New Ohio Review Issue 5 (Originally printed Spring 2009)

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 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,

Arnold Read More

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. Read More

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.

Read More

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.
—Bachelard

1.
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,

Read More

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

Pediment

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.”

Read More

Teddy Agonistes

By Teddy Macker

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

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.

Read More

Inheritance

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.

Read More

Truck

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 be- tween 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.

Read More

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

Read More

Wordsworthian

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”):

Read More

Free Period

David Yezzi

Outside study hall,
it’s me, my girlfriend, and a guy
named Rob—bony kid, klutzy
at games, fluent in French.
He’s behind her;

Read More

I’m sorry it has nothing

Sydney Lea

to do sweet Jeanne with you this wild urge to leave behind
all that I treasure by zooming away on my old silver Norton
road bike with clip handlebars and mean engine never mind

that the two of us did that so often and country towns’ small winking
street lamps briefly lit us as we rumbled and roared below them
though we were lit up already by our idiot epical thinking

Read More

Early Life

Sydney Lea

All the pastor’s years of serving God
and humankind—they’re nothing now.
His congregation has long resigned itself
to anecdotal, meandering sermons.
But how forgive his mixing the liturgy
of welcome to a new church member
with the ceremony—however it may be related—
of baptism? The poor young parents

blush and fidget while veteran members feel
something between impatience and rage.

The minister and infant, robed and sleeping,
appear serene, above it all,
the one too young, even awake, to know
what’s going on and the other unable
to keep intact his thinking. Painful pauses.
Autumn rain on the roof like gunfire.

Read More

The God-Blurred World

By Joe Bonomo

Recently I looked at newspaper coverage of the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar mis- sion: front page after front page of banner headlines, screaming two-inch type, giddy editorial cartoons, all reported manner of visionary enthusiasm and tear- ful astonishment for a new future where moon creatures have been disproved and NASA will rescue us all. Writer and sci-fi visionary Ray Bradbury wanted to create a new calendar, beginning with “Year One of the New Era.”

Read More

New World

By David Baker

—Yellow gingkoes, awash on the sidewalks.
But we can’t have them. Blue sky like a just-
thrown vase. Bright plain blue side still glowing.
Autumn air. Warm as a bath. We can’t say so.
We did not see the horses nuzzling
in the field, in the muddy pen, in the big acres
hidden by trees in the middle of the financial city,
nor whisper through a night in a booth. In
a room. In no hurry atop sheets of many gone loves.
This was not us, nor will be, nor ever will I
forget you when the broken histories are
told. Expenditure and loss. Collateral and gift.
. . . no where shall Wee Be known. How
many leaves. How much wind in the new world—. Read More

Saint Monica and the Devil’s Place

By Mary Biddinger

At school they were too polite to call it hell, though she heard the word on her
mother’s eight-tracks, seeping between damp towels in the bathroom, hover-
ing in the silver of the old hall mirror. Monica knew who went there and why,
regardless of time spent fluffing the chrysanthemums outside the rectory. She’d
go to the Devil’s Place herself if it meant one hour alone with Kevin McMillan
in the falling-down barn. Sister Rita said it was hot, but Monica could live
with that. Mrs. Dettweiler next door crushed cigarettes out on her daughter’s
back. She was on her way to the Devil’s Place, along with the Simmons twins,
and Monica’s uncle who thought he could piss out an electrical fire, ended
up burning down the Kroger instead. There were, of course, exceptions. If he
was mean enough you could take a cinderblock to your husband’s head in the
middle of the night, as long as you called the police afterwards, produced the
notebook of grievances when officers arrived. You could sign your husband up
for a war, then dash your face with mauve lipstick on the night they handed
him a gun. If you were married to one of the Simmons twins you could toss
the car keys down a sewer grate, sprint to JC Penney for a white sale bonanza
with the charge card, knowing you’d be safe until Randy or Ricky made it
out of the sludge. Monica would not go to the Devil’s Place over shoplifted
Raisinets or hair gel, but she would sign away her soul for an afternoon swim-
ming with Kevin McMillan in the pond at Raccoon Park, as long as they could
both be naked and the water above fifty-five degrees. Perhaps there was hope
for Monica’s uncle, provided he sold the Firebird, wheeled the recliner to the
curb and found a job. If they ever married, Monica would never torch Kevin
McMillan while he read the newspaper in his slippers and flannel boxers, or
dig a six-foot three-and-a-half-inch hole in the backyard while the children
planted daffodil bulbs. She would not include the Devil’s Place on her college
application list, as Rhonda Phillips did the day she broke her sister’s arm play-
ing darts. When the Simmons twins winked at her, Monica looked away. When
Kevin McMillan winked at her, Monica unbuttoned her shirt, showed the hot
pink swimsuit underneath. Read More

Barbeque

By Roberta Allen

If I were to write a story about a barbeque in Stone Ridge, would I change the location to Willow? To Olive? Would I change the number of guests from six to five or maybe seven? Would I add another female? Would I exclude the odd-numbered male? Would I change the profession of the annoying architect swatting big fat flies at the table while we were eating to lawyer? Or pilot? Or yoga instructor? Did the architect swat flies while we were eating? Or was it later, after we had finished and taken the dishes and burnt buns back inside the house? Were the uneaten buns “burnt”? Or do I just like the sound of the words “burnt buns”? Did I say too much when I called the architect swatting flies “annoying”? Could I have said anything else? Could an architect be any- thing but annoying, slamming his big hairy hand on the table, squashing soft, gushy flies, or almost worse, Read More