New Ohio Review Issue 24 (Originally Published Fall 2018)

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 24 compiled by Isaiah Underwood

My Hometown, the Hypothetical Guided Tour

                                     

By Dan Wiencek

Featured Art by Jasper Francis Cropsey

            First we come to the field
where I did not hit the winning
     home run, where no cheers rose
            up and the game ball went ungiven

     Beyond left field,
            the bleachers where I did not
    make out with my high-school
         crush, did not taste her perfume
                  or dodge her brother’s freckled glare

      This is the house where a family of
                color did not live, there, where
         that guy is hosing Chinese
                              menus off his car

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Trouble

By Danusha Laméris

Featured Art by Clara Peeters

He’d wanted the persimmons
and asked her for them, but when
she gave him the brown paper bag,
brimming over, he was taken
aback. Did he really need that many?
Still, he brought them home
to his wife, and soon
there were persimmons ripening
on the kitchen counters, lining
the windowsills. Each day,
growing more and more succulent
until the air was thick
and sweet with their scent.

At breakfast, he’d break one open
with his spoon—the skin supple
and ready to give—stir it into
his hot cereal. Indescribable,
the taste. And a texture he might
have described as sea creature
meets manna from heaven. When
he ate one, he thought of her.
And when he saw her, he thought
of the persimmons. When her arm
brushed, just barely, against his,
did he imagine they both felt
the same quickening? In myth,
fruit is usually the beginning
of disaster. And the way
they made themselves so obvious—
an almost audible orange
against the white walls—
made him wish he’d never asked
her for them, didn’t have to
smell them sugaring the air
with ruin, as he sat there,
face lowered to the bowl, spooning
the soft pulp into his mouth.


Danusha Laméris is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House, 2014), and Bonfire Opera, (University of Pittsburgh Press, Pitt Poetry Series, 2020). Some of her poems have been published in The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Prairie Schooner. The recipient of the 2020 Lucille Clifton Legacy Award, she teaches poetry independently, and was the 2018-2020 Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County, California.

Bird

By Danusha Laméris

Featured Art: Young Woman on a Balcony Looking at Parakeets by Henri Matisse

We were sitting on the couch in the dark
talking about first pets, when I told him how,
as a girl, I kept a blue and white parakeet I let
y around the house and, sometimes, outside,
where he’d land on the branches of pine
and eucalyptus, balancing between seedpods
and spines. Only, while I was telling it,
my companion began to stroke, very lightly,
the indent of my palm, the way you do when you’re
sitting in the dark with someone you’ve never kissed
but have thought about kissing. And I told him
how my bird would sit on a high branch and sing,
loudly, at the wonder of it—the whole, green world—

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Stopover on a Road Trip to L.A., 1981

By C.W. Emerson

Featured Art by Arthur Lazar

Didn’t I stand there once,
nineteen, loose-limbed,

dripping water onto the catwalk
above the motel pool?

And weren’t we luminous then?—
our bodies glistening,

pale as the slice of winter moon
that hung in a Vegas sky.

Wasn’t there a door, a threshold,
one simple, white-walled room?

Didn’t we taste peyote’s fire,
christen ourselves with totemic names?—

wouldn’t I become Gray Wolf,
Bitter Oleander, Monkshead, Moss?

And you would have been
Bobcat, Lily of the Valley, my love,

Salt Cedar, Eucalyptus—
if only you’d lived a little longer.


C.W. Emerson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Greensboro Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Tupelo Quarterly, and others. He was a finalist for the 2018 New Millennium Award for Poetry, and he works in Los Angeles and Palm Springs as a clinical psychologist.

We Have Got to Get Out of L.A.

By Suzanne Lummis

Nights, the expanse of lit streets and lights
of mini-marts sends out an avid, sex-tinged and
discontented glow for planes to drift through.

Days, the men no one would marry stand
too close behind us, in lines dangling
through Food-4-Less, Rite Aid Drugs.

Friends, we have got to get out of L.A.
Downstairs a couple yelp their seedy
bare-boned love, and then fight.

Upstairs a woman rehearses, once again,
the awful song no one will buy.
Its unlucky-with-men news wobbles

out over The Donut Inn’s clientele—
guys dressed down and broke till Friday,
unlucky with women.

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To Inscribe

By Anne Starling

Featured Art: A Holiday by Edward Henry Potthast

The dead are with us to stay
                  —Charles Wright


But not the living, the fallible breathing.

For a while it seemed one thing
could be righted. One small piece at the
ocean’s bottom corner
or the bottom
dresser drawer with the scuffed
baby shoes and shoeboxes
               full of snapshots of kid parties, holidays, school picnics
               etcetera.

A comfort, even knowing that wrong
can’t be undone, is more like oceans plural
rushing in
               weighing in with their trick of
                no light, unfathomable.

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Who’s Loving You

Winner, New Ohio Review Nonfiction Contest
selected by Roxane Gay

By Kelsey Ronan

When I was twenty-four, my boyfriend Bryan died, and after the initial cocoon of shock unspooled and I moved back into my mom’s house on Flint’s west side that summer, I had trouble sleeping. Eventually I’d figure out a formula (hot bath; melatonin supplement; crossword puzzles until the numbers blurred), but that summer I stayed up for days at a time. My mom didn’t have WiFi, but one of our neighbors had an unsecured network and from the front porch I could keep enough of a connection to stream YouTube videos. Nights, I swaddled myself in an afghan and sat with my laptop, smoking Newports because Bryan had smoked them and I liked the way the smell was still there on my fingertips when I went back to bed.

That summer marked the first anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, and I searched for his music videos and all the prime-time interviews. My favorite was Living with Michael Jackson, the 2003 ABC special where Martin Bashir interviews MJ as he rides a mini–Batmobile around Neverland and beatboxes “Billie Jean” under portraits of himself as a naked Bouguereau angel. In one  of the scenes I liked best, Jackson and Bashir sit in the Neverland theater, watching footage of a tiny, afroed Michael twirling in fringe and polyester. A gaunt, satin-pajamaed King of Pop, so many reinventions and rhinoplasties away from Motown, shovels in popcorn like he’s witnessing someone else’s tortured childhood.

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Asking for a Friend

By Emily Sernaker

Featured Art: Shop Girls by Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones

What if you haven’t enjoyed dating
for a while? You’re tired of sharing pieces
of your life story with men
in crowded restaurants
all over the city who you know
within five minutes you won’t want
to see again? What if you get too excited
when you find a guy you like
at a holiday party? Becoming very
forward while wearing a Snoopy Christmas sweater,
because you believe it’s your power-outfit
and you only have a three-week window to rock it?

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Thing-Poem After the Social Event

By Karen Benning

Featured Art: Landscape with Two Poplars by Vasily Kandinsky

Did you have any fun? Tell me.
What did you do?”

—from The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss

Never speak aloud the thing that first
pops into your head, pops like a balloon, black,
bursting in a shock, pops like your bubble burst,
pops like a blister of blood, a BB gun at a bird,
a red blot on a white backdrop, thought precedent
to mismatched utterance precedent
to the stare, the crash into

silence, the inevitable turning
away as you stand there (again) staring into
your wine glass and facing newly open space

between yourself and a back. Never speak
to strangers, never say that first thing

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Talking

By Christopher Brean Murray

Featured Art by Alfred Stieglitz

Sometimes I talk too much. I tell myself
it’s good to socialize so I say almost anything
to get the conversation going, something
like “What’s your favorite crime film?” or
“The media really needs to tone it down.”
Then we’re off and talking about what
kind of dog to get or whether garlic
belongs in guacamole. I might not know
the person I’m talking to but we can
work that out on the fly like rolling a car
down a hill to get it started but what if
it has no brakes? Sometimes that happens
and you have to steer away from the river
rushing over the black rocks and turn
onto the lane that snakes through the trees

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Merriweather

By Christopher Brean Murray

I first heard his name in passing. Someone
was rinsing coffee from a spoon, saying, “That’s just
how Merriweather is . . .” I was new to the city.
I was emailing my CV around and smiling politely
at new faces. I noticed that people really deferred
to this Merriweather—his first name? A man I met
at a potluck had camped with Merriweather in Patagonia.
Merriweather had gotten him and his friends
out of a jam when the stove gas ran low and a sharp sleet
hemmed them in for days. Another guy explained
that Merriweather had secured for him and his fiancée
a cherry farm where they could have the wedding
they’d dreamt of. Merriweather’s band played,
and his bass solos shook bits of hay from the dusty catwalk.

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Happy Lamp

By Catherine Carter

Featured Art: Under the Lamp, c. 1882 by Mary Cassatt

It’s made to make you glad
on dull cold days, keep you
from crying over car insurance,
made to stop the visions
of flogging your flesh with barbed
wire, gouges gone rust-brown,
swelling with tetanus.
Full spectrum, mock sun;
maybe it helps.

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Soulmates

By Peter Krumbach

Featured Art by Claude Monet

I was sent a how-to-carve-a-whistle book.
I thought of whistles.
I thought of carving.
I bought a whistle-carving kit.
I stuffed tobacco in my pipe and sparked it.
I opened a buck knife, put a willow stick in my lap.
I carved a whistle.
I blew.
I tossed it in the fire and looked at the flames.
I carved another whistle, then another.
I carved nineteen whistles, the ground strewn with chips.
I carved the last one to sound a quarter-step above high C, a tone only I and my soulmate could hear.
I blew it every morning, then listened.
I heard soulmates blow back from their graves.
I heard whistles from the Mariana Trench.
I heard them sound from Pluto’s moon.
I blew the other day, but no one blew back.
I blew louder. Still, no reply.
I filled my lungs with all the air of the garden.
I blew the loudest. And nothing. Only the neighbor calling if
I could keep it down.


Peter Krumbach was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia. His most recent work has been or is about to be published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Bitter Oleander, jubilat, Massachusetts Review and Willow Springs. He lives in California.

Box in a Closet

By Faith Shearin

Featured Art by Emil Carlsen

I open a box
in a closet and here I find us,
stuck in scenes long forgotten: my uncle

disappearing down an oak alley
in a horse-drawn carriage,
my grandmother dressed for a garden party,

gloves to her elbows, posed in a stiff
southern parlor, 1953. Here is the trip
to Disney World where we drank from

plastic oranges, held balloons
with ears; oh, we grow younger
on beaches, until we are babies, naked

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