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The Grind

What makes the world work? I do.

And let me tell you a little something. It isn't conventionally pretty.

I do my rounds covered in a sheen of sweat, a film of oil, and a glittering of brass dust and iron filings. They all coat my curls, bristle my beard, and line my lungs with a sort of reverberating, constant cough. I cough like pistons strike. I croak like gears grind. I rasp in whatever the pneumatics hiss out.

I live for work. If I stop, you stop. If I stop, we all stop. So I work. I work.

It's crimson-gold down here. It's blood and molten gold. It sparks in 3/4 time. It's waltz, rococo, chiaroscuro, and it looks steampunk to those who don't know any better. There is no counterculture, no counter-clockwise turns here. This is the belly of the world and it does not care if you are dapper. It just works, because I work and I suck in all the mess life levels.

I am more rag sometimes than engineer, but that makes me twice as vital.

Life is a messy machine, after all, in constant need of delicate repair.

Prompt: via writeinspiration

Rapid Prompt - The gears of the world.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking prompts, feedback, and your attention.


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(Prompt: This image by piper60, via picturewritingprompts)

Closed doors aren't all that new to me. I've been pushing all my life.

Inside, I can hear them. Sometimes, they're singing holiday songs. Sometimes, the only noises are the gnashing of something fleshy in between jaws, maybe the slosh of milk or wine. Sometimes, they're shouting. Sometimes, they hit each other, but that doesn't scare me.

We hit each other out here, too. Some of them don't know when to stop.

Inside, I catch all kinds of smells. Some good. Some bad. Some weird and rank and vile, like potpourri. Who's idea was it to dry out flowers, to ruin them in such a way, to fill the air with a sort of sun-scorched rot? Still, that doesn't scare me, either. Sometimes, it smells nice in there.

We get smells out here, too. Some of them remind me of too many things. Some of them just remind me of too much. Most aren't good.

Inside? I like to think they keep futures in there. It's silly, I know. They keep futures in banks and bedrooms, not in the foyer where I might see them, scent them, hear what one sounds like. I could have been a poet.

We get poets out here, too. After. Always after. It isn't pretty, not one bit.

I've been pushing on these doors my whole little life. And yeah, I know. They've got those kinds of handles. They're not push doors, they're pull doors. Still, I can't stop my palms, the sides of my arms, my shoulders. I push and push and push, and I think I know why. I don't want in there.

We get them out here, too. Some of them need to stay in there forever.

Some of them should never be let out.

If I pull? That kind might just pull back.

It's not so bad out here, is it? Nah.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, as always.

Last: Unprompted - Come One and All

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At Last Sight

It was the last dance, on the last night, on the last car of a misbehaving subway train. With her.

It was a summer's worth of passing lights, fireflies in such a hurry past the spider-webbing windows. We didn't move; we glided. We didn't shake; we shivered. The world didn't wait for us, it just fell farther behind. The beat was too fast, so we  hummed and breathed each other in so slow, so close together. I breathed in. The fireflies hit concrete, blurring broad like nebulae.

Her eyes met mine. When all the world waited on my baited breath, only she could ever keep on going. Only she could break my grip on everything I couldn't handle yet. Only she wouldn't wait.

"I love you," she whispered, kissing the wet spot on my right cheek. It resisted the press of her lips. Hot-frozen salt held hard against my rigid skin. "But I can't follow you, not this time." Her words caught, but she pushed hard. "Some things, I just can't change. Some things..."

She turned, looking out into the bright light of the midnight city ahead. At the broken, gaping gap where destiny waited for me. "Some things are better never known. I'm sorry I told you."

She kissed my other cheek. My lungs burned. My muscles should have screamed in outrage, too, but they hung somewhere out of time. Otherwise, I would have held her close or strangled her to death for this, for all of this. My lips stuck so tight together, "I love you" and "Don't let me go" had to fight the sucked-down sobs and the swearing trapped behind my crushed-together teeth.

"But I'm glad, too," she said, with that unmistakable goodbye weight . "Not everybody gets to meet their soul mate. I'm not sorry for that." She faked a smile that cracked something inside her. Then she exhaled.

Then she was gone, back in her place, her time. Back in her town. Safe. I wanted to smile.

So I did. I finally exhaled. The car and all the weight in my throat hurtled out to kiss open air.

It was then, that moment, that very second when it all turned out to be true. Destiny happened.

And I fell. Hard.

Prompt: An restorative Anonymous asked me:

The Cure, Love Song.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, affection, detection, and genuflection.

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The Bad Ending

So, that's it. You got me. You've won. This isn't Christopher Nolan. It's Coen Brothers. Fuck.

I put it all on the line. I rose to the challenge. I learned the score. I exposed my vulnerabilities. I lost and found and lost and found. I lost and found myself. I followed the road. I followed On the Road. I went back to the beginning, just like Vicini said. I grew. I really grew. Just as planned.

Wicked pose. Pen strikes the notebook. Bam. I'm dead. I lose. You win.

In the end, growing is a kind of running away. It's like turning your back to an explosion. The world' still going off behind you, but you look cool as you strut or stumble or just get launched ahead. It's cool, right? I was cool, right? I was really good? But now I'm ready. For this. For now. For you.

The squid is shouting, but there's no pulling back from this. And with that, I'm all out of cute shit.

You fucked me. You fucked me, fucked me, fucked me but good. I always wanted to be somebody.

I just never thought that somebody would be you.

You can't run from what's already inside you.

You can't run from fate.

You can't even run.

You just fall.


Prompt: A cosmological Anonymous asked me:

There is nowhere in this universe to hid from you tonight.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Pay no attention to the brackets below. Just send me love.

