New Ohio Review Issue 22. Originally printed Fall 2017.

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 22 compiled by Ali Nowac

The Burden of Humans

By Michael Lavers

Featured art: Midnight at Midsummer Over the Antarctic Mainland by Frederick A. Cook

The grass just has to wave, the birds just have
to sing. The grapes don’t wonder what light is;
the light just lights them, and the grapes grape back.
The golden oaks just shed their summer dresses
on the lawn—but you? You have to read
Spinoza in the garden while the light
is good. You have to keep your focus as
the motorcycles scream out of the purple hills.
Read More

I’m Trying to Write a Joyful Poem

By Emily Mohn-Slate

Featured Art: Chrysanthemums by a Stream by Followers of Ogata Korin

after reading Ross Gay’s new book,
which makes me feel light
and giddy, like maybe
a world in which figs fall
from a city sky is possible,
but my poem becomes
about the collapse of long
love, how even the brightest
glint in the eye
becomes shadow eventually.
My son dances across
the room in a red
cowboy hat, he asks me
to chase him,
but the girl in the documentary
I watch lives in a landfill
outside Moscow— Read More

First Train Ride Together: Northeast Corridor

By Linda Bamber

Featured art: Restoration work at the Reading Terminal and Market in the mid-1990s by Carol M. Highsmith

A procession of blessings
like incoming waves crowned with gold

like the beaches and marshes we passed
coming home

         and another and another
         as the light deepened and graced it all:

the water views, of course,
with shrink-wrapped boats in the marinas
and boat-lifts waiting in the cold;

but the train-side heaps of junk as well
the disappearing big box stores
the grimy buildings from another time.
Oh, see

the ice upheaved in inlets
both churning and silent at once!
         and,
in intermittent moors and swales,

the high wooden platforms
the legislature appropriated funds for

         duly topped with messy nests
the ospreys built last year. Read More

Zenyatta

By Grady Chambers

Featured art: French Knight, 14th Century, by Paul Mercuri

Breeders’ Cup, November 2010

In a different life she wins.
In a different November in Kentucky she leans
into the last curve of the brown-combed track
as she passes the thick of the field. In that one,
in a bar far away, in our lucky coats
and muddy white sneakers, we rise
with the televised crowd as she quickens
at the flick of the jockey, as the grandstand churns
at the distance beginning to close, as the line comes closer.

And we know it as her rider leans forward,
as Zenyatta knows it in her legs
as the horse before her turns
and knows it’s over, the brown mane flying by
in a whip of color and dust, as the stands become a flicker
of white tickets, as her name is spoken skyward like a chant. Read More

Ending the Poem

By Theresa Burns

Featured art: Northern Lights over Iceland, by Harald Moltke

Never on light or love.
Never, I’m told, on one of those
Poetry words like keening or wept.
Tears of any kind, in fact,
Are out, and even a rueful
Smile reads smug in the last line.
No small animals, or small
Hands, or anything especially
Beneficent. Don’t even think about
Children or old people. Or teenagers,
Lest they drive the poem
Into a ditch two blocks from home.
Nothing delicious or bitter.
Forget kisses and comeuppance,
As easily as you forget umbrellas
At parties; it’s not worth going back.
Don’t get moral. Nothing’s black
Or white in the end. Never
On silence. Or birdsong. Ever.
And the silence that utterly shadows
The yard at the end of birdsong?
I doubt it. Don’t be certain
About anything. Ask a question,
Leave a crumb, chase the tail
Of something down a black hole.
Just don’t make it black.
Make it that color at the throats
Of poppies, a kind of blue-gray black
Like crushed velvet. And feel it
Going down. Read More

Gentleman Caller

By Elton Glaser 

So this is death come walking, looking mighty fine,
Him with a firm stride and a dragon-headed cane,
Dandy with diamonds in his smile, all howdy-do
And sweet potato pie, him strutting right up
To your own front door, that big stick knocking
On the frame and tapping his spats, making
The neighbors stare and the dogs back down,
Him idling under the hum of the porch light,
Spreading his shine wherever he pleases, sounding
A little cocky when he calls your name—

And what’s your mama gonna do about that?

Read More

Clean For Him the Ashes

Featured art: The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16 October 1834 by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Winner, New Ohio Review Fiction Contest 
selected by Colm Tóibín

By David E. Yee

I remember watching the Cotton family’s kitchen burn, felt only a ripple of urgency. Knew it was the kitchen because the houses on this stretch are all the same split-levels built north of Ellicott City, the semi-rural bit just past 70—two main avenues laced together by branches of side streets, neighborhoods pock- eted along them. I kept waiting for the flames to reach out like arms through the windows, but there were just these little tips of orange licking the gutter. Our plots were far enough apart that the heat didn’t warp my siding, but the pungent smell of that old wood burning, the paint peeling, felt toxic, jarred me from an otherwise peaceful Monday night.
Read More

Waitress in an All-Night Diner, West Virginia

By Rebecca Baggett

Featured art: A small portion of the Fanny Bennett Hemlock Grove on one side of Spruce Knob, West Virginia. Old Mammoth Road by Carol M. Highsmith

Angels visit sometimes, close to dawn.
They cluster by the door, seem to scan the cars
as they turn in, as if waiting for something—
what, she doesn’t have a clue.

She’s forty-three, a bad cough (first cigarette
at fourteen), two divorces, a dragonfly tattoo
on her left shoulder blade. Tumble
of chestnut curls—not a gray hair yet—
imprisoned in a net, magnificent when released.
Terrible feet. She hasn’t told a soul
about the angels, not even her sister,
who knows everything else worth telling.

