New Ohio Review Issue 23. Originally printed Spring 2018. 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 23 compiled by Darby Ricks

Midnight at the Anaconda Wire and Cable Company

By Sandy Gingras

Featured art: Position Interplay: Midnight by Samia Halaby

The building is boarded up, but we know how to get in.
It’s the end of summer and we’re seventeen. We don’t have a car
and there’s nowhere to go in this town except down

the huge hills gliding our bikes past the A&P,
the Ben Sun store where my mother buys my gym uniform, past
the funeral home and the corner bar where Eddie’s father sits

in the same chair every afternoon. The air is humid,
and the stars look stalled out in the sky. Maybe they’re waiting
for us to try something or to grow up already like my mother tells

me to do. A train goes past and faces stare out of the fluorescent lights.
My flip-flops ring on the metal stairs. Eddie puts his shoulder on
a board, and we’re through. It’s just the way it always is—

the way they left it. Eddie sweeps his flashlight across
the cables and cogs and steel beams, the stacks of papers
next to the stapler. This place is leaking

PCPs into the Hudson River, my mother says, but we don’t know
what PCPs are. All I know is, this is where my father worked
before he left my mother. Eddie and I grew up two brick houses

away from each other. Tonight we’re here to take one last look at
the muscley machines. I’m leaving for school tomorrow.
See, some things last, Eddie says to me. I don’t tell him different.

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Los Angeles, 1990

By: Jerry Williams

Featured art: Motorcycle Race (Motorradrennen) by Oskar Nerlinger

I can recall riding a Kawasaki 750
down Sunset Boulevard
on a Saturday afternoon in light traffic.
Cruising along at thirty mph in fourth gear,
I let go of the handlebars,
braced myself on the fuel tank,
and slowly rose to my feet.
Helmetless, I stood like a surfer in the wind
on the imitation leather seat,
my longish hair blown back,
sunshine bursting through my goggles.
A thin membrane of fear lined
the inside of an urn made of pure joy.
After about an eighth of a mile,
I returned to the legal sitting position
and only then did I notice my runaway pulse.
When you’re twenty-three years old
the saddle of a thousand-pound motorcycle
feels as firm as the ground you walk on.
You get full access to your inner maniac.
Nowadays, doctors and sounder reasoning
have rescued me from worldly vices
and a rapid heartbeat often provokes alarm.
But I miss the brash torque of myself,
the quality of light in that urban desert,
all the midnights and years out in front of me
like the beautiful stupid jewels of infinity.

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May My Enemy Be Overcome By His Own Glitter

By: Laura Paul Watson

Featured art: Glittering the Being by Roberto Matta

May he wake to an empty house.
May every pleasure
be interrupted. May every wheel squeak.
When he reaches the front of the line
may he return to the end of it
and may everyone before him
pay by personal check.
May he receive a thousand e-mails a day,
none of them personal, every one of them personal. 
May he go nowhere in metaphor
but travel everywhere by bus.
May every road be under construction.
May he lose the last page of every book.
May he find no pillow in the field.
May he find no field.
When faced with stone, may he see only stone.
Because he is narrow, may he hold
no one but himself.
There is power in forgiveness.
There is power in withholding it.
May he have the life he wished for me.
May every way be the dark way home.

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Google Map

By: Connie Zumpf

Featured art: The House on the Edge of the Village by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen

Today I Googlemapped your address
hoping to catch a glimpse of you.
You weren’t in the picture,

but must have been home because
your truck sat in the driveway.
It all looked calm and still—I was glad

to see the grass had been mowed
and the weeds kept at bay. I rotated
the street view to the little park

just north of your house, the one
where we walked through withered leaves
last November. You weren’t there either.

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Strangers I Think I Know

By: Connie Zumpf

Featured art: The Siesta by Paul Gauguin

A woman steps off a bus or a train,
and something about her—
the way she holds her shoulders,
that straight-on walk—
swings my head around.

I am here, not over there. But maybe
there’s an occasional breach
where the skin of time thins,
and I glimpse unlived versions
of myself on a crowded street,
or through bookshelves in a library.