[Rough outline. Is there a Shermer in Illinois? Jay says no.]

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The care of monsters requires, more than anything, a kind hand. They are born as nothing; as they are fed, they become.

He always shows his companion nimble, but forceful fingers. He strokes the razor ridges of her spine, ever careful but unafraid of the edge. Kindness is knowing danger, accepting it, and loving anyway. He taught her that, until his companion could meet his eyes without violence or fear.

He took care in training her. Others focus on the claws or wings or burning bile. Not him. He took her in his arms, into his room, into the living spaces of the world. He taught her what people are: laughter, fear. Music. He taught her music with a patient joy. He appreciated music.

Music is the scent of the soul, after all. It lingers in the air and reveals so much.

When she struggled - when her talons cut the steel strings, when she missed complicated notes, when she labored to convey human emotion - he took the time to lead her fingers, correct her errors, to explain how feelings ought to feel. He always smiled. He always gave her a reward.

He'd dangle the treat just shy of her fangs, bouncing and bobbing out of reach. He wanted her hungry. He needed her to understand. He made her wait, but not too long. It had to be fresh.

Just before the edges of rot would ruin the flavor, he dropped the dripping eye into her mouth. He'd give her a smile, give her another song to learn - this time, Paint It Black - and he'd listen.

While his companion labored, he scooped nimble, but forceful fingers into the skull of the crying man beside them. He understood how the man felt, even if he couldn't begin to feel it himself. All he felt was pride. Her music was improving. Her appetite was growing. She'd be ready soon.

Monsters are born nothing. They are what they're fed. Their care requires kind, nimble hands.

Prompt: via promptoftheday


A lizard learns to play the guitar

-thanks clovexei for today’s prompt

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking prompts, love, affections, and slavish devotion. Or cookies.

Title is a terrible pun.

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The Manticore

One day, I met a Manticore
in the air-thick fens of Travancore,
and wise words were his priceless gift to me.

He told me to take all worldly wealth,
and it, forego, for my inner health,
for gold can’t feed the stomach nor the soul.

He told me to feed my fellow man
when he is hungry and when I can
for one day, I’ll be fed by someone else.

I asked him of worldly affairs
of policy, of economy, of national cares,
and from his head came a scornful stare.

"You mortals live life as if it springs
from the lake of ambivalence and light-hearted things,
but one life is the allowance for one man.

Have not care in politics,
have not care for mankind’s tricks,
but only for the Good, for its own sake.

For one day, on your bed, you’ll croak,
and look back on the story you wrote,
and remember only the moments which weigh the most.”

I haven’t been to Travancore
since 1889, Year of the Lord,
and the Manticore has been unseen ever since.

And yes, many-a-men have joked
that the Manticore was, on my eyes, Illusion's Cloak,
or the product of some opium-den dream.

But should I ever again visit that hidden riverbank,
I’ll give the Manticore my loyalty and thanks,
for he shared truth in a world spun with lies.


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By Any Other

What's in a name? Sounds? Syllables? Hopes, dreams, promises? A future? A legacy?

I wouldn't know. I wasn't given a name. I was given power.

The cities stink. It's not the exhaust or the coal dust. It's not the people pressed together like hogs in a pen. It's not the sweat of half-filtered alcohol and the back-alley puddles of urea. It's not the dying or the dead. It's the neither. Those yet waiting. Those, who at the end, shall wait more still.

They reek like a bare wound, rich with cream and crackling corners. What is their name?

I wouldn't know. They each have a name. It gives them power. It gives them purpose. And pain.

It gives them a function. The girl writhed on the ground, hugging her ratty leather jacket close. The name on the back said Priest, but the shoulders were far too big for her. Her cheeks hung too hard off the bone. Her eyes, wet and smoking, had seen more of hells than heavens. She saw me.

Those weeping, hissing eyes ran up my boots, but stopped. Trapped. Shuddering. "Run," she said.

"No," I answered. I knelt, placing a palm against her cheek. The weeping smoke billowed back from me like sailcloth, snap-taut in a heavy breeze. It howled, high and hideous, like a cracked pipe.

She met my eyes, or tried to. All she saw was the shadow fallen over my brow. She smiled.

"Are you an angel?" she asked me. Clinging. Sighing. "Are... can you help me? Who are you?"

There was a short snap, the screaming of a thing with an unspoken name, then silence.

"Solace," I answered. "Or something like it." I stood. I left. The smoke trailed after, unable to run.

What's in a name? A wish, and only that. It's the same wish any mother or father makes.

It's a wish that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.

Prompt: A lingering Anonymous offered: "Solace"

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, feedback, exposure, and commentary.

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The sensation of the sight of the bare outline of my being has been known to cause tears.

Am I crying? So I am.

It is not the power. Nor the glory. Not the honor that drives in me, not anymore. It did. It was. I was, something glorious and powerful. Honor. No, honor's never left me. No. No, nothing has.

I am yet glorious, but I still feel ash and gristle dug deep in my fingernails. The grit of victory.

I am yet powerful. So much have I broken, I build little things when my mind's half asleep, a dreamer's penance. I give of what I have, more than I need, more than I dare. But I give. Why?

Because I remember the taking. Taking. Taking. And I remember that all of it was beautiful.

No, honor's never left me. Nor the glory. Nor the power. Nor the tears, both yours and mine.

I will never fall. Never falter. Never turn my face from the light that shines against my brow.

I don't deserve that kind of respite.

The light blinds me. I welcome it.


Prompt: via hourlywritingprompts

Writing prompt of the hour: resplendence

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, feedback, fanmail, and 8 more followers.

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Gravity Always Wins

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