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

© 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,

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


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.


I have been fired in an oven,
crafted by negligent hands.
I’ve been set on the edge of the mantle,
poised as if my one dangling foot was ready to leap,
pirouette across the floor and stretch –
long limbed pale dance in the mirror.

I am everything at once,
all hands and lips and breath
tracing the soft curves and flat planes.

I am alone,
back arched into the mattress,
searching for a wind chime between my thighs,
rubbing a thumb across the tangle of nerve wire
until the edge of the vase fills, opens,

And sings, and sings, and sings.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

I Could

I could take my inhibitions,
push them under my tongue as hard, sweet candy.
I could feel the lump of my morals crack and melt across my lips,
glide down my throat as a prayer.
I could close my eyes and let my lashes be a thousand little hands,
soft against my cheek.
I could see you as an intermittent shadow
blinking through the luminescence behind my lids.
I could pull the sheet from my bed and let it drape bare across me,
a whisper of your weight.
I could stencil in your hands on the canvas of my skin,
at my throat, my thigh, the soft inside of my hip.
I could pull myself from this little comfort zone I’ve made
and fall sodden to my knees before you.
I could.
I could.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

Running Water

Our daughter collects boxes.
Big boxes.
Small boxes.
Boxes with purple lids that pop off
or snap open on old brass hinges.
Boxes with black velvet on the sides
and pale blonde ribbons around the top.
Boxes with soft cotton inside
and holes pierced through the lids.
Boxes in pieces,
scattered like cardboard confetti
and poking through the carpet into my toes.

She isn’t here today,
so I’m searching her room for a very specific box.
I’m on my hands and knees
pulling them out from the darkness under her bed.
I’m laying them out on the floor
where I can slip in a single toe,
just to see if I fit.

I need a box I can get inside of.
Something as easy to slip into as the waves at the ocean.
I have asked you to carry me,
to pick me up, hold me close,
but you might as well be trying to embrace running water.
You’re holding me in a sieve and I’m clinging to the sides.
I am too much for your hands.
The carpet is soaked around your feet,
it squishes between your toes
and I see a look of disgust pass over your face.
I could turn down the volume.
I could twist the tap and pull myself back until I’m only a few little drops
and then you could catch me in your hands like you used to do.
You could hold me against your palms
and I’d fit.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

Thank you to MindLoveMisery for their prompt.


I have an informal set of virtues.
I turn them inside out and wash resilient grass stains from the knees.
I wring them in my hands until they sing beautiful girl songs
and I hang them wet and backwards from the line by my window.
I attach them to the wind with a tack and I lay beneath them,
let the water drip along the downfall of my left cheekbone,
let the smell of pressed funeral flowers and beard oil peel back the smile from my lips.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

Another thanks to MindLoveMisery for their prompt.

Burn Out

My mind is fragile live wires
exploding and raining sparks
in pretty golden cartwheels
that crash onto the floor
and scatter as sugar
underneath the bed.

And here
I am…
just pulling the covers up to my chin
and letting the lights burn out.

© Laura A. Lord, 2020

Thank you to MindLoveMisery for their prompt.