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.
Featured Art: Playful Mermaid by Henri Héran, 1897
Let me tell you about my mother, a mermaid: For years, despite her handicaps, she embraced land life in Okanogan, Washington—the drizzly winters and sun-soaked summers—with a steadfastness both impressive and exhausting. She read us stories with the ardor of a human mother; bagged our lunches; brushed our hair. For years, she was just Mom: Mom who snuggled up to us on the couch with a book; Mom who packed Tupperware containers full of watermelon and whisked us away to the town pool on humid summer days; Mom who cooked themed meals (Tuna Tuesdays, Waffle Wednesdays); Mom with her perpetual ocean smell and unruly laughter. Of course, there were harmless omens of her first loyalties: shellfish for breakfast, kelp pods strewn like confetti around our living room, the shrill whale-speak whines that filled our house in the mornings, our Nereid names and Mom’s insistence that my sister Thetis and I explain to every curious land-dweller our sea-nymph heritage. (My name, Amphitrite, means Queen of the Ocean, after all.)
Featured Art: Summer: Cat on a Balustrade by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, 1909
–For Jerry Lee (1934-2016)
There are bobcats in the neighborhood Said the woman in the decked-out SUV Do you have a whistle As I walked off my grief in Texas Where I came to see my mother die And when I saw the bobcat Come from the drainage system And stare at me with black pupils Drilling into those yellow eyes I knew it wanted me to sit down and listen Love your mother the bobcat asked Not enough I said I could have visited more It said man hands on misery to man One of your kind wrote that I think Yes I said the poem is never enough Read More
Featured Art: Man holding a horse by the bridle by Dirck Stoop
My father flew to Reno, Nevada, sixty solemn years ago to sue for a divorce. I had no idea where Nevada was or why my parents were divorcing. In the mail arrived a shiny photograph, my father sitting tall on a horse. I had no idea he knew how to ride. He carried a rifle across his lap and on his head he’d set a cowboy hat. He was smiling like all-get-out. I had no idea what there was to smile about.
He stayed away six weeks, at some dude ranch where rattlesnakes curled and lurked in the underbrush. I lived in a cluttered city house without rattlesnakes or a father. My mother packed up all our winter coats and boots and sold the house. We moved into a flat. After that, everything was touch-and-go.
Featured Art: Tinker with His Tools by Camille Pissarro, 1874/76
For the sake of my father, certain things must be done in a certain way: tightening of bolts, of nuts around threads; coiling of hoses; firm, instant replacement of lids; spreading of seed from the hand held just so, in furrows dug to the joint or the knuckle, depending; wash it when you use it, never put it up wet; don’t be opening and closing the screen door as if you were a cat. Be grateful for a job, a meal, a leg up. All that. In the seasons set aside for such emotions, of course I hated him. All things, even hatred, wear away. In the season set aside I became him, doing what he did in the way he did it, hiding the injured heart the way he hid it. Waking so many hours before full day from the dream that something certain’s gone astray.
Here you are again, running from the villagers with their torches and pitchforks. You thought you finally fit in. You filed down your neck-bolts, got rid of your high-waters. You watched Oprah, kept a dream diary, a gratitude journal, pictures of your thinner self on the fridge. You tried to keep your need for electricity minimized: licking the outlets, rubbing your hair with a balloon for just a crackle.
You knew it would happen. Every morning— the affirmations, the meditation, the positive thinking.
She hesitates, then opens the unlocked door. The house is not hers. It’s nobody’s yet. That’s why she’s here. To walk on red tiles in the empty entryway. To see if there’s carpet yet in the bedrooms. To touch the smooth white marble fireplace that reaches the ceiling in the living room. To wander empty rooms before the rooms are filled.
Here in the entranceway of the new empty house she says out loud—hello hello—and listens for something, a spirit maybe, to say something back.
Nothing. Not even an echo.
From the kitchen window, she can see her home, the tip of a modernist triangle roof. In the distance, she can hear her mother playing the piano, lost in the music. Her shoes squeak against the floorboards of the hallway. No carpet. Not yet.
Featured Art: Street at Saverne by James McNeill Whistler, 1858
Rumor was you could still find enlightenment in Nepal, and for cheap. There were back rooms down the spider-webbed streets of Kathmandu where they wired you in, kicked on the generator, and sent data flowing through your brain for fifteen thousand rupees a session. It was true, Jeff from the coop had assured Abe, though passport control could be a bitch when you returned to the States.
