Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
kevin morris Jan 2014
This is a fictional account of the abuse suffered by a young boy. Any resemblance to persons either living or dead is purely coincidental.
Chapter 1

Lady Macbeth remarked “Tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil”. All children have their terrors. The bogeyman who lurks in dark corners patiently waiting to harm the unwary child. The ghost who haunts the attic where, even on a bright sunny day the child fears to go alone or some unspeakable terror, a horror with no name which lies just below the surface of every day life. In my case the ghoul who cast an all pervasive shadow over my childhood was Colin, a man small in stature but, to a child a monster of epic proportions.
I have, on occasions tried to comprehend why my abuser acted as he did. As a boy I had no desire to understand Colin. I hated him with an all consuming loathing. He was the devil incarnate who, if it had been in my power to do so I would have destroyed with as little compunction as a man would show when exterminating a rat. As an adult the hatred remains although now tempered with a desire to understand why Colin abused a small, defenceless child, physically and mentally over a prolonged period.
Was Colin abused by one (or both) of his parents? And, if so does this help to explain (but in no way excuse) why he took such great delight in inflicting pain on me? I met both of Colin’s parents and stayed with them on several occasions. At no time during those visits was I subjected to any kind of abuse. This does not of course prove that Colin’s mother and father where not abusers. It demonstrates that they did not abuse me, no more, no less. However, looking back at my visits to their home and, in particular the fact that neither of Colin’s parents abused me, I am inclined to believe that he was not ill treated by either of them. So what turned Colin into the monster who took delight in twisting my arm so hard behind my back that I thought it would break? The answer is, I have no idea. What turned apparently normal Germans into mass murderers in ******’s *****? The answer is the same, I don’t know. As with the concentration camp guards who committed mass ****** I can speculate that some where subjected to abuse as children and that this led to them becoming psychopathic killers. However not all of those abused in childhood go on to commit abuse, while many in the SS experienced apparently happy childhoods untroubled by abuse. Colin may have been abused by someone other than his parents but even if this is the case this does not explain or justify why he became an abuser.

Chapter 2

I was born on 7 February 1971 in the north of England. Soon after my birth it became apparent that all was not right with Donald Myers. I cried far more than any normal child ought to. In addition I banged my head against hard surfaces on a frequent basis which, obviously gave rise to concern. My mum, as any good mother would took me to the hospital only to be told that there was nothing amiss. However a mother’s instinct told her that something was terribly wrong with her son. She refused to leave the hospital and demanded a second opinion. This was provided by a Polish doctor who, having examined me diagnosed a blood clot on the brain. My distraught family was informed that I required an urgent operation and even if the blood clot was successfully removed I was likely to be severely mentaly disabled. Fortunately the blood clot was removed and I am not mentally deficient. The clot did, however leave me with very poor vision (I am registered blind and use a guide dog as a mobility aid although I possess useful vision which assists with orientation).

Chapter 3

As a young boy I spent a great deal of time with my grandfather. This was due to my sister, Janet being ill and my mum not being able to look after 2 young children simultaneously.
I have fond memories of playing in what I called “the patch”, a piece of the garden which my grandfather allowed me to do with as I chose. I recall making mud pies and coming into the house caked in mud literally from head to toe.
Being blind I relied on my grandfather to read to me. Most weekends found us in a book shop. Whenever I walk into W H Smiths the scent of books brings back happy memories of time spent with my grandfather, me sitting on his knee as he read to me.
My grandfather was a dear, kind gentle man. Had he known how Colin was abusing me he would, I am sure have gone straight to the nearest police station to report him. However he never knew and, being a small child I never confided in him.
I am amazed when I hear people ask “why didn’t so and so report the abuse?” As a small child I was terrified of Colin. Had I told anyone I was sure that he would deny everything and the abuse would intensify. I was not aware of the existence of the National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Children (NSPCC) and even had I known of their existence I would, as a frightened little boy have lacked the courage to pick up the phone and call. Colin would, no doubt have accused me of lying and in the 1970’s and 1980’s children where rarely believed when making alegations of abuse.

Chapter 4

I used to dread leaving the safety of my grandfather’s home to spend time with Colin and my mother. My heart would sink when Colin or my mum came to collect me from my grandfather’s. On one occasion I deliberately dropped the car keys behind the kitchen worktop in the forlorn hope this would prevent my mum taking me to stay with her and Colin. Oh vain hope, the keys where discovered and I found myself in the lair of the abuser.
Colin took care never to abuse me in the presence of others. He was, however adept at tormenting me when my mum or other people where nearby but couldn’t see what he was doing. One incident is indelibly etched on my memory. I was sitting on the sofa, in the living room. The room opened straight out into the street and I was seated close to the front door. My mum called to me from outside asking whether I wanted to accompany her to the supermarket. I replied “yes” but before I could leave to join her Colin, who was sitting on the same sofa twisted my arm behind my back and whispered that I should tell my mum that I had changed my mind. I continued to attempt to leave but Colin increased the pressure saying that if I didn’t inform my mum that I had changed my mind he would break my arm. Naturally I called to my mum that I no longer wished to go with her and she left without me.
Being outside my mum did not see the abuse taking place a mere few feet from where she was standing.
On another occasion, while Colin and I where sitting in the living room, he forced a chipped mug into my lip which drew blood. Again my mum was present in the kitchen, which was located next to the living room but did not observe the abuse. On entering the living room and noticing the scar a few minutes later she enquired what had caused it. At this point in time I don’t recollect whether Colin put the lie into my mouth or whether I concocted the story in order to avoid further abuse. In any case I informed my mum that I had cut myself with a chipped mug, a version of events she accepted.  
At times I thought that I was going to die. No small boy likes washing but I used to dread bathing due to Colin’s own unique method of assisting me to wash. This consisted of holding my head under the water so that my nose and mouth filled and I felt as though I was going to die. I would emerge, terrified coughing and spluttering.
Colin obviously derived tremendous pleasure from half suffocating me. On numerous occasions he would place a cushion or pillow over my face and hold it there until I felt that I was about to die. Years later when I attended counselling with the mental health charity Mind, the counsellor asked me why I thought that Colin had not killed me? I replied that he probably derived more pleasure from having a living child to torment than he would have gained had he murdered me. Also, had he murdered me the prospect of detection and Colin spending a long period in prison would, I said have acted as a disincentive to  him taking my life. .  
Colin was a sadist. In adition to systematically abusing me he also abused my mum. I remember him hitting her on a regular basis and on at least one occasion pushing her down the stairs. He was (and is) a ******* of the first order.
Colin didn’t confine his cruelty to people. I recall him flinging the family cat at me. The poor animal stuck out it’s claws to gain purchase with the result that it scratched my face badly. Like all bullies Colin was, at bottom a coward. I never once saw him abuse the family dog. I am sure that this was not out of any affection for the animal, rather it stemmed from the fear that had he done so the dog would, quite naturally have bitten it’s tormentor in self defence. Oh how I wished that the dog had sunk his teeth into Colin.          

Chapter 5

We all have nightmares. As a young boy one of my recurring bad dreams concerned being chased by a hoover. To anyone unfamiliar with the abuse inflicted on me the relating of my dream will, no doubt result in mirth. However my nightmare was no laughing matter as to me the vacuum cleaner was a thing of terror. We owned an upright hoover which Colin would, periodically place on my head while the motor was running. I well recall the terror as the wheels of the machine ran across my head. Colin was nothing if not inventive as in addition to putting a working vacuum cleaner on my head he also made me hold the machine above my head. My arms would ache terribly but I dare not put the hoover down until ordered to do so by Colin. For many years following the ending of the abuse “the chasing hoover dream”, as I refered to it stubbornly refused to go away. While the nightmare no longer plagues my sleeping brain, whenever I use a vacuum cleaner the recollection of a terrified little child being tortured by a hoover comes back to me.
In another of my childhood nightmares I would enter the spare bedroom only to be grabbed by a clicking monster which wrapped it’s hands around my neck attempting to strangle me.
Colin choked me on numerous occasions. One incident remains vividly imprinted on my memory. It was evening and my mum, sister, Colin and I sat in the living room. All of the family accept for me where watching television. I was listening to a talking book about a footballer which contained many amusing stories. I laughed uproariously throughout much of the book. Later on that evening, following the departure of my mum and sister to bed Colin choked me telling me never to laugh like that again as I had “disturbed” people. As I recall Colin’s strangling of me the old terrors reassert themselves. At the time I felt that I had, perhaps done something wrong. However the logical part of my brain told me that I had done nothing whatever to justify Colin’s barbaric treatment of me. He ought to have gone to prison for that incident alone. He was (and remains) the personification of evil to me. To this day I can, on occasions feel self conscious about giving in to the natural desire to laugh at a great joke when in the company of friends. I can (and do) let myself go and laugh uproariously but Colin remains in the background, like Banquo’s ghost putting a dampener on the feast.

Chapter 6

Colin possessed considerable charm which is, perhaps how he came to entrap my mum into marrying him. I remember sitting around the dinner table with guests present and Colin holding forth on Charles Darwin amongst other topics. Although not university educated Colin was by no means unintelligent and could, if one was unfamiliar with his propensity to abuse, appear to be charm itself, a man whom it would be a pleasure to have over for dinner.      

Colin possessed the capacity to make people laugh which he used to devastating effect when making barbed comments at the expense of my mum. I hated him for his comments but laughed none the less which is proof of the idea that hostages frequently try to please their captors by forming some kind of relationship with them. I can not at this juncture in my life recall in detail how, precisely Colin undermined the confidence of my mum, I suspect that this inability on my part stems from the fact that I was, quite naturally concerned with my own suffering and the abuse perpetrated on my mum was of secondary concern. My own pain preoccupied me. I had little time for that of others.

Chapter 7

My counsellor and my dear friend, Barry have raised the issue as to whether my mum was aware of the abuse to which Colin was subjecting me. I have thought about this question long and hard and I still can not provide a categoric answer. I am sure that my mum never actually observed Colin in the act of abusing me. She was, as explained in the forgoing chapters, never in the same room when the abuse took place. The fact that her son showed a profound disinclination to be alone with Colin should though have caused alarm bells to start ringing. Colin was clever. The only time I can recollect when he caused me to bare a physical manifestation of abuse was the incident of the chipped cup related earlier. On all other occasions the marks where deep psychological wounds not visible to the casual observer.
I have tried discussing the abuse with my mum. Her reaction has osilated between stating that the abuse occurred a long time ago and that I ought to forgive and forget, to questioning whether it did, in fact take place. My gut feeling is that my mum does not doubt my veracity. The anger she manifested on discovering that I had informed my wife of the abuse perpetrated by Colin demonstrates that she does not doubt me.
Shortly prior to my wife and I separating we went to stay with my mum and sister. One morning my mum, my daughter and I went for a walk during the course of which my mum received a call from my sister. Janet said that my wife, Louise had told her that I had informed Louise of the abuse to which I had been subjected to by Colin. My mum rounded on me asking “why the hell I had told Louise about the abuse”. There ensued a blazing argument during which my mum hit me. On returning home the argument continued with Janet stating that I should talk to Colin about the situation. The fact that Janet did not defend Colin and state that he couldn’t, possibly have abused me indicates that she was, to some extent aware of the abuse.
I love my mum deeply and have no doubt that she loves me. Yet whenever we are together the elephant in the room (Colin) stands between us, seen by both but mentioned by neither. In my case I fear the eruption of a blazing argument. I have always shyed away from arguments which is, I suspect down to me having grown up in a family in which vilence and arguments where commonplace. As a small boy I developed strategies for minimising the likelyhood of being abused. My main strategy was to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. I became a master at sitting quietly, not speaking unless I was spoken to and doing everything in my power not to antagonise Colin. While I don’t fear being physically abused by my mum I shrink in terror at the prospect of a verbal tyraid eminating from her.
In my mum’s case she does, I believe feel guilty due to her not having protected her son from Colin. The fact that she refuses to discuss the abuse to which I was subjected shows her inability to acknowledge to me her own sense of culpability at her failure to prevent Colin’s behaviour. On at least one occasion my mum has told me that the abuse could not have taken place as, if it had she would have been aware of it. This is contradicted by her statement (refered to earlier) that it was a long time ago and I ought to “forgive and forget”. Both statements can not be correct and in her heart of hearts my mum knows that I am telling the truth, she lacks the courage to admit her own failings and apologise to me.      

Chapter 8

At this distance in time I can not pinpoint the precise point at which the physical abuse stopped. At some indeterminate point (I think during my early teens) I began to challenge Colin’s behaviour. I remember wishing to join a social club and Colin informing me that I could not do so. Full of fear and trepidation I said that I would join to
When children are abused I cant help but feel so bad and cry for them. When children are abused they dont know what is happening especially if its your own parents or parent. They dont know because of the shock and **** they are going through. All they know at that moment is that they are getting yelled or or getting charged at and they know they are going to be beaten with something. They have the shock and there heart is racing very fast. They dont know whats going to happen next they dont know if they are going be in horrific pain to the piont they cant move or not. All they know what to do is do exactly do what the person is doing to them what they say with out answer anything but yes and  do it. If they dont there will be more horrific pain. With all this happening to them knowing that right then all they feel is physical pain. Later in life they figure out that it wasn't just physical it was emotional and mental to. How was it mental and emotional by knowing that there own parent or parents did that to them. It haunts them for the rest of their lifes more so if it happens more then once. It makes them feel like they can never trust anybody in there lifes ever again. They build a wall up and dont let alot of people in because they are afraid of getting hurt again. Most kids end up in fostercare for what there parents did to them. So when they are there in the fostercare home do you think they feel safe and happy? If you thought yes you are wrong they are more scared then ever because they have strangers around them and no one they know. The foster parents may say your safe and hug you but you still dont feel safe and loved because  they dont have people around them that they know love them. Most of the time they just want there parents although they just got abused and but through all that pain. Its becuase most of the time they are not themselves. They are either drunk or high. The kids know that and they know that there parents must be nice when they are sober becuase they have seen there friends parents nice to them. When children are being abused when they are young they most likely dont ever wanna go home they want to be at school or somewhere they are happy. When all that is taken away from them all they want to be is home in the abusive place becuase thats where they realized was the most comforting safest place is at home in there room. Most of the time its either friends or a sibling that calls the police becuase thats all they know what to do. Usally its a sibling that is either scared and wants help or is treated better then the one that is getting abused. If the child that goes away to a foster home with out a sibling. She is more likely to get scared and put a shield up towards anybody that she doesnt know and trust. She most likely wont talk to anybody. She will cry most of the day because she feels like she is alone and doesn't have anyone around her. Even when the other foster kids and parents are there and willing to calm her down and comfort her. She wont let them because she wants someone she can trust and she knows to calm her down and comfort her and hold her. The simple words coming out of someone they knows mouth "Its going to be ok I am here for you to hold you comfort you to calm you down when you are upset." Those simple words to a child meen the world to them when they got abused and are taken away from the situation. Those words may seem nothing to you but to that child it meens everything more then you can imagine unless you went through it. You went through it like me I wrote this because I know people that have got abused just like me. I wrote this because I know how it feels to be be abused by your parents and then feel like you have no one until those words are said then you feel like you have someone. That its going to be ok and someone is finally going to treat you the you deserved to be treated loved cared for and supported no matter what you do in life. When you have the right people in your life you dont realize what your life was like back then until you have the right people in your life and they show you the true meening of life happiness and love and trust. Although you have the happiness love and trust your past abuse or abuses still are there for the rest of your life. Its ok though because you know what not to do to your children and what to do to your children. You can raise them right by showing them you care love and want happiness for them and they can always trust you for anything. If its for those special words of if its for adivce. They will always know you are there for them no matter what. even if you think they dont because they are doing something you dont like they still love care and want happiness for you. So what you can do is stop child abuse from happening with your kids!!!!
Thank you for reading this it meens alot to me and the people that i know that have gone through this.
It is ******* when a child is being abused everday for no reason other then there born. If you dont want children. Heres 2 ideas dont have *** or if u do use a ****** and birth control or adoption. It is no fare to a child being abused for there parents lack of protection or chioces. That child has a right to live a good life. The child will do anything for one person to touch them in a postitive way. To feel loved cared for and nertuerd the way all children are suppose to be treated. There is a difference between spanking and abusing your child. 1 you dont leave marks. 2 You do it out of love not hate. 3 You tell them you love them after you spank them. "You dont cuss or tell your child you are a **** of **** go to hell I wish you were never born you are a mistake" you dont abuse your child its wrong and illegal when you do abuse your child and say those things they believe you because they dont know who else to believe other then there parents. They already wish they werent born when you abuse your child. They want out of the abuse but they dont know how so they stay. So when they grow up they either commit suicside become alcoholics, drug addicts or become abusive to there child or children. It is ******* that people adults watch this and let it happen. Even if you are not sure ask the child. The child might want to tell you but cant. The child will tell you because no child wants to be abused no child. If they dont get the help they need they will struggle there whole lifes over there abuse. Tell someone immediatley so they can get the help they need immediatly before its to late. Some even die for there parents the parents will stab them shoot them or beat them to death. Then when you did know about that child being abused you will feel guilty for not going to anyone about that child. So STOP CHILD ABUSE before its to late. Stop them from bringing abuse into there family. They may abuse there children because they were never taught how to disapline there child right. So the adult that abused when younger will " disapline" there child or children the way they were taught by abusing them. Its not right to let this go on not only is it not right but its sick to let it go on. STOP CHILD ABUSE now by telling someone if you know someone is being abused or even if u have a slight idea. Stop them from beong a concrete angel. Another peace ofstone on the ground.
Chuck Feb 2013
He used you and abused you!

He swung from you budding boughs
And slept securely in your shade.
Then abandoned you for years somehow.
Sold your apples and spent the money he made.

