“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.


Dam the feathers of your hair, so

Dark like they’re almost rivers of

Ice and frosted asphalt on every

Foothill and beehive and mustard

That grows on at least one of

Your chests waves in the

Breeze like a princess or a president

Or judgment—and justice is as yellow

As a sunflower when warm

Dew is forming from the sweat—

It smells like dragon fruit

And fresh linen and sounds

Like radio silence—

You make at night, while dreaming

Of not sleeping in the same place

As your self.


Someday, you believe to yourself as the

The first solar beam touches your

Summit or what remains of it,

As your e-cigarette bleeds to be

Charged, as you burn the pop

Corn in your lungs and draft

Another email to Venus, another

Hand down your pants to stop you

From sending it, as steam rises

And falls like a comet or the

Urge to puke after a hangover

Hot gin toddies, mai tais, and all the

Blue curacao and ambrosia

Veda could ask for another

Day perhaps but still today, you dream,

Someday, Ushas, you’ll hang up

On all your other lives.


Tomm McCarthy is a graduate of the M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Poetics program at the University of Washington. He is a travel writer, genre fiction author, poet, romance novelist, and a musician, filmmaker, and audio engineer. He lives and works in Tacoma, Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest.