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Volume VI 2020

MASTER OF ARTS IN WRITING PROGRAM

ROWAN UNIVERSITY

All work in flashglass originally appeared as digital content at RowanGlassworks.org

The staff of Glassworks magazine would like to thank Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing Program, and Rowan University’s Writing Arts Department.

flashglass, a subset of Glassworks, accepts flash fiction, prose poems, & micro essays See submission guidelines: RowanGlassworks.org

Glassworks maintains First North American Serial Rights for publication in our journal and First Electronic Rights for reproduction of works in Glassworks and/or Glassworks-affiliated materials. All other rights remain with the artist.

EDITOR IN CHIEF

Katie Budris

MANAGING

EDITOR

Cate Romano

COVER ART

“Ice Crystals” by Ana Prundaru Glassworks Issue 10

COVER DESIGN & LAYOUT Katie Budris

Glassworks is a publication of Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing Graduate Program

Correspondence can be sent to: Glassworks c/o Katie Budris Rowan University 260 Victoria Glassboro, NJ 08028

E-mail: GlassworksMagazine@rowan.edu

Copyright © 2020 Glassworks

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Table of ConTenTs

Les Bares | Crying Añya | 18

Natalie Coufal | Lithopedion | 4

Jason B. Crawford | Bernard: 9/8/58 | 6

A.J. Ferguson | In the Garden | 8

Arya Francesca-Jenkins | Daddy’s Gift | 7

Andrew Jason Jacono | Miracles | 16

Angie Kang | Sisyphus Needs a Caddy | 20

Angie Kang | Tonight, There’s a Draft | 21

Lauro Palomba | Multi-Tasking | 19

Scott Ragland | Tomorrow | 14

Claire Scott | They Weren’t Kicked Out | 24

Juliann Shepherd | Tin Dust | 13

Christina Stump | Bobolink | 10

Christina Stump | Northern Parula | 9

Christina Stump | Tree Swallow | 12

Christina Trujillo | Heart | 22

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bernard: 9/8/58

mother said you couldn’t come, that she was sad you wouldn’t make it, that you were held up at work, there would be leftovers in the fridge for you, she said you were held up at work or drinking, she said don’t set the table for you, it’s a waste of a clean dish, not licked clean again like a new woman, mother said you couldn’t come and she was sad, you were held up at work or with her, i would do all the dishes myself this time and show you i can be a big boy i promise, if you were here and not with her or at work or held up, mother is sad, she made a meal for you and you couldn’t care enough to make it home, mother said you wouldn’t come back and you didn’t.

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in The Garden A.J.

Faded wood chips slide between her fingers as Emma pulls the dead peony’s bulb from the ground. She wants to move it. She needs to move it. Partially because it is her favorite flower. Mostly because she’d moved it four times in the past four years, always on the same day. This year the blooms lasted a full ten days and she kept them inside on the mantle with the dead ones. Today is the day she dug it up and placed it somewhere new because next year, it would bloom again.

She doesn’t know where it belongs, so she starts digging, looking for the best soil. Her hand shovel pierces the ground and removes the dirt until she sees something. It looks like paper.

~

Seven years earlier, in the same spot, a boy knelt in the garden and began to dig. Behind him, the sliding door opened and his mother shouted that it was time for dinner. He said he was coming and filled in the hole.

~

Emma opens a folded piece of notebook paper. A child had written it. “deer werms, my bruther told me that you were dieing and the only way to save you was to right you a note and tell you that colton is the best! so there you go. i hope this helps. love, samuel”

Tears roll down Emma’s cheeks as she laughs and begins to weep. She presses the note to her chest and closes her eyes, thinking of her sons. A few minutes later she fills in the hole and moves further down the flowerbed to begin again. Her hand shovel pierces the ground and removes the dirt until she sees something. It reflects the dim sunlight. ~

