Curtain Call: A Poem

You want me to perform on stage

For you alone

An actress reciting lines written long ago

When you first imagined nubile girls

And felt stirrings sensual and strange

You ask for a curtain call

But the first act has not yet begun

Or even been rehearsed

I am outside this theater looking up

At its neon lights.

Wondering whether to step inside

Or run from their harsh glare

To the soft twinkling

Of country summer.

You want my ecstatic dance

To rise like a crescendo before your eyes

My limbs twisting and convulsing in

Tribal rhythms

But the music has yet to play

And I am wrapped in the silence.

You want an aria, a magnum opus

A soprano hitting notes so high

As to shatter hearts.

But I am just a woman.

And can’t even sing on key.

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.ne

No Ride: A Finding Joy Excerpt

The winter stars twinkled above the streetlamps in the midnight sky. Porch lanterns glimmered through the fog. A lone car’s headlamp shone in the distance.

But shadows prevailed. Dusky hands swiped from the gloom. A blackness I’d never escape.

I kept running. Rushing forward in a race against no one. Each breath drew shorter. I started gasping, chest tightening with every stride.

Palm trees swayed overhead, their sharp fronds whispering like necromancers creating curses. Repeatedly, they murmured, “Dog. Freak. Outcast.” Meanwhile, wispy clouds became wraiths assaulting the sky.

Praying that speed would shrivel the words, I tried focusing on my feet. And raced on.

If there truly was a fairy godmother, she’d tell me to close my eyes to erase it all. But when I tried, Angie’s sneering face remained etched on the back of my lids.

 I sprinted up one street. Down another.

Then I turned the corner and flew head long into the street. Saw the headlights. Too late. A horn blared and tires screeched. 

The next thing I knew I was splayed out in someone’s yard, watching a man in a dark Camaro roll down his window.

“Stupid kid! Watch where you’re going!” he shouted before peeling out.

If I’d had any buzz before that, it sure as shit was gone now. Panting, I hugged my knees as the wet grass soaked into my Dittoes.

The street was quiet now. Shivers tingled my scalp and pulsed down my spine until I was shaking so much, I thought that big earthquake they always talk about had begun.

I want to go home. Sit on Mom’s lap like I had when I was little, feeling her stroke my hair as she told me things that weren’t true like sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you.

Take a deep breath, Joy. Think. You don’t’ know where you are, but you need to find out. It’s almost curfew.

My legs tightened as a full-on Charlie horse set in. Standing I limped over to a nearby street sign, grabbed the pole with both hands, and started to stretch out my right calf.

The sign said Malibu Avenue. Where had I heard that before? Wracking my brain, I tried to remember street names, but everything was fuzzy and mixed up.

Right or left? Both looked pretty much like dead ends, but I either picked one or stayed on this corner shivering all night. Eeenie meanie Minnie moe.

Left it is.

***

By the time I finally found my way home it was real late, probably past two. I thought maybe I could sneak in and my parents wouldn’t notice.

Turning the knob as slowly as I could, I slipped inside.

 “Where the hell have you been?” Ronny thundered, his eyes red and angry.

“Umm. At Janice’s.”

He grabbed me by the collar and pulled me closer. I could still smell the Seagram’s under the toothpaste on his breath. “Liar. We called. She was with her boyfriend.”

“But I was with them. Really.”

“You were whoring around, little slut.”

“No! I was with Janice and Lisa, I swear.”

Mom stepped into the entryway. “Tell us the truth Joy. Was it a boy?”

“No.” I sighed. Busted, I might as well tell the truth. “I was a party, okay? Some kids had a party.”

“Whoring around?”

“I don’t do that. just went to a party.” Then under my breath said, “Nobody’d want me anyhow.”

Mom’s face fell. “You lied to us?”

“I thought you’d say no. You guys are so strict-”

“I’ll show you strict you little slut!” Ronny raised an arm.

“Stop calling me that.”

Grabbing a fistful of t-shirt, he said, “Slutty jeans. Whore top.”

“Asshole!” I jerked away.

“Why you fucking little–” His fist recoiled off my face.

For the first time I ignored the pain and fear. Instead, rage filled me. Every punch Mom and I had ever endured. Every black eye and bruise. Every cruel word of derision. Every time I’d cowered behind my door. All turned to paper flashing flame.

I wish he’d just crawl in a hole and die.

I swung. Fists curled like he showed me. Connected with that fucking red face. Arms burning with rage. Imitating the blows he’d inflicted year after year.

Smack! Rapid fire strikes shot off from two pairs of arms. Child against adult. Girl against man. Victim against perpetrator.

 Mom’s screams did nothing to stop the conflagration. Too many years of fuel. I punched and punched. Not giving a shit as to how loud she cried or how much my face was swelling.

She got behind me and grabbed my waist. “Stop, now!” she said dragging me off him.

I stumbled back. Raised an arm toward her but then gasped when I realized what I was doing. A tear-stained face looked at me accusingly.

“What’s wrong with you?”

Ronny placed a hand on Mom’s back. “She’s a spoiled bitch, that’s what.”

Shaking my head, I backed up. Only now feeling the fire on my cheeks, I cupped them and froze. I hate him, fucking hate him.

 After lowering my hands, I ran to my room. With a loud door slam, I fell onto the bed and buried my face in a Tide-scented pillow. Pounding the mattress, I screamed, “I didn’t do anything!”

Asswipe.

And I’d really been trying lately. Not getting high so much. Working on my grades, friggin’ joined the school paper, even wrote two articles that got published. I tried getting home before curfew. Wasn’t my fault I couldn’t get a ride.

Why do I even try? No matter what I do, things suck.

A smoldering something changed in me that day. It blistered into a scalding char that burned under my skin. And the tears that flooded my pillow did nothing to smother it.

I fucking give up.

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Bleached Memory: A Poem

Father’s memory betrayed.

In revisionist history

Sketch after sketch erased.

Canvases unpainted.

She hides his true face

From the world.

Morphing the second Borax’s

Paint-splattered cloak

Into the bleached mantle

Of a king’s antiseptic empire.

The above poem follows the theme of my new novel: Artania V. What is memory? Why is it important? Here fifteen year old Bartholomew realizes that his mother has always lied about who his deceased Father was.

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Raucous Éclair: A Poem

The mute speak in raucous voices

Spewing chocolate éclairs and ice cream

At satiated audiences.

The blind behold paper movie-set flames

Licking the walls of war-torn villages

Where no one lives.

The deaf attend to the muffled sirens

Of disgruntled men in leisure suits

Who cry “Buy!” and “Sell!” into cellular phones.

I see only darkness through my colored contact lenses

As pop bands play, “My future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.”

I tap my foot, sans rhythm, to the minstrel mime blaring silent recordings on a blank tape.

Voices clamor for the sky.

Tears fall on the shadows of shoulders.

While I orate and conversate.

And emit passionate cliches and sublime euphemisms.

But only the mute hear me,

And they can’t respond.

Photos by David Stroup

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Is This The Matrix?

Is this all an illusion? Am I truly here on this planet revolving around the sun or am I a dream in someone else’s imagination? Is my mind my own or the extension of a large factory?

The movie The Matrix poses these questions with superb symbolism and poetic ideologues.  Through the use of a futuristic world whereby a machine race has enslaved mankind as a renewable energy source, we both question our own existence and our purpose here on Earth.  If we are but a dream inside of an elaborate world of dreamers, and controlled by image-makers is there any free will?  How can we fight injustice and inequality if life is only a mirage?  Perhaps we believe we are at battle but truly all is a simulacra; a construct of our minds and we are in conflict with our own alter-egos.

As the story unfolds we find ourselves intrigued by the young man, Neo who searches for something he calls the Matrix.  Isn’t this a symbol of our own search for a spiritual existence in a technical world?  As we further remove ourselves from a nature and find comfort and company ever more in electrical images does it not make sense that a quest for spirit would take place on the Internet?  Yet when Neo delves deeper into this world of computers he finds not a God but a race of machines who have declared themselves God.  So, does he embrace them and kneel before their alters? No!  On the contrary! He joins a force which seeks to destroy their temples in a holy crusade.  He is an unbeliever at first.  He doubts what he cannot see or touch.  But then again, what has he ever felt or touched that he can trust?

Morpheus says, “Welcome to the real world.” But Cipher quips, “Why didn’t I take the blue pill?”

Do we constantly take the blue pill?  We wrap ourselves up in the digital world of computers, TVs, cellular phones, hidden behind cubicle dividers or car privacy glass. Hell, we could have hundreds of conversations in a day while never touching another living human being. Constantly cut off from real interaction with the world.

Although violence is often a gratuitous tool used by Hollywood to entice movie goers, the violence is essential to the plot in this film.  As Neo combats the machine constructs within the digital Matrix, he must face his own doubts and fears thus seeing that there is more to his world than meets the eye. It becomes a symbol of man’s struggle with himself. It forces us to ask what is more important in the intellect versus the body or faith versus fact questions that have long plagued human kind. Do we live the life we choose or one of enslavement?  Neo fights his way through and overcomes internal struggles in trying to discover who he is and where he is going.

Just like me.

About Laurie: The author of the recently released Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, and Forests Secrets.  Laurie Woodward  is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net

Crumbling Horizon: A Poem

He emerged on the horizon

Of a crumbling walk

And paused to swab

Caked and

Bleeding feet.

 

Pointing downward

He spoke:

 

Tread lightly on love’s esplanade

Skip rope, draw chalk figures,

And dance upon it,

Let it lead you to

Wondrous playgrounds

And home again.

 

And beware

The falling snowflakes,

So beautiful as to blind,

Whose ice crystals

Seep into cracks

Breaking

The consecrated.

And turning it to dust.

 

Until all that is left

Are aimless fragments

On the wind.

nudemeltingwater

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

Hope for Peace: 10 Ways to Effect Change

Just like you, recent events have rocked me to the core. As humanity’s ugly underbelly is exposed with mange and open sores that continue to bleed, I’m seeking hope. For me, it lies with children. I have seen first hand that these innocents desire justice and harmony. I believe children have the power to create profound change in our world. If there is ever to be true peace, it must transcend the generations. But first they must dream of the changes they want. Here are ten creative ideas I’ve used with my students. Let’s all begin the change.

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1. Make Peace Cards.

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2. Make an anti-bully poster.

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3. Draw cartoons dealing a bully.

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4. Paint a peace sign on a paper plate.

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5. Create a Love the Earth card.

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6. Make a dream board.

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7. Photograph someone doing a kind act.

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8. Create a dance high-fiving and smiling with your buds.

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9. Film a video of yourself singing a peace song.

Colby Jeffers: Change the World

10. Paint a self-portrait.

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Any more ideas? Share  and we’ll turn 10 to 10,000!

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Dream Lover: A Poem

I see him

In shadow

And light

In dreams

And waking.

I reach out

But he isn’t there.

 

About Laurie: The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

 

Hoarfrost Barricade: A Poem

He stands behind a glass wall

Inviting me to look through

Its streaked opaqueness

Gyrating his hips

And flashing a nipple.

 

As if seeing his skin

Will make me believe that

His heart is open.

 

He turns this way and that

Taunting

Teasing

Forcing my breath to come

Ever faster.

 

Then retreats.

One step

Two.

I press my fingers to

The glass

Each exhalation

Fogging his image.

 

He retreats further.

And I search for a

Hammer

To smash through this barricade

 

Pounding

Until

Hoarfrost

Rains

Down

Icy slivers tear through flesh

And open veins

We bleed.

And for a moment

Know

What truly

Beats in our chests.

 

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

Shards of Us: A Poem

Broken shards

Scattered over the floor

Remnants of a life

He tossed away.

I reach for one

Two, seven pieces

Trying to reassemble them

But the fragments are

So small

And fragile

They crumble to dust in my hands.

grandmahand

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net