15 Minutes

This was probably one of the hardest prompts I’ve ever had to do. The prompt asked for us to time ourselves for 15 minutes and write down every memory we could think of. The idea was to put ourselves in the shoes of the Hawaiian civilians who thought they only had 15 minutes left before the missile hit. What would we remember from our lives in 15 minutes?

I can honestly say I started out writing like complete sentences, but towards the end as I watched the clock tick down beside me I felt very panicked. There was no way I could get it all out. I literally started to just think of names, those people’s faces flashing in my mind. I couldn’t even place the memories, just that it was that person. I didn’t even realize I was crying while writing most of this until the end. If you have a chance to participate in this, please do. You can find the prompt here at The Beacon.


I had written “I love you” on an orange Easter egg and asked Mak to go find the orange egg in the fridge. There were too many orange ones and it took him forever to find it. It was the first time I’d told him I loved him.
When they finally handed me Dallas after her birth when they’d finally gotten her breathing straight.
I counted her fingers and rubbed her head.
She had a green and white and red knitted Christmas hat and dark hair.
When they laid Dude on my belly after birth and he was purple and quiet.
When he raised his head and looked around in the bath at the hospital.
When I held Tommy after my c-section and I was still shaking so hard I thought I would drop him
When Mak’s dad died and I saw him cry
When the hospice nurse told us my grandfather was dying and my dad cried
When we buried my grandfather and a woman gave me an old picture of his grandparents
When we buried my grandmother
I had to wash in the sink at the state park and my hair was bleached blond and I walked to her funeral
Dallas’ little blue dress that matched her eyes
My first date with Mak we met at Food Lion and got steaks
When I walked down the aisle to Papa Roach’s Not Strong Enough and could hear my dad crying
I danced with Mak at our wedding
I danced with my brother at my wedding and cried
When my brother came home from Afghanistan and I saw him get off the plane
When my dad put me on the school bus and he had a red truck and white shorts
Laying in the grass with Gary late into the morning and talking and smoking cigarettes
My dad making jokes when I was in labor with Dude
When Gary and I got back together and made love in the shower
Mak and I making love on the porch before he left for California
Mak making love to me for the first time after my surgery
When I miscarried at the hospital and Mak couldn’t get up from his chair
Giving birth to the twins
Holding baby girl before we left the hospital
Seeing Gloria in the hospital holding Tommy
Letting Uncle Eddie meet Tommy in the nursing home – he wore a white shirt and was sitting in the common room
Uncle Eddie taking Dallas to church on Sundays
Wrestling with Dude
Dallas and Harley in their Easter dresses
Mak and Dude in the window looking outside
Daddy and I at the flea market when I met a guy off some online site and he was teasing me about him
Meeting a guy named Creed online and thinking I was in love
Riding rollercoasters with Mak until we had headaches
Swimming with Mak when I was pregnant with the twins at the hotel
Walking away from my grandfather at the nursing home for the last time, he had on a white shirt and blue plaid pj pants
Eating peach ice cream with my Poppop and his Yorkie in the car
Sleeping in the bed with Shelby
Letting Dude sleep in our bed when Mak worked nights
Getting my ears pierced with mom – Justin teased her and said she was too old for two holes in her ears
Going dancing with Justin and laughing while he pulled over to pee on the wall of a bank
Hugging my brother when he left for the military
Seeing Matt in the casket
Daddy taking silly pictures with me before graduation
Mommom’s chocolate fudge and potato candy
Playing in my grandparent’s basement
Sitting on my grandmother’s bed late at night and talking
Mommon in her red recliner
The smell of my dad’s hands when he smoked
The way Mak smells when he gets back from a bike ride
The feel of Mak’s long hair
Dallas’ freckles
Tommy’s dimples
Tommy’s dark eyes
Dude’s eyes – just like mine
White Shoulders
Dude’s smile
Dallas’ birthmark
Tommy saying I’m gonna boop it
The day Mak adopted Dallas and Dude
Mak
Showering with Mak
Lying in his arms after sex
Yeah you’re cool and all
Mak
Mak

Lightbulb

Sometime, in the damp, dusky hours before dawn
you laid your thick fingered hand on the glass
and watched your breath collect in little blossoms of clouds.
You traced around the wings of a long-dead, summer fly
trapped between the screen and the door,
and with a swipe of your palm
you vanquished the sky-scape you had created
and wiped your wet hands on your flannel shirt.

