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After the Tower Comes the Star

Stars can explain art to us.

I mean, think about it. In a thousand years, even at the staggering speed of light, we will never touch the star that twinkles in our eyes. That second star on the right? It's out of reach. We're out of time. That star may well be dead and gone, a champagne supernova or super-massive black hole well past its prime.

So what do we do? We reach out our hands, We grope and grasp at time-lapsed illusions.

Stars would burn us down to less than dust, but we still strive to dance with them. Stars lie far beyond any world we'll ever touch, but we still adorn ourselves in diamonds and feel beautiful. We wish on stars that will never hear our voices. We navigate by stars who do not know our journeys. We strive and innovate to reach the stars that promise nothing more than our own.

Amateur astronomers make terrible investors. Stars are just not practical.

Even so... Without a star? We'd not only have frozen, we'd have never even lived. Stars in the distance give us light. One gives us life. They give us our imaginary answers and a shining moon.

It's only natural to bring them down to earth with us.

Stars, after all, represent hope.

Prompt: a celestial Anonymous 

Anonymous asked you: Write about the stars

Can you see the stars from there, anonymous? Even if you can't, they're up there. Keep going...

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Send me prompts, questions, or review requests!

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The World is Different When You're a Child

Pretending is the only thing you’ve mastered. Girls know how to jump rope or hula-hoop and boys know how to play soccer. Because you know neither, you’re neither. You know how to draw on the sidewalk with chalk and, when no one is looking, wipe your hands on your white knee socks; it’s easier to pretend you’re a girl that way.

The fronts of cars are made in the shape of dog stouts so they’d scare away the naughty; why else would people run when they a car is heading their way? You just can’t remember a time a car was charging towards you. The snowflakes that land on your eyelashes account for how good the universe believes you are. It doesn’t matter that you’ve only gotten two, that’s two more than what your any of your brothers have gotten. Perhaps the universe has not yet realized you’ve been stealing your older brother’s books and hiding them beneath the dresser.

Leaving your fallen teeth on the windowsill instead of beneath your pillow so the tooth fairy didn’t have to worry about getting passed the obstacle that is the sleeping you, meant you’re one of the selfless children. Every ant that crawls out from between flower petals is royalty. Don’t kill them, and don’t leave them in places they’d get stepped on.

Even though the sun is sick on rainy days, you always find comfort jumping in puddles and gazing at grey storm clouds through a distorted window. The fattest trees are the best at keeping secrets. Bury your secret beside their roots and they’ll tell no one. The whys to your tears are easier to answer: ‘I lost my seashells.’ ‘I don’t understand why no one will play with me.’ ‘I accidently closed the door on dad’s finger.’ ‘I skinned my elbows.’ Grandpa was on every plane you see flying in the sky, waiting for April so he could sit at the dinner table on your birthday.

The person you’ll share your blanket with is on the moon, listening to you tell yourself bedtime stories until you fall asleep on the wooden floor. They’re just waiting for the perfect moment to ride down on a lightening rod and meet you. You never have to tell the person that the number of children you’re planning to have is based on the number of hands you have to hold them, they just know.

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Riding

I got a call at work. It was busy and cold. I didn’t hear the message until I got off work. Dad wrecked his bike. He’s in the hospital. I took vacation days and went up to LA. He had been going into a turn and hit some gravel. Lost control of the Harley and slipped out. Woke up in UCLA Medical. I spent a week up in LA taking care of him. Cooking and cleaning. Watching Kurosawa movies.

When I got back I told my wife I wanted a motorcycle and she was understandably confused. I fellow at work had an old Yamaha he was trying to get rid of. An ‘82 XJ-550. All I had to do was pick it up and he’d let me take it for free. I spent the next 8 months creeping around my neighborhood on the thing, riding in to work. I finally got my license and secretly bought  a brand new Triumph Thruxton.

Called up my buddy McInnes. “Toothless” Nick McInnes from Vancouver, WA whom I’d met in Mechanic’s school in Pensacola. I was waiting for a taxi at the base roundabout and he was wearing this Union-jack shirt with the sleeves cut off and tall boots. He stuck out and we’ve been in touch ever since.

We go riding up to Lake Henshaw. I’m loving it but it gets cold. Hypothermic. I think warm thoughts, nothing doing. I hit a 90 degree corner going too fast. I lay it down into the loamy embankment. He notices I’m gone and comes back finding me all fucked up. We manage to get the bike running and I get out of the mountains stuck in 4th gear. Drop it off at the shop and have to ride on the back of his ‘79 Honda CB-350 to my house. I’m mortified and try to leave as much space between him and me without falling off the back. At this point my wife doesn’t even know I have a new motorcycle, let alone that I wrecked it. I confess the entire thing as I clean out the wounds with iodine.

I still ride.

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A Chill with Destiny

Meeting you was a choice. What came next? That was destiny.

I could have walked through any other door. I could have slammed it. Nailed it shut. I could have run my Chevy through the cheap and shoddy frame of the facade. I could have killed a dozen people. It's not that I'm morbid, the idea just struck me on the way in. It was kind of funny.

After all, my therapist said that I should be spontaneous. I'm getting to that.

When I saw you, I could have escaped from the strings of fate. I even thought about it for a second. A second's a long time for a talented social deflector like myself. I could have caressed you with my eyes, sliding away in just the right way to jiujutsu right over my shoulder. I could have bumped on, bumped you, and bumped through. I could have started talking to a very awkward stranger, loud and unconvincing. If I was really being honest, I could have withered in a sweat right then and there.

After all, I have a history of anxiety and difficulties communicating, or so they say. I'm getting there.

Instead, I said 'Hi.' You said, "Huh?" I said, "Hi" again at a human-audible volume and threw my name in after. I came off as clumsy, dialed in, and so over-committed to the small talk.

Apparently, you liked that. That's fate. That's destiny. That's doom.

You have every choice in the world, except for what's in someone else's head. Watch your ass.

It didn't work out, by the way. Spontaneous isn't sustainable and no one cures me, but me.

Just thought you'd like to know.

 

Prompt: An auspicious Anonymous asked you:

Write about fate
A bit of a delightful wander through my unusual head. Not bad for out of town. (c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins  
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depths

The most depressing part of my day occurs when I’m doing something that I love to do.

Every day I stumble across something new musically. Through the aid of Pandora, blogs, news, hearsay & my due diligence in finding what I need to keep going, I am constantly surprised by the quality of certain tracks and their beauty.

So what’s the problem? I’m constantly finding little gems hidden throughout society. I understand this is subjective, but I’d like to think I have enough experience to be able to pick out melodically sound compositions & above average production value. Whether that is true is not for me to say but I try my best. Regardless, the key word here is “hidden.”

Once a night I am intrigued to learn about an artist. Or even just the song itself. I’m mesmerized by what they did & how they put together this piece of art. So I go searching. Most of the time I can find something on the artist or the track. Random songs do not get submitted to Pandora without a bit of screening.

For the times I don’t find much on them, I continue to dig further. I check Discogs for information about what they have done. Once in a while I will stumble across a Wikipedia page about the artist. One with no links or any information about the individual(s) that created this work. Vague references to what they’ve done. Maybe a 100x100 thumbnail of the album artwork from 2001.

It pains me to hear something that strikes such an intense chord and then fail to find more information about it. Did this go overlooked? Is it just me who enjoys this? Why didn’t this get bigger than it did? Was it ahead of its time? Was it too late for its time?

I want to find these people, physically shake them with my hands and tell them, “You are amazing. You are amazing at what you do. I am so sorry.”

And yet, I have to turn on the radio and listen to the same 20 songs on rotation for weeks. And weeks.

I know this will come off as condescending even when I don’t mean it to be. I just wish that people could open their eyes to the wonders that are out there. I wish they could see what others have seen. I wish people would stop letting music be delivered to them aimlessly, but rather help the cause and find it yourself. I would even say that I wish that everyone cared more, but this is naturally a false hope that cannot & should not be enforced. The joy it brings me is overwhelming and I just want to share it.

Moral of the story: If I have to fucking hear “Starships” one more time by Nicki Minaj, I’m going to drink bleach.

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A Stranger's Life

            I’d done a lot of traveling in my life, but I’d never liked traveling by air. Airports made me nervous. I’d been born and raised out west, my closest neighbors half a mile down the road and a mountain as my backyard. Everyone seemed to press in on me as I sat at the terminal, hours until my flight left. It didn’t help that I had my little girl with me. She was four months old, and her mother had left us.

She wanted to give her up for adoption. I said no. She signed rights over to me and I hadn’t seen or heard from her since. A middle-age woman across the aisle looked at me like I was diseased, not-so-discreetly pointing at me to her fat, austere husband, muttering something that looked like “no wedding ring.” She wasn’t the only one. I tried not to care, hugged my daughter closer and kissed the top of her head.

 

            “Grandma and grandpa will be happy to see you again,” I said to her, bouncing her a little. Tears threatened as reality came rushing back to me. My mother was the reason for us going home. They said she had months still, that she was fighting off the cancer. They were wrong. It happened fast. “Grandpa anyway,” I said, taking a deep breath that shook in my chest. That was a lie. She grinned, reaching up to grab my chin. “We’re gonna’ be okay, sweetheart. We’re gonna’ be fine.”

 

            Hours later, when the sun had finally come up and the airport was busy, I had exhausted myself of feelings. I looked around us, trying to decide who was going where and what for. The businessmen were easy to spot, always in black suits or khaki pants and collared shirts, cell phones glued to their ears if they didn’t have a Bluetooth. One of them sat where the judging couple had earlier and he looked as exhausted and beaten down as I felt, sagging as he sat in the chair, briefcase all but forgotten on the ground.

He looked mid-sixties, should be retired already, like he should be home with his family, if he had one. I couldn’t see his ring finger, not that that meant anything, I reminded myself. I hoped whatever he was going through would be over soon. I hoped his business trip was over and he was going home.

           

            Then there were the college-age kids. The girls always put on extra makeup and dressed a little sexier, on their way to meet boyfriends if they weren’t already with them. I caught an interested look now and then which quickly disappeared when they spotted my little girl. I thought back to college, to those short years chasing sex and a degree and myself. They say it’s the time to find yourself. I guess I went to the wrong school or took the wrong classes. Still, I’d had fun. I couldn’t say I’d been happy though. I wondered if those girls were, if the guys with them treated them right. Probably not, I thought. Don’t be that way, don’t judge. You don’t know. Still, it was true.

 

            The hardest to look at for me were the families. The mothers and fathers with their children always looked haggard and annoyed and impatient. I wanted to walk up to them and take them by the shoulders. I wanted to shake them and tell the father to stop checking his email and the mother to stop talking to her friend, to pay attention to their children. I wanted to tell the children to listen to their parents, to be good to them.

One family had three little girls, triplets but not identical, I couldn’t think of the word. Paternal? Fraternal? It didn’t matter. All three wore a different pink dress and the father was chasing them around a bench, laughing.

The girls squealed and giggled and shouted and some people shot them dirty looks for being loud. The dad paid no attention and the mother watched from a distance, smiling like the sun was shining just for her. God, I wanted to hug them and ask them both how in the hell to do all this. I wanted to know how you made a family work. I wanted to ask them what their lives were like and where they were going and how the hell to be happy. Looking around at all these people, I wanted to live anyone’s life but mine just then. I didn’t want to hate my daughter’s mother for leaving. I didn’t want to be going to bury my own. I didn’t want to have to face my father, who fought with me, told me I should give my daughter up, that I was a fool. I wanted to be anyone but me and I closed my eyes hard, kissing her head again.   

           

            “We’ll be fine, sweetheart. I promise. I’ll take care of us. I promise.”

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Desire by richard lynn livesay

 

Let me burn

burn into ashes,

ashes into the wind,

wind that whispers secrets,

secrets that fill my head with awe,

awe that transfigures, transcends mind

mind, too minded by a righteous world, unconscious

unconsciousness of the tiniest atom within the material plexus

plexus of photons,light ,maybe the quantum light soul, a wave of eternity

eternity, spiraling in a never ending cycle, holding the answer to everything, Now

Now I lay me down to sleep, dreams become reality and my reality, surreal independence

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Dogeared

No one ever asks to be the center of a meaningful story. Those who do, don't know better.

They don't know how much it hurts to travel through the sea of hard-eyed faces that represent real conflict. Settings are arenas. New people are the honored dead, or even worse, they're lions. Try it sometime. Find out what's happening just past polite. Find out who needs you. Listen.

Give it a week. You'll realize how wrong you were.

Give it a month. You'll change, whether you let yourself or not.

Give it a few more character establishing arcs. You won't even recognize what you once knew.

Then compare the pain to your progress. If you're even close to happy? Your life's a genre story.

If you don't have answers, congratulations.

Your life is literary. I hope you win a prize.

Prompt: wonderfulwritingprompts

48: A Word

Unwanted. 
It's late. I finished a manuscript draft. The opinions represented here only represent one of many of my many contradictions. My editing department is currently furloughed. (Thanks, Obama...) (c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking prompts, feedback, and amusingly sarcastic memes.

 

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Words aren’t pretty, but that’s okay too. I think they’re clunky, ugly. Bent and folded like crumpled pieces of paper. Littering the earth and everyone in it and leaving them with pockmarks and indentations too deep for fingers and too shallow for mouths to drink from. I find lies in things like glass bottles and cranes and whale bones, and say things like I Don’t Care, when I do. When caring is all that’s left and Not Caring isn’t so much a choice as it is the state of doing Nothing. I find beauty in Nothing too. There are no words for it, but it fills the cracks of all things, flows and drips into this reality and whatever reality there is, or could ever be. I cup my hands to catch it and its cold like metal and smooth and polished and pale. Because that’s something they’ll never tell you, no matter how hard you beg. Nothing feels like Something. I know don’t make sense and I guess I’ve stopped trying to. I’m worried about finding footing, and saying exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, and I’ve given up on that too. I want endless rain and cold, and I want it feel like everything there ever was. Like when you’re moving through a parking lot in the rain and look up at the lights to see tiny drops of water flying into your face like little lines of white. I want words like that. But all I can say is clunky and unfettered and slow, and nothing that’s polished even knows my name.

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Flawless

 

(Prompt: Writers Write Daily Writing Prompt, via amandaonwriting)

Her arming jacket was a mess of bloody scars.

You see, an arming jacket pads and insulates soft skin and muscle from uncompromising iron. It soaks up the sweat and blood from brute exertion that might dare to corrode a gleaming shell to ruin. It is a fabric border between the human and relentless inhumanity. An arming jacket makes plate armor possible.

Her arming jacket was a mess of bloody scars.

In Dahl's Fields, she'd stood vigilant. Demons and death uncountable visited the dotted plain of plantations. No. By a few arrow pits and horn punctures, by the texture of rough twine across her ribs, she knew. She'd killed 47 creatures on her own. She'd saved 54 families. 23? She hadn't. Her armor polished clean soon after.

Her arming jacket was a mess of bloody scars.

At Rundell, she stood vigilant. At Sarrsford, she stood vigilant. At the Wall of Wells, she'd gleamed and swept her steel across, an endless rain of red. Across men, not monsters. The plate had taken not a nick, but she savaged her arming jacket with her own bloody nails and salt-stained the silk with tears. Still, she stood vigilant. 

Her arming jacket was a mess of bloody scars.

The armor gleamed like faith. Beneath, flesh strained and struggled to keep pace.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins