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Lauren M Apr 2020
In fairness, the end could not have been easier.
A stillborn breath gutted out,
old lump of a deathly echo.
I am entombed here,
on this island fortified with a thousand winters.
Effortless to migrate and molt.
To voyage out alone and build hateful nest
of iron-ice and blackened blood-frost.
Easy to tie the corded wastrels
into empty fire pits and dream there,
like the corpses of gods
left scattered on the roadside.
Such cavities do not touch me,
nor do I haze about with vagaries concerning such things.

It’s your scars that cut into me now,
and my last prayer hangs about you
like a shroud of fog.
Let all else wheel by,
but you stay.
You stay,
and close those galaxy-eyes against me.
What blood is left in me
runs for you, my love,
and when all else is chalk-ice and tempest winds,
still my skin impersonates me.
Still you run through my memory cave
in the shape of an ox,
dressed in charcoal.
How I hate this charade.

What is easy about it?
Even the name of the smallest grain of sand
is a story too long to tell,
too long to remember.
Each end of it fades out and goes on,
maybe looping itself
and holding out in defiance
of the unidirectional flow of time.
I will go backwards next time and get simpler,
sloughing off forgotten icebergs
like burrs caught in my feathers.
Like a salmon returning to spawn,
growing young and warm again,
And one day,
sweetly anonymous in your eyes:
unknown, unnamed, and free.
Lauren M Nov 2019
Bells chime.
The world is a pale imposter of itself,
gray in the moonlight,
but not indifferent.
Coy perhaps, complicit.
In league with me, perhaps.

The paper birch trees shuffle aside,
in line like ghostly sentinels,
and the briars curl back in black swarthy masses
to clear a path,
mumbling a song in their old forgotten language,
each leaning toward me, toward my house,
pointing the way.
A faint glimmer, light ahead,
yes, the warm glow of firelight
beneath the moss and stone of the highland hills.

Distant laughter, the *****! of glasses and
bell chimes.
The susurrations of the nighttime grasses
whisper in time with the tunes of my fiddlers;
they know the songs of my blood, my bones.

Come to my house in the hills – yes, you must come!
We will dance as the swallows do,
as the daisies do when the winds blow,
and watch the walls and faces
blur into one another as we spin round and round,
swapping faces, swapping bodies.
The other guests wear garments of wanderlust and daring,
and their dance is one of flame and dust.

Dance within my house,
between walls of polished ivory
and a ceiling studded with pearls and diamonds
and the teeth of extinct animals.

We are free here:
free to forget,
free to deny.
Free, at last, to revel in the revelry
and be as unwise as it pleases us to be.
Here is a place where wisdom
is useless and none
will accuse you of sensible conduct.

And after,
when the sunlight tosses me back into the ocean
and hauls you out
dream of me.
Lauren M Jun 2019
Sandbox constructs, talk to me.
Play to me.
Dancing straw, pull on the wind,
give color and shape, give name.
I will be straw too one time, then many times,
and will dance with the straw in the wind.
These are joyful times, all alone, no interference. No you.

Mouse you sneaks in the sandbox,
chews on my straw and nests in my sand.
In possession of some key.

(I want to ask about the key, but I can’t.
I am supposed to be made of straw.)

Perturbed, I chase you out.
My world of sand and straw is too fragile for your beating heart.
It will fall apart, will be rubbed raw and threadbare.
But you sneak in again,
and look at me as if I am not straw,
and the ground as if it is not sand
but solid earth, rich and full.

Clearing the board I start over.
Drive you out
and begin to map out the pattern of this cloth.
Time begins to unspool, following its slow track.
Joyful in this beginning, this gradual awakening.

I never know when (or if) you’re going to appear.
So often the game plays out without a hitch,
or you appear so late that it makes no difference.
But I hear your heartbeat now: the rapid thudding,
and know you are here.
A mouse nuzzling through the straw,
invading the gentle morning of this world
when all may be ruined, all may be averted.

Bold, undisguised you,
and I, perfect shaft of damp straw;
it does not fool you.
Discovered at the worst moment,
tender and caught.
You, unruffled by the wind, realizing the position you’re in.
Realizing the position I’m in:
holding all the keys but unprepared to use them.

You have your own plans and ideas.
You dance around me,
playing provocateur, trying to make me
show my hand, my key.
I pretend I don’t know what you’re up to.
I hope you lose interest and give up.
Hope a chance wind sweeps you up,
like a great swell from the sea,
and I never see you again.
Hope you suddenly doubt yourself, blinking,
finally convinced by my damp posing,
my mute bafflement and loyalty to the wind
and wonder, isn’t this straw?

Dare I play your game?
Dare I nod to your tune?

I use one of my keys.
Walk through a door that shouldn’t open,
you at my heels, all eager to see backstage,
to see the actor who plays me.

You already know what you have known since you saw my face.
The same face you have seen dancing in and out
of pale replicas of borrowed worlds.

And finally I let you hear from my lips
what you have suspected the whole time.
That I am not the straw or the sand or even the wind.
That I know you aren’t either.
That I know that you know.
That yes, it was a character and it was a role.
That it was a game I play, usually alone.

“It was just for light fun and idle amusement,” I say.
“Nothing was at stake.
So why the sabotage?”

Then, in spite of our twin hearts,
I see how different you are from me.
What calms me enrages you.
What worries me soothes you.
What I call “light fun and idle amusement”
you call “life and death.”
“Everything was at stake,” you say.
You say, “this world is full, full to the brim. People just like you.”

Don’t you realize where you are?
Look around, it is a world of sand and straw
blowing in the wind.
Lauren M Jan 2019
We are ghosts that cast shadows
flying through your thoughts like birds:
one minute there, the next gone.
We are the birds, the absent,
and it is bad luck to mention us.
We may take wing, stop lingering and leave,
may not return, may fade away
like fog under the burning sun.

But fly to us, come to us and you will see,
we are humans with body and voice,
with eyes that see and hearts that yearn.
We shed our feathers and weave stories with them,
give them away
give them all away.
You too will know what it is to fly.

But tiredly you flag,
the wind sags beneath your wings.
You drop to the earth,
feathers falling all around you,
and we become the birds once again
fading into the morning mist
that hovers on the horizon.
Lauren M Dec 2018
Vital parts, missing.
This has to mean something.
Held together by a face,
saving face, but still coughing.
“How bad is it?” A head, shaking,
nothing we can do.
I suppose this is what you wanted.

White teeth flecked red, peppermint breath.
Slow down.
Slow down that heartbeat.
Why you?
Why does it have to be you?
Bet you’re loving this.
The sky, slashes of sunlight over the hills, shades of blue and green.
It has to mean something.

Just listen. If this is the end...
Fear messages, helplessly echoing words
that have always been said by the dying.
Eyes that suddenly reveal the mortal behind them.
And promises
from the one who, shocked, finds an unexpected answer,
both kind and true, ready at the lips.
I never doubted your courage.
Pink spittle, the derisive reply.
Familiar tone, familiar grounds.

Go away. Go.
The dark, the dulling.
Night draws itself upon us both,
the cold, the quiet.
The steady vigil of the stars,
the baring of the grim moon
and the endless darkness in between —
it has to mean something!
Lauren M Nov 2018
Oh look, here’s another artist.
Nostalgic since birth and obsessed with their own mortality,
counting what is worth noticing before we are all exiled, cut
off from our own bodies.
Yes, we all know what’s coming, sh.
It’s all been heard before, all been seen.
So don’t raise your voice with worn out warnings,
dry as wind whispering through desert caves,
you are echoing the trumpets
that have sounded since the beginning of time.

Now here comes a lover coated in gleaming delusion,
confident in the supreme uniqueness of her experience,
asserting that no,
you cannot possibly know what it is like.
This is different.
        And when it falls apart, the uproar!
        The injustice of it! The tragedy!
        and the loneliness,
        as if no one else had ever felt rejection,
        as if no one else had ever discovered
        that love is painful and reductive.
        Disillusioned and duped she wonders why
        there were no warnings. Imagine!
        Living in this world and not hearing warnings,
        or hearing them and having the arrogance to say no,
        it does not apply to me,
        you cannot possibly know.

And now the green poet floats by,
driven on by spring breezes and the color of wildflowers.
Wide-eyed but never quite struck dumb,
he gawks and wonders and wishes,
plucking detail from gulls’ wings and leaves’ veins,
gamely trying to translate and bankrupting the dictionary every time,
saying “this is beautiful” over and over,
not unlike a tourist.
And like a tourist disappearing
before he sees the bleak and desperate side,
the side that rears it’s head with hungry eyes
and regards you as a stranger.

But still, to create something that absorbs all that people say about it.
To become something like that, finally.
Maybe … it is still worth something?

But no,
time to time, there has been time. Time
for the sun to rise and set,
and for the stars to be born and then burn out. Time
to hear the rise and fall of a thousand stories,
and a thousand more. Time
to be filled with curiosity and questions. Time
to stop asking questions. Time
to see the same patterns again and again. Time
for new patterns, but with the same trite components. Time
to say all that is worth saying, and more.
Much more.
The same voices, the same faces,
the same conversations, again.
The contrast getting grayer, going soft.
And once again all these young people
using their superlatives, investing everything right away,
saying “this is important.”
Children who believe the best and worst things
that have ever happened
are happening now.

Is it problematic to say I find my own heartbeat cliché?
Even the rise and fall of my chest as I breathe
exasperates me. It’s been done before,
it’s all been done before.
This is why I will never point at anything and say
“this is something.”
Nor will I say who I am or who you are.
I leave you to your own ugly assumptions.
Lauren M Oct 2018
Locked out of my own mind: let me back in!
The keys crack
        off, break and jangle,
        flat palm against a door: let me back in.
        Checking all the doors, solid.
And wait, is there noise coming from inside?
Glass shattering? Wood splintering?
Mystery cracks and creaks, not giving a hint:
what is wrong!? Is everything okay?
        Let me back in!
Checking the windows, do they slide? Are they unlatched?
No. Something is not right ...but what could it be?
Both palms on the glass,
eyelashes against the glass: curtains
made of smoke. Heat. Smack with both hands,
punch. Pick up a rock and throw it:
it’s only glass. It will break
and I will get back in,
will see what is wrong and how to make it better.
Beat out the flames and put everything back in order,
back in place. Then all will be peaceful
and I will relax with relief back into myself, all back to normal
except for one shattered window.

Hesitate, rock in hand to wonder:
is it worth it?
All the sounds have gone quiet:
maybe it is over, maybe
nothing is wrong. Maybe
I’m about to break a window for no reason,
        cause a ruckus for no reason,
        throw a fit, make a scene, get up in arms,
                                                                ­               for no reason.
And maybe it’s better not to know,
to wait outside until it passes,
                  whatever “it” is.
Just hold still and wait, like an animal caught out in the open,
bracing against foul weather. Commit to it:
living separately for a little while.
Think only of the next second
and how to get there.
Grow a second skin, maybe.
Watch the plants, watch
as the moss unfurls
like someone shaking out a blanket,
the trees thicken.

Again, the sounds,
        the signs that all is not well.
Someone is locked in there,
someone unable or unwilling to communicate with the outside.
A crack, something shifting.
Thoughts and memories realigning,
resorting to sorting through disorganized databases,
disbanding old patterns and expectations.
My mind still locked,
I have to guess what I am thinking.
                           what I am feeling.
                           what I am missing.
Peer through the windows for a glimpse.
Ask again, what is wrong?
without receiving an answer.
Just smoke leaking through the keyhole.
Falling asleep on the doorstep in spite of the wind and noise.

And when finally the storm is over.
A creak.
A door, open.
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