Throwback Thursday: Howler

A throwback to a short story about a couple who decide to holiday in the middle of the woods, and get more than they bargained for.

There was the sound of something running around outside, followed by a low growl. Lexie lifted her head off the pillow to see if she could make anything out on the other side of the curtains, but it was too dark for her to be sure.

“Can you see anything?” she asked Ed.


“Me neither.”

Source: Howler


YouTube Tuesday: The First Lesson

Welcome back to YouTube Tuesday! Today’s poem reaches back in time to November 2013, and the first time I ever taught English – to a class of primary school kids, who still somehow managed to terrify me. Please check it out below, and let me know what you think either below or on YouTube.

The First Lesson

What great fear paralyses you?
There are those who fear spiders,
Innocent as the majority are;
Others who feel faint up high
When they look at the ground below;
Some whose concerns are amplified
By the close proximity of a crowd;
Mine strikes me down when I need strength:
A presentation leaves me with chills.

So why then did I gravitate towards them?
Teaching, whatever age the students,
Is all about presenting information:
Public speaking I have always despised,
But I try never to flee from a challenge
And, aware that my uneasiness had
Total control over the person who I was,
I chose to force myself into a position
Uncomfortable to me, so I could master fear.

I would be a liar if I claimed
That it had been easy or enjoyable
To teach that first lesson, when not only
Did it frighten me, but I also had
No skills, no practical training to speak of.
But if life is not for diving in head first,
Then what is it that we’re living for?
I worried, I stumbled, I quaked from head
To toe: my hopes of victory seemed pathetic.

In a moment gripped by our fear
We can be quick to condemn ourselves
To fates most unfitting, early deaths, or
Embarrassment that we imagine to linger.
And so in that first lesson, I believed
That my time was already up.
But afterwards, observed what errors
I could look to correct – and had proven
To myself that fear can be defeated.

© Laura Marie Clark

If you enjoyed this, please visit my author page to purchase a copy of the book: — or find it on Amazon

Diet or Die Trying

Pressure immeasurable
In this vast, bleak expanse
Weighs down, weighs down
Counting the inches
Encircled with
Tape measures that scorn
Wrap around, wrap around
Outer criticisms constraining
Generating self-hatred
Bitter voices, scowling faces
Judging me, judging me
Inner criticisms encouraged
Taking up the space
Too much space
Push harder, yet
Never enough, never enough
Body imperfect
Expectations beyond reach
Weigh again, weigh again

Fear and Paranoia

I heard it over the speakers.

I’m sure that I did.

It was only my name, but it frightened me. I’ve never heard anyone say it like that before, each syllable carefully and slowly pronounced. The voice was deep, dark, and deliberate.

I’m certain that I heard it, but apparently nobody else did. Normally, when someone is mentioned over the speakers, the rest of the class turns and stares at them until they do whatever they’ve been asked to do.

Nobody moved, though. Not when I heard my name mentioned. Nobody looked around. The teacher didn’t look up from the paper on their desk, or tell me to leave the room, or do anything besides – but I heard it nonetheless.

At the other desks, my classmates clicked their pens or turned the pages of their tests, perhaps just to break the silence. They all seemed to be concentrating hard, or at least hard enough to prevent themselves from becoming bored. We all understood the importance of the test we were taking, but the sound of my name – and I know I heard it – had unnerved me.

I couldn’t focus on the test. Not now. That voice continued to echo in my mind, repeating my name over and over and still nobody else in the room could hear it.

I wondered if this was all somehow deliberate, and that everybody else was out to get me, because it’s better than thinking that I had imagined it.

There had been no instructions, though. No “go the headmaster’s office” after my name. Just that deep voice, dragging out the word until it hurt my eardrums.

I closed my eyes and tried to return to the test. It only seemed to make the voice louder.

I knew that I had failed before the test was over. When we were told to put our pens down, the voice faded, until it vanished completely.

The failure was my own, and I knew it.


‘It’s not the doubts that get to me themselves,’ Peggy tried to explain. ‘I know I haven’t screwed up, I really do.’

Tyler, who was handing in his final assignment of the year at the same time, looked up from the paperwork he was filling in and gave her due attention. Peggy rarely expressed her inner thoughts out loud to him.

‘I mean, the doubts don’t help,’ she added quickly, ‘but when I panic, really panic, then they’re not the reason. I mean, I doubt my sentence structure and what people think of me and whether or not I’ve locked the front door on a daily basis. But those things don’t get to me.’

Tyler put his pen down on the table that was digging into his knees and rest his chin on the back of his hand. He waited.

‘I just think: “Am I good enough? Am I worth all this? Do I deserve to do well?” And some people will say that’s stupid, and it is, or that it encourages the doubts, and it does. Other people will tell me to ignore those thoughts as though that’s a rational response – as though people can actually just squash all their doubts down and pretend they’re not there and live happily ever after. Well, I don’t believe it. Those people don’t understand what it’s like to be afraid of something and nothing.’

Tyler smiled a tight smile. He knew he was one of those people. He grabbed his assignment and the cover sheet and stood up. Peggy copied him.

‘Ready?’ he asked. Peggy gripped her assignment firmly between a pair of long-fingered, shaking hands.

‘I’m good. It’s good.’

‘It’s good,’ he confirmed, unsure what to say.

‘Thanks,’ she said. She turned away from him, then turned back. ‘It doesn’t help,’ she added. ‘But it might in time.’

On a Pale Horse

I move in and out of your reality
I am the whisper you aren’t certain that you heard
I drift through the space between your bodies
I am the awkward pause
When there is nothing left for anyone to say
I make the lonely nights long
And the time that remains to you tick on
And on
And on
I flicker past you
Faster than you can spot me
Was I ever there?
I am the bringer of endings
The beginning of demise
Come and see me, behold
And fear what follows me

Anxious Bones

Normality, they say.
It’s normal
To feel nervous
In new situations,
New locations,
When journeying to new destinations –
But I can’t help feeling
There’s nothing normal
About the uncontrollable shaking,
The sweat,
The tears,
The taste of vomit in the back of my throat.
Those tickling sensations
With unknown causations
That leave me frozen in stagnation –
Just trying to say
A simple “Hello”,
But the word won’t come out
Because I’m wrapped inside
Normal skin
Anxious bones

Slipping Through my Fingers

Sand trickles down through the neck
Between the two bulbs of my hourglass;
The Cup of Yesterday is filling fast

Every second more sand becomes trapped
Within the mound that belongs to the Past;
Too many years have come to pass

What happened to youthful dreams?
Before Time was my greatest enemy,
When the Cup of Tomorrow was still full

The world works so hard, it seems,
To make a fool out of me;
My hourglass counts down to null

The sand of my Time, it is spent

Pressure Rising

A great poem, the relief washes over you as you read.

Gripping Black

132 beats per minute.

It wasn’t a rush
an uncomfortable ache better describes it
a dizzy fall
blackened eyesight
dangerous sways and glassy eyes
cold sweat
the shakes.

…this how drug addicts relapse
The thought flashes temporarily
through my already foggy brain space
and I sit head down, breathing hard,
ignoring the tightening in my arm and chest.

I cried today.
Silent tears staining my face, running and rushing and blinding. Hot, wet, abundant.

I cried today.
I haven’t in awhile and it scared me, not because I fear emotions, but because the reason behind the action was a tumbling, bumbling bunch of confusion.

I cried today.
It was the best release I experienced in ages and I figured the stares in the taxi were welcome for I could feel and I was still real and human and hurting and aching and welcoming the pain;
for it meant I still cared.


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Safety in Numbers

She imagined he had broad shoulders, a muscular chest, and strong arms. He didn’t have them, but she imagined them anyway.

She imagined he had pale skin, freckles on his cheeks, and plump, pink lips. He didn’t have them, but she imagined them anyway.

She imagined he had large, blue eyes, the kind of eyes that she might have become lost within if they had stared at her with powerful, romantic determination. The kind of eyes that were like oceans, that she could have drowned in. He didn’t have them, but she imagined them anyway.

She imagined he was well groomed, well dressed, and thoroughly handsome. He wasn’t, but she imagined he was anyway.

He had a hunched back, a large, round stomach from years of failing to look after himself, and an overall tired look about him. His skin was covered in dirt and oil, marked with age lines, and covered in scars. He had a pair of beady, dark eyes that stared at her in raw, unabashed hunger, leaving her uncomfortable at his lack of shame or respect. His dirty, scruffy clothes were only matched by the lack of attention he had given to the rest of himself, and he was like an ogre looming over her.

When he leaned towards her, getting far too close and slurring his words until they became a tangled mess, she imagined that he was someone else. When he asked her if she wanted to join him for a drink, she pretended that he did not frighten her, that his large form did not intimidate her. She imagined someone else, someone who did not make her feel sick, just so she could hold herself together as he persisted.

‘No, thank you,’ she repeated, over and over again, until she began to get agitated and dropped the pleasantries. The word no continued to fall out of her mouth like a mantra, and eventually he back off, stumbling away and muttering that she was a prude.

Even in her most powerful moment of their conversation, when he had given up hitting on her and left, he had done what he could to make her feel small and pitiful.

She imagined he had not said anything to her at all, then hurried back to the comfort of her friends.

‘Don’t leave me to go off to the bathroom in here on my own,’ she said to them, as she rejoined the group and imagined that she was fine.