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.

Sacrifice

Stock Image: Dreamstime
Stock Image: Dreamstime

I do not think I like this legacy of mine.
Half my life we’ve been at war
and slaughter has become the adulthood I know.
I gave up my generation to fight this war
and we’re leaving behind new gods in our wake.
We’re all hailing at the Church of Trump
and we mistook the burning bush
for George W.
Because the deacons of our NRA society
have told me I need this gun to stay safe,
have shown me that worship
comes in small metal packages,
shot straight into the heart of the issue
of this up and coming,
numb generation.
Where we have exchanged
love thy neighbor
for love thy white neighbor,
thy Christian neighbor,
thy middle-aged, gun toting,
conservative neighbor.
This is a land where we can preach
all life is sacred
and then quote the second amendment
all in the same breath.

I do not think I like this new god.
If I have to have one,
served at every meal,
shoved down my throat
at every impasse of my morals
with a side of the cherry-picked lines
from that book…
I think I like your angry god.
I think I like his old testament self –
where he turned a woman to salt
for her uncontrollable urge to look back
at the city that screamed like babes.
I want his desperate need for
constant sacrifice,
because we’re already doing it.
We’re good at it.
Eventually he might even be appeased.
I want that angry god to step in
say enough, is enough
and put his finger right on the heart of the issue
of every Obama is Coming for Your Guns Commercial
that says we need more guns, more guns, more guns…
More guns to stay safe from school shooters
who blow away my children’s generation.
More guns to protect ourselves from black people,
yellow people,
brown people,
who want our jobs,
to sell us drugs,
to steal our things,
to hurt us.
More guns to safeguard our god
from their god.
Because killing in the name of ours is moral
and killing in the name of theirs
is terrorism.
Because at the end of the day
that god is a loving god
with an affinity for combat grade
automatic weapons
and a righteous cause…
I pray for your angry god.
In Jesus name,
Amen.

© Laura A. Lord, 2015

Queen Boudica – Roman Butt Kicker

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You know what sucks about history? You tend to only get one side of the story. In Boudica’s case, the side you get is the Roman’s. Early British literature was non-existent at best, but the Romans were happily cataloging everything. Which means this badass woman’s story is probably a little toned down from how it actually went down. I’d like to think she scared the toga right off of the Roman emperor’s pale backside, but it’s doubtful I’ll find a quote to back that up.

Boudica didn’t start out badass. She started out pretty normal. Of course, I’m sure she was born with the necessary qualities to be badass, but she simply hadn’t had a reason to show that side of herself yet. She married and had children and took the woman’s role of basically letting her husband run the kingdom while she popped out heirs.

Oh, if only for a rise of feminism in AD 60.

Boudica was probably of royal decent, though it’s been argued. I’d imagine a king wouldn’t exactly go picking some commoner to breed with. Unless he was Henry VIII, and then all the rules don’t really apply anyway.

She was tall and described as possessing  “greater intelligence than often belongs to women”. Her red hair fell to her waist, she wore a giant golden torc around her neck and she was the proud owner of an intense death stare. This woman probably invented the Italian evil eye.

Though her husband was king, the Romans ruled. They had this wonderful practice of letting kings continue to rule under them. It wasn’t a stupid strategy. If the Romans had tried to spread their forces out across all their conquered land they’d have fallen much, much sooner. But when Boudica’s husband died and his will leaving the kingdom to all his daughter was ignored, shit got real.

The Romans came in and basically said:

“Hey you owe us money and we want it now. Oh, and we’re going to rape your daughters and beat the hell out of you. Kay?”

And they did.

And Boudica got pissed.

This woman went full on rampage kind-of pissed. While the Romans were occupied elsewhere, Boudica gathered her troops.

100,000 troops to be exact-ish.

She began revolting and rioting her way across the land. After her first victory at the Roman settlement of Camulodunum, the Romans basically backed way the hell up and let her take the next settlement. And the next.

She caused enough death and destruction that the emperor gave serious consideration to pulling out all of his forces from Briton. Yep. Scared the toga right off him.

I guess for awhile they had thought about trying to settle with her. You know? Make peace with the crazy-angry woman gibbeting people all over the countryside. (Gibbeting is basically like hanging them from big wooden beams or trees all over so people can see the dead bodies. It’s not pretty. Really old-school decorating technique.)

I suppose they realized they couldn’t reason with a woman who had no interest in taking captives. She had her troops kill without mercy. It was said that,

In the three settlements destroyed, between seventy and eighty thousand people are said to have been killed. Tacitus says that the Britons had no interest in taking or selling prisoners, only in slaughter by gibbet, fire, or cross. Dio’s account gives more detail; that the noblest women were impaled on spikes and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths, “to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets, and wanton behavior” in sacred places, particularly the groves of Andraste.

She cut off their breasts and sowed them to their mouths.

You can’t see if, but I’m holding my tender titties right now and screwing my mouth up with the thought of pain.

Sweet lord, woman.

After happily destroying three settlements, killing thousands, and improving her cross-stitch technique, the Romans finally stepped up and were able to beat her.

Finally.

I mean, she had every right to be pissed. They ignored her husband’s will, raped her daughters, impoverished her kingdom, and beat the tar out of her. I’d have been pissed too.

I wouldn’t have done the breast thing, but I guess I just don’t have as much of the badass-ness in me as she did.

They’re not even sure how she died. Again, it’s all from the Roman perspective here. One author says she killed herself so she wouldn’t be captured and another said she got sick and died.

Crap on the got sick version. I can just see Boudica lighting herself on fire and riding a horse straight into the center of the Roman army, waving a stake in one hand and some poor woman’s boob in the other.

She was that kind of crazy  badass.

 

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Weekly Writing Challenge

I had to do this one.

Because Rarasaur did the prompt and she is awesome.

Because the prompt itself was awesome.

And because I wanted to take a moment and step outside of myself.

So I tossed myself into some fictional woman. Then I threw that woman into a very real place going through very real things that have never really happened in that place.

Did I lose you yet?

Good.

This entire piece is about being lost. It’s dark and dangerous and it came from that part of my mind that even Norman is afraid of.

Enjoy, while I go coax that hairy barbarian out from behind Ellie’s dressing table.

Operation: To the Teeth

The sun is setting on the century and we are armed to the teeth. The lyrics of Ani DiFranco’s gritty music filled my head, setting the theme song for the backdrop that I was coming to know so well. There’s an order to things. A specific set of gradual occurrences that succeed tragedy, grief, destruction, invasion. Yes, it had been an invasion, as difficult as that may be to believe. That was the first occurrence: the doubt.

            We didn’t feel the ground shaking, hear the pat-pat-pat of machine gun fire, or see the rolling tracks of tanks rip the ground to shreds beneath their tread. I was washing dishes at the sink, staring out the small window that overlooked my backyard, a swing-set, the cornfield. My children were playing in the sandbox outside, performing acts of God and moving mountains with little effort or thought to the consequences. My husband was watching TV.

            That’s how we knew it. The electric flashed and the TV shut off. That in itself wasn’t much to be concerned about. Two birds could sit on a wire and knock our electric out. The flash only lasted long enough to knock the dish out briefly and then the TV was back and blaring. A long steady beep screamed from the speakers and I waited for the words, “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.” Instead, I heard a mechanical voice telling us, the people, to hold for the President of the United States.

            The video feed was not from the Oval Office. There was no comfy leather chair, no stars and stripes to fill the background. There was our President, worry and anger battling for the right to carve lines in his face, to spread from his thin pressed lips and to spiral out from his wide-set eyes.

            Doubt always comes first. No one believes it. The ego kicks in and the first thought is always, “Who would dare?” “Who would do this?” “Why would they want to?” All those questions are followed by the immediate reaction of, “We’ll be fine.” “They’ll call in the military.” “No one can beat us in a fight.”

            This is by far the longest part of the entire affair. The season of doubt washes across the country like a second-coming of the black plague. It eats everyone alive, but takes forever to go away. In its wake, we were left with anger, hatred, and fuel for a fight. The men disappeared. One by one they went off, recruited by their country or simply egging for a fight. Who knew? Who cared? We needed them and they went.

            And now we’re here, and those gradual occurrences are coming at a faster rate. See, once the doubt is gone, once the men have run off to defend their egos, their families, their possessions, their homes, their freedom…everything else falls into place very quickly.

            We’re tossed back into a medieval society, with no electric, no running water, no heat. Our money becomes far more useful as kindling for a fire, or toilet paper. It’s a barter and trade society again and it’s like we’ve been thrown back, back, back. I’ve got the best commodity around. Everyone can take it, but it can’t be stolen. It’s like my own personal Sphinx riddle and it is a tragedy that my daughter carries the same currency.

            Every right women ever fought for is gone. There is no one there to protect them, and so they are victims and protectors all at once. They become prey even as they provide. So we learn our purpose again:

            The men come in broken and we heal them.

            The men come in broken and we feed them.

            The men come in broken and we lie down, spread our legs, and let them break us.

Yes, women have found their place again, but at least we found a system of money that works. So we lose a piece of our soul, but our children are fed. They need to be strong for this world we’re making, breaking.