Five years earlier, in the same spot, a man knelt in the garden, removed his watch, and began to dig. Behind him, the sliding door opened and his wife shouted that it was time for dinner. He asked her if she knew that peonies were supposed to last for one hundred years. She said she didn’t. It’ll be here long after we’re gone, he said. All she could do was smile and say that the food was getting cold. He said he was coming and filled in the hole around the beautiful flower he said would last a century. ~

Emma raises the watch to her ear, listening to it tick. Behind the dirt-covered faceplate, the thinnest hand clicks as it moves. Tears reform and drip down her face as she flips it over and looks at the engraving on the back. Gently, she rubs her thumb against the words, feeling the tiny cuts graze across her fingertip. “Love is temporary and yet eternal.” She thinks to herself just like a peony, and plants it there.

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norThern parula

This is the woods in April: It is cold, the kind of morning when the world is coated with a layer of frost and trees clench fistfuls of fresh buds against white-washed stems. Cold perseveres. Our Carolina wren sings from the emaciated branches of the flowering dogwood. It is a weekday, and morning besides, so I am the only human in the woods.

Before: Ohio was forest and wetlands and prairie. Bison shaped the land like elephants built the savannah. There were horses here, once. Not the wild horses we know now, but American horses. There were mastodons, cave lions, giant sloths, short-faced bears. All hunted or undone by time.

Now: Ohio is defanged. The wolves and bears that come here are newspaper headlines and campfire stories, only half believed. The swamps, and the cranes that nested there, are reduced to hunting preserves and sewage treatment plants. A pair of sandhill cranes dance in the shadows of an oil refinery built for a pipeline that stretches like an ugly brown snake around the girth of the world.

In the woods, I pretend that a human is just another animal, I pretend we have not built cities, launched spaceships, sparked wars. I pretend Earth recognizes me, accepts me. I am not a stranger here, I tell myself. But these trails are only decades, not centuries, old. This woods is curated, a living diorama. I am just a few miles from my car, from warmth and shelter and safety.

Yet I say I belong here. I say I could live out here forever. I can’t even start a fire without help. I can only identify three edible plants: raspberry, strawberry, jewel-weed. Trees are yet unnamed to me, just clusters of tessellated fall leaves on the trail ahead of me.

I do not live here. I am a visitor only. The woods knows this. Does not surrender its secrets. In an hour or two, I will regress, return to the car, drive thirty miles through darkness to a house built on the bones of conquerors and conquered. This town is the remnant of a fort. A reminder that a war was fought and lost and forgotten here. And before that: a town by a river. And before that there was only the river. And before that?

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Tree swallow

Once I found a flooded hayfield where swallows had flocked. At least fifty birds drifted above the field, buoyed up by gusts of heavy wind. The birds hung over the field like kites anchored by an invisible thread, not moving, only hovering, wings extended and altogether motionless. One would shift its tail, adjust the spread of fine primaries, but that was all. Birds hanging in unison against the wind.

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Tin dusT

I am thinking about tin turning to dust in the snow.

I am thinking about that young French soldier, on Napoleon’s doomed march, with his chapped skin and shaking fingers. How, when going to do up his coat one morning, he found nothing there. How he would pull, and grasp, and nearly tear the fabric into a frenzied shred with his panic. How something he had never known was now known, now unknowable. How all that was standing between him and a frozen death were tiny circles of hammered metal. “Maybe God has singled me out,” he thinks with his dread and resolve. But then another man rises, and another, and not a button to be found among them. And that young French soldier realizing that they are all going to die in this white terror of a country. He had a moment to be alone with his death before it came for him, and none of these other men had such a luxury and a torture. Did it make him better, later? Being alone when the universe had a hole blown through it? Or was he haunted by the waiting, waiting, waiting for another voice? “Where are they? Where have they gone? How could they possibly be gone?”

I’m thinking about this, standing alone outside a hospice in January. It’s snowing very softly. My mother is dead. I’m waiting for my father to come outside.

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Tomorrow

Morton knows his mother will forget what he tells her. “It rained last night,” he’ll say. Then they’ll watch television for a while, the news or a British comedy. His mother will look out the window. “Did it rain last night?” she’ll ask. “Yes,” he’ll say. “Good,” she’ll say, “we need the rain.”

After putting his mother to bed, Morton will change the channel on the television to something he wants to watch. A baseball game. A documentary about army medics in combat zones. He’ll marvel at what other people can do. He’ll imagine hitting a fastball into the upper deck, suturing chest wounds with shrapnel flying overhead. He’ll fall asleep on the couch.

In the morning, Morton will fix his mother breakfast, two pieces of toast with apricot jam and the crust trimmed off, the way she likes it. “Thank you,” she’ll say. At lunch, she’ll say she’s hungry, that she hasn’t eaten all day.

“You had toast for breakfast,” Morton will say, “like always.”

“Like always?”

“Like always.”

“I like toast,” she’ll say.

“I know you do.”

“With apricot jam.”

“I know you do.”

They’ll play double solitaire in the afternoon. Morton’s mother will complain about the heat and Morton will lower the blinds over the west-facing windows.

“That’s better,” his mother will say.

Between games, she’ll ask about Morton’s job. He’d been a custodian at the hospital, changing sheets, taking used syringes and surgical gloves to the incinerator. He’d lost the job months ago. He’ll tell her again.

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“I don’t have a job.”

“You don’t?”

“I don’t.”

“That’s disappointing.”

The next day, when she asks about his job, he tells her he’s a doctor.

“I save people from terrible diseases,” he says.

“That’s wonderful,” his mother says. She smiles. “I’m so proud of you.”

Maybe she’ll remember until tomorrow. Morton imagines her smiling until then, when he’ll tell her again.

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miraCles

When I was a kid, I felt guilty whenever my grandfather would talk to me about God and His miracles, because I didn’t believe in Him, and didn’t think that miracles were written in the dictionary of the remotely plausible. In my case, I’ve found that everything rests in the tumbling of dice or the dancing of tops.

I still feel guilty when he tells me that the Lord is watching him, unseen but always present, and thanks Heaven that he has so much faith, because if he didn’t, he’d be trapped in a cage of his own design, brutalized by doubt and chilly facts. In other words, he’d be like me.

I sometimes envy the miracles he holds dear because he never lets them slip through the cracks in his fists. Every day is a miracle, he declares, even the day you die, because nature is a miracle, too, and so is the soul. In response, I think of the nothingness I expect to experience when I have my final breath, and the lack of anything that could be considered a miracle. But he expects one anyway. And even if the otherworldly miracle of Heaven turns out not to exist, he can at least count the many he’s already had for himself, and that would be a miracle in itself.

My grandmother’s recovery from cancer was a miracle, he says, and those tears, those agonies wrote him a tome of memories that recount more miracles than he has seen in all the years he has witnessed the days turn, the seas wax and ebb, the leaves of the Earth fall and swell and fall again. But I saw my grandmother’s recovery as effective chemotherapy for corrupted tissue and the skill of surgeons unable to tell a miracle from an unexpectedly good prognosis. But those doctors were miracles, too, he says, because they let him keep the miracle he could not live or love without.

He says his age is a miracle, that he should have died long ago, yet he has lived to see me grow, and that has been the only miracle he could have ever asked for. Maybe he will live to see a miracle in a decade, he says, when my college degree hangs from an office wall, when my own children scamper through my house, when I discover and foster other miracles of my very own. Maybe with advances in medicine it will happen, I tell him. He says it would be a miracle if it did.

I often wonder if he fashions these miracles with his own liver-spotted hands, or if he simply finds miracles buried beneath his feet, in piles of neglected dreams, and unearths them and repaints them and places them on his bedside shelf, where they can live forever, because miracles cannot expire like people can.

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When he dies, I imagine he’ll compliment the flower bouquets arranged around his resting bed and say it is a miracle that they bloomed just for him. And maybe, by then, I’ll be able to say it was a miracle that he was with me long enough to tell me all of these things, even if it was by chance that the sun rose and set a certain way, on a single day, however many years ago, and breathed us into life.

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CryinG añya Les Bares

Remember the night we parked in the alley behind your grandmother’s house, the kitchen window, the cathode light from the black and white TV, and how we mimicked your grandmother cheering for the wrestler, Reggie “The Crusher” Lisowski, waving her tiny clenched fist uppercut. We laughed ourselves into our own desperate embrace, clasped in a bear hug of polarized electrostatic discharge. I showed you my best moves, a frantic knee lift over the stick shift progressing into a scissors hold, the gear knob delivering a low blow to my midsection. And how, after a prolonged front facial you executed a deft duck under into a modified figure-four-leg-lock, pinning me against the door. Clumsily I reached under your blouse hoping for a takedown, and just as I was about to undo the final hook of your bra and apply the patented dragon-screw-leg-whip, your Grandma Añya rapped hard on the steamed windshield, yanked open the car door and from your lap I fell, head down on the pavement between her feet answering to the accusing eye-gouging finger of Añya, the four foot ten inch wrath of God. And from there, the view up her skirt, past the drooping support hose, past the varicose veins to her white boxer shorts, and back to her prayer calloused knee that dropped down across my chicken neck. I remember her face, the high cheek bones drawn in a grimace, her squinting eyes, and her raspy voice, her words just like The Crusher’s, “How ‘bout dat!” as I cried, “Añya, for mercy’s sake, Añya.”

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mulTi-TaskinG

Strolling through sliding glass doors. Impersonating patrons. Three blue officers in knee-length shorts. Gun-adorned belts, assorted accoutrements of order. Often summoned here. Today, their own initiative. Eyes scooping up faces. Dragneting. Bail jumpers. Warrant dodgers. Trial absentees. Any other lucky find.

The computer banks a rich catch zone. The weary homeless. The criminally convicted, idle, disposed. The uniquely unsound. A verbal piscary to fill the daily quota of foul speech. A fish fry party din. Air-conditioned chatter. Airy hopes. Smartphone disputes all can judge. Personal food courts at each desk. Mouths. Fingers dipped in salty chips. Oozing butter tarts. Meaty buns. Applied to keyboards. Flavouring them for future users. While screens explode. Flash. Amuse the arcade minds.

Last stop. Bathroom. Occupied by emptied beer cans. A needle that shirked the disposal bin; soiled paper towels by the trash can. Soapy counters. Officers going. Hunches unrewarded. Next time.

For these wonders, children brought along. Shrieking infants. Story hour. Instill the habits early.

Movies and music scanned. Carried out. In the low-volume spaces, books shelved. Untouched like yearning virgins. Keen with words rendered dumb.

A library demoted. Degraded. Social crumbling catchall. Netting for the falling bodies. Someone sanctioned this. Underwrote these values.

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Once there was a girl whose heart stopped beating. It stopped on a Tuesday. Three in the afternoon. No one noticed, so at first she said nothing. Assumed it was fine. She had a check-up on Thursday anyway, no need to panic.

The doctor told her, “Eat more vegetables. Green ones. Hearts need greens to grow.” The girl did not want her heart to grow, she wanted it to beat because her fingers were growing cold. Cold like green left in the refrigerator for too long. Her heart was refrigerator-green.

Gone. Goodbye.

The girl wore coats and mittens because her heart had stopped. Must keep the blood warm, the doctor said. The girl had to carry a sign that read: My heart has stopped. People saw it and let her onto the bus first. Off the bus first. Parking spots with blue lines.

“Get a dog,” her mother said. Her mother liked dogs. The girl did not need a dog. She got one anyway. It licked her cold fingers once and cringed. On their first walk together, the dog ran away.

It was a Sunday.

“Get some exercise,” her father said. Her father liked running. The girl did not. She bought running shoes anyway. The shoes pinched the backs of her heels until they were raw and red but she did not bleed. She couldn’t anymore.

The doctor stopped picking up her calls.

“Talk to someone,” her sister said. There were flyers for groups. Lots of groups, one for everything. The girl did not need a group. She needed warmth. It was hard to remember how it used to feel when she had a heart. The girl went to a group.

hearT
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The group met in a large room. The walls were painted refrigerator-green. There were chairs. No one sat in them. There were drinks. No one drank them. Everyone had a sign.

My fingers have stopped.

My lungs have stopped.

My eyes have stopped.

Oh, the girl thought. It’s all of us.

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They weren’T kiCked ouT

They couldn’t wait to get out of that garden, tedious days with no TV, no internet, only the drone of bees and a few stupid birds keeping them awake at night. Besides you can only fuck so much. They packed their sandals and fig leaves, grabbed a few apples and strolled past the gate, mumbling good riddance to the snoring God surrounded by empty bottles of ambrosia.

God needs people to think he kicked them out, so he can hang onto his omnipotence and his followers will continue to sing alleluias and put cash in collection plates. But if you listen you can hear God stomping about his garden in a total snit, grumbling to the snake about the couple’s lack of gratitude and how much he misses them.

They bought a condo in the city, went to concerts and French restaurants, had close calls with cancer (him) and kidney disease (her). Death riding on their shoulders, whispering in their ears. They took their grandkids to Disney World, watched them ride roller coasters, hands held high and stuff clouds of cotton candy into eager mouths. Then they tucked them in at night, enjoying every precious moment, aware of the tapping on their shoulders and the soft urgency of life.

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Contributors

Les Bares lives in Richmond, Virginia. His poems have appeared in The Cream City Review, Stand Magazine (U.K.), Spillway, The Midwest Review, Southword (Ireland), Slipstream, The Tishman Review and other journals. He won the 2018 Princemere Poetry Prize and was the third place winner of the 2015 Streetlight Magazine poetry contest.

Natalie Coufal is a nonfiction and fiction writer from rural Central Texas. She won the Charles Gordone Nonfiction Award at Texas A&M in 2018 and the Paul Ruffin Award at Sam Houston in 2019. She is currently seeking her MFA in Creative Writing, Editing, and Publishing at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Jason B. Crawford is black, bi-poly-queer, and a damn force of nature. In addition to being published in online literary magazines, such as High Shelf Press, Wellington Street Review, Poached Hare, The Amistad, Royal Rose, and Kissing Dynamite, he is the Chief Editor for The Knight’s Library. His chapbook collection Summertime Fine was a Short List selection for Nightingale & Gale and won the 2020 Varient Literature chapbook contest. Jason is also the recurring host poet for Ann Arbor Pride.

A.J. Ferguson is a published poet, playwright, and fiction writer who teaches creative writing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where he lives with his wife and children.

Andrew Jason Jacono is a proud Manhattan native who has been writing ever since he could hold a pen. His work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine, Maudlin House, Riggwelter, Gone Lawn, and Thin Air Magazine, among others. If you’d like to learn more about him, you can visit his website: www.andrewjacono.com.

Arya F. Jenkins is a Colombian-American poet and writer whose fiction has been published in journals and zines such as About Place Journal, Across the Margins, Anti-Heroin Chic, Cleaver Magazine, Eunoia Review, Five on the Fifth, Fictional Café, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Matador Review, Metafore Literary Magazine, Mojave Literary Review, and Vol. 1 Sunday Stories Series. Her fiction has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks. Her short story collection is Blue Songs in an Open Key (Fomite, 2018).

Angie Kang is an artist and writer living in Providence, Rhode Island. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Narrative, Lunch Ticket, Hobart, 5×5, and others. Find more of her work at www.angiekang.net.

Lauro Palomba has taught ESL and done stints as a freelance journalist and speechwriter. Approximately ninety of his poems and stories have appeared in American and Canadian literary journals.

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