New Ohio Review Issue 6 (Originally printed Fall 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 6 compiled by Ellery Pollard.

Fame

By David Gullette

Featured Art: Reading by James McNeill Whistler

Half asleep he saw clearly his own failures
and by the light of that hideous clarity
made a poem hard sleek and simple.

As he strung the words out from the bobbin
of his waking mind still half dreaming
he knew what he had seen, saw what he had felt

and each word rang a new bell
or bruised an old wound to bleeding
but he pushed on to finish it all the same.

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Objective Correlative

By Ann Keniston

Featured Art: The Letter by Alice Pike Barney

All I could do was think of her face.
Or not think of it, the way
after receiving her letter I felt
relief, gratitude, and then
lost the actual note she wrote,
the tiny, lovely photograph
of her children I’d vowed to cherish.
And then I saw: my grief was
the objective correlative, a hook
on which I could hang all the scraps
of whatever other sadnesses
I was more frightened of. And the grief,
like a person, like her in her solicitude,
almost prevented me from seeing this

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Quite a Storm

By Brenda Miller

Featured Art: Alpine Scene in Thunderstorm by Frederic Edwin Church

You can see storms in the desert from a long way off: dark clouds building, wind picking up, lightning bolts flashing and touching ground. You listen for the thunder growling up behind, wait for the moment when everything will be synchronized—and then you’re in it, in the thick of it, trees bending and shaking, something rattling the roof, the lightning and thunder now one animal trying to get in. The only thing between you and the storm is the sliding glass door, and you see the jackrabbits going for cover, and you know the power will go out, and you know you’ll have to find the flashlight and batteries and candles and matches, and you’ll try to eat all the food in the fridge before it spoils, before your boyfriend gets home and blames you for the storm. You’ll still have to get up at 4 a.m. and drive your truck into town, dash from the cab in the rain and wind, knock at the locked glass door frantically for the baker to let you in, the baker who had looked you up and down, said: why does a college girl like you want a job like this? You had no answer for that question, but you still got the job because you were white and sober and scared, and so now you run inside, put on the big white apron, start pressing fresh donuts into frosting, sprinkling them with chocolate jimmies and coconut, scooping out the powdered sugar and glaze.

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Takeout, 2008

By Denise Duhamel

Featured Art: Puddles by Sophie Rodionov

My sister, my brother-in-law, and I order Chinese takeout
on New Year’s Eve and my fortune reads
“You have to accept loss to win.” This makes me almost hopeful—
and maybe, for a moment, even gives me a way
to make sense out of 2008. I am going to keep that fortune, I think,
but then promptly, accidentally, I throw it in the trash.
Later my sister says that she thought my fortune might have read,
“Only through learning to lose can you really win.”
Or “Maybe accepting loss makes you a winner.” I can’t search
through the trash because I threw the bag of leftover Chinese
into the condo’s chute which crushes whatever thuds to the bottom.
Read More

Grimace

By Heather June Gibbons

Featured Art: The Ouroboros by Theodoros Pelecanos

Regret does not descend in a cinematic miasma.
It hits like nausea, creaks back and forth
on a limited axis like one of those vaguely
eggplant-shaped metal cages you used to see
in fast food playgrounds across America.
Meanwhile, the sky unfurls its violent ribbons
and karate kids spar on the green. I am driving
or rinsing a dish, or picking zucchini, or whatever it is
I do now that I’ve outlived my misspent youth,
confused by the hair-trigger pairing of regret
and nostalgia, the head and tail of a snake stuck
swallowing itself in the relentless ouroboros
of endings that beget other endings, memory
like a waterwheel that we’re tied to, half-drowned
and just trying to make it around one more time.
Grimace, I embrace you from the inside.
The place is empty, let me stay awhile.

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The Briefcase

By Mark Cox

Featured Art: Leaves by Sophie Rodionov

They bought it early in their courtship, at one of the
estate or moving sales they avidly frequented, piecing
together a life from the treasures and trash of other
couples—young then, oblivious, able to profit from
others’ losses, to foresee utility and beauty in the
discarded and worn. “Contents a mystery,” the
tag said, “Combination unknown.” Even so, it was
a bargain—a sleek, hard-shelled executive model, its four
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All That Shimmers and Settles Along the Roads of our Passage

By Mark Cox

Featured Art: Portrait of a Lady with a Dog (Anna Baker Weir) by J. Alden Weir

After seventeen years, I return home to my ex-wife,
without the cigarettes and bread,
without the woman and children I left her for,
older, empty-handed, and yet
to the same clothes
still in the same drawers,
as if nothing has changed.

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A Permanent Home

By Nicole Walker

Featured Art: Houses at Murnau by Vasily Kandinsky

We had been in Michigan only five months when we heard the people we sold our house to back in Salt Lake City had decided not just to remodel but to start completely over. They were tearing it down.

Erik had painted every wall of that house. He painted the moldings with enamel paint—hard enough to last forever. That’s the house Zoe was born in. It’s the house where Erik first brought me oysters and the house where I first made him salmon. It’s the house we brought Zoe home to—where I first nursed her and where I first fed her puréed sweet potatoes. That house was where I learned to make cassoulet and where I made my mom her favorite vichyssoise. 

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A Discreet Charm

By Stephen Dunn

Featured Art: Luncheon Still Life by John F. Francis

Our good friends are with us, Jack and Jen, 
old lefties with whom we now and then share
what we don’t call our wealth. We clink our
wine glasses, and I say, Let’s drink to privilege . . .

the privilege of evenings like this.
All our words have a radical past, and Jack
is famous for wanting the cog to fit the wheel,
and for the wheel to go straight

down some good-cause road. But he says
No, let’s drink to an evening as solemn
as Eugene Debs demanding fair wages—
his smile the bent arrow only the best men

can point at themselves. I serve the salad
Barbara has made with pine nuts, fennel,
and fine, stinky cheese. It’s too beautiful to eat,
Jen says, but means it only as a compliment.

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Superman at 95

By Gregory Djanikian

Featured Art: The Collector of Prints by Edgar Degas

It was never a question of age, finally.
Time for him had always moved
too slowly, wasn’t he faster than time,
outrunning it whenever he wished?
Even now, he could hear the sound
of every second before it clicked.

Oh, he was powerful enough,
still wildly aerodynamic, able
to leap imagination itself.

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Life As Lucy

By Lisa Bellamy

Featured Art: Jonge vrouw met een sigaret by Antonio Zona

The famous poet misheard my name after her reading:
“Lucy?” she asked as I introduced myself.
My ears perked up like an anxious dog off the leash
hearing the Beloved Friend call her name, suddenly alert
in the midst of the city’s distraction and babble:
fragrant pigeons just out of reach, sirens,
couples growling face to face in the street.
There’s nothing soft or vague about “Lucy.”
Lucy’s a dachshund digging under the rosebush
someone’s grandmother planted,
salivating for scraps of tasty mole,
ignoring cries and folded newspaper swatting behind her.
Lucy’s a bookie, porkpie hat on her head,
cigar clamped in her mouth.
She’s running on spit, playing the odds
for more time to make good on her bets.
Lucy is—bucky. Read More

Don’ Like

By Charles Harper Webb

Featured Art: The Miser by James McNeill Whistler

The Arabs who invented Algebra can’t have known
Miss Seitz would teach it, any more than Einstein
knew he’d be the Father of Catastrophe.

The Miss which prefaced her name proudly
(would no man have her, or would she have no man?)
brought to mind Mistake, Mischance, Misshapen,

Miserable, Misfit, Missing Link, Lord of Misrule.
Only the fiends who stoked the furnace of 8th grade
were glad to see her hunched at her desk, gutting papers Read More

Dismantled for Goodwill, Our Son’s Crib Leans

By Charles Harper Webb

Featured Art: Trailing Vine by Cooper Hewitt

against our bed. The ship-of-slats that ferried him
through his first years, traps us, tonight,
in its floating cage as my wife and I slip down

sleep’s muddy stream. That crib spent hard time
in the Don’t Wear closet with outmoded pants, shirts, shoes,
while we argued the merits of another child.

When my wife passed her fertile crescent,
and entered the dry scrub-lands, we kept the crib
for sentimental reasons, like a teddy bear in a flash flood.

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Here

By C. Wade Bentley

Featured Art: Variations in Violet and Grey—Market Place, Dieppe by James McNeill Whistler

It’s not so much a heaviness,
the oppressive weight of wet wool;
instead, it’s as though my molecules
are moving outward from the center,
mimicking the universal flight
from the Big Bang—though I hear
how grandiose that sounds.

It’s just that the edges become indistinct
and you may begin to see the busy streetlife
right through me, in patches
of color and noise and volition. And soon
I am mixing with the pollen of elms,
the billion billion motes of skin cells
catching fire in the afternoon.

