When the Doctor Calls After the Final Round of IVF

Josephine Yu

It’s a good thing he caught you on the threshold
of Publix, so you can cross into
that tiled acreage of plenty.

When you’re pushing a cart with a temperamental
wheel, you won’t cry. When you’re putting
chicken salad with tarragon and almonds

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New Ohio Review Issue 27 (Originally printed Spring 2020)

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.

Someone Threw Down a Wildflower Garden in an Empty Lot in Newark

By Theresa Burns

Featured Art by  Robert Jacob Gordon

And now, instead of staring at the weeds
and broken bottles from the train platform,
we’re taking in a scene from a Monet.
Asters, cosmos, little yellow fists
of something. All random and confetti.
I’m half expecting a lady in a high-waist
dress and bonnet to appear on a diagonal
stroll through its splendor, pausing
with her parasol so we can selfie with her.
Maybe she’ll hop aboard the light rail
to the Amtrak station, get off in D.C.,
step back into the painting she escaped from.
Who was the genius who thought of this?
What meadow-in-a-can Samaritan
got sick of passing the four-acre eyesore
on the way to work? Shook pity into blossom.
To whom do I write my thank you?
Mayor, surveyor, county clerk, church lady.
Who marched down to city hall, begged
anyone who would listen?

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I propose we worship the mud dauber

By Jessica Pierce

Featured Art by Pieter Holsteyn

The female in particular seems worthy.
She carries mud in her jaws to make her nest
one mouthful at a time, setting up
in a crevice or a corner. One egg,
one chamber. One egg, one chamber.
It’s better to keep them apart, as larvae don’t
know the difference between food and
a brother or a sister. They aren’t wicked,
just young and hungry. She has pirate
wasps to battle—they want her young
to feed their own offspring—and she does this
alone, drinking flower nectar to keep
herself going. Let’s just try

and see what happens when we raise up
this winged thing who will hover by your feet
without attacking. Covered with dense golden
hair and sometimes described as singing while
she works, all she wants is bits of damp dirt.
She has a slender thorax and two thin
sets of wings to carry her and
her earth. She is exactly strong enough
for what she needs to do. She doesn’t burn
or proclaim or fill your head with visions
as she hunts crab spiders and orb
weavers and black widows. Yes, let’s ask

her to pray for us as she stings
a black widow, brings it to its knees,
and sets off to feed her children,
singing as she holds up the world.

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By Chris Greenhalgh

I want a punchbag hung in my office and / people to hear the first thump straight
after they leave. / I want you to call me. I want the linctus with / the double action
that both soothes my throat and / brings back memories of a time when I was loved.
/ I want the road below me, the sun above me / and beside me, you. I want to wipe
the legend / “You Will Die” spelled backwards from the bathroom mirror / each
morning as I brush my teeth. I want you / to drive while I change gears. I want my
life story / voiced by William Shatner. I want a belle dame / with plenty of merci.
I want a view of the sea. / I want the future with you and me in it. / I want my
doctor not to have a personalized / number plate. I want my coffee hot, my mattress
/ hard and my maps beautiful rather than useful. / I want small hard bits of chocolate
off. / From mind, I want world. From lips, I want the madness / of kissing.
I want to know where businesses / end and scams begin. I want to confuse salesmen
/ by offering more than the asking price. I want to / stand in an elevator shaft
of rainfall / and look up into the light. I want to know where / you were last night.
I want this confederacy / of selves dismantled and slowly made whole again.

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The Tour

By Erica S. Arkin

It occurred to Dennis six hours into the road trip that he might have made a terrible mistake. His daughter Natalie sat on a fold-down seat in the back of his pickup’s not-so-extended cab, plugged into her Discman and propped against the small window behind the empty passenger seat. She was reading a magazine with a cover that said something about Bedroom Tricks to Blow . . . Dennis only caught a glance when she’d pulled it from her backpack at the last rest area. He was glad he couldn’t see the whole thing in the rearview mirror.

The trip had been her mother’s idea and pitched as a way for Natalie and Dennis to spend some time together. When Hannah called him at the garage a few weeks earlier, she used phrases like “father-daughter road trip” and “genuine bonding.” It might be nice for him to actually get to know his daughter. His ex- wife made a sport out of taking little digs whenever she could.

He balked at first. It was hard enough getting an afternoon off to go to a doctor’s appointment, never mind two whole days to chauffeur Natalie around colleges in Pennsylvania.

“When was the last time you traveled with your daughter?” Hannah had asked. The only trip that came to mind was back when Natalie was ten and Dennis took her to Block Island with his then-girlfriend, Rita. He opened his mouth to mention the trip, but realized it would likely hurt, rather than help, his case. On the last night of the vacation, after Natalie was asleep in the hotel, he and Rita had snuck down to the bar for a nightcap and came back to find an empty room. It was negligent to leave Natalie alone—a fact Dennis realized even before he frantically called the front desk and took to the halls yelling her name. When he finally found her a little over an hour later, she was trying to catch big nocturnal crabs on a spit of beach a quarter mile from the hotel. Flustered, he’d scolded Natalie to the point of tears for wandering off, something he would later realize was his second mistake of the night.

“A trip that hasn’t ended in disaster,” Hannah added. He hated how she could still read his mind.

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By Liz Breazeale

Featured art by Nsey Benajah

The first ghost stepped out of the ocean in the summer, shimmering and hazy with captured light. We saw the age in her body, moving as though still burdened by a vast and lonely sea. Her wrinkles like the finest, most fragile spiderwebs we’d ever destroyed.

She came to rest on a foamy lip of shore. Her outline was set and static, her insides swirling, misty, full of translucent opals spun in an ancient hand. We realized later that every ghost was different in texture, but only when we couldn’t count them anymore, when they’d packed themselves across the sand.

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Watching For You

By Connie Zumpf

Featured art by Callie Gibson

You’ve seen it.
That slight shudder of shadow
on the fringe of your vision.
The thing you think you might have seen
while reading Proust at night.

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Run in such a way that you will obtain it

By Justin Danzy

like Damon did, run clear across the Gulf until the second transplant slows
you, like Dave until the glaucoma sat him down, Janice
ran to the islands to evade it but a hurricane got her, Kim never made it south
of Baltimore, and Anthony, he tried to trick it, changed his name
so it couldn’t find him though it still did, Cordia Jean turned to the bottle
instead of facing it, Beulah stayed put and dared it to come
get her, cost Fred his legs if nothing else, Howard’s eyes went and
it came quick after that, same with Virginia once her mind tapped out,
Mac tried to sue it away but that got him nowhere, P learned to sing to
try to seduce it, Cherry, she just cursed it and called it a day,
Jacques wrote his own Bible and claimed authority over it, Luck served it peach
cobbler as a peace offering, better than Brian, who turned and ran back straight
into it, did it twice actually, he looked it dead in its eye
and charged until running felt like fleeing no longer

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Interrogation Scene

By Allison Elliott

Featured art by Edward Penfield

That cat on the corner, drowsy in the arms
of a sleepy-eyed woman. That cat knows something.

You’ve indulged several seasons of vague forecasts,
now you’re playing bad cop with the weather.

A traffic light changes before you’ve finished crossing,
What can that mean? What future portend?

You pass a two-seater buggy with only one baby. Make
a note of it. It might come up later.

The drunk who yells all night under your window
was gone three days, now he’s back.

The Spanish lullaby on the radio,
the eyelash in your lemon tea.

Star witnesses with nothing to tell you.
And they were your whole case.

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What I Meant to Say

By Emily Alexander

friends I am not in love these days I wait
for the bus when it’s cool enough
I bake little treats in muffin tins for fun
I say sea urchin        squash blossom

vacuous oh no I’m afraid
I don’t know

what this means and many others the usual
fears plus some     uniquely mine balloons popping
in a small room needing immediately

a tooth pulled in a city I’m only visiting strange
coffee shops parking lots
I’m not sure
the rules here     maybe these are
usual after all I don’t mean what I say

always what’s the difference these days
before going anywhere I out loud
say     phone wallet keys

yesterday I said it and still
forgot all I needed then from the freeway

the ocean right there among everything oh

friends I’m just undone you know
what I mean       truth is these days I find myself
occasionally full

of rage other times beer sitting with Halle
on her bedroom floor  what’s new

oh man did you hear
about whoever I’m hungry are you
a little flimsy
drunk now the city rumors its width around us

and sometimes over it we just say
very quietly yeah

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How It Ought to Be

By David J. Bauman

Featured art by Édouard Manet

When we stepped up into the bus that shuttled us
from car to hospital, she was talking to the man in
the overcoat and fedora. But at the next stop,
he stood up, tipped his hat and clambered down the steps.

