Glassworks Spring 2023

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a publication of Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing
glassworks Spring 2023 featuring transitional spaces reclaiming painful narratives nature and grieving

Cover art: “Cosmic Bloom”

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


Katie Budris


Cate Romano


Garret Castle

Cover Design & Layout: Katie Budris

Stephanie Ciecierski

Skyla Everwine

Kay Fratello

Glassworks is available both digitally and in print. See our website for details:

Rebecca Green


Courtney R. Hall

Glassworks accepts literary poetry, fiction, nonfiction, craft essays, art, photography, short video/film & audio. See submission guidelines:

Daniel Hewitt

Cat Reed

Javis Sisco


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 Street Glassboro, NJ 08028


Copyright © 2023 Glassworks

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.

Ellie Cameron

Caitlin Hertzberg

Frank E. Penick, Jr.

Amanda Smera


Rebecca Green

Iliana Pineda

Nyds L. Rivera

Paige Stressman


Lesley George

Bryce Morris

S. E. Roberts


Spring 2023

iSSue TwenTy-Six



Issue 26 | Table of ConTenTs

ArT e. O. COnnOrS, BAlCOnieS, iTAly | 47 FeATher, irelAnd | 53 glASS On windOwSill, irelAnd | 25 CATherine edgerTOn, 13Th AmendmenT | 10 predATOrS | 34 gerBurg gArmAnn, hiBiSCuS And hAppy hOOpS | 44 unlikely SiSTerS | 4 CArellA keil, The BirTh OF phOenix | 30 COSmiC BlOOm | COver FiCTiOn FAiTh mCnAughTOn, in The BAThrOOm mirrOr | 5 kAThryn reeSe, The prinCipAl And The SeA | 32 nOnFiCTiOn JOAnnA ACevedO, prOSOpAgnOSiA | 48 ChelSeA m. CArney, TeeTh | 40 Ted mClOOF, FuTure girl | 14


devOn BrOCk, STATiC | 45

A ThriFT STOre Cup wiTh Blue lOTuS | 46

AmBer lee CArpenTer, COlleCTive memOry | 29

rAChAel inCiArTe, deSerT dOgS | 36

kArinA JhA, miCe in A mATChBOx | 8

SeAn mAdden, FrAnk SinATrA’S FAvOriTe COlOr | 31

mAry mAkOFSke, whAT wOuld grOw in hiTler’S gArden? | 9

ClAire hAmner mATTurrO, TreSpASSing | 12

reeSe meneFee, miSSing uS during A dOwnpOur in lOuiSiAnA | 52

kAThleen mCgOOkey, SmAll wOrdS | 28

SAm mOe, vAnillA SmOke AS CeremOny | 38

JudiTh h. mOnTgOmery, elegy FOr A BurnT hOuSe | 55

l iS FOr | 54

AnneTTe SiSSOn, FlighT SeASOn | 26

JACOB STrATmAn, FrOm The Shell OF ThingS | 3

The hIsTory of Glassworks

The tradition of glassworking and the history of Rowan University are deeply intertwined. South Jersey was a natural location for glass production—the sandy soil provided the perfect medium, while plentiful oak trees fueled the fires. Glassboro, home of Rowan University, was founded as “Glass Works in the Woods” in 1779. The primacy of artistry, a deep pride in individual craftsmanship, and the willingness to explore and test conventional boundaries to create exciting new work is part of the continuing spirit inspiring Glassworks magazine.

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from The shell of ThInGs

The dogwood and redbud blooms in March are what he misses—the speckled hope among the resting bare branches, the whites

and reds among the bared brown hills, crags, and valleys of his home, but he only notices, considers, believes this longing now

on this walk around this lake in the woods between these hills staring at the fainted purples he doesn’t know, cannot name,

winking at him, these trees, these azaleas he’s later told, in the sunlight, cutting through the pines and the few oaks resting bare

here, the same as home as far as his eyes will allow him to look up the hill, but it’s those cherry blossoms in their celebrity

a week or so away from crowding the stage when he will join the masses walking along the streets in the parks to see

the planted city trees, the planned beauty, picnics under the blooms, taking pictures, posing, chasing the flowers in the wind

with his sons, and then he will forget these purple dots, these woods blinking in color like he will forget the dogwoods

and redbuds again when the cherry blossoms arrive, when the strangeness overwhelms, envelopes, and invites him again.

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unlIkely sIsTers

Gerburg Garmann

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In The baThroom mIrror

Faith McNaughton

For the slightest moment, you pause and think of Sarah—the smirk on her face, her mouth curled over new braces, puffing out her tight upper lip when she spouted: I didn’t even get my haircut at the haircut place. You were drawn in, her side bangs chic and jagged, like the pointy-toed high heels your mom wears on nights when she comes home late and nights when she doesn’t come back at all. Sarah flipped her hair as if she wanted to see you watch it waterfall behind her shoulders, bragging: I fell asleep with my gum in my mouth and it got all up in my hair. My mom made me cut it clean off.

Clean off.

You imagine Sarah’s wavy hair escaping the grasp of the big scissors, the kitchen kind, and how she must’ve glowed under the warm bathroom lights, the bundle of lemon juice-kissed hair on the ground, leaving behind bangs that looked just like the girls in your sister’s magazines. You imagine Sarah, beautiful and free, pushing her bangs back into bobby pins when she plays soccer, or letting them flow in front of her long eyelashes, still outrunning you blindly.

You think about Sarah, her hair, and how lucky she is not to have the haircut you get from the place on Main Street, how the woman with

the lazy eye and the bright pink lip gloss dribbling down her chin chops your pin-straight brown hair just below your shoulders—no layers, no face framing, the same trim each time. In the salon chair, you would survey yourself in the fluorescent light dressed mirror. You would touch your rounded cheeks with your fingers, watching how they look bagged down and weighty under the lines of your hair, how your forehead seems to overwhelm them, a shiny dinner plate. You would argue with your mom, please let me grow my hair long, or even, please let me chop it to my ears, please let me wear it in two braids, or in a noose around my neck.

Your mom always says, you think so much that you don’t think at all, when you flip through the books at the salon, grasping onto every haircut on each glossy, laminated page. You imagine how the gym air conditioning would feel if you had something like a bob, short pieces barely flying behind you, too stubby to tie up, sweat wicked off your neck by the wind. You would walk—no, glide, like Sarah when she entered the classroom in the morning, like she knew how she looked, how she looked good, like the paparazzi was dancing and flashing from the array of desks.

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When you saw her like that, all golden and glowing, like the women on TV selling jewelry, their hands pawing diamonds at their throats, their skin like glazed ceramic— seeing Sarah like that, with everyone around her, and her new bangs like feathers—you noticed the purple scissors in your desk. How they were brand new, right-out-of-the-package. How they were sharp as tongues.

out the color wheel at Sarah’s feet and she knew, deep in her beating heart, to pick out the perfect shade. She has blonde eyebrows that never look angry, never furrow to create wrinkles in her forehead, the kind that you get during math tests or in the dark. She wears dresses to school that flow out behind her at recess. She runs past all of the boys and never stops to catch her breath.

Staring back at you are your eyebrows that fade at the tail, your deranged hair (like a rat’s nest, your mom says when she helps you drag a hairbrush through the tangles before school), your crooked teeth, each tooth elbowing the other for a place in your mouth.

As the bustle of Sarah and her fans faded out to recess, you found yourself in the bathroom, scissors tucked in your sleeve like you’ve seen other girls do before. Staring in the mirror. Counting the handprints across it from bottom to top. Staring back at you are your eyebrows that fade at the tail, your deranged hair (like a rat’s nest, your mom says when she helps you drag a hairbrush through the tangles before school), your crooked teeth, each tooth elbowing the other for a place in your mouth.

Sarah’s braces are purple—like cool lilac, like the orthodontist laid

The bathroom is cold and the only sound is some faint chattering beyond the window. You wonder if it’s Sarah talking outside. You wonder if she’s gossiping or drilling over homework.

And then you are in a memory: the kind tinted with blurriness and bits-and-pieces, the kind you have of wide and smiling faces staring down at you, of being smaller than you are now, so small in fact that the world around you towers like the trees you drive past on car trips, sky-reaching and ancient.

In this moment, you wait, stretched across the living room


couch, dressed in Christmas pajamas. The days are getting longer. You watch the sun drop slowly as your tired eyes, how the shining rays on the front door dim, and the dust caught in their path fade into the shadows. Gaze connected to the hands of a ticking wall clock, you jolt at the sound of the jiggling doorknob, and sit up as your mom stumbles in. She promptly kicks off her high heels and shakes off her black blazer before climbing onto the couch next to you, carefully sipping the water you left out for her. As she falls asleep with your legs across her lap and the news channel blurring into white noise, you twist and comb her hair with your tiny fingers. You watch her gentle waves fall as you let them go, and comb and braid and twist them again.

For the first time, you see her face. Really see it. You look like her, this tired woman. You see your stringy hair in the soft strands curled in your hand. You see it in the curve of her nose. Her forehead like yours, a gentle moon. Your likeness bleeds through the woman laying across the couch. In the noise and the waiting, it is completely still and peaceful. You sleep next to each other until the sun rises again, her hair still wrapped like a bandage around your hand.

And then, like magic or waking up, the memory leaves you. You see your face, your mother’s face, in the bathroom mirror. You wonder about Sarah, wonder about her own

mother. You think about change, like how the days grow in early spring and braces yank teeth into straight lines.

You feel your tightening grip on the scissors, almost strangling the purple handles, so perfect in your hand, to the point of breaking. In your other hand, you hold a generous section of hair in front of your face. The walls of the bathroom seem to swirl and fold in on you, and for just one moment, your running mind goes blank.

It’s sunny out, you can see it in the light from the window. The days are getting longer. You hear girls outside, on their way in from recess. They are laughing.

In a single moment, you breathe in the beauty and just as quickly breathe out, with a swift and heavy chop.

glassworks 7 Faith McNaughton | In
the Bathroom Mirror

mICe In a maTChbox

They don’t save the children with your face, my mother says, Braiding rivers into my hair. There are too many rows of crayon drawings to burn, Too many buildings to crumble and devour like pryaniki, Too much twisting smoke to breathe in with the smell Of Babushka’s blini on the stove.

Last night, I saw a little girl lying on my own kitchen floor. Maybe it was my sister with her rosy apple-cheeks, Maybe she wasn’t dead at all, But I know the children were left under my playground, The ones with our face.

The ones that lived in my childhood, Now curled around each other like mice. So terribly quiet, Like mice.

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would Grow In hITler’s Garden?

Not what you think—no foxglove, monkshood, chokecherry, oleander, deadly nightshade, angel’s trumpet. No hemlock. No yew.

A dozen varieties of tulip flaunting bright chalices, then peonies with pastel ruffled skirts. Roses scarlet, blush, canary yellow, purest white, but only the most fragrant, intoxicating, and daisies, snapdragons, a full palette of colors delighting the eye of the would-be painter who cedes to them the task of filling the world with color.

He revels in excess, extravagance, bounty, but tolerates no wildflower or weed. His gardeners uproot whatever does not fit his plan.

The secret to making the garden rich, he believes, is ashes.

But who can control the urge to life?

See how they break through soil, those hands thrusting up to reach for light.

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13Th amendmenT

Catherine Edgerton

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Seeking the solitude of owls and the cover of ancient trees we came to build a house deep in the thick woods as if we were royalty whose desires deserved more than any other’s needs.

Built small with good intentions, still the house uprooted live oak, loblolly, and sweetgums. Jessamine vines which once curled their trunks rotted in slash piles wasting like snags that never hosted birds or grubs on their resting logs.

Our feet crushed lives we’d meant to cherish—the tender trilliums whose petals and bracts splashed vivid across dark leafmeal and prairie phlox with nodding purple blooms easing up sloping loam like shy children holding hands.

Green lynx spiders who scurried under curled brown leaves and clubmosses were not always fast enough to escape. Even maligned deer ticks knocked from fronds of dogfennel fell prey to our clueless trod.


We pray the woods will one day reclaim our house. Already tenacious yellow jessamine crawls up the far wall, like some winking peeping Tom looking for an open window, its tendrils ready to take back the space it once owned completely.

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fuTure GIrl

When Molly Miller’s brother died of AIDS her senior year of high school, she became convinced she could see the future. Her parents had split under the stress of his death and everyone assumed her belief was a sort of psychosis due to this wave of trauma, but she insisted it wasn’t. She missed a month of school during which she didn’t leave her house. Upon her return, our school let her miss whatever classes she wanted. Mrs. Miller, who’d always been kind of a hippy, brought her to a psychic. Mr. Miller encouraged her to focus her energy on college applications. He’d moved to Wyckoff, the next town over, and took Molly with him, on the grounds that it was a wealthier town and the school could afford a special grief counselor to help convince Molly she was imagining things. We all felt bad for her so no one made jokes, not to her face anyway, but of course no one believed her either.

Except Andy. Andy Ryan had been her boyfriend since middle school and accepted her claims without judgment. I tried to do the same, but it was hard. She was telling me about how it worked, future-seeing, one night as the three of us sat in the Wyckoff Dairy Queen parking lot. “Time isn’t a line,” she told me, drawing a line with her finger to

demonstrate, “it doesn’t have, like, a beginning, middle, and end. Yesterday didn’t happen ‘before’ today. It just, you know, happened.”

Andy nodded. I was a year behind them, a junior, and felt lucky to hang out with them. So I tried my best: “So it’s next year right now?”

She shook her head, but warmly. She knew what she was saying was odd. “You’re just applying the wrong prepositions to events. They don’t happen in an order. Look at your clothes,” she said, and pointed at them. “Did your shirt happen before your pants? Did your shoes happen before your socks? That’s not the relationship they have to each other. They just exist at the same time.”

I looked at my shirt. “I bought this yesterday,” I said.

I was worried she’d think I was making fun of her, which I only kind of was. But she and Andy laughed. “You’re a pisser,” he said, and rubbed my head.

I’d borrowed my sister Emily’s car to drive them around. This was a routine we’d gotten into: pick them up, ice cream, cruise down the highway, home. At first I’d been cautious to broach the subject of Future Girl. But eventually she’d volunteered the subject herself—“You can ask me, it’s OK,”—and since then it took up a lot of our discussions. “So, like,”

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I said, “when exactly in the future are you from?”

Andy perked his head up, as though he wanted to know the answer to this himself but never thought to ask it. “It’s tough to say,” she said. “I can’t tell whether I’m from the future or can just see it. I just have memories, except all of my memories haven’t happened yet. Does that make sense?”

“Sure,” said Andy. I was grateful for the save. “Are we still together?” he asked.

Andy’s dad owned Ryan Auto Parts in town and Molly’s parents were rich, from family money. This was partly why her parents never liked him, and they liked him even less when they found out he indulged her delusions. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan thought of the Millers as holier-than-thou muckety mucks and took the occasion of Molly’s new reputation as Future Girl to forbid them from seeing each other anymore. That’s where I came in. Andy failed English and ended up

She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Of course. We’re living in New York, in a loft. I’m an actress.”

“A movie star,” he said.

She shook her head. “Theater,” which made sense—Molly’d always been the lead in the plays throughout high school, and read Ibsen and Inge and Pirandello in her spare time. “You’re there too, Teddy,” she said to me, though she was still looking into Andy’s eyes. I felt flattered and almost asked what I was doing in the future until she said, “And the weird thing is, so’s my brother.” ~

taking it again with the juniors, and when we got paired up for a class project we became fast friends. He was a popular if not-so-bright jock, great with cars and easy to get along with. But his friends, like everyone else, found Molly a little spooky and he couldn’t drive his own car to her dad’s house for obvious reasons, so when he found out I had access to wheels he roped me into being their unofficial chauffeur.

“You sound like you’re their pet,” Emily said to me the next day as I drove her to the train station. She’d moved back in with Mom and me after college a few months prior and

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‘Time isn’t a line,’ she told me, drawing a line with her finger to demonstrate, ‘it doesn’t have, like, a beginning, middle, and end. Yesterday didn’t happen before today. It just, you know, happened.’ ”

took the Path to Manhattan for her job in the city. It was my job to drive her to work, and I got to keep her car each day.

“I’m not their pet,” I said. “I’m their friend. They’re cool.”

“Do they swing? Maybe they’ll proposition you into a threeway,” she said. She put her makeup on in the passenger mirror and I deliberately jerked the car to the right so she’d smear lipstick on her teeth.

“Can’t I just like these people?”

“Like whoever you want. Just be careful.”

“Careful of what?”

“I’m just looking out for you. You’re prone to hero worship.”

Ever since college, she’d been dropping terms like that all the time. Blasé. Bourgeoisie. Hero worship. Oedipal complexes. It was irritating, and I probably didn’t help my case by saying, “You should see them together. I think they’ll be together forever.”

I kept watching the road but could hear her eyes roll when she said, “Christ.”

“They will. She can—” I had the good sense to stop before I said See the future. Emily wasn’t always like this—she’d made it all the way through college still dating her high school boyfriend, but he dumped her just before graduation and her plans to move across the country with him fell through, hence living back with me and Mom and hence too, I guess, her newfound cynicism.

Still, she was a lot smarter than me and I had concerns about my own possibly dangerous hero worship. So I said, “I guess it is a little weird.”

“She’s going through trauma,” Emily said. I couldn’t remember telling her about Molly’s brother but I guess word traveled fast through town. “Andy’s familiar. And it sounds like he loves her. And obviously they like that you’re their biggest fan.”

We were pulling up to the station but I didn’t want to end the conversation just yet. We parked. She grabbed her stuff to get out and I thought, as I did each morning when I dropped her off, of our father, whom Mom dropped here so often with us in the car as kids. “Do you ever miss him?” I asked her.

She stood outside the car now, looking through her bag to make sure she had everything, her focus not really on me. “Huh? Who?” Satisfied she had what she needed, she zipped her bag, looked up at me and, in response to whatever face I was making, figured it out. “Not really—is this where you want to have this conversation? In the thirty seconds before I catch the train?” I shrugged. The whistle blew closer. But she relented. “Tell your buddies you’re busy tomorrow night and we’ll do something. Just the two of us.”


Emily and I had never been close. She was seven years older than me and in her last two years of high

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school—those years when Mom and Dad were throwing plates at each other’s heads, when things got really bad—she’d basically moved in with Eric, her boyfriend at the time. They went to college together and lived there year-round, so she’d missed the fallout. I could see why she wouldn’t miss Dad. Moving back in with Mom and me had clearly hit her as a defeat, her escape plan backfiring, and though she never talked about it I could tell she and Eric had had a messy breakup. She’d come home from work and go straight to her room and stay in there until morning. I don’t know when she ate. Her TV blasted Nick at Nite reruns in the deep sleep hours so I don’t know when she slept, either.

But I’d been thinking a lot about her and Eric lately, not of their breakup but of the time I’d seen them together most, back when she was in high school. They’d been voted class couple in the yearbook. Mom and Dad had taken to sleeping separately by then, Mom in a sleeping bag on the floor in my room, so I tried not to go to bed until I absolutely had to. And occasionally Emily and Eric would take me to Blockbuster and we’d watch movies until late, me on the floor, the two of them sharing a blanket and throwing popcorn in each other’s mouths to catch. Eric would ask me what I thought of the movies we’d watch. Emily would compliment my answers and say I was perceptive

for a ten year old. I would have voted them class couple myself if anyone asked. And I thought of them a lot these days with Molly and Andy, feeling for the first time since then like a sidekick or a mascot or something, something this special unit of people actually wanted hanging around.

I was thinking about it that night as Andy and I drove to Molly’s. “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters played from my sister’s speakers—the acoustic version, which Andy insisted we play over and over whenever we drove around. I got the feeling he thought there were hidden messages in it. “I really like the gold hat,” Andy was saying. “I think I get it now.”

We’d finished The Great Gatsby in class the week before, but I suspected Andy hadn’t gotten further than the epigraph: Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her. If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, until she cry, “Lover! Gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!” We were approaching Molly’s dad’s neighborhood in Wyckoff so he slumped down as always, to hide, but kept talking at a normal volume. “Do what you gotta do, right? Even if it’s something stupid.”

“I don’t know that that’s the point of The Great Gatsby,” I said. “I mean, it’s not this great love

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Ted McLoof | Future Girl

story or anything. He dies without Daisy ever fully loving him.”

We pulled up to Molly’s and there was an awkward silence in the car. I looked down at Andy, on the floor in the backseat, his shoulders slumped. “What?” I asked.

He looked at me, crestfallen. “He dies?”

“Sorry,” I said. “Spoiler alert, I guess.”

He looked at me through his fingers, smiling. “Guess I should’ve read past the title page.”

the years, brought girls to make out or groups of friends to do whip-its and shots. But Molly and Andy were different. They didn’t drink or do drugs and they just liked the peace of the place. All they ever wanted to do was talk. That night, Molly told us to sit Indian-style in a circle. She brought a candle but it kept blowing out, so I turned the headlights on and they shone on us like a spotlight. “Do we need, like, a Ouija board or anything?” I asked.

She looked at me skeptically. “You wanted to know how it works,” she said. “The future.”

We parked on a mountain in the Ramapo Valley Reservation, a spot that overlooked a lake soundtracked by crickets’ and owls’ chirps and hoots. Molly and Andy loved it from the first time I brought them. I was never outdoorsy but Dad took me there as a kid once, told me he went up there when he wanted to be alone, and had never shown anyone else the spot, not even Mom or Emily. I’d been there dozens of times over

Andy and I were facing the headlights head on, Molly backlit by them, so all I could really see was her silhouette. Her brother had been a small guy, with a frame roughly the size of Molly’s and a high-pitched voice, and the effect of her robbed of the features that distinguished the two of them spooked me. I wanted to be supportive, but I also wanted to be honest. “I have a hard time with this stuff,” I told her. “I’m trying to buy into it but I guess I’m not there.”

“OK,” she said. “Let’s try this. This is an exercise we used to do in my acting class. It’s supposed to help you get out of your head.” She picked something up off the ground and handed it to me. I couldn’t see it until she’d put it in my hand: a shiny black rock, the size and shape of chewed-up gum. “What is that,” she asked.

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“ A rock is just that which we call a rock, what we decided to call it. But what if you decided to call it something else? Does that make it something else? ”

It felt like a trick question. “A rock.”

“How’d you know it’s a rock?”

“Because I’m holding it,” I said. “I’m looking at it.”

“But how do you know what you’re looking at and holding is a rock? How do you know what you call a rock is a rock?”

I looked to Andy for help. His eyes were closed and he nodded his head, like some tune we couldn’t hear was playing through invisible headphones. I looked back down at the rock and said, to it instead of Molly, “Because that’s what everyone calls it.”

She leaned toward me and patted my knee. It startled me. “Exactly,” she said. “A rock is just that which we call a rock, what we decided to call it. But what if you decided to call it something else? Does that make it something else?” For my only friend who didn’t smoke pot, she sure talked like a stoner. I almost said that out loud but didn’t need to, because it was like she read my mind when she said, “You think it’s weird, it’s OK. I thought it was too. Close your eyes.”

The headlights gave her a little halo of fog in the aftermath of that evening’s rain and I couldn’t take looking at this rock anymore, so I complied. I did my best—she could deny it, but I knew Molly was going through stuff I didn’t understand— and tried to let go of my skepticism as she spoke. Clear your mind, she said,

but I opened one eye to look at them both; Andy still bobbed his head, eyes shut; Molly’s face was a calm blank, like she’d already slipped into the deep meditation she now attempted to lull me into. I closed both eyes again and tried. You’re not on this mountain, she said, but I was of course—I could feel the ground beneath me and hear the crickets and owls, so I said, Where am I then? and she said, You’re not anywhere, you’re everywhere and nowhere. There’s no such thing as ‘here,’ what do you see—don’t tell me, don’t say it out loud, just communicate it to yourself in your head, and I said, I thought I was supposed to be getting out of my head, and she said, Shh, just tell yourself what you see, but what I saw was myself sitting like an idiot, I couldn’t stop picturing what I looked like, or what I’d look like to an outsider; I pictured Emily watching this and rolling her eyes and I couldn’t not agree with her. Molly stopped talking altogether. I looked at the Rorschach of weird light patterns that kaleidoscope in front of your eyes when you close them real tight. I didn’t see anything until I opened my eyes. Andy and Molly were holding hands, looking at me.

“Molly was in a play,” Andy said, responding to a question I hadn’t heard asked. “Something old-timey, she had a corset on.”

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Ted McLoof | Future Girl

She squeezed his hand and put her head on his shoulder.

It was my turn to talk next but I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t seen the future and felt like a fraud. “See?” she said. “That’s why I wanted to do this. You’re special. I knew you’d get it.” ~

“You know I knew her brother, right?” said Emily when she took me out the next night for pizza. I should have known that—our town was tiny and everyone knew everyone, but the news took me by surprise anyway.

“What was he like?” I asked. I didn’t want her to see my curiosity so I looked at my slice, patted it down with napkins to degrease it.

“Funny kid,” she said. “Kinda goofy. Used to carry the Village Voice around with him everywhere. I thought it was weird at the time but in hindsight it was pretty cool.” The TV behind her played a rerun of Who’s the Boss. Mona said something about how fuckable Tony is and I let the sound of the canned audience cheering fill a beat. “How’s Molly taking it?”

I winced, unsure how much to tell her. “She doesn’t seem too bad, considering. She’s told me some stuff that made it hard for her.”


“She told me what he looked like at the end. Like a cadaver already.”

“Jesus,” she said. “She shouldn’t be telling you things like that.”