Compulsion led you to doing and undoing –
each little black button a snapshot of your mutation.
In and out, in and out.
Your brain building the city it would roam today
and each slip of your heavy fingers was a head-on collision, right into the wall

and it left you –
BOOM –
standing there at the crossroads of
Memory and Language.
Your tongue filling your mouth,
belting out a lonely tune
against the back of your teeth.
Your mind a candle in a parade –
lit and bright,
flickering and fading,
gasping at the air as the winter wind
pushed and shoved
and swept you up off your feet.

I wanted to safeguard your flame,
to carry you in your disease –
like knowing the name would make speaking it easier.
Like if you knew the date of today
or the words on your cereal box
or who the man in the bathroom mirror was staring back at you,
that you’d suddenly evolve
from candle to lightbulb.
You’d burn brighter,
steadier
and we could just flip you on
whenever we wanted you back.

© Laura A. Lord, 2018


Written in response to the prompts at The Beacon and Mindlovemisery’sMenagerie.

Blue Bird

I’m a little blue bird
stowed in a jar,
and someone has left me
to tick away at the holes in the lid –
stuck in the limbo between
top shelf and dust filled corners.

I think they were expecting a transition –
pig pink worm to butterfly,
but I’m the loose ligament
of a buzzard’s broken wing
and I’m skip hopping my ugly
back and forth in the mirrored glass.

I need a little less accountability here
and a little more darkness.
Close my eyes.
I’m a little blue bird
and I don’t need the daylight
that brightens the sharp edges of my reflection.

I need my little glass jar,
the holes in my lid,
my ugly little dance,
and the darkness.

© Laura A. Lord, November 2017


Inspired by the wordle available at Mindlovemiserysmenagerie and the prompt at The Beacon.

Accidental Witch

The hallway was an obstacle course of moving boxes with flaps half open, plastic grocery bags stuffed full and overflowing, and random clouds of Fruit Loop scented vape clouds. I had to keep pulling the box in my arms to the side to be able to see ahead, counting doors as I went by, 33…35…37… My room, number 39, was at the very end of the hall. This third floor has weird sloping ceilings, as if this has been some old farmhouse attic that the college had hastily converted into dorm rooms without considering that most of us weren’t five-foot-nothing these days.

“Whoops! Here you go,” whoever I had just bumped into with my box said. I felt the box being pulled from my arms. A petite girl with blonde bangs that hung in her eyes smiled around the side of the box. “I’m Ann,” she said.

“Laura,” I smiled. “Thanks.”

Ann walked inside and I followed right behind her. She set the box down by the bed near the window. “Hillary and I got here last night, so we kinda already picked beds. Hope that’s okay.” She motioned to the girl lying on her bed, lime green earbuds poked out from under short layers of dark hair. She shot me a quick smile, closed her eyes, and went back to shaking her foot to the beat of whatever she was listening to.

“This is fine,” I said, plopping down on the bed.

“Where are you from?” Ann asked. Her bed was directly across from mine, and she’d sat down cross-legged on the end of it.

I bent down and opened the box. I had a whole carload to still bring up, but figured I’d get started on this one for the moment. The hall was complete chaos anyway. “Maryland,” I said, as I pulled through the box. Dreamcatcher…Salt Lamp…Tarot Cards…Candles…Bubble-wrapped packages of crystals… I had always loved the study of nature. My friend’s back home teased me about being a hippie. I think I was born in the wrong era. All of this natural healing stuff was pretty popular these days anyway. Everyone’s Instagram was loaded with herbal drink mixes that swore they would make you “Lose Ten Pounds in Five Days” or “Look Twelve Years Younger Overnight!” The bandwagon was pretty easy to hop onto.

“Wow!” Ann exclaimed. “Hillary and I are both Orange County locals. This is gonna be different for you, huh?”

I was pulling bubble wrap off some of my more delicate crystal pieces and lining them up on the window sill. I was glad they’d given me the bed by the window. “Yeah, it’s a whole different world out here,” I laughed. I pulled out a couple small candles.

“Oh, we can’t have candles in the rooms,” Ann frowned. She stood up and came over to my bed, perching on the edge. Her fingers ran down the side of the salt lamp, as she looked at all the items I was pulling out.

She laughed, “What are you? Some kinda witch?”

“Yes,” I said. My face suddenly flushed. Oh my God. Why did I say that? Ann’s laughter changed a bit. She raised an eyebrow and stood up. My brain was scrambling to figure out where to go with this.

“For real?” She asked.

I looked over and saw Hillary pop one of her earbuds out. She must have been halfway listening to our conversation.

I held a Jasper worry stone in my hand and was twirling it between my fingers nervously. “Well, like…yeah. But I’m not some…like…cook up children in my oven…kinda…witch.”

My face must have been twenty different shades of red. I brushed a strand of hair out of my face and looked up at Ann. She had backed up to her bed and was standing awkwardly next to it. She started fiddling with her bedcovers.

