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.
by Carol Anshaw
Featured image: Fernand Lungren. In the Café c. 1882-1884. The Art Institute of Chicago.
All right. Here we go.
Darlyn teeters high on a swayback wooden ladder she has dragged in from her mother’s garage. From here she can reach around blindly on top of the kitchen cabinets. She has struck pay dirt—a tidy arrangement of small, flat bottles. She doesn’t have to look to know they will all be pints of 5 O’Clock vodka.
She backs down the ladder, finds a grocery bag, goes back up and tosses in every bottle she can reach. Then she moves the ladder further along the way and clears out the bottles above those cabinets. She pours the liquor down the drain in the sink. 5 O’Clock is not for the amateur drinker. When she has the presence of mind, Darlyn’s mother filters it through a Brita, then mixes it with lime juice and ice and ginger ale, her version of a Suffering Bastard. After a while, though, she drops the lime and the niceties and in the end skips even the glass.Read More
by Erica Dawson
Featured image: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The Englishman (William Tom Warrener, 1861–1934) at the Moulin Rouge, 1892. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I’ve half a mind to make a move.
I stayed in Archer City where
I made Larry McMurtry proud
by downing one too many shots
of ice-cold vodka, tumbler-sized,
then yelping all alone to “Sweet
Home, Alabama” while the band
reprised “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,”
packed up, and quit the Legion dance.
by Tracey Knapp
Featured image: Félix Vallotton. Five O’Clock, Intimacies VII (Cinq Heures, Intimités VII), 1898. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
All those times I crossed the bridge to see you
and not one lap dance. We haven’t held hands
since that time in the rain forest, chanting Lord
knows what in Sanskrit. I saw my first wild boar there
but even he took off for the brush. Someone always ends
the moment. Another call dropped on your iPhone,
the cosmic forces at work. My dog sighs and stares
at my flip-flop from his pillow. At work, the office
is separated into orderly earth-toned cubes.
by Kenneth Hart
Feature image: Antoine Watteau. Head of a Man, ca. 1718. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I didn’t think of myself as a sex offender
or as someone whose sex was offensive
until I walked across the campus
of the women’s college. I tried to be
as inconspicuous as possible, looking away
when someone jogged past with a scrunchy holding back her hair
and breasts bouncing just a little beneath a sports bra,
making believe I had some business there
by putting a purposeful stride in my step.
I know I carry the chromosome of hatchet murderers and rapists,
it’s no wonder my hands felt like mallets
at the ends of my arms.
After awhile I sat on a bench
and tried to look at the oval pond,
the trees and manicured shrubbery in front of the study hall,
as passing girls gossiped in the late-January sunlight,
some of them tanned from winter break, or slightly heavier
after a month of their mother’s cooking.
So I got up to leave,
making sure my shoulders looked slumped and unathletic,
a little afraid of myself now,
and massively unaware
that one of them might consider my presence
a welcome relief.
Kenneth Hart teaches writing at New York University, and serves as Poetry Editor for The Florida Review. His poems have recently been published in Gulf Coast, Green Mountains Review, and elsewhere. Hart’s book, Uh Oh Time, was selected by Mark Jarman as winner of the 2007 Anhinga Prize for Poetry.
by Michael Derrick Hudson
Featured image: Utagawa Hiroshige. Swallow and Wisteria, mid-1840s. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Everything has already blossomed: my neighbor’s wisteria
has gone hog-wild across the ragged frontier of
our mutual fence, the soft green tendrils
of it violating international borders
and breaking treaties. Achtung! So let me tell you about
my neighbor’s wife: she’s delicious! And every morning
I hear all the birds in Fort Wayne, Indiana, go
Yippee-yee! Yippee-yee! Which is how spring jibber-jabbers
while her husband blows the leafy detritus
by Anastasia Selby
Featured image: Edvard Munch. The Girl by the Window, 1893. The Art Institute of Chicago.
It’s Vegas and I’m sixteen years old. I’ve been playing in the arcade for hours; I’m leaning on the console of Mortal Combat, pushing the quarters my stepdad has given me into the slot one after another, wearing the tips of my thumbs down with their ridged edges. I’m bored as hell and my parents have abandoned me in this wasteland, I can practically see the tumbleweeds and hear western music as I walk across the patterned carpet. I pass all the men and women with their heads almost touching the bright lights of the slot machines, their hands like lobster claws around the levers, as if they’re waiting for the secrets of life to come pouring out when they hit the right combination. The secrets must be what they see on billboards, what they see in magazines. The arcade smells like the sweat of children and sounds like broken glass.Read More
by Natania Rosenfeld
Featured image: Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes). Lovers Sitting on a Rock; folio 24 (verso) from the Madrid Album ‘B’, 1796–97. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
We talked about her,
the Marschallin, only
thirty-two, and her lover,
seventeen, though the singers
were fiftyish, and we ourselves
are approaching there, though our
lives have not reached their
pinnacle. Will we ever
roar with our whole voice
and soul, cry out that way
with all life crying through us,
or will we walk on, obedient
and tired in our traces, as the round
orange sun goes down
across the long, white prairie?
by Daniel Larkins
Featured image: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. At the Moulin Rouge, 1892–1895. The Art Institute of Chicago.
10. The race is over before it ends.
7. Tim leans forward. His blue dress shirt is untucked, unbuttoned, and his stomach shoves the undershirt out of his pants. When he loses it’s like a win, because when he wins he doesn’t want to keep on betting. Losing answers the question, Why continue? When he loses, he likes to think he can parlay that into a victory, persevere to make up for the loss.
All the TVs are muted. In his shoes he can feel the rumble of Holland Tunnel traffic from a couple blocks away. His twin boys are twelve and his fingertips are black. His nails are short and dull. His wife Meg used to have monthly manicures and the designer kitchen she wanted, but no more would she get a stupid room for hanging pots and pans and whatever else she liked to hang from racks and nails.
Tim leans forward. He has a hangnail, and it bleeds and stings, and his left hand balls into a fist on his thigh and his other wraps around a rolled-up Racing Form. It’s a tool, a bat, a weapon.Read More
by Susan Morehouse
Feature image: Jean Charles Cazin. October Day 1890-1891. The Art Institute of Chicago.
My husband is walking out the door with an expensive watch, carrying it in the box it came in. “Are you getting it fixed,” I ask.
“I’m going to see what it’s worth at the pawnshop on Main,” he says. “You could just get a Timex,” I say, “if you want to know what time it is.”
“Sure,” he says, “or I have that watch you gave me. It just needs—”
“Batteries,” I say.
“Yeah,” he agrees, “and a band.”
The expensive watch was a gift from a man whose biography he wrote on spec, a book no editor has taken yet, even though Henry, the man behind the success of a major tabloid, implied it was a done deal. That was before the financial collapse. Henry gives these watches to anyone he needs a gift for. He buys them in bulk. Need something for a sheik? Here’s a Millage.
We’re broke.Read More
by Dave Kim
Feature image: Edgar Degas. Beach at Low Tide (Mouth of the River), 1869. The Art Institute of Chicago.
My mother’s boyfriend was a man named Bang. I never learned his first name. He’d been an officer in the Korean army before coming to the States, and he would yank me out of bed at six-thirty every morning to do jumping jacks. I was a doughy nine-year-old and he was trying to make me leaner and tougher. If I got angry, he would dare me to hit him and stand up for myself, get it out of my system. On Sundays we’d go to his boxing gym to watch the men pound each other to pieces, which terrified me at first and then made me dream of days when I’d be big enough to put on gloves and whomp Bang in the gut. I needed a good ass-kicking, he would tease me in his throaty Korean. Anytime I wanted, I could challenge him. Mom didn’t get involved.Read More
by Mark Kraushaar
Feature image: Berthe Morisot. Forêt de Compiègne, 1885. The Art Institute of Chicago.
Saxophone, and trombone, trumpet,
trumpet, trumpet. And there’s Roxanne
and Dick, and Betty Mayfield and the Laurie girls.
And there’s George Betts on clarinet.
Of course, it’s so jerky and grainy though,
which is just as it should be,
and here we suddenly actually
are, or, and isn’t that
Malcolm Sproul and Claudia French and isn’t that,
or wouldn’t that be Dick Benck, and there’s
Kit Powell, and Kathy Frey.
by Mark Kraushaar
Feature image: James McNeill Whistler. Nocturne: Blue and Gold—Southampton Water, 1872. The Art Institute of Chicago.
My wife was nodding, Yes, sure, and, Yes,
and I was thinking of my parents, their sadness
and silence, their every evening’s weeping,
whispery buzz beside the stove.
My wife was nodding, Yes,
and leaning forward when the pastor said, You’re
like two ships passing in the night, and he seemed so
pleased I thought, So one’s a brig-sloop the other a tug?
Or one’s a tanker the other a trawler?
Troop ship and submarine?
Grain barge and gunboat?
I was quiet though.
by Elton Glaser
Feature image: Odilon Redon. And Man Appeared; Questioning the Earth From Which He Emerged and Which Attracted Him, He Made His Way Toward Somber Brightness, plate 8 of 8 from “Les Origines”, 1883. The Art Institute of Chicago.
Rumple of clouds at sunset, low and pink,
Underbelly of heaven in the summer slack, and me
Depressed as a backdoor detective on a case of slow clues.
I’m never lonely as long as I have my own body
To interrogate, my mind with its whips and pincers.
I buckle at the slightest threat; I confess
In the high pure pang of a choirboy singing
At some ceremonious occasion for the faint of heart.
And now the hot night, the moon cool as a bishop
In a boudoir. What you can’t get over,
You must get past. Through a haze of smoke and rum,
What’s left of me squints at the odds and ends.
Elton Glaser, a native of New Orleans, is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Akron. He has published six full-length books of poetry, among them Pelican Tracks (Southern Illinois, 2003) and Here and Hereafter (Arkansas, 2005), winner of the Ohioana Book Award for Poetry.
by Elton Glaser
Feature image: Claude Monet. Rocks at Port-Goulphar, Belle-Île, 1886. The Art Institute of Chicago.
The wind sassy and half mad,
The clouds knocked up with rain—
Another feral afternoon in the Midwest,
Fall, and the trees like Salome, ready
To ask, when the last leaf drops,
For my unresisting head.
I’m going to spring all the little traps
Set by silence
And call it mercy. I’m going to let loose
Every thought caught by its hind legs
And screaming for release.
Out of the jaws and sharp teeth,
The tongue comes, loving
The taste of its own blood, gush of words
Hurt into eloquence.
by Patricia Ann Sanders
Feature image: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The Passenger in Cabin 54—The Cruise, 1896. The Art Institute of Chicago.
It’s called the “verbal tip.”
You’re the greatest waitress we’ve ever had. We’re going to ask for you every time we come here. We had such a good time because you were our waitress. Yada yada.
Then they leave, like, three dollars on a thirty-dollar ticket.
Like I was going to call up the electric company and tell them they were the greatest electric company I’d ever had.
When I got divorced, my ex-husband was supposed to give me the Jeep. That’s what we agreed. My plan was to sell it if I couldn’t find a job right away in Phoenix. Instead, he wanted me to have the Acura. He was being generous, because it was a better car, practically new. Except that he never signed the title over to me. So I couldn’t sell it, and I couldn’t drive it, because I couldn’t afford insurance or gas. I was living in a godforsaken studio and buying food for one day at a time, stealing toilet paper from the bathrooms at the mall, with a twenty-three-thousand-dollar car parked under my window.Read More
by Elton Glaser
Feature image: After Gerard de Lairesse. Copies after Illustrations of Statues and Paintings (recto); Measurements for a Man’s Skeleton (verso). The Art Institute of Chicago.
Who would plant, in this stony ground, narcissus and love-lies-bleeding?
It’s too late to be young among the primitives. Winter withers the stalks.
The air reeks of it, decay and the odor of innocence gone to seed.
The time for riots and tattoos is over. Who dances the Dazzle now, or the Swerve?
by Todd Boss
Feature image: Ugo da Carpi. The Sibyl and a Child Bearing a Torch, 1510-1530. The Art Institute of Chicago.
who was given up for adoption early on, when it was
clear they couldn’t manage him. It was, says your father,
the worst decision they’d ever made. (It’s you and your
parents at the kitchen table. Between you, the steam
from the teapot uncurls in a kind of breathing statuary.)
He was your inverse, your yin: When you went to sleep,
that’s when his terrorizing of everyone would begin.
He went from home to home to group home, and then
to prison, half mad, a drug-addled teen, with your name
tattooed over the veins in both forearms. “That’s when
we moved to Minnesota,” says your mother, but of course
he found you here, at the end of an abbreviated sentence,
and slit your throat while you slept. This was last year.
by Patricia Foster
Feature image: Jules Pascin. Hermine David, 1907. The Art Institute of Chicago.
I didn’t know what to do with my breakfast tray. I’d gone through the line, had just spooned scrambled eggs onto my brisk white plate when I noticed two of the tables were already full and I’d have to sit alone. Alone. I’d only been at this artists’ colony for fourteen hours, but inevitably the old thought seeped in, “I’ll never be asked to sit with the popular group.” Now I stared not at the writers and artists dawdling over sectioned grapefruit and blueberry pancakes, but at the shiny surface of the coffee urn.
Nonsense! I nodded to my distorted reflection. What could really be wrong with eating your eggs alone at 7:30 in the morning at a table for eight? I’d eaten alone many times in the last ten years at my home in Iowa. And I was way too mature—too old, I didn’t dare say—for these sudden fits of inadequacy. I shifted my gaze to the window where light shimmered above the crepe myrtle, where, in the distance, horses grazed and cows lumbered across the driveway. As I turned to pick up a glass of orange juice, I heard a trill of laughter from one of the tables and all my newfound certainty slipped again: sitting alone was a curse.
Any normal person would have assumed that being “new” to the group, you should give yourself a few days to acclimate, to get to know people, to talk to the tall, gregarious composer dressed in plaid shirts and khaki shorts and the small, clever woman with red hair who spoke so softly. Any normal person would have plunged into small talk, would have laughed when others laughed. Instead, anxiety charged through my body, wreaking havoc with my girlish hopes for friendship while an abject loneliness loomed above the coffee cups. What would I do? How would I survive?Read More
by Fleda Brown
Feature image: After Luca Cambiaso. Sibyl in the Clouds, after 1570. The Art Institute of Chicago.
I thought I had hold of something elegant, a luminescent glow
on the lake, a flicker’s flash of headdress high on the tree.
I thought I heard a conversation from over water, someone saying
laissez faire, or Toulouse Lautrec, but it was only guys fishing,
a mishearing that came to me like a ray of light through stained glass,
a shimmer like a fine line of Milton’s, or a landscape by Monet,
applied in layers.
What I wanted was something privately
apprehended, something slowly and privately understood:
elite, yes, I admit it.
by Laura McCullough
Feature image: Vasily Kandinsky. Houses at Murnau, 1909. The Art Institute of Chicago.
When we moved the couch
we found the pumpkin,
the tiny one we’d picked that day in the run-up to Halloween
with the kids at the apple-picking farm.
It was small to begin with, smaller than an apple,
and now it is desiccated
though not as much as you might imagine;
it’s top-sunken, and wrinkled, the bottom flatter
but the whole of it soft
as if it might be full of rot or even of crème,
as if you might pry it open
along one of the long wrinkles or fissures,
that autumn orange color gone pale,
and out might come some wonderful and unexpected thing.
by Emily Nagin
Feature image: Martin Johnson Heade. York Harbor, Coast of Maine, 1877. The Art Institute of Chicago.
In January, Nancy burst out laughing during the Shapiro funeral. She started laughing during a eulogy, though the eulogy itself was not funny. It was about deer hunting. The man giving it was stocky, red-cheeked, and blond, his buzz cut so close that from a distance, he looked bald. He spoke directly into the lectern, as if it had asked him to recall his father’s life. From her spot at the back of the chapel, all Nancy could see was the top of his head.
Her coworker, Lenny Faberman, sat across the aisle from her. Out of the corner of her eye, Nancy could see him fidgeting with his cufflinks. Last week, Lenny had caught Nancy crying while she embalmed an old woman. He’d stood in the basement doorway for a full minute, then said, “Did you know her?”
Nancy sniffed and wiped her eyes on her upper arm. She shook her head.Read More
by George Bilgere
Feature image: Odilon Redon. Still Life with Flowers, 1905. The Art Institute of Chicago.
On my way to the conference in Traverse City
I drive by the toy lake where my family came
for summer getaways from steamy St. Louis.
The tiny cottages on the shore are still there.
There is the white sand where I played with my sisters
and learned how to swim from a teenaged lifeguard
whose beauty put my child’s mind in confusion.
My mother sat at a card table with her friends,
smoking and playing gin rummy. Weekends,
my father flew up from the mystery
of his job and his life without us.
My father dead now, my mother dead,
along with the friends she played cards with.
by George Bilgere
Feature image: Paul Sérusier. The Beach of Les Grands Sables at Le Pouldu, 1890. The Art Institute of Chicago.
Now we’re on this tourist island and I am going to rent a golf cart.
That would be a good way, a very good way, to start a novel.
But this is not a novel, it’s my life.
It must be written down so that later, when I’m old,
barely able to walk around whatever fearful place
I finally end up in, I’ll look in my journal
and there will be my writing,
my own hand, bolder and darker than the trembling scrawl
age has dealt me. I will stand at the window
looking at the new kinds of cars—mostly Chinese, I’m guessing—
zooming past in a world I no longer get on any level.
by George Bilgere
Feature image: Odilon Redon. The Beacon, 1883, reworked c. 1893. The Art Institute of Chicago.
So this young couple, overweight
and seriously tattooed, comes into the café,
and each of them is actually wearing a baby
in one of those tummy-papoose things,
and they have two enormous dogs
designed to kill elk and wolves,
not sit under the table at a coffee shop,
and as I watch them smile at their babies
which are now screaming bloody murder
while the great slobbering mastiffs
begin earnestly licking their own privates,
something terrible happens to me:
it’s like The Manchurian Candidate,
when Lawrence Harvey suddenly realizes
the reason he’s been acting so strangely
is because he’s been brainwashed by Soviet agents: