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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 Queen on 4th

Have you seen the Queen today? That girl's my morning coffee. She plays the violin on 4th.

Her hair glistens like the dew. She cleans it every morning in the sink of that Pakistani gas station. She buys the same things with her allowance: one Rock Star canister, a pack of Trident (original - she's simple that way), fifty deli sandwiches, and two bag-fulls of bottled water.

How does she make her money? She plays a well-oiled Stradivarius that someone dropped into her lap four years ago. Her patron considered it worthy of her nimble fingers, her oddly half-open eyes, her loving touch. She just considers it a pretty good replacement to the one she bought, the last thing she ever bought easy. She doesn't know. She hasn't realized it yet.

If she did, she'd have sold it for a cheaper one. It would've hurt, down to her fingertips, but still.

That's a lot of sandwiches. That's shelter space. That's a story worthy of the Internet. She knows people love those kinds of stories, and she doesn't blame them for it. That's the trick, isn't it? The difference between most people and the rest is what they notice they can actually do.

That's good. That's evil. That's kind and cruel. that's sandwiches, water, and her Rock Star.

She doesn't know the good she could do, so she does the good she knows. She plays.

She's good, but not symphony good. She's kind, but not a saint. She shines like morning dew.

She plays the kind of music that can wake you up inside. She plays honest.

Prompt: An actualized Anonymous asked me:

Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's law is wrong. It learned to walk without having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams, It learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, general approval, and to beat resistance.

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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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A Couch Session With a Nature Spirit

You ever wonder if the rot ever gets lonely. I do. Get lonely.

I mean, it's such a destructive relationship.

What would you do, if nothing came to you until its ripeness faded? What would you have to say to something or someone or some story, already long past its prime? I'm sure it's still good for somebody. People and creatures, fungus and bacterial cultures out there are starving for a little malnutrition, but does that make it right?

If you come early, are you stealing freshness out of someone's mouth?

I mean, autumn's celebrated. All the colors on the leaves change, but then they fall. They become messy piles and some other poor bastard's problem. Pumpkin spice lattes go on sale, but they aren't really vegan, are they? Not really. That makes them killers, in an abstract sort of way, but so's time. So's society, if you want to get ridiculous and vague. If you want to feel important.

But what else is there do, when rotting season's catching up with us? If we've sowed, maybe we reap. If our luck's good, what we sowed wasn't swallowed up by crows or scarpered off with by some bloody savages. If our prayers can hold it, we might have something a little warm by winter. We might just be okay. But if we're the season? If i'm the rot? Then... will we really?

Sure, autumn's celebrated. So are compost heaps and fermentation. But there's a common theme. There's a thread that ties that all together. We feed the weary something ruined 'til the cold comes in. We're gone by the first green of spring. Don't get me wrong, rot works year round. I'll never die. But you'll never even feel me until you're already dying.

What kind of existence is that? No wonder I hate and haunt you.

No wonder autumn and fear are such good friends. Fear lasts.

Fear rots, but never really fades.

Prompt: via thedailywritingprompts


(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts. Need to review some tagged work. Busy.

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It all turns kind of blinkery and blinding after a while. There's just too much goddamned neon.

Sure, it came around in its pretty plastic packaging.  Hard as hell, though. We broke scissors and a few nails. It was hell to get it all unpacked, put together. It took us even longer to learn what to do.

But now?

Lights glow. LED. HUD. GPS. Wi-Fi. Li-Fi. Sci-fi. Information eroded all distance.

Streets glow. Full bellies or fuel cells. Bright smiles - skin, silicon, and chrome.

Words glow. From holy writ to sacred advertising. Philosophy,  politics, and some all right poetry. 

Lights. Streets. Trees. Most kinds of cat. Everything glows these days.

You shined. That plastic really was hard as hell.

You would have loved this. So would I.


Prompt: via hourlywritingprompts

Writing prompt of the hour: day-to-day

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, feedback, hope, fear, and interesting pain.

