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Ron Sanders  Feb 2020
Hero
Ron Sanders Feb 2020
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

There is a glacier.
Its blue tongue’s tip just tastes a frozen gorge.
There is a gorge, its walls shattered by cold; a once-green thing that, in dying, birthed a thousand aching fissures. It works its jagged way downhill, round ragged rifts and drifts until it comes upon a little frosted wood.
There is a wood, an island locked in ice.
Within this wood the gorge descends. It wanders and it wends; it brakes and all but ends outside a clearing wet with sun. And there, forking, its bent and broken arms embrace a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a glade.
And in this glade the black bears sleep, though salmon leap fat between falls. Here the field mouse draws no shadow, the eagle seeks no prey; they spend their while caressed by rays, and halcyon days are they. Here rabbit and fawn may linger, no longer need they flee. For in this timeless, taintless space, the Wild has ceased to be. (Outside the glade are shadow and prey, are ice and naked death. There blood may run freely. There the eagle, that thief, is a righteous savage, a noble fiend. But once in the glade he is dove, and has no taste for blood, running freely or otherwise).
And in this glade there nests a pool:  a dazzling, blue-and-silver jewel; profoundly deep, pristinely clear. All who sip find solace here, for this is the Eye of Being. They lap in peace, assuming blear, not knowing it is seeing. And ever thus this pool shall peer:  a silent seer, reflecting on—all that Is, and all Beyond.
(Outside the glade there lies a world where rivers ever run, where ghastly calves in random file revile a bitter sun. East, the day is born in mist. West she dies:  her rest, the deep. And North…North the Earth lies mute. Wind gnaws her hide, wind wracks her dreams. Wind screams like a flute in her white, white sleep).
But in the glade are tall, stately grasses, sunning raptly, spinning lore. Roots render the rhythms, blades bend without breeze, as signals ascend from the glade’s tender floor. (In this wise the glade weaves its word, airs its views. All the glade’s flora are bearers of news). They do not wither with fall, for in the glade there is no fall. They do not bind or wilt or brown—they gesture, spreading the mood, the mind; conveying, indeed, the very soul of the glade. As ever they have, as they shall evermore.
Bees do not hum here; they sing. They fatten the dream. Mellow and round are the timbres they sound, sweet is the music they bring. Birds do not sing here—they play. They carry the theme. Dulcet and warm are the strains they perform. Gifted musicians are they. (All in the glade are virtuosi. They were born to create. Melody, harmony, meter…are innate). Now the performance is lively and bright, now full, now almost still. For, though all in the glade may lean to the light, they must bend to the maestro’s feel.
And yet…there was a day, long ago in a dream, when this ongoing opus was torn. And on that day (so the lullaby goes) the wind brought a scream, and Dissonance was born.
There was a noise.
Moose tensed, their coffee eyes narrowed, their patient brows creased. Bees mauled the tempo, birds lost their place. The grass stood *****, all blades pointing east. There was a crash, and a shriek, and a naked, bleeding beast burst stinking through the fern, fell stumbling on its face.
Moose scattered:  unheard of. Sheep brawled, geese burst out of rhyme. The symphony, forever endeavored to soar sublime, fluttered, plunged, and, for all of a measure, ceased.
The pool was appalled…what manner brute—what kind of monster was this? Furless flank to forelimb, hide obscured by blood. As for its face…it had no face; only a look:  of shock frozen in time, of horror in amber. A deep welling rift ran temple to chin, halving the mask, caving it in. Such a grievous wound…the pool watched it stagger, on two legs and four, thrashing about till it came to a rise. There it labored for air, wiped the blood from its eyes, lashed at illusion, looked wildly round. Beholding the pool, the beast tumbled down.
And there this wretch plunged his thirst, drank his fill, fell back on his haunches.
The pool became still.
The two traded stares.
The glass read his features:  that durable eye pondered the wreckage and probed the debris. Revolted, the pool sought the succor of sky. But that thing remained—that face…in all creation…surely there could be…no other creature so ugly as he.
And he gazed in the glass.
Beneath the surface were…images…swimming in currents of shadow and light. He saw half-shapes and fragments…hideous men, exotic beasts…saw blue worlds of water, saw white worlds of ice…it was all so vague and unreal—yet somehow strangely familiar. Deeper he peered, but, as his mangled face neared, the sun smote the pool and the shapes disappeared. The brute pawed the ground and, dreaming he’d drowned, shook his head sharply and slowly looked round:
There were starlings at arm’s-length, transfixed with suspense, their tail feathers trembling, their dark eyes intense. Fantails and timber wolves, stepping in sync, paused for a sniff, stooped for a drink. Bees, pirouetting, threw light in his eyes. Seizing the moment, the pool pressed its hold.
And the glade revolved.
The freak watched it spin—saw the ferns’ greedy fingers reach round and close in, saw the tall grass rise high in an emerald sheen, swaying to rhythms from somewhere obscene. This place was madness; he struggled to stand, but, weak as he was, keeled over cold.
And the glade heaved a sigh, and the tall grass reclined, in curious patterns once rendered in whim. Far off in thunder the hard world replied, as iced pines exploded and screamed on the breeze. Down bore the sun, a chill just behind. The pool, grown blood-red, fended frost from its rim. Details dissolved in the oncoming tide. The pool dimmed to black. Night seeped through the trees.
Now flora found slumber while, pulsing below, the pool was infused with a soft ruby glow.
Soon birds bearing beech leaves, and needles of pine, laid down a spread and returned to the limb. But breath from the North blew their blanket aside. The wind grew in earnest, the air seemed to freeze.
And the wolf and the she-bear, of contrary mind, abhorring their task approached, looking grim. They sniffed him for measure, then, loathing his hide, growled their displeasure and dropped to their knees.
All night these glum attendants flanked his naked quaking form. The rising moon drew dreams in gray.
In time the man grew warm.

Morning swept through the glade in one broad stroke of the master’s brush, dappling the foliage with amber and rose. The pool was roused by the sweet pass of light. He opened his eye and the glade came alive:  into the whirlpool of life a thousand colors swam, chasing the scattering eddies of night. The magic of morning began.
Bluebird and goldfinch descended in rings, primaries clashing with robin and jay. Dollops of sun, repelled by their wings, spattered anew on the palette of day. Banking as one, the hues struck away.
There was a crowd.
And in this crowd that oddity sat, its chin on its chest, its rear pointing west. Its forepaws lay leaning, upturned and at rest. ***** and blood messed its muzzle and breast. Passed overnight. Or perhaps only dozed…tendril by tendril, claw by claw, the crowd decompressed:  the ring slowly closed.
And the stranger cried out and shifted his seat. His eyes sought his feet—rounding the arches, and topping the toes, the tall grass was questing. The little brute froze.
And the fauna took pause, and the flora went slack. Leaves followed talons, stems followed claws. Hooves tromped on paws as the crowd drifted back.
Not a breath taken. Not a move made. Stillness, like fog, enveloped the glade.
Now the grass tugged his feet, now the sea of jade splayed—left hand and right, the slender shafts reared. Gaining momentum, blade followed blade. The green field was torn till a deep swath appeared. The swath hurtled west, reflecting the sun. A hundred yards distant it died. Once more the grass stood, its tips spreading wide. The swath, born again, repeated its run.
Plain was the message, and clearly conveyed. The newcomer gawked. Confusion ensued.
The tall blades were swayed by the pulse of the glade.
But the swath was not renewed.
Something tiny bounced by. He ventured a peek, barely rolling an eye.
A chocolate sparrow, with pinfeathers black, popped past an ankle and paused to look back. The bird cocked its head, rocked in place, hopped ahead. It fluttered. It freaked. It glared and stopped dead. Vexed to its limit, it burst into flight.
The sitting thing watched till it passed out of sight.
Now a breeze bent his back, picked him half off his stern. The wind, done its best, grew flustered at last. It trailed to the west, thrilling lilies it passed. It wound round the willows and didn’t return.
So the fauna repaired to the live oak’s shade.
A strange kind of stupor fell over the glade.
From deep in the wood came a shape through the trees—a pronghorn, perhaps, or an elk swift and sure. But up limped a moose, a flyport with fur, low in the belly and wide at the knees. Wizened he was, scarcely able to see. Neither vision, nor vigor, nor velvet had he. He hobbled abreast, then groveled or died, his nose facing west, his tail flung aside.
The brute merely glazed.
But the glade was unfazed.
Those long shafts reshuffled. A tense moment passed.
The ominous shadows of badgers were cast. Three left their holes, as if to attack. They pedaled like moles and the stranger jumped back. He stumbled, fell flailing, and, kicking his guide, threw out his arms and tumbled astride. First he stepped on his tail, then he stepped on his pride. The moose bellowed twice and shook side to side while the little pest clung to his high, homely hide.
And the old moose unbent to his knees by degrees. He reeled like a drunk down the path of the breeze. Together they lurched through a break in the trees. And all morning long, and on through the day, both beggar and bearer would buckle and sway. The moose lost his temper, but never his way.
And the wind blew the sun to its deep ruby rest; the scrub, in obeisance, inclined to the west. Their slow taffy shadow in slinking would seem to slip round the rocks like a snake in a dream.
And the sun became a beacon, and the underbrush a stream. The wide Earth took their weight in stride, and the wind named him Hero.

                                               WORLD

When the sun was low the old moose began to stumble, at last limping to a halt beside a swift river lined with stunted pines. He’d half-expected a somewhat graceful dismount, but Hero, dug in like a tick, wasn’t about to let go. The moose knelt until his joints objected, shimmied, bucked, and with a sudden whirl sent the little bother flying.
Hero scraped himself out of the dirt and looked up forlornly. The ancient moose, his good eye gone bad, glared a long minute before hobbling away, his bony **** rocking with dignity, his scraggly tail fighting off imaginary flies.
Hero managed a few steps and dropped, staring in disbelief as the moose disappeared between half-frozen pines. He remained on his knees for the longest time, his jaw hanging, waiting for the moose—waiting for anything to show. At last a ruckus to his left snapped him out of it. His head ratcheted around.
Fifteen feet off the bank, three screaming gulls were dancing on an immense stone outcropping, fighting over a rapids-tossed sockeye. Hero was instantly famished. He wobbled to his feet and stumbled twice wading out, only regaining his balance by leaning against the current while rapidly wheeling his arms. The shrieking gulls reluctantly backed off as he stepped in slow-motion through the rushing water. Hero lunged at the slapping fish, cracked an ankle on the rock, and hopped around howling with both hands holding his shin. One foot was as good as none in the surging water. He went right under. Before he knew it he was being swept downriver.
This was glacial meltwater, so cold he quickly lost all sensation. Hero swallowed a mouthful and surfaced fighting for life; too disoriented to combat the current, too numb to realize his waving arm was striking something solid. That solid something turned out to be a swirling clump of rotted birches tangled up in scrub. He embraced one of these trunks as the mass slammed against isolated rocks, kicked his feet wildly, and somehow hauled himself aboard. The raft ricocheted rock to rock until repeated impacts sent it spinning. Giddy from the whirling and soaking, he clung freezing to the trees, retching continuously while the river roared in his ears. Through spray and tears he made out only cartwheeling fragments of the world.
But then the river was widening, its fury dissipating. The raft was approaching the sea. Hero gasped as the seemingly boundless Pacific swallowed the broad red belly of the sun. And as he spun he was treated to a panoramic, breathtaking spectacle:  the great indigo ocean with its slow traffic of driftwood and ice—voiced-over by the dismal calls of foraging gulls, and broken rhythmically by intermittent glimpses of the river’s rocky banks growing farther and farther apart. Whirling as it went, the dying man’s soul was taken by the sea.

At the 59th Parallel in winter, the Pacific coast plays host to numberless floes and minor bergs orphaned from Alaskan coastal glaciers. Hero cruised into a watery gridlock on a boat of ice-glazed birches, one bit of flotsam among the rest.
The cold wouldn’t let him move, wouldn’t let him breathe, wouldn’t let him think. He lay supine, feet crossed and hands clasped, terrified that to budge was to roll. An ice patina grew over the tangled trees like a white fungus—this growth soon webbed his fingers and toes, speckled his chest and thighs, glazed his hair and face, danced and disintegrated with his breath’s tapering plumes.
Floes and frozen-over debris tended to group with passing collisions; Hero’s married birches bit by bit accrued a mostly-submerged tangle of trunks and branches, all becoming fast in a creeping ice cement. Night came on just as resolutely, until land was only a flat black memory. The raft moved silently over the deep, still accepting the occasional gentle impact. And the floes became thicker and wider in a freezing doldrums; soon the proximate sea was all a broken field of packed ice, bobbing infinitesimally with the planet’s pulse.
Long ghostly strands of fog came striding over the torn ice field. They leaned this way and that, their mourners’ skirts tearing and patching and leaning anew. The ghosts were there to seal it:  their locked fingers and gray diaphanous wings were quickly becoming a wholly opaque descending shroud, its boundaries lost in the soughing wind.
Collisions came less and less. Darkness and silence, breaching some previously impenetrable barrier, began to take up residence in Hero’s chilling marrow. From his very center broke a weak little cry of refusal, of denial, as mind mustered frame in one desperate bid for freedom. His skin, frozen to the raft, peeled right off, and at that his inner brave succumbed. Hero’s smashed head arched back. His face contorted frightfully while the little lamp fluttered and paled within.
A raucous chorus slowly worked its way through the mist. It emerged a few hundred yards off—a tiny, terrified barking, growing in clarity as it grew in volume and urgency. It was a sound beacon. Hero strained eagerly, and when for one excruciating minute the beacon was cut off by a large passing body, was certain death had claimed him. Then it was back, and his heartbeat was quickening. He caught a heaving sound…something was moving his way down a wide tributary between floes. Hero could hear a gasping and snorting, accompanied by a hard slapping and splashing. The sounds vanished. In a moment the raft was rocked from below.
A sputtering muzzle blew salt in his eyes. A cold slimy flipper flapped across his chest and slapped about his face. The fur seal barked directly in his ear. Whiskers raked his dead cheek. The seal barked again.
Back below the surface it slipped. Hero listened anxiously as the splashing sound retreated whence it came.
The seal swam off perhaps a hundred feet and began barking hysterically.
From much farther off came a profusion of answering barks.
The seal swam back to Hero’s raft, circling and calling, circling and calling, while the responders approached en masse.
Now a sallow beam could be seen cutting through the fog. Several more showed vaguely along a plane yawing with some huge, barely discernible object.
A herd of northern fur seals burst into sight, barking madly, beating through the ice. They converged on Hero’s raft, really bellowing now.
Those odd yellow beams came in pursuit, and soon were close enough to eerily illuminate a gigantic wooden vessel parting the ice. The seals barked ferociously. Whenever the vessel leaned away, those nearest Hero’s raft would absolutely howl.
The fog deepened, condensed, crystallized, and then the collective light of a dozen lanterns was playing over a low, listing nightmare. Hero could hear the shouts of many aggressive men, but the waterborne seals, rather than scatter, boarded the ice and redoubled their din, fighting their way onto his quickly mobbed raft.
The sealers hurled serrated spears even as they clambered down rope ladders. When these men reached the ice the seals snapped and gnashed madly, refusing to be dislodged. The sealers lost all composure with the thrill of the hunt:  wielding clubs, spears, and hatchets—sometimes using iron bludgeons or any old utensil handed down—they crushed skulls, dragged carcasses, hooked animals still spurting and bleating. Clinging though he was, Hero was flabbergasted by the way the slipping and scampering men went about their butchery, hacking and smashing more with passion than with precision. But not a single seal attempted to flee—throughout the carnage they barked all the louder, egging on their slayers, carcass by carcass drawing the impassioned sealers to Hero’s ice-locked raft.
It was all so hazy and macabre. Hero’s eyes rolled back, and the next thing he knew he was sitting hunched on the vessel’s sopping deck. Two men were rubbing his limbs while another poured warm water down his back. He looked around in shock. The very notion of a boat containing more than one or two individuals—a sort of floating tribe—was way beyond his ken; so to see it, to have it come looming out of nothingness, was an experience almost supernatural.
He remembered some of those fur-covered men force-feeding him mouthfuls of halibut and seal fat, and he recalled a small group standing around him, shouting words that made no sense at all. After that he had a very vivid memory of their angry little chief repeatedly punching him while hollering one angry little word over and over and over. Hero couldn’t make out his inquisitor’s face, for the large feather-lined hood quite engulfed the man’s head, yet he could see those quick eyes flash as they caught the oil lamps’ light. Finally this man stopped boxing Hero’s ear. He stared hard. In these remaining decades of the tenth century it was fully within his power to administer as he saw fit—he could have ordered Hero’s immediate execution and not a man of his crew would have objected. He hesitated only because there wasn’t a hint of resistance in his prisoner’s pinched and frightened eyes. He leaned forward, studying the wound that all but split Hero’s face in two before grunting, raising his right arm, and yanking down its seal hide sleeve. Attached to the stump of his forearm was a primitive prosthesis consisting of a thick oak cap strapped to the arm with lengths of gut, and, hammered squarely into the center of that cap, a broad, cruelly hooked blade chiseled from a narwhal’s tusk. He held this obscenity in front of Hero’s eyes, traced the face’s deep diagonal rift, and once more demanded his captive’s identity. Hero then vaguely remembered being dragged along a tilting deck and thrown into the ship’s tiny hold. He retained a strong mental image of landing in a place of musty odors and dank projections.
There came a soft scuffling in the darkness, and presently a blind and exceedingly old woman felt her way to his side, mumbling as she approached. Her speech was comprised not of words; it was rather a running gibberish of cooing vowels and clucking consonants. The old woman was as mad as her circumstances; sick with sea and solitude, bedeviled by age and confinement. She sat cross-legged, patting her withered palms up his arm until she came to his face. Her strange mumbling soliloquy rose and fell as her bony fingers daintily explored the newly opened wound. Hero let his head fall back in her lap. A pair of hands like emaciated tarantulas scurried through the filth and tiny bodies until they came upon an old otter’s pelt bag that held her secrets. The woman loosened the bag’s cord and extracted an assortment of herbs, sniffing each in succession. She then scooped a handful of blubber from a bowl made of a previous occupant’s skull, kneaded the selected herbs into the blubber, and commenced gently massaging the wound, clucking and cooing while the black rats watched and waited.
For nine interminable days Hero remained in that cold, stinking compartment, rocking back and forth between life and death. The old woman never gave up on him. She clung to him during his seizures, rubbed his limbs vigorously when his blood pressure fell. She gathered various accumulated skins and, using woven strands of her own long hair, sewed him a multilayered, body-length wraparound with arm sleeves and very deep pockets, working by touch with a needle formed of a cod’s rib. By this same method she was able to fashion a pair of heavily lined snug-fitting moccasins. The old woman made him eat; she masticated the cod and halibut their keepers pitched into the hold, then shoved the results down his throat with a long gnarly forefinger. She called into his screaming nightmares, talking him out of sleep and back into their foul little reality. Together they lowed in the dark, while the keel groaned along and the waves beat time.
At the end of those dark nine days his strength was restored, but not his mind. Once again he was taken on deck.
The vessel had reached a chain of remote wind-swept islands, rocky and treeless, naked except for patchy carpets of hardy grass. These islands stretched far to the west, shrouded in mist. The ship was making for the smallest; just a chip on the sea. When they reached depth for anchorage Hero was hustled into a rowboat and lowered over the side. He looked up, saw two men climbing down by rope. These men positioned themselves at the oars and slowly rowed toward the islet. Seated between them, Hero felt like a man being led to his execution. He snuck a peek. The rowers’ heads were lowered, their features completely obscured by the heavy feathered hoods; they had all the somberness of pallbearers. Not a word passed between them as they rigidly worked their oars:  the only sound was the dip-and-purl of wood in water. Hero looked away. Against his will, he found his eyes drawn to that rocky islet waiting in the fog.
Not a bird, not a sea lion, not a shrub. It was lonesome beyond imagination.
Upon landfall one of the men used a spear’s point to **** Hero ashore. While his companion steadied the boat, he removed a skin sack full of half-frozen halibut, followed by a few armloads of precious tinder. These articles he tossed at Hero’s feet. He resumed his place at the oars and, without looking back, used the blunt end of his spear to shove off.
Hero watched the boat moving away, watched the men climbing their ropes, watched the boat being hauled aboard. As the mysterious vessel receded he saw a number of those silent men standing at the stern, stolidly returning his stare. Their hooded forms grew smaller and smaller, finally becoming indistinct. The vessel was swallowed up in fog.
Hero looked around, at a desolate world of rock and drifting ice. In the sunless pools at his feet a few purplish, flaccid sea anemones were waving in a sickly phosphorescence; along the rocks ran a tattered quilt of wild grass and lichen. It was the end of the world. He began to pace in his anxiety, only to crumple bit by bit inside his furs. At last he just sat with his face in his arms and wept. When he could weep no more he raised his head and opened his red, swollen eyes.
There were gulls all around him, staring like statuary in a madman’s garden. Standing in their midst were auks and puffins and murres, absolutely spellbound, unable to lean away. The silence was broken only by a wild, fitfully pursing wind—a wind that seemed, eerily, on the verge of producing syllables. And on that wind a flock of terns was rising slowly, their beady eyes fixed on the lone sitting man. The terns watched as he trembled, and banked as he swooned.
Then, beating as one, they threw back their wings and blew into the sun.

There was a blaze.
Behind that blaze a pair of black, bug-like eyes met his and immediately withdrew. A man wrapped in caribou hides stood abruptly, drawing angry swarms of sparks.
The Aleut peered queerly into the icy Pacific, his craggy profile merging seamlessly with a jumble of rocks showing just beyond his shoulder. The man was very tall, closer to seven feet than to six, and thin almost to emaciation.
He was also a mute. Soon enough he would display a talent for communication through gutturals, but now his body language spoke louder than words. It told the shivering stranger that he was not only disliked—he was feared.
The islander removed the hides he’d piled on the sleeping man. He produced a bone awl and strategically pierced a caribou hide, draped the hide over the old woman’s handiwork, and ran a cord of tightly woven tendons crosswise through his made holes, knotting it at the bottom to create a kind of cloak. He then killed the fire, heaped wood, fish, and remaining hides into Hero’s arms, and led him to a tiny cove where his long skin canoe lay in the grass. This was not the one-man kayak used by his people for centuries, but an actual canoe modeled on the graceful vessels he’d observed under the control of northern coastal tribesmen. After dragging it into the water he perched Hero in the fore, placed the cargo in the middle, and stepped into the rear like a gaunt furry spider. The Aleut dug out a paddle and began pulling with smooth strokes of surprising muscularity, his black eyes trained on his quiet companion’s back.
So began their long island-hopping journey. They stepped the chain one stone at a time, living off the sea. But much as the islander disliked Hero’s vapid company, it was not in his nature to proceed expeditiously; his people, remote as they were, had learned to count not in days but in generations. Given this, the Aleut took his time. He showed Hero how to build shelters of skin and gut; during bad weather the two would sit on an island in utter silence while rain hammered on their stretched seal-intestine window. And one very clear night he pointed out constellations while attempting to demonstrate, using broad gestures, just how the brighter heavenly bodies were in perfect alignment with the Aleutians. Hero followed his guide’s gestures as a pet follows its master’s movements and, like a pet, soon became bored. The Aleut did not grow flustered. He grew ever more wary:  behind that granite, weather-beaten exterior squirmed a very primitive imagination. Superstitious as he was, the Aleut was almost certain Hero could read his mind. So one time, and one time only, he threw a searing look at the back of Hero’s bowed and listing head. After a long minute of vigorous thought-projection he shifted his gaze aside. The brute appeared to feel this shift, and gently turned his head. And both saw the ocean break rhythm, and watched as otters and sea lions surfaced, noted their progress, and slipped without tremor beneath the waves.
In spring the fogs lifted. The grimness gave way to serenity, a generous sun buttered the dappled sea. On the islands grass grew lushly. Wildflowers leapt on the color-starved eye.
And one day the islander’s nape itched. He turned to see a flock of arctic terns casually tracking them under a gorgeous, white-plumed sky. As the day progressed the terns came drifting high overhead, slowly but surely taking the lead.
The Aleut squinted against the sun. He’d never known these birds to pursue a westerly migratory pattern—the terns were distributing themselves into a rough wedge shape, much like geese on the wing.
For a while he let the flock be his guide. Then, to test his stars, he cunningly steered his canoe north. At once the wedge disintegrated. Not until he’d lowered his eyes and pulled purposefully to the west did the disrupted pattern reassert itself. He peered up timidly. The wedge was now in the shape of a perfect arrowhead.
Just so were the fates of mariners and aviators inextricably entwined. At night, once the Aleut had landed his canoe on the nearest pearl, the terns would light in a quiet circle and remain until sunrise. As the Aleut and Hero took to sea, the flock would quickly form that same authoritative pattern.
In time the Aleut paddled his companion clear to the westernmost islands of the Aleutian chain. His people had dwelt, even here, a thousand years and more, but no contemporary islander knew for certain what lay beyond. Legend told of an enormous land mass forever gripped by cold, where a cruel people waylaid innocent seafarers for barbaric sacrificial rites.
So here the islander paused. But even as he vacillated he noticed the terns were veering south.
If the Aleut had been able to curse aloud he would have been vociferous. He was being compelled to follow an even less desirable course—that of the unknown open ocean. Now he looked upon his passenger’s hunched back not with fear but with loathing. He took a deep breath, rolled his shoulders, and defiantly continued west. The wedge broke up immediately. The terns dive-bombed the canoe, whirled around the windmilling Aleut, tore skyward and hovered determinedly. Something huge broke surface behind them, but the Aleut was way too frayed to turn. He dropped his head, a beaten man, and began paddling south. Little by little the birds returned to formation.
The tiny canoe had no business going up against the mighty Pacific. It would soon have been swallowed and smashed, had not the terns veered in close formation whenever the distant sea appeared too rough. Once he’d lost his bearings the Aleut religiously followed their serpentine course.
The days began to warm.
Now the sea’s bounty all but leapt in the canoe.
It seemed the Aleut was forever catching the finest currents, practically sliding down a corridor entirely free of peril. In this manner he was able to safely navigate waters no such craft had mastered before.
They were proceeding south by southwest, awed children of a plenteous, generous sea. The going became easier by the day, the ocean heavier with cod.
Nights the Aleut drifted comfortably, but a lifetime of wariness made him wake off and on. He’d slowly rise to find Hero sitting quietly under the stars, and soon he’d see, pallid in moonlight, a large body neatly pleating the ocean’s surface. The shape would precede them a while, only to vanish without a ripple.
All this strangeness kept the Aleut’s heart in a whirl, though he took pains to maintain his poise.
To allay his fear he kept a flat black stone planted squarely between them. It was his oldest treasure; an oddity he’d taken off the body of a mauled Tlingit woman when he was a child. Who she was, and how she’d come by the stone, were mysteries far beyond him, for no such piece had ever been known to Aleut or Inuk.
The stone was smooth and had been worked perfectly round. Bright yellow specks were scattered about its dull black face.
Long ago someone had etched a quaint and clumsy rune on that flat black surface—it was the crude, universal symbol for sun:  a broad circle surrounded by several rays. When the stone was rubbed against a pelt it possessed the curious property of growing quite warm and bright in the rune’s grooves, while the surface remained cool and dull.
This stone, both friend and overlord, had always “spoken to him”. It caused him to become restless when it was time to move on, and allowed him to relax when a destination had been reached. In this way he’d come to the familiar islet and discovered the unconscious little man. Just so:  the stone, he was sure, was responsible for making him “feel bad” as he watched the stranger shiver, and “feel better” once he’d built him a life-saving fire from the small pile of tinder he’d found nearby.
By now, however, the Aleut was wholly disenchanted with his stone, and deeply regretted having done its mysterious bidding. Never before had he been so long from sight of land, and never before had he felt so very, very small. The unimagined immensity of the Pacific was really starting to get to him when, after all their while at sea, a gray, seductive haze broke the horizon. They had reached another chain of islands, an Asian chain, the dark and smoky Kurils. Here a cold current kept the climate cool and foggy, and the chill, along with the prevalence of otter and seal, made him feel almost at home.
But this place gave him the creeps; he was a stranger, a trespasser somewhere sacred. There was a looming quality to the island mountains that made him extraordinarily aware of his transience, his pettiness, his puniness. He grew more and more cautious, sure their progress was being monitored—he could have sworn he saw wraiths in the trees, and wolves padding warily in the brush. The big islands looked on breathlessly. All along the rocky cliffs, thousands of auks and puffins followed the canoe in dead silence, their heads turning simultaneously, their countless tiny eyes peering redly through the fog. As the weeks passed, the Aleut’s anxiety was manifested in tics and sighs, and he’d cringe each time the crimson sun sank behind those black volcanic summits. In his imagination the mountains would rise right out of the sea, as though to pluck him. But the islands, in all their dignity, would always refuse to acknowledge so meek a stranger, and return their eyes to sea. The Aleut would hang his head, and timidly paddle by.
Then for days and days he pulled his weary canoe west—through a strait parting two mighty islands not part of the chain, and thence across a sea that was a warm, enticing bath. Spring had come to the East Asian coastal waters, and the Ainu, alone and in groups, were venturing deeper in search of increasing bounty. The Aleut, absorbed in his thoughts of sweet climate and bitter fate, was unaware they’d been spotted.
This first meeting between strangers of different worlds was a brief and awkward one. A lone Ainu fisherman, seeing the Aleut come paddling out of the unknown, dropped his net and turned to stone. The Aleut, for his part, instinctively froze with his body turned half-away to make the leanest target possible. Their stares locked. Never had the Aleut seen a face so heavily bearded, and never hair so fair. The Ainu began banging on his bronze catch pail. Other fishers soon appeared from the north and south, effectively cutting off the canoe. The Aleut caressed his stone and looked to the sky. The wedge had vanished. He put down his head and paddled for all he was worth.
With the word out, uncountable fishing craft appeared out of the blue and broke into hot pursuit, their pilots determined to force the canoe ashore.
Suddenly they were in sight of land, and the sea was absolutely riddled with watercraft. A train of small boats cast off from the mainland, even as a posse of two-man coracle-like tubs began to surround the battered skin canoe, their inhabitants calling back and forth in astonishment at the sight of these dark, savage newcomers. But the pursuing little coastal men, banging excitedly on the sides of their boats, were not Ainu. They had very straight black hair, prominent cheekbones, and strangely slanted eyes. And their speech, oddly marvelous as it was, was a rapid series of coos, chirps, and barks. Their boats formed a tight semi-circle around the canoe, forcing the Aleut to approach the mainland. The little men banged their boats maniacally, with more joining in as the canoe neared shore.
A bit farther south was a natural harbor swarming with fishing vessels of every description. As the canoe was forced into this harbor, people along the rocky coast began banging whatever they could get their hands on, until the air was filled with their lunatic percussion.
Tiny brown men came running along a soft yellow cliff overlooking the harbor, gesturing wildly. The canoe was squeezed between a chain of tubs and the shore, and, as it slowed, the tempo and ferocity of the banging decreased accordingly. When the canoe came to a halt the banging and shouting stopped. Hero creaked to his feet. The first North American to set foot on Asian soil stepped out shakily.
There followed the profoundest silence imaginable.
A second later it was as if a dam had burst.
Hundreds of hysterical, yammering voices erupted from hundreds of hysterical, clinging men and women. Hero was spun around, jostled about, handed along. He stared into their astounded, pinched little faces, and the sun, pulsing between their heads as he was turned, repeatedly stabbed his eyes. There came an excited outburst and frantic splashing which could only have been the Aleut’s violent demise, and then Hero was somehow limping alongside a primitive fishing village, blindly following a narrow dirt path that hugged the yellow cliff’s base. The warm spring sun caught the dust as he shambled. He rounded a bend and stopped.
Half a dozen children stood in his way, too fascinated to run. A chatter and scuffle rose behind him. He looked back to see that he was now in the midst of a small crowd of these children, and that more were running up with cries of amazement.
A stone struck his shoulder. As Hero turned another glanced off his chest.
A moment later he was being pelted from all sides, and the giggles and gasps had become something wildly unreal. He dropped to his knees in a hail of hurled rocks, covered his head with his arms, and slithered up the path on his belly.
A new voice broke in; an older, authoritative voice.
The children scampered off squealing.
Hero, shaken to his feet, found himself face to face with a diminutive, shouting, incomprehensible old man. The old man threw his arm around Hero’s waist and, jabbering all the while, led him to a secondary path cut into the cliff’s face. This path sloped gently upward over the waves. Together they picked their way to a place maybe halfway up, where the cliff’s face was honeycombed with natural alcoves and dug-out caves. Most of these spaces were used as one-man shelters; a few, cut deeper in the earth, as family hives. Strange gabbing people slid out of these holes like worms, reaching, but the little old man, who was evidently a little old man of some stature, embraced his find possessively and shouted them back inside.
The path narrowed as they climbed.
At its summit spread the upscale end of the neighborhood. Hero was led to a hovel nestled amid dozens of similar hovels, all scattered around a dainty stream wending between patches of stunted vegetation.
The old man’s place was basically a one-room hut fashioned of earth and salvaged boat hulls, with a slender side-yard surrounded by dry, dusty hedges. But inside it was clean and tidy, with rice paper partitioning and, built into the far earthen wall, a miniature stone fireplace. The old man sat his guest in the exact center of the room. There he fed him scraps from his bowl, using long sticks to pluck out bits of fish and clumps of tiny, starchy white pellets.
He studied the brute closely, watched him chew, walked round and round him. He poked here. He pinched there.
And that night he lit a fire on his crushed-shell hearth.
Hero curled up on a mat where the gossip of flames could reach him. Nearby, at his delicate wicker table, the old man sat in semi-darkness, illuminated only from the waist down.
But his eyes were alive. They spat and darted as they reflected the fire’s light, and, when at last they’d begun to sputter, his scratchy little voice came pattering out of the dark, muttering something vile and oddly modulated, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a gathering snarl.
Hero feigned slumber, unable to ignore those paired ominous flashes. Still, the room was cozy, and the fire warm, and the play of light and shadow kicked sleep in his eyes.

In the morning he woke in the old man’s side-yard, his head pounding, a rusty iron clamp securely fastened around his neck. This clamp was attached to the outermost link of a crude three-foot chain, and the link at the other end to a long stake driven into eight inches of solid rock. The chain and stake, like the clamp, were hammered of local iron. The clamp was too tight for comfortable swallowing, the chain too short to make standing possible. Hero could, however, spread out on his chest and stretch an arm to a low row of hedges. By parting the tangled undergrowth he had a limited view of the fishing village below, and of the harbor beyond. As the days passed he was able to tweak himself a view-space discernible only from his peculiar vantage. He accomplished this by gently breaking small branches strategically, then guiding their interrupted growth with the utmost tenderness. It was his secret garden.
He had no memory—none whatsoever—of being staked here. Obviously the old man hadn’t set this up overnight. Hero’s mind prodded timidly…how many others had been chained to this spot, and why?
But over the subsequent weeks and months he went beyond caring. Each day was the same:  just after dawn the old man would storm into the tiny side-yard swinging his reed whip wildly. The lashings were savage and unremitting. The old man, except for his eyes, would be mute. Only his whip need speak. And the snap of his reed had but one message:  when you see this whip you go down, and you go down immediately.
The naked savage, scarred head to foot, learned to go prostrate on the moment. Even so, the old man couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge in the occasional good old, all-out thrashing. And after each session he would toss the prisoner a vile mess of dead fish and rotting leftovers.
Hero lived like this for many months, lost in a confused world of pain and anticipation. Perversely, he came to look forward to the bite of that whip, for, whether he flogged him in passion or just for sport, the old man was always sure to make it personal. It seemed their relationship might go on forever.
But one day there was a great commotion in the sleepy little fishing village. Hero parted the leaves and beheld a small train of oblong coaches at rest near the harbor. Large oxen yoked in pairs lolled between the carriages, immune to the clamor around them. There were dark shaggy horses and colorfully dressed Bactrian camels. The horses and camels were tethered in the rear, but were occasionally paraded around the carriages by little men wielding long painted bamboo poles. The whole affair was exotic and mesmerizing, eccentric and profane. Hero watched all day in amazement, infected by the hubbub, though he was totally mystified by the crowd’s fascination on the carriages’ far side.
And late that afternoon he saw the old man come walking out of that crowd, talking heatedly with another man. The stranger was shorter and broader than the old man, with long stringy hair and long stringy mustaches. He saw them climbing the path, saw them crawl inside a hole lashing furiously. They were lost from view for a minute, then popped up big as life. Hero glowed and curled up eagerly as they approached.
The old man and stranger came into the narrow side-yard still arguing. The old man grabbed Hero by the hair and twisted until he was facing the newcomer.
The stranger had oily, porous skin, and a round but grave countenance. His highly slanted eyes were bright and restless. He studied Hero’s mutilated face with keen interest before borrowing the old man’s reed. When Hero scraped at his feet he grunted and returned the reed.
The stranger pulled out something shiny and hefted it in his hand. He then raised his other hand while considering Hero, as though weighing him too. The old man’s eyes glinted, and for an instant his expression became grotesquely servile. The stranger and old man, facing, nodded curtly in unison. The stranger dropped the shiny thing onto the old man’s itching palm. The old man whipped Hero frantically before taking a small ax to the chain. A few hard blows split a link, the broken link was bent back by the tool’s shaft, and the prisoner was at last released.
The old man handed the stranger a short hempen rope. The stranger bowed deeply. He then tied an end of the rope through one of the remaining links and began dragging Hero along. Hero’s hands sought the old man, who kicked and cursed him all the way to the path. The three stumbled single-file to the bottom. The old man waved his arms and shouted hysterically, trotting behind until he ran out of breath. But he got in a final kick and, before he came to a gasping halt, managed to lash Hero once for old time’s sake, and to spit on him twice for luck.

There were five carriages; a long one in the center hitched to four oxen, and two smaller coaches in the front and rear with a pair of oxen on each. The carriages were old and battered, built of splitting wood slats and rusted iron braces. Various hides, spare wheels, and a hundred odds and ends were tied to the sides and roofs. Hero’s new master, using him as a ram, shoved him through the crowd to the long carriage. He hauled him up the single wood step and watched the crowd’s reaction. Children hid behind mothers, mothers hissed and jeered, men spat in that smashed, disgusting face.
Satisfied, Hero’s master twisted the rope tighter and dragged him through the hide flap that served as the carriage’s rear wall.
A strange ruckus began at their entrance.
Inside the carriage were bulky shapes and quirky movements, yet the immediate and overwhelming impression was one of unbelievable stench. Hero, instantly covered with flies, was kicked and shoved down a foot-wide aisle. The carriage’s walls were riddled with black flecks of old dried blood, the floor coated with standing *****, a variety of small carcasses, and some clinging, indefinable slime. But the living contents of this hell were so horrifying, and so unexpected, that Hero at once dropped to his knees. Observing this, master grabbed a whip off the wall and lashed him along the floor.
A number of bamboo cages lined either side of the carriage, each four feet high, four feet wide, and three feet deep. In the first cage to their left, a quadruple amputee dangled in a leather harness in a cloud of flies, jealously gnawing a chicken carcass balanced on his belly. The second cage held a man who had been burned over ninety per cent of his body, and the third a middle-aged woman with no eyes or tongue, her head shaved. The next cage housed a fully grown black leopard, its bright eyes fixed on the horrified newcomer. Then an empty cage, and finally a cage containing a demented man whose long yellow nails were busily raking a face deeply scarred and bleeding.
The first cage against the opposite wall held two girls rolling in their own excrement. Siamese twins unable to part, they had developed a unique method of locomotion, and now executed a three-quarters cartwheel in Hero’s direction, their mangled, severely bitten hands attempting to reach him through the bars. In the cage next to theirs a naked dwarf glowered menacingly, his eyes following coldly as Hero’s master shoved him down the narrow aisle, occasionally pausing to lash a cage. The hissing and howling increased as each prisoner beheld the new neighbor.
The third cage held an intensely sick adult Bornean sun bear, so confined it was entirely unable to move. Its hide was a patchwork of scraggly fur and grayish skin, glistening with odd eruptions. It rolled its sunken eyes in Hero’s direction, its muzzle twitching feebly.
The next cage contained a man who was frightfully diseased. Broad fungal patches covered his face and limbs, terminating in waxy folds that dangled like a rooster’s wattles. Welling sores spotted his chest and back. His eyes were bugged and sallow; his lower lip drooped below his chin. He barked wetly at Hero’s passing legs.
The second-to-last cage housed a rare, completely hairless Chinese albino, and the last cage a very tall, skeletal woman. The albino snapped at Hero while repeatedly banging his head against the cage. The woman hissed and coiled like a snake, her spine arching amazingly.
Master hauled Hero to the empty cage on his left, swung its door open with his foot, and forced him to his knees by pushing down with all his weight. He kicked and punched until Hero had been squeezed inside, then shut and secured the wide bamboo door.
Master inched his way back down the carriage, hammering the **** of his whip on each cage as he passed. There was a glimpse of daylight as he lifted the flap.
Once he’d departed, the carriage grew eerily silent.
Hero cautiously turned his head. Less than a foot away, the black leopard was frozen in place, one paw waving hypnotically in his face. The beast’s fangs were bared, its ears straight back, its eyes glistening. Hero turned ever so slowly, until he was looking into the eyes of the demented man in the final cage. The man cocked his head quizzically. A second later he was screaming his lungs out in a bizarre downward spiral.
At once the carriage erupted. The freaks shrieked and scrabbled, the leopard spun in place. Directly across the aisle, the albino hurled himself against the bars of his cage. He batted his face with his fists, threw back his head, and just howled and howled and howled. The snake woman curled even tighter, her long scrawny legs entwined behind her head.
Hero sat with breath held, absolutely silent, absolutely motionless. He very, very slowly closed his eyes.

Later that night the flap was flung high. The menagerie came alive as master, weirdly illuminated by moonlight, slowly made his way down the aisle carrying a skin sack oozing blood. He stopped at each cage to toss in a dying chicken and a handful of smelt.
When he reached Hero’s cage he looked down thoughtfully.
He extracted a quivering chicken and held it above the cage so that blood dripped on the brute’s deeply pleated forehead. Hero lowered his eyes. Master’s face darkened. He smashed the bird against the cage, over and over, a vein throbbing in his temple. Finally he hissed and displayed the limp chicken high over the albino’s head. The albino yelped and kicked, thrusting his hand up between the bars and jerking it back to lick away the blood rolling down his forearm.
Master eyed Hero coldly before pointedly dropping the chicken into the albino’s searching hands.
Master hissed again. He slowly made his way out.
Soon there was a commotion outside. The carriage rocked a bit before settling. Hero, turning in his cage to peek through a rift in the wood, saw horses being urged forward. He could hear men shouting. The carriage rocked again. He looked up and saw the gibbous moon suspended in mist. For just a second something wedge-shaped cut across its soft white face.
But then the oxen were grunting, the wheels had been freed, and the horses drawn abreast. Master’s lash spat left and right, and the show proceeded…west.

                                              MA­STER

She was very round and very small, with very short, very shaggy black hair. Her arms bore the scars of numerous bites from beast and man, and around her neck ran long wheals from a particularly savage owner. Hero, having spent the better part of the morning watching master storm in and out of a strange screaming house, now watched him drag the little round woman through the dirt. For a while he listened to the song of his master’s lash, waiting for the woman to break. But there was never a whimper.
It had been a difficult transaction for master, and an altogether difficult morning. For hours he’d paced up and down the main carriage, alternately murmuring affectionately into, and lashing at, each cage he visited. The sun bear, long dead and stuffed, had been taken outside for barter. It had soon been returned.
Master had lingered over Hero’s cage for a good while, staring critically. He’d begun shouting, and three of his men had burst in through the flap, unlatched the demented man’s cage, and dragged him out by the feet for trade, master personally stomping on his torn and groping hands.
And now master was kicking and shoving the little woman down the aisle as his men restrained her by the hair and throat. Upon master’s command these men stripped her naked and commenced pinching and slapping while making threatening faces and mocking noises. The freaks sat right up in their cages.
The woman looked as though she’d fainted:  her arms were lax, her eyes rolled up. Her whole face seemed to purse, and her body, head to toe, began to run blue. Her fingers quivered, arched, and clawed—the woman was self-asphyxiating. Master fairly leaped with delight while the cages rocked around him. He had the men slap her awake. Once she was fully conscious they stuffed her into the demented man’s old cage next to Hero’s.
Master then looked in eagerly, one to the other, his hands balled into fists. The woman buried her odd round face in her forearms as she squeezed herself into her cage’s deepest corner. Hero gazed indifferently and went back to his peephole.
Master exploded. He smacked and kicked the cages over and over, swore up and down, ran the shaft of his whip back and forth against the heavy bamboo bars. Eventually he calmed somewhat. He stared coldly at Hero, made a ***** smile, and spat right in his eyes. A tense minute passed. Master slowly made his way outside.
Hero automatically relaxed. Across the aisle the albino ****** his face between his cage’s bars to sniff the newcomer. The leopard, bobbing rhythmically, emitted a high-pitched squeal that gradually descended to a steadily throbbing growl.
Hero looked the stranger over. Once she’d lowered her hands he saw that her eyes were crossed, her jaw slack, her face as round as the full moon. He looked closer. There were scars all over her throat and arms:  plainly, the small round woman had been treated very badly. Hero instinctively slid a foot between the bars; the woman cried out and scrunched even deeper. Across the aisle the albino quickly extended an arm. Without knowing why, Hero turned on him. The albino flinched, his eyes tearing into Hero’s. A second later he was stamping his feet and grinning wildly. Hero went back to his peephole.
Next morning master and two of his men dismantled the bamboo walls separating Hero’s and the woman’s cages. They bound the frames with broad leather bands, making a single cage of the two.
A common door was fashioned and secured. Master used his broad blade to shear away Hero’s rags. The men hunched around the long cage expectantly.
The naked couple backed away. Master was instantly exasperated—he shouted, lashed furiously, stamped and screamed, jabbed a broken shaft between the bars with malevolent intent, whirled and hurled the shaft at nothing. The carriage’s inmates went out of their minds. At master’s bellowed command a man scurried outside, returning with a long rope of woven leather strands. Master opened the cage and, applying all his weight, pinned Hero and his new mate in an awkward embrace while his men tied them together.
Again master and his men bent over the long cage to watch.
When Hero realized his predicament he made a desperate attempt to reach his peephole.
The men, misreading his struggles, babbled and cheered, but master threw up his hands. He then, through gesture, ordered his men to drape a number of hides over the long cage. Once these hides were in place he very quietly bent to one knee and placed an ear against the cage. After a while he cursed and rose to his feet. He shook the cage and stormed out, whipping and kicking the howling inmates.
In the semi-darkness the man and woman quit fighting their bonds.
A muffled patter began on the hide-covered roof.
Rain, as always, had a calming effect on the carriage’s occupants, causing the freaks and beasts to slip, one by one, into lethargy or slumber. Under such a spell, the attainment of master’s goal was inevitable.
It was a coupling both innocent and vile, without passion or celebration. Occasionally the freaks would surface, register their excitement by shrieking, shaking their cages, or otherwise clamoring…but very quickly the air would stifle them, weighing their heads and confusing their impulses. The atmosphere grew heavier by the minute. And, when night rolled over the carriages, the rain came down in sheets.

Leaning ******* the woman’s cage, master slipped his gnarly hand between the bars and slowly rubbed her belly in a counter-clockwise motion, his sinister features soft in the candle’s light. And he told, in nonsensical cooing whispers, of a lovingly secure and impossibly prosperous future.
How large and promising that belly had become! And how wise was he, the cunning and aggressive master, in his far-reaching business decisions. He turned his affection to the motionless gaping brute; stroked the battlefield of its face, tossed in another lizard. Master rubbed his palms together. From now on it was extra lizards daily, for both the woman and her mate. He remarked, with only passing interest, his star player’s continuing indifference. They didn’t know each other, didn’t need each other.
There’d been months of shows on the road now, broken only recently by this sensible rejoining of the mates at conception.
Hero’s horrible disfigurement was unquestionably top draw; he was a guaranteed crowd pleaser at every stop. So now master looked him straight in the eyes and smiled. He held the reeking candle high. The carriage was absolutely silent. Master smiled again, rose to his feet, tiptoed away.
Hero watched him retreat until the flap had fallen. He returned to his peephole, saw master round the rear of the carriage and slowly crunch by. For a time he could see nothing but the half-shapes of junipers bathed in starlight. There was a tentative movement to his right and a large shape came to obstruct his view.
The horse stood for a minute in profile. It slowly brought its head to rest against the carriage, applying its eye to the peephole. Hero froze. The two remained fixed, eyeball to eyeball, while a breeze played odd tunes on the outer wall’s hanging paraphernalia. The horse’s big dark eye rolled nervously. A long moment passed. Slowly the horse backed off. It stood uncertainly for a while, staring at the peephole. Then it quietly moved away.

Master kicked the cages one by one, left hand and right, as he slowly made his way down the aisle. Into each cage he delivered a personalized warning in passing—a growl, a hiss, a bark—but he was quickly losing control. Animal electricity hopscotched the carriage, cage to cage, ceiling to floor, front to rear and back again. Master froze. Much more of this excitement, he feared, could seriously agitate the woman—with grave consequences for master.
She was splayed on her back, in labor’s throes, her ankles and wrists bound to the long cage. Hero had been removed to give her room, and now sat hunched atop the snake woman’s cage, two men holding him by the throat and legs.
Master gnashed and snarled, listening to the woman scream, watching her stupid round head bounce up and down and back and forth. He knew it! He’d been suckered, hoodwinked, scammed—ripped off like a common rube. The woman was too ******* to handle even something as natural as childbirth. Still…it was too late to second-guess himself—all these months he’d been patient—he’d been supportive and vigilant and now he would not be denied. He flogged one of the men to alleviate his tension.
The blue lady was very slowly, very dramatically arching her spine. Master wiped the sweat from his eyes. When the bars were pleating her big round belly, her shoulders began drumming on the straw-strewn floor.
Master screamed one very colorful expletive.
A razor silence came over the carriage. Not a body moved or breathed.
At last two men tiptoed around their purpling master and leaned into the cage. One obediently ****** a foot between the bars. He pushed ******* her right knee while using a hand to grip the left knee, spreading her legs wide. The other man drew a broad leather strap between her teeth. After lifting the woman’s head he pulled the strap behind her neck, knotted it to make a gag, and yanked a skin sack over her face. He looked up anxiously. Master licked his lips and nodded. The man made a fist and frantically punched the woman’s face until her muffled screams ceased. She moaned gently throughout her contractions.
Master genuflected, brought a spitting candle in tight, and took a deep breath. As he raised his hand the candle’s light bounced off his knife’s chipped and scored eleven-inch blade. Master swore and reached down carefully. He flicked his wrist twice and the menagerie went mad.

The child was a tremendous disappointment.
Master had eagerly anticipated an infant ******* and deformed; something embracing the best qualities of its parents. He had even designed a special cage that could be expanded by degrees as the spawn developed. There also remained the tantalizing option of a family display, though such an undertaking would require the eventual construction of a structure even larger than the cage its parents now shared. Master anguished over the logistics, knowing it would break his heart to have to cut one of his jewels’ throats just to make room for a growing child. Nights he would slowly pace the carriage with all the possessiveness of a jealous suitor, one hand maneuvering a sputtering candle, the other tenderly rapping his whip’s **** against each visited cage.
But the boy was a flawless specimen; a beautiful, undemanding baby. From the moment master angrily tossed the placenta he felt cheated, even betrayed. He grimaced as it peaceably took to its mother’s breast, despite the surrounding horrors. Master hated it, immediately and entirely. The ****** thing was so docile it was almost charming. He drew his knife and was just reaching down, when an overwhelming sense of dread shook him like a rat in the jaws of a mastiff. Sweat poured down his squat, pig-tailed nape. He knew he would live to regret it, but decided to not cut the child’s throat right away. It was the oddest feeling. His knife hand had trembled for the first time in his life, and he had found himself momentarily contemplating right and wrong at the outset of a perfectly simple and commonplace procedure. That was it, then. His business instincts were letting him know there was a good, albeit unknowable, reason to let the sweet baby live. Master left the carriage anxiously, muttering in his ambivalence.
The boy grew to embody his worst expectations. Not only was it a poorly oriented child, clinging to its father rather than its master almost from the moment of weaning, but it soon proved a lousy draw with the patrons. Those who paid to view the child dangling in its special cage inevitably departed unsatisfied, some vocalizing, strangely, an acute sense of shame. So once again master entered the carriage with his knife hand steady, and once again he exited trembling, his heart in his throat and his soul in a whirl. He whipped the dwarf savagely before leaving. What place conscience in the mind of a businessman?
Soon as the boy could walk, master put him to work fetching and feeding. But the brat was slothful in his chores, preferring to hang around his family’s cage while staring wistfully at his father. For their part, the parents were wholly disinterested. Master would fume while Hero gazed for hours out his peephole—even as the mother lolled, perpetually ill. Sometimes that accursed woman’s condition riled poor master to no end. She could teeter at death’s door for months at a time, her body changing hues to the fascination of customers, only to bounce back with a hardiness that was of interest to no one. But at the peak of her performances the blue lady could really hold a crowd. Master produced an entire outdoors extravaganza around her:  within concentric rings of raging torches his men would slowly strip her naked before wild audiences, then allow the dwarf and albino to take her while the leopard strained against a gaily festooned chain. Master circulated his crew through the crowds to encourage his patrons’ cult-like behavior of breath-holding and fainting. No getting around it:  the customers were crazy about her—village to village, master’s Bactrian vanguard’s colorful robes shouted her approaching fame. And Hero’s popularity continued to soar. Many were the nights when master, pacing the perimeter, wondered just what devilry could have produced the lovely boy.
Overall, Hero remained his master’s favorite conceit and hottest property. Part of the little brute’s appeal was, of course, his exoticness. And certainly the ugliness arising from his deformity was compelling…but there was a detachedness about him that fascinated every soul with a fistful of copper cash coins. Whether they ****** him, cudgeled him, or spat in his face, he remained unflappable, staring only at the aching sky. Though many would leave uneasy, master noted with deep satisfaction that they almost invariably returned.
The boy soon evinced an amazing affinity for animals. No matter how agitated an ox or horse became, the child could pacify it with one hand on a lowered brow. This was a source of endless fascination for the crew. Wagers were made. The boy was pitted against oxen whipped to a frenzy. But they would not harm him; they would rather go prostrate and take the lash. Master tried to work this knack into a viable act, but his patrons just weren’t buying. They wanted freaks.
When the lad was a mere five years old, master had him trained in the peripheral art of the pickpocket. The boy worked well alone, and had all the makings of a fine little flimflam artist. Master sighed, his chronic nightmares a thing of the past. As ever, his business instincts were guiding him well.
Then late one afternoon he found the boy squatting outside his parents’ cage. The boy had done the unthinkable:  he had deposited his day’s pickings at the feet of his father instead of bringing the ***** to master. Master flew into a rage and raised his whip to give the little traitor the lashing he deserved. But before he could deliver a single stroke his other hand shot to his chest and he staggered back against the albino’s cage. He blinked down at the boy, who regarded him steadily while scooping the plunder into a little pile.
From that day on the boy placed whatever he could get his hands on at his father’s feet. As time passed he became ever more adroit at thievery, growing into a youngster both admired and despised by master and his crew; admired because theft was a cinch for him, despised because they were all that much lighter in their possessions.
Now, for eleven long years the strange little train had bounced along, sometimes camping outside villages for months, occasionally pausing on connecting roads. The show traversed the heart of Manchuria, skirted the Gobi in the north, and so eventually crossed almost the entire width of Mongolia before proceeding north to the confluence of the rivers Yenisey and Ob’. Much silver and copper had come to master’s coffer, much fame to his name, but he now sat looking over a vast, unmapped Siberian wilderness. The mostly nomadic characters they’d been encountering spoke in tongues unfamiliar even to his personal valet-translator-accountant, and the tone of these nomads had been unmistakably hostile.
Master huddled surlily under a canopy of sopping hides. Night was falling hard during a merciless rain, the wind was picking up, and his supplies coach was bogged in a growing sea of mud. At that moment he accepted the whole end-of-the-line concept, and knew he wasn’t going anywhere but back. And when he got back he was going to shine! He jumped from the coach.
The earth took his weight for a heartbeat—and he was up to his chin in muck, splashing about on his hands and knees, sliding forward on his palms and toes. He did a belly flop into a rain-filled depression and churned to his feet with the devil in his eyes. Wallowing in mud and bile, master stomped to the supplies coach and kicked wildly at the stuck rear wheels.
Somewhere between kicks he lost it completely.
Master broke for his whip. One minute he was blindly lashing his men, the next he’d succumbed to a mindless ferocity. He thrashed about like a berserker; whipping the beasts, the coach, the very night. His men were scarcely able to move in all that mud, but their dread of his savagery kept them hopping. They gathered as one and shoved the coach recklessly; slipping, splashing, shouting. A minute later, three lay splayed underfoot, but the mired wheel had been freed.
Throughout all this the oxen had swayed nervously, while the horses softly tramped their hooves in place. Master had his men turn the oxen about until the rickety train was pointing dead east. He checked the hitches and personally applied the lash. The oxen didn’t budge. Master swore and wiped the rain from his eyes. He had the horses hitched ahead of the oxen, but they were even less obliging. Master flew into a spectacular rage. His men, fearing for their lives, ran liberally with the lash.
The swaying of oxen picked up until the entire train of carriages was rocking. Yet the oxen could not, would not be compelled, under any amount of prodding, to take an eastward step. Master looked around in exasperation.
The night had gone insane.
Horses were fighting hitches, oxen walking on fire.
Master cursed the rain and mud and lashed all the harder. His men, seeking to please, whipped maniacally until the horses and both lead oxen broke their hitches and bolted west. The men immediately embraced the rear oxen, but the hitches shattered and the beasts stormed off. The remaining horses blew it, kicking at everything and nothing.
Inside the long carriage all was chaos. The albino was neighing and screaming, the aged leopard spinning in its cage. Hero stared out his peephole, amazed at the blur of figures stumbling by in the rain.
A pair of clopping blows rattled the opposite wall. Three slats cracked. A tremendous impact, and a huge section collapsed. A thrashing, hysterical mare burst through the breach in a veil of rain.
The horse went mad, killing the albino and snake woman in a flurry of hooves. She fell ******* the near wall, crushing the cages. The leopard shot into the air like a rocket, slashed at the mare’s throat and vanished in the rain. The horse reared above the family cage. She was just coming down in a wheeling storm of hooves when something made her freeze. Her stare locked with Hero’s, and a second later her eyes were rolling in their sockets. The mare kicked crazily and came down ******* her left flank, smashing the long cage’s side. She whirled upright and leaped outside.
For a tense minute the family sat in the rubble, rain bombarding their eyes. Nothing in their years of captivity had prepared them for such a situation. But by the end of that minute the son had taken full command. He rolled onto his back, braced himself, and kicked his parents across the aisle, through the remnants of the opposing cage, and out of the carriage. They all fell about in the mud and rain. To the west, the mare stared back strangely as she splashed into the night. The boy wedged himself between his parents, threw his arms around them, and pushed with all his might. Their bodies found a common center of gravity. Fumbling drunkenly, the family staggered through the rain in the wake of the mare.

The boy was the natural leader.
Master’s innocent-looking little ex-student could quickly assess and exploit almost any situation. He did the foraging and the figuring, slept with one eye open and one fist ready. He got what he wanted by charm or by stealth, slipping off at nightfall, returning at daybreak with small slaughtered animals and chunks of dark peasant bread. He also pilfered any bauble or oddity he could get his paws on, to be placed reverently at his father’s mangled feet. Breadwinner and watchdog, he faithfully held the family together; a nuclear son. He sewed hardy feather-lined cloaks of reindeer hide, and turned a cache of marmot pelts into a kind of side-slung backpack. He was doting nurse during his mother’s episodes, and unbending apportioner of calories in lean times. Dauntless when it meant crossing mighty rivers, relentless when it came to finding mountain passes. But the endless marching, the unreliable diet, and the countless predators made the three wanderers lean, haggard moving targets. There were times when the little lamp of family was all but extinguished, and long stands in places that seemed absolutely impassable. Still, the boy would work things out. He would stoop to any level to feed Hero, and for a stranger to threaten his father was to summon a psychotic, unyielding monster. He was both spear and shield.
The toughest job of all was maintaining a tight unit, meaning he was forced to become a hard-nosed ******* whenever his father was ready to wander off, which always seemed to be whenever the mother was hurting most. She’d become a tremendous impediment to Hero’s compulsion, and therefore her son’s chief nemesis. It wasn’t a big-picture concern anyway; the writing was on the wall. The blue lady’s attacks were increasing spectacularly on the steppe; her world had always been an enclosure of some kind, and the great horizon was proving just too much. Perhaps these intense affairs served as links to Hero’s suppressed memories, for at the onset of each attack he’d turn and hike, and then only exhaustion could curb him. The boy would press his mother on, dragging, shoving, and smacking—he could be mean when necessary, and though circumstances had made him the nucleus, their worlds unquestionably revolved around Hero. Where he sat, they sat. When he rose, they did the same. In this manner they marched for years across the vast steppes, single-file—father, mother, and son, respectively—unmolested, lacking possessions, always following the sun. Long before they could be measured they had drifted into obscurity.
The woman’s end came quickly and dramatically, in a rocky little depression on a half-frozen field. One moment she was responsive to her son’s prompts, the next she was flat on her back, her eyelids fluttering. That night she leapt from fever to chill, from alertness to stupor. The boy, squatting beside their campfire, watched her face and hands run cadaver-blue to fish belly-pale and back again. While he was staring her eyes popped open and her hands came scrabbling. He sweated through the clawing embrace until he could bear it no longer. He oozed out and ran down to fetch his father.
When they got back Hero watched incuriously for a while. His mate’s face was scrunched up and her skin the color of sapphires. She wasn’t breathing.
His gaze became glassy, his eyes returned to the night. As he rose the boy immediately grabbed an arm. Neither moved for minutes. When the boy at last relinquished, his father casually stumbled off.
Strange things were going on in Hero’s world. Some days he would notice how animals regarded him oddly, in a manner that seemed almost personal. He found, for instance, that particular creatures were recognizable even over great distances. A number of times he would sit with one in a stare-down, waiting patiently, until the animal’s natural disposition caused it to bolt. Though the meaning of these encounters was way over his head, he would watch, and he would listen.
In time he noticed an increasing skittishness in some of these familiar creatures. Something had them spooked. He then observed a number of lean gray wolves moving in and out of the picture with an air of complete indifference:  these wolves weren’t hunting; they were loitering—lounging in the grass, lackadaisically padding to the rear, filing by slowly in the distance. Once in a while a lounger would raise its head, yawn cavernously, and drop back out of sight. So unobtrusive was their behavior that even Hero’s ever-vigilant son began to take them for granted. They paused where the family paused, and halted whenever the woman broke down. Perfectly camouflaged by the gray boulders and dire sky, they were completely forgotten in the drama of her passing.
There were other, far subtler events existing for Hero’s senses alone. He could perceive patterns in everything around him; in the manner vegetation gave way wherever his heart was leading, in the way so many animals appeared to be not merely mirroring, but making his course. And wind, rain, running water:  these phenomena had voices. Yet not for everybody. No one—not his mate, not his son, not another soul on the planet could hear this call, for they were all of a sort. They were static, they were temporal. Hero couldn’t have cared less about the lives of his family, or about the mundane goings-on in the encampments and small tribes they skirted. Such beings lived in a world that was defined by the moment. They shouted, they banged, they clamored.
But west—west was music.
For his boy, once again watching Hero shamble off, the moment of truth had arrived. He looked back down, at his mother’s death mask being remade by the dying light of their campfire. As the flames dwindled he could have sworn he saw shadows creep into the wells of her eyes, while others, crawling up around her jawline, drew her bluing lips like purse strings. He hopped to his feet and ran for another handful of tinder. When their little fire provided enough light he dropped to his knees and looked again.
She was sinking right before his eyes, every aspect of her expression in collapse. The boy watched clinically, fascinated. As the flames began to sputter he thought he could see large purple bruises spreading across her cheeks like the seeping limbs of overflowing pools. He bent closer.
From deep in the night came the longest, the leanest, the saddest wail he’d ever heard. He turned to see the starlit ghost of his father, facing away, staring at a low barren hill. Uncountable stars embroidered the spot. The boy made out a low shape moving along the hilltop, cutting off patches of stars as it passed.
The wolf howled again; a mournful, spiraling cry to nowhere and nothing. Hero’s head notched upward. He began to hike.
Halfway to his feet the boy stopped dead.
It took a minute to sense why he’d frozen in place, and a good while longer for his heart to quit pounding. He was aware of a nervous padding, and, once his vision had adjusted, of a lazy stream of eyes gleaming in the dying campfire’s light. The eyes bobbed around him, glared momentarily, returned to the ground.
A massive gasp, and his mother was tearing at his wrist. He watched her hyperventilating, saw her bulbous yellow eyes sinking in a wide violet pool. With a sizzle and pop the last tongue of flame was taken by the night.
Then her clammy hands were all over him, pulling and demanding, caressing and beseeching. He had to pry them off like leeches, had to place them clasped on her shuddering arched belly.
A silky snarl rose almost in his ear.
With a little squeal he sprang to his feet, even as something nearby jumped back in response.
The boy stood absolutely still while the panting thing padded nearer. They stood very close, smelling each other. He instinctively extended a hand, palm forward. But it was no good; his arm was shaking out of control. The snarl rose again, not so tentatively this time. His mother’s nails tore at his ankle.
The boy gently stepped away, only to find himself surrounded by the shifting silhouettes of half a dozen gray wolves. They approached in a calculated manner:  two from the left, one from the right, another from behind. He was being goaded away from his mother; he could hear her fists beating the ground, and a few seconds later the sounds of a nauseating assault and ravaging.
He shakily raised his other hand. Now both arms were extended, and their message was clearly one of defense rather than control. Two snapping wolves stepped aside, leaving him a gateway into the night. A cold wet nose bumped his wrist.
Screaming like a woman, he took off after his father just as fast as his feet would carry him.

                                                  BOY

Alon­g the great Kazakh Steppe a man could wander a lifetime and never meet another of his kind—especially if his kind happened to be Alaskan Inuk, and if he happened to be the teenaged patriarch of a two-man family going nowhere.
Here history is mostly mute.
Upon this continent-spanning steppe, unnamed communities were scattered and rebuilt, lives blown about by the wind. The only centers of humanity a traveler might encounter, far removed from the Silk Road at the very crack of the new millennium, were temporary encampments of civilization at its rudest—shifting holes of cutthroat commerce existing solely for the barter of silk and spices and hapless souls. Life here was revered far less than merchandise, and the longest-lived men were those who kept their distance.
Hero and his boy hiked over permafrost and tundra for years; their meandering course a drunken mapmaker’s scrawl. Chronological entries along this imaginary line would reveal that they’d stopped, sometimes for months at a time, when the father had grown too weak and disoriented to continue. Hero’s internal compass was long-sprung, and his weight had fallen considerably. He’d sit on his lonesome, scarecrow-scrawny, wistfully scrolling a 360-horizon while his boy scouted and scavenged. Then, for no apparent reason, he’d just up-and hike—sometimes northwest, sometimes along a tangential plane that always threatened to spiral. It was brutal:  winters were frigid, summers, by odd contrast, running steamy to baking. Season by season these marches lost their tenaciousness, and eventually their heart. Hero’s obsession was becoming his demise.
Now, to a hypothetical observer, the ratty pair of woolly camels materializing out of the rising August heat might have been mirages.
These beasts were novelties here, and pioneers, for they were way beyond their normal stomping grounds. They’d tramped for months with a mind-numbing monotonousness, a thousand miles and more; round the Urals to the south, and through the hard territory braced by the Volga and Voronezh, avoiding anything that even smelled of men. They’d been wild camels; ugly, ill-tempered, and unpredictable, until the boy tamed them by touch…but this new pattern was a literal change of pace…for weeks the frail little man and his dark teenaged son rose and fell with the animals’ rhythm, lulled by it, sick of it, dreaming of lands far removed from hoarfrost and peat moss. In this manner they were borne clear to present-day Belarus, whereupon the camels’ stupefying march began to quicken. Mile by mile they put on steam, until one day they reached a broad area distinguishable from its bracing terrain only by its many deep surface cracks. Here the camels’ behavior became erratic; they crouched at an angle while tramping, their long necks oscillating, their noses bobbing along the ground. Eventually they came upon a dingy pool nestled in a pebbly depression. The local brush surrounding this pool was situated like iron filings about a lodestone. The boy hauled back his camel’s neck and laid a hand on its brow. The brute slowed to a halt. The other camel imitated its partner, move for move. Simultaneously the animals dropped to their knees.
The boy jumped off, catching Hero as he fell. The camels stood watching stupidly as son maneuvered father, but after a while grew nervous and began tramping their hooves in time. They slowly stepped to the pool’s rim and knelt woozily, their noses poised just above the surface. Their whiskers danced on the pool’s face, their lids became heavy, their hindquarters quivered as they drank. Their nostrils, having fluttered in unison, remained agape. They appeared to be asleep.
The boy began filling skins.
The water was quite warm; he slurped a palmful and almost immediately felt intoxicated.
He flicked it off his fingers; the water was bad.
Three heads were now mirrored in the pool; the camels’ at ten o’clock and two o’clock, the boy’s at six. He watched their reflections continue to ripple, long after the pool had become still. His face, melting and firming, rapidly fluctuated between extremes of age, and between his own recognizable features and those of some…monstrosity. The effect was hypnotic. He felt his joints stiffen; his eyes became weak, his thoughts muddled…his face was irresistibly drawn to the pool’s surface, and for a moment he was in real peril of drowning. He ****** his head aside and creaked to his feet.
Where the camels had knelt were only the prints of their bellies and knees. In the distance they could be seen galloping all-out for the horizon, right back the way they’d come. The boy watched until they were swallowed by their dust, and when he turned around his father was long gone.
Now he knew it was all just a matter of time.
And sure enough, after eleven more days of feebly staggering along, Hero completely ran out of gas. The boy bundled him up in a shawl, like an old woman.
Sitting there, cradling an unresponsive man weighing less than eighty pounds, he couldn’t help but let his morbid fantasies run wild. He was now old enough to realize his father had at some time suffered severe head trauma, and honest enough to accept that the man was rapidly approaching a vegetative state. This understanding accompanied him like a shadow, and that night he questioned, for the very first time, his own convoluted rationale.
He was just beginning to sense that his will was not his own.
He built a semi-permanent camp west of the Desna and foraged in a tight spiral, always returning in a straight line. Some days he came back feeling uneasy, sensing another presence. Then it was every other day. It bugged him to no end. At last, when it became every day, he hauled his father to his feet and began a resolute march to the west.
Again he became anxious, and after only a dozen yards.
He turned slowly while hunching, certain something bulky had just dropped out of sight. Nothing looked suspicious, everything looked suspicious. He walked Hero some more, occasionally peering back over his shoulder. There was…something.
He whirled:  only masses of rock and high brush. Yet, when he really strained his eyes, he was sure, pretty sure, that he could make out a large crouching body continuous with the rocks. Heart in his throat, he began a slow steady creep, only to pause, positive the bulge, whatever it was, had shifted in response. The boy very gradually raised his arm until it was level with his eyes, faced the palm outward, and extended the arm parallel with the ground. He could almost feel some kind of current passing between his itching palm and…nothing. He walked over to Hero, stopped again. There’d been the subtlest sense of traction. The boy propped up his father in a cloud of flies and waited.
In a minute the bulge drew *****.
Out of the brush strolled a furry gray wild ***, her back inclined from countless weary miles; stretching her neck, pausing to nibble, taking her sweet time. Grungy as she was, she fit right in.
At the boy’s first casual step she immediately hit the dirt and remained flat on her belly, one big dark eye staring between her hooves. Another step, and her **** bunched up. The closer he got, the higher her rear end rose. When he was almost at arm’s length she sprang back and danced away, seeming to bound with delight. But not to the east, as she’d come.
To the northwest.
She backpedaled while the boy came on whistling and cooing, matching him step for step. But the moment he threw up his arms in resignation she spun round as though cued, dropped on her belly, and peered over her shoulder.
The boy was first to blink. This time he approached fractionally, keeping movements to a minimum. She rose just as carefully, sauntering northwest in reverse, and at the first sign of hesitation turned, dropped, and cautiously gazed back. The boy glared at that huge mocking **** and broke into a sprint. She easily danced out of reach, plopped down, and continued to stare.
He began hurling stones, with venom and with accuracy, until she’d scurried into the brush.
But on the way back to his father he could feel her tagging along.
Twenty feet behind she halted, looking bemused.
The boy nodded ironically. He walked Hero over, murmuring baby talk all the way, and firmly placed a palm on the animal’s muzzle once her breath grazed his fingers. She stroked his hand up and down with her whiskers, gave a kind of curtsy, and waited on her knees while he helped his father mount.
At Hero’s touch a shudder ran down her body. She stood up straight. Her eyes became set, her back absolutely stiff. She put down her head and began the long trek northwest, never once breaking stride.
It was an amazing march, an impossible feat. For a little over three days and almost four hundred miles she progressed like an automaton, driving herself without rest, without food or water.
After trotting alongside for an hour the boy climbed on and force-fed his father berries and smoked meat, his dark eyes constantly searching the countryside. Occasionally he’d see a run of red foxes to their left, watching intently, padding cautiously. Sooner or later they’d vanish, only to be replaced by a train of feline or equine pursuers. Packs approached and receded while, high overhead, flocks formed triangular patterns that continually broke up and reformed. There was a peculiar rhythmic quality to this ebb and flow that lulled his senses further. The boy shook his head to clear it, but his exhaustion was deeper than he’d supposed—even the brush appeared to be leaning northwest.
That first day he grew numb with the pace, and that night the relentless pounding of her hooves drew him into a miserable slumber. He wrapped his arms around his sleeping father and lay half atop. When he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer he tore strips from his skins, then looped his tied wrists round her neck, his ankles round her belly.
On the second day she was breathing hard, but her back was still high and she showed no signs of faltering. Her eyes remained focused on the ground dead ahead. She always sensed the best routes; finding mountain passes, fording wetlands.
But by the third day they could feel her ribs quaking against their legs. Her breath exploded as she marched, blood frothed and caked about her nostrils. Still she pushed herself on, her pace so steady it was almost metronomic.
On the fourth day her legs were gone. She veered and stumbled, shuddering every few paces. The boy hopped off for the umpteenth time and tried to bring her to graze, but she wouldn’t be turned. He ran behind her as she staggered along, unwilling, or unable, to rest.
At last a foreleg gave and she went down hard. Sobbing and snorting, she plowed her muzzle back and forth in the soil, the useless leg repeatedly pounding the ground. After a minute she raised her head and brayed at the sky, her neck muscles taut, her head slowly swinging side to side. Her cry went on and on.
With a tremendous effort she pushed herself upright and butted the boy aside. Every part of her body was shaking. From her depths a low moan grew to a steady bray, and finally to a wild, pulsing howl. She came to a rise, but was too weak to climb without sliding. Stamping in frustration, she managed a few feet, reared feebly, slid some more. The boy got behind her and applied his back; it took all he had to assist her almost to the top. With a desperate lunge she crashed on her belly.
Amazingly, she dragged herself on, her howl now a scream, her head whipping left and right. When she could pull herself no farther she ****** forth her neck to its very limit and, with a shudder that ran from the tip of her nose to the tuft on her tail, shoved her muzzle straight into the dirt and died.
The boy hauled off his father and fell back. The animal’s eyes were fixed upwards, seeming, even in death, to be straining for a glimpse of what lay just beyond the rise. The boy half-dragged Hero the last few yards. They collapsed at the top, and together looked over the cold Baltic Sea.

At water’s edge a haggard fisherman sat on his boat’s ravaged deck, blindly staring out to sea. His was a queer vessel; a family structure built more like an aft-cabined barge than like seacraft typical of that period. The fisherman’s boat, like his mind, had been abused beyond repair.
He’d lost much in his life. Time had taken his dreams, pox his face, hardship his back and shoulders. And, more recently, a brawling band of drunken Baltic pirates had ***** his wife and daughter before butchering them along with his two fine sons, while he sat helplessly bound to the mast. Finally, to further their delight, they’d set the boat aflame and sent it crackling against the sun; knowing he could hear their hoots and howls, knowing he would drift undead, accompanied only by this last unspeakable memory.
But a squall, without prelude, had doused the flames and blown his home ashore.
There he’d remained for a full long day, staring at nothing, his shattered life caught on the rocks. On the second day he’d worked himself free and commenced staggering about in his memories, gathering shards. It was a pathetic claim. He made a pile of all the old bedding and linen and usable cords, and set about sewing a sort of mementos sail. All that third day he had sewn, and on the fourth he had hoisted this sail and been moved to see it billowing in a northwest-blowing breeze. Again he just sat and gaped. And later that day he’d become aware of a commotion taking place on the long grade leading down to the water, where a writhing mass of seagulls was proceeding like a tremendous slow-motion snowball. He’d never seen anything like it. It wasn’t uncommon to find gulls in a group of many dozens or more, but there must have been two, maybe three thousand of the birds now swarming toward his boat. They were making an incredible racket. In the midst of this cloud could be seen a couple of slowly walking figures; as they neared he made out a small man accompanying a boy in his late teens, both dressed in odd skins. When they reached the rocks his eyes were drawn to the small man’s face. It was a foreign face, brutish and dark, with a deep cleft running from above the right temple to the jaw’s left side. Whatever instrument had felled this man had been devastating—everything in its path was smashed, and with permanence. The forehead was caved in. There was no bridge to the nose, the left cheek was completely collapsed, one side of the mouth was a mangled mess. The jaw itself had set improperly, so that it jutted to the side. The general impression, especially from a distance, was of some unforgettable circus freak’s countenance puckering at an angle. It was a face right out of a nightmare. But there was nothing frightening about the eyes. They were the eyes of a child.
Maybe half the gulls hopped screaming on the rocks. The rest circled overhead.
The boy considered the fisherman curiously before placing a foot on the charred deck. His gaze went around the boat, lingered on the makeshift sail, returned to the slumped figure. He passed a hand before the eyes. No response. He then leaned in close and placed his fingers on the man’s forehead. Immediately that bleak expression became fluid, brimming over with horror and heartbreak. Tears rolled down the fisherman’s cheeks as he gasped, shuddered, and backed up the scorched mast to his feet. Thus propped, he squinted at his visitors and was overcome by a wave of homesickness so strong he had to turn away. The feeling bewildered him, for this vessel, and this sea, were all the home he’d ever known. He clung to the mast while the boy helped his father board. Once he’d collected himself, the fisherman tore a heavy crossbeam from the toasted cabin. He and the boy used this as a lever, and together they shoved the boat off the rocks. The wind picked up nicely, and the little craft was swept across the water.
Exploding off the rocks, the gulls shot after the boat as if it were brimming with fish, the loudest and orneriest vying for favored positions directly overhead. The melee attracted additional gulls—they came shrieking in their hundreds from all sides, banking and calling in the oddest manner, until the mass grew so thick as to cast a permanent shadow on the boat. All day long the clamor continued, and all that night. The fisherman rolled with the rudder, listlessly, allowing the sea to control him. Eventually he let go, that the wind might bear them where it would. His sail ballooned but held firm, and the boat fairly zipped across a sea somehow smooth as glass, broken only by the vacillating ripples of bottleneck dolphins and migrating humpback whales. The three tiny sailors sat hunched together, motionless, all throughout the next day, until the black coast of Sweden loomed in the twilight.
As the boat neared land the cloud of gulls broke up, shot to shore, and landed in groups of a thousand and more; a dizzying, wildly uproarious reception committee.
The dung-covered boat slammed into the rocks, shattering the fisherman’s trance. He intuitively walked his **** up the mast and, swaying there, watched the boy draw his father over the side and lead him to a clearing at wood’s edge. There in the dusk he made out what appeared to be a hefty spotted runaway heifer hitched to a rickety wood wagon. He saw the cow gallop up to meet them, saw the boy look around warily, saw him help the little man into the wagon and climb in beside him. The animal immediately began picking through the woods, the large brass bell round her neck clanging forlornly.
The clarity of that bell made him realize just how quiet it had become. He craned his neck:  there wasn’t a gull in sight. He fell back against the shot mast and slid onto his tailbone with a clacking of teeth. His eyes were misting up. In the gathering dark a few sail fragments flew past and were ****** into the woods. The boat rocked and relaxed. After that there was only the sound of the receding bell’s sad, monotonous song being batted about by the wind.

The little cow strode through moonlit woods until she came to a path formed by the rutting of wheels over many years. She followed this broken, serpentine track throughout the night, and by morning was passing farms and, occasionally, crossing broader paths that might realistically be defined as roads. All day long she bore down that ragged track, until she came in late afternoon to a clearing near a village. Here many such tracks converged. And here the boy slipped away while she grazed.
Sometime after dark he returned with a load of straw, a couple of pilfered blankets, and a fat iron kettle. Crammed in this kettle were salt, tubers, cheese, a few loaves of rye, legumes, and a plump foot of lamb sausage. Most of this ***** he’d brought in tied to the bowed back of a huge, puffing, highly amenable black pig which, thus laden, now followed the boy’s every step like a fresh convert tracing the heels of the messiah. The boy built a fire under the stars, filled the kettle with creek water, and commenced simmering their dinner. While waiting, he couldn’t help but note an odd feature of the local flora:  plants, especially trees, all seemed inclined to a northwesterly disposition, though no amount of wind could account for it. He shooed the pig. But rather than run along, it backpedaled in a nervous circle, round and round in reverse, until it lost its balance and fell on its ****. There it remained, a yard behind the wagon. The boy fed his father and lined the wagon with straw. They settled in for the night. The boy must have nodded, might have dreamt, but while he was drifting he became aware of a stirring in the woods. He sat up, saw the pig’s eyes gleaming inches from his nose. And there were a number of animals, some wild, some strayed from farmsteads, arranged in a broad circle around the wagon, their eyes glinting with moonlight. Not a rustle, not a peep, was lifted from the woods.
In the morning he woke to find the pig still staring. The fidgeting heifer, impatient to roll, began her long day’s march while Hero and his boy were yet stretching and scratching, and the ******* pig, galloping heavily, fell in close behind. Each new day this routine was repeated. They banged past farms and small communities until the ruts intersected a broad rocky road wending halfway across the kingdom. The cow addressed this road with vigor. They picked up followers—a goat here, a couple of sheep there—which hurried after the wagon as best they could. The cow stomped on with resolve, mile after mile, day after day, her bell keeping steady time. That bell’s peal attracted foals, lambs, and kids into the wagon’s narrowing wake. Hares hopped between hooves and wheels, boars and blue foxes fell in and withdrew. White falcons, normally solo fliers, whirled into wedge shapes high overhead.
At night the entire train would camp on the road while the boy raided proximate farmsteads, always returning fully laden. And as soon as the fire died the colony grew, creature by creature, and the moment the sun broke the horizon the heifer came to life and moved on, but each day a bit more resolutely, as though straining to meet a deadline. The march took on a sense of real urgency. The cow pressed on with attitude, the clang of her bell more strident with each passing mile. Soon her followers numbered in the hundreds, as animals deserted their farms or crept out of the woods to tag along. Tillers and traders stood dumbfounded, amazed by the bizarre flow.
Once they’d crossed into Norway the frothing cow veered hard to the west. The pace really picked up; no longer were Hero and his boy afforded the luxury of a night’s sleep in one spot. Days blurred into a single variegated flow as the bashed and lopsided wagon continued building its entourage; the riders were surrounded dawn to dusk by a confused and confusing scurry. Word of the flow’s weirdness preceded it clear to the Norwegian coast, so that now plowmen and merchants, wearily gathering their goggling families, found themselves lined in anticipation along the king’s highway. Horsemen went pounding to and fro with news of the procession’s progress and particulars, children ran through the streets banging pots in imitation of the cow’s approaching bell. Livestock wheeled and stamped, fowl leaped and crashed.
The slobbering cow broke into a run.
Bystanders trotted behind, calling back and forth excitedly, while the wagon’s permanent following squealed and squawked between their heels. The cow made a hard turn onto a widening swath in the brush. This swath, seeming to strain against the soil, ran straight down to the crest of a low hill overlooking the Atlantic. On either side a crowd had been studying the phenomenon for some time, but now all eyes swung to the dark and disfigured man and his son, clinging to the disintegrating wagon behind the careening spotted cow.
The trailing people traded views as they ran. Most—at the very outset of the new millennium, with Christianity burgeoning throughout Europe—leaned to the miraculous. Others, just as superstitious but prone to a darker point of view, threw looks of horror at the deformed little man. Yet they ran no less eagerly.
The galloping crowd made for the seaside, where only one local event of any moment was brewing:  on the coast a Greenlander Viking was preparing his longship for the rough voyage home. Impetuous son of the great island’s first permanent European settler, he’d just been baptized in Olaf’s court, and was now eager to sail—but not as a warrior—as a missionary. While his spirit remained in a tug-o’-war between his father Erik’s will and that of gods old and new, his duty was clearly to his king. And Olaf had charged him with the Christianization of pagan Greenland.
Something on the wind now made this destined man turn his head. From behind the gentle hill to his rear came a kind of thunder. Heads popped up, followed by a confused explosion of voices, and seconds later a frantic bug-eyed heifer burst into view, dragging the wheel-less skeleton of a shattered wooden wagon. On the wagon’s splayed frame a man and teenaged boy clung for their lives as the spewing animal made a beeline for his ship.
The new missionary, still egocentric enough to assume his Maker might actually toss him a personal, surreptitiously rolled up his eyes. The sky yawned at his arrogance. At his side a smallish cowled man rose irritably, but the missionary sat him right back down. He then snorted, squared his shoulders, and signaled his men to halt their preparations.
Knowing it was expected, he gathered his hard Nordic pride and coolly made his way into the crowd.

The priest clung to port, gagging above the waves.
After a completely uneventful minute he leaned back and stared through tearing eyes at the distant backdrop of gathering mists. Weeks now…a man of his constitution had no business at sea.
Along, too, were a quirky little man and his fiercely devoted son.
Through his pantomime, the boy had been so persistent in begging their passage that refusal, under the circumstances, would have been unbecoming not only a man of God but a man of the world.
So there it was:  a priest who couldn’t hold his lunch, a witless eyesore who couldn’t sit still, and a surly teenaged protector who snarled at the first hard look. This crossing just had to be some kind of divine test—of mortal patience as well as moral values. Norsemen weren’t made for babysitting.
The mists condensed.
And the shifting shape became a hard familiar coast.
And the longship was mooring, and the crew were jostling and clambering, and the big missionary had booted off the haunted little freak and his hypersensitive son, and was condescendingly half-escorting, half-carrying, the green priest ashore.
And they were home.

Priest in tow, Leif quickly took up the Christianization of Greenland’s Western Settlement, as per Olaf’s command. The mangled little man and his son followed him around like dogs, slept outside his door and annoyed his visitors, ultimately proving far easier to adopt than to shake. Barely tolerable shadows…still, the lad was simply amazing with livestock…and though the youth’s useless father seemed time and again to be just begging for a whooping, his son’s presence bore some ineffable quality that always curbed the missionary’s hand. Several times he’d witnessed the father approached by settlers bent on abuse. Each time the boy had stepped in, and each time the troublemakers were mysteriously repelled. The missionary of course didn’t attribute any kind of celestial intervention to these episodes, and certainly the popular notion of devilry was a natural reaction to the pair’s outrageous exoticness, but…in the son’s company, and even under the sharp eyes of his fellow Norsemen, Leif more than once found himself oddly moved to protect the father. And so the deformed man and his boy day by day blent in—as village idiot and mystic guide. And when in time a ****** brought tales of an unvisited land to the west, it was only natural for the restless Greenlander to buy that ******’s boat and, before stalwart comrades, weary family, and whimsical God Almighty, reluctantly accept the eccentric father and son as sort of seagoing mascots.
Hero was from then on irrepressible. During preparations he would pipe and stammer in his half-mute way, brimming with a confounding anxiety that kept him underfoot and at odds with all. On frigid nights he perched on the westernmost rocks, moaning to the horizon in the strangest fashion while his son stood guard. He positively spooked the locals; they’d gossip, nervously and with bile, of an answering wind that came wailing off the sea like a banshee in labor. The whole island wanted rid of him. And when his champing beneficiary, still clinging to the notion of Christian charity, bundled him aboard with his son and a crew of thirty-five, not a single settler was sorry to see him go.
Almost from the moment they cast off everything went wrong, as all attempts to control the longship were met with some kind of unknowable countermanding force. Vikings were not renowned for passive resistance—they fought, squaresail and steering oar, leaning oarsman to oarsman, until the ship rocked on the waves like a bucking bronco. An erratic weather system pursued them, worsening dramatically at each minute variation in heading. The Norsemen doubled down, and when the clouds finally burst wide, the cowling sea went mad. Dervishes whirled about the hull, crisscrossing winds bedeviled the sail. Patches of kelp belonging to much warmer waters came heaving alongside, fouling the work of the oars, while far to the west a humongous fog bank formed, eradicating the navigable field. The lightning-streaked horizon was a throbbing gray slit.
The longship became locked in a slow westerly current.
Fatigued crewmen complained of headaches and hallucinations, and of a nasty, slightly metallic tang to the air. There were numerous walrus sightings; bobbing flippers and snouts amid drifting ice chunks that came prowling the North Sea like a circling pack of famished white wolves.
Worst of all was the boy’s father—instantly agitated by everything and nothing, prey to some primitive impulse that caused him to periodically incline his head, shudder to his feet, and loop his arms as though embracing the sky. Leif would watch him scrabbling at the prow like a cat at a tree, furs snapping in the wind. He’d watch the boy re-seat him for the hundredth time, and for the hundredth time be filled with an immense contempt. By now he’d acknowledged that it takes a special kind of strength to shoulder charity and tolerance. That brown little freak struck him as an enormous malformed barnacle, slowly working its way back up the prow. Trying so hard to go unnoticed, looking and listening so intently, though there was nothing to see other than the growing shelves of fog, and nothing to hear save the rising, almost hysterical voice of the wind.
Leif sniffed the air, his ******’s instincts nagging him. This was a foul current, and a fool's errand; he took a deep breath and tentatively ordered the longship brought about.
The ship kicked twice, as though an enormous submarine hand had seized and released the hull.
A whirl formed in the water, causing the keeling ship to sweep around like a clock’s second hand. All about them, those drift-ice ghosts cruised dangerously near.
But they’d been liberated from that accursed current. Leif fiercely urged on his rowers, and at last the ship broke free. They made a bead due north.
Night came and the temperature plummeted.
Small sheets of ice converged, drifting between the hunks. The Norsemen, instinctively huddling amidships, passed out one by one in a massive pile of fur and flesh. In the freezing silence the floes bumped and recoiled, bumped and gathered, bumped and bonded. The tiny ship, swallowed whole, was dragged along in a labyrinth of black sea and interlocking slabs of ice.

The Norsemen came to in a surly, foul-smelling heap, lost at sea. While they were still groggy a voice cried out that a darker patch was developing in the fog. The men all fell to port. Under the confusion of their voices could be heard a distant rumble.
At this Hero hauled himself up the high curved prow. A half-light began to penetrate the fog, barely illuminating the irregular faces of drifting ice. The missionary stormed forward and indicated by gestures that if the boy didn’t restrain his father he would have the man tied down.
The longship stopped dead in the water.
The men found themselves regarding a perpetually frozen coastline swathed in bluish veils of mist. Directly before them loomed an immense ice cliff hundreds of feet high. Rising beyond this cliff were endless snow fields, where lean violet shadows seemed to drag about of their own volition. And upon those bleak fields a thin howling wind prowled, kicking up brief white dervishes, leaving a strange zigzagging signature.
Even as they stared, a darker shadow high on the ice cliff’s glistening face began to widen, accompanied by a cracking sound that could be felt before it was heard. With the illusion of slow-motion, a stupendous chunk broke out of the cliff and came screaming toward the sea. It hit the water like a bomb. The thunder of its separation and the explosion of its impact took a moment to reach them. Then, out of a spewing crater of crests and spume, the new calf came lunging, tromping the sea so hard the longship, fully a mile to sea, was swept out and ****** back in like a cork. The floundering mountain of ice bobbed and lilted, generating huge waves which continued to rock the ship long after the monster had settled. In a while the roaring in their ears subsided and there remained only the swirling, nerve-wracking howl of the wind.
The missionary’s eyes swept left and right. Whatever this place was, it sure wasn’t the fair shoreline he’d been promised. Hero again scrambled up the prow, and Leif again yanked him down. This time he made good his threat; he had the little nuisance bound, though he was half-tempted to let him take his chances overboard.
From somewhere deep in the haze grew a soulful, otherworldly call. It went on and on, electrifying the air, bottoming out once the ship had merged with that previously fought westerly flow.
By now Leif’s nerves were shot. He ordered the oars raised.
The longship began to drift. Ship and ice were pulled due west.
The clouds fell far behind as the ship embarked upon an amazingly calm sea—so calm its entire visible surface was featureless except for the faint wakes provided by the ship and its hulking ice companions. To the east a huge fog bank appeared on the horizon, and a while later a smaller bank to the north. Then a very dense one to the south. In time these banks converged, imperceptibly becoming a single mass that closed about the ship, bit by bit creating a slowly heaving dome. Tiny beads of water appeared on beards and eyebrows; in a minute everything was soaked. The only sound was that of the dragging steering oar. The men were now sopping ghosts, speaking only with their eyes.
Directly ahead the fog began to dimple. The dimple became a hollow, the hollow a cave, and then ship and ice were being towed through a low, ever-extending tunnel in fog. The current increased its pull. Ship and drifting ice accelerated through the tunnel.
After a while the missionary quietly stepped forward. He stood with one hand on the prow’s neck, listening to the mist, so motionless he might have been a carved extension of the longship’s aggressive design. Not a man breathed. The tunnel’s dilating and contracting bore was producing an all but seamless series of oscillating, near-phonetic sounds. Leif almost tiptoed back. No god, pagan or Christian, could account for the strangeness of this situation.
They were borne on a course that grew more southerly, and the following day beheld an inhospitable shoreline glazed by dazzling white beaches. Their course held. Two days later they came upon a far pleasanter, thickly wooded coast. Here the current released its hold, and here the missionary untied Hero and personally placed him and his son in a tiny oak faering. He was just as sick of them as he was excited by this promising new land. Once the rowboat had been heaved over the side, he and another man stepped aboard and took up the oars. They began rowing with easy, powerful strokes.
When the boat kissed sand the missionary stood unsteadily.
The first European to set foot on North American soil now placed one hand on his crucifix, the other on his sword’s hilt, and awkwardly plunged his leg into the thigh-deep, ice-cold surf. Before he could take another step the boat lurched as Hero leapt headfirst into the water, followed an instant later by his son. The Greenlanders watched sourly as the two splashed their way into a mad dash for the waiting pines. Leif wished them both good riddance and turned to grin wryly at his fellow Norseman. He must have blacked out for a second, must have been blinded by a shaft of sun, for he found he was staring stupidly at a point midway between his companion and the longship. It felt like he’d been kicked between the eyes.
Everything was dissolving.
He studied the beach and pines closely, but saw nothing of the man or his boy. He turned back, disoriented. With what seemed a superhuman effort he took up his oars. He rowed out sluggishly, in a dream, and the fog rolled in to meet him.

The boy broke into the trees and embraced a trunk, fighting for breath. What happened next happened so fast and so unexpectedly he didn’t have a chance to react.
Three savages stepped from behind the pines and beat him to his knees. They twisted his arms behind his back and hauled him to his feet. He’d barely processed the impression of a wild painted face when something sharp struck him ******* the temple and tore down his cheek to the jaw. Two of the assailants manhandled him into an upright position and held him in place while the third brought his weapon down again and again and again.
All but dead, he watched a nightmare countenance shouting through a shot veil of blood, and behind that image a reeling crimson sun. He lay there gushing while the savages went through his rags. They propped him against a pine and shrieked with triumph, tore the hair and gory scalp from his skull, threw back their heads and screamed at the screaming sky. Tooth and nail, they ripped apart his face and throat and, certain he would die, split what bits of fur were left and let his carcass lie.

                                                HERO

The weeks stretched into months while he fought his way back into the light.
He progressed in stages; only half-conscious, stumbling along in a blood-red stupor punctuated by a slow strobe of frequent blackouts. Days loomed and decayed, nights pounced and were gone; the backlit, swirling gray cosmos collapsed and expanded on every missed beat of his pulse. A thousand times he broke down to die, and a thousand times he clawed to his feet, driven to pursue a tiny, ghost-like figure fluttering in his memory.
Everything conspired to check him.
A bay like an immense landlocked sea was skirted over months or years—it was all the same. Cold locked him in, Hunger drove him afield, that rude ***** Wind lashed him blind, wore him like a shoe, screamed for his skin while he worked his way west.
Somehow he ate, somehow he avoided being eaten; the instincts that had served him halfway around the planet were still vital beneath the abused exterior. His simple burrows became sturdy temporary shelters. He relearned the art of fire, and began to cook what he killed. He manufactured crude snares and weapons and, when his recuperation was complete, paid closer attention to the on-again, off-again trail he’d been following…forever.
Sometimes this trail would call to him like a lover. Other times he stood peering uncertainly, trying to recapture meanings and aims. Then the ground would turn spongy and the sky revolve, and once again he’d be lying all but dead in the woods, while from the face of the sun emerged a vile winged horror, its ugly pale head lashing side to side, its cruelly hooked beak dangling something that glistened in the wild pulsing light…then the fat moon, rising like gas against the icy black night…the feel of the wind:  the slashing of her nails, the chafing of her hem…the sound of things crunching and pausing and sniffing…then the sun, blazing anew. And again that thing, descending, its wide black wings beating slowly, metronomically—but none of that mattered any more. For his mind had quit him, had flown howling into ice and pine to roost with things surreal. In the day his madness might muddle and run, or spend the light stalking, cat-like, watching and waiting. But at night it came creeping from all sides. Sometimes it came in waves. It could gnaw like the devil, or wrap around him like a warm second skin. But none of that mattered either.
The only thing that mattered was the trail—whether it was lost for good, or for only a while. He’d been following it through his episodes, always north, wondering just who and where in the world he was, and trying to shake a ridiculous notion of being led on a wild goose chase.
The cold was unbelievable.
The deeper north he delved, the more confused he became. He grew starved for colors and scents, finding nonexistent patterns in the stark contrast of shadow and snow. He thought he could detect a kind of otherworldly design in the overwhelming number of dead ends he encountered, and, too, in the diabolically frustrating locations of natural obstacles. He seemed to be forever fighting the wind—a hulking, despondent snowman, he hiked face down and focused, while another aspect of his attention floated just behind, disembodied, watching his silent pursuers…leaving no tracks, blending perfectly with the environment in their clever winter coats…not predators, but creatures that normally should have been hightailing it away from him. By the time he could turn, they’d become nothing more menacing than snowdrifts. But they pursued him nevertheless.
And so his paranoia increased…had there ever really been a trail…and when did this miserably cold, miserably anemic crusade begin…his long-term memory was falling apart a chunk at a time. It just got colder and colder and colder until at last, one snippet of a day during one blur of a year, he found himself utterly lost, and clueless as to his history or objective. His mind was a blank, as colorless and featureless as the endless world of ice around him. He’d come this far solely to learn that the only trail he’d been following was his own—and now even that trail was succumbing to ice. On all sides there was nothing to see but an infinite field of glaring whiteness, and nothing to hear but the ululating wail of the tubular polar wind. It was the loneliest, the unholiest, the creepiest sound imaginable. But it wasn’t insanity that made him wheel. It was his self-preservation instinct.
And then he was somehow on his knees in the woods, facing a furious setting sun.
Whole seasons had passed from his memory like chalk from a board. His only recollections were those of a broken, haunted animal:  of being perilously sick, of fearing the unseen, of blindly struggling across a solid-white wilderness. That he’d survived such an ordeal meant nothing to him. And that he had in some indecipherable manner stumbled across the cold-as-stone trail did not fill him with amazement or with thankfulness—there simply wasn’t anything visual or emotional left to draw on. A significant part of his life had been whited out.
But now he could focus entirely on the trail. And before he knew it, the fuzzy area between fantasy and reality found a seam. He began to analyze and plan. He paid attention to hygiene, and kept a kind of running mental journal. Things were sorting out. Yet there were nights when the old sickness would resurface, reestablish its hold, and leave him sweating and uncertain under the stars. Then, paradoxically, his perception would become razor-keen. And so he would see, on a distant hilltop, a pair of scrawny silhouettes, one on four legs and one on two, slowly crossing the faintly pocked face of the setting moon. He would become strangely excited, and thereafter retain crystal-clear images of himself, as if seen from above, hurrying with adroitness through the silent, graveyard-like setting of black and blue night and white-frosted trees. Then the fuzzy area would broaden, and it would be the next morning, and he would be staring at the prints of man and elk in snow. And he would see how the elk’s prints doubled back, and how the man’s prints terminated where he had obviously mounted his guide. An unfathomable glow would bring tears to his eyes. But, even as he gathered himself, a fresh snowfall would wipe out the prints. And once again the world would plummet into white. And the wind would howl as the snow hammered his eyes. And he would ***** on.

A haggard animal sat shivering in a small grove of frozen pines, watching his campfire die. His eyes were fixed. Like the fire, he was running out of warmth, running out of fuel. There wasn’t a whole lot of tinder round his bones, and not much feeling left in his limbs. The slowly heaping downfall was burying him alive, but he was too numb to care.
It had taken him six long years to cross an entire continent, and during that time he’d known only cold and excruciating pain. The pain was leaving him now. The cold was making it right. His eyes glazed over.
Along a narrow plain to the west a herd of caribou filed dreamily through the snow, cutting across a panoramic backdrop of dazzling white mountains. The slow-motion parade was hypnotic. After a while it occurred to the drifting man, in a roundabout way, that he was dying, that he was nonchalantly freezing to death. Concurrent with this notion there rose in his chest a wonderful liquid warmth. His eyes slowly closed and, once shut, began to set fast.
He was jolted from within. It was as if he’d been kicked in the heart.
He ****** to his feet, pounded his fists on his thighs, felt nothing. The breath spurted from his mouth in small white clouds as he stumbled downhill after the slow caribou train. He swam through the snow, hallucinating, imagining that certain individuals in the herd were mocking him by slowing and accelerating, while others glanced back with expressions of contempt.
As he burst into their midst the animals stepped aside indifferently. A few galloped ahead to keep up the herd, but most simply sidestepped while he danced there, stamping his feet and smacking his hands. The herd grew thinner, until only the old and infirm were filing by. The man desperately embraced a hobbling female for warmth, but she cried out and kicked, triggering a panic reaction in the herd. Clinging for his life, the man was dragged along beside her as the herd stormed into a maze of flying ice and snow. His weight caused her to stagger sideways until they slammed against the flank of a sick male. The man instinctively threw an arm over the male and, thus draped between them, was borne across the drifted plain for upwards of a mile, his freezing feet alternately dangling above and dragging through the snow. The herd broke into a hard run, forcing him to assume a broken trot. Soon his legs were stinging. Sensation rushed through his body.
Now the herd, still picking up speed, began to contract, jamming him between his bearers. There was a quick jolt to his right and he was lifted clean off his feet, nearly straddling the bucking female. It had become an all-out stampede. Through hard-flung snow he saw the cause:  just ahead, the caribou had run head-on into a solid wall of galloping wood bison, and both frantic herds had blindly veered to the east; were in fact running side by side down a deep, ragged canyon—were pouring over the canyon’s lip like a cataract. He was approaching, at breakneck pace, that very place where the converged herds so abruptly swerved. The hanging man snarled as he was borne inevitably to the point of deflection.
There came a concussion at his left shoulder, followed by a blast of snow. In an instant the ailing male was tumbling head over heels to the east, ****** into the stampede’s plummeting mass by the fury of its descent. The man and female, rebounding from this impact, were shot to the west in a crazy jumble of flailing legs. The caribou lost her footing, flew nose-first into a snowbank, and came up running. Kicking off, the man used the last of his strength to heave himself astride. At first she fought to shake him, but the spell of the run was too strong. She and half a dozen others went pounding in the opposite direction of the stampede, quickly joined by a number of bison that had likewise splintered from their herd. The riding man could make out their huge hulking shapes thundering by in a blizzard of flying ice, could hear their heavy gasps and explosive grunts. One passed so close he felt its massive flank brush his leg. He peered to his right and saw a black, pig-like eye regarding him excitedly, moving up and down like a piston as the beast ran alongside.
The eye shifted, focusing on the gasping, completely obsessed female. The bull dropped its head and slammed into the caribou’s side, sending her and the man careening down a ***** to the west. The caribou brayed hysterically and her backside went down, but she managed, despite the weight of her rider, to return to all fours and frantically continue along the *****. Again the bull charged, crashing into her shoulder. The man and caribou were launched sideways into the white searing air.
He sat up carefully. The huffing bison was straddling him like a bully laying down the ground rules. Its big wiry beard came right up to brush his chin. The stench of its breath was stupefying.
The bull stamped and snorted, thrusting its stubby horns left and right as the man used his elbows and heels to back away. The bull followed, move for move. When the man collapsed under his own impetus the bull shoved him along with its snout, bellowing furiously. Clear down the ***** they lunged, shoving and lurching, until the man lay sprawled on his back; up to his chin in snow, completely helpless. The ton of a bull butted and kicked, but only glancingly:  those hooves could **** with a blow. At last the man, in one clean sequence, spun on his rear, dropped to his side, and went rolling down the ***** using his elbows for ******.
At the bottom ran a narrow fence of frosted saplings marking an ice cliff’s precipice. He lay face down in the snow, too done in to do anything but **** at an air pocket.
And there came a high-pitched crackling, a sound like the protracted gasp of embers in a dead fire. He turned just as those saplings began leaning to the west, their frozen skins cracking with the strain.
The bison bellowed menacingly.
The sprawled man looked back and saw it still standing with legs spread wide, silhouetted against the sky. In a moment it began huffing downhill, lurching side to side, surfing the snow between lunges.
It chased him through the genuflecting saplings straight into a frozen gully where, protected by a few feet of insurmountable verticality, he was able to slide on the ice between its stomping hooves, downhill out of reach, then downhill out of control—spinning just in time to glimpse a breathtaking vista:
Partly framed by the gully-straddling saplings was a vast crescent of jagged white mountains seemingly huddled round a small stretch of snow-draped pines. The little wood these mountains surrounded was isolated in a broad lake of solid ice. Hundreds of fissures radiated crazily throughout this packed ice field, appearing to issue from somewhere near the frozen wood’s center, which was completely obscured by a ring of rising mist. Above this thumbnail panorama the sun showered gold.
Then the gully dipped radically, and he was skidding headfirst, slamming back and forth against its slick white walls. This uncontrollable plunge had the positive effect of getting his blood flowing. Yet it tore him up. Had the gully concluded in a cul-de-sac, or had further progress required a single calorie of uphill effort, his struggle would certainly have ended here. He would have been too weak to move, and death would have been swift.
But there was a glacier—a great river of ice pouring slowly out of the clouds. The gully, terminating in a little scoop formation near the glacier’s base, spat him flailing onto its gnarly glass hide. He went head over heels, bits of skin and fur flying like chips from a band saw. Somehow he gained his footing, and then he was running against his will, tumbling and recovering and tumbling again.
He didn’t catch much of that crazy run. He half-glimpsed whirling walls of ice, felt a fickle surface underfoot, and broke through an assaultive mist that clung to his ankles and arms. He remembered having the ragged hides torn right off his body, and then being skinned alive. And he remembered reaching the glacier’s base and crawling like an animal; round its sweeping drifts, past its peaked moraines, all the way to a twisting frozen gorge.
And he followed this gorge down; ricocheting wall to wall, delirious, small plumes of thrashed snow marking his descent.
Through a freezing wood he fumbled. In a veil of mist he tumbled down a steep and verdant grade. As cold consumed his closing breath, he fell upon, near-blind, near death, a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a pool.
And in this pool a man lay purged, his broken body half-submerged.
The stumbling man stopped. He knelt to weep, but lost his thread. One hand took a bicep, the other, the head. With a twist and pull the corpse emerged.
That visage…that face—misshapen mask, contorted, bleached; of life’s deposits fully leached. Essence dispatched—a void, sodden wretch.
He let it fall and the glass was breached. All a freak, all a stretch:  upon this act his grip detached.
And the bridge collapsed…one vagabond grasp…what were these feelings; recaptured and trashed…a span elapsed…who was this puckered mass…he hauled it by the waist and thighs…slid it in, watched the pool react:  purse and recover, expand, contract. The glass reformed, now silver-backed…a sudden mirror…the man leaned nearer…saw his reflection, just smashed, remade intact.
The pool grew still.
Within its depth a shadow stirred—visions gathered, some distinct, some obscure. What they meant, and who they were, was much too much to fathom. The glass became blurred.
He closed his eyes, let his heavy head fall, fell back on his haunches, felt the sweat seep and crawl. The air was a pall—as he struggled to rise, a nib crossed his wrist.
He opened his eyes.
Between his fingers the blades poked and crept. Round his knuckles they ventured, up his forearm they stepped:  they seemed to be triggered by prompts from the ground. He shook his head slowly and dully looked round.
There were jays grouped about him, their black eyes aglow. Red hens came running, their fat chicks in tow. Gophers engaged in a weird hide-and-seek. Bluebells and buttercups craned for a peek. Sparrows hopped past and, paying no heed, burst into flight. He watched them recede.
Westward they flew.
Bewildered, he slumped.
Bumped from behind, he jumped to his feet, flabbergasted to find an ancient gray moose near-eclipsing the sky, with grit in his snarl and fire in his eye.
The old moose took aim.
The man turned to flee and stumbled, then tumbled and fell on a palm and a knee.

But there lies a world (so the lullaby goes) where rivers ever run.
Poked from behind, pushed out of his mind, he staggered into sun.







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
judy smith May 2015
Tired of being called names and listening to complaints from your partner because you snore at night?

But more than that, it is important to keep a check on your snoring as an excess of it can be an indicator of many diseases, one of them being sleep apnea, says Dr Kaushal Sheth, ENT surgeon, "People develop sleep apnea when their airway collapses partially or completely during sleep due to various medical conditions. This causes the oxygen levels in the blood to decrease and can be potentially life threatening when it becomes obstructive sleep apnea."

Elaborating on it further, Dr Jayashree Todkar, bariatric surgeon and obesity consultant says "Snoring is an indication of obstacles in a person's breathing. When excessive fat accumulates around the stomach, the lungs do not get ample space to expand when we inhale oxygen; this in turn leads to obstacles in the process of inhalation-exhalation."

However, there are many myths surrounding snoring which is a very common problem. To sleep better one must get rid of the myths that surround snoring and only accept the facts, says Dr Viranchi Oza, BDS as he gives us a lowdown of some stories around snoring:

Myth: Everybody snores, therefore it's normal.

Fact: Snoring is not a normal condition. Labelling it as 'normal' diminishes the seriousness of the condition. Snoring is not just about annoying your partner, it is a sign that the body is struggling to breathe properly during the night. Snoring on a frequent or regular basis has been associated with hypertension and can also be an indication of sleep apnea (pauses in breathing). Sleep apnea sufferers have been reported to have diminished gray cells in their brains, most likely due to the oxygen deprivation of untreated sleep apnea. If left untreated, sleep apnea increases the risk of cardiovascular disease over time. In addition, insufficient sleep affects growth hormone secretion that is linked to obesity. As the amount of hormone secretion decreases, the chance of weight gain increases.

Myth: Snoring only affects the health of the snorer.

Fact: Snoring doesn't just negatively affect the health of the person snoring, but also the health of the person lying next to them in bed. A typical snorer usually produces a noise that averages around 60 decibels (about the level of vacuum cleaner), but with some people this can reach 80 or even 90 decibels (about the level of an average factory). Sleeping with a partner who snores during the night has been shown to increase the blood pressure in the other person, which may be dangerous for their health in the long term. Snoring also causes the partner to have fragmented sleep and lose up to one hour of sleep

every night.

Myth: Snoring comes from the nose, so if I unclog my nose, my snoring will stop.

Fact: Having a stuffy nose can definitely aggravate snoring and sleep apnea, but in it's not the cause. A recent study showed that undergoing nasal surgery for breathing problems cured sleep apnea in only 10% of patients. Snoring vibrations typically come from the soft palate, which is aggravated by having a small jaw and the tongue falling back. It's a complicated relationship between the nose, the soft palate and the tongue.

Myth: I know I don't snore, or have apnea. I am fine.

Fact: Don't ignore your wife when she tells you that your snoring doesn't let her sleep. When a partner snores it is very difficult for the spouse to sleep. There are people who snore excessively and suffer from sleep apnea, but feel absolutely normal. However, snoring increases their risk of getting a heart attack and stroke. The only definitive way to prove that you don't have sleep apnea is by taking a sleep test. Screening questionnaires like the GASP or the Epworth have shown high reliability in identifying patient risk for sleep apnea.

Myth: If I lose weight, I'll cure myself of sleep apnea.

Fact: Sometimes. It's definitely worth trying, but in general, it's very difficult to lose weight if you have sleep apnea. This is because poor sleep aggravates weight gain by increasing your appetite. Once you're sleeping better, it'll be easier to lose weight. This is the one ingredient with many dietary and weight loss programs that's missing or not stressed at all. It's not enough just to tell people to sleep more.

Myth: Health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and depression have no relation to the amount and quality of a person's sleep.

Fact: More and more scientific studies are showing a correlation between poor quality sleep and insufficient sleep with a variety of diseases. Blood pressure is variable during the sleep cycle, however, interrupted sleep negatively affects the normal variability. Recent studies have shown that nearly 80% cases of hypertension, 60% cases of strokes and 50% cases of heart failures are actually cases of undiagnosed sleep apnea. Research indicates that insufficient sleep impairs the body's ability to use insulin, which can lead to the onset of diabetes. Fragmented sleep can cause a lowered metabolism and increased levels of the hormone Cortisol which results in an increased appetite and a decrease in one's ability to burn calories.

Myth: Daytime sleepiness means a person is not getting enough sleep.

Fact: Do you feel very sleepy even during the day despite the fact that you had a long night of proper sleep? Excessive daytime sleepiness can occur even after a person gets enough sleep. Such sleepiness can be a sign of an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea. Please seek professional medical advice to correctly diagnose the cause of this symptom.

Myth: Getting just one hour less sleep per night than needed will not have any effect on your daytime functioning.

Fact: This lack of sleep may not make you noticeably sleepy during the day. But even if you've got slightly less sleep, it can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly. It can compromise your cardiovascular health and energy balance as well as the ability to fight infections, particularly if the pattern continues. Lack of sleep has also been associated with road accidents (up to 60% of road accidents involve lack of sleep) and air crashes (Air India Mangalore plane crash in 2010 was due to lack of sleep). Sleeping for less than six hours a night is equivalent to legal levels of alcohol intoxication.

Myth: Sleep apnea occurs only in older, overweight men with big necks.

Fact: Although the stereotypical description does fit people in the extreme end of the spectrum, we now know that even young, thin women that don't snore can have significant obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea begins with jaw structure narrowing and later involves obesity. It's estimated that 90% of women with this condition are not diagnosed. Untreated, it can cause or aggravate weight gain, depression, anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Myth: Snoring can't be treated.

Fact: Have you given up on your snoring thinking that it cannot be treated? There are many different options for treating snoring.

Some treatment options are rather drastic, possibly requiring surgery or prescription drugs, but prior to exploring such options it would be wise to first seek out alternative treatments. You must visit a sleep specialist to get the right diagnosis.

Myth: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue.

Fact: Not only is the quantity of sleep important but also the quality of sleep. Some people sleep eight-nine hours a night but don't feel well rested as the quality of their sleep is poor. A number of sleep disorders and other medical conditions affect the quality of sleep. Sleeping more won't alleviate the daytime sleepiness these disorders or conditions cause. However, many of these disorders or conditions can be treated effectively with changes in behaviour or with medical therapies.

Myth: Insomnia is characterised only by difficulty in falling asleep.

Fact: There are four symptoms usually associated with insomnia:

- Difficulty falling asleep

- Waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep

- Frequent awakenings

- Waking up feeling tired and not so fresh

Insomnia can also be a symptom of a sleep disorder or other medical, psychological or psychiatric problems. Sometimes, insomnia can really be a case of undiagnosed sleep apnea.Read more here:www.marieaustralia.com/long-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/bridesmaid-dresses
sound of waves crashing against shore
she says it’s the tone in your voice
sound of waves crashing against shore
he asks what tone are you referring to what are you hearing
sound of waves crashing against shore
she says i’m an artist too you don’t have to tell me
sound of waves crashing against shore
he explains i was simply affirming my vocation in order to elucidate why i perceive another way
sound of waves crashing against shore
she says you don’t need to pose or differentiate for me you are so ******* self-absorbed
sound of waves crashing against shore
he answers self-conscious possibly not self-absorbed i think it is intelligent to question everything to suspect all we see think we know maybe a greater mystery than any of us realize exists beyond all our beliefs
sound of waves crashing against shore
she says i think it’s time for us to stop talking
sound of waves crashing against shore
he says why can’t you make it easy why must everything be a fight
sound of waves crashing against shore

her ****** becomes a deep dark narrowing tunnel he is trapped in thinning air smells like ocean
sound of waves crashing against shore
her voice detached distant disaffected says fine
sound of waves crashing against shore
he questions fine? find? line? sign? can you hear me? anyone hear me?
sound of waves crashing against shore
she purposely ignores his panting gasping shrieking
sound of waves crashing against shore
later she tells the surgeon who performs the extraction then the police detectives who conduct the investigation she had no idea he was lost in there
sound of waves crashing against shore
unanimous jury finds her guilty she screams out at courtroom he was a self-absorbed dreamer this is all wrong
sound of waves crashing against shore
the judge declares mistrial dismisses case based on prosecution’s inability to refute so-called artist’s willingness to enter of his own volition
sound of waves crashing against shore
late at night she feels his voice whisper circulating through her body haunting her
sound of waves crashing against shore
Ayad Gharbawi Jan 2010
The Story Of Sara

Chapter 7

Ayad Gharbawi


Chapter 7: GETTING A JOB AS A PSYCHIATRIST



At around this time, I realized, that I was living with Sanji and I still wasn't working, and so, that dear soul was having to work overtime in order to take care of me.
  I swear Sanji never complained; not even a ****** hint – but, I to my embarrassment, I realized this fact!
  "Sanji I just want to tell you I'm so sorry for not working; I just want to,"
  "Don't worry, Sara; you've been under stress and so I can understand. You've needed time to emotionally recuperate from the traumas of the recent past."
  "Yes, but stress or no stress, it's high time to work again. Don't forget, Sanji, I've got a psychiatry degree?!"
  "And, work will do you good. It will be a good source of distraction. Get your minds off this whole subject of the party, guilt, Omar and God knows what else!"
  "You're absolutely right, Sanji. Tomorrow, I'll be looking for any vacancies.
  I felt happy; I felt that finally I was going to be useful again.
  After all those years working for the party and feeling that I was being 'useful' and then discovering to my horror that I had been of absolutely no 'use', now I can say that I shall be useful to society.
  I will be respectable again.
  I will have a sense of direction in my life.
  A clear sense of where I'm going with my life, rather than just drifting like a jellyfish in the ocean.


  Sure enough, the next day I set off for the job centre, and applied for any vacancies for a psychiatry post.
  Within days, I received an offer for an interview at my local hospital.
  I was to be interviewed by Dr. Tajim, who was the Head of the Psychiatric Department at my local hospital.
  I went to the department, and there I met Dr. Tajim who was to interview me.
  Obviously, I was tense.
  "Good morning; how are you Ms. Sara?" said the elderly doctor.
  He looked frightening.
  "Very well, thank you," I replied.
  He was about sixty five; a bit overweight, and as I looked at him more closely, I pleasantly discovered that he had a really pleasant face and gently inquisitive eyes.
  I relaxed.
  I totally misjudged the character of this kind man!
  He wasn't at all overbearing, or stiff or cold; in fact, he was a very welcoming old gentleman, and he made you feel utterly comfortable with him, so all your nervousness simply dissipated!
  I had heard that one of his own sons was suffering from depression and that he was in a hospital.
I also had heard, that that fact really affected him a lot, and, at times, it seemed to emotionally exhaust him; and, yet he would persevere and he was known to be really loving, compassionate and deadly serious in his efforts to help not only his son, but all his patients to get over their depression.
  "Now, you do know what the job offer is about?" asked the soft spoken doctor.
  "Yes Sir; I am to be a psychologist for patients who are in Category 'C'."
  "I see, and you do know who are patients in Category 'C'?"
  "Yes, Sir. They are patients with mild to severe depression."
  "Good, that's correct. Do you have experience in working with depressed patients?"
  I thought for a quick moment.
  I couldn't lie.
  "No, Dr. Tajim; I have no experience, but I wish you would give me the chance to prove myself."
  "But that is rather strange. You are twenty eight years old, and you graduated age twenty one – so, the obvious question, is what were you doing in those intervening years?"
What am I supposed to do here? I needed Sanji to be with me. How can I tell Dr. Tajim that I was 'working' with so-called 'political parties''? I couldn't. He would never employ me if I told him which 'party' I had been working for. If I had worked for a decent, respectable party, then presumably, he would have had no problems with me, but working Tony and Omar?!


  I had to lie.
  Lie to survive!
"Dr. Tajim, during those intervening years, I worked on a voluntary basis for charities broad, helping the sick."
  "I see, that's interesting; where did you work, and what exactly did you do for the sick?"
  Great!
  Now I had to dig the hole of lies even deeper!
  What else can I do?
  Tell him that I was joking and that I never really worked abroad? Of course not, that would make me a fool.
  I really didn't want to lie.
  But what choice did God give me?
  "Yes, Sir. I worked in Uganda, in a village called Sanji", my God, of all names that came to my mind, I couldn't think of anything else except Sanji's name! "Yes, and there in that humble village, I acted as a nurse for the sick, in a really small infirmary."
  "Sanji?" Dr. Tajim asked, narrowing his eyes with incredulity.
  "Yes, Sir; as far as I remember, the village was called Sanji, but you know the odd thing about rural Uganda, is just how one village can have so many different names, since each tribe would have their own names, that differed from other tribes. So, you must excuse me, it was a little bit confusing."
  Rural Uganda!
  What on earth was I talking about!


  And did Dr. Tajim actually believe me?
  I was insecure, because I had no idea if Dr. Taji actually believed the lies I was saying.
  "I see; I ask because Sanji is not quite an African name."
  "Yes, Dr. Tajim; indeed, I may be completely wrong, but, as I say, there were so many languages in Uganda, that it was really difficult to communicate with anyone."
  God knows what I was saying!
  I was just saying whatever came out of my mind!
  "I see. Yes, there are different languages in Uganda, and indeed in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. But, I never knew that names of towns and villages would change, and certainly, no African tribe would give an African village 'Sanji' as a name. But anyway, maybe, as you say, the name may not have been 'Sanji'. Anyway, where did you get your training as a nurse?"
  Relief!
  Oh yes, but now I had to create another lie, in order to explain where I got my 'training' from.
I was getting deeper into this lying game.
  But I couldn't now worry about the morality of that.
  I had to come up, with an immediate answer to his pertinent question.
  "You see, Dr. Tajim, I went as a volunteer to rural Uganda, to help build homes and help women in their daily lives, and the next thing I know, is when the local doctor asked me for help. When I informed him that I wasn't a nurse, he said he would teach me. I soon learned the basic first aid medicine that was required. I guess, that I could be useful in the hospital in that sense too."
  "I see, Ms. Sara."
  Finally, Dr. Tajim paused, giving me time to think of what else he may ask me about my 'time' in 'rural Uganda'.
  "I see," he repeated, looking confused.
  Strange I thought, but this doctor would start every sentence with 'I see'.
  "So, for all those intervening years, you remained in this one village?"
  "Um, why yes, Dr. Tajim. I did spend all my time in Saji. Is that so strange?"
  My God, I called the non-existing village 'Saji', rather than 'Sanji'.
  Would he notice?
  "I see, but, I mean, as a volunteer, didn't your superiors relocate you to another village, or to another country, in all those seven or so years?"  
  I couldn't understand why Dr. Tajim was surprised at the time, which goes to show what a poor liar I was.
  Of course, later I would learn, that volunteers to Third World countries would get stationed in not more than a year or two in any country – let alone one tiny village!
  But, for that moment, I could only go on with my lies.


  "Yes, Dr. Tajim. I was posted for that village all those years."
  I simply stuck to my lie.
  Defend your lies, or else you drown.
  "I see, how strange. And now you are permanently back here?"
  "Yes, Sir."
  "I see," said Dr. Taji, looking uncomfortable.
  Silence, as he turned his attention to the papers on his desk.
   I felt that he was simply going to call me a complete 'liar' and to get out of his office.
  "Well, I shall get in touch with you. Give me a few days to get to a decision."
  "Thank you Dr. Tajim. I hope you will just give me a chance to prove to you, Sir, that I shall be really good at my job."
  What a surprise!
  With that, I got up and headed for the door.
  "Ms. Sara!" Dr. Tajim asked.
  "Yes, Sir?"
  I hope I didn't look nervous or startled.
  "Yes, before I forget, do send me by email the relevant documents from your charity organisation that gives me the official notification of your time you worked for them. Like a Letter of Recommendation from them."
  Yes, now I was startled.
  I know the colour of my face must have turned red.
   Where on earth would I be able to get any document from any charity organisation?!
  I felt that I was now caught!
  Was I going to be caught for lying?
  "No problem, Dr. Tajim," that's what came out of my mouth. And I found myself leaving Dr. Tajim's office.


  As soon as I was a safe distance from the hospital, I began to think once more: how can I forge documents that are supposed to be from a charity organisation? And, even if I did forge them with some expert computer person, wouldn't Dr. Tajim simply call the telephone number of the charity organisation and enquire about me, and then he would obviously be told that I had never worked for them, let alone having me fly off to Uganda?!
  Back at home, I sat down, and realized there was no exit.
  I lied and so now I must take the risk that Dr. Tajim simply would not call the charity organisation.
  I would choose one of the biggest organizations who would have hundreds of thousands of volunteers, and even if he did check, I could say that their computers get it wrong! They didn't register my name because they have so many volunteers!
  But, no, that's stupid of me.
  If I supposedly worked for seven years for one organization, then they would obviously have my name in their computer files.
  I was being stupid.
  Too rash.
  No, that's it.  
  I lied and so I must take the consequences.
  I would risk it.

  Well, I did forge a charity organization letterhead, and I wrote that I did 'serve' for seven years in rural Uganda.
  Next, I scanned the document, and had it sent by email to Dr. Tajim.
  To my complete surprise, within a few days, I got an official letter from Dr. Tajim's secretary, saying that I was accepted by the psychiatric unit in the hospital!
  I was so thrilled, that to be honest, I couldn't in the least be bothered about my lies!
  I was now going to be a useful member of society!
  At last!
  I was going to be a worthy, decent, respectable person!

**************

  As I got to work in the Psychiatric Department in the hospital, they began almost secretarial tasks to do. I would get 'introduced' to the depressed patients and, gradually, I was allowed more and more time to talk to the patients.
  I was really happy and pleased with myself, because I felt that I was, at last a 'respectable' person.
  For the first time since I had left, or rather since I was expelled from the party, I felt proud of myself; and perhaps, most importantly to me, was the feeling that I knew where my life was going.
  I would walk anywhere and, when asked, what I did for a living, I proudly reply that I was a doctor in the Psychiatric Department in our local hospital.

  It was at this time that I was watching television in Sanji's apartment, when the latter walked in and said:
  "You are not going to believe who is with me!"
  "Judging from the excitement on your face, it must be someone very important." I replied casually.
  "Yes, yes; so guess who?" asked Sanji.
  "Oh God, Sanji how am I to know? The Prime Minister perhaps?" I answered sarcastically.
  The next thing I know was that none other than Tony walked in!
  My goodness me! I was absolutely shocked and awed by his presence!
  What was Tony doing here?!
  This was the first time I had seen him since I left his party and joined Omar's party.
  And, I guess, he must have just left prison, because, it had been about one year, since I heard that he was prosecuted by our courts.
  He had changed a little bit.
  He was much fatter – which, I thought was a bit odd, since he had been in prison, and I thought that everyone in prison gets to lose weight!
  He looked older than his years. He had dark rings below his eyes, and for the first time in my life, I was really surprised, to find out, that he looked utterly dull, weary and tired.
  He seemed to have lost all that will power, charisma and charm.
  They were no longer part of his personality.
  "What are you doing here?" I managed to ask Tony.
  "And why not? Why shouldn't I be here?" he answered smartly.
  I got confused all over again.


After all, what had happened to him since our entire movement collapsed?
  I never thought about what happened to Tony, or Omar for that matter.
  Selfishly, I just thought about myself.
  That was typical of me.
  "You look dazed, Sara," said Tony laughing. "Is my appearance that shocking to you?!"  He joked.
  "No, not at all." I regained my composure, or at least, I tried to regain my composure. "It's just that, I never did understand, or know, what really happened to our movement? And what happened to you Tony?"
"Sara is confused about the entire movement." Sanji said to Tony.
  "Well, what happened is actually quite simple," said Tony, "the new government decided to take legal action against us for the first time. Previously, every government never even took us seriously enough to warrant a concerted attack to eliminate us. To them, we were just clowns."
  I was shocked.
  "Clowns? What do you mean Tony? What do you mean previous governments did not take us seriously? Of course they took us seriously; Tony, we were in a state of war, remember? What's happened to your memory? We were fighting battle after,"
  "Let me interrupt you, Sara; but you are so utterly naïve and blind that I just do not know how to face you with the facts."
  What do you mean? What are you talking about?" I asked frantically.
  Suddenly all those memories from the party days returned to me; for the moment I completely forgot that I was a doctor at the Psychiatric Unit; Tony had re-opened all my memories, anxieties and unanswered questions concerning those years.
  "Relax Sara, don't let your emotions take over your rational mind," Sanji said. "That's always been your problem. You simply allow your wildest emotions to highjack the rational part of your mind. I mean, you're supposed to be a psychiatrist and yet, you are so utterly impulsive in your thinking and in the actions you take."
  I knew Sanji was completely right. He was so rational and calm.
  "What 'battles' are you talking about Sara?" asked a perplexed Tony.
  Sanji laughed. "That's a good question Tony, go on, and ask her that one!"


  Tony joined Sanji laughing.
&n
Olivia Ophelia Apr 2016
i hear you say
"i don't want to hurt you"
as i feel your words, like a knife
pierce through my chest
and go through my heart
and suddenly my passion
is deflated like a balloon
being pricked by a pin
-
"i don't want to hurt you"
but this feels like an elephant
is stepping on my chest
and i hurt.
despite your narrowing efforts
to keep me feeling safe
please stop making me feel like
i should just jump into the lake

o.o.
(i'm not really a fan of this piece but i'll put it out there)
n)Ethno-spirit and Biodiversity (Diogiversity)

Given its ethnikos factor and contribution towards a common origin of multiethnic and languages, in values and traditions, its morphological factors of Verthian sub-mythology, are provided with content, features, colors, and textures of neutrality, focused on a biosphere ecosystem, where the air conditioning, flora-fauna will make Sub-mythological Biodiversity, where the beings that inhabit it and will be in the range of evolution of mythological living beings, whose diversity of genetic seizures, will adopt natural and compound patterns, but always predominant in the biological pattern and organic. Wandering the world in desert places, in alloys and classified plant compounds, emptying their species through the hollow of the atmosphere and through the green grasslands in the reviving surviving evolution of organisms and species that for the first time see each other as a biotype between rocks and plantations, reciprocally among themselves, and extemporaneously generating mythological genetics heritages. Considering millions of years in evolution with explosions of multicellular and fossilized species extinct in massive and occlusive memories. Inert matter and geological strata will make millions of years converted into microseconds in the Verthian Biodiversity of the Duoverse, in a Psychic and spiritual Universe, emerging in all macroscopic perspectives and parapsychological regressions. Impact They will cause in the maturity of all the diversity of externality and sensations in new topologies of anonymous universes and species of biodiversity, under a pillar of culture based on the Sub-Mythological biosphere process, encompassing all mythological species where the hope of Life and Super life. Transforming systems of functionality under the protection of spontaneous generation and in a matter that is availably underlined in the mountainous tissues of the mechanics of the subset of the air mass, water, climatic biospheres, and biogeochemistry, that in the unreal juncture of, and inter-procedural reality of carbon, that factor the species key and specimen disclosure, in the collection and in sinks, water drains but without carbon. encompassing all mythological species where the Life expectancy and Super life unfolds.

Hyperdisis, the galaxy connected to the Duoverso, in its biotic diversity, reinsert thick clumps of Nothofagus Obliqua forests, in waste processes, to domesticate the Leiak ethno-forest species, as balance nutrients and repair of the disgraceful disgrace of unnatural toxicity and fragile of the agrosystem, maturing cultures and preventive pollination in succulent transfers for purposes of food webs and the environment. Making the appearance of species more effective and perceptible, reunited in community chains of coherence, to amortize low-resource needs and distance economic-political impacts, in view of new base resources and the sustainability of balance of allopathic crops, for the good of driving the extinction of plagues or flagrant excesses not converted,

Hyperdisis has a mass of inert matter that creates accesses of resilience, for salinity, rainfall, and human adaptive mythological innovation, given its versatile opening of complement and generation of substances, for the convenience of living beings and No. Having adopted in the context of mythological Galaxy, related to beings of light comparable to distant elements, by means of Psychic Trisomies and tell transportation, for energy sources and soil and water mechanics with Leiak, constituting molecules for the simplification of phenomena of exacerbation of chronic diseases and endogenous. Forests and parks of Hyperdisis in the symbiotic open air, for more airs in microbiological space, in the intimate portion from greatest to least challenge of elements exclusive of antinomies of hieratic human bio culturalization, in a showcase of communities with an interest in technologies and renewable empirical usability, each part doing its scientific role and biodiversity in the portico of its home. As a hieratic quality, presenting amendments that are glimpsed and more existing, although it passes before our eyes without a Carbon Footprint, figuring logical mathematics by sponsoring its count more than a shadowy synthetic body, anticipating super-appraisal measures, averaging them in tiny theological portions, with varied and dissimilar levels of genetic habitats and alleles or heterozygous in the taxonomic functionality of reproductive and approving biological elements. The wealth and abundance of this item is delegated to Leiak, in all the revolutionary processes of the oak forests and the high mountains,

Within the gasifications of Cinnabar, there was Carbon in its Life cycle, being Zefián; the curator of the Duoverse, destined for a lifetime, under Universal and intergalactic effects. Claiming innocent beings with greater attributes of predation survival in the ecological chain, with the mix of Tsambika and Theoskepatis, granting multidirectional dynamic residual matter for green energy emissions. Feedback quantifies offset options in carbon circulation, offsetting multipurpose CO₂ inventory. Through the darkness that Zefián and Vernarth traveled in the streets of Rhodes, and in Tsambika looking for the distilled portions of the carbon and sulfur emanated by the Cinnabar. In the same way Etréstles in Theoskepatis initiating with the Archpriest by virtue of the honors and the rubies of accumulations of water mass and of sulfur and carbonated air, which hung over the low sky of Rhodes and Kimolos. They were going to the Necropolis of Hellenika, when the gnostic rampages were glimpsed in the surrounding slab, minting half of the gold bars for the great goldsmith who erects the conventionality of having the physis imperturbably established, as a matter of patriarchal character. They entered Helleniká and the souls that wandered were ringed under crescent-encrusted rings, lavishing the independence of the night in the hands of Borker, which was reflected in the capitals of a mausoleum. Borker is consistent in saying that he is free in Helleniká, In the myth of the dustbin woodworm of the frieze where Etréstles perched next to Zefián's strap, who would manipulate the gold and alabaster chain, to pull its ascetic and rubies from it, approaching a final night in the astronomical autumn, in the last parapsychological regression of the god Vertumnus, which would embody the expiration of the Helleniká friezes by Kashmar branches decayed from vegetation and the tears of the Etruscan god Vertumnus. Making the branches of the Kashmar, the epithet of heraldry in the noble metals and woods of the autumn, and the mountainous temple of the one that follows the equinox in the meridian of seven days towards the southern and northern hemisphere. in the last parapsychological regression of the god Vertumnus, which would embody the expiration of the Helleniká friezes by Kashmar branches decayed from vegetation and the tears of the Etruscan god Vertumnus. Making the branches of the Kashmar, the epithet of heraldry in the noble metals and woods of the autumn. They enter the Necropolis of Helleniká, by upper and lower trays, cordoned off by obelisks in series of petrified labels, in the square sections of the convergent ones and the linearity of the central pyramid, where they sponsored all the sectors of the stones of the prismatic geometric body, next to some piloneos that flanked the third of those that were in the figurative memory of funerary monuments of Vernarth. In harmony with the radiosities of the Cinnabar, they purged the carbon emanations in the intra-bodies of petrified breaths, expanding in the segments of frenetic life of the behavior of the inert matter, crushed by the organic, polishing the degrading character of the excavated prayers, under a superfluous shade. It was already dawn, Etréstles and the Archpriest broke the loaves to deposit them in the bowl of the Day, stretching in the arms of heaven under the gargle of the god Vertumnus who forged from the materiality of Jupiter. Vernarth nodded his head to the movement of the winds that cut the profile of a Citarista yawning on the frieze that raises all the crowns of the princes of the living-dead, making them part of the royal occasion, preparing petty spaces and tyrannies for devouring vassals in Helleniká, from the lair of his rib one, sees Diogenes of Sinope emerge, splitting with his doctrinal staff all the Isthmian paroxysms, which declared the cell of his life as Diogiversity.

"There were murmurs of astonishment at the surprising response of the wise man because no one dared to speak like that to the king. Alexander the Great asked: "Why do they call you Diogenes, the dog?", To which Diogenes replied: "Because I praise those who give me, I bark at those who don't give me and the bad ones I bite." Again, more murmurs, but Alejandro was not moved by those answers and said: "Ask me what you want." So Diogenes, undeterred, replied: "Get away from where you are, you cover the sun for me"..., Vernarth replied: "Look for him in the bones of those who refused to die and fear beyond expiration who rejoices in the cold of the dean ossuary seed, without heat or memory here in Corinth and its Diogiversity ”.

o)Reflection space length (π)

The hemispheres were out of proportion, one another was modified in the air, leaving the horizon exorbitant and the poles out of square. Coastal the lengths of the sun around areas that some Helleniká countrymen had never put on the crowns of their consciousness. Certain pressure changes dislocated other modules in the filaments that rudimentary inaccuracies, creating reflection space failures in the installation of the Duoverso, due to the due calculation defect. The observations of Hyperdisis, generated superpositions of the Zigzag Universe, before the crescent moon, after the full moon, again decalculating the sphere of Hyperdisis in relation to the ecstatic length of itself in the hands of a third of a second a day, to overflow in impositions that They revealed Dekas Cove in Kimonos(π).

The value of the opinion of reflections will be the originality of breaking of statics, of the motors of the verb and the conscience of the flushed being, and of erudition of the naive contrast when decanting the perceived morality. They concur of the moral value in every sub-mythology of an ambivalent being of supernatural human co-belonging, not dependent on gnoseological reflections, rather spontaneous under the embankment of reason. The latter being absent in the shadow of its shadow, no reflection can take hold of anti-values, self-valorized in contingencies under the effects of the drug of lies or truth, in a difficult equation to refer to in gnosis treatises, declaring the absence of consciousness to species without reflection or length of their molecular evolution, in evidence of mythological humans. The triangle Patmos, Rhodes, and Kímolos, make up a Venusian adonis, of stimuli in the nostrils of Aion, which sneezed on the integrity of the reflex arc at high speed superseded in the tremors of Athens until Hyperdisis, flashing anatomical and pejorative on the optic nerve of the Colossus Rodino, and the twisting of the multi-personal muscles..., but already depersonalized..., with little telluric reaction in the core of the symmetry of his legs, dodging as he thrashed on his frowned arms, behind the legs of the lycaons..., digging his jaws in reflex arches, for ages that only an immemorial one would enchant him, and be it the throbbing of the earth in the crust and seams of the calcined Colossus. Existing like this on their reflection of attenuated light, they shook through the sea full of sinewy pieces of precise length. Frequently in the hydronium cations, undermining the temporality of Tsambika in ramdomic stones in the humid, and dark narrowness of the anthropic reflection, having lived in the heavenly paradise that formed them by the volcanic tube and its syngenetic, by the erosion of the subsoil of Rhodes. In Helleniká, everything that is expected, flows with the Meltemi tubularly, so that they are polyps of fluctuating desolation or placed above all zephyr or anti-wind, in ammonoids or ammonites; reviving from the seas it flows with the Meltemi tubularly, so that they are polyps of fluctuating desolation or placed above all zephyr or anti-wind, in ammonoids or ammonites; reviving from the seas from Devonian to Cretaceous, escaping from the ferocities of the Etesios and these same escaping from the roars of Vernarth.


p) One-Dimensional Beams II

When their ears fell in love with the Orthoptera or Grylloideas before Joshua, the night became restless, abandoning them from their shelters, they brushed the seeds of the thistle that trembled with the new millennium of the Duoverse. Levitating their ailerons in the tenors of their birth and dilettante sounds, before an ovipositing candor of the remains of the abdomen that remained in their jaws, always being from one of the Beams, for the largest Enciphers that hung from their antennas in search of Joshua's telepathic messages in the manger. Sappho of Mytilene, also known as Sappho of ****** or simply Sappho, pretended to be a marigold proliferating in the twenty corridors of the Greek poet, and also as the tenth poet in the other ten that was reflected with transparent wings of the dew that stuck, phenomenal of physique -Saphonic and in the recent rain of wind and condensed air, in the form of drops due to the sudden decrease in temperature in contact with cold surfaces. Sappho's dew was talked about in Kafersesuh, usually when it comes to condensation on a Poetic Grylloidae surface, naturally on the ground cover or artificially in a dull cloudy crystalline, in the amount of supernatural tradition, heroes, superheroes, and anti-heroes conspiring with the territorialities of hexagonality,

The Aramaic message comes forward with vigor from the orthopterans and birds that piled up on the journey, going back and forth. The Beams shone from the celestial kingdom holding on to the Cherubim and the Archangels, through the paths of conversion and the support of the bizarre Christian time, in implacable hegemony for the propaedeutic of phylogeny, but more than perfumers chemistry and the same creation. carrying Lepidoptera winged tetra and Sand Crickets, on the interlocking and obfuscated pheromones from a nascent-elemental child, in his own evangelical philosophy, from a winged dimensionality and in the gloom of Manger shouted and aligned, before the compendiums of double pyramidal landmarks and of inflection, of his word in the Grylloids and panaceas created in the affinities of the world and Animalia, stylizing muleteers carriers, phrasing acronyms and parabolizing the polygonic nomenclature of the child made a territorial man on the wings of a Cricket, already being it !, but representing himself as a lifeless man in the entirety of an advantageous canon child, from a sudden bi-dimensionality of Grylloideos. A great Zohar light gathered all towards a whole in those vantage points of terrestrial columns and orthopterans that Joshua felt in advance in his resined ears, like irreversible entropy giving back his wise existence to prepare them for the day of his holocaust. Pre Existing in catharsis and busilis substance of divinity connected with the Grylloid phylogenetic species, classifying until the Aramaic crackle, pontifying pheromones settled in the lithosphere site of Gethsemane, coincidence in the wading of a Libraco period, or in the phenomenological simultaneity of Eukaryota and Glaucophyta until late Animalia, giving relation parental in the characters of the vibrational timbre of the Beams and the atavistic pedestal, readapting in the evolutionary ellipticals of tetra-winged species, allowing to change the ancestral linguistic accouterments in processes of redesigning the genetic historical tree..., divine and increasing.

Inter-Duoverse, in space demography it has been frequented since today in a nuptiality between the Sun and Earth, wrapping the inter-generational homes that have prostrated themselves to the One-dimensional Beams, evolving millions of years between links of angels from the north and the south., for each year between half years and decades that the ancestors are passionate about, unleashing in what they aged in their youthful lives and eternal ideals, as an atom not guaranteed in families that did not get to know their Duoverse. When they walk through the urbanized farm of their parents they go in their shoes and in the paternal and inter-parental sun barefoot. The children travel far from the monographic patriarchy, declaring themselves between psychic families and unstable plots of core conformity and procreation.

The line of supra healthy cerebral is born from the Beams of deforested family trees and treasured in the Trunk of the seventh ascending generation, towards a nefarious tribal of industrious and vegetating regressive parapsychology, bringing zombie societies, to great lethargy that disorganizes the parallel emotion of the Being descended from a Messiah, with the prophetic organization. There in the Koumeterium of Messolonghi, in past generations, the "IO" was omitted to limit them from the spellings like Ghost Cemetery lost in other lost sacramental ancestors. The inappropriate location of our ancestral duties has guided us in the axis of the pabulum, before the second coming of Messiah Parousia, to continue the re-sprouting foliage of the Universal theological tree. The children of the seven intergeneration generations, will be from the endearing of a patriarchal family, and those of Exo family lineage will be from outside the non-generational family, where everything flourishes according to the requiems of ******-domestic economies, and in the new chimera from new shocks and reprimands, already being spouses the Sun and the Earth after being divorced from a deluge of immolations and inter-millennia and rotations, further than those of any prophet wandering without advancing or rotating, enlisting and expiring in succumbed and pre-historicized generations of other prehistoric ones. Pre and post Flood; not presenting itself as the object of linking a thousand decades where not even a holy chirp from the Thrush, praises on the windows of the world bringing us babies that are born without past or future quantum generations. Ready to the hint of Duality and its nuptiality with the Sun and the Earth, They will make us magical creditors of the increase in demography and of unions that will marry in inter generations, not seeing passions in exhaustion, under the grass of the allegory of defeated love. Giving ourselves conjugal virtuosity, but of immanent dogma for the purposes of multi-figurative coexistence, under the Yoke of an individualized Faith, in the passing of millennia, we continue to crawl on the floor of the nebulae, and we do not rise to establish ourselves as masters of ecstasy, and the pendulum of the stars, creating us more in the orthogonal egalitarian of the cosmos and its Vernarthian architecture, of poly productivity, of Sun-Earth and its post-genetics, of high-grade clay, expanding with halberds on the self-insolated Suns, and highly calorific inherited towards a rupture of Solar freedom leaving us in the horizontal, not having ascendants of sin enriching their illicit chromosome. Made a beast, from the inertia of a paradise full of hidden public and private exchanges, but not secular, for those who pay tributes of ecstasy in a reborn and weakened state. This is how Diogiversality is verticalized (Diogenes's anthological action), concluding the variants that weaken the nexus of the denatured society of its atavistic social nuclear concomitant, extending eco-life gaps, but eco-unstructured and of crucial inter-generational nature, being of arbitrary passion and of seismological doctrines, of haughty morality and of sociology fabrics without body or motor, with frail of castes and generations evolved age in a retrograde and elemental psychic sense, but biologically and reversibly to their boomerang lineage.


q)Amphibology Cosmogonic, Sub-Mythological root

The threshold, as a minimum rubric, must be in force from the Constellation of Orion, with barely a hundred millionths under the same eye of Orion and his psychophysical space, sensitive to the falcado charioteers and the water vessels on the backs of the probable Barnard Loop., and its nebula presence. The icy impulsiveness brought her under her right shoulder and the lean hollow under her arm unraveling from a staircase, at the entrance point of Betelgeuse coming from the cosmogony of Eridanus and in tune with Ptolemaic astrology. In the Sibyl and with a hint of a metric brilliant mass triplet, Betelgeuse Orionis, is the scale of the Aulos and piccolos expelling hydrogen as an Ace in 240 scales of harmonies and in sounds of light, for cycles and years of Light. The binary of Orion, is pre-born of the sub-mythological root, with binaries of Poetic Parapsychology, or Para-poetical; which is the trapezoid and the kinetics of the hunter Orion arrowing the Pleiades and its nebulous plains, with diametrical diarthrosis in his synovial joints, with the third militarizing joints already formed by the hyaline cartilage, which joins the two bones with the synovial fluid, before reaching the deltoid of Hunter Oarion, to awaken the Asleep world.

Vernarth in one of his adventures in Pella, escapulated with his arms the force of the friction discs of the Olympics and corrected his hands and shoulders, for this purpose of Oarion and his dilettante Astro Betelgeuse, with giant arrows against matters towards the sky of its Constellation, embedded in beaten Odyssey and turpentine in the sullen Hellenistic, being for May its amber trapeze of trunk and arm, in each hand a Xifos and Dorus, always in right-handed hemispheric pathologies of their shrewd hands in Kopis swords, and in the memories of the wind that throws pain to the whistle of the combatant, when the meteorites decay in the Tyrrhenian Sea. With his brass-bronze club and Vernarth's corrosive breath, he proceeded to file odyssey on Eos's ******* and peduncles; Goddess of the Dawn, in Dionysian beauty in bulk, Mintaka, Alnitak, Alnilam, (The Three Mariah), For the twelfth lunation of the Celestial Vault, together with Pleione, in its bolometric Oceanid matrix; against borderline stellar magnitude in the major and minor dogs, and in there a priori waves of misdeeds lending measurements in the eyes of Oarion, always henchmen on their Pleiades.

From this intricacy, Cosmo-is born the Vernarth Duoverso incited towards the Horcondising, so that it is mythical co-property at the origin of the universality of the Duoverse in the Vernarth scapulae, bleeding towards the cosmos that was born from his stellar blood, conjuring chaos and uncertainty in messenger Gonies, facilitating community life free of ethnocentric, psychic, intersubjective life, the metaphor of myth and dogmatic, by the imaginary struggle that leads its bleeding back over the Cosmos, and its demiurgic brilliance over the atmosphere of the earth like bronzes that twist in the necks of oxen, that urinate on the officers of the Barnard Loop, and its polyphonic magnetic exciter, on it the ***** of Orion falling on the poles, like flagrant Amphibology.

The Kanti Steed and the Oarion nebula, to the beat of a waltz ionize, they lavish chemical ions free of electrons, on the neutral molecules of Betelgeuse, to proclaim in the nerves of the shoulders and its bronze club, as musical praxis and harmony net, giving way to the nebula and the art of the Duoverso, which shows the pristine astral days, how his alchemical arm sprouting in chemo-astralities of the pectoral, and his armpit that joined in its maximum stick, cutting down roots of Olive Bernar, behind Barnard's Loops, in the midst of runaway stars that are systematized in their ionized bleeding esplanade, such as Stellae Novae, who retrograded the astronomical ritual into cosmogony, and in her escape by going at night to sleep near her father Poseidon and Euryale, who cheered him near the grassy fields to paste explosive clay on the sheet of his drunken smiley face with Ionic wine, in advance of spreading the nascent Duoverso throughout the new world.

r) Hyperdisis

Sitting on the edge of Andromeda, in his planetary chamber Zefián; The Duoverso computer separated the parasitic inter-chamber from the Duoverso, which would be born from the Auriga, which in his buggy would unleash the senses of structures and luminosity between this colossal interplanetary chamber. Being between points that venture through the axon of time infinitesimal and longitudinally for light-years, which even so, will intervene from the Duoverse, for thermal purposes and other changes of the remnants, when especially the luminosity will speak of the destruction of the darkness inherent in the eyes of the universe, which can only stabilize areas that have not been fused in the discs of the Universe-Duoverse spatiality, long before the initial explosive between the Constellation of Orion and Andromeda. Globular clusters that will make up the perfect delay of transfusing the blood and no other, which makes the character Hyper naming and hyper-pectoral blood, which flows from this tri-astral polynomial, compromising the method of area, shape, and refinement of the sagittal profile of Hyperdisis in the Duoverse in the reversible intergalactic plane. Going from lenticular to irregular over the keystone of the trapezoid, towards the right arm of Orion, where its radius becomes hypocentral sequentially, but it takes advantage of interstellar matter, to generate its own light. Some explicit explosive arms of Andromeda were expelled from their center towards the right arm of Orion, for the purpose of implosions in the effect of the clubs or snails, as a sublime effusion on other stars, which lost essential stellar mass, to differ from one another.

Radio-Patmos, or galactic energies of Andromedian origin, would arrive as devout prayers at the border of Skalá, such astro-omegas and Invisible Universes, which inhabit the flaccidity of the Universe of Consciousness of the pole contact with the Xifos or Kopis, when Andromeda contacts the spur of the clubs or snails, inciting the capos of Astro-Omegas spaces, which would begin to take the front and front, after having been the atrium of invisible stars, only visible in the spurs of the swords, which were only moistened with the viscous blood draining from Orion, towards Hellenic lands as Omega age, for Vernarth early when he carries the keys of the Omega World, towards the shadowy proto galaxies, knowing that the Milky Way and Andromeda come so close in their stellar mass, being able to collide in a few million of light years, in advance, since the Duoverse of Hyperdisis will be formed as a Galaxy of change, to interact with each other, dismembering, but re-transforming into the new speculative nucleus of the Duoverse as a great Black Hole, embedded in the Kardiá of Patmos.

Hyperdisis, navigates from the most ancient confines, from the origin of nothingness itself on the threshold of the Universe, but now it is already converted into the Duoverse, re-implanting itself in helical polarity, and in bifurcations of luminosity, of colorful reincarnations or astral, to consent to the cessation of darkness and valuing luminance, possessing colorimetry and chromatic steps of childish tales in infant galaxies, which in all the lives of Greece and Vernarth delivered for their ancestors, articulating the iconology of Orion, in candlesticks per square meter, in vigils of:

LV is the luminance, measured in Nits or candela per square meter (cd / m²).

• F is the luminous flux, in lumens for the Andromeda triad, Milky Way e Hyperdisis in conjunction with Orion.
• dS is the surface element considered the triad Kímolos, Rhodes, and Patmos.
• dΩ is the solid angle element, from Vernarth Omega and origin of the Duoverse.
• θ is the angle between the diameter from Andromeda and the Milky Way (2.5 million light-years)

The luminance can be defined from the radiometric magnitude and the radiance without more than weighting each wavelength by the sensitivity curve of the eye. Thus, if LV is the luminance, Lλ represents the spectral radiance and V (λ) symbolizes the sensitivity curve of the Vernath's eye of the Betelgeuse area below, dumping plasma and bruises on the galaxies and the Orion Eyes.

s) Zigzag Universe

The Zig Zag Universe was and will be excluded between time and space, in a world adjusted to the senses that are driven within the contextual totality, the world and the biosphere framed in the phenomena of the Zig Zag Universe, being born on a stellar night when Our life searched the earth, being able to see how cordial matters of the cosmos caressed its cosmology, making it its magistracy and descendants of the Hellenic cosmos, in constant caresses of the universe already predisposed to the Bing Bang, emerging from another type of self-observation, seeing ourselves in the face of Horcondising anti-material and Universal Biomass. We preexist under science that models the system of energy and matter in causes of ancestors, with whom their vital and ours sneakily crashed. Gravity made a great paternity in the Vernarth Biomass, being in the Dodecanese, being cosmos in its arcuate curvature, which makes us screen with the moon in its romantic astrophysical swings, and with the exaggerated geometry of a zigzag. We are the versatile and multi-dynamic mass that expands simultaneously in the head that pauses in the Nothofagus Obliqua of Vernarth's Horcondising and also time2-space2, which has not been troubled by the origin or abscess of the stars that move irregularly in zigzag, for the fractality of its component, which is clearly aramaic blue light, in circuits of clusters and movements brushing the air, attracting the attention of the entire order of the hypnotized universe and making the duplication of the universe itself appear before them; in Duoverso that is the Universe shaken and young of its gratitude’s ".The distribution of nearby galaxies are keys to the paleo universe already arranged in macrowaves, which are percentages of spaces in the Trisolate energy fields, which interact with the Mashiach of Gethsemane phylogeny, now tending to a stagnant decomposed future, towards a specific frozen present. Its final station is to bet the Zig Zag Universe on the re-expanding temporal Medieval chrestomathy, in gregarious qualities of Sub-mythology, already conformed here in Archangelos. The implosion of gravity has created worlds of visibility in great astronomical yearnings, in some fractions of time zigzagged by millions of fractured light-years, as an irregularity that resembles the measurements of everything quantifiable, being omniscience or not, acquiring the hexagonality of the birthright in the passage, Here the Mashiach emerged and died in its abstraction in the One-dimensional Beams and in the foreign eyes, eroding those who are mortal and do not see with divine eyes in the self-resemblance, of our hypochondria and of the failed plan to amplify the size of the unknown analytic, of this new dimension in the implosive movement of the Verthian Duoverse. The nature of the snowflakes in Bethlehem are natural fractals, detailed in their nature and in the natural infinity, here the privileged new world was envisioned, for self-similarity in the speculative and cosmogonic functions of Vertnarth, at intervals in each space of the shadowy walls, bringing accelerated courier bombs from Gethsemane among mutated olive trees to other humans. "Its correlation is an infinite fractal with reversible observable time.

Finite is the curvature, between the time that walks between the grove of the Duo-Universe as an alternative of energy Zig Zag and Duoverso, which triggers our subconscious observable world, which is a great reflecting lantern eye, which ignores and prescribes extreme distant and focal parts of the One-dimensional Beams of Kafersuseh in Ein Karem, since the Duoverse is the trial Universe that the Mashiach had, before coming to the Holy Land, provided by his form of Hyperdisis escorting him from Betelgeuse and in Orion. Change from arduous colors to the gradient in Avant-Garde, for the confines of perspectives and verbality, in amendments of physical fields, interwoven by an external gravitational means. The macrowaves, are exposed matter not contained in the abrupt changes of the optical selection of the Mashiach with the One-dimensional Beams, attracting selection crystals to atomize them, in reaction disturbances and recreation of multiform plasma saviors of Christian cosmic. The double examination of the macrowaves and the equation of the axial of the universe turned into Duoverse, in millions of light-years will continue in the Duoverse, for ectoplasmic reconversion with great margins of assertiveness. The cartography in hyper diction will correct errors of the current universe, losing itself in the second thousandths of figures that separate us from the Universe, but all being more than time... !, remaining at the expense of the wick of all electro-matter " The double examination of the macrowaves and the equation of them on the axial of the universe turned into Duoverse, in millions of light-years will continue in the Duoverse, for ectoplasmic reconversion with great margins of assertiveness. The cartography in hyper diction will correct errors of the current universe, losing itself in the second thousandths of figures that separate us from the Universe, but all of them being more than time... !, remaining at the expense of the wick of all electro-matter. The sub-mythology having already been constituted, Hestia appears, having slept a great slumber. When he appeared before Vernarth in Tsambika, he was seen changing in size, when he was six meters away he looked dwarf and when he was already two meters from him he looked monumentally huge, but in a versatile physiognomy, therefore he was already appreciated in his last steps, with her domestic Goddess figure that emanated light-years from the chimneys of the habitable galaxies. The critical immanence will happen, pre-existing of the perfectible plan for the Universe Zig Zag and Hyperdisis, as Hyper-Hestia, bringing torn words for those who were approaching the main altar of Vas Auric, which was in the great ratio of the proscenium in the vicinity of Tsambika, between Mind / Meditation for constant mechanisms of Wisdom / Meditate, according to the cosmological constant, taking them perhaps to the beginning of a decade and the third universe called Traverse. The oscillations of all these fantasies, Vernarth observed, but he knew that he would have to collide with these worlds finally already precipitated, and of temperature that acted on the average of the normal range, therefore it was imminent to mutate it to the provisional Christian Duoverse, which moves backward. among the dizzying lights of creation. Immediately afterward, the Universe has torn apart and lost among those around it, establishing itself in units of millions of years of light compressed in the piccolo Aulos, which Hestia carried in one of its golden hands, from the Prytaneion, igniting with the flames of the Kardiá on fire and the passion of consanguineous love, “Prytaneum”, the omphalos stone, marking the navel of the world with the boast of wandering towards the island of Delos, in the daily warmth of a spring afternoon in Rhodes. She is a woman with veils on her face, always walking to and from her virginal abode, in the house of foolish or vestal virgins, there is no Hestia, only maybe there are some similar ones staying in the cold fire of her menopause, losing fertility afterward. that his father swallowed it, and then it was expelled from himself, regurgitated in flames of love candles in a blessed house and full of immunity, giving the Duoverse another geometric category with never contained angles, sliding vibratory between the distances that discount minutes of the Hestian space, for such a corollary by approaching its finitude, and inaugurating the sub-finite, that it will never be the source of the end of a disconcerting end of time, neither equationally consummated nor physical. "This consolidates the Duoverse into Duo-Universe, expressed in figures that moderate the length of a physical state before it is finished and restarted in a process that does not end (sub-infinity)

t) Vernarth Omega (Ω) - Preface

before facing the Achaemenides. Being Omega and Micron in the warlike primer of their cause, within the prophetic in all necropolises of tiny omega (ω), towards an Omega that reaffirmed the upright hand in Saint John the Apostle by rewriting the Apocalypse twice, coexisting the same but with the voice of Vernarth commanding the ten thousand Falangists, who made up inter-generational gaps, of camouflaged alien ancestors. For this purpose, he opened the windows with their pillars sheathed with tetrachloride of chlorine, at solid angles of Ω, in what was Virgo institutionum / Oarion-entity that interfered by projections and leaks, which converged on the strut of the omphalos of his heavenly father dealing frequently and bled his immortality, constituting from a helper being to the planes of subconscious reprogramming and perspective. With his arms raised, in each hand a raised sword to pierce the vanishing point, between the spaces that were ascribed, under the solid projection, from an observer that inhibits ad limits the biomass in all the masses of aqueous filter and lumen flow, towards the throne of the angelic guardian of Avant-guard by the stereotype and sclerosis of Zeus in his dissociated physicality, even though he is an amorphous entity with pulverized magnitudes, between Pi and Golden numbers, fading away without area or volume. Vernarth in the humanoid apocalypse was transfigured from a solid point in Hyperdisis, as a direct escape settlement to Oarion, towards a surface of conical vestige in three-dimensionality towards Andromeda, the Milky Way, and the shoulder of Betelgeuse, Vernarth distracted the emeritus stars in the corner of his room and in the convex of the points of his celestial patriarchs in the conical spheres of perenniality, leaving only solid angles in each of the two parts of space-delimited by two semi-planes that start from their common edge, under the ideal geometric concept and that it is only possible to partially represent it as duplication in parallelograms with a common side, symbolizing two half-planes, making from all distances seclusion of visions in the culmination of imagination and apparent angles, seen from any point of the Celestial Vault in invisible counterpoint.

The decalcified cells of Vernarth solfy together with Sophocles in orpheons after the victory of Salamis. Already being a tragedy in the next act of the prologue and their friendship bordering on his tragedy, he continues to exist in energetic arms to write, and Vernarth to dispute the characters from a regular prologue writing with his own blood hematology verses, which traveled meters and that they shrunk from the anti-verses scarring their declaimed intra-breath, in corals that only the wind clarifies of what precedes and happens towards the suffering, in the metrics of the Areimos chorus that were lectured anti-verses, and that they tried to ****** him from the hands to Sophocles, in immortality that refined him by abandoning him in sub-units. With masks and mythical cycles, he mixed the metaphorical facsimile of momentum and the separation of friendship with him, seeing him in an episode of his works, and instead of Vernarth's transcript sheltering him in the origins of the volatilizations of his orpheons, converted into physical waves of a dramatic-oracular order. Gods re-transformed into divination and futuristic germination, they were hidden dormant and forgotten in times of subconsciousness in the Selenite collection, felt in the Colossi signs of parliamentary, where the oracle leans on the lines of vibrational words and how they cough their " páthis ”in the place where the language dissociated from the heart nucleus speaks. In misguided divination, the oracular mantic brought the cold of loneliness and the fiery heat that guesses in the laurel forests in oracular daphnomancy, Vernarth omega self-erects as a versatile column that temporalizes the threads of his organic brain, creating synaptic logos in Pashkein or the alert regret of abandoning the arm that rewrites his heroic Sophoclean and tragediographic biography, in ancients transiting in disintegrated emotionality and ****** Hellenic neurotransmission, “Two omega men or omega speedometers, carrying neurons from ankylosed and frustrated herd of pleasure, for tripartite meson form of routine grinding in Alzheimer's lost, lost in sympathetic and para-sympathetic routines, with probability of Hellenic gray matter; That is to say, of all memory that does not sin of ignorance in the ancient world, in more than nineteen hours of vehemence, the dangers will brighten when reliving nth times in the twilight of omega, Vernarth, was already narrowing on the tracontero Eurydice, to save his pains, deposed in terms that would renew anti-economies by supplying unsustainable in liquefactions and in synaptic melts, extra energetic vesicle of pure natural law of the eyebrows, of lunation that rests in the inter millennium, beating with ecstasy in the Buddhist suttas, and in the adaptation of the flesh of the hypersonic fissures of the Meltemi, and attachments that still beat over the dermis of pain. Vernarth draws his sword Xifos of phenomenal structure and he cuts on the Sutta or sermon that mimicked him at the time of the lunation, doing sabotage of redemption of the anti-verse from the court of Sophocles, as a myth-saboteur and anti-value, overvaluing the wiles of the same utilitarian tragedy, conquering in the curtain of mourning and sadness, unguarded and overcome by the stoic duel of jubilation. From here Vernarth, opens the gates of hell, eight hundred times going mad with omega value, by reiterating omeganymy, creates the numbering of the anti-verse and the suffering that does not even sleep further from the departure of a soul and a body only asleep of concave omega, overlapping in golden transfinite chests, which reorder the natural numerals with the ordinal transfinite omega, but on frictionless wheels of other omegas that break in recirculation rules on alpha, in supra omega levels such as parades, stamens, episodes, and Vernarth-omega paradigmatic exodus.

Omega I Prologue: “Once upon a time, amidst a rain of clouds full of drama, in a time that was oriented regime of the armpit of Betelgeuse and Aorion, 334 BC, it was the penultimate breeze of Tsambika, in the spiritual devotion that hovered over the unison voice in the magnanimous Zeusian chorus, as an alternate event of imprisoning past and next in an episode of the present act. The expectant was curious about the retouched makeup of the drama's superlative consonant, in a disembodied place, but with a good narrative source when it came to fruition. Here the myth is plausible, among everything mythical, more than all the super sums of expectations of the Ismo "

Parod I: "For the submissive words on the stage of the trident fire, where I have to warm my hands with ashes of eternal fire"
(Directing the scenes through the coripheum, there is the master lord who, in flames and by unequal numbers, pawned in the Aulos and piccolos, whose bare feet bordered the risk of the bellies of the Maenad damsels united in processions, between princes, powers and Dionysian dances holding on to the Pufios; in Baquian and ceremonial liturgy near Vernarth, taking a glass every seven minutes in animosity, in cages of his stuck little finger, whistling from organic pimping, next to dancers raising an arm and directing the palm towards the heaven, while the other remained down with the palm towards the earth; in this position, since he was like Vernarth buried by the tides of Patmos wandering him in times that marked the entrance from Mars to Jupiter, and from autumn to winter in fifteen times agreed with Sophocles, hanging from the penultimate to the entrance with his trembling voice desalted..., tolerating himself in his own tragedy)

This is I: "Through the right hemi-body, Vernarth intoned his laterality exposed in harsh penumbras, while Hera brandished over his existentialism clouds of oatmeal and candies in a liturgy, a homily that personified the Stasis, in the choral intermission resisting his angry hands in tragic passion and frenzy, unleashing oratory of self-blame, unraveling drama-tragic, and in each pause the emotion that was accompanied in new episodes when it was stoked "

(Vernarth says: “submitted in parts that are not its parts, my pain has blinded me, where it has embittered the conflict of ethical interest if the stars as a public cheer are anointed, sentencing the opposition of other lesser stars who cheer what that does not shine. The principle of the voice violates the normal parenthesis, which is governed by itself in the omega voice, mocking the modal in four magistrates, in martyrdoms of an ideal of the procession, each one being with his super-private toga, before me It must not be who recognizes if I will be who I am, on the seventh judgment of my surviving ethics)

Episode I: "Vernarth extrapolates the values of his judgment, which override the first, the coryphaeus directs his promenade from the countryside on his Horse Alikantus"

(Vernarth says: “I have instantiated the steps that my chestnut crossed with you in the future if I am to sing with a sorrowful voice, no choir will be able to follow me when you are gone. However, I have to define what personifies who, more than a thousand miles away, carries with him the lamp that opens the light of your roguish contemplation... "
Alikantus wailing says: "From the luster of your heartbeat, I obfuscated the jailer from your ribs, for the preference of the one who takes you even further in tempestuous pro-hedonistic prose "

Exodus I: "Sometimes the endings smell like fields of lavender, where the call of the almighty is heard, to take him over his loaded plantations, which are emerging from the dialogues in the afternoon with its twilight, as well as stanzas that smell of lavender anointing, separated in syllables and tonic that flex my charm, not to say that I was anointed with Lavender when I was prepubescent "
(In fifteen times, in syllables and rakes, the sentences of its paragraphs are sterilized, leaving the audience speechless, without a gesture or word that emanates from a sacred paradise, rather from the Stasis that never purged the omission of the syllable that is not of proscenium nor trident, but it is umlauts on Omega, between syllables of fire that burn from its proscenium)

With few and precise changes of consciousness, Vernarth approaches his Omega Point, as the end of his self identical to his consciousness. Leaving from Tsambika and Kímolos, diligent towards Theoskepatis, warning Etréstles for defiance goods in the aftermath of the Eschaton. His spiritual cerebellum faded identically when he wandered through the distances of the entities that competed and are prominent, transforming his Hetairoi reliquary, here his tendentious impulse begins and dehumanizing himself by becoming a Celestial entity, but with Noosphere endowment. The tendencies are established hyper-connected, with him Tsambika, Theoskepatis, and Patmos were triangulated for consummations and finality from the rudiment of Universal deity, reprogramming the end of restricted humanity to a mere boundary of dogmatic morality declared existential.

Within the Omega points, his unfolding acted as a disembodied statue and redemption of similarity and humanity, leading him to a self-conspiracy, by abandoning himself to his own and equal, for the duration of the final sulfurous sublimation of the Cinnabar's margin of abstraction, after joining in all the quantum, physical and biological lines, making the Duoverse an inter chamber of the prior Master in a process of change, to sensitize his image of physical-chemical Man, but of God in his rigid powers. Cataloged as hommo sapiens who expresses himself in fallen beings under the arms of his sword in a limpid target, rather than in his own pointed tongue, and steely towards the point of unification in the hyper-dimensional of good achieve spatiality and volume, only contacted by his devoid of a Xifos hand. Consciousness rarely loomed in its compendium in nth bytes and data, much more than those recirculated in astrobiological quantum, creating blind exclusive and patrimonial universes, on the basis of nth bytes, which kept reorganizing itself in the personality of the unknown, fewer than four bridges of consciousness united in their own gregarious universe. The transcendence of the basic data of consciousness will lie in the Maenads, and their deliberate acre magic, extending through the limbs of the Nymphs, to re-possess it and take them to the confines of mystical paranoia, perhaps towards the embodied Vestal Virgins, purging their paths that they notice a variant of licentious departure in the stanzas when seeking final swings, which are not for the sake of shedding everything before the Universe rescinds its intellectual limitations, contracted in an orgiastic Imaginary Universe, and the precariousness of the concept transporting us to the origins of the species and its behavioral rapture of loss of sensation, and reason, for this reason, Vernarth takes them with him for his ******* and alienated perceiving of inherent reality and its opposite sunset. The ministry of the sacramental mystery is the consciousness of the Dionysian being in gestation, wanting to be the paroxysm of its equivalent, in an eternal Omega effect, for the purposes of omeganymy of conscious chaos, being the same portion of omega ad limit of its secondary reluctant personality of being, to found the hermit solitude on his revived empty ego, residing in his being by bilocating with two idiosyncrasies for a Venarthian Thiasoi, succumbing to weightlessness over all the Maenads and the intoxication of community in its opacity,

The madness was a transcript of reasons lost by the Vernarthian Omeganymy, sometimes the disproportionate of his steps by more than what should be generated was objected in the circles of the Tsambika monastery. The unification of blood was confused by the viscous wine of the mysterious foliage of the Diospyros tree that led them through the enigmatic unaware, in primary practices that tore apart some somatized ones of the order of a third body, which still transmitted the last organic matter, refusing to spread at the omeganimic points. The consciousness of replicated beings of themselves challenged themselves towards the perfect copy of their transcendent alter ego, in an understanding of the present-future elucidating for whom or those who demystify the visions of an arbitrary creation, allied to the evolutionary myth-truth, in the face of any real and human maturity gap, the conclave of the near pious Christ, bequeathed in us and in the venerated hominization, at his sole and directional will. Now we are all in the aqueducts of Christian science, for specimens of eternal categorization and frontally in view of a God-Mashiach, as ordinal inclusion and in greater ecumenical diversity, with variables of independence range, for staggering motor skills, retaining the attention of all the powers of the Christian world at an Omega point that seemed to be Alpha. The sense of the Duoverse in Vernarth Omega makes us rethink the central phenomenon of thought and frustrations, by the socialization of distant species from prudent dogmatic ostracism, towards refractory empathic and ultra-rational reasoning. conclave of the near pious Christ, bequeathed in us and in the venerated hominization, to his sole and directional will. Now we are all in the aqueducts of Christian science, for specimens of eternal categorization and frontally in view of a God-Mashiach, as ordinal inclusion and in greater ecumenical diversity, with variables of independence range, for staggering motor skills, retaining the attention of all the powers of the Christian world at an Omega point that seemed to be Alpha. The sense of the Duoverse in Vernarth Omega makes us rethink the central phenomenon of thought and frustrations, by the socialization of distant species from prudent dogmatic ostracism, towards refractory empathic and ultra-rational reasoning. at his sole and directional will. Now we are all in the aqueducts of Christian science, for specimens of eternal categorization and frontally in view of a God-Mashiach, as ordinal inclusion and in greater ecumenical diversity, with variables of independence range, for staggering motor skills, retaining the attention of all the powers of the Christian world at an Omega point that seemed to be Alpha. The sense of the Duoverse in Vernarth Omega makes us rethink the central phenomenon of thought and frustrations, by the socialization of distant species from prudent dogmatic ostracism, towards refractory empathic and ultra-rational reasoning.

The supra intelligence has to become in them and those, the pre-existing point of duality, to reunify them in Patmos, as the only spirited meaning, and biomass evolving on the super-dimensioned materiality, in a greater radius where it will have to be delivered to whoever speaks with words. of living energy, and not complex towards all processes of emancipatory concord of personal authorship, on levels of relative lust in the absolution of medium integrity, and towards an elemental unitary totality of animal instinct guarded by the instinct of Being, that from its similar awakened rebirth of the sleeping mass matter, and in the animal purifying multiplicity. The man stands in his memorandum bend, like a haughty memorial, evolving in the cosmic expiration of the molecular transverse, admitting us in its vestige of complex extinction, but not in human slip, nor in acid and self-instituting scenery, on the real creation of its DNA, which reverts from the formality of helical reiterative rings, by heights of whoever oscillates in their coupled pairings, and their silent probable associations, in the nature of real origin and their structural perfection. The acceptability scenarios derive from the feasible concretion, and the approval of their tendencies and mobilizations of the structure of life, and codes greater than those that limit them to reside, to more than one body, residing from an incorporeal body, capable of its quantitative life and the extension of existence, super existing in the heights of the helical rings, which may vary more than they are, and which could be, without being seen under a scientific gaze. "Becoming a mechanics of maturation and prayer, which the energy from the material world to the spiritual, as a moving particle of inert matter in parasitized free radicals, which are re-energized by the mystery of the helical trans-threshold of the Aramaic mystery of the Olives Bern. "Vernarth disintegrates in omeganymy in laxity towards Oarion, descending pro-tenebrosity towards the profanity of Patmos, engulfed by Love in a dark summer, brushing the silos of DNA in the will of the automated world"
DUOVERSE
I

I dream of journeys repeatedly:
Of flying like a bat deep into a narrowing tunnel
Of driving alone, without luggage, out a long peninsula,
The road lined with snow-laden second growth,
A fine dry snow ticking the windshield,
Alternate snow and sleet, no on-coming traffic,
And no lights behind, in the blurred side-mirror,
The road changing from glazed tarface to a rubble of stone,
Ending at last in a hopeless sand-rut,
Where the car stalls,
Churning in a snowdrift
Until the headlights darken.

II

At the field's end, in the corner missed by the mower,
Where the turf drops off into a grass-hidden culvert,
Haunt of the cat-bird, nesting-place of the field-mouse,
Not too far away from the ever-changing flower-dump,
Among the tin cans, tires, rusted pipes, broken machinery, --
One learned of the eternal;
And in the shrunken face of a dead rat, eaten by rain and ground-beetles
(I found in lying among the rubble of an old coal bin)
And the tom-cat, caught near the pheasant-run,
Its entrails strewn over the half-grown flowers,
Blasted to death by the night watchman.

I suffered for young birds, for young rabbits caught in the mower,
My grief was not excessive.
For to come upon warblers in early May
Was to forget time and death:
How they filled the oriole's elm, a twittering restless cloud, all one morning,
And I watched and watched till my eyes blurred from the bird shapes, --
Cape May, Blackburnian, Cerulean, --
Moving, elusive as fish, fearless,
Hanging, bunched like young fruit, bending the end branches,
Still for a moment,
Then pitching away in half-flight,
Lighter than finches,
While the wrens bickered and sang in the half-green hedgerows,
And the flicker drummed from his dead tree in the chicken-yard.

-- Or to lie naked in sand,
In the silted shallows of a slow river,
******* a shell,
Thinking:
Once I was something like this, mindless,
Or perhaps with another mind, less peculiar;
Or to sink down to the hips in a mossy quagmire;
Or, with skinny knees, to sit astride a wet log,
Believing:
I'll return again,
As a snake or a raucous bird,
Or, with luck, as a lion.

I learned not to fear infinity,
The far field, the windy cliffs of forever,
The dying of time in the white light of tomorrow,
The wheel turning away from itself,
The sprawl of the wave,
The on-coming water.

III

The river turns on itself,
The tree retreats into its own shadow.
I feel a weightless change, a moving forward
As of water quickening before a narrowing channel
When banks converge, and the wide river whitens;
Or when two rivers combine, the blue glacial torrent
And the yellowish-green from the mountainy upland, --
At first a swift rippling between rocks,
Then a long running over flat stones
Before descending to the alluvial plane,
To the clay banks, and the wild grapes hanging from the elmtrees.
The slightly trembling water
Dropping a fine yellow silt where the sun stays;
And the ***** bask near the edge,
The weedy edge, alive with small snakes and bloodsuckers, --
I have come to a still, but not a deep center,
A point outside the glittering current;
My eyes stare at the bottom of a river,
At the irregular stones, iridescent sandgrains,
My mind moves in more than one place,
In a country half-land, half-water.

I am renewed by death, thought of my death,
The dry scent of a dying garden in September,
The wind fanning the ash of a low fire.
What I love is near at hand,
Always, in earth and air.

IV

The lost self changes,
Turning toward the sea,
A sea-shape turning around, --
An old man with his feet before the fire,
In robes of green, in garments of adieu.
A man faced with his own immensity
Wakes all the waves, all their loose wandering fire.
The murmur of the absolute, the why
Of being born falls on his naked ears.
His spirit moves like monumental wind
That gentles on a sunny blue plateau.
He is the end of things, the final man.

All finite things reveal infinitude:
The mountain with its singular bright shade
Like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow,
The after-light upon ice-burdened pines;
Odor of basswood on a mountain-*****,
A scent beloved of bees;
Silence of water above a sunken tree :
The pure serene of memory in one man, --
A ripple widening from a single stone
Winding around the waters of the world.
(The Dry Salvages—presumably les trois sauvages
      — is a small group of rocks, with a beacon, off the N.E.
      coast of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Salvages is pronounced
      to rhyme with assuages. Groaner: a whistling buoy.)

I

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities—ever, however, implacable.
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom,
In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard,
In the smell of grapes on the autumn table,
And the evening circle in the winter gaslight.

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.
                                       The salt is on the briar rose,
The fog is in the fir trees.
                                       The sea howl
And the sea yelp, are different voices
Often together heard: the whine in the rigging,
The menace and caress of wave that breaks on water,
The distant rote in the granite teeth,
And the wailing warning from the approaching headland
Are all sea voices, and the heaving groaner
Rounded homewards, and the seagull:
And under the oppression of the silent fog
The tolling bell
Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried
Ground swell, a time
Older than the time of chronometers, older
Than time counted by anxious worried women
Lying awake, calculating the future,
Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
When time stops and time is never ending;
And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning,
Clangs
The bell.

II

Where is there an end of it, the soundless wailing,
The silent withering of autumn flowers
Dropping their petals and remaining motionless;
Where is there and end to the drifting wreckage,
The prayer of the bone on the beach, the unprayable
Prayer at the calamitous annunciation?

There is no end, but addition: the trailing
Consequence of further days and hours,
While emotion takes to itself the emotionless
Years of living among the breakage
Of what was believed in as the most reliable—
And therefore the fittest for renunciation.

There is the final addition, the failing
Pride or resentment at failing powers,
The unattached devotion which might pass for devotionless,
In a drifting boat with a slow leakage,
The silent listening to the undeniable
Clamour of the bell of the last annunciation.

Where is the end of them, the fishermen sailing
Into the wind’s tail, where the fog cowers?
We cannot think of a time that is oceanless
Or of an ocean not littered with wastage
Or of a future that is not liable
Like the past, to have no destination.

We have to think of them as forever bailing,
Setting and hauling, while the North East lowers
Over shallow banks unchanging and erosionless
Or drawing their money, drying sails at dockage;
Not as making a trip that will be unpayable
For a haul that will not bear examination.

There is no end of it, the voiceless wailing,
No end to the withering of withered flowers,
To the movement of pain that is painless and motionless,
To the drift of the sea and the drifting wreckage,
The bone’s prayer to Death its God. Only the hardly, barely prayable
Prayer of the one Annunciation.

It seems, as one becomes older,
That the past has another pattern, and ceases to be a mere sequence—
Or even development: the latter a partial fallacy
Encouraged by superficial notions of evolution,
Which becomes, in the popular mind, a means of disowning the past.
The moments of happiness—not the sense of well-being,
Fruition, fulfilment, security or affection,
Or even a very good dinner, but the sudden illumination—
We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness. I have said before
That the past experience revived in the meaning
Is not the experience of one life only
But of many generations—not forgetting
Something that is probably quite ineffable:
The backward look behind the assurance
Of recorded history, the backward half-look
Over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror.
Now, we come to discover that the moments of agony
(Whether, or not, due to misunderstanding,
Having hoped for the wrong things or dreaded the wrong things,
Is not in question) are likewise permanent
With such permanence as time has. We appreciate this better
In the agony of others, nearly experienced,
Involving ourselves, than in our own.
For our own past is covered by the currents of action,
But the torment of others remains an experience
Unqualified, unworn by subsequent attrition.
People change, and smile: but the agony abides.
Time the destroyer is time the preserver,
Like the river with its cargo of dead negroes, cows and chicken coops,
The bitter apple, and the bite in the apple.
And the ragged rock in the restless waters,
Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it;
On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,
In navigable weather it is always a seamark
To lay a course by: but in the sombre season
Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.

III

I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant—
Among other things—or one way of putting the same thing:
That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavender spray
Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret,
Pressed between yellow leaves of a book that has never been opened.
And the way up is the way down, the way forward is the way back.
You cannot face it steadily, but this thing is sure,
That time is no healer: the patient is no longer here.
When the train starts, and the passengers are settled
To fruit, periodicals and business letters
(And those who saw them off have left the platform)
Their faces relax from grief into relief,
To the sleepy rhythm of a hundred hours.
Fare forward, travellers! not escaping from the past
Into different lives, or into any future;
You are not the same people who left that station
Or who will arrive at any terminus,
While the narrowing rails slide together behind you;
And on the deck of the drumming liner
Watching the furrow that widens behind you,
You shall not think ‘the past is finished’
Or ‘the future is before us’.
At nightfall, in the rigging and the aerial,
Is a voice descanting (though not to the ear,
The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)
‘Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;
You are not those who saw the harbour
Receding, or those who will disembark.
Here between the hither and the farther shore
While time is withdrawn, consider the future
And the past with an equal mind.
At the moment which is not of action or inaction
You can receive this: “on whatever sphere of being
The mind of a man may be intent
At the time of death”—that is the one action
(And the time of death is every moment)
Which shall fructify in the lives of others:
And do not think of the fruit of action.
Fare forward.
                      O voyagers, O ******,
You who came to port, and you whose bodies
Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
Or whatever event, this is your real destination.’
So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
On the field of battle.
                                  Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers.

IV

Lady, whose shrine stands on the promontory,
Pray for all those who are in ships, those
Whose business has to do with fish, and
Those concerned with every lawful traffic
And those who conduct them.

Repeat a prayer also on behalf of
Women who have seen their sons or husbands
Setting forth, and not returning:
Figlia del tuo figlio,
Queen of Heaven.

Also pray for those who were in ships, and
Ended their voyage on the sand, in the sea’s lips
Or in the dark throat which will not reject them
Or wherever cannot reach them the sound of the sea bell’s
Perpetual angelus.

V

To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits,
To report the behaviour of the sea monster,
Describe the horoscope, haruspicate or scry,
Observe disease in signatures, evoke
Biography from the wrinkles of the palm
And tragedy from fingers; release omens
By sortilege, or tea leaves, riddle the inevitable
With playing cards, fiddle with pentagrams
Or barbituric acids, or dissect
The recurrent image into pre-conscious terrors—
To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usual
Pastimes and drugs, and features of the press:
And always will be, some of them especially
When there is distress of nations and perplexity
Whether on the shores of Asia, or in the Edgware Road.
Men’s curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint—
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime’s death in love,
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.
Here the impossible union
Of spheres of existence is actual,
Here the past and future
Are conquered, and reconciled,
Where action were otherwise movement
Of that which is only moved
And has in it no source of movement—
Driven by dæmonic, chthonic
Powers. And right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realised;
Who are only undefeated
Because we have gone on trying;
We, content at the last
If our temporal reversion nourish
(Not too far from the yew-tree)
The life of significant soil.
you just can't simply
get away with the words
from your writing,
the people who reads them
after all, have minds
of their own
to begin with.
minds that went down
when the real thing
went out of style.
i get the urge from it,
the feeling to stop
writing about it,
surrender,
put an end before
i even begin.

before it,
before the very first
unwise word
ever comes out,
i see the world
in a reflection
as it shows
me the same;
pretentious *****,
arrogant *****,
unimpressed *****,
sexually disoriented *****,
spoiled *****,
sad *****,
***** that are also
keyboard bigots,
rich *****,
loveless *****,
poor *****,
dense *****,
and all the rest
of the *****
a man
could ever provide
in his lifetime,
and then
there's
me who
for the record
could fall in any
category
the same as you do.

so yeah, got any memes?
funny ones?
those that makes
fun of our
current condition?
alright.
i'll join you
and the others
in this
great narrowing
of our lives.
Terry O'Leary Nov 2013
Ah Consuela! Invoking vast vistas for visions of green Spanish eyes,
I discern them again where she left me back then,
                 as we kissed when she parted, my friend.
Through those ruins I tread towards the footlights, now dead,
                 where I’ll muse as her shadows ascend.

                  .
                          .
Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she teases the mirror with green Spanish eyes;
her serape entangles her brooches and bangles
                 like lace on the sorcerer’s looms,
and her cape of the night, she drapes tight to excite,
                 and her fan is embellished with plumes.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching as spectators savour her green Spanish eyes;
taming wild concertinas, the dark ballerina
                 performs on the music hall stage,
but she shies from the sound of ovation unbound
                 like a timorous bird in a cage.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she quickens the pit with her green Spanish eyes;
as the cymbals shake, clashing, the floodlights wake, flashing,
                 igniting the wild fireflies,
and the piccolo piper’s inviting the vipers
                 to coil neath the cold caldron skies.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching the shimmering shadows in green Spanish eyes
as I rise from my chair and proceed to the stair
                 with a hesitant sip of my wine.
Though she doesn’t deny me, she wanders right by me
                 with neither a look nor a sign.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she looks to the stage with her green Spanish eyes,
(for her senses scoff, scorning the biblical warning
                 of kisses of Judas that sting,
with her pierced ears defeating the echoes repeating)
                 and smiles at the magpie that sings.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching faint embers a’ stir in her green Spanish eyes,
for a soft spoken stranger enveloping danger
                 has captured the rhyme in the room
as he slips into sight through a crack in the night
                 midst the breath of her heavy perfume.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she gauges his guise through her green Spanish eyes
– from his gypsy-like mane, to his diamond stud cane,
                 to the raven engraved on his vest –
for a faraway form, a tempestuous storm,
                 lurks and heaves neath the cleav’e of her *******.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching the caravels cruising her green Spanish eyes;
with the castanets clacking like ancient masts cracking
                 he whips ’round his cloak with a ****
and without sacrificing, at mien so enticing,
                 she floats with her face facing his.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching the vertigo veiling her green Spanish eyes,
while the drumbeat pounds, droning, the rhythm sounds, moaning,
                 of jungles Jamaican entwined
in the valleys concealing the vineyards revealing
                 the vaults in the caves of her mind.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching life’s carnivals call to her green Spanish eyes,
and with paused palpitations the tom-tom temptations
                 come taunting her tremulous feet
with her toe tips a’ tingle while jute boxes jingle
                 for jesters that jive on the street.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she rides ocean tides in her green Spanish eyes,
and her silhouette’s travelling on ripples unravelling
                 and shaking the shipwracking shores,
as she strides from the light to the black cauldron night
                 through the candlelit cabaret doors.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she dances till dawn flashing green Spanish eyes,
with her movements adorning a trickle of morning
                 as sipped by the mouth of the moon,
while her tresses twirl, shaming the filaments flaming
                 that flow from the sun’s oval spoon.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she masks for a moment her green Spanish eyes.
Then the magpie that sings ceases preening her wings
                 and descends as a lean bird of prey –
as she flutters her ’lashes and laughs in broad splashes,
                 his narrowing eyes start to stray.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching fey carousels spin in her green Spanish eyes,
and the porcelain ponies and leprechaun cronies
                 race, reaching for gold and such things,
even being reminded that only the blinded
                 are fooled by the brass in the rings.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she shepherds the shadows with green Spanish eyes,
but as evening sinks, ebbing, the skyline climbs, webbing,
                 and weaves through the temples of stone,
while the nightingales sing of a kiss on the wing
                 in the depths of the dunes all alone.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching the music and magic in green Spanish eyes,
as she dances enchanted, while firmly implanted
                 in tugs of his turbulent arms,
till he cuts through the strings, tames the magpie that sings,
                 and seduces once more with his charms.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, the citadel steams in her green Spanish eyes,
but behind the dark curtain the savants seem certain
                 that nothing and no one exists,
and though vapours look vacant, the vagabond vagrants
                 remain within mythical mists.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching as lightning at midnight in green Spanish eyes
kindles cracks within crystals like flashes from pistols
                 residing inside of the gloom
as it hovers above us betraying a dove as
                 she flees from the fountain of doom.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, distilling despair in her green Spanish eyes,
and the bitterness stings like the snap of the strings
                 when a mystical  mandolin sighs
as the vampire shades **** the life from charades
                 neath the resinous residue skies.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she looks to the ledge with her green Spanish eyes,
for the terrace hangs high and she’s thinking to fly
                 and abandon fate’s merry-go-round.
At the edge I perceive her and rush to retrieve her –
                 she stumbles, falls far to the ground.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching the sparkles a’ spilling from green Spanish eyes.
As I peer from the railing, with evening exhaling,
                 I cry out a lover’s lament –
there she lies midst the crowd with her spirit unbowed,
                 but her body’s all broken and bent.

Ah Consuela! I’m watching, she beckons me hither with green Spanish eyes,
and I’m slightly amazed being snared in her gaze
                 and a’ swirl in a hurricane way,
but the seconds are slipping, my courage is dripping,
                 the moment is bleeding away.

Ah Consuela! I touch her - she weeps tender tears from her green Spanish eyes;
as the breezes cease blowing, her essence leaves, flowing,
                 in streams neath the ambient light,
and the droplets drip swarming, so silent, yet warming,
                 like rain in a midsummer night.

Ah Consuela! I hold her, am hushed by the hints in her green Spanish eyes,
while her whispers are breathing the breaths of the seething
                 electrical skeletal winds,
and the words paint the poems that rivers a’ slowin’
                 reveal where the waterfall ends.

Ah Consuela! I’m fading in fires a’ flicker in green Spanish eyes,
as she plays back the past, she abandons and casts
                 away matters that no longer mend.
           .
                  .
And she reached out instead, as she lifted her head,
                 and we kissed as she parted, my friend.
           .
                  .
                          .
Ah Consuela! I’m tangled, entombed, trapped in tales of your green Spanish eyes,
in forsaken cantinas beyond the arenas
                 where night-time illusions once flowed,
for the ash neath my shoulder still throbs as it smoulders
                 some place near the end of the road.
Martin Narrod Apr 2014
what is more gentle,
than this pillow of the light?
a life narrowing,
in a bright feather dance
that sweeps across the sea
or covers our faces in shadows.
where do you go when you leave me?
now I am nocturnal,
a bliss bandit,
cooing at stars
one thousand miles high.
shaking like a tea kettle,
I am the black *** black,
shaking,
shivering.
Swallowing pieces of your light,
in the back-room jungle where I sew,
tears to the bottoms of my eyes,
where no one ever goes.


I know days,
hours,
one minute
where I gambled time
and stood behind you
with my fingers
on your shoulders
and my mouth on your neck.
What it takes to be apart,
split in half,
shucked from birth;
it takes every thing I
ever owned,
every note I ever sang,
each breath that I will make-
some thought I stand up on,
my knees quivering below me.
five kinds of drugs
just to see straight, to hold
my hands steady or
sleep at night.
your lavender flavor
is still in me.
you in me.
one.
two.
soaking in this forgotten city,
Earth's heroes drifting away.
I could never eat again, or
cast a spell, or touch the same.
while burning I may never
stand
on these same two feet again.


four years,
a photograph.
one voice,
softening into my skin,
that I never may forget.
that this beard is of
an old man, should I never
count again
blessings or songs.
I dive into the flame
and study this journey backwards.
so I should never forget,
everything so serious
as this
as you, in me.
In Response to a Poem by Leila R.
Late, my grandson! half the morning have I paced these sandy tracts,
Watch'd again the hollow ridges roaring into cataracts,

Wander'd back to living boyhood while I heard the curlews call,
I myself so close on death, and death itself in Locksley Hall.

So--your happy suit was blasted--she the faultless, the divine;
And you liken--boyish babble--this boy-love of yours with mine.

I myself have often babbled doubtless of a foolish past;
Babble, babble; our old England may go down in babble at last.

'Curse him!' curse your fellow-victim? call him dotard in your rage?
Eyes that lured a doting boyhood well might fool a dotard's age.

Jilted for a wealthier! wealthier? yet perhaps she was not wise;
I remember how you kiss'd the miniature with those sweet eyes.

In the hall there hangs a painting--Amy's arms about my neck--
Happy children in a sunbeam sitting on the ribs of wreck.

In my life there was a picture, she that clasp'd my neck had flown;
I was left within the shadow sitting on the wreck alone.

Yours has been a slighter ailment, will you sicken for her sake?
You, not you! your modern amourist is of easier, earthlier make.

Amy loved me, Amy fail'd me, Amy was a timid child;
But your Judith--but your worldling--she had never driven me wild.

She that holds the diamond necklace dearer than the golden ring,
She that finds a winter sunset fairer than a morn of Spring.

She that in her heart is brooding on his briefer lease of life,
While she vows 'till death shall part us,' she the would-be-widow wife.

She the worldling born of worldlings--father, mother--be content,
Ev'n the homely farm can teach us there is something in descent.

Yonder in that chapel, slowly sinking now into the ground,
Lies the warrior, my forefather, with his feet upon the hound.

Cross'd! for once he sail'd the sea to crush the Moslem in his pride;
Dead the warrior, dead his glory, dead the cause in which he died.

Yet how often I and Amy in the mouldering aisle have stood,
Gazing for one pensive moment on that founder of our blood.

There again I stood to-day, and where of old we knelt in prayer,
Close beneath the casement crimson with the shield of Locksley--there,

All in white Italian marble, looking still as if she smiled,
Lies my Amy dead in child-birth, dead the mother, dead the child.

Dead--and sixty years ago, and dead her aged husband now--
I this old white-headed dreamer stoopt and kiss'd her marble brow.

Gone the fires of youth, the follies, furies, curses, passionate tears,
Gone like fires and floods and earthquakes of the planet's dawning years.

Fires that shook me once, but now to silent ashes fall'n away.
Cold upon the dead volcano sleeps the gleam of dying day.

Gone the tyrant of my youth, and mute below the chancel stones,
All his virtues--I forgive them--black in white above his bones.

Gone the comrades of my bivouac, some in fight against the foe,
Some thro' age and slow diseases, gone as all on earth will go.

Gone with whom for forty years my life in golden sequence ran,
She with all the charm of woman, she with all the breadth of man,

Strong in will and rich in wisdom, Edith, yet so lowly-sweet,
Woman to her inmost heart, and woman to her tender feet,

Very woman of very woman, nurse of ailing body and mind,
She that link'd again the broken chain that bound me to my kind.

Here to-day was Amy with me, while I wander'd down the coast,
Near us Edith's holy shadow, smiling at the slighter ghost.

Gone our sailor son thy father, Leonard early lost at sea;
Thou alone, my boy, of Amy's kin and mine art left to me.

Gone thy tender-natured mother, wearying to be left alone,
Pining for the stronger heart that once had beat beside her own.

Truth, for Truth is Truth, he worshipt, being true as he was brave;
Good, for Good is Good, he follow'd, yet he look'd beyond the grave,

Wiser there than you, that crowning barren Death as lord of all,
Deem this over-tragic drama's closing curtain is the pall!

Beautiful was death in him, who saw the death, but kept the deck,
Saving women and their babes, and sinking with the sinking wreck,

Gone for ever! Ever? no--for since our dying race began,
Ever, ever, and for ever was the leading light of man.

Those that in barbarian burials ****'d the slave, and slew the wife,
Felt within themselves the sacred passion of the second life.

Indian warriors dream of ampler hunting grounds beyond the night;
Ev'n the black Australian dying hopes he shall return, a white.

Truth for truth, and good for good! The Good, the True, the Pure, the Just--
Take the charm 'For ever' from them, and they crumble into dust.

Gone the cry of 'Forward, Forward,' lost within a growing gloom;
Lost, or only heard in silence from the silence of a tomb.

Half the marvels of my morning, triumphs over time and space,
Staled by frequence, shrunk by usage into commonest commonplace!

'Forward' rang the voices then, and of the many mine was one.
Let us hush this cry of 'Forward' till ten thousand years have gone.

Far among the vanish'd races, old Assyrian kings would flay
Captives whom they caught in battle--iron-hearted victors they.

Ages after, while in Asia, he that led the wild Moguls,
Timur built his ghastly tower of eighty thousand human skulls,

Then, and here in Edward's time, an age of noblest English names,
Christian conquerors took and flung the conquer'd Christian into flames.

Love your enemy, bless your haters, said the Greatest of the great;
Christian love among the Churches look'd the twin of heathen hate.

From the golden alms of Blessing man had coin'd himself a curse:
Rome of Caesar, Rome of Peter, which was crueller? which was worse?

France had shown a light to all men, preach'd a Gospel, all men's good;
Celtic Demos rose a Demon, shriek'd and slaked the light with blood.

Hope was ever on her mountain, watching till the day begun--
Crown'd with sunlight--over darkness--from the still unrisen sun.

Have we grown at last beyond the passions of the primal clan?
'**** your enemy, for you hate him,' still, 'your enemy' was a man.

Have we sunk below them? peasants maim the helpless horse, and drive
Innocent cattle under thatch, and burn the kindlier brutes alive.

Brutes, the brutes are not your wrongers--burnt at midnight, found at morn,
Twisted hard in mortal agony with their offspring, born-unborn,

Clinging to the silent mother! Are we devils? are we men?
Sweet St. Francis of Assisi, would that he were here again,

He that in his Catholic wholeness used to call the very flowers
Sisters, brothers--and the beasts--whose pains are hardly less than ours!

Chaos, Cosmos! Cosmos, Chaos! who can tell how all will end?
Read the wide world's annals, you, and take their wisdom for your friend.

Hope the best, but hold the Present fatal daughter of the Past,
Shape your heart to front the hour, but dream not that the hour will last.

Ay, if dynamite and revolver leave you courage to be wise:
When was age so cramm'd with menace? madness? written, spoken lies?

Envy wears the mask of Love, and, laughing sober fact to scorn,
Cries to Weakest as to Strongest, 'Ye are equals, equal-born.'

Equal-born? O yes, if yonder hill be level with the flat.
Charm us, Orator, till the Lion look no larger than the Cat,

Till the Cat thro' that mirage of overheated language loom
Larger than the Lion,--Demos end in working its own doom.

Russia bursts our Indian barrier, shall we fight her? shall we yield?
Pause! before you sound the trumpet, hear the voices from the field.

Those three hundred millions under one Imperial sceptre now,
Shall we hold them? shall we loose them? take the suffrage of the plow.

Nay, but these would feel and follow Truth if only you and you,
Rivals of realm-ruining party, when you speak were wholly true.

Plowmen, Shepherds, have I found, and more than once, and still could find,
Sons of God, and kings of men in utter nobleness of mind,

Truthful, trustful, looking upward to the practised hustings-liar;
So the Higher wields the Lower, while the Lower is the Higher.

Here and there a cotter's babe is royal-born by right divine;
Here and there my lord is lower than his oxen or his swine.

Chaos, Cosmos! Cosmos, Chaos! once again the sickening game;
Freedom, free to slay herself, and dying while they shout her name.

Step by step we gain'd a freedom known to Europe, known to all;
Step by step we rose to greatness,--thro' the tonguesters we may fall.

You that woo the Voices--tell them 'old experience is a fool,'
Teach your flatter'd kings that only those who cannot read can rule.

Pluck the mighty from their seat, but set no meek ones in their place;
Pillory Wisdom in your markets, pelt your offal at her face.

Tumble Nature heel o'er head, and, yelling with the yelling street,
Set the feet above the brain and swear the brain is in the feet.

Bring the old dark ages back without the faith, without the hope,
Break the State, the Church, the Throne, and roll their ruins down the *****.

Authors--essayist, atheist, novelist, realist, rhymester, play your part,
Paint the mortal shame of nature with the living hues of Art.

Rip your brothers' vices open, strip your own foul passions bare;
Down with Reticence, down with Reverence--forward--naked--let them stare.

Feed the budding rose of boyhood with the drainage of your sewer;
Send the drain into the fountain, lest the stream should issue pure.

Set the maiden fancies wallowing in the troughs of Zolaism,--
Forward, forward, ay and backward, downward too into the abysm.

Do your best to charm the worst, to lower the rising race of men;
Have we risen from out the beast, then back into the beast again?

Only 'dust to dust' for me that sicken at your lawless din,
Dust in wholesome old-world dust before the newer world begin.

Heated am I? you--you wonder--well, it scarce becomes mine age--
Patience! let the dying actor mouth his last upon the stage.

Cries of unprogressive dotage ere the dotard fall asleep?
Noises of a current narrowing, not the music of a deep?

Ay, for doubtless I am old, and think gray thoughts, for I am gray:
After all the stormy changes shall we find a changeless May?

After madness, after massacre, Jacobinism and Jacquerie,
Some diviner force to guide us thro' the days I shall not see?

When the schemes and all the systems, Kingdoms and Republics fall,
Something kindlier, higher, holier--all for each and each for all?

All the full-brain, half-brain races, led by Justice, Love, and Truth;
All the millions one at length with all the visions of my youth?

All diseases quench'd by Science, no man halt, or deaf or blind;
Stronger ever born of weaker, lustier body, larger mind?

Earth at last a warless world, a single race, a single tongue--
I have seen her far away--for is not Earth as yet so young?--

Every tiger madness muzzled, every serpent passion ****'d,
Every grim ravine a garden, every blazing desert till'd,

Robed in universal harvest up to either pole she smiles,
Universal ocean softly washing all her warless Isles.

Warless? when her tens are thousands, and her thousands millions, then--
All her harvest all too narrow--who can fancy warless men?

Warless? war will die out late then. Will it ever? late or soon?
Can it, till this outworn earth be dead as yon dead world the moon?

Dead the new astronomy calls her. . . . On this day and at this hour,
In this gap between the sandhills, whence you see the Locksley tower,

Here we met, our latest meeting--Amy--sixty years ago--
She and I--the moon was falling greenish thro' a rosy glow,

Just above the gateway tower, and even where you see her now--
Here we stood and claspt each other, swore the seeming-deathless vow. . . .

Dead, but how her living glory lights the hall, the dune, the grass!
Yet the moonlight is the sunlight, and the sun himself will pass.

Venus near her! smiling downward at this earthlier earth of ours,
Closer on the Sun, perhaps a world of never fading flowers.

Hesper, whom the poet call'd the Bringer home of all good things.
All good things may move in Hesper, perfect peoples, perfect kings.

Hesper--Venus--were we native to that splendour or in Mars,
We should see the Globe we groan in, fairest of their evening stars.

Could we dream of wars and carnage, craft and madness, lust and spite,
Roaring London, raving Paris, in that point of peaceful light?

Might we not in glancing heavenward on a star so silver-fair,
Yearn, and clasp the hands and murmur, 'Would to God that we were there'?

Forward, backward, backward, forward, in the immeasurable sea,
Sway'd by vaster ebbs and flows than can be known to you or me.

All the suns--are these but symbols of innumerable man,
Man or Mind that sees a shadow of the planner or the plan?

Is there evil but on earth? or pain in every peopled sphere?
Well be grateful for the sounding watchword, 'Evolution' here,

Evolution ever climbing after some ideal good,
And Reversion ever dragging Evolution in the mud.

What are men that He should heed us? cried the king of sacred song;
Insects of an hour, that hourly work their brother insect wrong,

While the silent Heavens roll, and Suns along their fiery way,
All their planets whirling round them, flash a million miles a day.

Many an aeon moulded earth before her highest, man, was born,
Many an aeon too may pass when earth is manless and forlorn,

Earth so huge, and yet so bounded--pools of salt, and plots of land--
Shallow skin of green and azure--chains of mountain, grains of sand!

Only That which made us, meant us to be mightier by and by,
Set the sphere of all the boundless Heavens within the human eye,

Sent the shadow of Himself, the boundless, thro' the human soul;
Boundless inward, in the atom, boundless outward, in the Whole.

                                                *

Here is Locksley Hall, my grandson, here the lion-guarded gate.
Not to-night in Locksley Hall--to-morrow--you, you come so late.

Wreck'd--your train--or all but wreck'd? a shatter'd wheel? a vicious boy!
Good, this forward, you that preach it, is it well to wish you joy?

Is it well that while we range with Science, glorying in the Time,
City children soak and blacken soul and sense in city slime?

There among the glooming alleys Progress halts on palsied feet,
Crime and hunger cast our maidens by the thousand on the street.

There the Master scrimps his haggard sempstress of her daily bread,
There a single sordid attic holds the living and the dead.

There the smouldering fire of fever creeps across the rotted floor,
And the crowded couch of ****** in the warrens of the poor.

Nay, your pardon, cry your 'forward,' yours are hope and youth, but I--
Eighty winters leave the dog too lame to follow with the cry,

Lame and old, and past his time, and passing now into the night;
Yet I would the rising race were half as eager for the light.

Light the fading gleam of Even? light the glimmer of the dawn?
Aged eyes may take the growing glimmer for the gleam withdrawn.

Far away beyond her myriad coming changes earth will be
Something other than the wildest modern guess of you and me.

Earth may reach her earthly-worst, or if she gain her earthly-best,
Would she find her human offspring this ideal man at rest?

Forward then, but still remember how the course of Time will swerve,
Crook and turn upon itself in many a backward streaming curve.

Not the Hall to-night, my grandson! Death and Silence hold their own.
Leave the Master in the first dark hour of his last sleep alone.

Worthier soul was he than I am, sound and honest, rustic Squire,
Kindly landlord, boon companion--youthful jealousy is a liar.

Cast the poison from your *****, oust the madness from your brain.
Let the trampled serpent show you that you have not lived in vain.

Youthful! youth and age are scholars yet but in the lower school,
Nor is he the wisest man who never proved himself a fool.

Yonder lies our young sea-village--Art and Grace are less and less:
Science grows and Beauty dwindles--roofs of slated hideousness!

There is one old Hostel left us where they swing the Locksley shield,
Till the peasant cow shall **** the 'Lion passant' from his field.

Poo

— The End —