Laura Smith

Poetry

 

2010-2013 

 

The Closet

Published March 18, 2010 – Rune Literary Journal

 

Somewhere in legendary New England,

a closet is perpetually locked.

Two keys divvied between sisters.

 

Through the keyhole

in the dark,

a pale blue dress

sways on a hanger

like an executed felon.

 

Faded strawberry juice stains on the sleeves

from a mid-morning snack

devoured beneath the pear tree

or inside the barn.

Convenient alibis.

Sacrifices for an unknown brother’s protection.

 

The head of a broken hatchet

lies carelessly on the floor, discarded

by guilty fingers.

 

Spread on the blade thick with father’s abandonment.

Stepmother’s intrusion.

 

And neatly arranged on the shelf,

sits a stack of pea-colored bills.

 

 

 

Where the Flowers Have Gone

 Published in Carlow University's "The Critical Point" May 2004

            This January day is warmer than the day before, but a layer of frost remains thick on the windows. They would release the aroma of frying bacon inside the small white house if opened. The scent of greasy meat would float up into the sooty sky like a balloon released by a stubborn child who didn’t receive the right color.

            A pair of small, smiling eyes pops up from the windowsill. The young one, too small to reveal his entire face, stands tip-toe on his mother’s sofa just to peek out this much. Checking to see if the coast is clear, he extends his tiny index finger to draw squiggles on the window pane, gliding it across the glass to reveal the desired shape.

            Having wiped some wet frost from the window, he manages to see outside more clearly. Besides the dead, frosty grass is a lemon colored wash cloth hanging on the clothesline. It was left behind from a load of laundry hung out to dry months before and  now rock hard from the elements. Sensing that something is missing, his eyes look around the wooden fence. The ground around it is bare as well, and his eyes frown in puzzlement. By then, breakfast is ready, and the youngster runs off to eat, still wondering where the flowers have gone.

 

 

My First Embarrassment

 Published March 24, 2010 – 6S Word of Mouth Contest Book

The big kids grasped the merry-go-round. The little sat in the center, most of them strangers. Scabby legs wrapped tight around hot metal bars, eager to begin. I was the only girl helping to push, prayed I was fast and strong enough to keep up with the ten-year-old boys. I ran and pushed. The ride started to turn. Our strength overcame its resistance.

It willfully turned. We gained speed. The hot metal bars, streaked with scuffs, squealed like the children riding along. Worn Nikes crunched upon loose gravel. They shrieked FASTER! with each dizzying rotation. The red, blue, yellow wheel swirled like syrup in milk. I’d never run so fast.

 

The runners jumped on mid-spin, let the ride carry them. I followed, jumped and stumbled. Panicked feet slid off the steady spinning floor to the ground. Fingertips gripped into the bar. Gawking spectators shouted over my pleading screams. Stop! Staawwwwwp!  Gravel scratched my legs. Mud caked bare skin and clothes. One arm

detached. Parents gasped but did nothing. Feet slid under the wheel, inches from shredding beneath. Images of wheel chairs, stubs of skin below the knee, a trash can full of shoes.  Broken bones from rolling. Smacking my head off the edge. Amnesia. Concussion. The ride slowed as adult arms finally flashed by to catch the renegade wheel. I held on till it stopped, no strength to pull myself up. Arms draped over the bars. Dad’s hands pulled me off, sat me on the ground with angry, worried motions. Then their stares from all ends, all ages, at my muddy breakdown. 

 

 

I Met You on Your Worst Day

 Published July 12, 2010 – Voices from the Garage

I was introduced to sympathy by your trembling hand

cupping a plastic bottle as red

juice flowed to your mouth, staining your wet lips.

 

My stomach wrenched as you squeezed

the folded top of a lunch bag, soggy sandwich  

bleeding moisture through its side.

 

The tears on your cheeks revealed

events of this year, the worst of your life. I see

them in the crystal ball glints of your eyes.  

 

I’m scared for you, new kid. Your legs straddled the foreign stool, folded under the table in shame of your current state. The corners of my eyes strained, sneaking sideways glances at you next to me. Trying to concentrate on my own lunch. My clenched teeth telling the girls to let you alone. Stop trying to apply a band aid. They just keep tearing it off, trying to find the right spot.

 

The sharp hair of your current enemy and future friend, jutted

from his head which stabbed at the air as he laughed. I wanted

to repel his hard, pounding chuckles. I tried to throw

 

your heaving gasps back at him to entangle in his gut, to taste the poison of meanness. I’d let the feeling saturate his glands, bounce off muscles, fill the crevices of his brain before pulling it off and throwing it away with my Styrofoam tray.

 

But there is nothing to stop the naïve from falling victim to recess banter except to toughen up and hate me. You hate me so I won’t feel sorry for you. You want me to hate you too.

 

 

A Driving Lesson From My New Parents, Two Days Old

  Published August 26, 2010 – Falling Star Magazine

They said it snowed the day they brought me home.
Snow in mid April.
Crazy.
A driver cut my Dad off.
We were thirty seconds from home,
turning off the highway to 
cross the train tracks into frozen suburbia.
I probably jolted in my car seat,
flailing out the way frightened babies do.
I don’t remember crying,
or hearing Dad curse and scream at the reckless driver
while Mom shuddered in the passenger
seat of the powder blue Chevette,
the one I cried over when it was sold five years later.
One day, the new owner skidded over a patch of ice
and crashed into a stop sign.
All that’s left of it anywhere
is the license plate that hangs in the garage;
Mom said I could keep it before they towed it away.
That was twenty-one years ago today
and they’re calling for snow this evening.

 

 

 

you once rode your bike down devil’s hill

 

 (after D.A. Powell’s [you’d want to go to the reunion:see])

  Published March 29, 2012 – Rune Literary Journal

 

you once rode your bike down devil’s hill skidding

your training wheels off. falling

 

over your handlebars, the pebbles

scratching messages into your face.

 

you ran barefoot through the backyard

and didn’t even remember to dodge the pollen

 

 

picking bees burying their noseless faces into white flowers.  into free grass.  we watched you climb the

 

monkey bars, swing violently upside down, fell onto the concrete left a red mark on the back of your head that

 

never went away. where did you get the energy?

crazy straws, Lucky Charms, Flintstone vitamins

 

 

you caught that fever and it ballooned your spirit

it floats above you, out of reach.

 

you have stopped grabbing at it. jumping for it.

you let it hang over you and remind you what you once were.

 

brave girl where have your dresses gone?

brave girl turned tomboy.

 

 

tomboy turned pretty girl.  girl afraid of bees

and tire tracks.  girl who spends her days

 

 

at the bottom of the monkey bars.  you traded

in your soiled dresses...you ran

 

from red berry patches and red coated creatures.

revlon, altoids & bug-eyed sunglasses are your new tools

 

you step carefully and only behind another.

you write phonetically and shamelessly squeal incomprehensible words

 

and would you save another if it was required of you?

would you remember how to run in the woods?

 

or would the mud take you down before

you could reach onto that balloon and float away safely on your past?

 

 

 

Crossword

  Published May 16, 2012 – Blast Furnace Press

Start with one across

ARIA

Drops down to USA

ERA

Three letter words abound

Can never remember

The name of a fencing sword

LIAR

Comes up a lot

Giving way to onomatopoeia

AAHS

As life crumbles in the background

I spell what I want to scream

IAGO

Pops up if no Greek Gods make

themselves known. Set in

EDEN

Where ADAM and even

EVE (the night sky)

May appear

Or long lost pronunciations

ERE ABED

As I sit inside tight, folded covers

Thinking of four letter verbs

ICED, YELP

And never SLEEP.

 

 

When I Used to Like Books

 Published December 2012 Issue 6 - Muse Issue of Lavender Review

When the gray skies broke and the ice melted, I’d meet the little Ingalls girls by the streams for tadpole catching and dress wading. On more adventurous days, Harriet and I would lay on our

bellies on tarred rooftops, scribbling furiously on our 1-subject notebooks, noting every observation, chewing on plastic pen caps through gapped teeth. I’d sit with Angel on clear days,

watching Rags play in the dirt or use my best negotiating skills to help Peter coax Fudge out of a tree, refer them both to The Babysitter’s Club for future reference. I’d walk to the mailbox with

Lee to drop off a letter to Mr. Henshaw, stopping to admire Old Dan and Little Anne’s latest kill hanging out to dry from the Coleman house. On the way home see Matilda and Charlie try to

start a kickball game. Sophie already choosing her BFG to be on her team while James divvies out peach slices covered in Wonka chocolate. Craving a moment of normalcy, the Boxcar

children would give me a lift up the mountain where Heidi invited me in for fresh goat’s milk and cheese slabs slid onto thick slices of bread. A side of vegetables from Mary and Dickon’s

garden. I’d walk home with Fern returning from her visit with Wilbur and Charlotte, red pig tail bobbing up and down. Stuart Little hitches a ride on her shoulder, anxious to get home before

dark. As the light dimmed, the print too dark to see, I’d shut my book for the night.

 

 

 First Day of High School

 Published in Torrid Literary Journal July 2013

 

is always a maze of hallway tile,

closed classroom doors.

 

Vines grow from the open ceiling.

The sky above, freedom blue. Walls shift

 

like movable sets. Disoriented students

always lost on campus.

 

The panic of being walled in,

racing the timed, rattling bells.

 

Reading off room numbers,

shifting stacks of books in rubbery arms,

 

A cacophony of flapping notebook paper,

tapping of pens, scuff mark squeaks

 

of new shoes on shiny floors.

Following sidewalk paths

 

from building to building,

squinting at schedules in illegible print.

 

Stomach wrenches like the real thing

at the glares from faculty, zoning in on my innocence. 

 

 

Bare Bones Home

 Published in "Seeding the Snow" December 2013

 

Stored in a bubble

is my childhood home.

The barn red siding

is still crisp. I melt into its bold,

sturdy color.

But there is no glass in the windows.

The paneling is infested with termite bites.

The front door is missing.

The floor is carpeted with matted grass,

watered by a hole in the roof.

Sunshine funnels in.

There are no neighboring homes. 

No neighborhood at all.

No walnut trees in the yard. 

Only yellow fields,

bare remains.

 

 

March 2014

Poetry Highway

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Poetry-Highway/