We are pleased to present our annual flashglass anthology! Comprised of all flash works originally published online at rowanglassworks.org in 2017, this anthology is available for online viewing and for purchase in print. Copies will also be available for $5 cash at the AWP Conference and Bookfair in Tampa this March and at our upcoming readings at Rowan University.
Thanks to all our contributors for allowing us to present their work this year!
The diner cringes in snowfall. Parked pickups sneer as I slog to the door and peer in. The men at the counter hulk like Easter Island’s giant heads. They don’t bother to turn to watch me dripping in the doorway. Despite their hairy exteriors and filthy mouths, these men are devout churchgoers, whose Sundays yawp with hymns shaped like dirigibles and just as lofty. I want to explain to them that I once believed in both physical labor and spiritual bliss, but something underground derailed, and the blue sparks of dragging steel illuminated places I hadn’t imagined. Now I want to delve into distances brisker than the wind on the river, want to track through matter tougher and more permanent than snow. They’d laugh, of course, and look at me with dutiful Christian pity. Poor old coot, they’d mutter. Too much education for his own good. Too much mind to lose. Too many horizons bleak above his carcass as he naps. They’re right, of course, their faces brimming with health and ignorance. Better not to know how deeply the starlight despises us every night, how indifferent the winter daylight blue. And now, enveloped in snowfall, this diner sweats and smelts and crushes us all together in a scent of flesh so powerful even extinct carnivores threaten, their saber teeth glinting in the stainless landscape outside.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in a small house in the woods. He taught at Keene State College for many years, but has now retired to feed the deer and wild turkeys. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals and several small-press books. His forthcoming book of poetry is The Last Concert (Salmon Press).
The crumbling steps now lead to no one’s front door, just a miniature precipice, a leap into the slumping depression left behind when everyone had had enough of whatever it was that ground them down. Resting in the soil: shattered glass; a bent fork; the scattered shards of a dinner plate; a metal box of rain-soaked recipes.
Above, the planted trees huddle, swaying like a family around a hospital bed, waiting for the doctor’s bad news, already starting to mourn, thinking of who might take the piano and whether the cousin who drinks might want to be the last occupant, or could it be rented out to a hired hand, or could the siding be salvaged for a nephew’s barn, or whether to let nature take its course.
She was infamous for having whiskey in her coffee cup while teaching. Mother would most days either fall asleep on the couch after her final two cherry Manhattans of the day, which I had learned how to make for her. Or she would beat me, with a hair brush, her stiletto heel, bookend, her fist, my belt—anything that was within reach when her violent nerve was triggered. I was often blamed, for answering the telephone (usually creditors), for talking back (children should be seen and not heard), for having chicken pox, for not cleaning the floor correctly, for anything and nothing at all.
My father died when I was 19; he was 45. My mother threw herself on top of his body and blamed herself for the cancerous end. Her drinking worsened. After college, I moved to New York. When I called her on a payphone to tell her that I was pursuing acting, she called me a slut and hung up. She threatened suicide 3 years later and I moved back to Pittsburgh. There were 10 years where I did not speak to her. The family home, she allowed to go to Sheriff’s sale, after abandoning it, not paying back taxes. The day after the birth of my daughter, 28 hours in labor, my Mother came to the hospital drunk. She told me that I had betrayed her. Four years later, I watched her have a heart attack in the E.R.. A tumor had dislocated her shoulder. She was put on morphine. She asked me if she was going to die.
I said, yes.
Comingled blood, dark as windfall cherries, spattered lichen-streaked stones: grandfather (dead of foolishness), still-born Baby Anne—your family plot. And you might have sprung, angle and bone, from that corner yew, dark, with dark lank hair while I was mere summer folk, city girl—pudgy, pale, whiskey-colored ringlets. But on that garland branch, we pricked thumbs, became sisters.
Envy grew green as island pines. Your narrow saltbox: high-ceilinged rooms, chamber pots beneath iron beds, stone-floor kitchen with hand pump and black, wood-burning stove—matriarchal dragon dominating the room, captured me. Your grandmother, brown and bony as yourself, knew things. I trotted behind as she gentled Sunday’s chicken. Ax arced, shell-carved eye stilled while deranged feathers convulsed in mad, mute tarantella. I was baptized in blood. You hungered only for trolley rides, glass revolving-doors, luncheons on the mezzanine, until you turned fifteen—one umbrella step ahead as always—left for New Orleans, a married woman.
Island wives lashed tongues, raised long, red welts on your memory: Got herself in trouble. Uh-huh. I alone knew it wasn’t love or even lust that lured you; it was city lights. Had I been offered spells and incantations, I’d have gone too.
Ann Howells’s poetry appears in Borderlands, Spillway, THEMA and in anthologies: Goodbye, Mexico and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VIII: Texas (Texas Review Press), Pushing the Envelope and Texas Weather Anthology (Lamar University Press) and elsewhere. She has edited Illya’s Honey since 1999, recently going digital (www.IllyasHoney.com) and adding a co-editor. Publications include: Black Crow in Flight (Main Street Rag), Under a Lone Star (Village Books), Letters for My Daughter (Flutter), and Cattlemen & Cadillacs, as editor, (Dallas Poets Community). Ann served as President of Dallas Poets Community for four years and as Treasurer for many more.
FLASH GLASS: A MONTHLY PUBLICATION OF FLASH FICTION, PROSE POETRY, & MICRO ESSAYS
Cover Image: "Yellow Red Wine Glasses, Paris"