Another Planet

By Jason Larsen

Artist Statement: “In Samuel Corales’ Interactive Creative Writing Class this past quarter, he asked us to list three things that we would take to another planet and three things we would leave on Earth.”

Image courtesy of NASA

I have three Amazon Echo smart devices, and I would take them all with me to another planet.  The first thing is a regular Amazon Echo smart speaker.  The second thing is an Amazon Echo Show screen.  The last thing is my Amazon Fire Smart TV.  This is not the 19th century anymore.  It’s the 21st century.  This new planet is as futuristic as can be.  It keeps tabs on everything that goes on on other planets, including Earth.  My regular Amazon Echo smart speaker can allow me to listen to all the music and radio stations on Earth.  My Amazon Echo Show screen allows me to do that, and watch TV on Amazon Prime Video and IMDB TV as well.  My Amazon Fire Smart TV is the same thing, only in magnified form.

I also have a facial hair trimmer, but I would leave that on Earth.  My mom used to force me to shave every morning before I went to school.  She didn’t want me to look older than I actually was.  However, my skin is very sensitive now, and I can grow as full a beard as ever.  On this new planet, it will seem like it’s November forever.  My point is that looks aren’t everything.  Mr. Rogers and Martin Luther King once said that it is nothing specifically immaterial that should drive you to like a person.  Rather, it is the content of their character.

History · Writing

The Mural of Unusual Size

photo courtesy of Angela Michaelina

Everyday when I wake up, the first thing I see when open the curtains of my balcony door, I see a certain mural. This mural is very hard to miss because it takes up the side of three steel-framed, yellow brick buildings, the primary building being five-and-half stories tall. This piece of art is the primary reason why I am glad to have apartment on the side of the building that is located. I know that one of my neighbors is of the opinion that a child designed this, but judging by that comment, I realize that he doesn’t have much knowledge about the technical aspect of art. Everybody’s a critic.

Because of the mural’s enormous scale, the title of the mural is “The Mural of Unusual Size.” This piece was designed and painted in 2017 by HENSE, an artist from Atlanta, Georgia and was part of a project to revitalize blighted properties in the city. The painting required 170 gallons of paint to complete. While I was glad to learn this information, I wanted to learn a bit more, as I’ve never been pleased with answers on a superficial level. In particular, I wanted to learn a bit more about the building.

I knew that the buildings were currently occupied by an audio-visual consultant and an automotive repair garage, but I didn’t know anything about the building’s past. Someone had told me that it was once an old factory, but they did not elaborate beyond that. And for all I knew, what they told me was incorrect. I tried searching for the desired answers online, but I only got articles about the creation of the mural. I knew that someone had the answers. So decided to contact the artist—maybe someone had told him of the site’s history when he took on that job. I sent him an e-mail through the contact form on his site. A couple of days later, I thought of someone else who might be more helpful: the Washington County Historical Society. So I sent them an e-mail, too.

While I still have not heard back from HENSE, the office admin of the historical society suggested that I should check the Maryland Historical Trust’s website. Turns out that that was an excellent piece of advice. Using Medusa’s, their online database, map tool, I found an application from when the building applied for historical status.  I had learned that the building was once the site of D.A. Stickell & Sons Feed Manufacturing. This company was both a flour and feed producer. The building was constructed in 1947 and continued to operate until some point in the 1950s. Through this information, I was able to locate some of the burlap sacks that they used through online antiques dealers:

photo courtesy of powerballteresa

photo courtesy of lowerferryflair

photo courtesy of fordnut88

But to dig even deeper and farther back, another mill occupied the location of D.A. Stickell & Sons prior to its existence. According to the application, the site was once the place for the Anchor Milling Company. Reportedly, one of the old warehouses that stands there belonged to them and is dated as 1919. I cannot find much information about this particular company. I do come across information about an Anchor Milling Company that had once existed in Missouri, but I cannot figure out if this is the same company. What makes determining this more confusing is that I found information about a family that lives in Miller County, the site of the Missouri Anchor Milling Company, who originally lived in Hagerstown, Maryland prior to immigrating from Switzerland, and that people in this very same family worked for the mill in Missouri. I cannot figure out if the connection to Hagerstown is a mere coincidence or not. And what muddies the waters even more is that there was an Anchor Milling Company in Ohio at some point, too. Was that one in any shape or form connected to the other Anchor Milling Companies? Prior to starting this post, I thought I had my dots connected, but a second look has made me realize otherwise. I suppose asking the Miller County Historical Society could clarify matters.

