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Jul 24, 2012

Survival and Shrouded Mystique - Phyllis Laughlin


Insanity is a brick wall
veneered in green-glass shards,
draped in crimson velvet.
It sweats and rolls
in a ripped, tattered quilt
with surreal images
of point-blank shots
fired by my brother
while my mother and I
sew the victim's lips shut
and step gingerly
around the filth and excrement
emitted by the crime.
Madness is a fist in the chest,
an aneurysm,
a numb arm
clinging to a cliff,
the terror of the drop
to new lows
on the Stygian rocks
waiting to smash
the last vestiges
of my survival
into blasphemous bits of loss.

Shrouded Mystique

I shrouded my soul
in a burka
of navel-showing,
cleavage-baring shirts
and shorts that required
an R-rating when
retrieving my esteem
from under a sticky table.
Tan, razor-smoothed skin,
plastic, hot pink nails,
and the highest platforms
fifteen dollars could buy,
teetering on the edge of
perilously examining my identity.
My entire voice was
blackened by a coy laugh
and drunken karaoke
limelight moment--
the girl revealing nothing
and everything to anyone
with a beer bottle
through the words of
Eddie Vedder.

But I fell off the high bar.
I shroud my soul
in tortoise-shell glasses
and cable-knit cardigans,
jeans worn to a fade
on each knee where
muddy puppy dog prints
alert any erstwhile predators
that I have teeth and claws
barbing my perimeter
from any foray into my abyss,
my furry, shark-faced henchmen
circling my thoughts and fears.
The silver hoops I wear in my ears
dare the brazen outspoken
to jump through them--
I'd love to have a chance
to beat you at your tired game.
The bun pulls back my eyes
into a constantly skeptical gaze.

And they ask me why
I dumb down my beauty,
while I search for those
who are smart enough
to find my loveliness
without a lacquered road sign.

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