They aren’t as glorious as she’d imagined.
Their wings, in particular—tight-folded
against their backs—surprise her by their drabness,
dusty-brown as the sparrows that hop around
the parking lot and gorge on stale biscuits
she crumbles on her break. The angels’ eyes—
washed-out blues and greens with strange,
cat-like pupil-slits—track her as she winds
through tables, a pot of coffee in each hand,
or delivers platters heaped with pancakes, sausages,
fries.
                       Why me? she wonders,
her back tickling under their eerie gaze,
but can’t imagine. Until the night the boy—
he can’t be more than boy yet—plunges
through the door, white as biscuit dough
except two spots, fever-red, high on either cheek.
The pistol he grips trembling with every
shuddering breath. Read More

Bag Lady Muse

By Rebecca Baggett 

My muse is an old bag lady,
who turns up every morning, grocery cart
heaped with rubber boots, starfish,
hula hoops, ruby vases, tattered children’s
books, ballet slippers, rhinestone pins,
and a fur stole with a fox head at one end,
expecting me to make a poem.

What am I supposed to do
with all this random crap?
I ask.
Did I mention that one wheel
of her cart is catawampus, so it makes
a loud kerchunk kerchunk
as she maneuvers it up my drive
and into my living room, where she
insists on parking?

She shrugs, slumps into the recliner,
lights a cigarette.
                                   It’s your life,
lamb. I’m just collecting it.


Read More

Laundromat

By Ted Kooser

Although it’s abandoned at two in the morning,
an empty white carton of buzzing fluorescence,
there’s always the feeling that someone was there
until only a moment before you walked in,
someone who reached up and popped a soap bubble
of fragrance, the last shimmer of color afloat
in this otherwise colorless storefront, then strolled past
the choir of top-loaders and opened their lids,
leaving them open, each of them holding its breath
before singing, two dollars in quarters per song.

Read More

The Clipper Ship

By Ted Kooser

Featured art: Early Morning After a Storm at Sea by Winslow Homer

There was a cheaply framed clipper flying in full sail
over the sofa, and it leaned just a little into the glass
as if to look down on me lying there bored, and it carried
more sail than anything in Iowa. It looked as if some boy
had broken a lot of white cups and saucers and stacked up
the pieces, just so, so they wouldn’t fall off of the sill
of that window that opened onto a faraway sea, a sea
that the ship had only recently ripped open, revealing
the world’s white cotton lining. That overstuffed sofa
was heavy and brown like a barge, and it smelled like
the one suit in my grandfather’s closet, an angry blue
like the sea in the picture, and as I lay there, climbing
the main mast’s springy rigging onto a lofty spar
where I could look down on myself, I could see the sofa
slowly sinking, the carpet all patterned with flotsam
slapping against it, and I wondered, as one might wonder,
if the ship would ever arrive in time to save me, or if I,
hanging high in the rigging, would simply wave it on.
Read More

Hilltop Cemetery

Featured art: River Village in a Rainstorm by Lu Wenying

By Brendan Cooney

How many of you said,
“How I prayed for the day to pass quickly.”

How many said,
“I didn’t care about the result
even if I did achieve it.”

How many of you said,
“I dreamed of making them like me,
if only for my elevation of thought
and unmistakable wit.”

How many of you said,
“I was ridiculously exaggerating the facts,
but how could I help it?”

How many said,
“I could not control myself and
was already shaking with fever.”

Who said,
“Then followed three years of gloomy memories.”

Did anyone say,
“If it’s gonna be shame, bring it;
if it’s gonna be disgrace, I’ll take it;
if it’s gonna be degradation, welcome;
the worse it is, the better.”

How many of you said,
“Strangeness is not a vice.”

How many said,
“I needed a friend, so much.” Read More

Delectable Hazards at the Animal Dive

By Michael Chaney

Featured art: Chinese painting featuring two birds on a flowering tree branch

By the time the cow set down the samosas, covering the spot where he’d earlier hooved his name, Fox seemed different to Pig.

“Simply marvelous,” Pig said with an air, trying to play it off.

Fox coughed. “May I have more water?” Annoyance puckered her auburn snout.

“Not a problem,” said the cow. “Mind if I brag about our wines?”

“Please do, darling.” Fox had a lovey-dovey way of talking. To Pig, she was not so different from the elegant junk in herringbone patterns on the walls: bugles, radios, troughs, collars, toys, and white puffy gloves.

“I don’t drink,” Fox said, touching the waiter’s hoof. It was gentle. His bell never so much as whispered as she did it. Anyone else would have gotten a bray from all four of his stomachs, Pig was thinking, distracted by the samosas. Their crispy folds smuggled the aroma of mudzhki, the kind Pig’s grandsow used to make with cabbage and sweet layings. Read More

Experiment. Kathryn Cowles. Metal, treadmill, buttons, psychiatrists, the artist. 2014

By Kathryn Cowles

Featured art: Hawkin’s Machine for writing and drawing. 

I must be present in the gallery
7 hours a day 7 days a week
with 25 minutes for lunch.
Water is always available to me in a tube
extended from the ceiling.
I have bolted to the wall and floor behind me
long, thin iron spikes like the ones
in the dungeon of the castle in the film
with the handsome anthropologist
when the floor breaks away and he falls
and his length of rope, hastily tied
around his middle
is just shorter than
the distance to
the longest of the long spikes.
The psychologists in the corner
in the white coats and with their clipboards
are part of the art piece,
though they fancy themselves to be
conducting an experiment.

Read More