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The Animal Trade

Winner of the 2009 New Ohio Review Prize in Fiction (selected by Peter Ho Davies)

By Christine Nicolai

Featured Art: Paard by Anton Mauve

It was close to midnight when Vic heard a shotgun echoing somewhere nearby. If Sue were still around, he’d have put on his boots and stomped out to the porch in his bathrobe, scanning the front yard and street in the twilight. If she were here, he’d have seen that it was all clear and come back to bed where she’d have been frozen under the blankets, breathing those shallow, rabbitty breaths, like she was flattened in a clump of weeds, waiting for the fox to move on. Without Sue, Vic told himself it wasn’t a shotgun he’d heard, because shots at midnight usually meant someone was doing something they shouldn’t.

This was midsummer, humid and hot. Even though it was long after the fourth, the noise could have been an M-80 or Salute, picked up from the reservation. Every couple of weeks one of the guys at the restaurant complained about kids lobbing cherry bombs into front lawns and tearing off down the street, yelping at the stars. That was an explanation he could almost hold in his hand, except that he knew it was the sharp-edged sound of a shotgun that had crackled through the night. His jeans were on the floor. He put them on in the dark and went to check the doors, sticking his head out the back, trying to make out more than just the outline of the barn against the dark sky. The gate leading to the back pasture appeared to be shut, which meant that Toby, the gelding Sue had left behind, should be all right. He closed the door.

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Reverend Tyree (excerpted from the novel Haints)

By Clint McCown

Featured Art: Rusty Car by Ellery Pollard

As Reverend Tyree settled himself onto the torn front seat of his rust-spotted DeSoto and turned the ignition, he had a brief moment of hope. The motor sputtered, coughed, and whirred without catching. He turned the key again, with the same result. The old rattletrap was trying to give him a night off, it seemed. One more failed attempt and he would be justified in staying home with Mildred and his mother and listening to the radio for a change. And why shouldn’t he stay at home? The clean-up crews hadn’t fully cleared the streets after the tornado, so driving could be dangerous, especially on the side of town where the county jail was located. The inmates wouldn’t care if he skipped a visit. But when he turned the key a third time, the engine caught, and that was it, he was trapped for yet another Saturday night.

He dreaded the jailhouse even more than the hospital. The hospital was relatively cheerful, especially in the evenings, and he had learned that if he made his rounds about an hour after dinnertime, many of the patients he was supposed to visit would have already drifted off to sleep. Then he could sit by their beds and read magazines. He would always leave evidence of his visit—a printed card with a picture of Jesus on it and a passage from St. Luke: Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

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Good God

By Mark Jarman

Featured Art: Girl With Apple by Ellery Pollard

Instead of casting them out of paradise,
Instead of making them labor in pain and sweat,
Instead of instilling tristesse after coitus,
Instead of giving them fire to burn their house down
And light their way into the outer world,
He could have split them, each with a memory of the other,
And put them each into a separate world.

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Aphorism Aporia

By A. E. Stallings

Featured Art: Study for “An Aragonese Smuggler” by William Turner Dannat

What else should I do
But cry for what is spilled?
Not for the fresh glass,
Frothy, newly filled,
Safe on the tabletop
Beside the slice of cake,
Still untouched and chilled,

But for this little lake
The cat laps on the floor,
The glass poured for your sake,
That you would have me pour,
Negative of ink
Filling in the blank
Indelible mistake—

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How Someone Can Not Recognize You

By Aja Gabel

Featured Art: Paris Bridge by Arthur B. Carles

Six days after my father dies, seven blind masseurs hold hands and leap from the Han River Bridge in downtown Seoul, into the shallow water beneath the lighted apex, their bodies a disruption in a mirror they’d never seen. I read about this in the newspaper I collect from the front of my father’s house, all damp and bleeding ink from the past week’s frost. In my father’s office I spread the papers out on his desk and trace my fingers down the pages, to see if I’ve missed anything. I’m looking for murders, plane crashes, natural disasters, economic collapse, impending apocalypse. I stop at the society pages, the comics, the crosswords. For several minutes I consider an eight-letter word for “felicity.” The only answer I can come up with is, “felicity.” Sometimes it happens that way.

The Korean masseurs’ story catches my eye because they have a large color picture of the bridge. It must be one of those time-lapse photos, where the car lights ghost into a gold blur and the surface of the river is steely and reflective. Four vaulted columns rise from the river and hold a statue of a torch, under which I imagine the masseurs must have jumped. How could they have jumped from anywhere else on that bridge? But then, how would they know? How would they know that that was the center? Did they feel the wind die down under the canopy? Did they hear it slice through the steel cables? Did a sighted woman lead them there and say here, here is where you would jump if you were going to jump, not that you are, and then they laughed, and took off their glasses, wiped their eyes of sleep, or of drink, said thank you, you’re kind, leave us now, we just want for a moment to enjoy the view.

Read More