Back Bent

The hoodoo woman drew my star map
like she was leaving a breadcrumb trail –
Hanzel and Gretel style directions for me
to see how every line between me
and you
was a unique scar
stretched across the space between an
Aquarius sun
and Scorpio’s moon.

I could pinpoint the exact moment
your touch picked me up,
lifted me from cardboard lost and found box
and placed me,
delicate dried flower,
upside down on your bedroom wall.

I think two becomes one is bullshit.
I think heart break and love go hand in hand
and I could be in critical condition –
ICU bed and a rhythmic beat background noise,
and you’d never switch up the technique –
hands on my wrists,
face in the pillow,
back bent,
mouth so far away
I cannot feel your breath,
way of loving me.


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for their prompt!

Star Sketch

I have sketched the stars
into the backs of my eyelids.
I have lain there, captured in the darkness –
one minute, hours, forever.
I have allowed the light to break softly,
little dust mote soldiers
marching under the weight of my faith,
carrying more lost images –

of you holding me in your arms in the shower,
blood running underneath our feet
and down the drain…
your fingers gently washing my hair.

I have sketched the stars
out of that moment
and when I need to remember that you love me,
I close my eyes
and bring it back.


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for the prompt.

Martyr May I

Her mouth opens, tight bow unraveling
and I see gold coins pouring between her teeth –
noisy offering that clangs and bounces off the peeled linoleum of my kitchen floor.
I watch them spin on thin-edged devotion,
skid to a halt at my feet.

I am ritual starved –
the ram in the temple.
Madonna eyes are following my every move.
They’re willing me to fold,
bend down and confess
as fingers scrabble for all the pieces,
umbilical cord phrases,
that make my stomachache
and my lips disappear against my teeth.

I melt back,
compel my genes to surrender,
kneel before the queen,
imitate the devout fetish that ministry has bludgeoned into my little orphan skull.

Her mouth closes,
and I will it open.
I will the words to bulldoze out between her teeth.
I will the light to glimmer across every golden turn of phrase
so I can stuff them in my pockets,
bury them in my uterine wall,
give birth to a surrogate god
who will light me up like a nuclear bomb…
who will sacrifice me before her eyes
and make me a martyr worthy.

 

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

Forgiveness

I could walk across broken glass,
slice the red river Nile from heel to toe
and I’d apologize for leaving behind
bloody footprints on your hardwood floors.

I am all unnecessary guilt
and ritualistic fear.
I’ve been training for this moment my entire life.

I discovered my grandmother’s footprints.
I followed them through the house,
down the leftover fragments of sidewalk.
I waited in her long-gone shadow
for the crosswalk to shine silent permission.

I carried the sound of her voice on the tip of my thumb,
rubbed my finger across it,
like the needle point on her Singer sewing machine,
watched the blood bubble up.
perfect village gazing ball.

I saw her heart plucked from her chest,
watched her fade out –
a burnt wick at the end of a candle.
She didn’t even raise an eyebrow,
bat a lash.
They dropped her heart to the floor
and she asked their forgiveness for making such a mess.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for their prompt.

Fed

You are hungry, carnivorous talons
twisting into the small spot
here, at the base of my spine –
a nerve block dressed up like friend.

And I am gentle, swaying carcass.
I am lust’s skirt slit up the thigh.
I am voodoo hip bones
tattooed illustrations of omens to come.
I am perched on the edge of your tongue,
slumped against the sharp edge of your beak.
I am one casual wipe with strong hands
across your lips,
a stain along your cheeks.

I am aching feathers,
desire’s flesh.
I am devoured,
black and blue.
I am empty body.
I am future prey
for soaring covetous love.
I am surrounded.

And you
are circling vulture.
And you
are yearning hunter.
And you
consume,
destroy,
feed.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for the prompt.

You Are Famous to Me

I was seventeen when the distance between
that moment and tomorrow
became too far for half steps.
The conveyor belt at the grocery store was a grey tongue,
an entire bottle of Advil turning on its side.
I drove until it was empty.
Until a man who’d made me his teenage fantasy
wanted to test himself of the ropes of heroism.
Until I’d learned that milk and charcoal
both taste the same kind of bad when someone is holding your cheeks,
thumbs pressed against your teeth,
pouring it down your throat –
an unwilling trade
for waking up in a strange room with
an anorexic teenage girl –

who was half my size,
with big brown eyes and the softest hair.
She wanted to be a model,
to be famous –

who pulled me off the floor and onto her bed,
let my head lay against her chest,
let me cry dark stains into her nightshirt…

And I have never, in all these years, been held like that twelve-year-old, anorexic, black girl held me that night.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

 

Blood Orange Grove

I watched my grandmother tiptoe around her marriage
like she was navigating a field of landmines.
I thought she was brave.
I thought, here was a woman of strength,
Resilience,
empathy,
forgiveness.

I never realized I was watching her fade out.
One great white light,
a cloud of dust after a meteor falls,
and an empty crater left in her place.

I’m sitting up in that eerie half night.
I’m stumbling through the house
and my nightgown is catching on my knees.
I should be asleep.
I should be tucked, back against your chest,
arm under my head,
wrapped tight in my bed.

But instead I’m squeezing a blood orange into the carpet.
I’m leaving a trail of bright red spots on the pale fibers.
I want you to see the path that I walk.
and I’m planting orange seeds above all your landmines.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for the prompt.

The Witch

I used to carry a witch in my womb –
a tiny sorceress who plucked daisies from my ovaries
and scratched spells in the spongy flesh walls.
She used to sing incantations that laid a welcome mat for you.
She used to.

I’m not sure when she broke free –
somewhere between the doctor removing procreation’s highways
and you pushing my knees apart as I howled a funeral chorus.

I hide her now between my thighs,
tucked tight to my body.
And every time you breathe near her,
you light the flames at her stake
and she screams.
And she screams.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

Float

I felt the shift as a rope frays and breaks.
I floated up,
off the couch –
a satellite with flashing, shiny lights
blinking on and off.
I was one whole, great woman,
large as a hot air balloon.
I drank in wild air,
felt my lungs expand and push against my ribs.
I held my breath
and stared back down at you –
tiny you.
Alone, you.
I waited for my heart to regress.
I waited for the pain to bite behind my teeth,
catch the air in my throat,
burst through my chest,
but it never came
and I breathed freely.
I watched the sunrise over the curve of the world
and even in morning’s newest light
you were still you,
and I was more.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you to MindLoveMisery for your prompt.

Trauma Doesn’t Dress in Neon

Trauma doesn’t dress in neon.
It doesn’t light up bright as a sunrise
and stand screeching with a megaphone in the street.
Trauma asks for a reservation,
parks at the cradle base of your skull,
and traces soft fingertips across the love lines on your palm.
Trauma is the sound of a drill skidding as a screw strips.
It is a soapy aftertaste in your mouth.
It is the silver halo of light from a TV as your child clings to your neck in their sleep.
It hovers,
bumble bee drone
in your ear.
Trauma is a lace skirt getting caught on every cabinet knob in the house
and dragging you to a halt.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020


Thank you MindLoveMisery for your prompt.