New Ohio Review Issue 26 (Originally printed Fall 2019)

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 26 compiled by Julia Smarelli

Sad Rollercoaster

By Jared Harél

Feature image: The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun, c. 1805 by William Blake

My daughter’s in the kitchen, working out death.
She wants to get it. How it tastes and feels.
Her teacher talks like it’s some great, golden sticker.
Her classmates hear rumors, launch it as a curse
when toys aren’t shared. Between bites of cantaloupe,
she considers what she knows: her friend’s grandpa lives only
in her iPad. Dr. Seuss passed, but keeps speaking
in rhyme. We go to the Queens Zoo and spot the beakish skull
of a white-tailed deer tucked between rocks
in the puma’s enclosure. It’s just for show, I explain,
explaining nothing. That night, and the one after,
my daughter dreams of bones, how they lift
out of her skin and try on her dresses. So silly! she laughs,
when I ask if she’s okay. Then later, toward the back-end
of summer, we head to Coney Island to catch
a Cyclones game. We buy hot dogs and fries. A pop fly arcs
over checkerboard grass, when flush against the horizon
she sees a giant wooden spine, a dark blossom,
this brownish-red maze all traced in decay. She calls it
Sad Rollercoaster, then begs to be taken home.


Read More

The Men at Snowbowl Teaching Their Daughters to Ski

By Henrietta Goodman
Feature image: Mount Monadnock, probably 1911/1914 by Abbott Handerson Thayer

The first one is half a couple, young, their daughter
four or five in pink snow pants and a pink flowered
coat. They’re stopped at the top of the last long run,
skis wedged sideways. She’s made it this far, and now
she’s wailing I can’t do it I can’t do it I don’t want to
Almost everyone pauses before this sheer slope
gleaming in late-afternoon sun, this almost-vertical
descent that someone named Paradise. She’s sobbing
I can’t do it and her father says What do you need?
Do you need some fish? Do you need some T. Swift
?

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Lisbon Haibun

By Melissa Oliveira

Fall in the Alfama district, and all the bright skirts float down the city’s aston-
ishment of hills. The surprise of verticality, the step-polished marble underfoot,
the sun reflecting up, and I am always already sliding, or else just about to
slide. I claw at the shopkeeper’s rack of postcards, pause to watch the lipsticked
London women in the glissade of new wedges with untried soles, to read the
graffitied stucco wall: pura poeta. Not all of us who fall seem to mind; only
yesterday, in a splintered tram, I stood behind a stern German who lost her grip
around a turn. When she caught herself, the stoic control of her face opened
into joy, her blue eyes dancing as she swung herself on the metal rail. When I
tried to meet her smile with my own, hers vanished. I moved to the rear to dis-
embark, the sudden brake shoving me into a sturdy old man who laughed and
asked me something in a tongue I do not speak, though the message was clear.
Listen, maybe falling is why we come here at all. Only the dark-eyed man in his
fine suit—he wore your face, uncle, looked the age you were when you died—
knew how to control the fall: loosen the knees, shift the body’s gravity forward,
and never trust the temptation to lean back. Remember: only the dead are so
surefooted they will never fall again. On the stucco wall, someone changed the
words overnight to puta poeta; as I notice it, I feel again the shift of my sole, the
tightening of muscles and think, for a flash, of the sacred duty of those still in
warm and breathing flesh: to always be falling, and willing to fall for the world.
My bag’s contents all around, the act of picking stones from the palm’s soft
flesh—this, too, is holy. And with my knees on the cobbles, I look up

       An ancient woman
       clips the wash to the clothesline.
       Crimson lace, floating.

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The Summer Before Your Birth

By Christine Fraser
Feature image: The Yellow Curtain, c. 1893 by Edouard Vuillard

–after Sharon Olds

our girl we’ll tell you how it was then
how the lake spread out to the east of us
how we sailed out on it tacking and jibing
learning to round the marks
how we walked miles under skyscrapers
we could see no end we could have gone anywhere
a year later the city collapsed
down to our three rooms
all was the rocking and the crying
a bowl of black cherries
water in the tub
billowing yellow curtains
how quickly the city spun down
to you between us in our bed


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Keeping Warm

By Faith Shearin
Feature image: Seated Woman with Legs Drawn Up (Adele Herms), 1917 by Egon Schiele

That first winter after you vanished
into the white rafters

of the afterlife the old boyfriends returned
in texts and letters, one close enough

to walk with me beside a fast river
in the snow; these were the men I loved

when I was young and now I was alone
so they came looking for me or I

called out with a sound between
a howl and a bark and they replied;

I wasn’t sure what I wanted
from them, or what they

wanted from me, but I was grateful
for their attention and for the way

they could still remember me standing
in the corridors of the past,

under apple blossoms, where
they spoke to me in whispers and

unfastened my loneliness; I was trying to learn
how to be a woman without you.

One reminded me of how he undressed me
under a Steinway piano during a power outage;

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From a great height

By Natalie Taylor
Feature image: Dead Thrush, 16th Century by unknown artist

I find the baby quail blown
from its nest after an early summer

storm. Scoop the feathered dots
and stripes. Mom feeds it antibiotics

mixed with wet dog food on a toothpick.
It tilts its head to one side,

dark eye watching my face
as my sisters and I pray during

the procedure. Since I am the eldest,
I am put in charge.