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Roland Raccoon

By: Karin Lin-Greenberg

Featured art: Girl by Egon Schiele

Ms. Gardner had not been in support of the plan to drag Roland Raccoon to every middle school science class, but the principal said they’d paid Margery Martin a flat fee for the school visit, and it would be a waste if every student at Grisham Middle School did not have the opportunity to visit with Roland. Ms. Gardner was certain the eighth graders in her sixth period class were too old to learn life lessons about kindness and compassion and giving everyone and everything a chance from a twelve-year-old blind raccoon that was also deaf in one ear. “But he loves to be sung to,” Margery Martin had informed the class, adding, “in his good ear.” She cradled Roland in her lap as if he were a baby.

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Not the Wolf but the Dog

By: Jacqueline Berger

Featured art: Two Human Beings. The Lovely Ones by Edvard Munch

Not the zebra but the horse;
not buffalo but cows,
maybe camels,
who traded the wild for the stable,
a stall lined in straw,
the house with wee gables and eaves,
their name over the door—
Biscuit, Coco. Snowball, Ranger.
Traded the hunt for the daily bowl and dish,
predators for owners, collar and leash;
agreed to be a tool—plow or cart
or confidant—to breed in captivity.

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Another Version of My Confession

By: Lara Egger

Featured art: Form No. 5: Affection for Shapeless Things by Onchi Koshiro

My affection is a tabloid on sale at register three.
Citing moral reservations, the produce section

prefers not to get involved. Even the usually forgiving
cauliflower thinks my choices are questionable.

Have you noticed how some days the rush-hour light
makes the world look as if it’s snorkeling?

Stalled in the desperation of the strip-mall parking lot,
I tally my indiscretions, dog-eared romances

steadily expiring like glove-compartment coupons.
What would have been saved had I not agreed to love them?

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Day Residue in Winter

By: Wes Civilz

Featured art: Murol in the Snow by Victor Charreton

« For three days, no coffee;
               there were headaches »

« On the fourth day, I have coffee again »
« My frozen intelligence melts open,
               sizzling with otherworldly light,
               but two hours later a slight sadness
               and a fading of the perfect coffee feeling »
« Then comes a desire for beer »
« Then a quick feeling that now
               is a moment I could be bored,
               if I was a person who got bored,
               but I am not »
« It is, however, too early in the day for beer
               so I do the dishes, and observe that soap bubbles
               are sly jokes told by the goddess of spheres »

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Of a Burrito de Buche

By: Patrick Mainelli

Featured art: Committed to Tradition (Uberlieferung verpflichtet) by Monika Baer

I’m not drinking anymore. It’s not a court-ordered thing or medical imperative. I didn’t crash a car or assault a neighbor or luridly graze my cousin’s leg at the reception of her wedding. No one has ever even told me to “take it easy there” as I poured three, four, five fingers of scotch over ice. As a drunk, I’m purely congenial. Maybe I’ve tipped over a plate of food here and there, fallen asleep on the toilet once or twice, sung in competing volume with the Midnight Mass choir, but who hasn’t? After a nightful of drinks I am more inclined to turn embarrassingly casual with my affections than to become anything close to mean or combative.

So this is a self-imposed drought. Denial might be the word.

The shit thing is it’s July. Beer’s favorite month. Because after mowing a lawn or trimming a tree there is no reward like the reward of beer, and because to swim in the lake, to rest tired and near-naked on the shore, and to not drink a beer feels an affront to God’s finer generosities—July demands a beer.

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By: Danusha Laméris

Featured art: Blue-tipped Dragonfly illustration from The Naturalist’s Miscellany by George Shaw

I wish you could see them: two thin blue needles
hovering above a bed of loosestrife and clover,
slivers of electricity, humming, almost invisible—
a glimmer of azure against the hillside. How
do their bodies hold the requisite organs?
Never mind the pull that makes them want
to wend their forms together this way. A tangle
of wires working themselves into union
this Sunday afternoon. Which, come to think of it,

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The Problem

By: Grant Clauser

Featured art: Sketch for Beach Scene by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

The town decided
that blowing up the body
was the best way to move it,
but the only explosives expert
was a groundskeeper
who’d planted mines in the war.
Still, people set up beach chairs
and umbrellas on the dune
to watch. When it blew,
slabs the size of picnic tables
crushed cars a quarter mile away.

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Here’s the Plan

By: Patrick Meeds

For Amy Dickinson

Featured art: Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz by Amedeo Modigliani

                                     You be a rubber bullet, and I’ll be fireworks
on TV. You dismantle your prejudices, and I’ll acquaint myself
with all the latest fads. You drag the river, I’ll manage expectations.
You shake your head and say yes, I’ll nod my head and say no.
I’ll call you Texas, and you can call me Nancy.

                                                                 Practical and precise, we
will compile a list of things we will need. Warm clothes
and synchronized watches. Miniature technology and hand-drawn
maps. Invisible ink and antique stationery. The music of Django
Reinhardt and a list of all the patron saints.

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My Younger Self Attempts Breakdancing at the Sadie Hawkins Dance

By: Kerry James Evans

Featured art: Dryland Farming #24, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain by Edward Burtynsky

I spin like an adolescent bottle
pointing in empty directions,

the colors of the divided gym
spiraling like one of Mrs. Peters’

chemistry experiments, the blurry
girls staring, the boys huddled together

like cows in a thunderstorm.
A minute ago, I’d sensed the movement,

two Samanthas on their way to our side
with their rare request.

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Wings of Wind

By: Eliot Fintushel

Featured art: West Wind by Duncan Grant

“He goes on wings of wind,” is what a psalm says, one of the psalms. Another one says, “Happy is he who shall grab your babies and hurl them against a rock.” When I try to explain these scriptures to Miriam and Cassie, they look at me like I’m stupid. Do you call that a friend? In the Jesus times, friends even kissed each other on the lips for hello—Miriam would be caught dead first. Cassie, okay, actually, even on the lips, which I am going to tell you about it, except for the fact that she is damned to Hell.

Like, I’m the one who is stupid! This is what the Bible says about sinners like Miriam and Cassie: “They have their reward.” Namely, shit.

Miriam wears this, like, Nazi dirndl, which she thinks is cool, with her curly once-upon-a-time blonde hair and with sunglasses with red rims, and she looks like melted cheese with a worm in it, but she walks like she thinks she is a beauty queen, you know, with, like, her one heel right in front of, like, the toe of her other foot, in a straight line, supposedly, except that it’s crooked!

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Creed for Atheists

By: Matthew Buckley Smith

Featured art: Bright Nothing by Sam Francis

     Let us not speak of God
As if He were the nightmare of a naughty child,
     Or a white lie for a widow,
Or a conscript’s consolation on the battlefield.
     Let us instead be awed
By the nothingness we’ve chosen not to be awed by,
     The shade whose earthly shadow
We’re standing in, the lie cast by a happy lie.
     The face we turn away,
Let us turn it toward the others, let us find them out,
     The ones who know the way
A sure thing looks when rounded with a little doubt,
     The same ones every day
Who, kneeling all together in a common room,
     Pray for their pets and pray
As well for us, their company in a common doom.
     Let’s take no satisfaction,
But concentrate on what we say when we say no:
     That dead we are the same,
That time falls fast across the fading light like snow,
     That man is an anxious motion
Of matter upon matter, liquor upon tongue,
     The neurotransmitter’s flame
Upon the dendrite’s kindling—bright, and not for long.

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The Spiritual Exercises

By: Lisa Ampleman

Everyone on television is apologizing.
      I’m sorry I kissed your sister. I’m sorry
I sold the dog. 
We watch, each with our own

TV screen we walk or run toward. The treadmills’
      wheels whine louder and louder.
In the strength training area, a man grunts

and drops a heavy weight. I wish I hadn’t eaten
      so many foods with high fructose corn syrup.
I’m sorry I got you addicted to sugar.

On one wall-mounted TV, two men in an octagon
      with netted sides try to kick each other
in the face. When one pins the other,

he moves gradually, pulling the loser’s arm
      further up, maximum pain. The other
struggles to buck him off. It makes me feel sick.

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The Jesus Bus

By: Melissa Studdard

Featured art: Children’s Games by Édouard Jean Vuillard

came early, sputtering and spilling
Kumbaya from the windows,
the little punks inside eating a breakfast
of Pop Rocks and candy cigarettes left over from Halloween
and hiding the wrappers in the creases
between seatback and seat. I never sang
but floated instead in my own world of thought.
All you had to do was look at an issue
of National Geographic to know everything
was extraordinary and people’s bones were full of stars.

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Fez Postcard / Call to Prayer

By: Jacqueline Osherow

Featured art: North Avenue Market by Aaron Bohrod

A jeweler holds a magnet to his silver
to prove its purity (there’s no pull)

A seller wraps a package for a buyer
who’s never quite assented to the sale

A flash and then another as a weaver
shuttles spun agave silk through wool

and then a blast of sound / a change of air
at once the market’s hustle-bustle trivial

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar
even if business does go on as usual.

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Blessed Is He

By: Jeff Tigchelaar

Featured art: Christ Blessing by Martin Schongauer

How am I?
Blessed. Blessed. I am
just blessed. God is good. Not afraid
to brag on God. Brag all day
on Big Man. My fiancée
just graduated. Junior college right across the street.
Four point O. See? God. He’s good. I’m looking
for work. The other day who do
I happen to meet
but the owner of Huntington Steel.
If that’s not God right there.
You can’t tell me that’s not a God Thing.
He’s workin’ it. Every day. Everywhere. I’m going
to Israel, by the way. Jerusalem. Judah. Judah, you know,
was Jacob’s fourth son. Now
Moses, though—God didn’t let just anybody
bury Moses. Dude was holy. An angel
had to put old Moses in the ground. Archangel Michael.
Jude 9. Look it up. Good Book.
Moses was so holy. Up there
two weeks with God on that mountain.
Gettin’ those Commandments. No Moses, no tablets.
Moses got blessed like nobody’s business.
Love me some Ten Commandments, though.
Love me some Shalt Nots and Covets. Don’t Covets.
God bless Moses. I’m just
blessed to be able to tell you about Moses. Share that
Word with you today. The man was like God’s Number Three.
Maybe Two. Right behind Jesus. Blessed as hell.
I’m about to be blessed with that steel job, though.

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This Is a .50-Caliber Wound

By: Jeff Tigchelaar

Featured art: The Lonely Farm, Nantucket by George Inness

Knee surgery? Hell no
I didn’t have knee surgery.
That’s a .50-caliber wound.
I got bullet holes
up and down this leg.
Running through rice paddies.
                 Never mind that.
I need people to work. Know anybody?
People don’t want
to work no more. I need people
to throw hay. People can’t
throw hay no more.

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Reverse Sculpture

By: Richard Dey

Featured art: Untitled by Richard M. Loving

                                                                                                               As the stone shrinks, the form expands.

It’s like sculpting in reverse,
       learning about love:
Here’s a Maiden or Aphrodite or Venus,
       naked and polished
or is it the Doryphorus or David or . . .
Isn’t s/he nice? The Ideal in spirit and form?
       Miss or Mister Universe!

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Arrangement in Gray and Black

By: Laurie Rosenblatt

Featured art: Composition with Black and Gray by Claude Ronald Bentley

In the straight-backed chair
for hours for hours after
a drug-stilled night for hours
after dream-hungry sleep she sits
in the straight-backed chair
unmoving for night
after night after leaning spent
against the steel surface
of sleep after staying by habit
on the right side of the bed
as if as if—

although some time does go missing

as if an owl passed like a ghost
its wing-beats deepening the silence
before the milkweed
from that half-dreaming
streams away.

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Ye Are of More Value than Many Sparrows

By: Elton Glaser

Featured art: Sparrows and wisteria by Utagawa Hiroshige

Luke 12:7

How many sparrows are enough? I can’t tell
If there are more this afternoon than yesterday.

And if there’s one missing, or two, or eight,
What does it matter? All I know is

They are not so many since I took the feeders down
After your death. They came for the seeds

Your kind hands set out. I give them nothing.
Now, if they come, they come only

For reasons of their own, these quick birds
Dowdy in their grays and browns, and leave behind

That whistle and trill, or the echo of it,
Singing not for me, but for the moment’s pleasure

Of lifting their wings in warm air, alive
To the light. And in their easy glide and sweep,

Oblivious of anything but song, I find myself
A listener outside the choir, and still

Inside those memories of the missing kindness
That drew them here, however many, however few.

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Haunting Houses

By: Jacqueline Doyle

Featured art: The Customs House at Varengeville by Claude Monet

In the movie I’m watching with my husband, “A Ghost Story,” a woman lies in bed with a lover and tells him a story. “When I was little and we used to move all the time, I’d write these notes and I would fold them up really small. And I would hide them.” “What’d they say?” he asks. “They’re just things I wanted to remember,” she says, “so that if I ever wanted to go back, there’d be a piece of me there waiting.”


We were in elementary school when my best friend moved out of the red house on the lake. She was moving hundreds of miles away, the rooms had been emptied, and we ran all over the house leaving tiny notes about our enduring friendship. There was a door in the upstairs-hall ceiling with a ladder to the attic, where we tucked notes in hidden spaces under the eaves. There was a small door allowing access to the bathroom pipes on the second floor. A dark basement with several rooms and pipes on the ceiling. Our footsteps echoed as we ran up and down stairs.


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April 21st

By: Billy Collins

Featured art: A Pond Near Rousillon by Adolphe Appian

It’s the birthday of John Muir and Charlotte Brontë,
born just 18 years apart,
she in Yorkshire and he somewhere in Scotland,
both in their basinets under the same gray clouds,
but then their lives diverge so radically
you might begin to question the claims of astrologers,
if you haven’t had the sense to do that already.

Muir heads off to Wisconsin (with his parents I guess),
whereas Charlotte is placed in a nearby boarding school.
Muir then stomps all over North America,
exulting in Nature and writing it all down,
while Charlotte stays mostly indoors composing poems
with her sisters, Emily and Anne.
He leaves us Picturesque California, she Jane Eyre.

I don’t have much on my calendar for today,
another April 21st featuring a walk around the lake,
then boxing up the cat and driving her to the vet.
It’s overwhelming to think of all the things
I’m not doing today, including being born.
But I will say that my life, maybe like yours,
falls somewhere between John Muir’s and Charlotte Brontë’s.

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The Card Players

By: Billy Collins

Featured art: Playing Card by Piero Fornasetti

I’m glad Cezanne was not here in Key West
to set up an easel and paint
the card game I was in last night,
unless he was really good at depicting despondency.

Cezanne once said that a single carrot,
if painted in a completely fresh way,
would be enough to set off a revolution.
I’ll bet he was sitting in a café that day

where such observations are usually made,
but if I had been sitting in that café
across from Cezanne I would have quipped
“Maybe if Bugs Bunny were in charge of things,”

and I would have described in a fresh way
how the famous rabbit might be portrayed
pointing the mob to the Bastille with a carrot.

Beer and chips and more beer and chips
were served at the poker table,
but no carrot soup, a staple on every menu
in the bunny rabbit stories of Beatrix Potter

and a dish that would have warmed me
inside and out the way a good soup does
and made me feel much better
about losing all my money and then some.

But at least now I have found the answer
to the old question of who would you invite
to your ideal dinner party:
Paul Cezanne, Bugs Bunny, Beatrix Potter,

and okay, maybe at the last minute, Gore Vidal.

