New Ohio Review Issue 29 (Originally printed Spring 2021) 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.

Ode to the Fresh Start

By Susan Blackwell Ramsey

Featured Art: Untitled by Joseph Taylor

Sock drawer with its moth husks, limp mismatches,
____rank refrigerator’s stink of shame, closet
________whose back wall I don’t remember . . .

In Sanskrit abhyasa means practice, discipline,
____not giving up, but starting over
________and over and over again. Just start. Abhyasa.

So when I unroll my yoga mat
____and it promptly rolls back up, I flip it over,
________fling myself down on it, grunt “abhyasa.”

Veteran of fresh starts. I’ve trained myself
____to believe there will be dustless bookshelves,
________push-ups, French refresher courses, kale.

This time will be different. It always is.
____Maybe the trick is shorter and shorter gaps
________between the restarts until they run together,

like rolling out the lawn mower in May,
____working to get a cough, another, three, and with a roar
________it starts again. Once more that green smell rises.

Read More


By Elton Glaser

Featured Art: Apartment With a View by Tyler Thenikl

Will this be one more summer spent
Among the ornamental mailboxes and garden gnomes,

As if I’d come down with a dose of lassitude,
Too much muck in the bloodstream?

That’s better, I guess, than a long month in Lubango,
Not far from the hovels and dead dogs,

With something strange steaming in the heat
And a bad case of the squitters,

And no worse, in its own way, than hearing someone
At the next table praise the taste of

Extra virgin truffle oil on the rutabaga fries,
Parsley butter sliding down a bison steak,

When what I crave is cruder: ecstasy of the unraveled,
Loose elations in a rumpled bed.

I’ve got nothing against sampling a farmer’s stand,
All those honeydews nestled in straw

And peaches fat and pink and above reproach,
Or an afternoon rocking on the front porch,

Sipping a tall cool glass of julep and watching
The dappled daze of sunlight on the leaves.

Read More

A Summer Wind, a Cotton Dress

By Kate Fox

A glance held long and a stolen kiss,
This is how I remember you best.
—Richard Shindell

Little fires light themselves in the hearth, like tongues
____of flame that reclaim the Holy Spirit, like pitchforks

in this clapboard house where mayflies swarm and crackle
____against the porch light. On down, a gas station, a five-and-dime,

and your house, which I can see from the kitchen, where
____clothes on the line billow and collapse, billow and collapse.

This small town holds everything I will ever know and have
____to leave behind: bidden and forbidden glances,

voices from the second-floor landing that warn, Go no further.
____Night will fall and you will fall with it. Which is what I want,

for the universe to take up where I leave off, this longing
____so deep it can hold entire planets in its bottomless pocket,

yet shrink to the size of a finger at the hollow of your neck,
____heart drawing blood from the branchwork of your breathing.

Read More


By Jon Fischer

Featured Art: Above San Gimignano by Tyler Thenikl

The 3D printer made a man and gave him a beard
to rub thoughtfully. It printed a book on mortality,
a pamphlet on sin, a monograph on time, and many other
fine things to keep in mind. Then it spun out two
of each animal and a boat around them. It printed rain
so long we thought it was broken, then
it printed an olive leaf. Its final act
was to print a 4D printer, which printed a memory
for the man, who said with his rubbery tongue,
I remember there were olive trees,
and he released one of the doves from its cage
below deck, where it spent the time we were given
under the gaze of two housecats and two weasels.
But the 4D printer started to print more
than the time we were given. Weeks rolled off in pairs, still
warm from the furnace of creation,
and wedges of space to move the stars apart
so the man had room to fill the weeks with many
fine things to keep in mind. That’s how we turned the world
into a dream, where time doesn’t know what to do with itself,
and you always end up falling.

Read More

Heron or Plastic Bag

By Jon Fischer

Far off in a vacant field beside an irrigation
canal alights a stately gray heron

or a plastic bag. The plastic bag flaps
and in the tricky light thick clouds leave behind

trembles in and out of translucence,
just like a heron. The heron flew here from another

land in search of a plot to fill and warmly
fulfill and mute the Sisyphean rhythm of restless

creatures’ lives, across countless miles
that would never do, just like a plastic bag.

Close up it’s clear the field holds both
a stately heron and a plastic bag, each

studying the other like figure and reflection.
Now the difference is obvious. The heron’s eyes

recognize the predicament he’s in, the infernal
froglessness of all this wiregrass, the length

of the horizon, the lean of a eucalyptus. Behind
his eyes is the continent where he first

leapt into a crystalline gust, and at beak’s end wriggles
a continent uncharted, fleshly, ready to be snapped up

like a young shad. But this time of year his wings
know everything there is to know about south

and nothing else. Whereas the bag simply is
the predicament it’s in and billows

with all the joy that has ever flown through
a thousand years of wind.

Read More

What the Drawing Explains

By Jon Fischer

It’s hard to describe a drawing of a millennium,
but you know it when you see it

on a sticky note fallen to the speckled tile
near the lockers in a high-school hallway

It’s rendered half of the social commentary
inherent in a peach-colored crayon, half

of ablative carbon fiber and iridium dust,
the artist’s signature a sketch

of the human genome. This millennium is half past,
half future, neither all that great.

The drawing smells like a philosopher’s feet.
It tells a story that rises off the paper

and reads the palms of passersby, turning life lines
jagged and love lines into spirals. It tells a story

that sinks deep inside the paper, seizing
for its fibrous heart the best and most harrowing

plot twists. Nonetheless, the drawing explains
why the Nile changed course, why tornadoes

and the sea found fancier homes,
why we made no new religions

Read More

Spring Reflection

By Stephanie Choi

Featured Art: Scarlet by Joseph Taylor

___You crave
For the wheels to ride across the puddle, muddied
With pebbles & all your past lives too

___You want to find again
That sky blue that’s been shut tight
All winter long

___You don’t know why
When you finally do
The birds mistake each strand of your hair for a branch

___You wish for the pecking to stop
And for the stillness of a bud before blossom
To return to you

___You ask for a taste
Of the warm cold wind on your wet lips
Just once more—

___You try to remember
What everything was like before
But you take a sip from the cup filled with dust
& ash, instead

Read More

In the Garden

By Kelly Rowe

Featured Art: Mimic by Dylan Petrea

When you were small,
we lived in a tropical state,
and you spoke fluently
a language only two could understand.

It had one word
for bean or ball or m&m or kiss,
three for water, six for dream
or any other risk.

When we talked, the dog danced on hind legs,
and the house sailed down the river,
waving its red and white flags.
The rain took you wading under the live oaks

and mispronounced your name,
but showered you with opals,
while high in the branches invisible birds
whistled back and forth in code.

Now, you live somewhere else,
I’ve gone a little deaf.
I press the phone to my ear
as your voice cuts out, fades,

and like the last speaker
of a lost language, I grope
for one of the hundred names for river,
or the single shouted syllable: Ma!

Meaning flash flood, meaning ark,
meaning the one we need
no words for, the one who flies to us
when we cry out in the dark.

Read More

Garden Sitting

By Jennifer Dorner

for my mother

Season of moths in the strawberries.
An apple or two fallen from the tree.
Plums not yet ripe, through the cornstalks
are burdened with silk,
the vine tomatoes split,
and the sunflowers track the sun,
a bee in each dark center.

Late to the tasks you left me
I unfold the watering instructions again,
late to harvest the beds circled
on your hand-drawn map.

The evening is a haze,
sheets of starlings stretched
over the mown grass field,
a brush of red beneath
the shadowed tree line.

Read More

How to Peel an Orange

By Stephanie Wheeler

Featured Art: Peeled II by Samantha Slone

The dryer was making a monstrous sound. The repairman stood with his hand resting flat on top.

“I feel the vibration,” he said. He was a fat man with a three-day stubble sprouting in uneven patches on his face. His uniform shirt was belted into his trousers around the front and haphazardly untucked in the back. Hazel could see his milky eyes shifting rapidly through smudged glasses. She hated him a little.

Hazel nodded. “And you can hear it, too.”

He squinted his eyes, then squeezed them tight, concentrating.

Hazel decided that she hated him a lot.

“The grinding sound,” Hazel said, straining to make her voice heard above the din. “It’s quite obvious, really.”

“Ah, yes. The grinding. I hear it.”

Hazel’s cell phone chimed then, and she looked at the screen. The name Walt appeared in white letters, glowing.

“Excuse me,” she told the repairman, “I need to take this.”

He waved her away. “Go ahead. I’ll keep at it, love,” he said.

She looked at him, glared, and considered saying something. Something clever about how he shouldn’t call her love. Who was he to call her love? They’d only just met and he was charging a $100 service fee simply to walk in the door and provide diagnostics on the dryer. The $100 was charged before and apart from the repairs. She didn’t feel any love. But her phone was insistent. Hazel left the laundry room, glanced over her shoulder, and pulled the door tight behind her. She went into the kitchen.

Read More

Raw Numbers

By Jasmine V. Bailey

During his reign, four hundred bears.

On the bloodiest day, twenty-four.

On a hunting trip with friends, staged,

as they all were staged, twenty-two

and eleven for his friends. No one

tallied the boar and deer.

Ceaușescu sitting in his perch above a clearing a gamekeeper chases the bears through,

firing an automatic rifle.

One hundred thirty bears

in those last six years.

Brown bears, grizzlies in our West,

eat mostly plants

but Ceaușescu’s bears ate pellets

fed to them by the gamekeepers

who say they don’t like hunting anymore. 

He will die next to Elena

in December, nineteen eighty-nine, 

the shortest day of the year.

Read More

Ocean City, New Jersey

By Jasmine V. Bailey

I drove to meet you the first day of the year
at a B&B fifteen miles east of my childhood
on the White Horse Pike.
For three mornings we had a German pancake
and three cups of coffee 
with the black-haired innkeeper
whose husband coughed in another room,
whose philodendra vined her walls
and ceilings like a cage.

You led me down the beach that first night 
all the way to Longport Bridge
keeping secret what we were after.
Everything seemed a candidate—
the armor of some crab picked clean,
Polaris beneath the moon
like Marilyn Monroe’s mole.
When we got to the bay
I thought we might swim it.
Your face fell realizing
what we’d come to see was gone,
that you would have to tell 
what you’d brought me there to show.

Read More

All Animals Want the Same Things

By Jeanne-Marie Osterman

Featured Art: “Catpurnia” by Julie Riley

I had a sickly cat whose cure,
said the homeopath, was raw meat 
so I replaced the canned food with scraps 
from the butcher and overnight 
her gingerly eating turned feral devouring.
She’d yowl as I took the jiggling red flesh
from the fridge, pace as I cut it into pieces, 
then suck it down before I could rinse the knife. 

This so exhausted her, she’d lie on the sofa 
for hours before getting up to prey 
on the dustbunnies under my desk. 
While I was watching Shark Tank one night, 
a ball of Kleenex walked across my living room floor. 
It turned out to be a mouse 
who was carrying it to the bookcase 
where she was building a house 
behind my dog-eared copy of Balzac’s Lost Illusions

Seeing the mouse brought my cat back to full health. 
She stalked the tiny creature, crippled it 
with her jaws, sat back to watch it struggle. 
I called the building super and asked him 
to take the mouse away, signing 
the creature’s death warrant. 

Read More


By Maura Faulise

Featured Art: “I Feel Like Pieces” by E’Lizia Perry

Pulling out of Dingle Bay 
in the rental van that rainy day 
after singing to the tunes 
of the fiddle player in the family pub, 
my father drove red-faced 
and under the influence 
of what I now know 
was nostalgia 
for the affair he’d just ended 
before flying us over the ocean
to kiss the Blarney Stone. 
He mumbled her name at the wheel,
and something about O’Shaughnessy’s
fine music and the fountain of tears
and the Celtic rain.
When the van slid off the road
and into a field of peat, he punched
the gas to get us out
but the wheels stuttered in the cold mud.
Unconcerned with our fate,
we four kids sat stiff
in the backseat, doe-eyed
and glued to the rhythm
of our mother’s timorous noises.

Read More


By Justin Rigamonti

With a bouquet
of ferns
and lemon
yellow roses,
she looks
in the dug-up
photo of
“the time I
got married
the first time.”

pain followed
hot on this
happy woman’s
heels. Meaning,
don’t think
her life has
hummed along
ever since.

Read More

Anne Lester

By Emma Aylor

Sleeping it off last night I dreamed I had one lung.
The other next to me in bed dark and putting
off smoke.                      When you were young
I passed my Virginia Slim so you wouldn’t get
the taste for it: I remember standing in the kitchen
lighting it up                                        for my girl.
You never did smoke after that. In front of the TV
last night I spilled the whole drink down my shirt
          a little in this world                                    a little in the other.

I’ve been Anne Moore for most of my life.
My last morning as Lester I looked
like Liz Taylor’s sister                        hair dark and glossed.
It’s hard to remember myself like that.
I depend on a picture to know I was beautiful –

Read More

Mt. Athos

By Emma Aylor

Featured Art: “Skin ‘N’ Bones” by Arianna Kocab


My granny died facedown in the kitchen
of the isolate house: atop a hill named for ruins
of a burned plantation near, whose owner was rumored
to be buried standing so he could continue to survey
the land from his summited tomb, up a lick
off Opossum Creek, itself off a bend

in the body of the James. A stroke. And grandpop
made a big show of never looking at her face
again; he said he couldn’t overlap his memory;
he let her lay crashed in her own bones until help came, 
let her face settle into its death with no witness,
and I don’t know where her ash was scattered
after that, if it was, the memorial just a party in the house without
her around – a body never really there – and closing night

for my grandfather’s fifty-eight-year claim
to a good marriage. I took a train from New York
down through Virginia, eight hours marked
at intervals by the crumbling backs of Newark,
Baltimore, Washington, Charlottesville – 
to Lynchburg. At one stretch, hard pink spray paint over
a whole swatch of dry grass. To tell the truth,

Read More

We Don’t Die

Featured Art: “Candid Sampler” by Amy Pryor

Winner of the NORward Prize for Poetry; selected by a panel of past contributors

By Darius Simpson

we second line trumpet through gridlock traffic.
we home-go in the back of cadillac limousines. we
wake up stiff in our sunday best. we move the sky.
we escape route the stars. we moonlit conspiracy
against daytime madness. we electrify. we past
due bill but full belly. we fridge empty. we pocket
lint. we make ends into extensions. we multiply
in case of capture. we claim cousins as protection.
we extend family to belong to someone, we siblings
cuz we gotta be. we chicken fry. we greased scalp. we
hog neck greens. we scrape together a recipe outta scraps.
we prophecy. we told you so even if we never told you nothin.
we omniscient except in our own business. we swallow a
national anthem and spit it out sweet. make it sound like
red velvet ain’t just chocolate wit some dye. we bend lies.
we amplify. we laugh so hard it hurts. we hurt so quiet we
dance. we stay fly. we float on tracks. we glide across
linoleum like ice. we make it look like butter. we melt
like candle wax in the warmth of saturday night liquor sweat.
we don’t die. we dust that colonies couldn’t settle. we saltwater
city built from runaway skeletons. we organize. we oakland in ’66.
we attica in ’71. we ferguson before and after the camera crews we
won’t die we won’t die we won’t die we won’t die we won’t

Darius Simpson is a writer, educator, performer, and skilled living room dancer from Akron, Ohio. His work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, American Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, and others. Darius believes in the dissolution of empire and the total liberation of all Africans by any means necessary.

Originally appeared in New Ohio Review 29.


By Todd Boss

I’m down to two bags.
I use a friend’s address.

I’ve only got one last
recurring nightmare

that forces me to face
my ex. There’s still one

child I haven’t lost, but
he’s next. Even loved

ones are non-essential,
sorry to report. You’ve

come here for news of
how to live, but Grieve

and grieve, is all I can
say. Grieve enough, you

can even get grieving
out of the way. Grief’s

chiefest among chores.
Do it well, and the

mostly empty universe
is yours.

Read More


By Todd Boss

Let’s say one day
the ballgame from
the day before mysteriously
rematerializes in the form of
tracers—each pitch,
each hit, each catch,
each toss, each
criss and crisscross
in air—here, there—
reiterated, the way a
window, fogged,
remembers the last
things third graders
wrote with fingers
on it. Let’s say it
rendered the field
unplayable so they
let you walk it.
They would. It’d be
a big attraction—
tracers interlacing,
crepe paper streamers
of a pastime past,
most between bases
and the rest of the
bands connecting
home plate with
the outfield or even
the stands in some
cases—inning on
inning of contrails
twinning and twining
in defining strands
as if the ball’d been
string. It might
not mean anything
but it would be odd.
My god, you’d say
at the sight, ducking
the not-quite-straight
line of a line drive to
right, remarking how
much of the game,
which seemed so
grounded last night,
is in fact in flight—
pure energy
transferred from giving
hand to waiting
glove, the way our
lives are made of
thought and love
and word and prayer
in particle or wave
surrounding every
numbered and
unnumbered player
on the planet in a
dome of light
that stadiums us,
immense, between
the dugout caves we
crawled from and the
outfield fence.

Read More

He Divides His Time Between

By Todd Boss

is a line I
always wanted
in my bio.

“He divides his
time between
Reykjavik and
Sandusky, Ohio.”

“He summers
on Lake Como
and winters
in Aspen.”

As it happens,
noplace is
like home.

We multiply
when we divide
our lives, our
loves, and our

Now my father’s
son is a ghost,
a wisp of smoke,
a metaphor.

He divides his
time between
nothing and
much and
matters and

Read More

At the Coffee Shop on Rogers

By Robert Wood Lynn

When I was done I took my teacup
to the bussing station where the tub said No Trash
so I fished out the teabag but the only trashcan
had one of those blue liners so I couldn’t tell
if it was for recycling. I decided to throw
the teabag out in the garbage on the street
which meant carrying it there dripping
in my hand like a dead bird, one I didn’t kill
but still felt moved to bury—the barista saw
and asked me why, as if a reason was
another license I’d forgotten to renew.
Composting. I said I was desperate
for compost in my garden. Now
every morning she gives me handfuls
of spent teabags, the way the cat would
bring me offerings of dead birds
which seemed sweet until I read how
cats think we can’t take care of ourselves.
After being fitted for a hearing aid
my deaf friend was most surprised to find
sunlight didn’t hum, unsettled by how cats
could choose to move in silence. She became
obsessed with the sounds of birds: collective
at first then individual. Quiet only in repose
like these teabags I throw away on the street
and feel guilty I don’t have a garden. Not even
a balcony. The cat’s been dead for years.
It’s morning and my hands are soggy, I know,
for the stupidest reason. In spite of the evidence
I am getting good at being alone.

Read More

The Delay

By Emily Sernaker

Maybe by the time you read this a golden retriever with a bandana
will be snuggled up against my knees. Or the man I love,
the one I get to keep, will be kissing me goodbye for the day
his lips tasting of cereal and coffee. Instead I’m living

with my college roommate Breezy in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Breezy just gave me a bottle of Unconditional Love
perfume she won at the gym. Her little Tootsie Roll
of a dog, Charlotte, a Boston terrier, keeps hiding bones

in my bed. My bedroom used to be Breezy’s dining room
before the divorce. It’s safe to say neither of us thought
this is where we’d be—but we’re making the most of it.
She owns wind chimes. I bought peonies. Outside our front

door someone has graffitied the words TROUBLE FUCK!
which we prefer to read as FUCK TROUBLE!
And we found that duck in Central Park, the mandarin
rainbow that isn’t supposed to be there but is.

Maybe by the time you read this I won’t be waiting
to be happy. The truth is things are going well.
Everyone I love is alive. Breezy printed a 12×16
of the misplaced firecracker of a duck. She had it framed

and matted it’s hanging in our living room.
He’s staring down the camera
saying: Aren’t you glad you got to see this?
I dare you to wish you were anywhere else.

Read More

January Dispatch

By Emily Sernaker

I misread a signal and accidentally hugged my mailman.
He was just tapping me on the arm and I somehow went all in.

In other news, my former barista is meeting me for coffee
and bringing Arthur her rescue dog. I met another fantastic

dog this morning who had never seen snow before
he was zig-zag walking losing his mind with joy

trying to lick it all up. I have to wear a brace on my right
hand for a while, it’s some kind of strain. Two days ago

Tom and I broke up. We were both hard crying. It was just
one of those top five hard things in life. I keep thinking

about the time Tatianni spotted a rose-beaked cardinal
in my backyard. She knew to look for the second one,

was sure it would be there. It’s like how I feel
finding Philip Levine and Larry Levis always spine

by spine in the bookshop. Some things you can count
on. Anyway, the snow has left impossibly soft lines

on everything. Bicycle tires, lids of mailboxes.
What’s the opposite of underlying? It’s like that.

Powdery bright marks saying take note.
This will probably be important later.

Read More


By Margot Kahn

On Saturday I trolled for places back home.
Home as in the place I was raised,
not that elusive ancestor thing, the soul or—

just the place where my mother set plates
of flank steak in front of me, or left me
with a cardboard box, the frozen trays.

When everything’s up in flames,
I yearn for a yard I know the edge of—
for lightning bugs trapped in a punched-lid jar;

the lip of the brick fireplace where my father sang
his Navy songs, and the kitchen where my mother baked
blackberry pie that bled out across the floor;

the days I drove myself to school and picked myself up,
hotwired the minivan, got felt-up, and learned about loneliness
from a phone attached to the wall;

the place my parents were the first to be born to,
the place I had the privilege of being bored;
the place I had the privilege of leaving.

Here, from my kitchen window, the hills are first
to disappear. Then goes the fence, the garden,
the rutted gravel drive. My lungs hurt just watching it,

reading in sans serif that friends had minutes to flee.
I see the hill behind their house awash in light, ablaze—
a transcendental image for an Instagram age.

She posts it as they’re rushing away to the country
of the displaced—a land I know the scent of,
a language I, too, can speak.

Read More


By Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

The water cooler bitches come and go
talking of hair crimpers and Day-Glo,
shag carpets and avocado-green fridges,
all those little decorative memories
we like to think we share.
Stop before you try to join them,
stop before they give you those weird-ass looks,
before you think you can share your stories too.
Don’t say your mother hung some fugly, old rugs
over fist holes in the doors, trying to get away with
calling them tapestries. They will only focus on the holes.
When they’re from (always), who made them (everyone),
why they never got fixed (fuck you), and not
what hid the holes, not why you’re telling
this all in the first place.

Come find us.

We will tell you we camouflaged our wounds
with Eddie Vedder on the cover of Rolling Stone,
veer off into the time we busted the storm door
when our brother locked us out. We will go
back and forth with laughter. Come share yourself,
all your broken glass and splintered wood,
your rust and warts and mold. We know you
are not looking for (much) sympathy
or some badge-of-honor shock. You are just
looking to tell us who you have been,
who you are, to see and be seen,
to do it this way we do it, we humans here on Earth.

Read More

She Asks Me, Who is Roger?

By Chrys Tobey

I could tell her about my yoga teacher, Roger, who wears the cutest shorts,
which I overheard him say were tailored, or when I was five, there was

the dad, I think his name was Roger, of my neighbor I’d play house with until
my mom caught us humping. But really, I could give her a long list of Rogers—

Roger who never reciprocated my love when I was fifteen. Roger who, on our second
date, burped all of “SexyBack.” Roger who stole my money so he could buy me underwear.

There was Roger with the engagement ring that he threw at my head. There was
Roger with his fondness for spanking. Roger with his missing tooth. Roger with his

fake front tooth. One Roger told me, You’re not really a feminist. Another Roger asked,
Are you really a feminist? And Roger from New York who said, You don’t seem bitter

enough to be a feminist. I could tell her about all the pretty Rogers. The first
Roger I married. Or the second Roger. I could tell her about the Rogers I don’t want

to remember—the ones that taught me I should only live on a second floor.
When she asks me, Who is Roger?—because in a text I wrote, Roger; because she is new

to the U.S.—I smile and tell her about truckers and lingo and don’t tell her how when
I see the small scar on her nose, all the Rogers peel away like dead skin.

Read More


By Emily Nason

I’ve taken communion in horse troughs
and creeks and off the back of a stamp licked
by the boy I love, and still I have nightmares.
Like this: every person I forgot to send
a thank-you note to brings it up the next time
I see them. Like this: the cicadas haven’t hatched
when they said they would. Years escape us.
Ancestral cattle herding calls, whole choirs
of Ozark harps, cotton looms starting to spin.
Splash of kerosene. Mildewed family photos,
faces burned out. Like this: I’m crouched
in the kitchen, watching my grandmother
throw a jar of Duke’s Mayonnaise against
the wall. And then she mops it up and repeats.
Same jar. I roll the stone up the hill,
and by stone I mean the rendered red roux,
and by hill, I mean the blackened pot.
My grandmother again, rehab parking lot,
threatening to kill herself, backing down
last minute by saying, I wouldn’t do that
to y’all even though you test me.
Like this:
I date a man who buys instant grits.
Like this: Lindsey Graham. Copper chicken
wire of a welt around my thigh, no clue how
it got there, and a roomful of questions.
In the back of the country store, I sit and watch
my legs dangle from thick fishing hooks, two more
fatty thighs to cure and sell. Strawberry Moon.
Sturgeon Moon. Worm Moon. A night sky
with all three. My grandmother wakes me up
to look at them. She reminds me that I’m like her:
last to leave this long party, eyes shucked open.

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Doctor’s Office Behind Plank Country Store, Feet in Stirrups, I Think About My Grandmother’s Hands Deveining Shrimp

By Emily Nason

And I can see them, see her
standing over the kitchen sink,
gray shrimp pinched———————————————–
and the up-flick of her knife.

———————————————–(No stories in this poem,
———————————————–Emily. Stay in the room.)

Right. Doctor’s white gloves.
Gardenia white. This is my hand
on your thigh. Unpruned oleander.
You’re going to feel a pinch.

———————————————–(Stay just a little while longer.)

Hot examination room.
Small country clinic with one broken
air conditioner. The doctor sees
retirees and pregnant housewives,
mainly. Once, a man who took
a tree trunk straight to the sternum.

———————————————–(He survived, remember?
———————————————–It’s not your story to tell.)

I’ve forgotten to take off my gold
hoops. In the corner, nude lace bra
and underwear crumpled
in the chair. A blue jumpsuit—
It has pockets! Pockets!—I wore
that night in Ohio, when I fell
and sprained a wrist bringing
a dozen fresh eggs to a friend,
no carton, just my pockets.

———————————————–(Stop. Back to your body, now.)

Another pinch. Give me one big
cough. Formaldehyde in the veins,
moonshine in the eyes. I’m alive.
From crotch to toes: a cramp.

———————————————–(There’s been worse pain.
———————————————–Move it along.)

You’ll have no problem later on.
You’ve got a great cervix.

———————————————–(All right. Just one. Keep
———————————————–it quick. Keep it light.)

I did fall in Ohio once,
but I wasn’t wearing that jumpsuit.
I know a woman who dropped
her toddler son on his head
and swore it caused his pill problem.
I’ve buried so many people in Ohio.
Its ice fields are bad for digging.

———————————————–(Back into the room.)

Any questions?

———————————————–(Can the brain go hoarse?)

I won’t tell you what else I did
in that jumpsuit in Ohio.

———————————————–(———— ————)

My grandmother once cut the curve
of a conch shell out of my foot
in the kitchen sink. She washed me
with Dial soap. Did not kiss me,
didn’t say a kind word.

———————————————–(No scar, though.)

Quarter of an hour: mossy washcloth
on forehead. I try to leave, but collapse
instead in the empty waiting room.

———————————————–(Always taking up space.)

The doctor won’t let me leave
until I get some color back and finish
one paper cup of sugar water. I do
what I’m told. And then I drive.
Doesn’t matter where, doesn’t matter
to whom.



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By Emily Nason

Featured Art: Mid Winter by Pamela Fogg

I am predisposed: toothed gardenia. Just like my mother’s
mother. I ask the doctor what to do. She says, Consult the oracles,

read the tea leaves. Which means, Keep taking your meds.
Which means, Watch who you procreate with. I’m not sure

I’m happier now. I just feel things less. Not quite a numbness,
but a lack. When my dog sees a dog that looks like her, she cocks

her head, as if to say, Huh. Isn’t that something? Smart girl,
but it frightens me that she knows, retains, what she looks like.

I am frightened of a lot of things, but not of what awaits. Side effects:
a comfort or ideation with fresh dirt and ashes. Visiting the family burial

plot, the caretaker tells us, We can stack em six deep. Economical,
I think. My mother asks him to trim the nearby tree, it’s obscuring

her mother’s grave. Two rows down, a marble headstone reads,
Stand back, I’m coming up! Okay. Where are you going to go?

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Widow’s Weeds

By Courtney Huse Wika

Featured Art: Isla Holbox by Pamela Fogg

No one forages here
in the tall grasses and unkempt briars,
except the hollow-boned crows
and me, in widow’s weeds,
dirty nails and knees.

On lunar nights I plant wolfsbane as a ward,
castor beans for joints rusted as hinges,
belladonna for fever,
oleander for the dreams I had of carrying children,
and nightshade as pernicious as my blood.

On the darkest nights, I slip from bed
to pull the snakeroot
by handfuls before it can strike
my lover’s garden,
the one with tenacious vines of honeysuckle,
sun-faced lilies, and sage.

And in the mornings, I swallow pills
like hemlock,
perennial poisons,

and hope they kill
the right part of me.

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Jeremy Griffin

By the time Nicole arrives at the clinic, the parking lot is already full of folks waiting to drop off their pets before hightailing it out of town, out of the path of the hurricane. All morning she’s been battling that crampy twinge in her hand—dystonia, Dr. Epstein calls this, involuntary muscle contractions—and she hoped that she would be able to spend most of today hiding in her office. A foolish hope, considering that all of the pet-friendly hotels within a 100-mile radius have already sold out. Unlocking the front doors, she marshals a smile as the sleepy-eyed clients slump into the lobby with their cat carriers and their leashed dogs.

Inside, she leaves the receptionist to check everyone in while she goes around the building flicking on lights. In the kennel at the back of the building, she feeds and waters the dozen or so animals already boarding and begins taking the dogs outside one by one. Technically, this is a job for the assistants, but as owner Nicole takes a sheepish sort of pleasure in micromanaging. A canopy of clouds hangs low in the sky, the wind already churning ominously. By tomorrow afternoon, the rains will be here, thick and driving. Initial projections had the hurricane cutting west, into the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps Nicole shouldn’t have been surprised when the projections abruptly shifted, the storm now expected to hook northeast, right through the Carolinas. That’s her life in a nutshell, isn’t it? A sudden change in trajectory, something to brace for. You’re just feeling sorry for yourself, her mother might scold, caustic old bird that she was, and she would be right. But her mother is long gone, and so who cares if Nicole is feeling a little morose this morning? It’s her clinic, she can feel whatever she wants.

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San Francisco Bay View, November 2018

By D. R. Goodman

On a night when something like fog obscures the city,
and dry trees loom through heavy wisps of gray,
I’m stopped, and stare. Faint orange lights shine through
at intervals in a breathless span of blankness
where any other night, the simple darkness
would glitter as if with pearls. This streetlamp, too,
is strange in its ashen haloed light, the way
it burns my eyes, and sweeps me through with pity.

That campfire smell, as we at first mistake it,
grows acrid—treated lumber, metal rail,
scorched cars, life’s treasures, all they had to show,
now airborne from a hundred miles away.
We’re stardust. On the airwaves, just today,
some rock star physicist proclaimed it so.
It burns my lungs. Bewildered, I inhale
the dust of those who ran and didn’t make it.

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Moon Facts

By Dan Pinkerton

Featured Art: Nocturne by Pamela Fogg

Amid the purr of two-stroke engines
the surf belched little turtles onto the sand
each grain of which was composed

in a Taiwanese factory. The dizzying
ocean-borne scent of unleaded,
overhead the moon a porcelain fixture,

trees filament-filled, shatterable.
The man in the bar drew back the corners
of his handkerchief to reveal the egg

which when touched to your ear
produced a bomb-like ticking. Fry it, bury it,
entrust it to a museum? Humidity

curled along the coast, courtesy
of Lockheed Martin’s great turbines,
synthetic palms swaying and groaning.

In the hotel room sex was administered
intravenously, files corrupted.
We were preoccupied, that was our error code.

As teens we would wander the vacant lots
seeking out weeds where the asphalt buckled.
Flowers were a stretch. Even a dandelion would’ve

stopped our hearts. The Earth had not been
retrofitted, the bodies in orbit not yet
repurposed. Our ancient moon appeared

bedraggled, a door hanging by one hinge.
The exiled part of us kept gleaming
even though cold to the touch.

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Palm Beach International Airport

By Roy Bentley

In the gift shop across from the ATM and
the Currency Exchange / Florida Lotto window,
and rather than succumb entirely to the tease
of the bobble-headed Plexiglas pink flamingos
and conch shell key chains, like the tourists who
simply hand over ATM-crisp twenty-dollar-bills
or a platinum American Express card, I’m passing
on everything—the U of F ashtrays in the shape
of open-mouthed, palm-frond green alligators—
except for handpainted greeting cards depicting
ibises preening in Key West. I won’t apologize
for being a sucker for wading birds or Key West.
By the magazines and half-price hardback novels
the wisdom of shrink-wrapped 2010 calendars
shouts that NASCAR is metaphor for what it takes
to live in the Sunshine State—Rubbin’ Is Racin’—
as if bent fenders and near-death collisions and
concussions are to be expected, a part of the price.
Think of all the lives intersecting in this place.
Think of the terrified Midwesterners on their way
to anywhere warm to drink a piña colada. I’m here,
waiting for someone, so I toss change into a fountain.
The fountain has a white lion’s head spewing a stream
of local Palm Beach County tap water. I’m wishing
for a better life. More money. More inexplicable joy
as destination, which it is. I throw in shiny quarters
because I know better than to be cheap with luck,
though nobody’s sure there is anything like God
or an afterlife, never mind that we walk around
in Paradise, which is always under construction
and offers both long- and short-term parking.

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By David Thoreen

On the side of the house I dug a ditch
than ran the length of my life. When
it rained, I chipped away with adze
and spade, then lined the whole with fabric:
the wool suit I wore for first communion,
my Batman costume from fifth grade
Halloween, the satin bowling shirts
I rescued from an uncle’s cedar chest
after he died (June, the summer I turned
thirteen), a drawer of cotton tees, and the
pale shirts the rich silk ties I purchased
for a job that swallowed my twenties
like an anxious and ravening other, the tux
in which I married, even a sweatshirt
that said Des Moines, in cursive. All this
was stretched aling the ditch. I threw in
the newspapers I’d delivered—three years’
worth—and the time I’d devoted to folding them,
each already beyond penance or prayer.

I pitched in my last confession, a couple
of car accidents, the week in the ICU
after my appendix burst. Good riddance
to the dances where I got drunk, the hangovers
that followed. It was hard to let go of the night
I stood on a golf course in Mason City, Iowa,
looking up at the Milky way, a night that was warm
and smooth in my fingers, but in the end, I dropped
it in too, along with the day my son was born,
and the light in my wife’s eyes as she held him.

I covered it all with a layer of leaves, and over that
rakes seven tons of crushed stone. Anyone
passing this edge of arborvitae would see
a simple path, leading from here to there.

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Prayer to Mercury

By Justin Jannise

The moon, full the night before he died.
The neighbor’s old golden retriever approached the cyclone fence,
sat and watched the nurses enter and leave,
turned silver
in moonlight, and howled
its long, sad howl.

Fourth-of-July gunshots echoed through morning.
The pact I’d made to keep myself at home glued to the phone’s abrupt news
and I allowed a man in
where I vowed no god, after you, would enter.

Your planet in retrograde,
twisting letters around:

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Violent Devotion

Gwen Mullins

Two weeks ago, over a dinner of fried chicken, purple-hull peas, and buttered corn, Red McClendon’s family talked about the girl, Vera Martin, who dis- appeared one night after she left the Shop-Rite on Sand Mountain. Red’s son Jackson worked part-time as a bagboy at that same store, but he claimed he couldn’t remember if he’d been at work the night the girl went missing.

Red saw the girl’s picture on the news, a curvy young woman with thick, dark hair that hung in braided ropes down her back, her skin smooth and tan as river stone. Something about the way she tilted her head in the news photo- graph reminded him of Rosie, his own daughter. Red did not think too much about Vera Martin’s disappearance at first. He, like most of the folks he knew, assumed she would turn up in one of the trailers pocked with scattershot at the foot of the mountain, strung out on meth, or maybe in a Marietta hotel room with a man old enough to be her father, or her teacher. Red’s own sister ran off with three different boys before she even finished high school.

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By Sarah Jones

He rides a horse // by the fire station
______in Falls City // to slip his resume
into the soft hand // of a secretary—this happens
______before he says, // You carry yourself
in an idyllically classy way // I’d be proud
______ to have you // on my arm. _____ I only think
of alliteration: // of belt buckle—
______the one he wears // while singing karaoke.

_____________________________I take my fishing pole to Beaver Lake
_____________________________after work and a blackbird squawks
_____________________________a breathless death song at the roadside.
_____________________________She has no friends circling the bruised
_____________________________sky, so I sit in the gravel beside her, wait
_____________________________for night to bleed in between the stars.

On Hinge, a man miles // of mountains away
______ sends me a message: // I’ve been staring at your
clavicle for hours. // And I consider all the bones
______ of women beneath // the earth’s surface—
how this man’s bootsoles // must sound against rocks.

_____________________________I enter the chicken coop with a baseball bat
_____________________________and basket as my mother has coached.
_____________________________The bat I one-handedly swing at
_____________________________a buckish cock kicking up chicken shit
_____________________________and feathers. I don’t intend to hit him—
_____________________________just snatch the eggs and run, but I see
_____________________________the scrawny hen he plucks to patches,
_____________________________and I wonder about the sunglasses
_____________________________my mother wears indoors.

My ex says, I do // more than most men,
______or here’s a pillow // perfect for suffocation—take it,
put it on your face. // My grandfather pours the concrete
______foundation of his house, // my stepdad rebuilds
cars and cooks dinner, // my uncle drives his kids
______to school after working the night // shift. What’s
more than most men? // What’s more than most women?

_____________________________The goose’s head is still on the chopping
_____________________________block. Her headless body runs around
_____________________________the yard—blood coming from her neck
_____________________________like a slow sprinkler head. She rushes into
_____________________________the Bermuda grass at my ankles. My ankles
_____________________________itch—and, for not crying, I am tough.

Another Hinge connection. // This time by phone—
______You’d look great on my // motorcycle, he says.
I’m also smart, I say. // Yeah? Well, you’d still
______look great on my motorcycle. // This feels
like the definition of female // or cartwheel or dog chasing tail.

_____________________________In the potboil is a cow’s slick tongue—
_____________________________rigid and rolling in its fatty dross,
_____________________________each impurity clumped together
_____________________________like an inkblot or divination. O Oracle!
_____________________________O Ladle! Speak to me of the sour
_____________________________stink in this house. Help me remember
_____________________________the soft ears of a calf.

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Fetus Eggs

By Annie Trinh

Featured Art “Vessel” by Byron Armacost

This is you: a thirty-year-old mother who had a miscarriage, a wife whose
husband left her, a daughter who steps into a medicine shop and looks at the
walls of herbs. You press your fingers against glass jars, hoping to find a solu-
tion for a successful birth. A bag of maca. A bundle of chasteberries. A box of
cinnamon. You take these medicines to the owner, asking if these plants will
help with fertility or make your body strong enough to handle carrying a child.
And this is your savior: a Vietnamese woman in her seventies who has wrin-
kles around her eyes and tells stories of her survival through the Indochina
and Vietnam Wars. A mother who understands the importance of obtaining
children. A sister who sees your pain as you push the herbs in her direction,
wondering how much you need. Your savior tells you that you don’t need these
herbs—they won’t help, and she goes into the back room and then comes out
with a wooden box. Your savior opens it up and snuggled within the purple
cloth are twelve large eggs. Brown and spotted with freckles. You place an
egg into your palm, cradling it as if it is ready to sleep. Soft heartbeats thump
against your fingers.

Eat these duck fetuses, your savior says, and it will help you get what you

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Ordinary Ode

By Michael Lavers

Sure, Horace, praise the ordinary—
milkweed days, a cow, the crackling
static of the swaying grain. Say yes,
the way the cut hay steams in sun is good,
the way the dahlias bloom in rain.
Say that a hundred shades of dusk
armor the trout, that a pear’s full burden
suits the bough. But when the fire
jumps, or if the fever stays,
when sorrows blacken in the brain
like mold—how could it matter
that some wet grass shone? That grapes
grow sweet? That birches shake in wind,
gilding the new graves with their gold?

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By Michael Lavers

Featured art: smokey lady by Byron Armacost

He made a poem and began it thus:
Muse, tell me nothing! Keep quiet, Muse!
Jules Renard
Muse, tell me nothing! Keep quiet, Muse!
Not that you visit much, or would entrust me
with the grand advancements of the true and beautiful.

But just in case you have some scrap for me,
some local insight or a meager rhyme,
in case you wanted to drop by and put

the coffee on, and light a cigarette, and set your
sandaled feet up on my desk, and give detached
dictation, don’t. Don’t even think about it.

It’s no use telling me the purple buntings
are back, or how the horses down the road
steam after rain, or that two men are felling

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Three Buttered Muffins

By Michael Lavers

Featured art: smokey man by Byron Armacost

Mr. ———, who loved buttered muffins, but durst not eat them
because they disagreed with his stomach, resolved to shoot himself;
and then he eat three buttered muffins for breakfast, before shooting
himself, knowing that he should not be troubled with indigestion.


I want to ask poor Mr. ——— why, if life’s
so bad, he paused to savor them at all? But I
know why. How could the scent that spirals
up the stairs not sway him, for the moment,
to put down the gun, and come, and break
a muffin open, watch the steam spill out?
To wedge fresh butter in each porous hinge?
To want, for once, to live one moment longer:
there are muffins, after all. And here is butter
catching candle-light, sighing its soft glissando
down the spongy muffin-flesh, hinting
that joy, though soft and all-too solvent, still
anoints some moments with its glossy smear:
joy in the mint-flecked ruminations of the cow
at milking time, the greasy fingers of the girl
who sets her pail of white froth down and lies
under the ilex boughs and weeps over some boy,
then in a minute gets back up, and wipes
her cheeks, shakes out her thatch-flecked hair;
not that she knows some pleasure’s only felt
because it ends, that it cannot be held, raised up
like curds of butter that her mother calls forth
from the churning chaos like fermented light.
Not that. She just remembers there are muffins
waiting for her, too, back in the house, and when
they’re gone, maybe some milk. Maybe an apple.
Maybe, since it’s not impossible, some cheese.

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November Elegy

By Michael Lavers

You’re gone, and in the season you loved best,
when lamps go on at six, then five, then four,
and you’d rush to the lake, eager to test

the ice, let down your bait. The coat you wore
for years, scale-stained, hangs in the closet still,
a great dumb fish. You’re not you anymore,

and so won’t need it there, over whatever hill,
out on what lake there is, to stand above
a chiseled hole where lines and snowslush spill

into the green and quiet parlors of
a shadow world, and feel the poor flesh heaving
as the line twangs, tugging at your glove.

To peer down, breathless, changed, but grieving
at the cold hard brilliance of the living.

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The Sisters Jeppard

By George Choundas

My cousin married a woman who was an only child. Her mother had two sisters. These aunts had no children of their own.

The three sisters all treated this woman, my cousin’s wife, as their daughter. In her youth she was dandled and spoiled and trophied. The three sisters were her regents, she their queen. This is all from my cousin. I didn’t know her when she was growing up. Neither did he. They went to the same middle school, my cousin and his wife, but they ran with different sets of kids. They got genuinely acquainted only a couple of years ago, his mother bumping into her mother at Lord & Taylor. He knew the family dynamic from bits and pieces: things she told him, things friends and relatives told him, not being blind.

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By Emily Blair

Featured art: Fairy Cottage by Byron Armacost

On Facebook, I call everything great
with multiple exclamation points,
even a meeting. Great used to just mean
very, very large. Incredible, fantastic, amazing,
are the words I use for a poem, a painting,
a robot from outer space.

So what can I say about the cardinal
who makes a perfect landing on the tippy-top
of the bright pink cherry tree next door to my mother’s house.
He sings cheer cheer cheer what what what
as if he were the only personified bird in the world.
He sings cheer-a-dote cheer-a-dote-dote-dote
as if we’ve never heard a song like that
bursting forth from a bright red bird,
turning the air behind him bluer, airier.

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By J.C. Scharl

“My heart is like a pomegranate”
as a simile seems a little simplistic
these days (even the meter beats
too neatly to seem true)
but nonetheless
there’s something to it:
how a pomegranate cracks
and bleeds a little when opened,
no matter how gentle your hands
and how a few seeds spill out
like little dreams, smoldering crimson
as coals around a dark core.
How more seeds cling
to the membrane in a strangled
Fibonacci order, so determined
to hold their place that each
is a little misshapen. How
at the deep recesses of the fruit,
so deep it is nearly the bottom,
there is a bad patch,
the underbelly of a faint bruise
on the outer skin,
where a brown ooze festers,
leaking its slow poison.

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An Answer Without a Question

By Robert Cording

If he were alive, he might have shrugged
and said, things happen for no reason,
but he wasn’t, he was only my son
in a dream, where he found me
sitting in the woods trying to understand
his death. The light looked
as if it were coming from below not above,
rising up out of the ground,
the way darkness first spools around
the trunks of trees and then climbs higher.
I was so happy to be speaking with him,
but, in the middle of what I was saying,
he disappeared. I kept sitting where I was,
as if he’d return again, but I knew
nothing else was going to happen.
When I woke, I had that feeling
I often have when getting into bed
of both dread and the possibility of relief.
I was still partly in the dream, and I felt
he was like a god, utterly removed,
and not knowable any longer.
Shaking, I sat up and tried to focus on
the larches outside feathering the wind,
and a sliver of moon that caught and released
a scrim of fast-moving clouds. I breathed in
the smell of the grass I’d mowed
that afternoon, then rolled toward my wife
whose skin was cool to my touch. Far off
in the woods, I heard the sense-startling
yips and bawls of a pack of coyotes.
All of it came to me in a wave of sensations
impossible to put into words and yet, oddly,
felt like a gift, something like an answer
to a question I could not remember asking him.

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