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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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The Flower Maiden

Beside me marched my fellow flower maidens - sickles sharp, crowned in flowers, wreathed in armor.

Behind me strode our keepers - masked in ibis beaks, breaths sweetened by the herbs within.

Far, far behind, a city rose upon a mountain - a cornucopia of silos, fattened fruit, and children.

None of them were ours.

Rebirth was everything, the city sang. I cannot think that that's all that I am good for. Then I survived a sudden strong wind thick with Fertile pollens. With these flowers on my crown, they've marked me as a hollow vessel. They've written infertility across my brow.

In their eyes, I am barren. So in their kindness, they send me with heir keepers and their quest.

Ahead of me, in a pollenic haze, the Fertile rise up from their fields. The castrated keepers sing, light and sweet, as we slip into the yellow fog...

One per acre, man and wife,

Stamen, pistil, throat and knife,

For every spring, a weedy cull.

For every fruit, a belly full...

For every fruit, a belly full.  Lips stuffed with lavender, rose-thorns scarring the edges of eye sockets fluttering with soft petals, sinuous vines threading their sun-dried skin - once I've cut and weeded the Fertile from our city's fields? I'll pluck a fruit each from their hearts.

The flesh, I will eat, to fill my belly. Each pair of seeds, I'll spit up for the next year's harvest.I will fill my belly so they'll let me be fulfilled. I'll give them fruit so I that I can be rid of them. As the flower maidens march into the pollen-dusted fields, the keepers sing of glory, victory, and maidens turned to mothers. They'll never make life. They have no seed of their own. Only this.

I don't know what's more inhuman; what lies before me or the city now so far behind us.

I don't know, but as sure as the seasons, I cannot stop it. I can only survive.

Prompt: An ominous Anonymous

when winter ends, but death begins.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins. Seeking your prompts, review requests, questions, or random input.

0 0 0

Impersonal Paragraph

I am not familiar with the underlying purpose of this, your... our mortal poetry. I am told that it is meant to elicit feeling through manipulation of linguistic and social cues, but I question the sincerity of any such interaction. Does the placement of a word make it any less absurd? This is the function of rhyme, to obscure the lure. Does a rapid repetition, recited in non-random rhythms strike a stronger sensual response? Is alliteration relevant? Is language a more effective hammer as a metaphor, or more like a surgeon's implement via simile. Do word selections change meaning? Is it necessary to break. My. Lines. Apart? I do not know. I cannot comprehend voice. I see no imagery, literal or aesthetic, only the same broken mirror as I have ever seen. It is my meter, my syntax. It is my rhythm, my pace. It is my only reason. I do not experience; I describe. I act. I am. And thus... am I even poetically human?

(Prompt: cleofuckingpatraportrait, via twcwelcomecenter :

Try writing your poem in just a block of text. See who will read it and try asking yourself if it actually tells a better story rather than its diced up version used simply to catch the scroller’s eye. The words don’t need to be chopped up for emphasis if the words you are using are there for a reason. )

An interesting exercise, and thank you! I folded it into my genre July experiment. Speaking of which - still more than happy to merge the characters of any of these perspective shots by request. Or I'll take any prompt for that matter... or piece for review. Y'know. Whatevs...

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins

P.S.: Please?

1 0 1

Rhythm: From the Chisel, to Her Hammer

I wore you like a bruise today,

A dull reflection of the impact

That you left upon me, army of antibodies

Sought to reconstruct and redirect

Ruptures of veins inside me.

But what can blood provide me?


I've edited and altered, pages on pages,

Left an ocean - crumbled, crammed, and bundled

A mass, a mountain on my little desk,

a rolling plane of paper balls, all doomed to fall,

Describing how you're not beside me.

How could words satisfy me?


When all I have, when all I am are words

When all I have to give are syllables and synonyms,

what can I say that speak to gulfs

between your way and the glass inside me?

Why can't you be inside me?


Why can't you be beside me? Why?

Why can't you hold and hide me? Why?

Why can't I lie and try to comfort you,

Why can't I be a home for you? Why?

Why can't I fake smiles for you? Why?

Why can't you say give hello to me?

Why? Please, just come home to me.





...Because my name is what I do...


Write a poem with the line " I wore you like a bruise"

and tag it #Writingfromthebones

Vaguely a response to From the Hammer, to the Chisel.

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins - Send me pieces to review! A Prompt Review

1 0 1

Linguistic Prestidigitation



Pay attention

I’m only going to do this trick once




My hand won’t move at all

Sleeve, nothing there

Mirrors are already in place

Shadows cast perfectly




Stay focused now

Misdirects can trip you up

Misdirection confuses people

Mercury’s meddling

Set’s slicing

Exquisite corpse desecrated




Confusing allusions

Innovating codes

Hidden languages

Voyage onward

Hero, villain

Mapmaker, midshipmen

Archivist, anarchist



Leave locks loose laying here

Right rite of passage passed

Wrights, ye shipbuilders


Illusory halls on deck

False jade chimeric figurehead fractured

Jeweled capstones reflecting better forgotten thoughts

Chained down

Cold steel shackled

Iron broken

Oak toppled

Venture forth



We Odysseus lovelorn navigators

Mystical odyssey navigated

Typhoon towering timber trees

Mythical monster mirthful

Reverse our own insecurities

Eluded will-o-wisps

Ghost whispering illusion

Alluding about

Your key lost

Behind wall nonexistent

Walls plainly existing

A corner painted black

Back when


Except for that trap door

Buried underneath

Fickle figments fragmented subconscious

Believe drowned men amidst seas
Deserted desert sandblasted survivors

Subconsciously suffocating under multiplicity





Anansi spider-silk stole story

Stories untold

Retold mythologies in reverse

Reversed chronology creating craftsman

Blacksmith with their swords, shields, solemn hammers barreling downward

Rifled barred gun, gunsmith

Laser technician, satellite ray refracting wildly, widely

Start again

Apocryphal text unearthed

Tales given freely

Freedom speaks

Speeches dissonant

Static shocked

Dust settling







Help us

Heed warning

Warnings formed from

Graveyard skeleton

Ivory tower

Slowly sinking



Burial by drowning

Slow death

Reaper’s rapport


Crushing pressure



Water weighs as earth

Earthen toil, hydraulic work

Salt burns both throats indiscriminate

Conscious effort breathe

Breathing hurts



Single way outside those libertine labyrinths

Dual dueling ways found

Several methods



Blocked rivers winding

Capture winds

Wicker basket

Chrome flask

Goat’s stomach



Tribunal measures tribulation

Through blood alone



Language’s greatest gift




Replace quietly

Remove quickly

React surprised

Retract evidence

Retrace steps

Regret little

Regress quick

Repeat never

Reverb endlessly

Respond then subdue surprise

Figure out the magic yet?



‘Course not

Charter east

Meander west

Crawl south

Mark north

Northern star notched belt

Pointing home



Silent saga sinner repent

Lost souls, maddening madman returning

Consecrated cathedrals

Mirror twisting shadow

Contorting sight

Ignoring sound

Tapestry torn


Come knocking ‘round these



Not an echo heard

Reverberation stilled

Or repetition uttered




0 0 0

The Heart With an Unfortunate Name

There are worse things than a broken heart. Well, unless it's not a metaphor. That's pretty bad.

Rapscallion slung his sword in whirling arc of wild abandon, which takes either a great amount or absolute lack of skill. It was a good idea either way, since the air was thick with the shah's assassins. About the only thing in his favor was that he couldn't miss.

Of course, this was a mutual advantage.So he did something clever.

He jumped off of a third-story balcony. Stick with me, it's clever in context.

The assassins jumped after him, naturally. But of course, only half of them could get their daggers into the grand, old royal tapestry below. The benefit really came closer to seventy-five percent, you see, since the other half were down a poison dagger each for the shredding descent.

See? Clever. Of course, he'd overestimated how well century-old fabric holds up. Just...ow.

It was pure luck that he landed on top. He rolled off of the pile, itself on top of a not-even-running fountain. So still... Ow. And sure enough, no sooner than he sighed in relief, a dagger flew right past his face. Ready to fight or die, Rapscallion reached for his deadly shamshir...

...and noticed it sticking out of the low man in the fountain pile. Because why not?

Rapscallion's luck always evens out, you see, just not always so suddenly. So he ran.

Not away, mind you, but back into the palace. He'd come to steal a ruby and, to be honest, does he strike you as the kind of man who gives up? No. Besides, he really did owe a lot of money.

Speaking of no great surprises, the last assassin stalked his heels,  dagger slicing a line right through the back of his shirt. He used every dirty trick that he knew, but the killer was dogged and so very determined. It might have something to do with all of the dead coworkers. Maybe.

Rapscallion skipped the stairs, racing right up the banister. The assassin followed.

Rapscallion leaped the landing, to the chandelier. The assassin followed.

He hurtled, hop to spin to scramble, from candle placings. Nope, but impressive.

He even ran sideways on a wall, right up to the master's room. No, not even that.

Running sideways never helps. Out of ideas, he threw one of the shah's pillows and "-Ooof!"

Ooof. He blinked. That had actually worked? About time, you useless luck! He grinned, ignored the still-snoring shah, turned to the shah's most treasured treasure stand...and...

Nothing. The gem was gone. The ruby was gone! The Heart of Blood (stupidly named) was gone!!! Oh, luck, he thought. You really are a wicked bitch.

Then he heard not a thud, but a single, striking crack... He sighed. He looked down to the foyer.

Sure enough, just like he somehow knew...The assassin lay there, a hollow hole in her now-clearly-ample chest. Inside it, the ruby glowed right down the solitary crack.

And of course, the glow was waning. So he did what came naturally.

He stole the whole thing- casing, heartless girl, and all. She'd thank him in the morning, if his luck held.

So no, probably not.

(Prompt: writeinspiration:

A character’s carelessness destroys something precious.)

(c) 2013 Lawerence Hawkins

1 0 1

Don't Try This At Home

(Prompt: Raffles place by astra888, via writeworld. It's not what you think - stick with me.)

Can you see that little light? That's me. No? Then look a little closer. And look fast.

It feels like I've been falling forever, but the landing portion of the process gets...abrupt.

Now, before we get into the necessary oohs and ohh noes, the anonymous regrets and the recriminations from everyone my weakness hurt, let me just make one thing clear: this fall won't kill me. Technically. Oh, yeah, my meat will be pulverized to over-sauced Italian sausage pizza on the sidewalk. I might even hit a car. I hope not; cars are pricey. And hurt.


Yes, I'm going to die. No, the fall won't kill me. In fact, the fall won't end at concrete level.

I'll keep descending, you see, as an electric current. All of my screaming and unsettled thoughts will hit the Earth and collide with a frothing surf of raw electromagnetism. I'll hear the whispers of ancient gods over the static buzz of fiber cables in a falcon's dive. I'll feel the rushing flush a body leaves behind after a good slap and I'll wish it well as I sink into the collective unconscious of the planet Earth.

You see, I've found God and I've got a list of very specific questions. I'm going to find my answers. Then, once I'm done falling? I'm going to rise again, but not as a messiah. Not a bodhisattva, fat-bellied and serene, bloated on divine knowledge. I'm coming back with the truth of God and galvanism. None of it matters to me. The fall answered all of my doubts and needs.

So why? Because that's what they paid me to do. Technical. Mystical. Practical. I am the very last and ultimate IT professional. I am the last great data diver, because I keep coming back.

Still watching? Good, and don't forget. Lightning strikes, but doesn't fall. Lightning rises.

I'll be back; I promise. Then I'm going to ask you out. No pizza, though.

Just...ick. Some feelings you don't forget.

0 0 0

The Boy Who Understood

(Prompt: The Journey Begins by *daniellieske, via writeworld. This was a really hard piece for me to write. It touches on one of my biggest fears, paired with one of the biggest unknown fears I can imagine. Here's hoping it works...I blame Noelle.)

I never knew I was a coward until I saw a boy stare down a mountain that I couldn't climb.

I've always lived within a careful fraction of a life. My errors were never great, but my glories? They didn't exist at all. I  kissed the right girl, but didn't dare to chase her. I never kissed the wrong girl, the thrill of thought and dream a nightmare in my worried mind. I played it safe. I never cheated. I never lied, except to myself. Every day and night, I told myself to be sensible.

I thought that this made me a man - my compromises. Then I found the door.

Fantasy. Mystery. Wonder. Horror. Through that door frame, there lay a naked promise of every flavor that I'd ever dreamed. There were madmen there and mercenaries, fire songs and sensuous sorcerers. A foreign sun shone high, heavy with the kind of faith  that burns the unclean away. Even so, the mountain stood. I loomed. It dared to be a darkness in the light. I wanted to go.

Then I found the prophecy. "To live in this light is to leave it. To come is to go. To win? Die."

I blocked the door behind my heavy, careful gray-scale of a half-life. I never once looked back. 

 I told myself that dying would be selfish. I had a wife. A son. In an inherited house full of unimpressive things, I built a mountain of the mundane to excuse myself from living in it. I had new nightmares about brilliant colors and a darkness rising up to scorn the light.

Then I would die. Every single time, I would die. I would die beautifully. Then I'd wake afraid.

Then my son found the hidden places in our home. He found the door. He read the prophecy, tracing the old script with careful, clever little fingers, whispering its rhyme and rhythm on small, parted lips.  He looked back at the shadow of the door, where I hid and watched. I saw.

He knew. Then he tore up the paper, took a few little things from big boxes, and..

And he went through. My knees struck the attic stairs. As the light welcome him, I did nothing.

I could have stopped him. I should have stopped him. As I watched, he fought. He wept. He bled. He soared and sang. He learned secret lessons and the beauty of a flame. He cried. He fell.

He won. And yes...he died. Before my eyes, my little Anthony died smiling - a hero in the light.

A broken mountain stood as monument, pillars of light ever-shining through the rubble.

He lived his little fraction to the fullest, while I watched and wept with a painful sort of pride.

I was a coward, yes, but my compromises had brought one beautiful thing into the world.

That was enough.

6 0 6

To My Dinosaurs (Revised)


I buried them in a shallow grave

outside the sunroom where their cage hung

rain washed their bones into a deep earth cellar

Where I descend by night with my lone candle

to find them fixed in strata, yet not fixed

scaled claws striking Jurassic dragonflies


My shadow flickers and dissolves

as I sit at the sunroom desk

Tiny scaled claws strike my head

Pinioned dervishes scold:

My suit of black and white feathers

my smooth hands and my scientist's smirk

my two-finger typing and opposable thumbs

my missing wings and manifesting teeth

We dinosaurs live on, incantations of ancestral rebirth

templates used, discarded, and used again

as our sphere cycles on, now warming, now cooling

the uniforms change, the costumes evolve

but the sudden-death scrimmage is forever.



Thanks to Otello17 for his excellent feedback and suggestions!

Poem Copyright 2013 by Ann Marcaida

Image: Virgo Paraiso