“So like…The Craft kinda witch?” She asked, a nervous laugh in her tone.

I laughed uncomfortably. “No. I just…I believe in natural healing. I’m not gonna curse anyone or anything…”

She laughed. “Guess I better not make you mad!”

Hillary was sitting up now. She raised an eyebrow in my direction and pointed to the crystals in the window. “No weird shit. Okay.” She ran a hand through her messy, short hair. “I don’t have time for weird shit.”

I raised my hands innocently. “No weird shit. I’m pretty quiet. I swear.”

She nodded her head, stuck her earbud back in, gave all my stuff a weird, appraising eye, and walked out of the room.

Ann finally sat down on her bed again. I put the candles back in the box and plugged in my salt lamp. It lit up with a warm, orange light.

“What’s that do?” Ann asked.

I touched it as it warmed up. “It holds the soul to my greatest enemy.”

The silence in the room was immediate and so solid I could barely move. When I turned and saw Ann’s face, I began giggling. Her eyes looked too large for her face.

“It was a joke.” I laughed. “It helps with allergies.”

A pillow flew across the small space and smacked into the side of my head, followed by Ann’s laughter.


The Prompt:

The best part about leaving your tiny, rural hometown is that no one at your new college knows who you are. You have moved all the way across the country and for once, you can be who ever you want. When you arrive on campus and finally find your dorm, your new roommates are already inside and unpacking. Your roommates immediately start asking you questions to get to know you. You end up telling an entire life story that isn’t yours. Write part of the story you tell your new roommates. Who are you when you get to make up your own personal experiences?

Please visit The Beacon at Chesapeake College for new prompts each Monday!

Leaving Never Never Land

I think I liked you best when I was at my worst.

Maybe it was sibling rivalry –
a natural need to one-up the other,
so that when the dawn rose on my shenanigans
you stopped at said,
I can do better.

I suppose you waited until I left Never Never Land,
waited until they shoved a gun into your hand,
waited until they shipped you to a desert
and made you a real man.

The clamor of change rang loud between us
with a twelve-hour long labor and the first cries from tiny purple lips,
with an attack on the road
and it was your birthday.
You called to tell me how their heads exploded
and I told you how she had learned to sit up.

Someone must have flicked the channel
from Family Matters to a random shuffle.
We never know what we are going to get.
These days, I’m about as exciting as raspberry jam on toast
and you are a firing squad of emotions –
random feelings sprayed against the wall
until something hits,
something sticks.

You are a rock opera –
a whole story singing out into the darkness
and I am a goldfish
with a three second memory
and a tiny bowl to call home.

I want to compose starlight for you.
I want to write a new script.
I want to show you the map and each step I took
because coming out of Never Never Land is an ugly thing
and you’re trapped in there,
in a never-ending war.

You’ve beaten me now.
Your better at tragedy than I ever was.

I think I liked you best when I was at my worst.

© Laura A. Lord, September 2017


Thank you to MindLoveMiserysMenagerie for their inspiration.

Noise Machine

I have never had the desire to be background music for anyone.
I have too strong of a desire to hit the high notes.
I want to captivate,
somehow,
in stunning silence.
I want to please
without ever having to open my lips.
I want your awestruck envy
pooling as heavy smoke
running parallel my little pink tongue.
I want your nerves lit,
fireworks spilling their guts in the night.
I want, I want, I want…

I tend to want much more than background noise.

© Laura A. Lord, Noise Machine, 2017


Thank you to Mind Love Misery’s Menagerie for their inspiration.

The Boy

The porcelain sink gurgles when the water splashes
and slips from the ends of my fingers
down the drain.

It has a drowsy drip
that echoes around this room
with its green wallpaper
and too bright pink roses peeling where they meet the ceiling.

There is a supple bend in the way you walk now,
as if someone has slipped in unnoticed
and upset the balance of your spine,
has stolen a single vertebrae
and left you unspooling out
vomiting the threads of all you were
across the yellowed tile of this bathroom floor.

The box they have brought to bury your son in
is too small and too white and
it shines so clean by the alter that I think you have not touched it.

I cannot walk down the aisle.
I cannot seem to leave this stall
and I stare at your white shoes with the little kitten heel
and the way your toes are pointed in at one another,
as if they were in conversation about the trip they must make –
down the aisle,
across the grass,
to the place where the green turf is rolled out
and the small mound of dirt is fermenting in the sun.

It is too bright today to bury a boy,
and so we will stay in this stall
and hide under the bright fluorescent lights.
We will stay here, where your shoes are all I can see
and where there is nothing more
than a drowsy drip in a porcelain sink
and roses peeling from the ceiling.

© Laura A. Lord, The Boy, 2016


The recent loss of that poor child in Florida has reminded me of a funeral I went to years ago. A different child, a different place, a whole different scenario of loss, but still…a loss.

Silverfish

I have perched on the edge of the heaving ocean’s waves –
a cliché of turbulent emotions raging in translucent spray.
It sends my mascara to running faster than any
fight or flight mechanism left in this old gray matter of mine.

I’ve got silverfish in my heart
and they’re eating at the yellow pages
that litter the floor
of my little castle keep.

I’m fumbling about in the rancid leftovers
of a fridge left behind.

Someone turned the power off on me
a few weeks ago,
but I never needed light for this sight –

I’m in my element here…

Here,

where the war stories of the day are bunched up under my head,
a lumpy, bumpy pillow that croons in my ear
every hour,
on the hour –
the breaking news.

And the breaking news is shattering news.
It’s crushing and devastating –
a shock to the system.
It’s the all new norm

and catastrophic in its mediocrity.

And I’m one wave crash from wiping out completely.
I’m a piss-poor balancing act on a boogie board –
I’m being eaten alive,

but the power’s off and so,
I can’t even see it happening.

© Laura A. Lord, Silverfish, 2016


I don’t claim to be anything more than I am – but there are people in this world who are especially attuned to humanity. They are effected in ways that may not make sense to others. These are the kinds of people who can read a news article and hurt so badly for humankind that they slide helplessly into a depression.

And in a world where there is so much hurting, it is easy to get lost. Bear with us, those of us who feel a little too deeply, who are thin-skinned, who wear our hearts out in the open like some big, bold flag…The world can be a little much for us some days.

Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for their prompt that helped inspire an aching mind today.

Unkissable

My voice has become a barely legible script
careening off the sharp-edged cliff of my cracked lips.

I am unkissable, darling.

I’ve a leak in my head I can’t fix
and each heavy drop is jerk back to reality.

I’m leaving a trail of fuel and waiting
for one massive match to light
and fall
and set me ablaze.

The triage nurse wants to elevate my psychosis status.
She wants to twist the knobs at the back of my brain
and soothe the offline error tone that’s seeping
between the drought of my mouth.

I feel similar to a three year old
being taught patience,
“No, you can’t have that yet.”
But I want it. I want it, darling.

I want it back.

© Laura A. Lord, “Unkissable,2016


I have been away for some time. Away from my blog…my friends…my writing. I am struggling in the silence right now, so please bear with me.

Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for the wordle prompt. I needed it.

Wishbone

There is a space right in the center of a woman’s breast,
stretching between her waiting arms,

that craves a baby. It aches to be filled with the
soft bounce of new flesh, the warmth of new life.

It was here that I felt the wishbone break and
suddenly Thanksgiving was over. Celebration was

tossed aside as I snapped apart and became empty.
The hollow of the marrow leaked a plague stain –

bright red between my thighs. The world was silent
noise, all scurrying and rushed, while whispers passed

and the nurse stepped back as I shattered on her table.
She said, “There is no heartbeat.” and I thought instantly

of a washing machine – the steady thwump, thwump, thwump,
and knew that someone had turned it off.

Someone had snapped the wishbone and I was all
hollow marrow and no heartbeat.

© Laura A. Lord, 2016


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Our Old House

Our old house had paneling on the walls –
slick with lacquer
that peeled up at the corners
in thin, wispy sheets,
the shedding skin of a home in
metamorphosis.

We hung photos on the walls
so that there were sparsely visible
little brown lines
framing each memory.

We turned that paneling into
our projected hippocampus,
because we could no longer rely
on our mind to remind us
from month to month
that we did, in fact,
love one another.

Our conversation was an impregnated thing
growing silently between us
with each reviling word that slipped
off loose tongues
and shattered in the light of our
cracked bedroom window.

We carried Medusa
hidden behind our teeth
so when we opened wide to let loose
a barrage of violent expressions,
we turned one another to stone –
frozen in the ache that can only be caused
by one who loves us enough
to speak the truth
and use “Sorry” as an empty balm.

And the day we became I,
when the old Thunderbird rolled in heavy dust clouds
down the driveway,
framed by Summer’s green tongued corn,
I never packed our pictures.
I left them hanging in their little square blocks
framed by the yellowed ash from
our woodstove, because

we needed reminding of who we had been
and I
only wanted to forget.

© Laura A. Lord, 2016


I think it is true, that it is only possible to hate and to hurt those that we truly love. In that spirit I was reminded today of the past. Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for the wordle prompt.

Photo by Annie Spratt, Unsplash

Design by Book Genesis