“Why not?” It seemed unfair that all I’d done was answer her question and she already objected.

“Because,” she bit her stromboli. “You’re a kid. You don’t need to think about that stuff.”

“I’m not a kid. I’m sixteen. I can drive.”

“I wouldn’t call what you do driving,” she said, and I threw a balledup napkin at her head.

I didn’t want to switch topics yet, though. Emily could be a pain in the ass and she seemed depressed as hell lately, but she also had her feet on the ground. A lot of vague threads pulled at my brain lately, like a car radio stuck between two stations, the score for the ball game laid over a Zeppelin tune but too soft to hear either so you didn’t know which teams or what song. “Anyway,” I started, carefully. “She says he’s not dead.”

She stopped mid-chew, wiped her mouth slowly, kept her eyes on me, like I myself was a ghost. “What are you talking about?”

I stirred my drink with my straw, stared at it as I talked. “She just has these visions of the fu—” I glanced at her horrified look and pushed forward as quickly as I could, “she has these visions of the future and she says her brother’s part of them and don’t worry,” I held my palm up to her to stop her from interrupting, “don’t worry, I know it’s nuts and before you start psychoanalyzing, she knows it’s weird too. I just…”

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She looked at me, chewing, unblinking. It was just like Emily not to throw her two cents in exactly when I wanted her to fill the silence. I took a bite and pretended there was too much in my mouth to keep talking, but she didn’t buy it. “It’s just what?”

I shrugged.

“I don’t respond to shrugging. I refuse to let my little brother become like all the other men I know. You obviously have something you want to talk about. Talk. Use your words.”

I swallowed. “I’ve just been thinking that, like, is it so crazy, so impossible that someone can see the future or whatever? It feels…wrong to be so certain and just write it off. Isn’t it at least possible?”

Her forehead scrunched, in contemplation or mock-contemplation, I wasn’t sure which but was grateful either way. “You mean like chaos theory? Parallel universes? Alternate timelines? Quantum physics?”

“Sure,” I said. I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about. All I’d meant was the gut feeling Molly had. But if there were credible schools of thought on this she’d picked up in college, I wasn’t about to shoot it down. I lit a cigarette.

“You smoke too much,” she said. Which was funny because actually I’d been cutting down since hanging out with Molly and Andy.

“I just mean people see their future all the time, right? They plan for their futures.”

“Planning for it and seeing it isn’t the same, bud.”

“But it is sometimes, isn’t it? Like, when people start a relationship, say. They plan on staying together for their whole future. And they can’t literally see what the world will look like fifty years later, but they can work at it and make sure they’re still together. They have control.”

“Nobody has control of that. What are you talking about?”

Behind her head on the TV, Angela and Tony kissed, and the audience went wild with applause. “Nobody?” I asked.

Her face dropped, and I knew the look, like whatever private conversation she’d had with herself had been right all along. “See—this is what I was really worried about.”


“I didn’t think you hanging out with Molly during her grieving process was inherently a bad idea. But I knew this is where your little mind would go. I knew that would somehow become about this.” I took a drag to look casual but really I was nonplussed— another of Emily’s favorite words. She waved the smoke out of her face. “You know what Dad said to me before he left? He told me you can’t count on anybody. I was with Eric then and asked him whether another person can fulfill everything you

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Ted McLoof | Future Girl

need and he said, ‘No. We expect too much of our partners. We expect too much of people in general because people are fickle and you can’t count on them.’”

“That’s what he said?”

“That’s what he said.”

“And then he peaced out on us.”

She lifted her eyebrows. “You gotta hand it to Dad for teaching through demonstration.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “You think he was right?”

“I think he was right that no one can fulfill everything you need, sure. But I think you can count on people to give you what they can, if they give a shit. I know what you’re going through, kiddo. You’re hitting the age where you realize that people let other people down. And it sucks.”

I stubbed my cigarette in the ashtray and took out another one. “You’re only twenty-three. Stop acting so world-weary.”

She took the cigarette from my hand and placed it in her mouth, lit it with a match from the table, the Brother’s Pizza label on the matchbox unchanged through all these years, one of the few constants I knew anymore. “Just be a normal kid while you still can. You only have a couple years left.” I wished to God she hadn’t said that.


She dropped me off at a party Melissa Torres was throwing. The party was OK, which is to say it was like most other parties I’d been

to throughout school: a group of kids sat around a TV playing Boy Meets World, taking shots every time Mr. Feeny doled out advice; Gia DiPinto and Luke Morris broke up in the kitchen, over some infraction Luke had committed before I showed up; a senior girl chatted up a nervous sophomore guy on the couch while he peeled the label off

his beer trying to figure out what to say; Andrew Sinclair did a keg stand in the backyard; bong smoke clouded the screened-in front porch; you could hear the ceiling creak and the muffled sound of two people having sex in one of the upstairs bedrooms; two guys in Grateful Dead t-shirts stared at the family dog and said, “What’s he thinking? Can you hear it?”

I tried to do as Emily said: soak it in and be sixteen. But my heart wasn’t in it, the crowd felt different. I was about to leave when I felt a hand on my shoulder, and turned around to see Andy.

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No. We expect too much of our partners. We expect too much of people in general because people are fickle and you can’t count on them. ”

“Hey,” he said. “What are you doing here?” It had been a while since I’d seen Andy at a house party and it was weird, a foreign context, like when you see a teacher at a store in the mall. But he looked as at home here as he did everywhere. I was the one feeling out of place.

I shrugged. “Emily dropped me off after dinner. She took the car.”

He smiled. Andy had a great smile. It was like a gift he gave to certain people. He’d smiled at me the exact same way the day he decided to be my friend. “Let’s go in the front yard, it’s hard to hear in here.”

He said Molly was at the library up the street, but that she was meeting him after, and then he asked what was wrong. I wasn’t sure what he meant until I realized I’d lit a cigarette, even though I rarely smoked in front of him. “Nothing,” I said. “Emily can just be a downer sometimes. It’s my fault— I told her about Molly’s, you know, future thing. And she as usual over intellectualized it. She doesn’t think it’s real.”

I took a drag. The sound of the party inside swirled around us. Luke and Gia made out now in the window. It wasn’t until I blew out the smoke that I realized Andy hadn’t responded, and when I looked at his face he wasn’t smiling. “I mean,” he said. “It’s not real. You do know that, right?”

I thought I’d heard him wrong. “Huh?”

“Molly’s thing about the future. You know it’s just her going through stuff, right?”

I shook my head. “Wait— what the hell are you talking about? You said you saw it too.”

He held his palms up and said, “Well yeah. Her brother died. I’m trying to help her through it.”

It had rained earlier and the muddy front lawn felt unstable beneath my feet, like quicksand. I shifted my weight to get my bearings but it wasn’t working. “What about her being in that play?”

“What play?”

“You said the two of you were gonna live together. In a loft in the city. She was wearing oldtimey clothes.” I wasn’t sure on the details but I knew I had them being together right, at least.

He nodded toward the street and without thinking I followed him, threw my cigarette at the house. The hill leading up to the library, which I’d walked a million times, felt suddenly insurmountable. “I’ve gotta take over my dad’s shop when I graduate,” he said. “And Molly’s got too much going for her, I can’t make her stay here with me. She hasn’t told her parents, but she has an audition in Greenwich Village next week. She’s taking the bus in. I guess we can’t get you to drive us around forever.”

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Ted McLoof | Future Girl

He laughed, but I couldn’t see anything funny in what he said. Emily was probably right—I smoked too much, because halfway up the hill, in front of Eastern Christian Church, I ran out of breath. Andy patted my back as I coughed. “Easy, pal,” he said.

I righted myself and asked, “So— are you breaking up? What’s gonna happen next?”

He seemed confused by the question, as though I were asking who’d win the next World Series. “Who knows,” he said.

I felt angry with him. With both of them. These people who’d made me drive them around, who’d adopted me, who’d tried so hard to convince me of unreasonable things— how was Who knows a good enough answer for them?

As though he’d heard the question, Andy said, “We love each other right now.” We approached the library, where Molly stood at the front door waving, a stack of books in her hand. She was wearing Andy’s football jersey, so large on her it looked like a muumuu. He lit up when he saw her. “You have to have a little faith in people,” he said. ~

We didn’t do much that night. We didn’t talk about Molly’s audition or acknowledge there was an impending goodbye, or that our drives together wouldn’t last much longer. We didn’t need to; it was in the air. Clouds from that day’s rain

remained in the air but were dispersing, moonlight breaking through like some werewolf movie. We walked to the graveyard at Nativity Church, where Molly’s brother was buried, and sat next to his plot wordlessly. On the headstone, she placed a picture of the two of them when they were kids: Molly on a swing in a Little Mermaid bathing suit, her brother pushing her and laughing, a terrier I’d never met at their feet. Molly and Andy held hands, and she reached for mine.

“Thanks for coming,” she said.

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Glass on wIndowsIll, Ireland

E. O. Connors

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flIGhT season

after “Gulf Coast Highway,” by Hooker, Flowers, & Griffith


Somewhere in Texas a blackbird glides across a long flat highway. Flocks of bluebonnets purple beneath its fleeting shadow. It recedes into a wide horizon of rusting oil wells. This morning my Dallas cousin reports her condition—recurrence of cancer, tubes, her son suctioning mucus from her lungs. She celebrates being home, alive. Her voice shimmers, the cadence and trill of birdsong. I try to muster lyrics to blend with her grace notes— flinch as I picture her springing for feather and bone, winging into the dark eye of flight.


Yesterday I bent for shampoo in the shower, wailed for my husband, my lower back wrenched. He rushed in to help, reported blackbirds cluttering the tops of the Japanese maples. The day folded like paper— curved wings, forked tails, origami birds.



My father’s eyes wither like cut blossoms. I watch his world, his body, shrink— my hands digging for roots, tubers in soft loam. My children trundle boxes to apartments, babies to homes in distant cities. I visit, stretch the rounded hours thin and long, lift the toddler’s hand to trace my cheekbone, jawline, then her own. At bath time I towel water from her skin, repeat: bath, lake, river, rain. Already blackbirds flit like specks of cobweb across my cornea, dart away when I focus.

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small words Kathleen McGookey

On Cherry Valley Road, there’s a catalpa with a heart-shaped hole in its side, where the trunk branched and half tore away in the storm. You could stand on tiptoe and hide a measuring cup and a spinning wheel in there. I pass it twice a day, taking my kids to school, but today, I can’t stop and guess a hundred names for love. Not even one. A mass of white petals litters the ground. Some days I glance at the jagged hole and wonder if it’s growing teeth. Some days, while the kids argue, I think about dinner. About the bats living in the eave and the ladder. The lost language arts book, surely damaged in the storm. My daughter’s teacher wants her students to stop using perfectly good small words like little and pretty, in favor of more complicated ones. She’s made the classroom bulletin board into a graveyard, miniature headstones marking each discarded word. I see her point and disagree: after dinner, the dog and I walk in the dark, while the wind shakes a little more rain from the trees.

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ColleCTIve memory

Amber Lee Carpenter

We dive in unison. Our adolescent bodies slice through shallow, cool blue water [three feet to be exact]. A range of body types––ectomorphs endomorphs mesomorphs––practice proper form: the body begins in a crouched position, hesitates, then leaps into the pool like Superman. Vinyl flags hang immobile in this summer heat; they point to the pool floor where a boy named Edward waits for someone, anyone, to notice him. The rest of us resurface, swimsuits now sodden & heavy, our bodies

ready for sandwiches & sunkissed towels. Question: If memory swims the length of a pool [twenty-five yards to be exact], how many laps

can memory take before it drowns? Answer: Not one of us knows. Paramedics strap Edward to a spinal board & laboriously lift his

body out of the pool. On the count of three, this incident will become a collective memory: one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi.

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The bIrTh of phoenIx

Carella Keil

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frank sInaTra’s favorITe Color

was not cool and primary, contrary to what our collective free association might lead us to believe; contrary to those bright azure irises, the inspiration behind that famous old moniker.

Frank apparently preferred the warm and secondary— the color of the armchair at Jilly’s Saloon, the leather one brought out special whenever the Chairman popped in for drinks. Still,

blue is what he was, when you consider not only the music—the smoky, languid ballads soaked in city rain, where Stordahl’s strings swell like a heavy-hearted breast, and horns slurp up the dregs of a whiskey-dark romance— but the man behind the microphone, lonely as Cheever, chronically dependent on wee-hours barstool talk, the boozy camaraderie of kindred souls to stave off the solitude of sleep.

It’s a wonder, then, armchair aside, that after the loss of his most kindred: bum-blinkered Jilly, burned to death in a car crash, his body identifiable only by his jewelry—it’s a wonder bereaved

Frank would have favored a color as fiery as orange.

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The prInCIpal and The sea

You straighten your tie. Tap your fingers on your leg, breathing in the scent of basketballs, sweat, and a mix of aerosol antiperspirants. When you step on stage, you still have to remind yourself to feel your feet, look at a point just above their heads, reach into your own chest to gather your voice. You still begin with this seasick belly, after so many years.

After all these years the kids are still rocking their chairs back, balancing on two legs. The kids are still chewing gum. The girls still wear their skirts too short and their shirts too low. You have given this talk so many times that, once begun, you only notice half the words. Responsibility. The Reputation of the School. Call their behavior “appalling” because that word tastes so round and sour. List the recent breaches. It no longer matters if the breaches are recent or not, list them anyway, using your stare to tip those chairs down to four legs, to silence those whispers and to stop those insolent jaws, gum under their tongues.

Now you have their attention, turn to Consequences. Your eyes roam the room. There—those girls. The dark haired one with a dragon charm on a string tucked beneath her collar. She flicked her fingers, opened her hand. You have had her

in your office three times this week already. Watch.

The golden haired girl beside her, feigning attention. Uniform correct, shirt buttoned all the way, skirt of appropriate length. The quiet one. The one called upon when a good influence is required to show a new student around the school. Your speech doesn’t pause as you watch her stealthily tear a page from her book. You allow her to fold it, using her nails to form sharp, precise creases.

You wait. You watch her hand reach across, into the dark-haired girl’s lap, linger just moments too long. That precise moment when hand on hand enfolds that paper— crack her name like a whip from your mouth.

She jumps, blushes, panic across her face. Name the dark-haired one, too, call both forward for public reprimand. One saunters, one creeps. One glares back defiant as you rant, the other stares at your shoes. See how close they stand. Sometimes as they fidget the backs of their hands touch.

Demand that crisply folded paper.

Unseal it. Two hands have written—you have your proof, your weapon. Return the note with a demand:

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Read it aloud.

Before the whole school. Now. Read your confession of love, your intimate betrayal, your plans to crash the weekend party. Read. Golden-hair first.

You hand back the paper—too late, notice her hand grasp the other girl’s as they turn. Too late notice her chin rise and her feet turn roots. Too late notice they smile, the energy surging, not from one to the other but summoned by both—

A deep inhale. Parted lips and eyes that rest closed, then—

dust motes dance in sunlight, turn to fairies that war for gossamer thrones, chalk dust deserts quenched by teardrop rains flow rivers pigmented, pink, blue, yellow, acorns thrown in gutters sprout, root, crack open these halls and the crows that feast on lunch scraps gather to sing…

Your hand is at your tie, rocking it loose. You cannot breathe and swallow this magic, you cannot speak to stop them. Dark-hair takes the page, grips her charm, reads:

and the forest is filled with bears and fish that climb out of the stream and sing, mushrooms rise from the rich, dark loam bearing gifts for the butterfly king, a storm arises, raining stardust and snowflakes that catch in the canopy…

They pause, breathe. Only then do you notice the sobs of weeping schoolboys. You have melted to your knees, your tie discarded.

and the sea carves mermaids and kelpies from rock, and driftwood forms bones and seaweed makes flesh, these scarecrows make fire and dance with the tide—

You have kicked off your shoes, you notice now your mismatched socks, your sleeves rolled askew, you notice yourself swoon…still they go on:

silver gulls cry: your sadness, your sadness— summon you inward, call your soul deep…

Your mismatched socks, your abandoned tie. Your jacket strangely scented with salt. Your flesh surrendered to a faraway sea. glassworks



Catherine Edgerton

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deserT doGs

the neighborhood dogs are barking and no one thinks to quiet them

this is the west where everything is at least half wild

maybe it’s the coyotes that descend from the mountains to prowl encouraging their madness

the dogs carve troughs through the sand arroyos in miniature which they flood with urine

behind thistled walls you can hear relentless panting their breaths burnt a small dust storm in every yard—

you cannot walk this block a stranger—

outside our Bichon circles the garden cloaks himself in desert dust tries becoming unrecognizable

but we know him when he waits by his dish to be fed supper

the way our dog paces how hard he pulls at the leash sometimes

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it’s hard to believe he dreams of running while he is curled between my knees for warmth but isn’t that what all hearts want to revel beneath the bright sun howl into the moon’s pocked face and return to find there is a soft bed waiting

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vanIlla smoke as Ceremony

Young and haunted, you get kicked out of the house so you leave for the forest at dusk, station wagon a faded blue, its interior smelling of old cologne and smoke, you left vanilla cloves on the dashboard and the sun burns through each of your confessions.