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White Knight Complex

(Save Your Soul - Jamie Cullum)

I don't know how not to save people. I'm sorry. Forgetting that I'm a hero scares me.

Not being a hero? Forgetting that feeling is every other day. That scares me.

I'm not looking away because I'm ashamed of you, your legs, your hair, not even those angry eyes. I love those eyes, even when they burn me. Especially. I mean, I know you've earned them. I know we've all earned them, that you've struggled. I'm not looking away from any of that. I'm looking away from me - I can see the reflection. I can't meet anybody's eyes too long. I see me.

I see the biggest, baddest, burliest son of a bitch to ever overclock his amygdala. Sure, you can fly, but when I run? The ground flies. The air cuts corners around me. Sound bends. Light gets a little closer. And when I have to hit something? I hit it hard. I hit my target. I've saved sixty-seven lives. I've never killed anyone, because that's not how it works for me. It doesn't scare me.

It's the feeling that thrives. It's remembering how invincible felt. It's forgetting growing up. No.

No, it's all those others days that scare me. The days I sit in that office chair with one broken wheel. Circling around a spot burned into the carpet. Papers unwritten. Meditations incomplete. My screen beeps with your messages for hours sometimes, but I've got just enough left in me to set myself as "Away". Because I am. Away. It's not the gift. It's not the losses. I'm not sad.

I just am. Away. So yeah. I save people. I work hard to be the big, bad, burly son of a bitch.

And I flinch when you look at me like I'm the bad guy. Because if I'm the bad guy? Well...

Then what the fuck is all of this for? What the fuck am I here for?

It's okay if I'm a hero. Heroes aren't allowed to be happy. If I'm a hero? Then I'm okay.

I can get up. I come back. I smile. I remember that you love me. I remember me.

Prompt: An amnesiac Anonymous asked me:

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking writing prompts, questions, attention, exposure, and more.
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A Gift to You

The sweet old words weren't written for me. You'll never sweep me off my feet. Is that it?

Is that why you've get that guilty look after you kiss me? 

I worked. I fought. I trained, just like everybody else. I've seen things, done things that set me twice apart from a world that has to glance down to even see me. The worst part? Then? They look away, like their eyes offend me. It's not the look that does it; it's that shame from looking.

Look at me. See me. See there's nothing wrong with me. But no. I haven't got a leg to stand on.

With the power, none of it should have mattered. When the glow and rhythm rolls against my spine, I feel it to the floor. It's not phantom limbs - they're phantom wings. I'd never waste a moment of that majesty on what I don't have. I'm not struggling to be you. I'm just struggling.

Am I trying to stand on my own two feet? No. I'm trying to fly. Why can't you see that?

It's fine to push me along, when I let you, but you're the one who should be thanking me.

You should be the one falling head over heels. Those sweet old words weren't written for me.

Prompt: A supine Anonymous asked me:

"to stand in your arms without falling to your knees."

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Open to prompts, feedback, suggestions, insights, or experiences.

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He didn't want to take it, but he took it anyway.

It was too small in his large, unclumsy hands. Too smooth, when he could barely feel it out through all the calluses. Too light, when he was used to bearing burdens. Too clean. Too much.

He didn't want to open it, but still, he opened it.

The clasp opened too easily. His finger and thumb were too well trained. He'd opened another, a twin to this one, one too many times over too many nights. It left scars on the hard hide he'd earned. That's why it felt too small, too smooth, too light, too clean. Too little. The clasp hurt.

He didn't want to look at it, but he looked.

He didn't look up. He didn't want to watch her leave.

Of all the things that he'd survived, he didn't expect to survive seeing an empty locket.

Where was his face? His picture? He'd wanted to see the man he used to be.

So had she, but she'd thrown it out anyway.

Prompt: via writeworld.

He stared at the locket, and it shook in his trembling hands.

Writer’s Block

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Ow. Ow, ow, ow. Fuck. Ow. Ow. Ow. Writing hurts. Novels? More.