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


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.

When it was done he held it up and read
the triumphant chronicle of defeat
at his own hands: the craven appeasements

the months of capitulations
the years of friend after friend dying away
and vices equal to his sorrows.

He sent it off, within days came word
they would be glad to print it,
the season shifted and he slept late.

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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.
Yesterday I held my childhood drawings in my hand
except they had been drenched in sewer water, so it’s more accurate to say
that I scooped Crayola pulp in my work gloves. The apartment
my sister and brother-in-law and I bought is gone, except
for the cement floor. Even the moldy walls must come down.

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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
dials frozen at 0009, the point of boredom at which someone
stopped trying. Even recounting this story, he aches with
methodical sequential labor, feels the idea overcome by
thought, the way her dinged muffin tins and Jell-o molds
signaled an end to each merged ingredient—became, finally,
intractable result, which, like good children, they shut up
and ate, year after year. When it finally clicked open at
9998, all he found within was another tag, one that showed
the combination he now knew, and directions for customizing
that code, making it their own, for which, obviously, it was
too late, there being nothing left of their early hope to
entrust there, that trapped air of possibility belonging,
now, to others—perhaps you, parking on their weed-ravaged
lawn as you have, walking arm in arm up the drive toward
the heaped folding tables and the garage door propped open
with a brand new broom.

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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.

My torn T-shirt is still splotched with paint
across her left breast,
her hair has not gone gray at the temples,
and she does not ask a single question:
not where have you been,
not how could you,
not where were you when I needed you,

just, hey baby and a smile,
the Vermont air cold,
the old mattress flat on the floor,

because the frame and box springs are still in the Ryder truck,
because my first students have not entered the classroom,
I have yet to fall in love with my own bourbon-soaked voice,
our dog has not died arthritic and stroke-plagued,

there is, instead, the kitchen faucet still running,
the beans rinsed and splayed in the colander,
and there isn’t the slightest anger in her voice,
that I have missed a good dinner,
that I will have to warm it up if I want any,
it’s ok, in fact, if I let the dog out
one last time and just come on to bed.

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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.

But he’d grown weary of it all,
the adoring looks, the caped crusading
in the name of righteousness and truth:
hadn’t it frayed a little, lost
its gleam through the turbulent years?

Nothing had changed really,
annihilation, ruin, the horsemen
of every apocalypse still riding through
like bad cops and pestilence,
knowing where everyone lived.

And his own life, emptier now
with so many friends gone
or on the way, Jimmy, Lois,
doddering in their last stages
in a metropolis of fear.

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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.
“You’re getting bucky again,” my mother would say.
Snapshot: brown silky hair chopped at the ears,
bangs cut razor-straight. A Buster Brown,
they called it at the beauty salon.
Jaw set, lower lip ready for battle:
I am seven, in a fringed cowgirl suit
I wear even to bed,
cap pistols ready to go, in the holster.

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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

with her bloody pen. X’s identity was nothing to her,
next to perfect headings: student’s name, class name
and period, her name, and the date in that order,

starting exactly three lines from the top, margins
one inch, paper creased in perfect thirds (no
crooked ends, no refolding), or she would fix you

in a basilisk stare, shove back your work, and snarl,
in a decades-past-post-menopausal croak, Don’ Like.
What math we gained is gone now as Del Shannon’s

“Runaway”—as Billy Tilly’s spit-shined shoes,
and the blade Ray Montez applied to my throat, hissing,
“Gimme all your cash, you little fruit”—gone

as the mush-burgers Ms Hairnet slapped
on our lunchroom trays—as Teddy Jones,
falling between the granite blocks at Freeport Jetty,

crawling back up, extending the glass stump
of his new Pfleuger rod, groaning, Don’ like.
The words remain: an anthem as I near Miss Seitz’s age.

Hip hop and bottles crashing next door after 9:00—
the candidates, woman and man—
the way my clothes fit, and the barber cuts my “hair”—

hot salad and cold soup served by a pretty waitress
who thinks my (old) manhood’s a dirty joke—
Time’s scaly hand, Xing, in red, my dwindling days . . .

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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.

Change fear’s long e to o, and you have four kids,
the crib’s white gloss four times more
scratched, scraped, chewed, the house swollen

with four times the cacophony, four times the chaos,
four chances for an Einstein, Mozart,
Shakespeare, Ruth, but also a Goebbels, a Night-Stalker,

a bag-man chattering to Martians as he shoves
his shopping cart along—four chances to buy
a small coffin to fill a little grave—four creditors

hammering at our door, garnishing our energy
and self-centeredness, which is why we waited
too long, and the Magic Kingdom closed.

But let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about the crib
re-built inside another home, a new father
fitting the pieces as I did the day my son was born,

my wife waiting with him for doctors to say, “The tide
has turned. The wind is right as it will ever be.
The ship waits. Take your new life home.”

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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.

So when I tell you it is almost painful
to see that precariously pregnant young woman
climb the steps to her brownstone, hear
the cans of olives and jars of ragu
clatter and shatter against the wrought iron
because some idiot failed to double-bag,
and that now here I am stooping to help,

here I am cursing bag boys the world round, insisting
that she (Antonia) sit; when I tell you I can actually feel
my joints re-knitting, cells lining up again
with their proper organelles, feel gravity
pulling on these coalescing and corporeal tissues—
you will understand, perhaps, that I am not altogether
happy to be back, but I am here.

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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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