I wait, I pretend to be guarded when really, my love is an extravagance, and I’m jealous of your exes whose pear and cherry lips once touched yours. We’re dancers and we’re living off family meals from the restaurant

you’re more charming than I am, you smoke with chefs on the back porch during storms, you know the perfect wines to order, using a fresh pen to lie about prices, you always keep jars of spices in your trunk, one Tuesday when

we couldn’t sleep you called me, a few beers in, so close to drunk, and softly asked what ingredients I would use to make the perfect compound butter. My jaw hurts from biting my cheeks, holding back my quirks and smirks, your

knife chest is heavy, and I can barely get it over the threshold. Once inside, you take the guest room, I light the burners and put on tea for us, I wonder why I can’t quiet my mind for a few seasons at a time, my head is full of chatty bones

whose skeleton owner is a feast of embedded lies. Soon you’re in my kitchen, wearing your striped work pants, laughing at my half-melted candles, the milk saucer my mother bought for me, shaped like a cat, and I laugh back but believe

me when I say you could never hold my heart in your hands in a way that makes sense, you could never tune lullabies towards porch birds, this is our green and stamped paradise, this is my lip, bleeding from where I bite back your name, this


is the fridge which knows the curve of my back, the tiles who have all memorized my calves and thighs, the windows know the way I arch my spine when we’re on the phone in the dark, you are in my heated workspace, and I want to press my fraught

lip against the wall, each time the floor creaks I feel my breath shake out its linen-blue feathers, it’s almost time for the thrush and crush of dinner, already I’m following you through my door.

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“Love has teeth; they bite; the wounds never close.”

Your childhood bedroom is painted sky blue, but in the dark, black of night, you can only see the shadows dancing on the walls and the moonlight in ribbons as it cuts through your white, plastic blinds. You’re curled up under that cheap, scratchy comforter of your twin bed, when your eyes click open like a doll’s—Mom is standing by the window. She’s facing away from you, and you can only see the back of her head, her curls tight against her scalp, that old terry cloth robe she wears, loose around her shoulders. It’s quiet in the room except for the nasally gasp of her breathing.

“Mom?” You rub your eyes, but she doesn’t say anything. Instead she pokes two of her fingers through the blinds and you realize there are red and blue lights pulsing across the street. “Mom,” you say again. “What’s going on?”

She whips her head back, a sharp gesture, and you notice her eyes seem dark, too, chaotic. You pull the glitter-pink blanket up to your shoulders. With your feet, you search for the fat, white cat that likes to sleep near your knees.

“Go back to bed,” Mom bites.

Then turns again to face the window. You nod because what else can you do? ~

It’s August. Through the break in your nearly closed door, you watch Mom chase your brothers, the three of them zig-zagging down the beige, carpeted hallway of your house. Above Mom’s head, she’s gripping a cordless phone and you can hear that dull beep like the phone’s been disconnected too long. One of your brothers is drunk. You can tell by the way he slurs his words, how he staggers, and because you’ve been dragged to A.A. meetings your whole life, you know what drunk looks like. He’s laughing, but you don’t understand why. It’s deep and reverberates through the house reminding you of Christmas mornings and pancake Sundays, only it feels out of place in this context. You’re not sure where your other brother went, but Mom is screaming and the sound is highpitched and curdled.

Words are thrown across the living room, along with a lamp and some metal coasters. She says something about her van being gone, how they’ll be taken away if they don’t return it! All you can hear is that laughing though, that dull beep, and then abruptly, the sound of a thud. You realize you’ve been here

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before and fling the door open to see your mom holding her cheek. Your other brother lurches backwards, his blond hair wet with sweat, his eyes frenzied. You curl your tiny hands into fists, your teddy bear nightgown still too big for you, and pound on his thigh because it’s the only thing you can reach. You scream at him not to hurt Mom. He’s gentle with you; he says you don’t understand. You see the red and blue lights out the window, the ones you’re used to by now. ~

In summer, you like to read about monsters. Halfway through your favorite book, you realize you want a snack. You search for your bookmark but can’t find it, and the librarian at school has reprimanded you more than once for dog-earing the pages. You remember you were

the square plastic edge of the bookmark and its soft, pink tassel. Your hand hits something cold and metal, sharp. Carefully you coil your hand around the edge and pull. Surprised, you drop a knife, the blade wider than your forearm. You can see what looks like hair on the blade and a smattering of blood. Quickly you shove it back under the bed and feel the warm glow of the afternoon turn blue and icy. ~

When you were three, you’d watched your dad pack a suitcase. You’d screamed for him to stay, flung yourself across his ankles, but he’d still slid open the gold chain lock, pushed the flimsy frame of the screen door, and after getting into his orange Jeep, reversed sharply out of the driveway. You missed tugging on his dark mustache, how it

reading last in Mom’s room, so you open her door and sneak into the empty bedroom in the middle of the afternoon and drop to your knees to look under her bed. Under the bed is dark and you don’t have a flashlight, so you reach your hand out and feel through the thick, brown carpet for

seemed thicker than the silky fringe of his black hair. You missed his smell, that Old Spice aftershave you once doused yourself with, crying as it burned your delicate, new skin. How his gold wedding band always seemed too tight for his short, thick fingers. Today he’s outside waiting glassworks

You curl your tiny hands into fists, your teddy bear nightgown still too big for you, and pound on his thigh because it’s the only thing you can reach.

for you. You already know you won’t see him though. That the closest he’ll be is through that thick glass window and the billowy pink fabric of the curtains.

Mom is outside screaming something. Her hand smacks the hood of his car. She lunges toward the driver’s side and shoves her fingers through the half open frame.

your legs. You’re crying. You haven’t stopped crying since Mom whipped a u-turn, drove what felt like eighty miles an hour, and parked sideways in the lot. Your wrists burned as she dragged you from the car to the front door of number 18 and pounded on the metal, her hands, you’re sure, in splinters from the force. Your dad’s girlfriend

He’s already reversing. The driveway’s short and the window you’re watching him from faces it. Jerking his head left and right, you realize… he’s searching for you. You take a step closer, as close as you can— the smell of windex sharp in your nose because Mom would never let glass get dirty, just relationships— and for one second, you catch his eyes. He half smiles at you.

He still leaves you alone in the house, with her. ~

It’s October and you’re hiding in the bushes of that old apartment complex Dad lives in. Your back is pressed against the stucco siding, and the thorns from the bougainvillea bushes are pricking

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answers. She’s kind and soft, with dark feathered hair and a daughter a few years older than you. Mom starts screaming. The words don’t even matter anymore.

Burnt crisp with embarrassment, your tears scorch—like Dad’s aftershave on your cheeks—and you run to hide, the bougainvillea plants the closest you find to solitude. The girlfriend pokes her head out the door and looks for you. Her eyes are gentle and she smiles.

“Are you okay?”

Mom doesn’t like that. She hurls flames at the woman, then sharply turns and grips your wrists. You go limp as she drags you back to the car because you know it will hurt less that way.

Burnt crisp with embarrassment, your tears scorch— like Dad’s aftershave on your cheeks—and you run to hide, the bougainvillea plants the closest you find to solitude. ”

Mom’s still screaming, just at you now.

“I am your mother! Do you understand me?”

You nod because what else can you do?

Chelsea M. Carney | Teeth glassworks 43

hIbIsCus and happy hoops

Gerburg Garmann

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Between stations, where every voice ever, where every ud and trumpet, where every drum and rattle and harpsichord resolve into a hiss—this is music. And the big bang’s orange hum. And a lily’s slow peal. Oh, those murmuring starlings swell and plume over the fens and I am rapt, one eye to the road, one ear to the radio where a voice leans out and whispers, “I’m sure it was you, I’m sure it was you I heard in the fluid, in the heartbeat, in the womb.”

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a ThrIfT sTore Cup wITh blue loTus

Sometimes the weight of it is too much, the ten thousand mornings I cup between my palms those ten thousand times your lips touched its rim.

I do not know you. But I know the blue lotus at the bottom of the well as one more hot grief passes between us and rolls across my tongue.

I know the shape of your hands and what a warm stomach becomes when a sunken flower reveals itself, so blue and sudden. I know that as a body cools, the emptiness we find must soon be filled

again on each and countless morning, again, on every lotus drowned.

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balConIes, ITaly E. O. Connors


Joanna Acevedo

Late August, I channel Marilyn, then Anne. Recently, I have been quitting. Jobs, friendships, smoking. All my plants have died. I can’t stop listening to Beyoncé; her pain is my pain, my Instagram posts are vague and obscure. Tension headaches. How do I explain? The red of my mouth around my gap teeth, watching my face on the FaceTime screen, the million different ways I love you. It’s hard to never be enough, when I am so much. It’s hard to simply be.

So my father is cancer free. The doctors aren’t using the word “remission,” they’re simply saying he’s done with treatment. Clean CAT scan. He makes jokes about bringing our cat, Chickpea, to the scan, despite the fact that she’ll hiss and bite at anyone who even tries to pick her up. We can’t even take her to the vet. He gets his chemo port removed; I pick him up from the hospital. Read a tweet on the train: “Even I don’t know who the ‘you’ in my poems is.” Close my phone, my eyes, listen to the hum of the IRT.

There is no language for the after: for when I use the words “cancer scare” when I really mean “he had cancer.” It wasn’t a scare, he really had it. It really tore into me like a knife. “He had cancer, and I was scared,” I tell my mother on the phone, half-joking, half-serious. My

mother says she feels torn between us: me bipolar, him sick. “Imagine being one of us,” my father says, and wins the Pain Olympics for the day. It’s not a competition, but it is.

“Don’t let anyone tell you your work is too confessional,” a woman poet tells me at a poetry reading, mid-August. No one has ever told me that before, and I have to wonder—is she telling me my work is too confessional? I’ve just read a poem about my pseudosuicide attempt, from July, and she is looking me dead in the eye like she’s telling me a secret. “You hear me? You’re working in a tradition. Anne, Sylvia, Robert.” She says these names like they are old friends. I point out that I have an Anne Sexton line tattooed on my chest.

I feel like I’ve lost my ability to relate to people. I recognize people I know everywhere, the reverse of face blindness—everyone looks like someone I know. I’m always running after someone, saying, “Hey, do you remember—” They never do. They always look at me, a blank expression on their faces in the blue light of their phones. They turn away.

The difference between sick and well, I’m learning, can be a few days, a few hours, a few moments. It’s a slim line, and I walk it like the edge of a blade. I’m not well; I am

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hungover, I am anxious, I am permanently terrified—but I am not crazy. Not like I was. The ship has docked in the port after the storm.

So I schedule my Botox appointments—the cure for my migraines. I joke that it’ll help with the line that has etched itself precisely in my forehead. Lately I have started to look my age, which is twenty-five; not a calamity, but a reminder that time passes. I’m no longer the nineteen-year-old whirlwind I once was, courting death, crazier than hell. No, I am older and wiser now, and I am almost afraid of what comes next, be it good or bad, because I am not prepared for more grief.

Be happy! my partner texts me on Friday afternoon, out of the blue. I’m not unhappy, I text back. I am absentmindedly applying to jobs. Trying not to think about the future. Avoiding work. I have a million other things I could be doing, but I don’t do any of them; I am paralyzed. Instead I online shop for things I can’t afford, text my bestie, get a headache from looking at the computer screen too long, watch Top Chef. Take naps.

I’m not unhappy. I’m not happy, either, but who is? I put Sriracha on everything, even fruit. Tell myself I’m going back to my Mexican roots. I can’t stop saying “vibes,” and “love that for you,” even when I’m not being ironic. My personality has been reduced to a series of anecdotes.

Recently have been running out of things to say to people. I’ve been having the feeling like I don’t know what to say in normal conversations, like everything is just going over my head. Conversations seem to be about topics I know nothing about—movies, music, politics— and I can’t keep up. I haven’t seen Blade Runner in years. “I’ve read the book,” I tell people when they bring it up. But no one wants to talk about Phillip K. Dick. No one wants to talk to me.

My father has become obsessed with food, after weeks of not being able to eat because of the chemo. He takes me out to lunch, where we talk about nothing, and everything. My job, his retirement. Our family history. We get Mexican food, laugh at the irony. “Do you think they know we’re Mexican?” I ask. He laughs. In this way we are father and daughter, peas in a pod. I don’t know how to wear my skin any other way. glassworks

“ No, I am older and wiser now, and I am almost afraid of what comes next, be it good or bad, because I am not prepared for more grief. ”

Everything in my life has become humorous in some way—everything is a joke. My partner jokes that everything I wear has some degree of irony to it. The big hoop earrings, the hokey t-shirts. I’ve become such a manifestation of myself that I’m not even myself anymore. I’m a caricature. Everything becomes surreal, like a migraine headache, simmering under the surface. I go out of body. I watch myself, or someone who looks like me, talk to my friends, make funny comments, perform my life. She is not me. We are not the same. Then I close my eyes. When I wake up, there’s nothing. Just me, staring at a blank wall. ~

like the face of a stranger. Often, I feel my partner is an extension of myself, like a tentacle or a phantom limb, but then he does things that I would never do. Goes dove hunting. Buys a Civil War era shotgun. Drinks a pint of whiskey. I forget that we’re not the same person, our boundaries blurring and smearing, and then suddenly I remember, like a child coming out of sleep.

So I get better. Not all the way better, but better enough that I can go to work, see my friends, spend time alone without actively hurting myself. My doctor wants me on a more robust bipolar cocktail; preventative measures, he says, just in case, you never know what

Actually, the problem is that I’m self-obsessed. I can’t see past my own windshield. Couldn’t stop thinking about my own birthday while my father had surgery for his cancer. Yes it’s true, I’m Icarus. When I turned twenty-five, I spent my day in a hospital room. Lately, I’ve been underdeveloped. Not processing my own emotions. Drowning in work, or maybe simply drowning.

His face is the one I recognize the most easily, but sometimes, it looks

could happen. My current cocktail is quite a few pills, but I relent, and play medication guinea pig with him anyway. I feel like a bug under a microscope, desperate and wanting to scurry away, little legs churning. He means well. I don’t know how to do this, to be a good sick person. When sick, I am cranky, frustrated, bitter, well-educated. I am snappy to answer and quick to dismiss. I am arrogant. In short, I am everything that I am while not sick, but also glassworks

Prosopagnosia—face blindness, the inability to recognize faces, even ones you’ve met before. I can’t recognize my own face in the mirror, but I recognize everyone else.

batshit crazy to boot.

In a way, I am resentful. Some people are only sick for a period of time, like my father. He was sick and now he is well. I will always be sick, and even though I will have periods of wellness, the sickness will still linger. It will always be a part of me. I will never be cured.

Prosopagnosia—face blindness, the inability to recognize faces, even ones you’ve met before. I can’t recognize my own face in the mirror, but I recognize everyone else— potential friends, lovers, enemies. Everyone seems like an old friend. I want to chase them down the street, ask them questions. At least once a day, I question if I’ve slept with this or that stranger, and only don’t remember. Everyone is recognizable. And when I really do r ecognize someone, from TV or, more recently, from a fashion blog I read in the mid-2000s, they greet me with gusto. Maybe I really do know everyone. Maybe they’re just waiting to know me.

Joanna Acevedo | Prosopagnosia glassworks 51

mIssInG us durInG a downpour In louIsIana

I admire the storm’s mossed backdrop, mug of lukewarm coffee in my hands, humidity lolling against my skin. I’ve crowded my countertops with matches and flashlights, lit every candle for when the power goes out.

You called me a collector once and I’ll admit it, I collect love like postage stamps, stuff my pockets with hailstones and voicemails. I want to text you: Meet me at our storm-wrecked house. I’ll catch guttered rain in my mouth until I’m all rust and water, all hurricane.

You and I are as mold-eaten as our old bedroom, a portrait of lightning reflecting every cracked window.

I’ll replace your indifference with quiet mornings and the sound of stale cereal going soggy. I’ll press my ear to the faucet and listen for saltwater, the wash of your voice seeping through my pipes.

I’ll fall asleep on the couch, and remember how our mildewed mattress hugged the curb, sopped puddles, held us together.

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feaTher, Ireland

E. O. Connors

glassworks 53

l Is for Judith H. Montgomery

Laura, wrapped in April green— her stay against winter invading spring in fevered shivers, unfurling its viral spume.

And L is for loss. Cell phone stilled, words spilling from her lips—an old friend who has brought her self to a halt, stopping

breath and pulse to exit a world too ready for budburst. And L for linger, a second friend wishing only to live,

but whose crackling lungs cannot draw breath, who gasps white-sheeted, deep in an ICU, breath sticking, stuck. L is for

love. And for Laura, who must recast her day, her life, abandon ink and pen, to comfort and curb, pack this fresh wound—

mourning—into the thinnest box, to manage, to empty herself, to muster enough to meet each new need. Who must be

the light, burning and burning the oil of her self, called again to take up the necessary summons of love.

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eleGy for a burnT house

This purple fist of lavender—remnant of my hard-won high desert garden. Last vestige of the home licked black by accidental flame, its fragile cedar shell unraftered, windows blasted loose by heat. Once, this lavender shimmered in its blue vase just above white porcelain, kitchen sink where I rinsed tomatoes, basil, lettuce heads. It must be cluttered

now with ash, burnt Ponderosa needles, slop of curdled river water. And what else? Our cloud-blue bedroom, hung

smoke-stunk, the north deck sunk under twisted strips of roof? Sole relic, the chimney’s stolid lava bricks. What

else survived the night’s long red roar? The pink crabapples? And the white? Do they spill still into ravished air, spared by hoses pumping rivers to hiss the blaze? We left so much behind. I raise the vase, its saved stems, purple blooms, color of half-mourning, into surviving light. The stiff stalks gleam beneath a year’s dust, as though distant ash-aftermath had blown here to remind us of what’s burnt, lost. All things come to pass.

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E. O. Connors is a writer and award-winning photographer living in Connecticut. She has a master’s degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Harvard University. Her writing has appeared in The Furious Gazelle, Lowestoft Chronicle, Rutgers College Quarterly, and Dungeon Magazine. To read her humor and memoir, or to purchase fine art prints from her online gallery, visit:

Catherine Edgerton has been inking, layering and stitching mixedmedia records in hand-bound books since age fourteen. Her main areas of focus are race, the sea, and spiritual dis-ease in a sick society. In expansion of this work, Edgerton invites lens-shifting through stained glass. She uses transparent objects—bug wings, film slides, brake lights— to build kaleidoscopes and TV lanterns, juxtaposing the mundane with play to create surreal visions of patterns and light. Visit her website for more:

Gerburg Garmann, a native of Germany, is a former professor of Global Languages and Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of Indianapolis, Indiana, and is now fully concentrating on the arts. Her scholarly publications appear in English, German, and French in international journals. Her artwork and poems have appeared in various magazines and anthologies around the world. Her mission is to inspire joyful resilience. She specializes in creating art for women. For more information, visit:

Carella Keil is a writer and digital artist who splits her time between the ethereal world of dreams, and Toronto, Canada, depending on the weather. Her art has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Columbia Journal, Skyie Magazine, Wrongdoing Magazine, The Storms, Burningword, Wander, Existere, Chestnut Review, Door is a Jar, Grub Street, Sheepshead Review, Moss Puppy, Free Verse Revolution, Troublemaker Firestarter, and Vocivia. Follow her at:

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Faith McNaughton is a student at Rutgers University - New Brunswick, studying English, sociology, and creative writing. Her favorite study and writing partner is Luna, her dog, who resides in South Jersey. Faith enjoys pulling from themes of adolescence, womanhood, and queerness in her writing.

Kathryn Reese lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She works in medical science. Her writing explores themes of nature, spirituality, myth and the possibility of shape shift. Her poems are published in Neoperennial Press Heroines Anthology, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Yellow Arrow Journal.


Joanna Acevedo (she/they) is the Pushcart nominated author of the chapbooks List of Demands (Bottlecap Press, 2022) and Outtakes (WTAW Press, forthcoming) and the books The Pathophysiology of Longing (Black Centipede Press, 2020) and Unsaid Things (Flexible Press, 2021). She received her MFA in Fiction from New York University in 2021.

Chelsea M. Carney is a novelist, essayist, and freelance writer, specializing in narrative essay, young adult, and adult fiction. She has a BA from The New School and is currently working on an MFA in creative writing. Her work can be found in Elpha, Glassworks Magazine, and the 12th Street Journal.

Ted McLoof teaches English at the University of Arizona. His work has appeared in Minnesota Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Monkeybicycle, Hobart, DIAGRAM, Kenyon Review, Louisville Review, Ninth Letter, Los Angeles Review, and elsewhere. His debut collection, ANHEDONIA, is available from Finishing Line Press; you can find it at Amazon or, and can follow him on all sorts of social media: @tedmcloof

Contributors | Issue 26 glassworks 57

Devon Brock is a line cook and poet living in South Dakota with his wife and dog. Find him online at:

Amber Lee Carpenter earned an MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Her essays and hybrid works have appeared in publications that include sPARKLE & bLINK, Sinister Wisdom, Two Hawks Quarterly, and riverSedge. She currently lives in the Bay Area with her wife, two dogs, and cat. Visit her website:

Rachael Inciarte is the author of the chapbook What Kind of Seed Made You (Finishing Line Press, 2021), which received a 2022 Eric Hoffer Award Honorable Mention. They live in California, with family.

Karina Jha is a literary enthusiast from Northampton, Massachusetts. She is currently working towards a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. Her work is centered around themes of femininity, multi-cultural identity, and the melding of fantasy and reality. She has won multiple awards for poetry, short story, and flash fiction. To see more of her work, visit:

Sean Madden works for the California Community Colleges’ Chancellor’s Office. He holds an MFA from the University of Kentucky. The Emerson Review nominated him for a Pushcart Prize in 2022. Other poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Copper Nickel, Slant, Waccamaw, The Nonconformist, Sport Literate, Small Print, The Los Angeles Review, The John Updike Review, and Hawaii Pacific Review. He lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills with his wife and sons and is currently at work on a novel and a story collection. Visit him at:

Mary Makofske’s chapbook The Gambler’s Daughter was published by The Orchard Street Press in 2022. Her latest full-length books are World Enough, and Time (Kelsay, 2017) and Traction (Ashland Poetry, 2011), winner of the Richard Snyder Prize. Her poems have appeared in journals including Poetry East, American Journal of Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, Talking River Review, Crosswinds, and The Stillwater Review, and in 20 anthologies. Find her online at:

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Claire Hamner Matturro has been a journalist, lawyer, organic blueberry farmer, and professor at Florida State University College of Law and University of Oregon School of Law. Raised on tales of errant, unhinged kith and kin and a few nefarious whoppers, she counts storytelling as her cultural and genetic inheritance. She is the author of eight novels, including a series published by HarperCollins, but has returned lately to her first literary love of poetry. She’s a long-standing associate editor at Southern Literary Review. She and her husband and their rescued, cross-eyed black cat live in Florida. Find her online at:

Reese Menefee is a poet from Kentucky. She is an MFA candidate at McNeese State University. Her work is forthcoming in The Sun Magazine and The Threepenny Review.

Kathleen McGookey has published four books of prose poems and three chapbooks, most recently Instructions for My Imposter (Press 53) and Nineteen Letters (BatCat Press). She has also published We’ll See, a book of translations of French poet Georges Godeau’s prose poems. Her work has appeared in Copper Nickel, December, Field, Glassworks, Miramar, Ploughshares, Quiddity, The Southern Review, and Sweet. She has received grants from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Sustainable Arts Foundation.

Sam Moe is the first-place winner of Invisible City’s Blurred Genres contest in 2022, and the 2021 recipient of an Author Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Her first chapbook, Heart Weeds, is out from Alien Buddha Press and her second chapbook, Grief Birds, is forthcoming from Bullshit Lit in April 2023. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram as @SamAnneMoe

Judith H. Montgomery’s poems appear in the Bellingham Review, Tahoma Literary Review, and Poet Lore, among other journals, and in a number of anthologies. Her first collection, Passion, received the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her fourth collection, Litany for Wound and Bloom, a finalist for the Marsh Hawk Prize, appeared in 2018 from Uttered Chaos Press. Her prize-winning narrative medicine chapbook, Mercy, appeared from Wolf Ridge Press in 2019.

Contributors | Issue 26 glassworks 59

Annette Sisson’s poems can be found in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Rust and Moth, The Citron Review, The Lascaux Review, Third Wednesday, Five South Weekly, and others. Her book Small Fish in High Branches was published by Glass Lyre Press in 2022. She was a Mark Strand Scholar for the 2021 Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has been a winner or finalist of many poetry contests, including Frontier Poetry’s New Voices Contest and The Fish Anthology annual contest. In 2022, three of her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Visit her website at:

Jacob Stratman’s first collection of poems, What I Have I Offer With Two Hands, was released in 2019 through the Poiema Poetry Series (Cascade Books). His most recent poems can be found (or are forthcoming) in The Christian Century, Spoon River Poetry Review, Salt Hill, Moria, Ekstasis, among others. He teaches in the English department at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

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E. O. Connors

Catherine Edgerton

Gerburg Garmann

Carella Keil


Faith McNaughton

Kathryn Reese nonFiction

Joanna Acevedo

Chelsea M. Carney

Ted McLoof


Devon Brock

Amber Lee Carpenter

Rachael Inciarte

Karina Jha

Sean Madden

Mary Makofske

Claire Hamner Matturro

Reese Menefee

Kathleen McGookey

Sam Moe

Judith H. Montgomery

Annette Sisson

Jacob Stratman

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