He used you and abused you!

Cut off your branches to build his house.
Then chopped down your trunk to craft a boat.
Both times leaving you as lonely as a plagued mouse.
O' he returned, when his selfish ideas didn't float.

He used you and abused you!

Finally, all he could take was a rest.
You straightened so he could sit on your stump.
This was criminal and not stated in jest,
The metaphor said it all, when the last part you kissed was his ****!

He used you and abused you!
What was wrong with him?
More importantly, what was wrong with you?
This children's story always made me feel so bad for the tree. Though, most people read it as a happy story.      It doesn't have great flow, but I like the content.
Arianna Darshani Sep 2015
Im not a good poet but I want to get this off my chest.
Maybe this is too much of a blog. If so, I am sorry.
Nobody has to read it!
I don't mean to misuse this service or to make anyone mad.
I am just not good at poetry
But I believe my words have a rhythm to them.

This is a long and boring post.
Making this post is part of my healing
Even if nobody reads it.

I met a psychopath, I don't use that term lightly
He had been in prison for ****** against his 7 year old daughter
A monster and what most people often call a baby ******.

What was wrong with me, that I did not bolt away like a wild horse?
What made me stay? Is it my Tao to be in their spell forever?
I mean the pedophiles that abused me now forty years ago?

How could I have blocked out his crime?
Where was my outrage for the victim?

He is in Seattle, I am in Minneapolis
But we played cards for 7 months
When he showed me his hand,
I suddenly realized who and what he was.
And I was struck with a sense of horror.

Psychopaths are always charming, at first.
They fool a lot of people. He fooled me.
And I can't get over it.

I broke free, galloped away, but had irreversible damage.
I could not eat or sleep. I was on edge.
I felt polluted, I felt ashamed, I felt gullible
It is why I have the diagnosis of PTSD
because my entire childhood was filled
To the rafters with abuse and this psychopath
Touched upon that in a major way.
They call it a "Trigger" in psychology.

I thought I had burned that house down
But my naïveté and poor boundaries led me
From the paradise of my home
To this psychopath's perverse thinking.
What a sick *******.
I can't even describe
how perverse it got towards the end
So I won't even bother.
Why dwell on a psychopaths sick mind?

I was very sick and in a crisis for ten days
When I broke it off with him.

My last email to him was that,
God is real and that he is going to Hell.
He excuses his behavior with
Bible verses.
That's not going to help him
On judgement day.
He also will suffer karma until
He learns his lesson.
Prison was not enough to teach him

Im starting to sit back and take in the lesson
I've decided that for my own safety
I need to get a lot more paranoid because
Baby rapists and evil people do exist
And I have no radar and no set of boundaries.
Because I was abused so much as a child.

I downloaded an App that lists all
The ****** predators near your home
There are a lot of them and some look like
Your average guy, like the pedophiles who abused me.
Nobody next store but in Osceola, 5 minutes away.

And what about Jared Fogel? Is everyone a pervert?
Why do adult ( mostly men ) need to sexualize children?

I am restricting my easy going temperament
He took what was left of my innocence.
My heart is healing and I have vowed
Not to let him or his sickness
To ruin my good temperament.
Nor my Peace of Mind.

Lastly, I realize that it was by the Grace of God
That I found a loving husband
A man who truly cares, truly loves
In a way I never felt as a child.

As an abuse survivor, the statistics
For me to find a suitable relationship
were slim.
But my mother always told me
To respect myself.

But here we are, 31 years together
Or what my science mind calls
60% of our lives. We are 53.

I don't know how I found "the one"
A broken heart is so visceral and
With so much angst that I feel fortunate
That I've been spared that experience.

We met in Martial Arts class
I had met him at age 19 and he asked me out
I took him up on that offer when we were 22
I worked for my black belt in Tae Kwon Do
He was working on his 2nd degree blackbelt
We trained together for many hours
We hung out.
Ha ha, our first date was to see
The Karate Kid! Also plenty of Bruce Lee!
My husband began martial arts because
Of Bruce Lee.
I started martial arts for self defense
Having been abused by so many men
Made me want to never happen again.

Nice trip down memory lane
Back to the psychopath.
I don't have children and
I am not around any children.

I went to the State Fair, and saw some girls
Only 7 years old, like the psychopath's daughter
When he started his predation on her.  
I felt physically ill that a child of that age
Would have to deal with a grown man
And her father, on too of that.
It is beyond imagination.
I was abused at age 11 and 7 seems
Awfully young. Poor girl.

I felt a sense of nausea when looking at these little girls
That I had befriended a ****** perpetrator
Entirely negating his victims experience.
What was I thinking?

I feel almost like I am guilty because I associated with him.
I feel horrible that I had any relationship
With such a dark and bleak soul.

God bless his daughter out there somewhere
She is now in her 20s
His children are in their 20s and I think
When he has grandchildren he might re offend
I need to stop this and have decided
To contact CPS, and write a letter of concern
Every six months until he has grandchildren

It's the very least I can do.
I've taken a personal interest and
I vow to protect his future grandchildren
From ******, a crime he is not sorry about
He has no remorse, he does not repent
And in that way he can reoffend

Let me go back to my life now
It is almost Fall
And the trees will be brilliant
Thank God, that I realize
I need to out much tighter boundaries
Around myself because being gullible
Is going to get me killed

Thankfully I am not being stalked
Thankfully my life is not in danger
Thankfully we live half a continent away

Let me hold my husband's hand
Let me remember what's important
Let me remember that Im safe
Let me recover from the emotions
Of horror and dread, that have kept me
From eating and sleeping.

Im a bit of a yogini
And I do yoga Nidra
I do meditation
I take refuge in Buddha
I have a faith in Christ
These things all help.

Let the heavens forgive me
For ever getting involved
With a psychopath and for not
Giving his daughter's abuse
A second thought.

This has altered my personality
I am now an activist for victims
Of childhood violence.

I will hear their voices in a way
That is healthy and safe.

Safe. A good place to be!

If you've made it to the end of
This post, I give you my sincere
Thanks and if you did not read my post
I also give you thanks.

~Arianna
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.
Big Virge May 2019
I'm Being ... ABUSED ... !!!
I'm Being ... ACCUSED ... !!!

These Days I Feel ... Cheated ...
Because I'm .... MISTREATED .... !!!!!

My Job ... Is A PAIN ... !!!
It's A ... STRAIN On My Brain ... !!!

My Boss Is A ... " Puppet " ...
Who ... Will Not Refrain ... ???
From Being ... ABUSIVE ...
Again and ... AGAIN ... !?!?!

His Racisms ... "subtle" ...

Meantime ......
I Stay ... Humble ...
cos' He Just Can't See ... ?!?
That I'm ... " Ready To RUMBLE " ... !!!!!

He's ... CONSTANTLY Rude ...
Meantime ... I Stay Cool ...
Constantly Thinking of .....................

What I Would DO ... ???

If He Did ... FINALLY ...
IGNITE ... My Fuse ... !!!!!

My Blood Now Runs COLD ...
When In The ... " Work Fold " ... !!!

I'm Thinking of ...
Making Use of My WINDOW ... !!!

My Boss Goes Out FIRST ... !!!
Then OUT GO The Women ...
Who Make Me HATE WORK ... !!!

Then ....
OUT GO ... The Racists ...
Who ... Treat Me Like DIRT ... !!!

I'm Being ... ABUSED ...
By ... IGNORANT Fools ... !!!!!!!!!!
Who DON'T SEE ...
What ... " simmers " ...
cos' I Remain .... " Cool " ....

I Do It To ... Prove ...
I'm BETTER Than ... THEM ... !!!

I Do It To ... PROVE ...
I'm A Man of ... Patience ..............................................

But ....

Here's The ... PROBLEM ...
IGNORANCE ... Is In Me ...
As It Is IN ... Most Men ... !!!!

So Far It's Been ... "hidden" ...
Violence ... YES ............................................... "Forbidden" ... !!!

But THESE DAYS It's ... EASY ...
To Think About ... KILLING ...

and Somewhat Like Clint ...
I'll Be ... UNFORGIVING ... !!!!!!!

I Hope You're All ... " Thinking " ...
and NOT Just .................................................. Dismissing .................

HEAR OUT My Views ...
cos' ... NEEDLESS ABUSE ...
Could Lead To ...

... YOUR KILLING ... !!!!!

Take HEED of ... My Clues ...
DON'T ... Give Out ABUSE ... !!!!!!!
cos' People Are ... EDGY ...
and May BLOW A Fuse ... !?!

I Think We Should Choose ...
To Simply ............... REFUSE .........
To Be ................ Disrespectful ..... !!!

THINK MORE and Be Gentle ...
Before Your Jawline ...
Ends Up .............................

NEEDING ... Dental ... !!!!!

I'm Trying To Show You ...
What Runs Through THE MIND ...
of A Man Who's ... ABUSED ...
Pretty Much ALL THE TIME .... !!!

ABUSED By A ... " System " ...

A System ... " Designed " ...
To KEEP Men Like Me ...
From Being ... " Refined " ... !!!

Those Who Have ... Visions ...

and ... STAND STRONG ALONE ... !!!
Instead of Just Being A ...

Star Wars Type ... " CLONE " ... !!!!!

See ...
Star Wars ... Does Show ...
The Way That Things Go ...

Armies Are ... BUILT ...
So EVIL Can ... grOW ... !!!

The Young ...

Are Then ... TWISTED ... !!!
Innocence ... OVERTHROWN ... !!!!

and Then They Are ... "Moulded" ...
To ****** Their Own ... !!!?!!!

I Wish I Could Say ....

It's Simply A ... " Film " ... !!!

But Sadly It's ... Life ...

These Views Are INSTILLED ...
In Men Like ... MY BOSS ... !!!

These Men Are .......................................... So ...... Lost ....... ?!?
These Days We're ... "SURROUNDED" ...
By ... HUMAN Robots ... !!?!!

Kind of Like ... VADER ... !!!

Or ...

Lost Ark Type ... RAIDERS ... !!!

I've Heard This BEFORE ...

"You're not a team player !"

HELL NO If The ... " Team " ...
IS ALL ABOUT ..... " MEANS " ..... !!!

I'd Rather ... Lose Money ...
Than ... Live Life For PAPER ... !!!
and End Up Like ... " VADER " ...
Holding .... A RED SABRE ......... !!!!!

I'm Trying To Say ...
That My Days Are Now .... LONG .................................................................­.........

Because of ... Treatment I Get ....
Which Is ... WRONG ... !!!!!

I'd QUIT and Just DASH .... !!!
If I Had ENOUGH CASH ... !!!

Enough To Just ... " Live On " ...
WITHOUT Living .......... FLASH ....... !!!

But These Days ...
It's TRUE ... !!!!

Just Like ... " Some of You " ...
I'm Biding .............. My Time .................................................................­
Before ... Making A Move ...

I Want To Wake Up ...
With A ... SMILE On My Face ...
and NOT Feel THE ANGER ...
I'm Feeling .... These Days ....

DON'T Get it MESSED UP !!!

It's ... " Just My Workplace" ...
That's Making Me ... MAD ...
and Write Things In This Way ... !!!

These Words Are THE TRUTH ...
My Colleagues ... Are RUDE ...
and DON'T Have ... " A Clue " ...
That ... How They BEHAVE ...
Could Leave Them ...

... BLACK and BLUE ... !!!!!

and Then ...
You'd ALL See Me ...
On Your ... Evening News ...

So Ponder ON ... This ...

Does This Happen To YOU ... ?!?

If Your Answer Is ... YES ... ?

You're Being ...........................

.......... ABUSED ...........
This is about my last, Full Time 9-5 ... !!!

.... and thankfully,
I am now in that place I spoke about in the poem !
It took a while, but I got there in the end .....
Jackeline Chacon Aug 2014
I expect the same love
Received from early age

Betrayed and neglected
Inside my mental cage

Now I live like a ******
From my childhood pain

Getting hurt very young
Really damaged my brain

Forever I will live this way
Feeling sick and confused

To be such a young victim
A child sexually abused
NitaAnn Sep 2013
I have fears – they are very real to me. But contrary to what the some may think, my greatest fears are not rejection and abandonment.

My greatest fear is that everyone will continue to turn their heads while victims are screaming.

My greatest fear is that survivors will express exactly how they feel, whether verbally, or acting out, and they will continue to be invalidated by being told they need medication and therapy in order to control their behavior, thereby reinforcing what they learned as children.

My greatest fear is that victims will continue to be silenced by therapy, or numbed from medication, and the clinicians, the researchers, will continue to ‘theorize’ and develop treatment that, in the long-run, is not helpful because they, themselves were NOT abused and have no idea what really should be done.

My greatest fear is that survivors will continue to be lab rats in the development of treatment that is not helpful, they will continue to drop out, time after time, and they will continue to self-harm, ‘repeat the trauma’, and possibly commit suicide because they believe no one cares.

My greatest fear is that the statistics will grow and no one will do anything about it because they do not know what to do. These are the facts:
             A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds
             More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse.
             Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4.
             It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as
             such on death certificates.
             More than 90% of juvenile ****** abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way.
             Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all
             religions and at all levels of education.
            About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing
            the horrible cycle of abuse.
            About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one
            psychological disorder.


And this reflects only what is reported. Imagine what that percentage would be if all of the unreported cases were included.

And of the millions of children that survive the abuse, many grow up to be adults who are able to put it behind them, succeed and present themselves as an acceptable member of society, and many of them do not. But what are we DOING about it? When will people stop turning their heads? When will we finally stop, look and listen to these children being abused and to the adults who were abused as children?

When will we, society, decide that child abuse, and ****, and ****** assault are important, and affect millions of lives every year, and that it can be just as deadly as cancer. When will we finally stop whispering and turning our heads and actually face it and do something to stop it, and effectively treat those who ‘survived’?

I hope it happens in my lifetime, and I hope I can make a difference!
Paula Putnam Jul 2019
Every 9 seconds a women is beaten in he U.S. Every minute 20 people are victims of Intimate Partner Violence. Every day 38,028,000 women are murdered by male partners in the U.S. Every year 1,300 people die because of abuse. This is inhuman and should stop. Abuse is heartbreaking to me. Nobody in this universe has the right to abuse someone or something else. Abuse is incredibly wrong. It has not only led people into depression, but it has also led them into suicide. Abuse is a very sensitive topic to write about. We hear about people getting abused and half the people ignore it but not me. I take it serious because it should not be happening. It not only destroys its victims, but it also destroys the victim's friends and family. It is n no way fair to abuse. With the situation of abuse in the world I think we should do away with it in America. When that day comes, we will see the difference.
     Abuse is serious and should not be taken for granted. If abuse hasn't killed its victim, it's well on the way to. It has killed so many people. It has led the survivors into a unimaginable depression. Barely anyone has survived from abuse. The depression gets worse after a while. People can't stand the intense depression but for so long. They don't trust anyone after being abused, so they keep their feelings in. The fight is so hard they commit suicide to get away. This decreases our population even more, and it's still happening today. This is not right.
       The abusers find everything fine and right in their world, but in the real world it's not. It is not fair to abuse anybody or anything in this universe. Yea, things could be going good for the abuser, but not for the abused. The abused feel horrible about themselves, but the abuser is happy which is not fair. The abuser also has no right to abuse. No one gave them the right to abuse people. No one has the right to abuse at all. The abuser should feel terrible about themselves for hurting so many people. When they hurt one they hurt several. People try to help the abused, but they don't listen. Abuse is destroying this world.
           Abuse destroys so many things. It has destroyed many people. The people it's destroyed, it has also destroyed their friends and family. Imagine, this little girl that the family and friends love gets beat to death. The family and friends find out and are crushed. They never stop grieving and soon become very depressed. Some commit suicide, others live a painful life. The family got torn apart, and nothing was he same again. In different cases this has happened. The friends and family of the victims can't seem to be happy after this has happened. They stay to themselves, and never talk about it again. Nothing would ever be the same.
           Every 9 seconds. Every minute. Every day. Every year. At least 38,028,000 people suffer from abuse. This is so inhuman. It hasn't stopped. It is so heartbreaking to know all this is happening. The world needs to change. Abuse needs to stop. It has led people into pain. People have died because of abuse. So, with this in mind, abuse needs to stop here in America. The America i believe in is one without abuse. When it changes we will see the change in humanity.
This is a very old essay I wrote about 4 to 6 years ago. Sorry for not having as proper as normal. :)
jeffrey robin Sep 2013
The poor abuser
(00ps!

I mean
ABUSED)

Yeah

The poor abused kid sat back
Kicked his (or her!) feet up
On the table

And thought

WOW!

THIS IS PERFECT!

---
It don't really hurt so bad!

And look how I can control others by
Invoking their pity!

With practice

I can become a TOTAL ***!

Heck---I could even become
A
POLITICIAN!


Everything became crystal clear

--

The future opened up to him

And he became

COMPLETY

SMUGLY

TOTALLY

HAPPY!

--

The abused becomes the abuser!

Just like the

terrorized becomes the terrorist!

••
Smooth!

Easy!

So self contained!
Pierre Ray Mar 2012
Such an abused past, much vast… Darkly basked and masked!
Badly, sadly bruised or roused, from the cold or scold! Bold or
old! Coerced or forced! Victims of heroism, terrorism, **** or
scraps. Casual, intellectual, punctual, sensual, ****** or virtual.

However its clever affliction, direction and infection. Its con-
densed defense, a pretense of self-sense and intense suspense!
Unfortunately, if induced, seduced or misused, the abused may
eventually fuse! An abstruse spruce, controversially in use.

Gratefully to some; the increasing of peace and a truce is to become.
I proclaim with claim! It blames, deems and seems forever! For those endeavoring, policing and severing this noose and nuisance of abuse!
Ayad Gharbawi Dec 2009
WOMAN BUTCHERED



Ayad Gharbawi


Child that gathered knowledge
Knowledge frightening to human nature
Girl-child was awakened
Herself she awakened
Saw the glow of eyes buttery
Glow of hatred molten
Glow of **** howling
Child, pretended innocence pretty
Child smiled all along the paths unknown
Yet, her body recognized colours unimaginable in their serenity sublime
Figures in her sleep strange, yet beautiful
Songs of sweet sleep, yet alerting in their soothing abilities
Little girl, who are you?
Why won’t you let us
Define you?
Little girl
Honourable lady woman
Did you grow up at all?
Or did you just die in your infancy?
As so many before you have
Did you come
To feel and understand
Your sensitive dimensions?
We would have made sure that you would be mature
If you were submissive enough for us!
Child girl, laughs uneasily and seriously
Child girl, sees lofty, exalted visions possessive
Visions of history’s episodes are expressed pointedly in your compulsive embraces
The foolish martyred are reading holy sermons for their self remembrance
Soldier unknown unmasking his face mangled to the surprised horror and utter disgust
Of his family, friends and other serious clowns
Singing an anthem of Fate’s real truth and nature and essence
Heroine unnumbered, chained to deformity
And becoming a mirror of what they did chain you to
Child girl scarred and petrified by disturbed scenes committed lovingly and lavishly by Man
Child girl curls, yet anticipates
Listen! The foot-steps frighten you once more
The shrieking manic clown has arrived again, red eyed and even more
Laughing dreary, spitting words jumbled and aloud
Figure of shame stands in front of you
Intents pre-arranged by his late father
Little girl!
Are you a woman yet?
Hearing swirls of delirious, sickening
Madness, uncontrollable panic and deathly angst
Hearing painter’s brush strokes that scream their gasps of breathlessness out
Loudly and chaotically
Hears the anguish of colours’ contrasts and contradict each other to the point of
Serious suicide
Little child! Sees the begging deaf pleading for choirs heavenly to sing seriously
Sees the miserable, emaciated crumbles crumbling,
Yet foolishly searching for a non-existent tenderness in darkness painted by drunken Satans
With the foulest, blackest oil colours in their leprous fingers
They try to paint you; define you
Analyze you; dissect you
Categorize you; classify you
Little girl; woman; ******?
Alone and sincerely and deceptively guided by complicated, intertwining hatreds
That severely despised the existence of each other’s truths and falsities
Feeling sovereignty abused by casual, bored
Unconcerned sub-humans in powerful positions on earth
Pierced in pain
My sweet girl, you are now
Pierced in deathly, unforgiving
Pains and hatreds never forgotten
Sweet Humanity
Sweet Man
Sweet human beings
How sweet you all truly are!
Frankie Gestone Mar 2013
He woke up in a rapid sweat, darkness surrounding him, his soaked pillow was pressing up on his neck as he could feel the uncomfortable stabbing cold run right threw his whole body. His mouth was dry and his body was in great pain. He lay there practically naked, but not just physically, also emotionally. It was like a catatonic state where the person’s body is paused in reality, but the actual person is far away and isolated even from himself. He wondered why he was so comfortable being uncomfortable and remaining frozen in time.  He saw nothing but the subtle moonlight that peaked through the blinds of his window. A point of existence, he feels nothing because all he has ever felt has drowned him. His numbness was being accepted and he embraced that if he remained this way, he would never have to feel hurt or heartbreak again. It’s better this way, he confirmed.

Eventually he got up out of his bed, walked outside to a nearby empty field. He looked up at the infinite night sky and contemplated the moon, the stars, and the endless space that sustained all of its existence. A tear fell down his cheek as he remembered the beautiful wonder of life and the universe; his realization that he is just a small spec of dust compared to all that is and all that is wonderful. Whatever happened to that universal happiness he used to feel? The feelings of the unseen, the cosmos, the mysteries that remain unsolved were all love. He then felt ancient and brand new at the same time-always being around all that is, but recently born into the unknown. The silence of the night swarmed him, and he suddenly embraced all the things he could not accept. The lullaby of the wind put him to sleep.

When he awoke, it was twilight. The sky was a lighter, deep blue and the sun in the far distance was rising in a fiery halo of mixed red, orange, and yellow colors, and the early morning clouds were clear and transparent. He heard the sound of a train horn in the far distance. He followed the sound with his ears as the sound became slightly louder and louder. Then, suddenly he could see the light of the early morning train.

The train had stopped as he approached it, and he hopped on with no hesitation or looking back. This runaway train was going to take him to where he needs to be, and he blindly and faithfully accepted that his fate was out of his hands now. No more heartbreak, no more reminders of the past, and most importantly no more drowning in his tears. As the train proceeded to move forward, he could feel fresh air gently touch his face, and all that he saw and ever knew were now flashing lights disappearing into eternity.

It was hours into the late morning when the train made its first stop. He listened to the train conductor speak out over the intercom, almost incoherently, say, “This is Brightstone Park. Next stop will be Riverhead.” A nostalgic feeling suddenly came over him as he could remember that his very first kiss was in Brightstone Park with Jessica Garzi. That was not his first true love, but his very first heartbreak. Riverhead was a forbidden memory, as he knew a classmate who had committed suicide off the Riverhead Bridge. He had not returned there in five years because of his haunting memories that would always come back to remind him just how cold and frightening the world really is.

While lost in thought, he felt a rough, sand paper-like wet feeling on his forearm. He looked down and it was a black cat, but not all black. The paws were all white like socks, and the chest and stomach were snow white. The loud prominent purr was a very peculiar reminder of a cat he once owned. Her name was Midnight. She was not the friendliest cat to strangers, but she loved him, especially when he massaged her paws. This cat was practically identical to Midnight. Midnight was put down three years ago though. As he began petting the cat’s back, it ran away and jumped off the moving train. He looked out in a hurry, but it was gone. It was just like everything else he loved. There for one moment, then gone the next. The strange thought that has one wondering if anything had actually existed that is now no more. A person, or a thing, could mean everything to you, but once they slip away, they become like the wind: occasionally brushing up against you, but never revealing its form.

On the train he began to wonder how he got where he was, and in general how the smallest decisions he made lead to bigger events and all in all, everything was all connected. There are no isolated events, or isolated people- it is all proven fact and science. Everything depends on each other to survive. The trees depend on the sun to keep themselves alive; we give off carbon dioxide to the trees and in return, we receive the oxygen we need from the leaves of the trees. He thought about the potential of a seed-for example, a tomato seed. Within that tiny seed is unlimited potential of life: The seed may produce one plant of several tomatoes, and within all those tomatoes are countless other seeds. This is all from one seed. Then, one may take a couple of seeds from a picked tomato and plant them throughout the yard creating a garden. That original seed came from another tomato seed inside a tomato on a plant, and that seed came from another seed. When did this cycle of reproduction begin and when does it end? Is it just another form of the infinite? When a person eats a tomato from that original seed, he receives certain essential vitamins his body needs for surviving and sustaining good health. This good health will effect his offspring and so on and so on. When he defecates, that will all return to the earth for potential fertilizer used for other tomato seeds. This is the same when he returns to the earth again. His dust will fertilize the same world that he came from, for all things come from it just to inevitably return to it.

He continued to think about how matter is never created nor destroyed and the same for energy. Nothing ever truly dies; the form changes into something new, like how water becomes a cloud and the cloud becomes water. Though this comforted him, he noticed that a few feet away from him was a former coworker and friend, Natasha Karev. She always infatuated him and they became close friends, but he always wished it had continued and gone even further than it did. One night, only a couple of years ago, they were at a friend’s party. Both were drinking, but not so heavily. That night they bonded and got so close, that she admitted she loved him. He was never quite sure how real that “I love you” was, but it was burned inside his heart ever since. That night there were moments she would tell him how much she wanted to make love to another guy at the party, Kevin, but was afraid to approach him. She told him she desperately wanted to lose her virginity that night to somebody because she was eighteen and only getting older. This was like a sharp knife slowly penetrating into his heart. He remained speechless for quite a few minutes. Finally he decided to go up in a bedroom alone. To his surprise, she followed him up and kissed him. He felt her clothed body up and down, and she touched areas not many have touched before. She told him she wanted to have *** and that she wanted him to rob her of her virginity. He was speechless, but extremely excited. Then, abruptly, she told him she could not because everything was happening way too soon. Why couldn’t she just make up her mind? He sat frustrated in the darkness, again, all alone. After that night, they spoke and remained close, yet that night was never mentioned again. It was as if it had never happened. After about two years of an on and off friendship, they just went their own ways. There were no fights or disagreements. Life just separated them.

“You’re just a figment inside somebody’s dream. So far from reality, you are a dream within a dream within a dream.” Startled by this soft voice, he quickly turned around to see Natasha smiling at him. “Ha-ha! I knew I could scare you. Were you abused as a kid, or something?” No words could come out at that moment, but he hugged her tightly. She explained to him that she is getting off at the next stop to meet a friend. He was sure he wanted to follow her and see where life would take him. She reminisced and told him how she had been away inside her own cave for several months, but is now very happy to meet up with everyone she had lost contact with.

The next stop arrived, but he did not catch the name of the stop he was getting off. As he got off with several others, both he and Natasha met up with her friend, Valeria, who he found quite cute. She resembled Natasha a bit in that they both had ***** blonde hair and blue eyes. They walked right into a giant street fair with a crowd of people looking at the foods and desserts, the trendy clothes, cheap jewelry, and children play rides.

As he looked around, he began seeing many familiar faces. He saw Kevin, a childhood and grammar school mate there with another co-worker of his, Jenny. Jenny was a Colombian beauty in his eyes and who was a flirt and tease to him, but never actually gave him any time alone. Incidentally, he knew both of them at different times in his life and had no idea they knew of each other. Kevin stopped contacting him during high school without any arguments or disloyalties that would tear a friendship apart. Keeping his head down, he walked a few feet to discover another childhood best friend, Jack, who was with a mutual childhood friend, Melanie. Melanie was a best friend of his and also a first childhood crush who also had a crush on him. He thought it was odd because even though Melanie and Jack were also best friends, Melanie never liked Jack in a special boy/girl way. He felt a moment of heartbreak, but quickly turned away and kept walking. A little further up the road, he saw two more childhood friends, Chris and Jimmy, who as children did not get along that well and only hung out with each other in the company of him. How peculiar it was suddenly seeing them together after ten years, and as seemingly best of friends.

That was not all. Things were getting stranger and stranger. It was like all the people who had made an imprint on his life were now coming together around him. He saw his two therapists, one he had gone to as a teenager and the other as a young adult, stand next to each other selling prescription drug samples. Both stared at him with a blank face, but with a prominent smile. He could barely nod at them. Natasha directed them to a local bar. Inside the bar was huge and also had a second floor. He noticed the music playing in the background was, Nocturne In E Flat Major, Op.9 No.2, by Polish born Romantic composer, Frederic Chopin. He became fixated on the elegant eighth note, left hand arpeggios, and the sweet and peaceful fast moving seven, eleven, twenty, and twenty-two notes from the right hand. If he thought about the most beautiful song ever written and all that is wonderful in one, this was the song.

They all took a seat and began looking at people and laughing at their behavior. Everyone was wearing masks. Social masks. They observed how different people act when they are in social gatherings, and how if you carefully study their body language, it will become clear that what they are saying and trying to put out is not what is actually being expressed through the body. One young man was frantically shaking his right leg as he tried to flirt confidently with a young woman he had just recently met. His face began to turn noticeably red, in an embarrassed flush, and he was making sudden hand gestures and quick eye blinking. She, on the other hand, pretended to be interested in what he was saying; yet her eyes would often look around the room and her body was a good distance from him with her arms folded.

Then as they were all laughing, he abruptly stopped and looked ahead to see two drunken women making out two tables away from them. As his eyes focused in on them, he realized they were two of his former crushes, Claire and Veronica, who he had no idea knew of each other because in fact, they were from different time periods of his life. He began seeing former teachers and professors from each stage of his school career, laughing hysterically with one another. Some of his most inspiring teachers and professors were gathered with other teachers and professors he despised. A young, tattooed hipster woman entered the scenery with a little Cairn Terrier that had an uncanny resemblance to his recently passed dog, Petey, who was put to sleep when he was away on a vacation, unexpectedly. His sorrow began to overwhelm him for not being able to say good-bye and see him for a proper last time. Everything about the dog’s high energy, playfulness, and watchdog attitude was exactly like Petey. A tear ran and fell off his cheek from his left eye right into the hand of Natasha. He looked up at her and she said, “Your tears are my tears. For what pain you withhold, I take and share with you.” She then wiped her right eye with the hand that held his tear. Natasha’s friend began to speak slowly into his left ear in Russian. Though he could not understand a word she was saying, it sounded just like a poem based on the pattern and rhythm’s consistency. It made him feel free of melancholy, but then thought of Angela Antonaci entered his mind.

He thought that the last painful experience ended with the break up of his closest best friend ever to play a part in his life. She was his girlfriend for the last three and a half years. They had known each other for ten years before they broke up their entire relationship. She was thirteen and he was fifteen when they first met in a park. She was always all over him like a little schoolgirl and he would often get frustrated with her obsession over him, for he believed he was no big deal. She was the first person to ever make him feel special and important, and even though he would resent her likeness towards him, he could never keep his eyes off of her or stop himself from always coming to her when he felt lonely. After about seven years, he realized he was in love with her. He had always been in love with her from the first time they met eyes. His long road had always lead back to her home in life. Every time he tried forgetting her and moving on, they would meet again. That person people search their entire lives for, he had found.

He rose out of his seat and briefly said goodbye to Natasha and her friend and went upstairs. He wanted time to be alone and walk around until he suddenly saw Jessica walking towards him. He stopped and waited for her to say hello, but she walked right by him, as if he had never existed. He felt a little insulted, yet relieved as any awkwardness that would arise was avoided. Looking ahead, he saw Angela’s two best friends, Kate and Julie, with her high school crush, John. John was playing an acoustic guitar on a lounge chair, singing to the two friends, almost enticing them with his eyes and voice. His jealousy overcame him, as Angela had been infatuated with him on and off even though he had played with her feelings throughout high school and college. John would tell her he loved her and make her believe he was a romantic, then when she fell into his words, he would leave her and keep a distance for long periods of time, leaving her in despair.

The conclusion occurred to him that maybe she was nearby. He searched throughout the entire bar not finding any other clues that she was around. When he went downstairs, he saw Natasha and her friend asleep, as well as most of the bar, except for the bartender. It was like everyone just passed out from the alcohol or possibly inhaled some type of knockout drug. The bartender was watching the news forecast of a tornado watch and dangerous thunderstorms. The bartender looked at him and said, “It’s better if you stay in here. It’s dangerous out there. I recommend you don’t go out!” He just listened, but decided to leave to the outside anyway.

He walked three blocks through the heavy rain and strong winds. He took a moment to stop and look at the black and gray clouds above him. As he looked across the street, he saw her. She was with her mother, sister, and mutual friends of theirs, Chrystal and Mike. He also saw behind them, his own mother and sister. He ran across the street to her and she shockingly with excitement screamed, “Hey!!! Oh my God!! Please stay with us. I missed you so much. You have no idea. We have to get to a shelter away from this storm. Hold my hand…” Smiling, he kept walking with them. They walked for twenty minutes and entered a giant field. After ten minutes of walking restlessly through the field, they all stopped to catch their breath. Angela’s mom ordered everyone to hold one another’s hand. An enormous gust of wind pushed them all to the grassy ground. He began to shake violently as he felt the touch of death nearby. He wondered if this would be the end, as he felt unaccomplished and left with so much left unsaid to her. Thoughts raced through his mind like a speeding highway about how to get to safety. Unable to control and remain focused on one rational thought at a time, he blacked out for a minute.

Then there he was right in the middle of a storm. In so many ways, he realized where he was ending was where he originally began. All the imprints from all he ever knew came back all at once to watch him finally leave all he ever knew from this life. And in the last moments, he found himself with her. He held her hand, while she held his, and the hands of their family and friends. The world was so dark and cold. The wind became much more rapid and an enormous bright light from it came within just miles of them. He kept looking up at the dark black and gray clouds over them, never as frightened as he was now. His focus was on the great strength of the wind. Whatever melancholic thoughts he had of his life, he would not give up hope. Maybe he was just hopelessly hopeful, but holding each other tightly might, in some miraculous way, save them. Then suddenly a deep peace began to sustain his very being. He remembered whose hand he was holding- the only woman to ever understand every level of his being. He looked down at her big, precious eyes pouring out tears. Their eyes locked, as she had been watching him the entire time. No words needed to be said from one another. They knew exactly what they felt and meant. For the first time in his life, everything was all okay. All was beautiful. The whole situation was beautiful, not tragic. In that moment, he understood this was where he was meant to be. This was where he wanted to be, for only in such a life altering moment does one comprehend the very nature of love and life. To just glance into her eyes and see the same person staring back in suspense, while all he ever knew was being born, growing, and dying simultaneously in complete acceptance. They began to fade and disappeared into the light.
On Hellespont, guilty of true love’s blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoin’d by Neptune’s might;
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,
And offer’d as a dower his burning throne,
Where she could sit for men to gaze upon.
The outside of her garments were of lawn,
The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn;
Her wide sleeves green, and border’d with a grove,
Where Venus in her naked glory strove
To please the careless and disdainful eyes
Of proud Adonis, that before her lies;
Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain,
Made with the blood of wretched lovers slain.
Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath,
From whence her veil reach’d to the ground beneath;
Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves,
Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives;
Many would praise the sweet smell as she past,
When ’twas the odour which her breath forth cast;
And there for honey bees have sought in vain,
And beat from thence, have lighted there again.
About her neck hung chains of pebble-stone,
Which lighten’d by her neck, like diamonds shone.
She ware no gloves; for neither sun nor wind
Would burn or parch her hands, but, to her mind,
Or warm or cool them, for they took delight
To play upon those hands, they were so white.
Buskins of shells, all silver’d, used she,
And branch’d with blushing coral to the knee;
Where sparrows perch’d, of hollow pearl and gold,
Such as the world would wonder to behold:
Those with sweet water oft her handmaid fills,
Which as she went, would chirrup through the bills.
Some say, for her the fairest Cupid pin’d,
And looking in her face, was strooken blind.
But this is true; so like was one the other,
As he imagin’d Hero was his mother;
And oftentimes into her ***** flew,
About her naked neck his bare arms threw,
And laid his childish head upon her breast,
And with still panting rock’d there took his rest.
So lovely-fair was Hero, Venus’ nun,
As Nature wept, thinking she was undone,
Because she took more from her than she left,
And of such wondrous beauty her bereft:
Therefore, in sign her treasure suffer’d wrack,
Since Hero’s time hath half the world been black.

Amorous Leander, beautiful and young
(Whose tragedy divine MusÆus sung),
Dwelt at Abydos; since him dwelt there none
For whom succeeding times make greater moan.
His dangling tresses, that were never shorn,
Had they been cut, and unto Colchos borne,
Would have allur’d the vent’rous youth of Greece
To hazard more than for the golden fleece.
Fair Cynthia wish’d his arms might be her sphere;
Grief makes her pale, because she moves not there.
His body was as straight as Circe’s wand;
Jove might have sipt out nectar from his hand.
Even as delicious meat is to the taste,
So was his neck in touching, and surpast
The white of Pelops’ shoulder: I could tell ye,
How smooth his breast was, and how white his belly;
And whose immortal fingers did imprint
That heavenly path with many a curious dint
That runs along his back; but my rude pen
Can hardly blazon forth the loves of men,
Much less of powerful gods: let it suffice
That my slack Muse sings of Leander’s eyes;
Those orient cheeks and lips, exceeding his
That leapt into the water for a kiss
Of his own shadow, and, despising many,
Died ere he could enjoy the love of any.
Had wild Hippolytus Leander seen,
Enamour’d of his beauty had he been.
His presence made the rudest peasant melt,
That in the vast uplandish country dwelt;
The barbarous Thracian soldier, mov’d with nought,
Was mov’d with him, and for his favour sought.
Some swore he was a maid in man’s attire,
For in his looks were all that men desire,—
A pleasant smiling cheek, a speaking eye,
A brow for love to banquet royally;
And such as knew he was a man, would say,
“Leander, thou art made for amorous play;
Why art thou not in love, and lov’d of all?
Though thou be fair, yet be not thine own thrall.”

The men of wealthy Sestos every year,
For his sake whom their goddess held so dear,
Rose-cheek’d Adonis, kept a solemn feast.
Thither resorted many a wandering guest
To meet their loves; such as had none at all
Came lovers home from this great festival;
For every street, like to a firmament,
Glister’d with breathing stars, who, where they went,
Frighted the melancholy earth, which deem’d
Eternal heaven to burn, for so it seem’d
As if another Pha{”e}ton had got
The guidance of the sun’s rich chariot.
But far above the loveliest, Hero shin’d,
And stole away th’ enchanted gazer’s mind;
For like sea-nymphs’ inveigling harmony,
So was her beauty to the standers-by;
Nor that night-wandering, pale, and watery star
(When yawning dragons draw her thirling car
From Latmus’ mount up to the gloomy sky,
Where, crown’d with blazing light and majesty,
She proudly sits) more over-rules the flood
Than she the hearts of those that near her stood.
Even as when gaudy nymphs pursue the chase,
Wretched Ixion’s shaggy-footed race,
Incens’d with savage heat, gallop amain
From steep pine-bearing mountains to the plain,
So ran the people forth to gaze upon her,
And all that view’d her were enamour’d on her.
And as in fury of a dreadful fight,
Their fellows being slain or put to flight,
Poor soldiers stand with fear of death dead-strooken,
So at her presence all surpris’d and tooken,
Await the sentence of her scornful eyes;
He whom she favours lives; the other dies.
There might you see one sigh, another rage,
And some, their violent passions to assuage,
Compile sharp satires; but, alas, too late,
For faithful love will never turn to hate.
And many, seeing great princes were denied,
Pin’d as they went, and thinking on her, died.
On this feast-day—O cursed day and hour!—
Went Hero thorough Sestos, from her tower
To Venus’ temple, where unhappily,
As after chanc’d, they did each other spy.

So fair a church as this had Venus none:
The walls were of discolour’d jasper-stone,
Wherein was Proteus carved; and over-head
A lively vine of green sea-agate spread,
Where by one hand light-headed Bacchus hung,
And with the other wine from grapes out-wrung.
Of crystal shining fair the pavement was;
The town of Sestos call’d it Venus’ glass:
There might you see the gods in sundry shapes,
Committing heady riots, ******, rapes:
For know, that underneath this radiant flower
Was Danae’s statue in a brazen tower,
Jove slyly stealing from his sister’s bed,
To dally with Idalian Ganimed,
And for his love Europa bellowing loud,
And tumbling with the rainbow in a cloud;
Blood-quaffing Mars heaving the iron net,
Which limping Vulcan and his Cyclops set;
Love kindling fire, to burn such towns as Troy,
Sylvanus weeping for the lovely boy
That now is turn’d into a cypress tree,
Under whose shade the wood-gods love to be.
And in the midst a silver altar stood:
There Hero, sacrificing turtles’ blood,
Vail’d to the ground, veiling her eyelids close;
And modestly they opened as she rose.
Thence flew Love’s arrow with the golden head;
And thus Leander was enamoured.
Stone-still he stood, and evermore he gazed,
Till with the fire that from his count’nance blazed
Relenting Hero’s gentle heart was strook:
Such force and virtue hath an amorous look.

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is over-rul’d by fate.
When two are stript, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should lose, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows, let it suffice,
What we behold is censur’d by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever lov’d, that lov’d not at first sight?

He kneeled, but unto her devoutly prayed.
Chaste Hero to herself thus softly said,
“Were I the saint he worships, I would hear him;”
And, as she spake those words, came somewhat near him.
He started up, she blushed as one ashamed,
Wherewith Leander much more was inflamed.
He touched her hand; in touching it she trembled.
Love deeply grounded, hardly is dissembled.
These lovers parleyed by the touch of hands;
True love is mute, and oft amazed stands.
Thus while dumb signs their yielding hearts entangled,
The air with sparks of living fire was spangled,
And night, deep drenched in misty Acheron,
Heaved up her head, and half the world upon
Breathed darkness forth (dark night is Cupid’s day).
And now begins Leander to display
Love’s holy fire, with words, with sighs, and tears,
Which like sweet music entered Hero’s ears,
And yet at every word she turned aside,
And always cut him off as he replied.
At last, like to a bold sharp sophister,
With cheerful hope thus he accosted her.

“Fair creature, let me speak without offence.
I would my rude words had the influence
To lead thy thoughts as thy fair looks do mine,
Then shouldst thou be his prisoner, who is thine.
Be not unkind and fair; misshapen stuff
Are of behaviour boisterous and rough.
O shun me not, but hear me ere you go.
God knows I cannot force love as you do.
My words shall be as spotless as my youth,
Full of simplicity and naked truth.
This sacrifice, (whose sweet perfume descending
From Venus’ altar, to your footsteps bending)
Doth testify that you exceed her far,
To whom you offer, and whose nun you are.
Why should you worship her? Her you surpass
As much as sparkling diamonds flaring glass.
A diamond set in lead his worth retains;
A heavenly nymph, beloved of human swains,
Receives no blemish, but ofttimes more grace;
Which makes me hope, although I am but base:
Base in respect of thee, divine and pure,
Dutiful service may thy love procure.
And I in duty will excel all other,
As thou in beauty dost exceed Love’s mother.
Nor heaven, nor thou, were made to gaze upon,
As heaven preserves all things, so save thou one.
A stately builded ship, well rigged and tall,
The ocean maketh more majestical.
Why vowest thou then to live in Sestos here
Who on Love’s seas more glorious wouldst appear?
Like untuned golden strings all women are,
Which long time lie untouched, will harshly jar.
Vessels of brass, oft handled, brightly shine.
What difference betwixt the richest mine
And basest mould, but use? For both, not used,
Are of like worth. Then treasure is abused
When misers keep it; being put to loan,
In time it will return us two for one.
Rich robes themselves and others do adorn;
Neither themselves nor others, if not worn.
Who builds a palace and rams up the gate
Shall see it ruinous and desolate.
Ah, simple Hero, learn thyself to cherish.
Lone women like to empty houses perish.
Less sins the poor rich man that starves himself
In heaping up a mass of drossy pelf,
Than such as you. His golden earth remains
Which, after his decease, some other gains.
But this fair gem, sweet in the loss alone,
When you fleet hence, can be bequeathed to none.
Or, if it could, down from th’enameled sky
All heaven would come to claim this legacy,
And with intestine broils the world destroy,
And quite confound nature’s sweet harmony.
Well therefore by the gods decreed it is
We human creatures should enjoy that bliss.
One is no number; maids are nothing then
Without the sweet society of men.
Wilt thou live single still? One shalt thou be,
Though never singling ***** couple thee.
Wild savages, that drink of running springs,
Think water far excels all earthly things,
But they that daily taste neat wine despise it.
Virginity, albeit some highly prize it,
Compared with marriage, had you tried them both,
Differs as much as wine and water doth.
Base bullion for the stamp’s sake we allow;
Even so for men’s impression do we you,
By which alone, our reverend fathers say,
Women receive perfection every way.
This idol which you term virginity
Is neither essence subject to the eye
No, nor to any one exterior sense,
Nor hath it any place of residence,
Nor is’t of earth or mould celestial,
Or capable of any form at all.
Of that which hath no being do not boast;
Things that are not at all are never lost.
Men foolishly do call it virtuous;
What virtue is it that is born with us?
Much less can honour be ascribed thereto;
Honour is purchased by the deeds we do.
Believe me, Hero, honour is not won
Until some honourable deed be done.
Seek you for chastity, immortal fame,
And know that some have wronged Diana’s name?
Whose name is it, if she be false or not
So she be fair, but some vile tongues will blot?
But you are fair, (ay me) so wondrous fair,
So young, so gentle, and so debonair,
As Greece will think if thus you live alone
Some one or other keeps you as his own.
Then, Hero, hate me not nor from me fly
To follow swiftly blasting infamy.
Perhaps thy sacred priesthood makes thee loath.
Tell me, to whom mad’st thou that heedless oath?”

“To Venus,” answered she and, as she spake,
Forth from those two tralucent cisterns brake
A stream of liquid pearl, which down her face
Made milk-white paths, whereon the gods might trace
To Jove’s high court.
He thus replied: “The rites
In which love’s beauteous empress most delights
Are banquets, Doric music, midnight revel,
Plays, masks, and all that stern age counteth evil.
Thee as a holy idiot doth she scorn
For thou in vowing chastity hast sworn
To rob her name and honour, and thereby
Committ’st a sin far worse than perjury,
Even sacrilege against her deity,
Through regular and formal purity.
To expiate which sin, kiss and shake hands.
Such sacrifice as this Venus demands.”

Thereat she smiled and did deny him so,
As put thereby, yet might he hope for moe.
Which makes him quickly re-enforce his speech,
And her in humble manner thus beseech.
“Though neither gods nor men may thee deserve,
Yet for her sake, whom you have vowed to serve,
Abandon fruitless cold virginity,
The gentle queen of love’s sole enemy.
Then shall you most resemble Venus’ nun,
When Venus’ sweet rites are performed and done.
Flint-breasted Pallas joys in single life,
But Pallas and your mistress are at strife.
Love, Hero, then, and be not tyrannous,
But heal the heart that thou hast wounded thus,
Nor stain thy youthful years with avarice.
Fair fools delight to be accounted nice.
The richest corn dies, if it be not reaped;
Beauty alone is lost, too warily kept.”

These arguments he used, and many more,
Wherewith she yielded, that was won before.
Hero’s looks yielded but her words made war.
Women are won when they begin to jar.
Thus, having swallowed Cupid’s golden hook,
The more she strived, the deeper was she strook.
Yet, evilly feigning anger, strove she still
And would be thought to grant against her will.
So having paused a while at last she said,
“Who taught thee rhetoric to deceive a maid?
Ay me, such words as these should I abhor
And yet I like them for the orator.”

With that Leander stooped to have embraced her
But from his spreading arms away she cast her,
And thus bespake him: “Gentle youth, forbear
To touch the sacred garments which I wear.
Upon a rock and underneath a hill
Far from the town (where all is whist and still,
Save that the sea, playing on yellow sand,
Sends forth a rattling murmur to the land,
Whose sound allures the golden Morpheus
In silence of the night to visit us)
My turret stands and there, God knows, I play.
With Venus’ swans and sparrows all the day.
A dwarfish beldam bears me company,
That hops about the chamber where I lie,
And spends the night (that might be better spent)
In vain discourse and apish merriment.
Come thither.” As she spake this, her tongue tripped,
For unawares “come thither” from her slipped.
And suddenly her former colour changed,
And here and there her eyes through anger ranged.
And like a planet, moving several ways,
At one self instant she, poor soul, assays,
Loving, not to love at all, and every part
Strove to resist the motions of her heart.
And hands so pure, so innocent, nay, such
As might have made heaven stoop to have a touch,
Did she uphold to Venus, and again
Vowed spotless chastity, but all in vain.
Cupid beats down her prayers with his wings,
Her vows above the empty air he flings,
All deep enraged, his sinewy bow he bent,
And shot a shaft that burning from him went,
Wherewith she strooken, looked so dolefully,
As made love sigh to see his tyranny.
And as she wept her tears to pearl he turned,
And wound them on his arm and for her mourned.
Then towards the palace of the destinies
Laden with languishment and grief he flies,
And to those stern nymphs humbly made request
Both might enjoy each other, and be blest.
But with a ghastly dreadful
Mitchell Duran Sep 2013
The retainer where she was put
Was made of concrete. My father told me they had
Dug the grave first, then poured the concrete in, waited for
It to dry and harden, then hammered in six
Circular spikes in the four corners, two on either side
Of the middle. They lifted the concrete cast out with a crane.
My dad was going to be charged 300 dollars a day for the rental,
But because of the circumstances, Home Depot let us have it for free.

-

Where was she?
Where had she gone?
Would I see her face again?
Would she want me to
Meet her on the other side of the river?

-

I answered my cell phone.

"Make sure to bring flower's."
She had been crying. Her voice wavered the way sun light
Does on moving water.

"Make sure to bring flowers," she repeated, "And
That you wear what your father and I bought you."

I nodded my head with the receiver pressed up against my ear.
We both let out a sigh. My mom hung up. I put my phone in my back pocket.

-

Lately, I had been seeing a shrink about repetition. He liked to use the word cycle.

"Everything is repeated," I would tell him.

"Life is a cycle," he'd disagree so to get me talking.

"Can cycles be identical?"

"Technically not. Some cycles are extremely similar, but no two cycles are
Completely the same. Are two people's lives ever exactly the same?"

"I wouldn't know. I don't know that many people. Maybe."

"You know lots of people, Camden. You have told me about many of your friends."

"Are we talking about the seasons?" I asked, changing the subject, "Like fall, winter, spring, summer? We are born, we live, we die, and we are born again?"

"That's a very natural way of looking at it."

"I know it is." I inhaled deeply, swallowing air and wondered what time it was.

"If you are so sure, why look for validation from me?" He liked this one, I could
tell. I imagined him shopping for clothes and then exploding in aisle 16 because of a sale on jeans.

"The word cycle is used by people too afraid to use the word repetition. Everything is
Repeated for the next generation, the next group, the next of the next of the next. We shift things
Around, give things to one another to shift life to make it look different, but, things remain the same. Everything contains the primal function we were all doing and living from the very beginning, only now, there is more of a separation. Music is still music, words are still words, paintings are still paintings, love is still love, death is still death, only done differently and more intensely."

"We are talking about man furthering technology because we, as people and creatures, are
Statistically more prone to flee than fight?"

"Why do you think it has caught on so quick?" I touched both
Corners of my lips with my tongue and suddenly realized I hadn't eaten breakfast.

"It is a theory," the psych nodded, "A theory with, I am sure, many
Palpable facts you could make a very nice report with to prove...something." He
Was at a lost for words and I felt guilty that my mom was paying him $75 an hour.

"We are very split. There are too many of us. Too many hands spinning the china."

"Who is we Harry?" The psych hadn't looked up from his pen and pad of paper, until now. I could
Tell he was annoyed with me either because he was making no progress or because the session
Had just begun and I was already digging into him.

"Culture. The government. You, me, my dad, my mom, the taco bell cashier, the geniuses at Apple computers, a paper weight, my dead sister. We're all apart of these shifts, all putting in a certain amount of energy and lies to keep the protection of the projection going. The question I keep asking myself is: do I want to use my strengths to be apart of this cycle or not?"

His eyes flared open for a moment like he'd swallowed a firefly, not at the question I had posed for myself, but from what I would soon see was from the mention of my sister. He had something.

"I was notified by your mother that you may not want to talk about your recently deceased sister. Is It O.K. if I ask you some questions about her?"

I was leaning forward on the couch with my hands clasped in between my legs. The psych had looked up at me now. He was sweating at the top of his thin hairline. Observing that I was staring at his building perspiration, he, trying to be nonchalant, took out a thin, white napkin from his grey shirt pocket and dabbed the top of his head. The napkin looked like cheap toilet paper. I'd have offered him some water, but I had no water to give and I didn't know where the sink and cups were to give him any. I figured he did - it was his office - so I asked him for some. He pointed me in the direction of the bathroom. I got up and found a stack of paper cups. I poured myself a cup and went back to the couch, but instead of leaning forward, I sat back, relaxed, and let the expensive leather couch take the weight I had been carrying away.

"So," the psych maintained cooly, "Would it be alright if we were able to discuss your sister?"

I lifted the paper cup over my head and the psych's eyes, after I poured the water over my hair, my face, and clothes, was a mixture of what my mom's eyes looked at the funeral, defeated, confused, and with a loss of faith and hope. My father's eyes had only held hate, anger and the need to lash out at someone, but the only someone that would have fit the bill would have been God.

"Sure," I answered, "Let's talk about my sister."

-

I finished drying myself in the car. The psych had let me keep the towel.
I leaned out the window to look at myself in the side mirror. I looked fine.
Presentable. Accountable. Like I had been through something where I had
Faced my soul. Like I had used and abused my emotions. There was comb in my glove compartment, so I took it out and rushed it through my damp hair. Slicked back. The sun
Was out, no clouds, burning up the inside of my car. That taste that comes after
Finishing something that's supposed to do you good didn't come. I was left with an unsure hand.
Putting my keys in the ignition, I turned them, and felt the engine rumble in front of my legs.
The sun sat in the sky like a lazy hand and I had nowhere else to go but home.

-

"Let's go to the river today," my dad said over coffee and two over easy eggs on top
Of burnt wheat toast. "I'll drive and you and your sister can sit in the back and sing."

I looked over at Ally. She was gazing into her fruit bowl she had prepared for
herself because dad didn't understand the concept or how to make it. The lamp light above us
reflected in the smooth apricot yogurt and the flecks of granola scattered on top
looked like beige, jagged rocks. My dad's offer hung in the air and neither
of us bit the lure. I had just woken up and was unable to speak clearly, a decent
excuse. Ally was simply choosing to ignore him.

"What you think there Ally?" I asked her. I sipped my coffee. It needed more cream. I got
U, got it and brought the carton to the table.

"We can take the truck down there and load the back with the fishing poles and tackle
And inner tubes. We haven't...done that...in a long time," he said, chewing his food as he spoke.

Ally poked her fruit bowl with her spoon, silent.

"What you think, Cam?" My dad was desperate. He knew I'd say yes.

"Sure. I've got no plans this weekend."

"No schoolwork?"

"It can wait till Sunday. Only math and some reading."

"Ally, what do you think?" my dad asked, leaning over to her. I could see he was
Trying to be as courteous and gentle with her as he knew how to. I felt bad for him.

"Sure," she muttered, "That sounds like fun." I could barely hear her, but somehow,
I could tell she sounded happy.

"Perfect," my dad smiled, "We'll pack the car up Friday,
Drive up Saturday morning early, camp one night, then get back Sunday afternoon." He
Took a long sip of his coffee and swished it around in his mouth, then dug
His fork into the dry toast and ran his small steak knife over the eggs. A silent pop came from
The egg and the light orange yolk spilled out. "Perfect," he repeated, "Just great."

Ally poked a grape from her fruit bowl and dipped it into the yogurt.
I took another sip of my coffee and looked up into the fan, spinning above us.
We were going to the river.

-

"Your sister turns five today," my mom told me, "And that means
I want you to be on your best behavior."

I nodded, unsure what the point of a birthday was. I had had one before, or at
least I thought I did, and all I remembered was that I got presents and the colorful balloons
and the cake we all ate with fire kind of floating and burning above it. Somewhere
in that moment I remember thinking that the cake was going to catch on fire, then they, everyone,
some that I knew and some people I had never seen before, yelled and shouted to
blow the fire out, so I quickly did, but not because it was for a wish, which I later found out it was supposed to be for, but because I truly thought the cake was going to catch fire and they wanted me to take care of it. At that point, I was unsure what it meant to be alive or why to celebrate it all.

"This is her day, Camden," my father told me, "So I want you to be happy for your sister."

"I am," I said. I was wearing my favorite white and blue striped t-shirt and
New shoes that my mom had bought me for the party.

"Sometimes you have to think of other people," my mother continued, "And today is one
of those days. I don't want any crying because you didn't get any presents or that none of your
friends are at the party. There are going to be a lot of Ally's friends there, but not many
of your's...do you understand?"

"Yes, Mom."

"Do you understand, Cam?" My father repeated. His skin was the color of a burnt
pancake and he smelt like stale sugar and sun tan lotion. He was in front of me and was
holding a thin magazine with a man in a boat holding up a fish on a line on the cover.  

"Yes, Dad," I said again. I was hungry. I wanted mac n' cheese, my favorite food.

I had been on the floor, laying on my stomach watching Ren and Stimpy. They were standing in front of the television and I remember trying to wish them out of the way. Behind them were two, large bay windows where three palm trees stood in a row like tropical soldiers. I could see there was no wind because the three of them stood still, as if posing for someone. Their leaves were bright green, a mixture of the neon green Jello I used to love to eat and the orange Jolly Rancher my dad would always have in a tiny tray in the middle of the dining table. My mother hated having them there because it always tempted Ally and I, but he never moved it until he moved out.

"Do you like your show?" my mom asked, turning to see what I was watching.

I nodded, absently. Ren was licking Stimpy's eye because he was complaining about having
an eyelash in there. Stimpy was completely still and smiling like he does - dumb and content.

"Interesting..." my mother trailed off. She walked to the kitchen behind the couch and
Opened up the pantry for something. "You hungry, Camden?"

"I'm starving," my dad said, "Let me go check on Ally in the bedroom. She should be up
from her nap."

I got up from my stomach and sat back on my legs, "Do we have mac n' cheese?" I asked.

"Let me check."

She reached up for the cabinet over the stove where I could never reach and
Opened it. I rose slightly up from where I was sitting to see if I could see the glorious dark blue and orange package, but wasn't able to see over couch. I hovered there, still like a humming bird.

"You're in luck," I heard her say, "We've got one box left."

"Yay!" I screamed and got up, running into the kitchen.

"But," she smiled, stopping me, "You'll have to share it with your sister."

"No! I don't want to! I always have to share."

"What did we just talk about Camden?" she said, lightly stamping her foot.

I tried to remember, but couldn't. I shrugged.

"You need to learn to share, Camden. You also need to listen better when your father and I are talking to you. You and your sister are going to know each other a very long time and I want you to learn how to share now, so you two can be happy in the future."

"The future," I asked, "What's that?"

She paused, then said, "It's a time," she paused again, "Ahead of us."

"Do we know where it is?"

"Not exactly," she sighed.

"What's it look like?"

"No one really knows. People can only imagine it."

"Is it very far away?"

She opened the top of the blue and orange mac n' cheese box and poured the dry macaroni into a large silver ***, lifted the faucet, and let it run inside for five or seven seconds. She placed the *** on an unlit burner and turned to look at me. Her eyes looked far away and right there with me.  

"Closer then you think," she said and turned the burner on.

-

I turned into the taco bell parking lot. There was something I was trying to remember that was in my trunk, but I couldn't recall the picture. A haze blew over the windshield that was a mix of heat and wind; I wished to be somewhere else, someone else, someplace else, but, there I was, sitting there underneath the sun, like everyone else. If I was able, I would have unlocked the door to my car and opened the door and walked out - but - there was something else lingering underneath my fingernails, something I couldn't name.

"Two tacos," I said into my hand, "And a water."

"Pull to the window," the voice buzzed over the muffled speaker.

"Yes," I said through my split fingers.

In front of me, over a patch of clean cut green grass and a yellow, red, and orange Taco Bell signature sign, was a fresh gas station with a willow tree *** near the front entrance. He had a sign that hung around his neck that read Juice Please - Very Thirsty. How I knew this was because I had seen it every time I had been asked to fill up my dad's car every other Sunday. I had never given the tree a dollar, yet, I felt that I owed him something. I tried to pull up to the window, but my clutch was grinding and a cloud slunk overhead. I was tired and only wanted to eat.

"That'll be a two twenty-five," the voice said through the thick, clear glass.

"Yes," I said to myself, digging into my wallet for three dollars.

I ****** the three onto the thick plastic platform. A quick sweeping plastic brush pushed the bills toward the asker, and the bills were gone. I had no food. I had nothing. My money was gone and all I had was a gurgling car in front of me and an empty front seat beside me. A pair of clouds waded by my front shield window. A shadow drew itself out in front of me like a **** model. A beep. Sudden and behind me. There was sound. I looked over my shoulder and a black  2013 Cadillac was sitting there, windshield tinted grey, the driver a shadow. I was unsure what to do...so I pulled forward six inches, hoping the offer would be enough. I wasn't in the best neighborhood.

The window to the left of me slid open. An arm erupted forward with a plastic bag,
"75 cents is your change."

The hand dropped three quarters next to the plastic bag. I grabbed the bag with the two tacos and three quarters and quickly wound up my window. The face in front of me was a dangerous blur: smiling, frowning, not caring either way what happened to me next. The hands had gobbled up the three dollars and I was happy to see it go. Who needed money? I tossed the plastic bag onto the passenger seat and sped off two blocks for my grandma's house. Salvation. The holy land. A place with free hot sauce and two dog's that were stolen without paper's. Eden.

-

"What are you learning right now?" I asked Ally.

She hesitated, then said, "Something to do with science." She paused," Lot's to do with rock's."

"Rocks?" I stammered, not remembering a time when I learned about rocks in school, "What kind of rocks?"

"I don't know," she grinned, looking up at me, "All kinds."

I laughed and kicked a stone into the river. The sun was out and reflected on the water like an unpolished diamond. We had grown up a quarter mile away, but still, it felt foreign to us.

"I like it. There's some things you could see that you would never think to read about it in books."

I had read plenty off books. Most, I took little from, but Ally, I could see, had taken plenty.

"What are you doing in school?" Ally asked me.

"What do you mean?" I
Don't we have legislation to protect our poetry
It is unthinkable for our hard creative work to be abused for someone else's pleasure, surely there is something that we poets can all do.
To safe guard our property.
Let's get Eliot the site manager to put something now in place.
It is unthinkable for a person just to come along and steal your creative poem. And post it up worst still publish it as their own ..
Lord, Lord,
Why did You make me Black?
Why did You make me someone
The world wants to hold back?

Black is the color of ***** clothes;
The color of grimy hands and feet.
Black is the color of darkness;
The color of tire-beaten streets.

Why did you give me thick lips,
A broad nose and ***** hair?
Why did You make me someone
Who receives the hatred stare?

Black is the color of a bruised eye
When somebody gets hurt.
Black is the color of darkness.
Black is the color of dirt.
How come my bone structure's so thick;
my hips and cheeks are high?
How come my eyes are brown
and not the color of the daylight sky?

Why do people think I'm useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do some people see my skin and think I should be abused?

Lord, I just don't understand;
What is it about my skin?
Why do some people want to hate me
And not know the person within?

Black is what people are "listed",
When others want to keep them away.
Black is the color of shadows cast.
Black is the end of the day.

Lord, You know, my own people mistreat me;
And I know this just isn't right.
They don't like my hair or the way I look
They say I'm too dark or too light.

Lord, Don't You think it's time
For You to make a change?
Why don't You re-do creation
And make everyone the same?

(God answered

Why did I make you black?
Why did I make you black?

Get off your knees and look around.
Tell Me, what do you see?
I didn't make you in the image of darkness.
I made you in the Likeness of ME!

I made you the color of coal
From which beautiful diamonds are formed.
I made you the color of oil,
The black-gold that keeps people warm.

I made you from the rich, dark earth
That can grow the food you need.
Your color's the same as the panther's
Known for (HER) beauty and speed.

Your color's the same as the Black stallion,
A majestic animal is he.
I didn't make you in the Image of darkness
I made you in the Likeness of Me!

All the colors of a Heavenly Rainbow
Can be found throughout every nation;
And when all those colors were blended well,
YOU BECAME MY GREATEST CREATION.

Your hair is the texture of lamb's wool
Such a humble, little creature is he.
I am the Shepherd who watches them.
I am the One who will watch over thee.

You are the color of midnight-sky,
I put the stars' glitter in your eyes.
There's a smile hidden behind your pain
That's the reason your cheeks are high.

You are the color of dark clouds formed
when I send My strongest weather.
I made your lips full so when you kiss
the one you love they will remember.

Your stature is strong; your bone structure, thick
to withstand the burdens of time.
The reflection you see in the mirror...
The Image looking back at you is MINE!

-by RuNett Nia Ebo
This is not my poem. This is a Poem by RuNett Nia Ebo. It's one of my favorites and I just wanted to share.
Andrew T Hannah Jun 2013
A Surreal Epic of Existence

Prelude to the Journey…

I smiled yesterday when I beheld the morning’s brilliant colors,
Etched with gold, across the canvas of the heavens, hanging…
High above all those mountains of the world, gigantic brothers,
A wilderness of clouds, where there can be no human taming.
I did not always smile when I looked up to that noble height…
For I have seen how terrible goodness can be, when untamed.
Once I thought my sojourn in this flesh was from a divine spite,
But now I know it was a gift, and for it I need not be ashamed.
God once walked as I do now, and suffered the same stress…
Betrayal, love, and passions too, though no Church shall admit,
The true nature of divinity, lest all their secret sins they confess!
You are told you are alone in the universe, by leaders so unfit,
That they themselves are fed a diet of lies and stories invented.
But we walked amongst you since the very dawn reincarnated,
Having lost our first flesh in conflicts long past and unlamented.
We guided the steps of ancients, as monuments demonstrated!
And yet we are born as children: your own, and live our span,
The better to remain hid, in plain sight, our faces clever masks.
I am the eldest, and I remember still my kindred’s lofty plan…
And though I wear the human face, I am beset with alien tasks.
Helping they who lack the knowledge to see what lies outside,
You have seen me in the darkness, blazing upon my own pyre.
Where I am waiting to lead the way, where the angels glide…
Anyone can follow, if they are dedicated enough never to tire.
Ironic, since I myself have known helplessness and still oft do,
It is only human after all, and in your form I was so re-forged!
The image of God, whose own blood is in all of us hither unto,
From the first to the last, alpha to omega, like a sharp sword.

Prologue: (My Mask is Slipping)

As a child: I was a servant at the altars of the heart so sacred,
Singing hymns of the immaculate: without seeing the depravity.
It was only when I myself wore the crown of thons, naked…
My spirit exposed through my pain, that I realized the gravity.
What man believes is sacred, is profanity disguised as graces,
And those who lead the sheep to slaughter are mere butchers!
Forcing innocents to wear porcelain masks to hide their faces,
They rob children of their childhood, bound with crude fetters.
As a teenager: I walked in nature, disgusted with all humanity,
My exodus was from those who had defiled all I cared about.
Finding faith in an angel fallen, I discovered my own sanctity,
And in her name I found the means to cleanse my feral doubt.
Then came marriage, and betrayal by a wife I gave up all for,
The dissolution of our union then loneliness without cessation!
A mortal had pierced my flesh, leaving me to bleed on a floor,
My heart was torn from its’ moorings without any elaboration.
But the angel remained to calm my anger and ease my agony,
My only light in the blackness that has overcome my waking!
Reminding me, that I was more than this flesh and mortality…
The angel tries to keep me from harsh trembling and quaking.
And then I see: I am more than my tears and life’s traumas…
I let slip, the mask behind which the scars of my tears etched.
Then I sense the heat of the night more intense than saunas…
As I long to dance with abandon, until time itself is stretched!
Mortals may betray one another with impunity, but never I…
I do not betray; rather I pour my heart and spirit forth whole.
Creating a phylactery, of all I am, and with an innocent eye…
I demand to be loved as I am: pearl white and black as coal!

Canto 1: Sacrifice of the Doll

Part the First: (The Bleeding Shores)

Do not call me, doll, for I have departed your ancient cavern,
You are lifeless, a mere toy, and not a real child in any form!
A boy’s red ruby lips I spy drinking in the dreariest tavern…
Whilst true children singing, frolic in the fields filled with corn.
I am going home, upon the wings of the great silver griffon…
Far from the shores now bleeding red from defiled memories.
There is no return, for me, to the glories of the first ignition…
When the mind eternal, was ignited all with pleasing ecstasies.
In the stars, there are words unheard that I do want to recall,
For I came down so very long ago, among the first to so fall!
Eldritch nightmares born of the stuff of the pure chaos of old,
Are waiting for signs at the threshold to be released by magic.
The forbidden incantations return to my spirit, aflame so bold,
That my spirit nearly forgets: the origins of this time, so tragic.
When children drink, and true children hide themselves apart,
Whilst the waters bleed and the corn withers upon the stalks!
That is a sign that change must come, and so I work my mind.
The face in the moon is a grimace of tormented fear, horror…
Whilst I stand upon the precipice with my hand over my heart,
And amongst the long rows of corn, my black shadow walk!
Watching over the innocents whose souls are of my own kind.
The summer heat turns orange, the moon: in celestial corridors.
My mournful cry can be heard in the sound of the lonely wolf,
And in the wild abandon of the lion when he is on the prowl…
I feel the pain of nature, I long to bring back paradise craved.
I have seen the terror of the land, as the blood ran in the gulf,
Black blood of the earth: which causes living things to howl…
As man has the foolishness, to say what is or is not depraved!

Part the Second: (The Crucified Souls)

The doll is laid lifeless atop the altar, prepared for a sacrifice,
In the cavern where the limestone shapes the wettest arches!
A thing un-living, but with living souls trapped still, as if in ice,
Within the cold porcelain shell that so never with feet marches.
Serpentine blade held high, it drops precise into a doll’s neck,
And it cannot call out, because a doll has not any voice to cry.
A boy walked out of a tavern then, looking like a vile wreck…
Whilst as a man I attend to higher things, my body full purified.
In the voids beneath the spaces, witnessed in the rugged rock,
Voices echo loud in the darkness, calling up names unspoken.
The ferryman brings the souls delivered to him, to a far dock,
Where each must pay the copper coin, the old desired token.
So they come to drink those waters that cure all of life’s ills…
Freed from their porcelain prison to feel death’s darker chills!
Whence came those souls into captivity, no mortal may speak,
But I freed them in an instant, removing the nails that pierce…
Every man is he that was put up on the cross of old Golgotha.
And every woman too, as all were made to feel such torture!
I was there when the primal sacrifice was implanted so weak,
And yet so strong that it endured in the psyche all these years.
That doom was sealed behind a wall of fire long ago in Terra,
So that the stigmata of it might endure, even in the vast future!
Mine was the hand that signaled that doom, mine to release…
Yet, still old illusions persist, and I cannot awaken a multitude.
I, who devised the iron web that enfolds much of what is real,
Cloaking it in unending trickery am, myself, longing for peace.
For I too was entrapped, until my liberation rough and crude!
An angel freed me, and now I strive to break each cruel seal.

Part the Third: (The Return of Light)

Risen from the slumber where colder, electric dreams reside,
The forgotten intelligence is invoked, the arcane spells cast…
The eldritch nightmares return to thence amongst man abide,
Reminding us of the things banished to Hell in some age past.
Mine the hand that raised them up, light in the dagger’s glow,
The stuff of my power left to flow, like blood run swiftly free.
Out of the abyss, rises the girl-child of a lost millennial flame,
She who is the angel reborn lets her illumination clearly show.
And all are blinded who have not the innermost eyes to see!
The unbelievers are, in a single instant put unto lasting shame.
From the star of six points, a goddess works her sacred will,
And as she crosses the scarlet threshold, she brings the light.
For a single instant, all in Heaven and all upon Earth are still,
As the long day ends, bowing before the coming eternal night.
In the darkness, radiance far fairer and so perfect descends,
Whilst those who gather in my name: have lost my true path.
The wrath of angels descend upon their minds, closed shut…
Entrapped in the iron web, they cannot flee of such a prison!
The light blinds them for they never truly saw it, and it rends,
Tearing away the churches built for naught but mortal wrath.
There, the unfaithful ******* themselves: like a wanton ****,
Inventing dogma to pass on, forgetful of logic and of reason!
Faith need not be a fearful thing, yet some have made it thus,
And look for an end to come before they seek their reward.
Whilst they should be creating the paradise they left behind…
But in an image of freedom: rather than of servitude and fuss.
Too much time had been wasted in converting by the sword!
Mankind looks to the light for salvation, their eyes long blind.

Interlude Alpha:
This age is one of barbarism cloaked as gentility to sell lies…
Did you purchase some today by design or mayhap chance?
You should know this era to be neither intelligent nor wise…
Else you would not march, when you would prefer to dance!
My nights are filled with nightmares; my days are too much…
I used to dance with one I loved, and bask in purple sunsets.
Now I am haunted, by so many memories I can never touch,
That it fills me with ****** anger, and countless cold regrets.
I recall how once in desperation, my wrist rode a razor edge,
If it were not for my family I’d not thence have lived beyond.
A man abused as I was, and used like cutters upon a hedge,
Must rise higher than it all in order to survive it all, my friend!
I survived, I transformed, I ascended and in the end became,
So much more than I was, until no more did my spirit erode.
But still I wait in loneliness for a maid to awaken my flame…
And I burn, oh gods I burn until I think that I might explode!
The skies darken more and more, and bright forks crashing,
I hear the drums of fury in the heavens, giants of old winters.
The gods grow angry and I behold trees uprooted smashing!
Angels are trampling the grapes of man; they, the vintners…
I am reminded of when the battleship that sailed all galaxies,
Descended one day amidst clouds boiling with its’ steam…
To lay waste to *****, and Gomorrah, for their indignities!
I was there, when the wicked did perish with a final scream.
And as people mock me, wishing me ill because I am good,
I ask God how long I must be forced to bear such suffering.
But I am not alone, and to many I am in fact misunderstood,
So God forgives, for now; but I have not, his understanding!

Canto 2: Sacrifice of the Spider

Part the First: (The First Smile)

Black skies boil with rage unrepentant, and in righteous fury!
A being made flesh I am, though not of mortal understanding.
In cavernous places I have walked, where demons oft scurry,
And worse places still: in search of a love not too demanding.
In the stucco halls wherein my unmoving throne was raised…
Upon a hill of sorrows where lost souls labor in mundane toil,
I wait and plan to transcend the bonds the faithful so praised.
To my right hand is the altar where fire and sulfur always boil!
I force a smile upon my face, for one will not come as willing,
As in the hours when I was a golden youth filled with ideals…
Which I have paid for dearly, beyond the price of any shilling!
Now I long to pay back those who know not how this feels…
The madness born of solitude, the anger born out of contempt,
For you who despise me without cause, provoking my wrath.
What impunity has man, to think that he might ever be exempt!
When wiser civilizations than yours did sink: in the fiery bath.
Do I speak of Hell, which the faithless do not realize is come?
Nay, for their eyes have been gouged out by their own nails…
I speak of torments, far beyond that which devils have done.
The first smile shall me mine, when every cruel wish so fails…
To save the flesh of those who spit upon me as I walked on,
Never realizing that my face was just a mask, hiding another.
Only the fool pays no any attention to the piper’s lonely song,
Thinking it only a melody passed from a sister unto a brother.
But in what celestial ****** has been born the thing alchemical?
It dwells within me, the secret sin of a bonding long forgotten.
Would that I could force the world to hear music whimsical…
Like unto that which guides my spirit in all that was begotten.

Part the Second: (Cold Revenge)

The blood roses bloom in gardens where desire plants seeds,
I, the hand that waters those hungry beasts whose thirst rises!
In my search for love, I have fed the beasts of desire’s needs,
And what would cause you to blush has, for me, no surprises.
Oh human, with what impunity did you dare to exclaim aloud,
That you believe love to be beyond my reach; and you smile!
Like a coward, you degrade me and run to hide in the crowd,
In your feigned superiority, you make yourself an animal vile.
Conjoining your words to your tongue, like a web to a ceiling,
You become a spider; then flee on eight legs to a filthy nest…
Having already become unworthy of any warm human feeling,
In thinking yourself better, you sink lower than all of the rest!
That means my life is worth, a thousand times, your very own.
I become a creature of the night, and wait for you, oh spider!
Think not that I cannot hear. the creaking of each leg bone…
Your odiousness goes before you, the horse before its’ rider.
And in your own web I catch you, my sharper claws immune,
To your toxic poisons, as cannot ever save your eight eyes…
Which I dash from their sockets, without a fear, and so soon,
That your own pain consumes you, like fire lighting the skies!
Forcing you to recant all that you say, lest pain overcome all,
The powers you thought did not exist do manifest ever visibly.
And I ascended still higher, all the more to relish of your fall…
You should never have resulted to any such childish mockery.
The clocks of your house all melted, for time is not your ally!
In abandonment of the chaos that is joy, your order is ended.
A new order rises in its’ place born of chaos none may deny,
Whilst you sink lower into perdition, for all that you offended.

Part the Third: (The Last Laugh)

An angel appears before me and so thinks herself a goddess,
But to call her an angel is to imply that she holds any beauties.
Those whose ego is larger than their grasp are oft the oddest,
For they fancy themselves perfect, ignorant of their cruelties!
You think love a prize and I a beggar for mere crusts so stale,
That lesser men than I have eaten heartier meals than yours…
But your kitchen is so bare: as your oven goes cold and pale,
Making you prize yourself beyond the worth of your chores!
Like a harlot who charges a fortune for her meager charms…
If you think love a prize, and I a beggar, you are so mistaken.
What you call love is a disease that shames one and harms…
Both mind and soul alike, making the body at last to weaken.
You saw only my mask, and would not dare look beneath…
Making me a phantom in the darkness, lurking in the shades.
Round your neck, your false esteem hangs as a dead wreath,
As I leave you to your barren world, awaiting my handmaids.
They rise from the ashes you leave in your wake, my kindred,
Their hands take me far from where your feet stumble about!
Lie in the cemetery that awaits those who live as though dead,
I cannot raise you incorruptible; you have far too much doubt.
Carried hither by the silent maidens who weep ****** tears…
To my castle, where I shall brood again upon mankind’s way!
I cannot feel regret for those who give in to their foolish fears,
Any more than I can transform a leaden night into golden day!
Such is the power of the alchemist who knows his true limit…
And in the dark arts I was schooled by beings from the abyss.
Thusly, am I set about to transform my creation as I see fit…
We are the demiurges of our realities wanton for any hot kiss!

Interlude Omega:
T
I found this one in my basement. Seems I wrote it a year or two ago but lost it.
Riot Feb 2016
i don't know where to put you

your hands just under reach my skin
i'm not considered a victim
my bruises are on the inside
and the fault goes to me
i'm not abused

but yet

the thought of even adressing you makes me sad
"the dreams in which i'm dying are the best i ever had"
that line meant nothing until my sleep brought to my attention
my dad
i peel at my sanity
no more than a locked room
your words push me down the stairs
because they never speak the truth
especially when they force out the words *"i love you"


my emotions are confused
my emotions are unused
my emotions are scared to death of his
**emotional abuse
Mateuš Conrad Dec 2015
poet, or philosopher, it doesn't really matter which is which, or whether the two are indistinguishable, notable in the former scenario, when someone has an eclectic bounty of interest is simply not love-scorned or love-nostalgic, love-idealistic, does it really matter? i was once called a philosopher: a teenage girl said in third person (as if she was a puppet and some-thing was moving her tongue): 'talk to this philosopher'... not in that sarcastic way that philosopher is an misnomer or an abused term of: self-gratifying grandeour, it was quiet genuine, but: imagine my shock... i had an ambition in life, it was to perform a service to thinking: without doing as much as hammering a nail into a plank of wood, that's the ambition of any thinking man: to borderline on telekinesis or telepathy... that was Hegel's modus operandi, his categorical imperative... after all: ego is a metaphysical tool, while thought is its metaphysical canvas... the mere suggestion that a copernican inversion can happen in physics "contra" metaphysics... it's already apparent, any word can behave like a hand touching the sacred object / subject of transfiguration and become something else, even a misnomer can find itself given solace to the user... for now i've forged a belief in the ultimate: away from the absolute in relation to omni in unum - one first has to learn to think, before having to learn to feel... mind you, i don't like the current nietzschean inversion of the cartesian equation: (ego) sum ergo (ego) cogito... esp. among the youtube political commentators, too many examples to give: i'm a classical liberal, i'm a progressive, i'm a liberterian... i don't really like seeing: i am, precede i think... i don't even like the origin-argument of this inversion: i exist for the sole purpose of thinking... after all: i think prior to being, since i can also daydream and not be what my thinking suspects as a possible truth-outcome... that's the nature of the freedom of thought: i don't have to be what i think, i can find thinking to be a pleasure, when the senses do not offer me any pleasure derivative, e.g. eating can sometimes be boring, chewing, chewing, *******... i eat because i need to live: i don't live to eat... i really have under-appreciated Hegel, i should really visit my grandparents for two months and read the phenomenology of the spirit: i'm trying to replicate the saying attributed to him (verbatim), but i doubt that i will, i don't have the patience to sift through all the quotes, but it goes along the lines of: beware oh wordly man, to not be a pawn in a thinking man's game... hence my suggestion of philosophy entering into the realms of telekinesis and telepathy: you get to see things play out and people express the origin story, of your own memetic generation of the original idea... how are poets finally alligned to philosophers? good thing that i studied chemistry at edinburgh university: we return to atoms, words are no longer enough, sure, they are, contrary to the statement...  (why did i under-appreciate Hegel? ah... had my head stuck up heidegger's and kant's *****...

  integration? great!
but i'll meet you halfway...
    i'll eat your fish & chips,
your englush breakfast,
  i won't sing your anthem: god save the queen,
****** anthem, too short,
but i will whistle through:
the british grenadiers' fife & drum...
like i might through la marseillaise...
i'll meet you halfway...
i'm not a former colony member,
commonwealth,
   i'm not some ****- paying bribes
to the british powers
to join in on a world cup of cricket...
this is what happens when immigration
turns sour...
they either lesrn the host tongue,
or they don't learn it...
or they can't distinguish the two:
speak polonaise at home,
speak the hosts' sprechen outside of it...

   if the ******* aren't suspect:
by not being bilingual...
the arab beatles... jihadi john...
          ringo star h'ahmed...
  george ali...
                paul mecca rashid...
oh i'll settle for integration...
but don't you ******* think i'll give
up my mother tongue
for "c.c.t.v." close-ups back home,
home being my private lodge...
like ******* will...
  i'll speak your tongue in public...
but i'm not ******* former commonwealth
****- riddled with a need to play
cricket, "forget" my tongue in order
to compensate for olives
              and sun-burnt bananas!

a former colony ****-**** is about
to dictate the rules for fellow
europeans, on the tram-ride from
Birmingham to Nottingham?
seriously?
        but of course the englishman
will favor the former colony pet bush-monkey
from sri lanka...
since the brit can't really dictate
to a fellow european his superiority
complex... which he can...
with a petted copper skinned
toy-ting...
who brought 'im a korma curry!
nice one, ol' laddy...
        right on the plonker...
                 i'm not finished!
                        i'm just getting started!

gehirnablassen:

perfectly respected immigration,
given that so many english girls just love
the attention their **** minders,
sexually abused,
not really making it as nurses
or... ahem... karaoke superstars
worth the while of britain's got talent
or voice of britain,
or...whatever the ****** show was
that gave birth to one direction...

so a.... brain-drain? good immigration?
the best!

i can sit awhile by myself and count...
1. the sparrows,
2. the swallow,
3. the starlings,
   4. the crows,
5. the magpies,
6. the pigeons,
7. the woodland pigeons
(fatter, with dog collars),
8. kestrels
  (one is enough to begin
the count)...
9. the blackbirds....
10. seagulls... seagulls?! 25 miles from
romford to southend! seagulls?!
this far in-land?! fair enough...
11. a robin...
                   12. goldfinch...
i just sit and watch these birds
in my garden, i sometimes spot
a darting frog in the garden,
i'm more english than the english...
i actually enjoy owning a garden...
the "english" surrounding me
exemplify a bbq. as a luxury parade...
what's so luxury about marinating
some meat, and then grilling it?!
please! enlightend me!

    gehirnablassen...
                   brain-drain immigration,
the type asiatic tiger-mums brag about
at child olympics...
   for the required rubric stature...
******* mothers, basically...

1. χaron χaos - cha-cha-cha       khaos
2. theaetetus - so / ma   letters / syllables:
     graphemes: sz phi theta
      compound syllables (caron s) - Na (sodium)
3. music choice...
       brain damage perturbator ft. noir deco
    virga iesse floruit, gradual of eleanor of
britanny...
4. pride / stubborness (not equal to) honour,
tolerating islam is not the same
as respceting islam...
   german 19th century fascination
with islam...
     θought and φilosophy...
   greek in warsaw, giving him directions,
talks: sounds so much like spanish...
5. england a nation of singletons,
idiosyncracy... social pressures in poland
and even in h'america missing in england
to marry...

1.

chamaleon tongue,                    shape shifter,
bez akcentu w piśmie - więciej akcentu poza pismem
(trainspotting scottish), welsh, cockney,
east london altogether, pakistani english, etc.
e.g. rather, or raver, i.e. not rayver
(someone who parties at night on ecstasy pill)
but ra'ver, like verging on a new discovery,
it's not even the = ~v but is actually v...
english is a chamaleon tongue, you say 'nostic
when you write gnostic, i say diagnostic,
therefore say gnostic, you say 'nome, i say gnome,
as cf. with diagnostic;
then there's the case of the per se:
you say chamaleon - no kappa there apperent, eh?
but there's chappie, chap, chuckles,
no kappa in a millionth chance
to also say nough'ledge for knowledge,
a bit like that gnome of yours...
as i said before: a language without
a written insertion of stressors / distinctions
will produce a massive array of diacritical
stressors / distinctions outside the written format,
but it will also become as complex as to
allow adults with learning difficulties e.g. dyslexia,
and that horrid internet slang of shortcuts:
i ate my 8 when i was late for my disco date
with the cha cha cha melon.

p.s. if there's a hay patch at the beginning, the nasal flute
will ask larry 'the lynx' saxophone to hark it out with rasp
gritting of phlegm... but if it's somewhere else down
the piccadilly line... it will act like a nudist spy and resonate
less than expected; probably mingling with f, i think.
Broken And Abused

Twinkle twinkle little star
how we wonder who we are.
Mommy and daddy live happy
together,
promise to love and cherish
forever.
Vows are broken
children suffer,
time doesn't heal, you
only get tougher.
Behind close doors
secretes they hide,
with smiles on the surface
a clever disguise.
Battered and shattered
the hurt remains,
futures altered
tarnished and stained.
By the ones they trusted
it's all so sad,
led to believe it was them
that were bad.
Broken and abused
in silence they cry,
concealing the truth as
their childhood passes by.

Written By Kathy J Parenteau
Copyright © 07/04/2014
soph Jun 2018
A toxic person
Living off of a wonderful woman
Like a parasite
Feeding off of her good nature
Toxic substances
Constantly coursing through his veins
Becoming less and less humane
And more and more monstrous
She was trapped
He played his games
The supposed love of her life
Cancer didn’t bring him down
Cancer made the leech only stronger
Until finally
One last substance
One last toxic substance
Was his downfall
How do you even mourn
When this man
Abused with pride
Abused the woman
Abused the drugs
Abused the system
Leaving the woman behind
Leaving his daughter behind
Toxic
Toxic
Toxic
Somehow
The woman fell in love
With that toxic man
Giving up herself in the process
Now
She cries
She’s empty
The emptiness will linger
But soon
She will realize
She’s free
Free from the abuse
Free from the parasite
Free from the toxicity
my mom’s best friend (I’m really close to her too) has been dating this AWFUL man for years. he died today after overdosing and it’s giving me lots of conflicting thoughts. how DO you mourn for this man that ****** the life out of someone you love? he treated her like garbage up until the day he died, yet she is heartbroken. life is weird
TheTeacher Oct 2012
The lights are out ......and the clouds sail past the window.
I can't wait until naptime is done....I want to play with my friends and have some fun.

I see the other kids and they fall off one by one....like a set of dominoes set up by a magician.  I'm laying on my back staring at the ceiling .....the teacher comes to my cot and asks me how I am feeling.

I said "I'm not sleepy", and he says "you should try".  Close your eyes and you will fall asleep....if that doesn't work ....try counting sheep.

I still couldn't sleep and was just laying there....the other children were all sleep now....and he returned to me.

He kneeled next to my cot and said "maybe this will help you sleep".  
The teacher unzipped my pants and pulled out my little meat.

The feeling that I received felt really good and I did go to sleep.

This happened two more times during the week......I never told anyone ....because I didn't know.
All I knew is that it made me feel good and I was able to sleep....he wasn't a teacher. This man was a creep.

He preyed on a child who didn't have a clue.  

I was abused at home...so I never said anything about what happened at school.  This was the place where I was allowed to have fun.....and wasn't confined to a room with a lock.  Instead of watching television I was learning how to block.....but I was always accused of flopping.

I've seen stars many times...and I've never been to outer space.  Those views came from several slaps across the face.  The memories don't produce any smiles....they just gave me a blueprint on how not to raise a child.

I didn't have any toys....or a bed.  I was a prisoner in a room that was blue......it's crazy that I like that hue.  My room was ***** trapped with pieces of thread....to see if I had been out....and I was smart .....so he put on a latch....he became mad because I learned how to take it off and put it back.

  He eventually installed a lock with a key.  If you have to use the bathroom ....you have to ask me.  Wow...you are my father not a sheriff or a deputy.

My father was on drugs and beat me like a stranger.  I felt school was the lesser of the dangers.  I'm a product of abuse and I sit here and write.

I'm realizing that Jesus helped me win the fight.  How you may ask did he help me win? I'm learning about this word called Sin.  When the teacher abused me .....he planted the seed of lust.

The enemy attacks when you are young.  His job is to steal, **** and destroy.  I was supposed to be dead....not helping other abused boys.

I now work with childeren who suffered from similar situations....and I say to them......allow school to be a vacation.....away from the abuse and cursing.  I'm rebuilding their self esteem and allowing them to dream about a different life.

I tell them that my life was also filled with strife.  The children with father's who seldom bother.....are the one's that break my heart.  My dad wasn't around....but God provided me with another start.  

I survived the tests and now I have a testimony.....To help those who are abused and lonely.  I've been on that street and I have ran away on several occasions.....

I almost died...but that's another story.  I'm just getting some answers about who I am......and why I make the decisions I do.  I just shared a real deep piece of my life story with you.

The reason.....God told me to.


Help prevent child abuse.....save a few lives
This is one of the hardest and most personal poems I have written in a awhile. Thank you for reading and make a pledge to stop any abuse you may uncover.....
Mark Lecuona Feb 2012
Are you carrying a silent burden? A memory you wish to forget? I have a few. Some were acts of stupidity that resulted in personal embarrassment. Back in college there was this girl that I liked. She had a new stereo bought for her by her Dad and she asked me if I could help her hook it up. My roommate asked if I needed help and I said no because I was afraid she would like him better than me if he put the stereo together. Look at how my shallowness was imputed onto her. Anyway, I put it together and I spliced the speaker wires together in a way that eventually shorted out both speakers. It was a humiliating experience. And because I was broke all I could do was apologize and slink away in shame.

Once though, I almost died. Climbing a small mountain in Palo Duro Canyon I found myself on a ledge, looked down and froze. I panicked. I had no confidence in the next step. Somehow, I lifted my foot and slowly made my way back to safety. The distance I needed to travel was less than six feet but it felt like a mile. This happened almost 27 years ago and to this day I can break into a cold sweat just thinking about that moment.

These aren’t memories that I wish to deny, but they are memories that cause mental discomfort. I have no one to blame except myself because I put myself into these situations. It's all over now and I've managed to become more prudent yet I still carry the memories (especially the little mountain climb) as if they happened yesterday.

Today, I suffer no loss of pride or ego. Why is that? Somehow I'm able to ignore self-inflicted wounds yet others carry around the pain of trauma inflicted by others.

Trauma can burn a hole into your mind. The hole can be covered up with experiences to the point that it's not noticeable to others, but you know where it is. And you avoid that hole. You build your life around it. It's as if you build a house on top of unstable soil. Instead of building on a solid foundation, you pretend the hole does not exist and move ahead without dealing with the hole. And you know what you have done is defer your problem to the future or you let it affect your life in such a way that you possibly deny yourself pleasure or invite stress because you cannot look into the hole and determine how to fill it permanently.

But what if the hole in your mind was dug by someone else? What if they dug the hole when you were unable to stop them? Maybe they dug the hole and you didn't even know that a hole didn't belong there. Maybe you felt that having a hole in your mind was normal because someone you felt had your best interests at heart was doing the digging.

There is a sign next to this particular hole with one word on it: Abuse. The word on this sign tends to be overused but there are those who need other words to describe their pain because the words hole and abuse cannot begin to describe their trauma. The problem is that society tends to be unforgiving about mental issues because to the naked eye, there is no evidence of a true problem. The human mind is so complex yet we simpletons tend to believe it can be managed very easily. Just do it they say. Just think your way through the problem and its all better.

To me the problem is that the mind does not heal itself like the rest of our body. A cut heals itself. But a severe injury such as a broken bone requires the help of a doctor. We all know this to be true and would consider someone foolish if they did not seek medical attention. Yet when the mind is injured we make fun of people who seek the help of counselors or psychiatrists.

Why is that?

Maybe it’s because we all know we could use help. Yet competency and having your act together is seen as the most important thing in life at times and our ability to day in and day out function under stress is the expectation. It’s been so commoditized that we are tough on ourselves and on others. We struggle through the day with high blood pressure or possibly drinking problems and soldier on instead of calling a mental doctor and just having a chat. This third party can help because they can let you know that you are not alone in your irrational feelings of fear that occasionally creep into your mind.

But, what about that hole in your mind that someone else dug? Why is it a problem? Maybe it was dug long ago and the shovel has been put away. Do you pick up the shovel and keep digging? Why do you refuse to fill it up? Do you feel unworthy? Do you think you somehow are tainted? Do you feel you need to be forgiven? You don’t need to be forgiven because you have done nothing wrong. You were abused. You were taken advantage of. But you retain the right to be happy. The right to a good life. The right to dream and to achieve. But are you not allowing yourself what everyone else seems to take for themselves? They are no better than you.

Yes, it happened to you. Yes, it was terrible and that person deserves bad things for what they did to you. But, this isn’t a conversation about forgiving them because I don't have the right or the insight to tell you to forgive them. That is up to you. But, it is a conversation about healing yourself and looking into the mirror and saying “I’m a human being and whatever someone did to me long ago doesn’t matter.”

Maybe you carry this with you because your abuser made you feel as if you deserved it. You didn’t. You were a child. They were an adult. All children cry, scream, act selfish and make mistakes. You were no different than any other child, but your abuser was different than normal adults. They had an illness or an inferiority complex so profound that they could only make themselves feel better by abusing someone who was helpless. You were helpless. But, it wasn’t your fault and today you should stand up and say “I deserve happiness because I did nothing wrong.”

You have to demand this of yourself. The hole must be filled up with the knowledge of your helplessness in the face of the abuser and with the true belief in your worthiness as a human being to exist in a happy state as others appear to be. You can do this because there is no reason to not believe in yourself. If the one who should have loved you the most didn’t love you then accept this fact and understand that you are lovable. It was their sickness that infected your mind. THEIR SICKNESS; NOT YOURS.

Don’t expect rejection from others because of what happened to you. Not everyone is an abuser. But if you carry this with you then everyone will be an abuser in your mind and you will fulfill a destiny that you have created. Stop looking for the approval of others. They are not God. They are merely human beings just like you and even though they may appear to have their act together, they don’t. Everyone is flawed. So don’t let yourself be intimidated by people; especially because of what happened to you. That is not you. That is only what happened to you.

DON’T LET IT BECOME YOU. And don't make others believe your hole is normal. It's not their burden. Don't dig a hole in their mind. Ask them to help fill yours up.
NitaAnn Sep 2013
I will never be Good Enough

I'm not doing well, the past few weeks have been yet another dark period in my life. So much happening... most of which I can't bring myself to discuss even in an anonymous setting like this…it's not YOU… it’s me, and the fact that I can't seem to admit the nasty truths to myself. I'm falling apart, I know it. I feel myself slipping. I am aware of the panic building deep inside of me. I know what the trigger is, but I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know how to “fix” it…and IT *****! Everything feels like it’s upside down, I cry one minute and I laugh the next. Sometimes it starts as a laugh and ends as a cry. And I wonder how much strength and will power I really possess, taking a moral inventory, trying to figure out who the hell I am.

It's just not a good time;
I suppose I should just leave it at that.
I have good ideas,
but not enough heart to stick it out.
Or maybe I’m just not good enough, period?
That's how I feel... not good enough...
not smart enough, or pretty enough,
or thin enough,or rich enough,
or successful enough,
I’m not good enough.
Not Good Enough.
I long to be good enough,
yet that dream has not been realized,
and I wonder if it ever will be.


Lately, I feel nothing...
except emptiness, and hollow...
I can't for the life of me figure out what's wrong.
How did I get this way?
What led to this?
What's wrong with me?
Why can't I make sense of it all.
I think I'm broken.
I feel a heaviness in my heart
something is trying to happen far away
within a part of me I don't remember how to find.
I feel lost
I'm just wandering around within my mind, waiting.
Wishing for someone to tell me what to do and how
but there’s no one to help me.
I cannot allow myself to trust, to lean on anyone.
Been there, done that,
it only ends in more pain, more shame and hurt.
I am on my own with this.
So I write about it,
because that's what I know how to do
and the writing pacifies me
and teases me out of my own thoughts.
I have so much hurt and anger
it’s bubbling to the surface.


Everything around me, and the very fact that I have to go on in the midst of it, whispers to me of my own failure and horribleness as a human being. I know all that I tell myself is not true, but this is not the kind of thing I can just tell myself to stop and be happy.

I see myself as a child. I see a little girl sitting in a dark corner, hugging her knees and trying to be as small and "out of the way" as possible. When she looks at me, her eyes are full of a terrible anger- rage, really and pain. She is scared. I have never seen myself so dark. But she is undeniably me, and she must have existed during that time of my life. I have ignored her, I choose to ignore her, because she did not fit the image I held for myself. She makes me think about everything that happened to me. So much anger, so much hurt. She was rejected, hated, abused; never good enough. She was insulted, ridiculed, hated, ignored, and abused. The pain from the aftermath is unspeakable. I try to list the things my father said to me- did to me- not to relive the memories but to acknowledge the suffering I never could when I was actually going through it. I try to describe the pain and it's so overwhelming that no words will come. I don't know what to say to her…this child of my past. I don't know how to help her exist, how to let myself be angry and hurt, how to bring to life all of the things that I've repressed. I want to express it all, but I don't know where to begin. And I look for something anything, a book, a person, a therapist; anything to show me the way. I suppose there is no way, no road map, nothing but fumbling in the dark, at least that’s been my experience. I try to ignore her, but every night when I close my eyes and I see her, but I cannot sit with her or tell her I am here for her. I am unable to tell her that her pain is real and that she has every right to be angry. I cannot help her or stop her anger or pain. I don’t know how. No one has ever shown me how. And she wants, needs, something, and I don't know what to do, or how to help her. I am so tired of walking this road alone.
I am tired of the pain and anger,
but they are mine- a part of me.

And I don’t know where to go from here.
Or if there is anywhere to go from here.

**I will never be good enough.
This is an expansion of a poem I wrote last month...nothing every changes even when it seems to get better for a bit...and then I blink and I am right back here fumbling in the dark and still not good enough for anything or anybody.
When a white woman is victimized they'll scour the streets, fan out, stop,
harass, detain, arrest any black man. Any one they can finger for the crime.

They say things such as they all look alike or something to that effect.

A black woman is abused they'll look around, see white males everywhere but they cannot find any suspects? None of them fit the description.

Why is that?

Yeah, that's right, it is because they all look alike! Too many of 'em. Can't arrest everyone now can we? People have rights!

Yep,
          I suppose they do...



As long as you consider them,
                                                        "­people,"  
                                                    ­                           -they have rights.
For those who bother to check..my father told me about the original T.V. media on this and I deduced the rest by a sheer enjoyment of the man. Love you AL.
Yenson Jul 2018
A while ago in East London, in an area called Poplar
a black man lived with his wife
Quiet, hardworking, law-abiding they both were.
never courted a scandal, never committed a crime
Just went about their business, working for  better tomorrows

Then next door a Scottish family of five moved in
and immediately started borrowing from couple next door
Do you have sugar, do you have bread, can I borrow a fiver
till our Giro arrives next week, please another tenner for Jim
He has to pay a fine.

Empty beer cans littered their doorway, they all drank like fish
fights and arguments rang late into the night
Police visited twice, thrice weekly and it was known Jim burgled.
and was always doing time, when not drunk and fighting
Joan eldest girl was pregnant at sixteen and Tom fourteen had
done two stretches in juvenile detention
Last daughter Kelly was also to end up in the duff at sixteen

Amounts borrowed was now sizable, the odd fiver repaid
stolen items regularly offered and rejected by quiet couple next door
Invites to the black man to visit while Jim in jail politely declined
Come and have a drink with me and my young daughters
No thanks, got to go and cook, my Mrs would be returning soon.

The family from hell has turned the neighborhood to hell
constant break-ins all around
strange men coming and going, fights and noise, beer cans
for carpets, stairwells reeking of ****, Tom and friends and
Marijuana fumes graced the stairs and veranda.
Mrs Scottish and two young daughters constant smiling invitations
to black man next door, duly always deftly rejected.

Black man and Mrs decided to stop lending money
it was all going on beer and smoke and never paid back
By the end of the week, their car had been vandalized and four
wheels removed, racist leaflets started appearing on veranda.
No more smiling coyly invites, now just loud music and loud
intermittent bangs on walls from next door.
We must complain, we most report all this to the Landlords.
No, lets just ignore them, not worth the hassle.

Then it happened, black man arrives home one afternoon
and finds his front door ajar, they had been burgled.
Seething with anger he stormed next door to be met by Mrs S
'you ******* thieves have robbed me, how can you be so low,
after all we've done to try and help you. None of you work, You are a bunch of lazy
workshy, welfare scroungers, you are pathetic lowlife. why don't you go and get a job instead of burgling houses and getting drunk all day long
I will start a petition to move you away from the neighborhood.
You no-good non working class scums'  a disgrace and an affront to the hardworking working classes. You ******* racist bullies, I will show you, you can't
mess with me'

Mrs S smiled wickedly and said, you will see
'character assassination, public humiliation, we'll ruin your life and you'd wish you are dead by the time we finish with you and your chicken legs wife. I will show you who runs the manor in East London.'
You can't do that, black man replied, I have done nothing wrong, you are the bare-faced thieves, you shameless woman. We have had enough of you and your anti-social behaviour. You are not going to mess with us no more!

OH, YES! they can and by jove, they did.
Mrs S retorted' You are the foreigner here, you are the one that would be leaving the country
and going back to your Jungle'.
Black man called wife to tell her, she came home immediately
the police came, no evidence, here's a crime report, get your door
fixed. How about searching next door, we can't, no witnesses.
And then Black man's life changed FOREVER.

Should I write about the intimidation from other white families
in the neighborhood, should I write about how the Local Socialist
Party got involved, and launched a propaganda campaign about a black Conservative member dissing the Working Classes,  should I write about how one of his beloved dogs was
killed, should I write about a rumour campaign that black man was a wife-beater, a ****, a con man, a greedy parasite, should I write about sudden hostilities and bullying at his work place, how his wife was also sacked, about being randomly insulted and abused in the streets, about kids spitting on him, about being shunned inexplicably by locals
he's known for years. Should I write about outrageous fabrication, smears and humiliation.
Should I write about political victimization, about the black man 'who thinks he is better than us all,' about how a wedge was driven between him and his wife, till she broke and upped and left without warning,
should I write about how strangers shouted 'solidarity with the working Class' at him, should I write about daily torments and constant harassment everywhere he goes, should I write about Criminal gang stalking,
should I write about being informed they were going to ruin his career, ruin his marriage and ruin his reputation, check, all done. S I write about how they said they were going to chuck mud at him everywhere he went and blacken his name forever, should i write about pure isolation, about being made a target and being  hounded and stalked and disrespected everywhere. Should I write about how they stated they were going to drive him insane and drive him to suicide.

If so, WE WILL BE HERE ALL DAY.
Just  know that somewhere in London, a decent, law-abiding progressive, and innocent black man, is now on his own, broke, in debts and on Welfare benefits, unable to find a job, friendless and isolated, discredited and shunned.  He is still being stalked, harassed and hounded, round the clock. All for daring to stand up to CRIMINALS.

IS THERE JUSTICE IN THE WORLD?
IS THIS WHAT ENGLAND HAS BECOME?
igc May 2015
I saw the best minds of my generation congested and
polluted overdosing on irrelevance

Abandoned abused replaced
Fed to the thought police
Corrected corrupted
Declining the potential to be heard in
exchange for the opportunity to be documented

Lives being lived according to unfeasible standards
You either make it or you don’t
there’s no in between
there’s no maybe
there’s no equal

Left to meander through the conceived thoughts of others
decisions being made
moves being made
eulogies being made

nothings real
nothing’s right
nothing’s honest
nothing thought up matters


Who in the safety of their homes were taught respect
are told to mask their emotions
Identities saved for the weak
Only to be showcased when conducive

Who pump iron into their veins
looking for an angry fix of acceptance
Sweat streams surge down their backs
Failure prominent in their thoughts
Motivation blessing their features
the Devil clever in disguise

Who see little white fields of fairy dust
a never ending landscape of courage
giving them superpowers beyond belief

Nothing beats the freedom of being told
You can fly

Who dream of equality behind closed eyes
But render to imposed birth rights when open
The upper hand implying more than height
and executing more force than necessary to move them

It’s all about the cause until you’re indubitably
the effect

Who tuck monsters into their beds
Forgetting to check closets for skeletons not quite left behind
in the path of carefully chaotic self destruction
Conveniently purging themselves of words whispered
in the throes of passion
Forced upon the ears of all naive enough to listen

Who carelessly expend countless hours playing with
condescending pawns disguised as adults
All grown up with no where to go
Replacing quality with quantity
Leaving long dull trails of breadcrumbs
leading to hearts long since lost
Never to be recovered again

Who follow sexuality by the book
doing this to get that for this him them who what when where
Why does the finish line have to be covered with brightly colored lace and muffled drunk cries chanting no

Who stare dead straight into the soul of love but never
Never into her eyes
Told she is not worthy of being addressed directly
Fingers itching to cop a feel
Only to discover the body is but a passage to her straight dead soul


Who trade in their voice mind and individuality
for half assed smiles and superficial men
As the face of a leviathan nicknamed acceptance
hands them a paycheck they’ve worked too
night day night night hard to refuse

Who idolize the feel of phantom limbs of lovers past
Twisted words convoluting their heads
Forcing on masks of pure heroine
at the sight of scars left on the soul
Scratching at the need to feel wanted
But cowering at the ability to truly be heard

Who have perfected the art of parallel painting
Elegant red streaks hidden beneath layers of
choppy dark colored hate covering pretty pale limbs
Seeming to fade as colorlessly caked on insecurities susurrate bitter-sweet nothings that curl themselves just inside her mutilated skin

Who scavenged their looks from the bottom of holes
they’re expected to clamber out of
Smiling pretty smiling
Being treated to complimentary meals
Only to be served plates full of disappointment.

Who crave companion’s flaws
in ruthless attempts to satisfy their hunger for compassion
Selfless beings dedicated to less than noble attempts at vanquish
The call for heat too satisfying to refuse the trade off forever uselessly launching themselves into razor sharp blades
aimed at ***** sleeves

Who see soft lips as cushion enough to fall from towers built of fear
Dragging moist palms across pavement thighs
Tearing at the seams holding their
hearts together

Who cower behind brick wall appearances
fruitlessly clutching on to ideas reserved for the most fortunate
Scaring away potential with claws that seemingly only come
out to play in the face of acceptance

Who’s sick stick thin limbs trail their worn down
fingernails in an effort mar skin no one can see
Streaks titillate their bright red scalps
A reflection of their underlying journey

Who disgorge yesterday's meal from stomachs long before empty
Blood spewing from the mouth an open wound
Continuously sewed up but never stitched tight correctly
Wiring shut opinions but never gorged enough to
muzzle their Howls



Ideas, calm and collected have long been hijacked and invaded by Hestia

Hestia! Consent! Content! Acceptance!
Long nights and roid rage men!
Two faces fighting a losing battle!
Girls playing mom! Boys playing war!
Ill ridden parents still pledging to the
United States of Controlling Media!

Hestia! Hestia!
Overall reign of Hestia!
Hestia the beautiful!
Incarcerated Hestia!
Hestia the ******!

Hestia twisted and shaped to form the voice of conformity
Hestia constantly watching over and monitoring
Hestia being told what to ******* think

Hestia seeping creeping sneaking into the
darkest crevices of our minds
Hestia when least expected coming out to say
Hello

Too late! Hestia’s already made herself at home
Wedged between the rooks of your biggest fear and
burrowed deep into the folds of
Your  Worst  Nightmare

Stuck in a constant battle between
rejecting Hestia,
and accepting her.
This was obviously inspired by Allen Ginsberg's "Howl."
Considering it was, at the time, the voice of that generation, Welcome to Generation Y.
This is a work in progress.
Aaron LaLux Sep 2018
I was sexually abused when I was a child,
the only light at the end of that tunnel,
is that it wasn’t done,
by a family member,

but it was done,
and I don’t even remember,
as much as Christine Blasey Ford does,
nor have I ever had to testify,

all I remember was the taste of that ****,
and how it taste like buried secrets,
the way they ferment and rot,
when lodged in the gut and not allowed to surface,

see we’ve all been abused,
and not a single one of us deserved it,
so now we serve this life sentence of guilty regret-ness,
which in turn as positioned me in service,

oh America The Beautiful,
when did we become so broken,
everyone’s got a story,
of either being abused or abusing,

watched the Judge Kavanaugh hearing,
watched Dr. Christine struggle to retell her tale,
under the glaring lights of the TV cameras,
under the glaring stare of a bunch of older white males,

I mean let’s put it into perspective,
here is a lady who’s held this secret for years,
and then in an instant she was broadcast worldwide,
for the whole world to hear,

her life will never be the same,
she’s admitted her most private moments to the public,
and all because to the highest court in the country,
this demon from her past is about to be appointed,

and I don’t know what my point is,
maybe I don’t have one,
like a lonely kid,
who’s only role model is a fictional superhero,

because he doesn’t have an honorable father,

a lonely kid,
who’s only friend is his pet dog,
that he takes faithfully with him,
we he goes on walks just to get lost,

doesn’t have a destination,
still he feels like he’s in a rush,
can’t focus his attention and is always impatient,
and don’t know where to go and only wants to find the love,

and when he tries to speak up to tell someone what’s up,
he’s just dismissed as ignorant and told to hush,
and what does it mean when a ****** predator,
has the title of Judge,

how can someone that acts so immorally,
be put in a position to weigh the scales of justice evenly,
maybe there’s no right and wrong anyways,
maybe nothing is for certain and there are no guarantees,

maybe,
maybe not,
but I do know one thing for certain,
wherever I go the trauma from my past is brought,

because I was sexually abused when I was a child,
and the only light at the end of that tunnel,
is that it wasn’t done,
by a family member…

∆ LaLux ∆
Umi Apr 2018
What I am,
Is not what you are,
Because unlike you, I never was human.
Never was able to really feel emotions, which you all adore,
Been called a demon for that reason, a monster which was deserted,
Emptiness, calm and drenched in the sorrow of never fitting in is what embellishes me, an ornament of true, cruel sadness, undetected.
And yes, I don't understand you, perhaps I don't even want to, knowing what humans are like, I accepted my fate of being alone,
I let my fingernails grow long and sharp to at least fit into the picture of a monster you have put me, because what else do I have left ?
A heart, perhaps which desires to take those under its wing whom suffered the same tragity, orphans with no place or rejected, abused.
And a body, carrying a thousand marks done by a knife, or these nails, in a cold desperate wishing to be normal at least for a day, to not be alone and deserted, with no one left to talk but a silly pen, a pocket watch which is about to stop ticking calmly, gently very soon.
An ember of light, triggers some emotions at rare occasions, which fade into nothingness as the day begins to face it's end, ah, phantoms
So, what I am,
Is not what you are,
Because I am...
A demon.

~ Umi
Living with the asperger syndrome is sure a pain, at least for me.
Kate Apr 2014
When i was 13 I thought that gay and straight were things that other people were
People that weren't raised christian
People that didn't have dads
People that were abused
People that i should pray for but not get close to

when i was 14 my best friend came out as gay
i didn't see it coming but i probably should have
she wore ties every day
and plaid shirts with the sleeves rolled up
and cut her hair short as soon as she could
but i didn’t see it because gay was other people

when i was 14 i watched as the news spread like wildfire
“did you hear? that girl is gay.”
I watched as people slowly backed away from her
people that knew her all her life
that is, the people that didn’t cut her off instantly

I watched as the youth group we had both attended asked her to leave
I watched as her drama group kicked her out because they were afraid of the yearly camp we went to
that somehow knowing that she was gay made her more likely to attack the other girls in their beds than the year before

I watched.
I didn’t do anything.

what changed my mind wasn’t a change of perspective on queer people
it still took me a year to decide being gay wasn’t wrong
but i decided that my best friend was someone i would stick with
because i loved her

I quietly stayed.
didn’t make a fuss, didn’t call people out when they called her names behind her back.
I should have.
but i didn’t.
I didn’t join in, but i didn’t defend her
i didn’t say to these people
*******
that girl is beautiful and amazing
and if you can’t see through your hatred then i don’t want to be your friend either
but i didn’t .
I didn’t go through what she did.
I didn’t get kicked out of anything, i didn’t lose friends

When i was 15, i got fed up
I left that drama group.
I stopped going to that church.
I stepped away from those friends and even though i never said why
the look on my face when i ran into them and they asked, “how’s she doing?”
answered that question for them.

I spent 24 hours examining my bible
trying to find the verses that say being gay is wrong
there were barely any
and they were right next to verses that said eating pork was wrong
or planting crops next to each other
or wearing two different fabrics

there was my answer.

this isn't a story of my journey.
This isn't me building myself up
“hey, I wasn't as bad as those other people
I’m good now”

this is a story of how one person can change your life forever

if i didn't have a gay best friend
what a way to start a story, huh?
if i didn't have a gay best friend then I would still be there
quietly praying for the sins of others, but not trying to understand
so don’t look at all Christians and say
they’re awful
they’re bigoted
they’re judgmental
because we are
but often it’s because we don’t know any better
teaching us kindly works
leading by example.
So, this is the first poem I've ever actually finished. I had a emotional night, and wrote three things at about 2AM, so this is the first one.
Audrey Cave Mar 2015
Bright red tears
Slip down her face.
Eyes are beaten, bruised.
The sweat-beads form
As brother comes,
To beat her black and blue.
The cry she gives.
Is quickly silenced.
By agony and fear.
He takes her arm,
Raises it high.
And cracks it without tear.
Her ear-piercing cry
Is once silenced again.
By life or death decision.  
Brother blows.
Pounding her down.
And to heaven
That little girl goes.
Aaron LaLux Jun 2016
The slap stings more than it probably should,
scratch that like a cat’s scratch on the back of a mattress,
the slap stings more than I thought it would,
because it was a surprise that was deserved but not expected,

and as she tries to explain herself,
with tears streaming down her cheeks and loving anger in her eyes,
I begin to think what every abused person forever thinks,
maybe I deserved it…

She’s small,
petite,
physically unthreatening,
but emotionally a serious liability,
like a stealth bomber,
aeronautically beautiful,
but destructively deadly,
a suicidal **** savage,
a carcinogenic princess,

she is,
small,
petite,
as cute as she is hard headed,
stubborn trouble that’s hard to argue with,

so I don’t argue,
instead of engage I ignore,
silence can be more of an insult,
than even the worst words ever are,
when words are replaced,
with the silence of space,
all kinds of assumptions and truths can occur,

so I don’t argue,
I don’t debate or retaliate,
I just politely remove myself,
from this situation when it escalates.

See,
I’ve been in abusive relationships in the past,
and the bones of the skeletons in my closet,
barely rest buried just below the surface,

and that slap,

that fckn slap,
almost awoke the demons,
so loud it almost disturbed the devil,
it almost brought about a most unholy resurrection,

that slap,

was like a shovel digging into the dirt in a graveyard,
almost uncovering the sinful skeleton bones buried just below the surface…

But I refuse,
to let this hysterically temperamental gorgeous Gravedigger,
unearth a past that's sentimentally painful and totally traumatic,
and even though I’m unnerved by the slap because that slap hurt,
I refuse to give in to her drama and become all melodramatically dramatic.

See,

she’s sweet as Halloween treats,
at the same time still bitingly bitter and distasteful,
so instead of engaging in here arguments,
I remove myself and my emotions from her Self that’s so ungrateful,
she calls me a player and a **** but I find that her labels are mislabeled,
so no I don’t give in to her taunts I refuse to engage in something so shameful,

instead of engaging,
I leave her alone with her tears,
I exit out the balcony,
and make my way down the stairs,
I take myself to the ocean,
walking barefooted along the path,
I am not responsible for her heart,
so I refuse to endure her wrath,

see,

domestic abuse hurst both,
the abuser and the abused,
especially when the two are in love,
and they are all out of options to choose,

there’s a very thin line between love and hate,
and those dividing lines can sometimes fade,
mistakes can be made good intentions misplaced,
a kiss on the check and a held hand can turn into a slap in the face!

The slap stings more than it probably should,
scratch that like a cat’s scratch on the back of a mattress,
the slap stings more than I thought it would,
because it was a surprise that was deserved but not expected,

feeling rejected,
and disconnected,
feeling both affected,
and disaffected,

I exit,

I exit the bungalow,
and ascend down the winding staircase,
I get outside and get away from there,
staring out into star lit space,

I breathe,
and think,
fresh air is so underrated,
I see my favorite star,
thanking me because I made it,
twinkling vibrantly she has me sedated,
not the girl,
but the star,
she is such a seductress,
shining in such radiant hues of electric light,
she twinkles vibrantly and violently,
she does not go gently into that good night,
she is the good in a good night,
twinkling vibrantly as other stars shoot across the Night's sky,

she rages against the dying light,
and I give thanks that I am still alive.

I walk,

barefoot and bare chested,
down to the beach,
where the dry desert sands of southern Baja,
meet the wet ocean waters of the Pacific,

bottle of wine in one hand,
book and pen in the other,

I marvel at the stars,
and remember that I am never really alone,
for as long as I can see the sky,
I’ll always see the way to get back home.

The constellations are stellar interpretations,
maps to guide us home to our final destination.


I arrive,
at the beach,
several shooting stars later,
and wash away the ache on my face and in my heart,
with waves on my feet and wine in my throat,
I record some more emotions on this paper,
because poetry is my form of emotional art,

and by the light of the full moon,
I write for as long as I can write,
my pains won’t be in vain,
and everything will be worth it even what happened tonight,

I will take all of our collective abuses,
and place them on these papers,
transforming them from form to thought,
then from thought to words on these papers,

I will take all of our collective abuses,
process and translate them into messages to be read,
I will take all of our collective abuses,
and process them through the headaches in my head,
so hopefully these messages,
will help others who have been or are being abused stand strong,
and hopefully these messages,
will help others who abuse or have abused realize that they are wrong,
because at the end of the day what we can say to relate,
is it’s all about love and hate it’s not all about right and wrong.

And just as I lose hope,
and ethereal angel appears,
wearing a white linen robe,
looking like a ghost holding laughter and tears,

she sits next to me,
here on the sands,
and takes the warm bottle of wine,
from my cold still writing hands,

she observes as I finish,
writing these last few lines,
she watches me with interest,
as if she can read my mind,

and she smiles even though it’s a painful world,
because she knows we’re both survivors so we will survive,
and she knows we’re both riders so we’re always ready to ride,
and we both shine way too bright to ever be able to hide,

and then we make love,
our passions rising along with the tide,
and maybe that’s why the girl back at the bungalow slapped me,
because she was mixed up with hurt feelings and hurt pride,
she was frustrated that she loved me but that here love was not enough,
but what am I to do I can not control how my heart feels or even control myself.

I hurt her,
so she slapped me,
and I guess that’s fair,
though maybe not exactly,
either way I care too much to care,
and either way that **** slap kinda stings,

even when I know it’s deserved…

The slap stings more than it probably should,
scratch that like a cat’s scratch on the back of a mattress,
the slap stings more than I thought it would,
because it was a surprise that was deserved but not expected…

– ∆  Aaron La Lux ∆ –

'The City of Fallen Angels'; available worldwide 7/7/16


ouch! I probably deserved it...
JayceeJellies Nov 2014
They stare at you.
They judge you.
They talk about you.
They hurt you.

Why?

Because they're "jealous"
Because they're "abused"
Because they're "hurting"
Because they're mean.

You cry at night,
You want to fight.
But you're scared,
You hate fear.

Your parents ignore you,
Sometimes THEY bully you.
Your siblings laugh at you,
They usually pick on you.

What do you do about this?
Nothing.
paprika Nov 2013
It's been nearly two years since he abused me, used me
but it seems to me his deed is something I now carry with me
he poured concrete into my heart and let it harden into darkness
at night I still feel the fight and I scream from the sharpness
my veins are now a garden where his weeds are sown
my bones are hollowed out and my mind is overgrown
all I ever wanted was to find a home within
and now I'm left bereft, my fragile heart split.

We tend to give ****** abuse a single definition
that for it to count physical ******* is a given
but for me, four years of conditioning to be the perfect victim
meant I didn't need any violence to lie there in submission
restrained by chains of denial, drugged by the promise of love
my body pulled below while my mind floated above.

Only I can't help wondering through it all
if I somehow caused this man's downfall
that maybe I revealed a little too much
so I had to yield to his hungry touch
that if I had acted in a different way
I wouldn't have been suffocated with this pain.
The truth is victim shaming is rooted so well
that the victims often blame themselves.

It took me so long to realize the flaw,
and draw my own conclusions,
that it wasn't what I showed, but what he saw
that gave life to his delusions.

— The End —