“They pulled my buddy when we hit Newark,” Jeff had said, sipping maté from a gourd. “But he was showing. His third eye was completely open and he wanted to hug everyone. Just think about porn and you’ll be fine.” Jeff had handed Abe a crinkled business card. Namaste Imports. “Go to this place.”
So Abe had saved his money, bought the ticket, and traveled the endless hours, numbed by bad sleep and bland airline food, to find himself in Kathmandu. Finding Namaste Imports, however, had proved impossible. The streets had no names, and looking up, all Abe saw was a tangle of electrical wires and lights blinking on in the dusk. Around him, masses of tourists, heavy with backpacks and vacant looks, milled about. And amid all this churned a perpetual stream of cars and mopeds, nudging their way around pedestrians, honking, yelling out of windows, and raising endless dust. It all seemed far from enlightenment.
Featured Art: Bird’s Nest and Ferns by Fidelia Bridges, 1863
Cement truck crushing stones at 3 a.m. on a Flatbush side street? No, must be the double bass player grinding his seven-foot case along broken sidewalks, as if inside his sarcophagus whose fist-sized wheels are screaming there’s a mummy dressed in lead, and it’s so hot again my ceiling fan’s blade is a soldier’s lame leg that is drooping and each time he turns, it drums on the inverted edge of the light bowl while someone upstairs drops the booted foot he just cut from a corpse, but he keeps cutting and dropping, cutting and dropping, so it must be a dozen corpses, or maybe it’s a frozen hen landing again and again, as though my landlady’s niece, still drunk, has made up a game in which you get ten points if, when you drop it from the top of a ladder, the hen lands on her severed neck. I can’t sleep. Even if Sialia sialis relies on dead trees for nest sites, it’s smart enough to live deep away from the world.
W. J. Herbert’s debut poetry collection, Dear Specimen, was selected by Kwame Dawes as winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series and will be published by Beacon Press in 2021. Her work was also selected by Natasha Trethewey for inclusion in Best American Poetry 2017 and appears, or is forthcoming, in Alaska Quarterly Review, Boulevard, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Southwest Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Kingston, New York and Portland, Maine.
Featured Art: Peacock and Dragon by William Morris, 1878
After reading that hummingbirds are so light eight of them can be mailed for the price of a first-class stamp, I close my eyes and see them, fully revived, rising out of some envelope of old memories. I’ll name them again as we once did so long ago—Rufous, Anna’s, and Broad-tailed— darting to and from the feeders, sipping, then retreating, flying jewels the Spanish called them, and now I recall how one of the Anna’s, its garnet head and throat glowing in the misted air, hung like a jewel at your ear.
Coming back from Escamequita past the curve at the peak there was the valley of Carrizal with its steep mountain rising above it.
What’s that up there? I asked. Looks like the entrance to a mine. Oh, the old man said, That’s the Cueva de los Duendes.
I knew the word from Lorca’s great essay but he meant some dark flamenco trance when strummed sheepguts and a shout beyond reason jam in our ears the mesmerizing song of death.
Here in the back woods of Nicaragua it just means little people, fairies, minor local deities, trolls, semi-domesticated goblins. Or witches. Things that rustle the bushes after the moon rises or borrowing feathers shriek in the sky above your chickens.
Featured Art: The Artist’s Sitting Room in Ritterstrasse by Adolph Menzel, 1851
Somewhere up in the Bronx, in rented space I’ve never seen, seven rooms of the old life, waiting in storage. Shrouded wing chairs, Persian rugs, your mother’s engraved silver, nesting and spooning in a mahogany box. Racks of your oils. The body of the grand piano had to be separated from its legs so everything could fit—
I miss our music.
Sunday, on the little radio I heard Lotte Lenya sing that song about searching, her urgency tilted the room, I was that off-balance
Winner, New Ohio Review Nonfiction Contest selected by Elena Passarello
By Gail Griffin
Featured Art: The Kitchen by James McNeill Whistler, 1858
It is Christmas night—or, more accurately, two in the morning of December 26th. I am on the small porch at the side of my house. My cat is in my lap. The door to the living room is closed. Every window inside the house is wide open, because the house is full of smoke—a vile, stinky smoke. The porch is winterized, but I have opened one window about six inches because of the smoke escaping from the house. And what I am saying to myself is Well, at least the temperature’s up in the twenties.
Featured Art: Woman Combing Her Hair by Edgar Degas, 1888-90
the day I told M I loved her, we were at her new Dom’s midcentury modern in Hollywood, the one with the surprisingly small bedroom. I always pretend the best version is what really happened, so I pretended I didn’t need the wine, didn’t drink myself to floating while we texted him photos of our cheery breasts and matching cherry-bordered aprons for his birthday, that I wasn’t hungry for her, that kissing for the camera, lips open, waiting for him to come home from work was just a great story for later— which it is. And she said she would never love me and I said no chance, really none, never? Read More
Fran is my Friend on Facebook. In the 90s, Fran and I were roommates, then girlfriends. Dina is my Friend on Facebook too. I cheated on Fran to be with Dina. It was in Jerusalem and very dramatic. Fran can see that I am Friends with Dina on Facebook because Dina is on my list of Friends. I Friend Fran’s new girlfriend Ellie, since we are all pretty friendly. Ellie Friends Dina. Ellie doesn’t know Dina, but Ellie Friends all of her Facebook Friends’ Friends. Ellie is Friends with Alan. Alan and Ellie were boyfriend and girlfriend in the 80s, before Ellie was gay. Alan Friends me. I have never met Alan, but I was girlfriends with his first wife, Deb, when Deb was still dabbling. Read More
Featured Art: Chrysanthemums in the Garden at Petit-Gennevilliers by Gustave Caillebotte, 1893
My son’s third grade music teacher was the girlfriend of my piano teacher in nineteen eighty-three. I was a teenager. She was hip and grown-up with long hair. She has no clue we ever met. But I remember her. I remember hearing her scat sing while I walked up the stairs. She also doesn’t know that I had sex with her thirty-something boyfriend, rather—that I let him have sex with me—after she’d leave and after I played the Bach French Suites— in their Bleecker Street walk-up. I was desperately trying to be straight (it didn’t work). We are sitting on little-kid chairs and she is discussing my son’s musical prowess, in spite of his bad behavior in chorus. She still has long hair, now dyed blonde. She tells me my son is a little lost, struggling to find his place. Read More
I had chicken pox as a child. Rubella and the mumps. My tonsils came out when I was three. I am not currently under a physician’s care for any ailment or injury although see below. I have lived outside the United States because I was born outside the United States. My left ring toe has a callus, same spot same toe as my father. He passed away of bladder cancer and a broken heart. My mother before him died of stomach cancer and a broken heart. I used to smoke. Quit years ago and took up other things much worse for me. I drink when I can’t. I am allergic to penicillin. At least that’s what my mother told me. One of the many things I was taught would be my undoing. I am undetectable. Genvoya keeps it that way. I take Doxepin when I can’t sleep or need to sleep. I sleep on average seven hours a night. Today I have high creatinine. Ask me again tomorrow. Read More
Featured Art: Unfinished Study of Sheep by Constant Troyon, 1850
It’s the manipulations that end you. I was told this by Sam Shaw after he learned he’d been promoted to the inside. We were on the outside of the outside in the designated smoking area. I was smoking. Sam Shaw said, “What’s suffering worth?” He broke off the shards of animal blood that had froze to his overalls.
I shook like I was caught in electric wires. The cigarette butt hissed when I let it drop into a snowdrift. I could hardly feel myself living, felt like I was alive as a series of smoke breaks.
Sam Shaw said, “Nothing’s dead-end as it seems.”
“Easy for you to think,” I said. “You’re on the inside now.”
Featured Art: Horses Running Free from The Caprices by Jacques Callot, 1622
A horse on a plane is a dangerous thing if the box he’s persuaded to enter shifts like a boulder or a coffin fragrant with hay but no exit and midflight he decides no way, time to bomb this pop stand, burst out of his lofty corral into a tufted field asway with timothy, feathers, and prance. You ask a horse—you don’t tell him—to trot or whoa, easy there fella, and cross-tie him with a knot meant to fail if he pulls back. When the plane bucks, a horse can launch steel shoes through aluminum, the hiss of oxygen dropping down the masks. Read More
Featured Art: Snap-the-Whip by Winslow Homer, 1873
In ’69, to avoid the draft, I taught at Mt. Tryon Boarding School for Troubled Boys and there I hit a child. Afterward I imagined I was on top of an explosive ammo truck manning a gun, squeezing off bullets at young bodies of boys who’d tried to run to the back of our truck to soft-toss a grenade that could blow us into strips of meat. It seemed better to be scared in that V.C.-controlled village I’d never been to than to think of squeaky-voiced and fat Gerry, who at thirteen, threw chalk at me, hit a younger boy, and always grabbed that kid’s crotch.
What serpentine producer snuck her past the censors to corrupt the Peanut Gallery boys? Oh Princess of the Tinka Tonka tribe, I loved you more than Dolores at the swimming pool, Janey next door, or Bobbi Jo,
the best baseball player on my block. I loved the beaded buckskin dress that couldn’t hide your curvy hips and thighs. I loved your black braids, your dark eyes that shocked me through the new TV, smudged
by my lips. Indian girl with skin as pale as mine— birds and butterflies flocked to your singing drum. Native royalty, whose name evoked School’s Out / Trick or Treat / Santa Claus / Home Run Derby—
Winner, New Ohio Review Fiction Contest selected by Charles Johnson
By Leslie Rodd
Featured Art: Nymphs and Satyrs Playing Musical Instruments by Claude Lorrain
San Francisco, 1969
Outside the jazz club where I’ve been audience, player, and piano tuner over the years, it’s quiet at this sunstruck ten o’clock, and I have a shivery thought of a guitar and a girl that began inside my head last night. No rocking, no rhythm, no foot-stomping or window-shaking. Only the fifty measured strides I’ve counted from the corner where the 30 Stockton dropped me off, past the police station to the alley, the dip in the pavement and the sloping rise, the manhole cover to my left, yes, here it is, the last of my landmarks, reassuring me I’m in the right place. A thought of a girl, who used to make my music glow.
I rap the metal tip of my cane against the partly opened steel door, the tradesman’s entrance.
The caribou calf is separated from the herd, pursued by the wolf. Unless it slips up, the calf could escape, outrun it. The toddler grows restless and runs to the window, watching the garbage truck back up, lift bins, and dump our trash into itself. I don’t redirect her. My own childhood window looked into a tree. All year, there were branches. Sometimes covered in leaves, but by winter, they were bare. I often prayed for a way out. I once spoke directly to God, said: “God, if you know everything, what am I thinking now?” And I tried to think the opposite of anything he’d expect me to think. Another time I said, “God, if you help me leave this place,” but could think of nothing worth giving in return. No matter how much we bargained, I never asked God to save our house from fire, even after a house on our block burned down. I didn’t ask him to spare us from cancer, Alzheimer’s, any other death. I believed there was a reason for everything. When my mother asked me to blow into her cup of dice for luck before she rolled them onto the bar, I didn’t wonder what it meant if she didn’t win. Then, in high school, a classmate was found dead in her bed. Her mother had gone to wake her, but her heart had stopped beating. The parenting books say it’s good to establish rituals. I run a bath, wash peanut butter from the toddler’s hair. Read More
Featured Art: Death: “My Irony Surpasses All Others” by Odilon Redon, 1888
Michael, you are gone, and in this house where you once were there is an antique telephone as black as your coffin. Heavier than it looks, it is as full as the hole the men dug for you, early one morning, as they talked about summer and things they saw on TV.
Old things weigh more than they look—dead, leaden things like you and the black telephone.
You have been gone three weeks, and now my mother is gone, too. When she left for Providence she left me here with Michael, whom you left behind like a copy of yourself when you went. He doesn’t ask where you are anymore. Instead he says, nine times a day, that he’s going to call you on his telephone.
He found it at the flea market where my mother took him, to take him off my hands and take me off of his.
When I’m not looking, he lifts the receiver and talks to you. He doesn’t say your name, and I don’t ask who is on the line. I know it’s you.
Featured Art: Woman Bathing by Mary Cassatt, 1890–91
Two weeks they didn’t speak, my father sleeping on the couch and rising early, spooning cold cereal into his mouth like a metronome, while my mother stood at the stove in her white nightgown, back turned, stirring the silence. And all because the handsome new doctor, I’d gathered from muffled shouts through the wall, had asked her, at her annual checkup, to take off all of her clothes and she did. Every day at school, the words chalked on the blackboard all spelled DIVORCE, and I figured, homeless, I’d grab my paper route cash stashed under my socks in the dresser and thumb my way west to Frisco, jam out on bop and poetry like Sal and Dean, eat chocolate-covered ants and sip jasmine tea, maybe smoke some Mary Jane. But who would take care of my dog? Read More
What’s the matter? Stuff is the matter and our basement is filthy with it, our ignored understory grown lumber- cluttered and impossible so my wife and I descend to wrestle with the rusted-out wheelbarrow festering
tilted beside the unstartable lawnmower and the extra
freezer, the two of us tangling with moldy drywall, broken bicycles and that heap of gray peeling stair treads their half-pulled nails all askew like arrows fired at ten different targets. Matter is mother, is milk crates
a-clatter with extra faucets and so in a faded T-shirt
I just cannot bloom endlessly, you know—this is November, I’m pale, a dry stalk—I can barely stand, I’m shaking, I need Me time, I need to center myself—this summer was horrific: It was all about the aphids, crawling, depositing God knows what without my permission, from who knows what hollows of slime; it was all about the jays—“by mistake” they smashed into me, to try to grab the crickets—I had to hear the swallowing, I had to see the bulging gullets; it was all about the bees, their selfishness and their overall lack of tenderness. Oh, bees are sly—they say they buzz for beauty, for splendor, and they preen, like debutantes in frilly hats—people, it’s a racket, a con job—they trampled on my privates, they scurried back, mobsters with their booty (my pollen!) to their dank, little clubs, their “hives.” This summer was all about the deer, their nibbling, their slobbering, ticks crawling in and out of their noses—sweet Jesus, a sight no one should have to endure—and who, in the meadow, ever thought to pause, ever thought to kiss my petals? People, I’m on my own here—I need T-L-C. Read More
Featured Art: A Window Seen Through a Window by Theodore Roussel, 1897
“Y’all are hungry,” Mama said, no question in her downcast whispery voice. “I’ll be back quick.” There was something definite behind the distraction in Mama’s careless hair, and in her careless face, and in the blue-veined hands that wandered as she spoke. Too young to understand, Cookie’s puzzled brown eyes darted back and forth between Mama and me. Cookie was weeping that day because I was.
That autumn of 1963 people were walking, and we were among them. But our walks, at the time, seemed purposeless. Or perhaps I did not see then their purpose. I barely knew it, but ’63 was a dangerous time to be wandering the heat- and frost-blazed roads of America. Over the months surrounding what would be our last family trek across D.C., a quarter million folk marched on Washington, protesters were beaten in Birmingham, a U.S. President was assassinated in the street.
When Mama called our aimless ambles anything, they were Our Family Walks. We strolled that September day, just weeks after my seventh birthday, Mama on one side, five-year-old Cookie on the other. It was late afternoon when Mama crooned—face demure, fragile, resolute—“Don’ worry babies, th’ angels are beside y’all,” then walked away. Because I’d learned it was useless to protest, I pulled Cookie to the sidewalk curb. Snarling cars and trucks belched heat and grit in our direction as we watched Mama flicker and fade down North Capitol Street. Before she left, I’d searched her eyes. She was telling the truth, I decided. I promised Cookie, “Mama comin’ back this time.”
In dreams it escapes its keepers, rolls away, accelerating as though trying to leave its huge ungainliness behind, sensing a destiny of shrinkage through millennia of metals, feeling its way toward pure ideation so it can flow freely between hosts, reunited with thought itself from which it was first thrust into the world to thicken into matter.
Featured Art: Fisherman’s Cottage by Harald Sohlberg, 1906
We see him first at the reservoir, a middle-aged man with an oval of fur on his chest, nipples like button eyes, and blue swim trunks with yellow Hawaiian flowers. We are swimming, and he regards us from the shore in that way we are learning to expect from a certain kind of man.
Like every day in Tennessee, it is hot, and in the early afternoon, we walk from the stone campus of this small college to the lake. We are at a summer music camp, our fingertips sore from strings, our backs sticky with sweat, and when we reach the lake we shed our summer dresses and leap from a boulder into the water, which is deep and clean. Around the lake, tall pines and the heavy hum of Southern bug life. We float on our backs, conscious of how our breasts protrude from the water, pleased that we are sixteen, except for Caisa who is seventeen and over-proud of it. For her birthday, she buzzed her head. Her cheekbones are sharp and high, and even if she were not older, she would be our leader because she walks with confidence and draws checkers on the white rubber of her Converse in ballpoint pen, cheap ink that shimmers like oilslick. We wish we could go home and buzz our heads, draw on our shoes, but our faces are round, we like our sneakers white, we like our mothers happy.
Featured Art: Hunters resting in a forestat night by Kilian Christoffer Zoll, 1830–60
At the Retreat for Warriors at the Blundsheim Nature Reserve, Pete watches Dave shoot one of the docile young Blundsheim bucks square in the chest with his crossbow, and the buck falls neatly on the spot. Deer, Dave tells Pete, are like women—even though this particular one was actually male—because they’re skittish and must be wooed with a hunter’s silence.
Pete doesn’t get it. The warriors haven’t been especially silent, and women, in his experience, like to be talked to. Still, he nods. Dave is the Elder in this Circle of Responsibility, and Pete’s father-in-law. This is Pete’s first Retreat.
Another man in the Circle jokes that he hopes the deer was a feminist, but Dave ignores the guy, instead looking at Pete directly and saying, “We are harvesting this animal, like a farmer with an ear of corn.” He’s always tossing out these nuggets of homespun wisdom, which, Pete thinks, are annoying enough to explain why his wife, Pete’s mother-in-law, left him. Maybe Dave wasn’t silent enough.
Winner, New Ohio Review Poetry Contest selected by Tony Hoagland
By Michael Pearce
Featured Art: In the Valley of Wyoming, Pennsylvania (Interior of a Coal Mine, Susquehanna) by Thomas Addison Richards, 1852
The old barrel warehouse across the street had a ceiling so high there was weather inside. Henry Gutierrez lived there—they said he’d been there since before the war, though they never said which war. He worked at Anger’s garage all day rebuilding engines, then came home and slept a few hours, and when he woke up after dark he’d knock back a bowl of cereal and a couple beers.
Featured Art: We Both Saw a Large Pale Light, plate 2 of 6 by Odilon Redon, 1896
Last time I saw my dad was at the cemetery on Pilgrim Hill, pale as a ghost but he wasn’t dead. He stood over the grave of his grandfather, the hero of our family. I called out to him and waved and he turned my way—he looked sad and then he looked ashamed and I felt bad for him until I understood that his shame was directed at me.
No point in pondering his disappointment, I know I’m a failure in his eyes and there’s no way back to the sunshine of his pride— the boy of great promise is long dead and here I am. And there he was—he turned away from me and peered right through the gravestone and into a glorious dream of the past where a brave man stood against the mob and brought reason to our torn-up town.
Featured Art: Precarious Glimmering, a Head Suspended from Infinity, plate 3 of 6 by Odilon Redon, 1891
I rode my bike down from Pilgrim Hill toward the river that splits our town. Along the way I waved to Sheriff Roy and Mildred Floss, then wondered what they were saying about me and my family.
It was fall and the road was littered with goose shit and hyena shit and shit-shadows shrinking in the rising sun, and Estelle was bringing milk and muffins to Mayor Bob’s bedside and pretending his soul was alive inside its doltish husk and my Noni was sitting in the bathtub like a pile of wet clothes while Grappa lay in bed dreaming of blood-hungry Cossacks cruising the Steppe on thundering horses and the town was still quiet enough that you could hear the river’s bashful giggle. I was headed to my shop to build a desk for McElroy.
Every philosopher I haven’t read is drunk and arguing in the same Dodge Chrysler. I swerve to miss them, blinded in their sublime 60-mile-an-hour wake along the dotted divide. Looking back, how odd! There was no way to distinguish one pipe from the other, Spinoza from Kant, yet I knew, in the sudden, smoky fervor of that car, who they were:
Featured Art: Frontier Cabin by William Louis Sonntag, 1894
We came upon it at midday. We were in need of a rest. Our rucksacks were heavy, and the trail we’d navigated wove serpentine through mountain crags. It laced figure-eights though fields of stone before tracing the lips of cliffs that hung over the gaping abyss. Eagles cried and soared through the cloudless expanse. A violet lizard stared at us before vanishing. Vegetation was sparse: only trailside scrub and grass-clumps. Yet, at the settlement we found shaggy spruces. Aspen leaves flickered in the breeze. The odor of Douglas fir streaked the air. We advanced into the enclave, offering a polite greeting to our anticipated hosts. No answer. I kicked open the door of a cabin— it smelled of urine. On dusty floorboards lay a collapsed soccer ball and some thumb-tacks. Pinned above a soiled bunk, a picture of a sable-skinned seductress spreading her sex. She wore high purple boots and a white derby. Mouse shit speckled the floor. Otherwise, the cabin was empty. We walked a trail that hugged a creek into which someone had hurled a mini-fridge. Did we hear music? Read More
The exquisitely named Berzelius Windrip, known to all as “Buzz,” is the fictional politician and “Ringmaster Revolutionist” who ousts FDR from the Democratic ticket in 1936 and gets himself elected dictator in Sinclair Lewis’s speculative novel It Can’t Happen Here. No uniformed buffoon like Italy’s Il Duce, nor an awkward, vegetarian mystic like Adolf Hitler, President Buzz Windrip is a decidedly American kind of fascist.