There is even something more baffling that I have come across. I had found an ad for D.A. Stickell & Sons, but it is filed as being from 1915 in the digital library of WHILBR, Western Maryland’s Historical Library. I had originally not noticed that date, and assumed it was from the time frame that was reported on the aforementioned application. But looking a bit more closely at the artwork and typefaces, I highly doubt that the ad was from the 1940s or 1950s and that the year it is filed under is correct. (Printed ad artwork and typefaces throughout history is another subject that would make for an interesting post, but that is aside my overall point.) While the location has a different building number than what the building currently has and was filed as having in the historical status application, I am sure this is for the same buildings. Either the number in the ad is a typographical error or the buildings had a different (but similar) number at that time. I am certain that this ad is for the same location as the cross street that is mentioned is the same one that is where the mural is located. Perhaps these were entirely different structures that had been demolished at one point. But even if that were the case, why does the information in Medusa allude to the Anchor Milling Company being there at that time? For that matter, 1915 predates the existence of the Anchor Milling Company existing in Hagerstown by four years. Did the Anchor Milling Company buy D.A. Stickell & Sons and the former name was kept?

While I am a bit flustered that my question has yet to fully be answered like I thought it was (and perhaps it never will be), the buildings are a bit less of a mystery. Ironically, this newly acquired information does not paint a clearer picture of the artwork itself, and the mystery is as tangled as the artwork itself.

Poetry · Writing

There’s So Much About You I’ll Never Know

by Kristin

CONTENT WARNING: This poem references domestic abuse, family trauma, suicide, and mental health, and may be triggering for some readers.

There’s so much about you that I’ll never know
I inherited your bloodline and self-contempt
Yet I have so little information on who you really were

I remember your gregarious moods, getting the rest of us to laugh uncontrollably
I remember your jazz album collection, from Ella Fitzgerald to Buddy Rich
I remember your immersion in wine culture, the small vineyard and air-conditioned cellar

But most of all I remember the terror, violence and humiliation 
You unleashed on your wife and two small daughters
Time has given me perspective, but back then
I despised you, hatred consuming the young body I inhabited

When Mom broke the news that your dead body had been found
I cried tears for Mom, so in her sobbing, she wouldn’t feel alone
But I was glad to see you go

Your memorial service embarrassed me,
With your friends and colleagues gushing
What a good man you were.
I thanked them politely, thinking “If they only knew…”

1978, the year you gave up on life, was a long time ago
And now my hazy memories feel incomplete
There’s so much about you I’ll never know.

Written by Kristin

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse or suicidal ideation, please check out these resources:

National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

Crisis Connections (WA, King County): 866-427-4747


Where love leads


Love for the way it feels when your love is shared. 

Love gives us all possibilities  

Love is to choose our better instinct 

Writing stimulates the imagination  

Unconsciousness so I can dream about what I don’t know 

Love is to choose one’s better instinct 

My car brings me joy and comfort 

All the live rings because they are alive in ys. 

Love is to choose our better instinct 

My cellphone is how I interact with the world. 

Love brings our focus to one another’s dignity  

Love is to choose our better instinct! 

Short Story


A short story by George Beavis.

From the author:

I have been trying, emphasis on trying, to write about my experiences in Vietnam in a way that I hoped would be more understandable to other people. I think, or hope, I have learned some ways to do that. 

If I have it has only been the result of each of my classmates and the way they have approached each of the tasks and the creativity each has shown plus the encouragement of Michael January, Samuel and the other CM people.

Without their encouragement I would have just left it hanging and not put the effort into it.  It is by no means a work of art, but I feel good that I rewrote it, reworked it and the ideas. The encouragement helped me to keep going on it and I feel very good about that. Who cares about the story. Not me. I do care that I was encouraged and “finished” it!!!!


by George Beavis

Watching the news and the camera panned over a dead body covered by a tarp. A foot with a brand new boot sticking out. 

I remember my laces were being pulled tight and wrapped around my ankle twice and knotted. 

After that, we knocked about for a while and then went for a walk. I got pretty wet and muddy. By night time we were back where we started. I was taken off the foot and set on the ground. That didn’t always happen. Sometimes we were so tired we were never taken off and set on the floor. 

Days marched by like that in an endless line until one day when we were out walking and a big explosion knocked us down. 

I woke up in a dark closet. When the door was left open I could look around. My partner, who I considered “Left” wasn’t near me. It got dark again and I was scared. After a while, my eyes began to adjust to the dark in the closet. I looked around and saw other boots lined up. Some singles. Some pairs. 

I just sat there all day for maybe months, so I was able to study the other boots even in the darkish light in the closet. Some were brand new and never really got a chance to even have their soles broken in. Some were badly worn, their toes all scuffed and scared, with their soles worn thin. 

A few boots away was a pair that were all spit-shined and regulation-like. Probably never worked a day in his life, you know the type. I bet he was fragged. 

Mostly we just sat in here and no one paid any attention to us like we had outlived our usefulness. One time someone came and got one of the singles, threw it in the trash then slammed the door. 


I hated that locker. It gave me the willies. If I saw a boot belonging to someone I knew had died, I would throw it out. I didn’t throw out pairs ‘cause it seemed a shame when there was still life in them. When I got ready to rotate back to the states I snagged a pair that looked pretty new and stuffed them in my bag. 

I didn’t try them on until I got back home. I thought they might be good for camping or hiking. I wasn’t trying to be a poser or anything. When I put them on I knew I had made a bad mistake. All the lumps and bumps of the original owner’s feet were still there on the inside. Just walking around in them they reminded me with every step that they weren’t mine. I took them off and set them in the garage for a few years. Every time I saw them they would remind me of that bloody closet and all the dead boots. I eventually threw them out. They were just like an albatross hung around a sailor’s neck to punish.


Hummingbird Tongues

by Neysa Peterson
March 9, 2022

Beating wings thrum
Hummingbird tongue
Slender needle
Sipping nectar

Simply nourishing
Watching with wonder
Senses soothed
Spirit renewed

Image clings
When disquiet rings
Solace sought again
Where do I begin

With beating wings
Watching with wonder  
Hummingbird tongues

Short Story · Writing


A Short Story by George Beavis, PWA Participant Artist & Veteran

Truth and Lies are both secrets.

The heat makes the black sticky stuff in the streets into little bubbles that I can pop with my finger. Sometimes the black stuff sticks to my finger. I wipe it on the grass or my pants. I was helpin’ my daddy fix our car. 

Daddy says it is a “Model A.” I like watching him work on our car. I know what a letter “A” looks like, but the car doesn’t look like that. It is black like the sticky stuff. 

I know my colors now.

It has a crank in front just like in the cartoons. 

Our car is the only one on my block that has a crank. Daddy says we don’t need the crank anymore because he added a battery. Not sure what that is, but Daddy showed it to me. It is under some boards by the front seat. Daddy lets me lift up the boards when we are drivin’ so I can watch the road go by. It is fun to kneel on the floor in front of the seat an look at the road. In the cartoons, people stick their feet down the hole to make the car stop, but their feet smoke an burn up. Daddy said never to do that. 

He showed me once how he could start it usin’ the crank, but he said he was afraid it would break his arm. I am really lucky because nobody else has a car like that or a Daddy that can do that.

I like to ride with Daddy in the car. He lets me stand on the seat next to him. If we have to stop suddenly, he reaches out with his arm to keep me from fallin’. I like that. 

He is all warm and smells like dirt an pipe tobacco. He smells good.

When we work on the car, Daddy lets me hold our hammer and other tools. He works on our car a lot when he is home. I can see the engine. Daddy tells me the names of all the parts. 

The “fuel filter” is the most fun to look at. It is glass an has liquid in it. Daddy said it was “gas.” If I climb up, I can see it. It is yellow, sort’a. 

I like to sit next to Daddy on the floor in the kitchen too. He smears black stuff on his boots an rubs it with a cloth until it is shiny. He spits on his shoe! I am not allowed to spit! But Daddy can. He said it was for work so his boots will be shiny.

While we were sittin’ on the floor, I could see a pretty red bottle. Daddy took one of his pencils out of his pocket an drew a very tiny line on the bottle an said “secret,” puttin’ his finger to his lips. It made me feel like a special big kid ‘cause Daddy told me a secret. 

Daddy had never told me a secret before.

I was sittin’ on the kitchen floor the next day when Mommy was gettin’ the red bottle out. I said “secret” an pointed to the line on the bottle. I was so proud to know a secret. I had never known a secret before. Mommy an Daddy talked about secrets sometimes but I never knew one.

Mommy laughed an said, “So your father thinks he is clever.” She filled the bottle with water so it was back even with the line. Mom laughs about a lot of things I don’t understand. They weren’t funny like in the cartoons.

It made me feel funny. I don’t know if Mommy is laughin’ at me or Daddy or what? 


We have a game where there is a plastic pot on a swivel. Daddy told me about swivels and showed me how they work. Daddy told me the idea is for each person to put a bean in the pot until the pot was full. The pot is black like our car.

Each bean I added makes the pot want to tip over an dump everythin’ out. I liked playin’ the game with Daddy, but Mommy never has time to play, even durin’ the day. 

Daddy helped me know where I could put my bean so that I wouldn’t make the pot tip over an dump everythin’ out. My hands were small an shaky, so it was hard for me. 

When the pot tips over you yell “you spilled the beans.” “Spilling the beans” means you lost the game. 

Most of the time Daddy has to go to work an isn’t home. I can walk up to the mailbox to meet Daddy when he is comin’ home… if Mommy says it is ok. 

The mailbox is across from my daddy’s bus stop. I can’t leave the block or cross the big street to the bus stop because I am too small,  but I can go to the mailbox. When I start school, I can walk by myself off the block to go school, but right now I can’t.

When Daddy walks to the store I go with him an he lets me cross the big street if I hold his hand. I always like to hold Daddy’s hand even though I am sort’a a big boy. I like it. His hands are big an nice.

Tom comes by my house durin’ the day. He doesn’t like to play any games like Daddy does. He likes to talk with Mommy. 

Sometimes Mommy gives me “workbooks” an a fat pencil to “keep me busy.” Mommy said I can’t have a pencil like Daddy’s skinny pencil until I am older, but I don’t know when that will be. 

I like the ones in the workbook where you are a mouse, an you try to find the cheese without crossin’ the lines. It is called a “puzzle.” Mommy likes for me to do a lot of work in the books. I sit on the floor where Daddy an I sit when we are makin’ his boots shiny. They have dot-to-dot things too, but I don’t always know the next right order to connect them. 

Tom drives a yellow truck for work. It has all kinds of doors on it. I like to open all the doors an see what is inside. Some have wires of different colors. Some have other things that I don’t know yet. I liked to look through them just to see. Some wires are black. Some are green. Red wires too. It is excitin’ to see all the things in the truck cupboards. The truck is brand new an doesn’t have a crank at all.

Tom told me if I was a good boy that I could go outside an spend as much time as I wanted lookin’ at the things behind the doors in the back of his truck. The doors each had a lock on it, but Tom unlocked them all before he went inside my house.

Tom came over to my house almost every day while Daddy was at work an I could play in his truck. Sometimes if I tried to go back into the house, the door was locked. 

One time Tom forgot to open all the little doors, so I went back into the house. The front door wasn’t locked that time, so I went in. I couldn’t find them until I went in Mommy’s room.

Mommy got really upset and yelled at me. She said to go outside. Tom left with his truck.

I don’t remember what I had said to Daddy. 

Daddy an Mommy started yellin’. It seemed like I had done somethin’ wrong. Daddy left the house an drove away.

Mommy said I had “spilled the beans,” she is very upset with me an yellin’ at me an cryin’. I hadn’t been playin’ that game so I couldn’t see how that could be. I thought maybe she wanted to play it, so I ran an got it out an set it up. Mommy kicked the game!

Mommy just kept cryin’ an repeatin’ somethin’ about “spilling the beans” an it bein’ my fault Daddy had left.

The next thing I remember was starin’ at the game. I was very confused.

I piled beans up until they dumped over. I said, “I spilled the beans.”

I piled beans up again part way an dumped them over, sayin’, “I spilled the beans.” 

Again I piled beans up an dumped them over, sayin’, “I spilled the beans.” 

I did that again an again. All I could see was the game. I knew I had done somethin’ very very wrong to do with the game an Mommy an Daddy. I couldn’t see anything except the game or hear anything except Mommy saying, “It’s your fault. You spilled the beans.”

I kept doin’ it anyway still sayin’, “I spilled the beans” over and over.

Mommy is layin’ on the bed cryin’, kickin’ her feet, and yellin’ at me to shut up. I just kept heapin’ the beans up until they spilled an sayin’, “I spilled the beans.” 

Maybe she is angry because I lost the game, but no one is even playin’ with me.

Mommy came in an’ grabbed the game and threw it in the trash. 

I don’t understand.

Mommy is really mad at me. She says it is all my fault, but I don’t know what is my fault.

Mommy said Daddy left. An’ Mommy says that I have to go find him. She screams not to come home until I find him. The last thing I remember before leavin’ the house was Mommy layin’ face down on the bed an cryin’.

I walk up an’ down the block but didn’t see Daddy. I’m not allowed to go past the corner by myself. Daddy says I am too young an not in school yet like the big boys. I keep goin’ anyway because Mom said. 

I walk to the grocery store. I have walked there with Mom before, an up to the liquor store. I have walked there with Mom before too. I think I know which way Daddy’s bus goes to work, so I start that way. I don’t know what Daddy’s work looks like. 

I don’t know where I am or how to get home anymore. I have never been this far by myself. I would feel like a big boy, but I can’t stop cryin’, and I don’t know how to find Daddy. I wish I could go home, but I don’t know where home is, an Mom said not to come home until I found Daddy.

I stand still cryin’. A stranger tries to talk to me, but Daddy said never talk to strangers, so I run.

I don’t know which way to go because I don’t know where I am. 

I don’t know where the grocery store is anymore, or the liquor store, or even the mailbox. 

I start walkin’, but I don’t know where I am goin’.