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Goodly the Sum

By Julie Hanson
Feature image: Dynamic Suprematism, 1915 or 1916 by Kazimir Malevich

We may intend well at the outset and persist
but much that happens
happens of its own accord.
We may awaken one day with but one bean left

but much that happens happens of its own accord.
You can set yourself right;
you can self-correct.
I have been changed greatly by things I have read.

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Virga

By Joyce Schmid
Feature image: Rain Clouds Approaching over a Landscape, 1822-40 by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Driving to the baseball game on Highway 101,
we looked at cloudbanks, stacked in bands
from west to east, and in between
were cloud-threads dangling down as if the layers
had been torn apart—
                                          and this was virga
rain that formed but couldn’t reach the earth,
like words that evaporate as they come to mind.

Read More

Coyotes

By Terri Leker
Feature image: Forest in the Morning Light, c. 1855 by Asher Brown Durand

The coyotes moved into the woods behind my house just after I learned I was pregnant. On a quiet June morning, while my husband slept, I pulled on my running shoes and grabbed a leash from a hook at the back door. Jute danced around my feet on her pipe-cleaner legs, whining with impatience. It would have taken more than this to wake Matt, but I hushed her complaints with a raised finger and we slipped outside. A light breeze blew the native grasses into brown and golden waves as we wandered, camouflaging Jute’s compact frame. She sniffed the dirt, ears telescoping as though she were asking a question. When we reached a shady thicket of red madrones and live oaks, I unclipped the leash and wound it around my wrist.

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What If We Wake Up Dead

By Jennifer Sperry Steinorth

what if we plant roses beside the shed
what if we paint the living room a muddy incarnadine
what if you go on a diet
what if we go to Paris
what if the dog’s ghost follows us      when the house is sold
where will we go      when the house is sold
what if we try talking
what if I could be nice
what if we have to move in with your mother
what if we could be honest about the weather
what if   like a father      you get up only to leave the room
what if   like a mother      I speak only in other rooms
what if we redo the kitchen and you become a pastry chef
what if we move to Phoenix
what if I smash the Lennox
what   if I drive away         what is good
what   if I drive away         into a tree
what if we cross our hearts
what if we make applesauce
what if you become what killed your father
what if I can’t forgive what killed your father
what      if the kids could see us
what      if the kids become us
what      if the kids inherit everything


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Valentine

By Susan Browne
Featured image: Couple on a Cot, c. 1874-1877 by John Singer Sargent

I once walked past a man on February 14th
who was peeing on a window display,
teetering on his tiptoes & bent backward
aiming at the word love written in red curlicues.
Robins fat as cupids watched from the hedges.
At the end of the block I had to look again, too.
He was still going at it like an acrobat or a camel.

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You Once Felt Gigantic

By Jonathan Greenhause
Feature image: Siegfried and the Rhine Maidens, 1888/1891 by Albert Pinkham Ryder

but are presently a grain of sand
buried at the bottom of the sea, a fly on the windowpane

of a once-sacred mosque lost in the heart of Christianity.
Your glorious achievements

are scribbled footnotes on pages ripped from ancient tomes
no one will ever read, your manifestos mistaken for satires,

dismissed as innocuous, as too eager to please.
Your rightful place in history

has been repeatedly plowed under, the dates of your birth & death
erased to make room for more pressing memories.

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Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning

By Elton Glaser
Feature image: The Simoniac Pope,  1824-7 by William Blake

I pay my sin tax
On cigarettes and booze, keeping afloat
The pious aspirations of Ohio.

A good smoke will corrupt the lungs
Just as sweetly as
London gin will weaken the liver.

There’s always a tangle of implications
That riff on the ineffable
And the strange banquets of the flesh.

I’m posting these dispatches to you
From my little boondock of the damned,
Eking out my last days

Among the living dead of the heartland,
The frightened corn farmers
And all those overdosed on drugs or Jesus,

Dope brewing in a duplex
Where the kids sleep in crusty diapers
And dogs wheeze on the fumes,

Three doors down from smalltown messiahs
Who vote against the liquor license
And for the blowhards and the jackboot.

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Until We Do

By Sydney Lea
Feature image: Flight of the Magnolia, 1944 by Paul Nash

we’re visitors here of course
we live out our precious stories
imagine they’re legacies
until we don’t anymore
we settle for anecdotes

we shuffle along but behave
all the while as if we were dancing
or acting some crucial part
until we don’t that is
we assume we’re safe at home

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Note to My First Wife

By Steven Cramer
Feature image: The Convalescent, 1918-19 by Gwen John

We leased a two-story coloring book.
The peonies our neighbor planted

between our recto and her verso
turned out plastic to the touch.

She even kept them watered: pretty
funny, like the niblets we bought

in white cans named NO NAME.
But it’s the moon who found us

really hilarious that night—naked,
well-oiled from head to foot—

we swam across Lake MacBride.
No memories of you in snow . . .

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The Flash

By Jennifer Givhan

My 11-yr-old son has forgotten not to eat on my bed            He loves watching The Flash
from my room with the widest windows, the warmest place in our house each winter,

& with the coneflower warmth of his brown skin veiled in his bright red suit, he tucks
his kinky curls under the cap & ghosts from room to room undetected, sneaking

cookies            till I climb beside him into piles of crumbs            You’re grounded I echo
& he is sobbing            but what he says catches

the pit of wax burning always inside me            We got him
into special ed classes last year after years of fighting with teachers & breakdowns

over homework & his father yelling You’ve got to learn to listen            & I kept insisting
he’s trying, he just doesn’t understand             & here he slides onto my floor,

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