New Stories for September 16, 2019

“Ushas” by Tomm McCarthy

In the lava dome of St. Helens

On a cell phone

Dewy with the approach of morning

Its coming

And there’s at least two of you

Both horse-like and sacred

So dark as to be almost blue

With yellow scarves and scars like gold

Sitting cross-legged and listening to the past

Through the line and dreaming

Mercurial thoughts are unsent text messages are

An emoji astrology and a smiling moon

On the other end wondering if you’re

still listening, not asking,

What still connects you besides occasional

Phone calls, dreams that

Electro-psychosis, and Martian

Songs clear in the thin atmosphere.


Oh you, name like a purr, or gamble

Why sit, vaping in that volcano

Scaring the geologists

Between awake and learning

Loving and dial-tones

You and your other selves

Gooey ears glued to the phones near

What might as well be the other side of the earth while

Tracing the streets of Bombay for the best connection, sapphire like

Veins of twilight and dreamy

Honey lipped on sweets and killer bees sting

Stars are pin-pricks swelling

And dreams never felt so real, so

Coherent, so honest and un-hedonistic.


Your first words were thoughts and since

The only thing that comes out of your

Mouth sacrifices the virgin-like air

Reifies it as grunts and faith in

A mountain of your own un-constructing

Language and, now, you stuck in

Your own whole on hold with

The worst polyglot you are

Smoking, electronically, to dry out the mist and

Reactors that make the

Desert glow with longing because,

After all, you are what you desire

And you become your sacrifices

You, god in the mountain half

Your deaths in India,

You dreamt so big and now need

Touchscreens to touch yourself.


This doesn’t have to speak to,

Isolated and lusting, who knows

If you would listen to anything

Over your own composed musics of

Bodily noises and ghost tones, synthesized

And indigo dyed like the tattoo on

Your arm of either a target or

Saturn seen from above, in fact

Expect this is the wrong number

That almost sleep doesn’t psychically pull

People together like gravity,

Black holes of lapis lazuli, or the heat of summer’s

Sunrise, but you saw yourself

Accidentally opening the camera app, and

The subsequent Sulfur you built

Around you dilated your eyes

But tightened your eyelids—hungry—

but skeptical of

Love is what you listen for

But forget it because some

Things should be let to get away.

To continue reading “Ushas” click here.


“Jam Session” by Laurel Bennett

I always tell Mom, “Call me anytime you need something.”

She’s still pretty independent at 85 (with her second new hip recently), and rarely asks for help beyond the twice-monthly vacuuming, patio sweeping, tub scrubbing and occasional weeding at the Bennett homestead.


But today I got the call. She was making strawberry/red plum jam and asked whether I would come over and get her canner off a high shelf in the garage. Of course I would. It was a privilege, and I was really glad my little, fragile mama chose not to climb on some teetering footstool to get it herself.


I arrived and headed back to the garage with her. The cabinet in question is right inside the doorway, with only about a two-foot clearance between it and the freezer. So with Mom holding the cabinet door open for me, she was all but blocking the way—and I would have to be on the other side of her to be able to reach the big pot on the top shelf.


“Mom, you’re in the way–I need to get around you.”


And she replied simply, without guile, “Well honey, turn to the side and come through.”


To continue reading “Jam Session”  click here.


“Hope” by Elisa Peterson

I never told my mother that I didn’t believe her when she confided that God spoke to her during shock therapy at Western State Hospital, back in the 50s.

She was confined (again) for depression. Was, in fact, catatonic. And we were not allowed to visit. I heard Auntie telling Grandma that Mom was unaware that she had three small children. So to save us distress, we were only allowed to stand outside in the cold and wave at a shadow in her window.

Years later, after she had stopped the cycling of debilitating depression, she told me that while in the hospital she had been visited by God. She had regained consciousness in a brightly lit room (probably the shock treatment room), awakened by the kindest voice she had ever heard saying, “Pearl, aren’t you going to let me help you?”

To continue reading “Hope” click here.