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Made-up Saints

By: Claire Scott

Wile E. Coyote free-falling from a cliff,
Sylvester flattened by an iron safe,
scads of sodden Kleenex at my side.

I put my name on a waitlist for mercy
(a light-year long).
I murmur worn mantras,
send prayers to made-up saints:

Saint Jackson of bankruptcy,
Saint Tiffany of clogged toilets,
Saint Lester of shapeless days
& tedious tomorrows,
Saint Elmer of the toss-and-turn.

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Aubade with Looney Tunes

By: Matthew Luzitano

Featured art: Chelly Canyon by Alice Kagawa Parrott

Your love is a tunnel
painted on a canyon wall.
My love is an Acme,
ripped open despite

certain failure. The TV,
at least, is turned on,
and you say, “Well, that makes
one of us.” Years of this bickering—

can’t Bugs and Daffy
just kiss already? Instead,
the duck marches into the glade
of a dozen cocked rifles.

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By: William Fargason

Featured art: Young Couple by Emil Nolde

On the TV, a man is attempting
to cross the Grand Canyon by walking
on a tightrope. He holds
a large pole to balance himself,
slippered feet cupped around
the two-inch metal wire. What poise,
balance. We are watching this together
because you’ve driven over
to pick me up for dinner, but neither
of us will turn off the TV
or stand up. By now, we are invested
in the outcome. You pull closer

to me on the couch. Will he make it
across? Will the cameras keep rolling
if not? His family waits on the other
side of the canyon. Your hand
on my leg tightens when the wind
picks up, causes the man to bend
down, pivot the pole to regain balance.
I can smell the perfume you’re wearing
because we are going to a nice place
for once, that French restaurant
with all the candles. Your neck smells of lilacs,
or pancakes burning. I can never tell.

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Loose Ends

By: Gregory Djanikian

Featured art: Starry Night and the Astronauts by Alma Thomas

I’ve been pacing the afternoon
like a high-wire walker
from room to room
counting the steps.

Dear Flying Wallendas,
help me reach out across the canyon
of lost connections.
Philippe Petit, speak to me
as if I were your balancing pole.

The letters I’ve written—
let them send me back a sign
they’ve been thumbed.
Let the numbers I’ve called
redial themselves till sun-up.

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The Blue Goodness

By: Maureen McGranaghan

Franklin ducks into the janitor’s closet and mutters into the iPod Greg bought him. The Goodness is here. It is definitely here. Last night, the blue tarp stopped flapping, and it got very quiet. Then the Goodness filled the whole house like heat from the radiators. Greg and Kate stopped fighting and went to sleep. Now it is everywhere: The Blue Goodness

Franklin hears his name on the intercom. He is being called to Mr. Volpe’s office, so he puts his iPod in his pocket and emerges from the closet.

Mr. Volpe greets him, fiddling with his watch chain and rubbing the bald spot on his head. His voice sounds like rocks grinding against each other. Franklin thinks about the rocks when he speaks. How many?

“Your brother—is he sick?” Mr. Volpe asks.

Four rocks. Small. “Yes. He is. He has walking pneumonia.”

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Judgement Call

By: James Lineberger

Featured art: Man with a Pipe by Pablo Picasso

I don’t know why you won’t show
your face maybe you
don’t know how maybe there’s some
rule about it
or you might be still sleeping or lost
somewhere in
between but if that’s the case
then why do you send these butterflies
to land on Barbara’s
arm and make her candle lights
switch on all
by themselves at four a.m.
and Robert said just yesterday
that you pop
up now and then in his dreams hands
in your pockets
leaning against a wall
and when he asks you what
it’s like you shrug and say it’s
okay which
is all right with me I don’t care how
much you share
with everybody else but unless
you mean to shut me out altogether
then isn’t it about
time we decided on something for
ourselves because
the way it is now I close my eyes
and I can’t even make
out your features your face is just a blank
like somebody wearing
a fencing mask or else I’ll try
to call you up

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In the Gas Station Bathroom With My New Son

By: Amy O’Reilly

Someone scratched out the C so it reads “Baby hanging Station.”
What isn’t conspiring to kill Baby?
Pillow. Blanket. Mother’s sleeping body like an island
resort battened down for the wet season,
the beds stripped of their festive linens,
clink of glasses beneath the bar while outside
the storm rages.

Motherhood turns out to be
less spot the warning signs,
more choose which ones to heed—

Like this floating table, its baby-sized crater
inundated with other tiny humans’ feces.
Beneath the black safety strap
my son looks sacrificial,
like he’s about to be experimented on.
Even when I’ve chosen right I have surely chosen wrong.

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By: Rebecca Haas

Featured art: Angel by Luc Tuymans

The station wagon’s engine’s going faulty. We’re driving 20 mph on the right side of the highway, half in the slow lane, half on the shoulder. Mom’s got both hands clenched on the steering wheel, leaning over the dashboard like she’s urging the car forward with sheer will. The car moves in rhythmic gasps, pausing in between the surges, catching its breath. Mom whispers, quiet so the little ones can’t hear. Bad, bad, bad. This is baaaaaad.

She turns to me and says, “I’ve got the gas pedal pushed all the way to the floor.” Like, can you believe this shit?

We’re just outside of Gainesville, Florida, headed back home to Cincinnati. For ten years—since my brother Kevin was born—we’ve gone on a family vacation to Florida. Mom said it’d be no different this summer, even after the divorce. But we didn’t go to the coast, where we used to go when Dad was with us. We went to Central Florida, to Ocala, where Mom’s sister Florence lives.

“You’re batshit crazy driving four kids down to Florida by yourself,” Flo said.

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No One Dies in Fiction Anymore

By: Kaj Tanaka

Featured art: Heart of Darkness by Sean Scully

I. Sherman Alexie

Once again last night, a dead woman appeared to me. She spoke my name and asked me to help her back into the world of the living. She said she was so close to me; it would only take a small caress and she would be flesh and blood again. I didn’t move. Her face hung over my bed until the dream resolved itself, and I was awake again, and this morning was gray and cold just like yesterday morning and the morning before.

This morning, I heard our neighbors’ little daughter crying in the room above us amid the crashing of furniture while her parents fought. The crying and the fighting were so loud my wife wondered if we should call the police—we decided not to, and then my wife left for work, and the fighting died down. I texted my wife to let her know things were quiet again. She texted me “okay.”

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At the Outpatient Clinic

By: Andrea Hollander

Featured art: Free Clinic by Jacob Lawrence

The young woman in the maroon hat
is tapping her left foot as she stares
into her empty lap. She’s kept her coat on,
its collar of fake fur buttoned at her throat.
The woman’s face is pale—blanched is the word
I was about to use, but my mother’s name was Blanche
and I don’t want to think of her, the way at the end
she grew so white and thin, her hair so black
I thought someone had rinsed it with ink. She lay so flat
beneath those hospital sheets, I thought at first
the bed empty, that they had taken her away.

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And Later I Will Forget About the Bread

By: Andrea Hollander

Featured art: From the Kitchen by Ruth Levy

I try to stop glancing at the clock, try
to focus instead on the task at hand, dusting
my palms with flour, lifting the round ball
of dough from the board, slapping it down again.

My son is driving home, his first solo trip,
his teenage eyes partially, I hope, fixed
on the highway’s center line.

From my kitchen radio, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
I can never tell which one, the way I never remember
what Daylight Savings is supposed to save us.

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This Is How It Will Feel

By: Jennifer Watkins

Featured art: Woman and Child by Mary Cassatt

At three years old, you will sit beside me in a rusty Ford as we head south on I-95. The air conditioning will blow lukewarm air, and you will feel hot and sticky. From the carrier in the backseat, our cat will growl long and low. Looking out of the passenger window, you will see stacks of steel lattice speed by, connected by strands of drooping lines. Through the back windshield, a shrinking ribbon of asphalt, lengthening and disappearing into the horizon. After many hours, the dirt will turn from brown to orange.

“I want my daddy,” you will say.

“Daddy’s staying in Maryland,” I will reply.

A few weeks later, after boxes have been unpacked in the Georgia apartment complex called Cherry Tree Hill, a card will arrive in the mail. Tearing open the envelope, you will find a photograph of your father. He’ll be sitting in a leather office chair, smiling for his daughter’s benefit and wearing neatly pressed blues. You will clutch the picture to your chest, pressing your cheek against its sharp edges. You will kiss the photo over and over. I will tell you to stop.

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Local News

By: Christopher Kempf

                   Or dearest theater.
                                                      Aren’t we
all, the premise is, for one
                                    half hour, in tight zoom, suitable
for history? The Lyndhurst couple
         married, this weekend, at the bagel shop
                                                on Central. Who met
               among the jams & pumpernickels.
                                                                           The suspect
who fled the Chevron holdup
                                                on horseback.

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These People

By: Anele Rubin

Featured art: Green Park by Dorothea Tanning

These people strolling through the park
with baby carriages and frisbees
have no idea
my sister choked to death
on a sausage
after being released
from a mental hospital down south
but they may know I’ve been crying
and wonder what I’m writing
in my little yellow book
sitting in the grass next to the only dandelion
left in the park

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Timeless Beauty

By: Brian Hall

Featured art: Costumes Parisiens by Manteau de Zibelin

What does she tell me, wind?
—Louis Aragon

My grandmother is a Louis Vuitton model.
Though she will never see the streets
of Île Saint-Louis or pose
along the Seine clutching a Monogram
Canvas Petite Malle iPhone case,
she does drift through grainy nostalgia
like Sora Choi; she does stare beyond
the moment like Sasha Lane, who yearns
to wear soigné dresses and be admired
near rue de la Femme-sans-Tête.

My grandmother is a flâneuse of Youngstown,
shuffling near the faded edges.
In the middle of the road,
she stops traffic because she is
elegance: the wind rippling
her white robe around her as she looks
over her shoulder, gazing
at an audience—drivers, police,
grandchildren, and daughters—
she no longer understands
and at the seasons forever lost.

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Black Sesame

By: Adrienne Su

Featured art: Flowers of a Hundred Worlds (Momoyogusa): Fulling Silk (Uchiginu) by Kamisaka Sekka 

Had I stayed in touch with black sesame,
much would have turned out differently.

For years I forgot the late nights with my mother,
the small bowls of hot sweetened water,

porcelain spoons, and white dumplings
with almost-black black-sesame filling

dwelling somewhere between dessert
and snack, erasing the not-quite hunger

that holds off sleep. At that hour
their strangeness didn’t register:

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The News of Touch

By: Craig van Rooyen

Featured art: Geese amid Reeds by Ohara Koson

Since his illness, my father feeds
the crook-necked goose every day.
He walks to the pond on diabetic feet,
careful as the path pitches and rolls under him
like a swinging bridge.
He wears suspenders over sloped shoulders,
the shirt tucked over a sagging belly.
Of course he would share with me,
if I didn’t stay away. There’s enough seed
in his bag for both of us. But I’d rather pull weeds
two towns over than see his shaking.
They greet him with a mighty honking,
wings flapping and dripping with light,
then surround him, hoarse with need.

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A Small Prayer

By: Craig van Rooyen

Featured art: Ce fut un religieux mystère by Maurice Denis

—After Ada Limon

Behind the rotting fence in their first house,
my mom and dad are eating canned mushroom soup
over buttered toast in a one-bedroom Kentucky clapboard
where a turntable spins the same Bill Gaither Trio record,
“Because He Lives,” until they go almost mad
with their stained Formica floor and overflowing toilet
and their longing for heaven, and I love them so.
She is crying at the stove because today
she crashed the rusted Dodge Dart and he has no way
to drive the circuit of his churches in the morning—
preaching at each about the Second Coming
and how to get right with Jesus. I want to offer
her a beer, but there I am in her womb,
kicking to be noticed among their other troubles
and, in any event, she has never had a drink.

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