New Ohio Review Issue 5 (Originally printed Spring 2009) 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 5 compiled by Logan Weyland and Jade Braden.

Variation on a Letter from Schoenberg to Mahler

By Nina Corwin

Dear Maestro, Dear Gustav, Dear Dear—

I must speak to you not as a pillar to a post if I am to give any figment of
the scurvy beast your symphony unleashed in me: I can speak only as one
emboldened avocado to another. For I saw the gritty foreskin of your soul,
fileted and in flagrante. It was unveiled before me as a sumptuous centerpiece
overrun with willful and tawdry tourism, a sprawling frontier of ruby-throated
gauntlets and savage cul-de-sacs scattered on a ravishing trash heap. I savored
in your symphony the soul of an exotic prophet who, after fleecing us with
digital adroitness, paints lipstick on the shattered mist. I shared in your sea-
son of strychnine; suffered a crucible of peeled fruit: a glorious hornets’ nest
of history subsumed by the bonfires of conquerors. I saw a man in traction
straggling toward inner uprightness; I divined a full-frontal mugshot, a flying
buttress, a blue-eyed lampoon. Oh yes, the most impetuous lampoon! I had
to let my gargoyles go! Forgive me: I cannot feel by halves. With me it is one
thing or the other.

In all devotion,


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Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry

By Christine Sneed

Featured Art: Self-Portrait in the Artist’s Studio by Emile Masson

Antonio Martedi, a painter and sculptor who had sold what he sometimes boasted were his least interesting works to American museums, told his granddaughter, April Walsh, on what turned out to be the day before his death, that he had not lived in fear of mediocrity so much as the disdain of beautiful women. He had made art because he wanted to be loved, preferably by many beautiful women in a slow but uninterrupted progression, women who would remember him fondly after their affair had ended and keep whatever sketches or canvases he had given them in an honored place in their homes. “But if after a while they sold my work for a good price to someone who knew how to appreciate it, I wouldn’t have held it against them. The money would be another way for me to keep my place in their hot little hearts.” This was the first time April had heard any of this, and she had no idea what had prompted it. Her grandfather had a reserve of stories that he repeated with depressing regularity for a man widely known for his flamboyance. She assumed that she had heard all he was willing to tell by the time she had graduated from film school and was failing to sell her scripts or to get hired as the production assistant’s own scorned assistant.

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Feel Better

By Mary Ann Samyn

It was raining on the other mountain
like a preview of a movie I’d watch soon.
The clouds smudged, like mascara.
The wind grew very important. The day
had not yet been assigned a permanent value
and I meant to offer some resistance.

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The Number One

By Ashley Cowger

On Friday, November 30th, 2007, at precisely 7:48 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, Anna Kelsey McMillan became, for the duration of 5.3 minutes, the number 1 most beautiful woman in the world. 3 of those 5 minutes Anna spent in her car, alone, where nobody saw her in all of her splendor. But Anna spent 2 of those glorious minutes traversing the parking lot of the large business complex where she was expected, at 8 o’clock, to commence her presentation on farmed salmon.

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Give Me a Moment

By William Olsen

Everything I’ve always wanted, want me was the haiku I was working on when I thought I heard the mail come, some metallic hello of the mailbox lid creaking open and slamming shut, but I think it must have been my heart instead because there wasn’t any mail at all inside there, not even a bill, not a cancelled stamp. And there was nothing but emptiness in saying it was empty. Just thinking of saying so was heartless. So now in place of my heart was a deep well, a well that didn’t end well, a well that didn’t end at all. Meaning, what I was was what I saw, and what I saw was, and is, a seesaw down there in my deep well looking back at the seesaw I saw in the mirror at the bottom, O. Or was it, because it was a reflection, a sawsee? Yup, and after that mental yelp what should I see but a hummingbird, just a glimpse, rare occasion, first edition, last run, print on demand. I saw it! Here in Kalamazoo, particularly in the last three letters of this place name, having left the mailbox and halfway up the stairs to the front door and half done eating this banana like, well, a stir-crazy monkey! Read More

Cabbages Across from the Manitou Islands

By William Olsen

The earth is the subconscious of the subconscious.

Half a block inland and safe from genius gulls
local and alone in their dishwater droves,
up out of reach from beach inland-eaten

by gutless waves,
opposite the passage from two fresh green-furred
ursine islands, one lighthouse-flicker lit, one not,

safe from shark-toothed sails and trolling trolls,
unseen by one old crow
patrolling a fire-log-charcoal-pitted shore,

innocent, green, unschooled, dimwitted, featureless,
foregrounded by the imponderable plumpness
of the crimson motherships, summer’s end’s tomatoes,

encephalitic, all intelligence,
stupidly, yet astonishingly so,

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Indoor Municipal Pool

By Alan Shapiro

The circulating disinfectants
make it an unearthly blue
or earth’s blue seen from space,
or what pooled from the steaming
of the planet’s first condensing.
In which case the pumps
and filters could be thermal
vents, and the tiny comet trail
of bubbles rising from the vents
could hold within it—if it isn’t it
already—the first blind chance,
if not the promise of
the hint of the beginning
of what at long last would
emerge into the eye which
being mostly water sees
only water signaling to itself
beyond itself in accidental
wormy quiverings over
the sea floor of the ceiling.

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Downtown Strip Club

By Alan Shapiro

Its night is all day long;
the neon GIRLS out front go dark in sunlight,
while inside the cruciform stage
has stripped down to blackness,
in which the vertical
poles at the end of each transverse arm
stand naked and lonely.
Cold here is the cold on the faces of the presidents
on bills the absent hands
have pushed toward each body bending over
in a gown of brightness;
cold is the heat of the shadowless
shadow play of hands and legs
up and down along the poles,
and the hands retreating from the money,
and the hands in pockets dreaming,
or dreaming later on another body;
the heart of the cold is the opposite of what it is,
cold as the fire
through the day of its night
in the firing line of bottles
waiting for orders
on the shelf above the bar.

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The Wet Jade Someone

By George David Clark

Years ago my father and I smuggled Mandarin
Gospel tracts and Jesus videos through customs in
Beijing, that labyrinth of marble lions and silk,
of pearl hawkers, of the Muslim Quarter’s narrow walks
confused with fruit and butchers’ racks in the open air.
At the night market I watched two geese dangling by their
necks in a darkened window while Father disappeared
into the neon dazzle of bald rabbit heads smeared
with candy glaze, scorpions and black locusts by
the shish kabob. A woman touched my arm. “You want I
give you bath?” she asked. Her eyes were the wet jade someone
lost off a bridge. Wry smile half-disguising her rotten
teeth, she whispered, “You like warm bath?” again in my ear,
branding the taste of fried starfish on my fifteenth year.
Often now, in the hotel of bad sleep, she leads me
down a hallway to a room with a golden tub. We
slip into the bath together. Her small breasts are white
as fresh apple flesh. First I kiss them, then take a bite. Read More

To a Rose

By Kim Addonizio

partially stripped

I hang you upside down
with your sisters
above my mirror—

all drooping heads all trophies of desire

O rose thou art past-tense

Even your brother the worm
has shriveled and gone

Your silks are best
like this unkiss-

and therefore bearable

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By Kim Addonizio

Do you sometimes drink alone?
Have you ever woken up the next morning
after a night of heavy drinking?
Does your cat wander through the house
meowing inconsolably,
despite having fresh food and water?
Hunger, thirst, friendship, love.
Green Bee, Russian Quaalude, Redheaded Slut:
IEDs on the supply route to pleasure.
There’s a gala in your hypothalamus,
helium balloons rising to the rafters,
the fizzy ricochet of laughter.
There’s a stumblebum in your cerebellum.
That empty feeling crawling toward you—
should you kill it with a wadded paper towel
or trap it in a jar and shake it out
and send it flying into the grass?
Is your head full of frozen tamales
and a vodka bottle curled on its side?
How do you get through the interminable evenings?
Are they really interminable?
Have you considered the alternative?
Now get out of your car,
stand by the side of the road
and take a step. Now recite
The Waste Land, backwards,
beginning with that sexy Sanskrit word.

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By David Gewanter

Like backtalking teenagers sent to their rooms,
__the boyhoods
of husbands dangle in closets, or bulge a locker,
__ancient toys

awaiting the senile hand—here inside the trunk,
__the Furry Freak Brothers
rub the benighted sovereignty of
__Big Ass Comix

or nuzzle the Up Against the Wall
__Street Journal, where
a sweaty financier is pictured with a purpley,
__squash-sized penis—

Why grow up? The basement monarch
__palms his relics:
the crumbled essay on pacifism, scrawled
__to the Draft Board’s

faustian query, Let’s say you see your mother
__being raped.
What would you do? The brochure, “Amputating
__Your Small Toe Safely.”

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Teddy Agonistes

By Teddy Macker

Summer after high school I lived alone on my family’s farm in Carpinteria,

I didn’t know a hoe from a spade but still reveled in the new role, begging my
mother to send money so I could rent a tractor and disc the field.

I disced the field, had my neighbor take pictures of me discing the field, then
sent those pictures to my ex-girlfriend.

Right before the photo I mashed hay into my hair.

At night I put on my Walkman and drove the tractor up and down the
lightless street, the speed of the machine shocking, the sycamore branches
raining down their sweet womanish incense. . . . I’d listen to Emmylou Harris
sing, You think you’re a cowboy but you’re only a kid, never once thinking I
was a kid.

During the day I spent hours not working but prayerfully wandering the
barn trying to be spellbound by every mote in every last shaft of light, then
scrawling T. S. Eliot on the walls of the hayloft.

Once I found a dead owl and for some reason washed it with a hose.

And late at night, lying on my back, the sounds of the coyotes pinned me to
my bed till I became an infinitely petalling blossom of strange clear dread.

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By Harrison Candelaria Fletcher

I inherit the sword. Before my father dies, he decides that I, not my big brother, will receive the ceremonial blade from the secretive Masonic Order, to which the men in his family belonged. My brother will get the gold ring stamped with the family coat of arms—a broad gray shield emblazoned with a black cross, four white shells, and four silver arrowheads.

I’m proud of my heirloom. I sneak into the hallway storage closet to play with it while my mother prunes her rose bushes. I slip the dull-edged weapon from its tarnished brass sheath, grip the chipped black wooden handle with the knight’s helmet hilt, and run my finger along the clouded chrome surface etched with vines. My brother slides beside me into the cool darkness.

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By Jerry Williams

When I was twelve years old, during the summer months when I was off from school, my father used to get me to ride around in his truck with him. The truck was a hospital-gown blue, three-quarter-ton Ford automatic with a wide bench seat, heaping ashtray, and a loaded .38 Smith & Wesson in the glove box. I guess he had a permit for the gun, but if it ever looked like the police might pull us over, he made me transfer it from the glove box to the seat between us, and with one hand he emptied the bullets onto the cracked vinyl and laid the gun across his thigh, evidently trying to impress me with his intricate knowledge of Ohio gun laws.

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Outbound Fall River 1967

By David Rivard

Well, you know how it is
when you’re thirteen, & deep
in the factory bosses’ graveyard—your hair
damp, atmospherically

violet in the August dusk—the children
you run with calling back
over gravestones & wrought-iron Grand
Army of the Republic

picket fences—in this cemetery
from the China Inn (Catholic chow mein

served there Fridays,
Wayne Yee’s family cooks them)—
you know all those
grassy family plots you walk over, strongholds

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By David Rivard

The brain bounces forward too, right?
so why return to what yesterday seemed to be becoming
before it became today?—
there’s no need for meanness or envy
when waking in the morning, no reasons for fear—
just an unlikely Rose of Sharon blooming by the branch library
and the balanced light of a warming
late October as it shines on a sheet of week-old social studies homework only recently
dropped from the book bag of a wandering Violet Neff
(5 points extra credit—according to Ms. DiNardo, a “nice job”):

nice job say the Tibetans by lugging the rolled-up rugs to air
in front of Yala Carpets mostly the smaller
prayer mats that are colored with clairvoyant vegetable dyes,
nice job says the scent of heavenly inventions like the breakfast plantains frying,
well done says the toddler with the jelly-fish haircut,
all answers perfect say the hedgerows of boxwood left
untrimmed by the vestry at St. Augustine’s

(a coven of swallows with attention deficit disorder muttering one-liners within),
perfect say the chicken legs in the freezer case at Fresh Killed Poultry,

while you wait for the 91 to the Green Line at Lechmere,
a vaguely Wordsworthian subway stop you think
(because the brain knows it’s well within its rights to do so)
a second or two before it occurs to you
to wonder if Ms. DiNardo’s grading is strict—

so what if it is? thinks the brain,
I can still imagine her first name is Julie whenever
I need to.

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