape back of those who carried me through my first days: mother, that “she” who bore me. The extrinsic realism of these few facts I know and have preserved: I was born in the Hospital for Children in Athens, Greece on April 20, 1958. My mother’s name, Angeliki Sakkas, became known to me in my mid-20’s when my father presented me with my birth certificate and an index card on which her name and that of my father—Efthimois Kooroubis—were written. Initial knowledge of the circumstances of my birth parents came to me from my adoptive mother, Iris. I was perhaps five or six, had already come to understand that my place in our household was pre-emptive, uncertain, dependent on the fluctuations of my mother’s temperament. One understands so little at the time of each event, but I remember her hands holding the book close to me as we sat together on the sofa one afternoon (a cup of tea just made? some pieces of orange left on the plate from lunch? what did she wear? how did she move into the light from outside?) and she tried to explain my origins. In one version, my birth mother and father were peasants who lived in the countryside, not far from Athens. One day my father accosted my mother in an olive grove near her home and took her into the field and raped her. When she became pregnant, my father (who lived in a nearby town) refused to help and abandoned her to return to the city. My mother traveled to Athens to find him, without luck.

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Notre histoire sinister

By Michael Joyce

Here is our lurid history, the days that were before us once
have slipped behind now and press against us as in a crowd
stumbling from the circus. The circus again! How it haunts
their memories, the afternoon at the Tibetan resto juste en face
where the young clown reminisced about life as a dominatrix
in San Francisco and how gentle it all was finally, her smile
truly angelic, framed in a corona of spun gold hair, le coiff’
paillé, soft, vaguely leonine, the archangel with golden hair
at Petersburg perhaps or Raphael’s lost “Portrait of a Boy”
pillaged by the Nazis from the Musée Czartoryski. This she
recognizes in herself, how in the snapshot from her troupe
she had them guess which one she was, eyes giving her away:
the boy in the pale blue jumper, a play upon Pierrot, fey,
younger, at that age where gender is permeable, apt to slip
hermaphroditic back to girlish, qualis ab incepto processerit
et sibi constet, as Horace had it, i.e., let him stay what he was
at first, but what that was hardly any of us can remember.
And now the children come pouring out from the matinée
into rue Amelot as dans le coin de la salle the three of them
whisper softly lost in each other over tea and dumplings


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Overcast

Une danse des rêves

By Michael Joyce

Sleep like babies’, the undifferentiated terror and dull pain
of becoming once again upon them, unutterable bone ache
as muscles stretch into some new being, Bachelard’s auberge
à fantômes, rooms swept clean each morning as they resume
themselves, shadowless, bereft beneath the thin cover of
gray overcast, “à la base, le zombi est un mort qui marche,”
basically a zombie is walking death, says the online bestiary
propagated by children in a game world, presided over
by an elf, what could they know of growing into this
restlessness? how lovers fall from a preternatural embrace
into dream semblances of themselves, mewling once again
like astronauts tethered to the tumbling apparatus circling
the blue planet from which they come and which seems
at this distance Verlaine’s moon of masks and Bergamasks
the bed a costume ball in which we play ourselves at last


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My Father’s Photograph

By Jenny Boully

Art from Creative Commons

I no longer have the photograph that I wish to write about; when I was younger, I gave (very foolishly) the photograph to a boy I thought I was going to marry. I did not really give this boy the photograph, but rather, in that naive youth, when I believed in the reunion of what was rightly mine, I said that he could hold on to the photo album in which the photo was enclosed.

In the picture, my father looks much older than thirteen; he is wearing a suit and stands next to his adopted parents. There is a white house in the background and a car poses alongside them. It is the first time that I have seen my father as a boy, and the car, of a make and model that I’ve only seen in old movies, makes the photograph and my father automatically ancient.

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Water We Made Ourselves

By Sara McKinnon

Art from Creative Commons

My mother said to do it standing up. To make it damp. To push it up and down. To press it back and forth. To keep moving. To start on the inside. To turn it over. To keep moving. I saw my mother do it on the kitchen table. She wasn’t standing up. She didn’t make it wet. My father had to be at work by seven thirty.

I never listen to my mother. And when my boyfriend’s father dies, I pay another woman to do it for me. I drive across town in dark glasses. I walk up the steps to his front door. His shirt, under plastic, in my arms. I help him to pull it out. I watch as he puts it on. I stand in the hallway with my hands on his shoulders. I turn down the collar myself.

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Longing

By Natania Rosenfeld

Art from Creative Commons

I’m not sure what it has to do with length, but it makes sense to think of them together. For longing by definition has no end.

The O.E.D. gives as one definition, the cravings of women in pregnancy. Those objects can be had, though some are quite unhealthy. But cravings are concrete, and they come to substitute for longings. Krunch Kones at the Dairy Land instead of scintillating talk, achievement, the limelight. Whiskey instead of love.

Perhaps “longing” suggests the power of the want, not its unattainability. Perhaps I confuse “longing” with “pining,” which is a word containing pain. To pine is to long with pain for something you’ve lost and can’t have back, ever, or for a very long time: home, or a lover. (The pine tree strained at the sky, stripped, attenuated, its trunk graying.) But I think you long for something you’ve never had, that’s always just beyond the horizon. At the end of a long road whose end is invisible.

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