Break Through

They call it breakthrough bleeding –

There’s a leak in our bathroom sink
and I’ve had a fan blowing for two days,
as my aunt’s fancy kitchen towels brine in musty water.
It blows a brisk breeze on my bare calves –
my skirt billowing out around my ankles,
puddled on the floor,
with my berserk little hormones
borrowing into the floor under my feet.
My breasts hang low and drag across
the peel and stick tile
until my bloodshot eyes finally focus
and find the bleak little ray of light –
shining simply because it’s switched on.

They call it breakthrough bleeding
and I know it means I’ve lost you somewhere in this dilapidated bathroom.
You have scattered your cells across the pad floating,
there,
on the floor between my feet.

They call it breakthrough bleeding,
but it’s really a leak
and the floor’s gone soggy,
so one wrong move
and I’m tumbling down with you.
Break.
Through.

© Laura A. Lord, September 2018


Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for their prompt.

When You Chose Plastic Over Me

The first time I left you alone you were lying milk-drunk
against the soft flesh of my mother’s chest.
I had taken one of the samples from the changing table,
its color too bright yellow,
its compact shape too round,
its label screaming epitaphs,
“More DHA!”
“Better for brain development!”
“Easy on sensitive stomachs!”

I felt the pale mounds under my baggy, frumpy tee –
two sponges, ripe with nerves.
I showed my mother how to prepare the formula.
I thought briefly about staying.
I thought briefly about canceling my appointment.
I thought briefly about throwing my breast pump
and every failed attempt along with it
right out the broad bay window out front.
I focused instead on restraint.

And five hours later,
when my breasts roared with leonine intensity
and solitary arms ached to feel your weight in them,
I lifted you to me,
nuzzled you close,
and you turned

away.

© Laura A. Lord, September 2018


Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for their prompt.

Magic Trick

I learned early to avoid your gaze.
Survival comes from looking down at my feet,
amplifying every stretch of my ankle,
angling my body to the side,
as if the mere act of shifting myself for you
would give you enough space to ignore my existence.
I would agonize over my bangs,
drag them down to cover light, almond eyes.
Hiding in plain sight was always an arduous process.
I used my skin, an atypical artifice, as a Halloween mask
and abracadabra –
I disappeared.

© Laura A. Lord, September 2018


Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for their prompt.

Blink

The average human being blinks 28,800 times a day.
Supposedly, it’s more often than we need to.
Supposedly, we do it so much, because it provides a mental break.
Supposedly, blinking is how we refresh, reboot, rest.
But there you are.
You have implanted yourself in my offscreen movie.
You’ve folded into the material of my mind,
become part of my neurochemistry,
so that with every rapid blink of my eyes
I see your face.
I see your face,
streaked as an amaryllis.
I see your face,
like an escapist from your body,
peeking out from the broken beast.
My memory is an old black and white film
and I keep playing the sequence over and over,
like I’m pulling through the negatives of film I never want to see in print.
I drove to the gas station as if nothing untoward had happened,
as if you hadn’t changed the dynamic of my brain,
as if I the mud and blood and gas and debris stuck to my shoes was part of the actual design,
as if you weren’t in my sock and I wasn’t going to have to throw all my clothes away when I got home.
My car was on ‘E’
and when the mellow scent of gas hit me,
floating in a translucent cloud above the pump
I hit my knees
vomit sliding up my throat
and I blinked and blinked and blinked.

© Laura A. Lord, 2018


Thank you to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie for their prompt.

Selfie

I have new soap that makes my skin slick,
makes my hair smell like some trip through an orange grove
or a bottle of Pin-sol spilled under the bathroom sink.
I have new burgundy nail polish
and I have propped my foot up on the table
and stretched across myself to bend
and I have swept the small brush across each and every toe
except my smallest one
where the nail is all but gone.
I have applied some shimmery, toning lotion
in hurried, circular sweeps
under each dark-circled eye.
I am covering the void in my heart
with a Younique eye pallet.
I’m hiding my empty virtues
with a smoky eye and Snow White’s red apple lips,
because this is the generation of the selfie
and I am only 83 photos
and three filters away
from beautiful.

© Laura A. Lord, 2018


Thank you to MindLoveMiserysMenagerie for their prompt.

Make Me

I don’t need fragile smoke whispers
slipping past my eyelashes
and hanging as beads of sweat at the hollow of my neck.
No, darling,
I have forgotten who I am.
I need the molten mocha of your eyes
to burn through the butterflies of doubt.
I need pupils dilated,
heavy breathing,
sounds-like-someone’s-breaking-me
kinda burning.
I need you close as ivy, grasping on the legs of my pale skinned veranda.
I am a foreigner in my own skin
and I don’t need your swaying, sultry song.
I need you to scream my name into the back of my throat.
Make me remember
who I am.
Make me.

© Laura A. Lord, 2018


Thank you to Mindlovemiserysmenagerie for your prompt 🙂

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.