            I should have done as the others. I should have skirted the cities on my way North. The North has become a beacon of safety, a haven for the lost. I wonder if they’ll have closed the gates by the time we get there. I’ve never seen Niagara. I’ve never seen much of anything. My tiny life in my tiny, rural town was all I had ever known. Finally, after years of staring at the pages of travel magazines, I had the opportunity to see the world around me.

Regardless, I was foolish, but I wanted to see it. I had a postcard shoved in my pocket. I’d grown up surrounded by fields of corn and soybean, by deep rooted forests and gravel drives. I wanted to see buildings that touched the sky, that reached their sturdy fingers up to stroke the underside of the clouds.

            I remember pulling the postcard out and staring at it as we approached. I must have been around the same distance as the person who shot the original photograph. None of it was there. Rockefeller, Chrysler, Trump, Empire. They were all gone. I looked at the crease that was a white bolt of lightning through the middle of my postcard. It touched the top of the World Trade Center and drove right through the middle of the towers. Those had been gone long before today, another tragedy from another time. It seemed a million years ago.

            The purple mountains majesty was blocked by billowing columns of smoke and ash. There were no amber waves of grain, only the charred remains left behind by a foreign army. We never saw it coming and from sea to shining sea lay the remains of capitalism, democracy, America the beautiful.

            I feel a weight shift and briefly, for a moment, I can breathe again. Then there is another weight, and the hair is prickly and sharp as it rubs against my chest. He’s wider and my thighs are crushed down against the cold concrete of a dilapidated Macy’s store. Sweat is beading on his chin and dripping down onto my forehead like some sort of Chinese water torture and I’m floating away again. I’m lying here while men I don’t know are pumping away inside me, pouring their anger, disgust, and hate into me, using me for a moment to feel like maybe they’re in control again. They’re not, and perhaps because I know it, and they know I know it, they push harder and harder every time.

            I have no idea where my husband is. The only men I see are my own countrymen, running and fleeing to the North as quickly as we are. I don’t even know where my President is, or if he even is anymore. I know that I have three more to go before I get a loaf of bread. I know yesterday I earned a scoop of peanut butter that someone had shoved into little baggies. It’s the new drug deal of our century and I keep it shoved inside my bra for safety. I know that tonight my children will eat well and I only have three more to go, or two now. I think this one is done.

            Ani’s words drift through my head and I hear another girl crying nearby. Her tears form the melody to the tune and when a hand smashes my face to the side, holding me to the floor, I sing, “We’re all working together now…to make our lives mercifully brief…”

Isabella of France aka The She-Wolf

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1295 – 1358

Now, you know you are pretty badass when you end up with a nickname like “She-Wolf of France”. Isabella was the Queen Consort of England, wife of Edward II, and one enthusiastically committed lover.

Isabella and Edward’s relationship was not exactly a match made in heaven. The romance fizzled out and was on the edge of a dramatic divorce-pending cliff after the Despenser War (basically Edward was throwing a hissy fit about some barons who offed his favorite pet Piers Gaveston and set out to get even).

So the She-Wolf, not being particularly delighted by Edward’s newest favorite, and having formed a pretty substantial friendship with the French Monarchy, decided to go on a “diplomatic mission” to France. It’s amazing how language changes. Today we’d say she was “getting a little on the side” or “playing the field”. Instead, Isabella told everyone that she was on a mission, one requiring the horizontal polka, but few knew about that in the beginning.

It wasn’t until her lucky lover, Roger Mortimer, and she sat down and decided that they should overthrow her husband, as well as his pet Despenser’s family, that everyone started to catch on. Of course by then she had an army of mercenaries and was speedily trashing her way across England on the heels of all the King’s men, who were doing all they could to get out of her way.

Needless to say, the She-Wolf won the day. She ditched the King and stood in as Regent to her son, Edward III. There were a few nasty rumors running around about Isabella and Mortimer having a bit to do with the King’s murder, as he was kept in the custody of some of Mortimer’s men. He may have been suffocated, strangled, or death by red-hot poker shoved up the bunghole. I rather prefer the latter, though there really is no proof that is true. In fact, it has pretty much been debased, but it makes for an interesting theory. Hell, these people can’t even agree as to when Edward actually died, but Isabella and her lover were certainly in attendance for the poor man’s funeral.

Perhaps this badass Queen would have done a little better if she hadn’t been so stuck on keeping up with the Jones’. The She-Wolf had a penchant for shopping, and her extravagant spending, alongside her successful ending of the Scottish wars (something you think the people would have actually like…blood thirsty warmongers), led to their downfall. Her son basically bumped off Mortimer and set his mother up in style, far far away, but in style nonetheless.

I mean, how else could this badass, army leading, scarlet lettered She-Wolf be expected to live out the rest of her days?

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