Her smile made me think of plums, though barely a brush
of rouge on her cheeks. She wore a heavy, old-woman’s wrap-
around, like a blanket with buttons, tugged about her like a fur
stole. The bus lurched forward, and she turned toward the lady

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Stolen Hard Drive

By John Moessner

Featured art from rawpixel.com

It contained home movies where he wore
goggle-sized glasses, a toweled shoulder holding
a small redhead at a birthday party, three hours

of ripped paper like static on a radio, the sun flaring
off the ripples of the neighborhood pool. What do
those thieves think of your soccer games,

the Go girl! and the rain that drove him cursing to the car?
What about last Christmas? He was too tired, so you held the
camera instead and closed in on his drooped head

nodding while everyone opened gifts. Would they tear up
thinking of their fathers, would it convince them to call more?
Ripped from your life, just a plastic box in a bag of stuff.

Maybe before wiping it clean, they will browse your home
movies and say, What a good father, what a good life.

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No, Nothing

By Daryl Jones

Featured art by Jozef Israëls

He’s in one of his funks again,
my stepmother’s warned me,
hair shaggy and mussed, baggy clothes afloat
on his skinny frame.

My father makes hardly a dent
in the overstuffed sofa he’s sitting on.

No, he’s not hungry.
No, nothing in the paper interests him.
No, there’s nothing I can do

but stare blankly into the distance where he’s staring

as I did sixty years ago when we hunched
shivering and silent on five-gallon buckets
flipped upside down on the ice of Cedar Lake,
waiting for a tiny red plastic flag
to snap to attention.

Now and then, we would stand up stiffly,
huffing and hugging ourselves, stamping our feet,
then skim the slurry from the augured holes
and sit down again, nothing to do but wait,
testing our wills against the deadening cold

and the wily old lunker pike we pictured

in the black, still depths below, impervious
to the booted thunder rumbling overhead,
hunkered down, hovering in its singular darkness,
grim, stubborn, defiant.

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By Kelly Michels

Featured art by rawpixel.com

A new cure is invented every day,
along with a new disease
because every miracle needs a
disaster to survive, and there is no
of disaster, the sparrows have learned
to eat anything under the slash-and-burn
of the sun, and the children have learned
how to weave plastic buttercups into bracelets
between the alphabet and spoonfuls of NyQuil
their mothers give them before bed
where they dream of the swish of scar tissue
behind their teacher’s glass eye.

We tell them: There is horror. There is pain.
There are people wedged between bullets
and mud floors, between cracked river ice
and broken elevator shafts. But not here.
Never here.

Now, we sit still as an Eames chair, and the children
will never know the bridge of a song the rain spells
out in the sand on an October morning.
It is safer behind closed doors and windows, safer
where the wheat and ragweed and daisies
can kill no one.

We tell them: We have seen the grim amoeba of lake water,
the blizzard of ocean waves lashing against the curved spine

of coast, the blue-eyed grass raising itself like a rash toward
the swollen ache of sun, the sting of salt, grazing the long arm
of a bluff. We have lived it. We know better now.
We have knelt at the rim of a cliff and looked down. We
have fallen, felt the pulse of the sea pull at our hair and
it was not kind.

Child, put your ear to the conch shell and listen.
This is enough.

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The Pasture Ponds

By John Bargowski

Featured art by Kieran Osborn

You know the spot, that sharp left
off the county road to Hope

that passes the roadside shrine her
classmates built to our youngest,

the blank stones that mark the old
Presbyterian graveyard,

then on past the last rusted knob
of safety rail

where a graveled lane cuts through
swampy woods.

The pair of wood drake decoys
Hubert anchored to the bottom

riding out every weather on the big pond,
the splotch of white on their sides

that catches in our high beams
as we round the curve.

The twiggy wrack of alder and sumac
clipping the sideviews

as we pass through streaks of moonlight
burnishing the shields

on the skeletoned ruins of our friend’s
red Massey Ferg.

A place we’ve gone to many times
trying to nudge the season ahead,

we crack open the side window, crank
the heater up a couple notches,

sit with the lights clicked shut, side
by side in the front seat,

strain for the first callers crawled free
from March mud, the hyla crucifer,

no bigger than a fingertip, noted in our
dog-eared Peterson’s for shrill voices

that rise then fallm and those dark little crosses
they carry on their backs.

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By John Bargowski

Featured art by Teerasak Anantanon

Weeks after the cops cut Bill down
and the squad sheeted his body,

bore it out to the street, his mother
leaned over her sill and called us

upstairs to share the flies he’d wrapped
and knotted, labeled

with names we could never
have dreamed up, and arranged

in small wooden boxes next to coils
of tapered leader and packs

of hooks barbed along their shanks,
the button-down shirts

and bank teller suits in his closet
screeched and swayed

on their hangers when she elbowed
her way in for the split bamboo pole

he’d hand-rubbed to a gloss
and mounted with a reel cranked

full of line, nothing we could ever use
when we biked down

to the Hudson piers and bait-fished
for river eels and tommycod,

but we took it all, every piece
of tackle we could carry down

to the stoop to divvy up among us—
his canvas vest, his shoulder bag,

spools of waxed line, the bamboo poles,
his hip waders and creel,

and those boxes of flies—
the Zebra Midge and Gray Ghost,

his Black Woolly Bugger,
Pale Morning Dun.

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Knife and Salt

By Justin Hunt

Featured art by Markus Spiske

At sundown, we sit at our garden’s edge,
speak of thinkers and their theories—

what’s real, if something follows
this life, the ways of knowing

the little we know. An owl swoops the
creek below, swift as death. I shift

in my lawn chair, pick at my knee— an
old wound I won’t let heal.

Do you wonder, I ask, if Descartes
ever said, I feel pain, therefore I am?

You sigh, run your eyes to a remnant
of light in the oak above—as if,

in your drift, you could re-enter the time
of our son, inhale his dusky scent.

I honor your silence. But what I feel,
what I know, what I want to say is,

we have no choice but to watch
September settle on our garden.

And look! All these tomatoes
that cling to withered vines—blushes

of green and carmine, waxen wines
and yellows, the swollen heirlooms.

When the next one falls, my love,
I’ll pick it up, fetch us a knife and salt.

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Dear Sister of My Childhood

Stephanie Rogers

Remember Mom and how she sent us away
to play near the highway ditch, us throwing gravel,
cracking a windshield, an accident. The wronged

woman dragged us by the arms, back
to Mom, who was talking on the phone with Dad,
their separation not quite

official, the whistle of the kettle in the kitchen.
Listen, the woman yelled at Mom
who paid attention then. Your kids banged up

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Chip’s Laundromat

Stephanie Rogers

We walk in on Thanksgiving, trash bags filled with clothes

slung over our shoulders. Heather insists I break

a twenty at McDonald’s. I buy a dollar cheeseburger, eat it

as the cashier counts out the nineteen dollars’ worth

of quarters. No one else is there. Neither of us

bothers to separate

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American Horror

By Jessica Alexander

You should have seen me then, under those yellow stadium bulbs, my lips so

full they’d burst in your fingers. I had this top on: a floral print and ruffles, red,

to match my lips, and my tight Levi jeans. And my sun-kissed cheekbones and

the sun-kissed bridge of my nose. And my smile was just like America—like

a cornfield stunned by its own golden beauty—my gorgeous delight! I went

braless, wore no makeup. It rained and the grass was slick. The way it goes is

that something happens next. It happens by a lake or in a parked car. You take

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The Worst Thing Ever Done to Me

By Rodney Jones

I was four,
playing on the front porch.

Early spring.
The mimosa was in bloom.
Eisenhower was in the White House.

Usually when I played, I became a car,
the noises of the engine,
the clutch, and the tires
scorching around corners.

Or my body was a car—my mind drove.

Twilight, a little before supper.
My father, just home from work,
was talking with a neighbor—
a bachelor cousin,
a farmer and minister.

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By Nancy Miller Gomez

Featured art by Scott Webb

It was a hot day in Paola, Kansas.
             The rides were banging around empty

as we moved through the carnival music and catcalls.
             At the Tilt-A-Whirl we were the only ones.

My big sister chose our carriage carefully,
             walking a full circle until she stopped.

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By Jamie Danielle Logan

She stirs with the movement of the sun. Dawn stretches over the horizon, and she searches for motion amid the brush. Her world appears in shades of gray, with bursts of blue and violet. She cannot see the orange of my vest or the green-brown pattern on my coat, but she can smell my breath in the air. She startles, bounding once, twice, before the breeze decides her fate. It shifts and she pauses next to the lone pine tree, the one that is seventy yards from my small wooden stand. She has just lost the spots of fawnhood. I pull the trigger.

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