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Duck Oct 2012
If you were the sky
Then I'd be the sea
And when you shined bright
It would reflect in me.
When you're at rest
Then I am steady.
If you wanna get rough
I'm always ready.
Past closing at the bars
If you show me the stars
I'll open right up
And cast them out far.
And on the darkest night
If you won't shine a light.
Then I'm silent alongside you
Until you feel right.
We'll meet at the horizon
Where lovers will stare
And wonder with passion
Why they can't meet there.
And you'll share me a kiss
As bright as two suns.
When they meet in the middle
I'll know the days done.
And I can tell that's your way of saying to me.
Goodnight my love.
If you were the sky and I were the sea.
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Ron Sanders Feb 15
(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.
He was the ocean; handsome, but yet, Impulsively damaged. He had a sandy heart to correspond his sandy eyes, the moon dismantled that omitted pride he carried at a dead weight; shoveling and reshaping it, so people would see a sandcastle statue assembled in strength. But his washed-up soul and unannounced insecurities were aware of its genuine purpose,
this beach alongside his pupils;
quicksand, he'll sink so slowly in.  Waves in his hair like ripples on his cheeks, skipping stones land at his defeat, he left notes in bottles for you, sank multiple ships for you, because he hasn't the heart to say he's desiccating with the arrival of the stars.. Retracting scars are not too far from gasps for air,  foaming words of crisis by writing in the sand, signaling a light as the last one in him died. You wouldn't understand, the calm before the storm, as valve after valve puncture him. So intoxicating as it drains him, and from within, he's drying out. Sunburns stain him, a smile restrains him,
in an inescapable drought--
All feedback is welcome
So this was posted here a couple weeks ago and, when I went to revise it, it was drafted and came out as new, I guess? :)
CK Baker Feb 2017
late night by the holland sill
white framed and frilled
alongside the meadow
down by the grand
where cat fish
and cow pies
and silly yellow bees
make their stay

there are swings now
and empty barns
(with quiet corners
and broken walls)
echoing chambers
that speak of the past
...and little dogs
not big ones

the plaster cracks
and wheat sways
from a warm west wind
it’s about time
for that late afternoon pour
you know how it cleans the soul
old percy would say

and flanders
(the holder of those pigs)
who fed us good
with sow and milk
as we plowed the
dusty fields
into the
hot summer sun

i can still hear the screams
of river dreams
the grand slams
and flints run dry
the barks
and breaks
and bends
a world past
with forbes
and dolls
and crab apple trees

think i’ll take a trip
up the back lane
they’ve cut the brush
and opened the line
CK Baker Jan 2018
who lit the candles
placed eloquently
behind purple rock?
the sculpted radiance,
chapel grace
wound in a chosen
defined way
down the spiral
stone stairs

street cars dawdle
alongside
the packer slew
biding merchants
and frontmen
shuffle their wares
as the madman
and pock face
sing their
holy blues

cut jazz echoes
over the accompanying
gabble and drone
incense and haze
pour from
a lower trap door
sack fish, truffles
and splendid crafts shine
inside the stained glass fronts

a wide mouth snapper
with a bloated tongue
greets the
morning tide
(not camera shy
in the least!)
the fish traps
and beaneries
bring life
to the flourishing causeway

hula hoops
and ballers
join the
cobaine stage
favoured rogues
and mac jacks
speak easy
of the big daddy

beth’s triple by pass
taking firm hold on
tricky ****
and the nutcracker
maze ways,
taggers and
lost tunnels
of cu chi
strike a
nerving blow

a poised finger man
belts out his tune
(with a sniff sock
and iterating glare)
his nosey neighbors
cut artisan bread
(with a white wine
and jelly spread)
midwives push forward
for an afternoon
toddle and stroll
Wade Redfearn Jul 2018
It isn't like that.
It isn't a left turn too early,
a lark awake at night,
thick brown light in an open field;
unpredictable: a bad or counter-miracle.
It is only wanton.

You know how it is
Suddenly, something trapped between your toes:
the world has a strangled voice, it is
unroofed. You want the comfort of normal walls,
normal light, normal noise; in your hand
is a hot brand you'd halfway use
to smith it back together
and halfway swallow.
I had different plans for this vacation
than destruction.

I had plans. You had plans. The earth
planned its axial tilt; the weather planned
its burning; we put aside too little water.
A few plants were familiar -
the ruined piñon pine I remembered from the placard.
One lonesuch tree that made a little niche
at a defiant angle into the air
and outlived all except its orphaning.
How we thought we could fare better, I cannot say.

Ten feet up by one hundred feet over:
one liter water per mile climbed:
fatigue. Fatigue.
The quiet supremacy of all these rules for living like
transit and occultation
refraction and dimness
exertion
hunger
peristalsis pulling down
huge loads of sunlight
into the ***** gully
like bread and meat.

You will not see the bottom
no matter how hard you look.

If blood I am, then what kind of blood?
Unsettled and unsettling. The circulatory system
has an apt name: sometimes I can feel yesterday's blood
in the same neurons, saying the same thing.
I have no choice but to repeat it.
Time sheds its significance.
I have no continuity:
I have rhythms.

The new day, on fire and sitting in the trickle
you held a golden fish in your palm
as if you had made it by will
and cupped, it circled in the valley of your fingers
and I ate from the vision of care.

Erosion: isn't that what made these furrows?
I beg it to unmake me
flat like a seabed and many fathoms green
where the sun will never reach me.

In the penumbra of your anger
I do not fear dying,
only dying unclean.
Heights are all the same.
They would all break me and none would enough.
The grasshoppers and gecko hatchlings
all die in their way, rubbed in the hot dry dust.
Parched, I gnash my stone teeth
and tongue of chaparral -
I am making a song to say
die with me
but smile at me.

Then I see it through flashes of temper,
frame by frame, like a fingertip behind a pinwheel:
a dream of something distant that is also true.
Dreams of freedom alongside dreams of dying.
sugar high, sugar low
i'll go as far as i can go
make some new memories
the one you'd never forget
and the ones you want to forget
oh take me down under ground
bury me alongside with your past regrets


I'm not gonna let you go..
Oh no, oh no, oh no..
Not gonna let you go...


ahh sugar high, sugar low
i'll go as far as i can go
take you for a ride
the one that never end
but the one we're headed to
is a dead dead dead end my darlin'
bury me alongside with your past lovers

I'm not gonna let you go..
Oh no, oh no, oh no..
Not gonna let you go...

ooh sugar high, sugar low
i'll go as far i can go
i can't stop
take a second look at you
wondering if we did things in regret
which it never really happened in the first place
that's why i had to take a second
to step back and take a second look at you
bury me alongside with your past memories

I'm not gonna let you go..
Oh no, oh no, oh no..
Not gonna let you go...

oooh sugar high, sugar low
i'll go as far i can go
there's no off button
i can't turn you off, my darlin'
it's on replay, i keep seeing repeats
late at night, i can't sleep
memories of you on mute
black and white on a broken down television
bury me alongside with you

ooh sugar high, sugar low
i'll go as far i can go
I'm not gonna let you go..
Oh no, oh no, oh no..
Not gonna let you go...
ooh sugar high, sugar low
i'll go as far i can go
ooh sugar high, sugar low..
ooh sugar high, sugar low......
copyrights by steven b craig 2010
Patricia Arches Sep 2013
Choices

This ever blotting simple thing that makes up things

as small as a mouse but also as deadly as sin itself

A simple formula of cause and effect

An effect

A result

A consequence

No pretences

Or fences that guard our decisions

Keeps it safe for being just a choice

For it is no longer just a choice

It is not that simple, see there is a formula to remember

An economic study to this choice where c=e

because

For every cause there is an effect

For every cause there is an effect

For every cause there is an effect

Let it dwell in your mind and affect you

Because that is where it all begins

Let us open up your mind and there we will find that

Alongside that implanted thought are a plethora

Of more thoughts that are placed beside your dreams

Nestled in between your hopes, skilfully intertwined with your visions

There they all lay

Our mind is our drive that takes us down

A road that is long and winding

A highway down to our hands

Which eventually become steered by, picked up with strings ever so delicately like a puppet

Held by that one thought

Your actions are birthed from your thoughts

We see these to be choices

To study these choices would be economics, to understand them would be sympathy

To take a leader who steals from his country

Or a mom who abandons her child to keep herself alive

And view this as sad, as a cry for help?

How and why?

Oh no! We do not stop at just those two ghastly choices

For this is a study of many

Choices

Of things that have happened to determine what will and to save us from what has been

Let us open up this book

And flip each page to see what decrees and laws

Revolutions and words put down on paper

Have anything to do with where we stand today

For the choices of the past still linger here

Mixed in with the choices of the present

Creating this air that we breathe in and out every single day

We would be infuriated with rage as we scan through the pages of this book of choices

A chapter of injustice

A paragraph of cruelty

A statement of selfishness

A line of adultery

But, wait! Oh, let us stop on this

One

story

For this I do not even understand

See I have studied choices, and put them into many formulas

To see the effects and the causes of each

but this story is different

For it is not just one chapter

One statement

One line

It is the whole story and each is intricately woven within it

In fact, the book is titled for this one story

And to begin it would be to start off with a choice

By a God

To send his son

To die for men

Men whose choices we see throughout the whole book

Men whose choices are vile and selfish and ruthless

Sinful men

*****

And yet a God so Holy and pure still sends down his son in His likeness for these grimy men??

See, if we picture it. It is a white cloth, pure and clean not just dipped but completely submerged in dirt

Now that is not a choice that I would make

But it was made

A man so untainted and holy

Came down

To die for the sinner

Who stole from the helpless woman in the ally

Who murdered an innocent child in the womb

Who told a tiny white lie to his mom and dad and gave himself away to drugs and peer pressure

Who lusted after the world and what seemed good but really was death covered in make up whispering

in the promises lie after lie

To die for the sinner who is you

You

Jesus chose to die for you

On that cross, with his hands bound by nails and his feet the same

And with every last breath, last drop of blood and whip of the chain

he thought of you

and that is a choice that no study, no analyzation could ever make sense of

but it was done

it is done

is what he said for you as his arms were spread out wide

and all your choices

he negated the effects, and ultimately the effect of death

and formulated a solution of eternal life instead

for this one choice

changed all the rest

Now, think, think it through

Every choice you make

and every choice that was made is made brand new, infused with grace

Remember this for when there is a test the formula of cause and effect

Still stand true

but also remember Jesus who did what you had to do

for you may make many more flawed choices without a thought

Therefore go down on bended knees gaze at the cross

where stood the Father’s son

never a doubt that this choice for you was a wrong one

that any effect wouldn’t be worth it

you are worth any effect

you are an effect

of that one choice made on the hills of calvary

look up at the cross when your lewd effects force out the mistakes of your personal choices

then resurface that one choice made 2000 years before

bring it up amongst all the confusion and chaos

study it’s economic worth

hold it dear

smile at it even for

that senseless,

unexplainable,

brilliant,

grand,

intricate,

lovel­y,

merciful,

gracious,

holy,

divine,

choice

is all for you
INSTRUCTIONS.

- Answer all questions. If you do not, please state why not. Failure to answer all questions will result in a fine of several thousand pounds (or whichever currency is used in your country), a pack of mints or a bottle of cider.
- Use black ink or black ball point pen or a purple crayon.
- You must not use a dictionary, unless the word ‘dictionary’ is spelt wrong on the cover.
- The maximum mark for this paper is 2,018.
- You are reminded of the need for good English (or whichever language you speak) and clear presentation in your answers. Illegible answers will result in a mark of minus 2,018.
- You are advised to spend between thirty minutes and no more than a period of eighty years on this questionnaire.
- Do not confer with anybody else in the room. If you find this difficult, move to an empty room or do not complete this questionnaire.

1. Can you do without your phone for twenty-four hours? Explain if you can or cannot, giving the make of your phone alongside the name of the last person you texted.

2. Is reality TV more important than politics? If so, name the last such television show you watched, its running time and the station it is on, as well as the name of your country’s leader at the time of your birth.

3. Does social media make you feel worse, not better? If not, please post a status on Facebook alongside an emoji of your choosing, explaining what you think of this questionnaire so far.

4. How many children do you have by twenty-five? If you have none, please state the number of times you have been asked if you have children yet.

5. Do you know the father/mother of each one? If you have no children yet, please skip this question.

6. Can you point out the nearest city to you on a map? If you can, well done and please move on. If not, please find the nearest atlas and leave a black dot on the bottom corner of the page that you believe shows the nearest city to your home.

7. Can you remember a time before Snapchat? If you can, explain in detail what it was like. Take care with punctuation, sentence structure, and grammar. Inaccuracies will be penalised.

8. What is love, really, to you? If you struggle with this question, please come back to it within two decades of the present time.

9. When was the last time you read a book and enjoyed it? Please note that a blog is not considered literature and you may be penalised if you choose to name one.

10. When was the last time you wrote a letter? If you are unsure, please see the attachment to this questionnaire which gives you a step-by-step guide to completing one.

11. Do you speak to people in person anymore? If you do not, please leave the room you are in and come back before the end of the day, explaining how your conversation or conversations went.

12. Do your parents know how you actually feel? Please bear in mind that, as your parents, they ought to know.

13. School’s not as bad as the real world, is it? If you are unaware of what the real world is like, you are advised to find out. If you have some knowledge of the real world, please elucidate on what the real world actually means.

14. Fishing for Instagram likes is a waste of time, don’t you agree? If you so wish, please write your social media links below, alongside the date you posted your most liked image and how many comments it received.

15. Why are you so obsessed with your looks? If necessary, please use the mirror and beauty magazines provided to produce a more accurate response. It is recommended you name your favourite Victoria’s Secret model.

16. Will you listen to a Kardashian more than your best friend? If you answer yes, please name the Kardashian you most admire and why your best friend is not as impressive.

17. Would you be able to cope on your own? To answer this effectively, ask everybody else in the room to leave for at least seven days.

18. Are you sure you know how to use a semi-colon? You should be aware a semi-colon is not to be confused with a colon.

19. Is Twitter being down the worst thing that could happen? If Twitter is down as you come to this question, please wait until it is working again before you answer.

20. Since when has fitting in been the best thing to do? Alternatively, write down your drug of choice alongside your favourite alternative-rock band active from 1992-1996.

21. Why are please and thank you now a goodbye and a gun? You are invited to search every student’s bag if you have concerns.

22. Is a cartoon character the president yet? If not, state which cartoon character would be best for the job.

23. Do you know you can’t avoid growing up? Please glue a current photograph of yourself alongside an image of yourself aged sixty in the space below.

24. Isn’t most of what you read a pack of lies? If you believe this questionnaire to be full of lies, you can scrunch it up into a ball and recycle it as soon as you’ve finished.

25. Whatever happened to that best friend of yours? The best way to answer is to find them.

26. How many people have you slept with in the past year? If necessary, use the calculator provided. If zero, please make sure that this is correct.

27. Can you remember their names? Take care with spelling, and be sure to mention their birthdate and father’s occupation.

28. Is it really depression or just what you want to call it? Please search Wikipedia for another suitable term if you stumble over this question.

29. When was the last positive news story? Tune in to your local or national news station and wait for such a story before answering.

30. How are you managing without your phone? If you are using it now, please state the number of apps you have downloaded and the current battery percentage.

31. How did you find this questionnaire? Please rate your experience on a scale of one to three hundred and fourteen, or if you prefer, on a scale of black to white, apple to orange, or Mr. Potato Head to Daenerys Targaryen.

Upon completion, unless you have choose to destroy your questionnaire (see question twenty-four), please seal your responses alongside these papers into a large envelope addressed to yourself, and post it first class by no later than nine o’clock tomorrow morning.
Written: June 2018.
Explanation: Is this a poem? I'm not sure, but I enjoyed writing it. The 'instructions' are very loosely based on those seen on the front covers of various British examination papers for teenagers. All references to social media, names (such as 'Wikipedia' and 'Kardashian') should need no explanation to readers, though to avoid confusion, 'Victoria's Secret' is a design company noted for its lingerie and various models, while 'Daenerys Targaryen' is a character portrayed by Emilia Clarke in the television series Game of Thrones.
The pains of reality justify the
Deep seated sorrow of man.

The vulture encircles me
Events surrounded by mystery
Enveloped in insanity
The human race is
Captivated by mystery
Doomed to repeat history

Collusion to bestow unmitigated
Sorrow upon my being

Simply put, I am
Damaged goods

Speak softly now
And choose your next thoughts
Carefully,
For the devil has called
My soul to dance

Reckless, unmitigated
Abandonment
Of mind, body, and soul
Fruitless searches
Forever numb
Longing to feel whole

Deep beneath the rolling waves
Lies serenity
Amongst sunken slaves
Deep inside my brain
The labyrinth of my mind
Memories that
I've left behind
Gone with the breeze
Above arid land
Somewhere lost in the desert
Where only shamans understand
Somewhere locked in the innocence
Of childhood frailty
Misplaced in the universe
Perpetuating reality
Walking alongside
All the gods of the ages
Bounding across time
In history's pages
Vacated with the morals
Of man
Lost in the seams of
Our lives
In the absence of the infinite
Shared hallucinogenic cries
Gone with the limbs of
The serpent
Ignored individuality dies
The reflection of man tainted,
For it is where the devil hides
Looming in the shadows
Of irresistible allure
No acquittal of our sins
A race ****** to remain
Impure
Violence surrounding our
Unequivocal, dastardly instincts
Perched in the forefront of our
Perceived selves
Selfish, devilish
Acts of kindness
The misfortune of the fortunate
Given all the amenities
Of a king's meal
Without the sensation of
Taste
Washed away with our
Dreams of betterment
Laying upon the chests
Of mythological beasts
Souls left rotting
Souring with ferment

Supreme consciousness
Arouses the senses
Invent my future with the
Myths of the past

You're stuck in a state of
Imaginary grace
Dream myself into
New bounds of transparency

Cryptic writings
Things left unsaid
Unsure of the real
Or the surreal
Life's slipping away
Once again
Paper in hand
Palms begin to sweat
Indulging into reality
Memories
I long to forget

It seems forever
Since I've been home
Trying to balance
This chemical imbalance
But always, I'm left here
Alone
Believing my dreams real
Realizing my world's surreal
Living with uncertainty
Imagining reality

Where do I go
To hide the pain?
Dual existence?
Acute psychosis?
Trapped inside my own
Brain
There's a place in my mind
I like to hide
Where all of my secrets
I do confide
There's a place I go
To bury the pain
A papered existence
Conducive synopsis,
Abstained

I begin to sweat
My heart screaming
From my chest
Let the feeling pass
Delve into the kingdom
Inability to
Repress
Take me away
To that far off place
Abscond into surreality
Amongst things I dare not
Confess

Drinking in divinity
Affixed on mortality
Will I die in this place?
Unable to resurface
Back in reality

Stuck running in circles
On a surface-less plane
Can't escape the shadows
Can't remove the pain
Simple design
Made up of
Over thought complexity
A universe separated
Removed from the modern mind
Inexorably

Amputation of
The mutation
That is the
Human race
Segregation of this
Charred realm
From other wordly
Space
We live
We die
And death begins it
Reinvent our minds
Ignite our passions

Drowning in a gene pool
Of degenerates
Souls thrashing
Wildly, forlorn
Plunged into unmitigated
Evil
Of a race that destroys
The unborn

Lachrymose gaze
Upon the living dead
A thin film of separation
Through which lies
Are fed
Understanding the weakness
Into which we are
******
For shed blood
Forces cries
Ripping from mother's eyes
Witnessing her own demise
As a piece of her
Slowly dies
For father's impenitent
Fantasies once dreamed
Torn away from aching
Fingers
Left ravaged,
Impotent

Gazing at you
Under the cloak of
Intrigue
Watching you struggle
In the tangled lies
You weave

Commanding the head
Of the serpent
Lilith forcing man's
Non-repent
Imposed upon our being
Righteous punishments
Such ramifications
Deemed astringent

Incomprehensible
Allure
Masochists of
Everything pure

Watch the world die
From afar
Irrevocable despair
Promising allegiance
To a life I cannot
Bear

Killing myself with
Indecision
On the perimeter
Of sanity
In the psychotropic prison
And psychotic affliction

Here it comes again
The voices, getting louder
It doesn't feel good anymore
How do I escape
Escaping?
Where do I go when my sanctum
Has been compromised?
Unable to quiet
The insurgents afoot
Incurable, incalculable
Indecision
Lost, finding my way home
Left in between existence
Alongside myself
Alone

The cold, inhuman ability
To sacrifice one's own mind
Hanging onto the coat tails
Of free thought
Journey we now,
Into the nightmare
Ignoring loss of
Comprehension
Vacated laws of
Apprehension
Arming latent illness
Plotting revenge
Beneath the surface

Here it comes again
I hear it getting louder
It doesn't feel good anymore
Who will save the lifeguard
When he's about to drown?

Can you see me?
Can you hear my cry out?
He looks to find
There's no one around

Searching indefinitely
For myself
Lost in another
Under the guise of
Someone else
Why does it matter?
Seemingly insignificant
In a moment of clarity
Just breathe for a moment
Shoved back in reality
"Am I dreaming," he asked
His reflection replied
The answer profound
Unknowingly died

I sold my soul to get here
On the periphery of realization
Stuck on the perimeter of reality
Reentry revoked
Forced to sit idly
As my life passes
Before my eyes

This is my letter
Unable to deliver
This is my life
Unable to decipher
This is my nightmare
That I've never dreamed before

Trapped in the prison
I've constructed on my own
Locked myself in four walls
Of uncertainty
Built in the center of being
Unnoticed by the proprietor
Frailty prevalent
Implosion of the mind
Leading to the ******* of
The insanity
I've come to find

Death looms at the end
Of the candlestick
Walk hand in hand
With me
Fellow traveler of
Uncharted paths
My fellow affliction
With the unknown
Unable to save myself
From the pain I know
Awaits me

Here it comes again
Inescapable, maniacal laughter
It doesn't feel good anymore
And all I ever wanted
Was your guiding hand
Complacent in lies
Forcing deafening cries,
For there will be
No reprise
As my soul flutters
And dies

Death for sale
Ten will take you away
Consumed by the thought of it
No more worry
No more being suppressed
This other kingdom
Unknowingly repressed
Delve deeper into the nightmare
We lie together
Naked
Unashamed
Open to the probing
Fingertips
Of the world
Unable to speak
Sleep paralysis,
Yet this is no dream
Wide eyed
Searching
Unable to scream

Incommunicable desires
No longer latent
Unsuppressed is the disease
Of your discontent
Insufferable, forcible pain
Towards the ones loved most
Catatonic, embryonic
Feeble mind
Please save me from myself

Forgive me, father
For I know not what I do
Forgive me, mother
For I do not blame you

Plastic state of being
Suspended in the viscous
Coagulant of stolen thought
And free will
Drowning in my
Own enjoyment
Of self suffering

How will you remember me?
A trembling voice
To read my eulogy?

Forget the things I should have said
This demoness I've brought to bed
Speaking in riddles
Bewilderment of the senses
Deeper appreciation
For the subjugation of man

War criminals in suits
Pretentious, cowardly vestiges of man
Surrounded by an air of
Undeserved arrogance
Getting fat on young girls
Sending their children to war
Safeguarded by a desk
And the allure of change
Obscene, disgusting animals
Consuming their weight daily
In the profit of drugs and
Devised disease
Profiteers of death
Politicians work the corners

And I fall,
Too weak to carry on
Can't escape my own
Lonely, cold, loveless
Gaze
Black holes in my head
Leading into the depths of
My soul
Emptiness pervading
Madness running rampant
Destroying who I once was
Tearing to pieces
My uniqueness
Stripped of self
Thrown back to march
Within the masses
Towards impending demise

Staring into the eyes
Of the serpent
Turned to stone
Numb to emotion
Numb to pain
I cry out for substance
I miss the person
I used to be
The person you loved
Before you met me

Relieve me now of sin
Unto re-birthing, begin
Relieve me now of this burden
Knowledge and shame
Relieve me now of myself
And self inflicted pain

There it goes again
Making me feel dour
It doesn't feel good anymore
Purge me of this dependency
Ancient, carnal need
Necessity of loathing the infinitesimal

I've met the devil in my dreams
She looked a lot like you
Dreaming in wakefulness
Awakened desire in dreams
What is my intention?

Do I provide a function
Or functionally provide?
Are you living in a nightmare?
Have you gone to sleep and died?

Synesthesia upon awakening
My sensory perceptions
The permutation of the
Infinite

Children of the wilderness
Remove us from the
Impurities of societal disorder
Relieve us of the blandishment
Of media driven fallacies
As the masses are hoarded,
Spoon fed their own flesh,
And directed onward
By the pusillanimous grave robbers
Awarded with the title of
Government official
Given diplomatic immunity
And free reign over
The direction of our lives

There lies a serenity
Beneath the quiet surface
Of the ocean
The ocean floor is vast,
Uninhabited promise

I have developed an acute prescience
For what will come

Man unknowingly conspires
Against himself,
For the good of man
Cannot overcome
The evils of mankind
Conquering in the name of
Worthless ideals
And fruitless endeavors

Conforming to nonconformity
You're only fooling yourself

Wandering about in a dreamy state
With unexplained expectations
For some sort of happy outcome
Welcome to my nightmare
My inescapable kismet
Defend me from myself
I have become
My own worst enemy
Just a hyena looking for
A lions share
More animalistic than
A starving predator

Morally ambivalent
Acting upon
Inconclusive notions
There is no stability
In this loose earth
Sinking ever deeper
Into life unbeknownst
To me
Quicksand enveloping
Sanity and conscience
Leaving behind
Only memories of
What we ought to have
Become

Been suppressing emotion
For so long
Seems like forever
Since I've gone
Numb to the heartache
Blind to the happiness
Rediscovered childhood
At the end of my life

The words become a
Flowing river
My pen cannot dance
Quickly enough
To capture my
Escaping tongue

Discovering escape
Through self sufficiency

Sanity is nomadic
Traveling from
Person to person
Mind to mind
At any given moment
We are all insane
Began as a stream of consciousness and developed into a monster.
Madisen Kuhn Sep 2013
I'm afraid to write about you because
Ink makes me feel everything,
And everything feels so much more real
When my cursive words smudge up against
The side of my hand and stain it blue
As my pen races to keep up with my heart

But it can't be real,
Because I thought I was moving on,
I thought I was growing up,
I thought I knew all of this was
Foolish and starry-eyed

I thought, I thought, I thought
But maybe I need to stop thinking
And just let myself feel;
Feel the butterflies you put in my stomach,
Feel the pure bliss you infuse into bloodstream

And maybe I don't need to know everything,
Like exactly what you're thinking
Or exactly how I feel
Or how all of this is going to turn out

I guess what I'm saying is that
Everything isn't always going to be clear,
I may come up to "two roads in a yellow wood"
And not be absolutely certain which one I'm meant to take,
But I do know that whichever path I choose,
I'd like to be able to scan the trees and smile
Because you're there walking alongside me.
A best friend is someone you tell secrets to, right?
But what if it were the same person to hold you at night?
As the sun goes down and the stars appear,
It's that someone whom you tell your biggest fear.

Your dearly beloved, whether a guy or a girl
Suddenly becomes your whole world,
And you laugh and you sing and you dance all around,
As your best friend twirls you round and round

And in the truth of the morning, everything is okay
You see that your beloved is here to stay.
Holding you tightly and never letting go
All during the disappearance of the moonlight glow.

And it is them you want to spend the rest of your life
Alongside them, your dear husband or wife.
And 70 years after you said "I do"
You manage to say one last "I love you"

Then you'll drift away to a heavenly sleep
With the one who you love so deep.
And eternal time you will spend together
With your dearly beloved, always and forever.
JL Harlow Apr 2014
I don't think tunnels can go this deep:
The way the oceans part--
Starfish foam, bubbling for air.

I saw the moon bleeding,
So many hidden cries.
She shouted:
"No fair, no fair...No fair..."
And now the polished skeleton
Bones glisten in the sun.

Taken from the dusty closet,
One by one by one.
Alongside a black journal,
No embellishments,
No lock to conceal shame.

Pages of her history,
Like collected pages of
The suffrage, and at the
Very last page, her dream's name.

Italicized like lies fresh oyster pearls shine.
Glistening in the frost of the night,
The soothing heat of her mind's height.
Tunnels can touch Earth's spine.
"Earth's Spine" from J.L. Harlow's book of poetry "Dragonfly Island".
Sarah M Gillihan Dec 2014
My mind is wasted

On disgrace and hate

My life moves

At a 100 mile rate

I want to find an exit

But the highway just goes on

My heart beats fast

And everything seems wrong

I’m a skinny little nothing

A failure at the least

I’m dead at the most

I couldn’t defeat the beast
eliza bonnet May 2014
the tranquil perception
my conscious erased
all the thoughts in my mind
are slowly replaced

until my mind becomes absent
alongside all else
and no one else matters
except for myself

this is why
teenagers
Need
alcohol
...
While
Warm water as the geyser
Gives the skin a new taste
After the sudden rain
The sun peeped behind the clouds
As if a fire peaks in the red flamboyant forest
Then purple flowers of Jarul's
Silently washing the suffering of long pain
Worship to God with drunk
Late afternoon in front of the house of crow
Cuckoo calls repeatedly,
Wings fluttering,
Not unnecessarily
She searches her left offspring
Alongside a small river (Kumar) flows
Small dazzling waves,
With a Cold gentle breeze
Flows over my sweet sweat
Ah! Another form of Heaven
Seduced far away from the darkness
Furious within a dream,
I bathe
...
@Musfiq us shaleheen
**** Late Spring********* The Nature as we feel.........

....if like please share your comments.....
Ian Cairns Jan 2014
I have these scars on my elbows
They're from a long time ago
And I never really appreciated their protrusion until now
Pretending to prefer unblemished skin
But when I was 10 and still believed in Superman
I had a tendency to ride my bike with stuntman speed
Forgetting about the frivolous concerns that consumed me
Hoping my kryptonite never crept up from underneath sidewalk bumps
Flipping my ambition over handlebars
Leaving the pieces of my reflections painted crimson along the asphalt
Scattered like hand-picked petals of an ill-advised ascetic
I am me, I am not, I am me, I am not
So I always wore my helmet as a precautionary measure
It contained my thoughts from running straight through my skull
And becoming neighbors with the pavement
But I never wore my elbow pads
They collected dust beside the waste bin
Replacing security for sincerity
I improved my flexibility while losing some skin
And that was a trade off I was willing to make at the time
I finally felt alive
I was invincible on my bicycle
The sidewalk my only bully
The summer breeze my only friend
And at the time I never realized what it meant to be vulnerable
But those bike rides were the closest I would get
I was fixated on fitting in around my classmates
Accumulating fake friends by
Ripping insincerities out of my esophagus
And stapling them to my forehead
I stole my own identity
Morphing my puzzle piece and jamming it into the jigsaw
Claiming to be the missing link everyone was searching for
But what am I searching for?

I was lost on my own yellow brick road
I had two left feet and no right way to go
I stopped dead in my tracks
Hoping the soles of my feet would soak in the golden stones while
Singing Dorothy's hymn like spoken sin
I just want to fit in
I just want to fit in
I just want to fit in

Wondering if that was loud enough for Oz to hear me
I didn't have any magic slippers
And this situation was twisting towards witchcraft
I'm not even sure Oz can help me
You see these requests were a tall order for a tiny man
Who wore masks just like me
Oz and I were anonymous
Oz and I were synonymous
Using smoke and mirror tactics to terrorize the innocent
When in reality we were only playing tricks on ourselves
Hiding behind perfectly sculpted ****** expressions
And make-believe manuscripts
Doing basic impressions of manufactured mannequins
Out in the real world
I really needed to speak with the Scarecrow
The Tinman, the Lion, and Dorothy too
And investigate their stresses with relentless pursuit

The Scarecrow would tell me
Wisdom is wasteful for those
Without a strong appetite for improvement
But sometimes common sense can lead
The most sensible person astray
The Tinman would tell me
Compassion is constructed for
Tender hands to hold
But sometimes empathy can leave
The most charitable person betrayed
The Lion would tell me
Courage can be critical in
Times of distress
But sometimes vulnerability can make
The most sensitive person brave
And Dorothy would tell me
Home is paradise
Wrapped in picket fences
But sometimes a terrifying trip can bring
The most wary person escape
And suddenly it would occur to me
That strengths are just solid scars
We have confidence to display on our sleeves
And perfection can only permeate the souls willing to recognize
That faults shine golden too
So from here on out I'm placing my masks alongside my elbow pads
Both collecting dust beside the waste bin
Replacing security for sincerity
Finally embracing the scars on my skin
Now that is a trade off I'm willing to make
Because I want to feel alive again
Mateuš Conrad Jul 2018
.wow, i never thought it would ever be possible,
i'm sorry, i have no empathy for these youtuber "creators",
any idiot can regurgitate the news,
venture into vulture journalism,
  then again: gone are the days of closely associated
with people like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein...
they are really gone: what the hell was gamer-gate
compared to watergate? gate after gate,
and all i'm hearing is response videos,
it should have never come to this,
whereby journalists are as untrustworthy as politicians,
and of what remains, come the saturday and
the sunday editions, when the petty bourgeoisie
come out of the woodworks of a week,
album reviews, book reviews, t.v. reviews,
restaurant reviews: real, real journalism,
all the grit you'd expect from a warzone...
           journalists forgot they were not kindred spirits
of politicians: but immediacy historians...
the front-line history chroniclers...
i find... these days, esp. these days...
    you know why i like heidegger so much,
and forget the fact that he joined the **** party?
in 1938 he was already disillusioned by it...
so the ad homine fallacy bites the dust...
   even a **** deservers a redemption...
but i find that these days, of all days...
   man, as a historiological creature has to bow
before the unshakeable facets of the biological man,
esp. in the english speaking world...
    in terms of history and biology:
     history has all the fun stories,
and a sensible "concern" for time,
   well... if not "concern" then at least a bearbable
time-frame...
                  after all, i am the one who said:
all the great deserts of the world,
akin to sahara? they were once great
mountain ranges... you already know where
to look between a mountain range akin to the alps
and a desert... bound to h'america...
   monument valley: utah...
  a mountain becomes a rock after a while...
while the desert expands...
    ayers rock (uluru)... but monument valley (utah)
is a transition period between a mountain range
and a desert, if we're going to stand outside
of all space and time, and look back in...
we have plenty of time to catch-up on...
           just like i believe that black holes
are actually 2-dimensional objects:
   that spin really fast, giving an impression
of them being 3-dimensional objects:
as usually represented by a gravity dip associated
with them pulling matter into themselves...
i think that black holes are paradoxes...
since how can a 2-dimensional object
actually exist in a 3-dimensional space?
   that depends on the size of the "3-dimensional"
object / space... the universe is a medium,
it's defined as a "space" but to me...
      it's beyond space... it's only space on the grounds
of isolated time, 365 days,
the time and space it takes for the earth
to orbit the sun... which is an isolated example,
outside? well: there's atmosphere on earth,
outside? vacuum!
who's going to prove my theory wrong?
               not anyone in my lifetime -
besides the point with these youtube content
"creators": where credit is due, credit is due,
but once might have cared for their vulture
journalism... two old farts akin to felix (black pigeon
speaks) and sargon of akaad talking about how:
the youth are congregating to youtube to listen
to music: that's what i've always done...
  i discovered these youtube "creators" by accident,
i just wanted my jukebox back, man,
i wanted my algorithm back, my imprint back,
now that the devil's dozen scenario took hold
of the platform: 1 video playing, 12 back-ups...
and they're all the same, unrelated, *******...
        talk all you want, please, just give back
my algorithm imprint, where i can discover new music...
again... i never thought i'd see another
compilation video, 173 videos bound to one...
and, mind you... after finding about 6 googlewhacks
(googlewhack? when you use the sort of
language that provides you with only one search
result on the behemoth platform of billions
of results, 1 is grand, but 6? it's becoming too
predictable)...
                        so here's what i found
   (band - song):

wooly mammoth - mammoth bones / kyuss - space cadet,
rainbows are free - last supper / grand magus -
                                                mountain of power,
zed - lies / om - cremation chant I & II,
    smoke - hallucination / weird owl - white hidden fire,
orchid - son of misery / witch - seer,
               unida - you wish / black mountain - old fangs,
b.r.m.c. - ain't no easy way /
              jack daniels overdrive - ****** to death,
shrinebuilder - blind for all to see,
                   datura - mantra / the heavy eyes - voytek,
the machine - infinity / clutch - the regulator,
   colour haze - mountain / maligno - son of tlalocan,
dozer - twilight sleep / gomer pyle - albino rattlesnake,
blockback - dead mans blues / greenleaf - witchcraft tonight,
cactus jumper - right way / borracho - bloodsucker,
alabama thunderpussy - motor ready,
                    earthless - sonic power,
my brother the wind - death and beyond,
   zaphire oktalogue - carrion fly / siena root - reverberations,
unida - slaylina / pothead - toxic / sungrazer - mountain dusk,
   rotor - costa verde / blizaro - it's in the lighthouse,
planet of zeus - woke up dead,
     kongh - pushed beyond / ufomammut - smoke,
high on fire - to cross the bridge,
              the secret - bell of urgency,
      unida - wet pussycat / dozer - big sky theory,
cavity - chloride / brutus - swamp city blues,
the grand astoria - something wicked this way comes,
sasquatch - the judge / pharaoh overlord - skyline,
baby woodrose - love comes down / kamni - **** of satan,
lay with me - the flying eyes / cowboys & aliens  -
                                                out of control,
sons of otis - liquid jam / hainloose - recipe,
    ridge - rancho relaxo / bongripper - ****** sutherland,
skraeckoedland - cactus / grails - satori,
    lo-pan - chicken itza / five horse johnson - people's jam,
blind dog - don't ask me where i stand,
     wiht - orderic vitalis / hisko detria - nothing happens,
liquid sound company - leage for spiritual discovery lives,
   goatsnake - black cat bone / gandhi's gunn - rest of the sun,
the egocentrics - wave / propane propane - it's alright,
heliotropes - ribbons / mother mars - price you pay,
che - the knife / annimal machine - condenado,
   earth - tallahassee / the whirlings - delirio,
orchid - heretic / maeth - horse funeral,
siena root - rasayana / graveyard - longing,
           tia carrera - hell / hainloose - recipe,
      burner - five pills (and a bottle of whiskey),
dala sun - guilty for ****** / vulgaari - lie,
        slo burn - muezli / stonehelm - zombie apocalypse,
smallman - evolution / spiders - fraction,
         shakhtyor - e. jaspers / earthmass - lunar dawn,
evoke the lords - dregs / colour haze - silent,
     sutrah - el septimo viaje...

  

who are "these" people,
who: "supposedly" live for the future...
they always cite it,
as the one motivational
momentum of the present -
it's as if they've never seen
a bull itch the ground
with its front hoofs -
   imitating building up momentum
before a charge...
or how a slingshot,
or how a bow works...
   to these people,
the ******* sideways movement
of a bow against a violin...
sometimes...
      you do not retreat into
the past, to hide, to amount
to nostalgia...
     sometimes
the only reason for the reflexive
affirmation, confined to maxims
and aphorism, nay: even poems!
is to look back...
     to reap what was once
sowed, rather than sow blindly,
and reap: what no one wants
to reap...
    drunk? getting there...
       it felt so relaxing paying off
a 100 / 250 part of a debt
i owe her...
            while buying a russian
standard liter,
   asking for a 100 cash-back
of the supermarket cashier,
- the limit is 50,
   but if you buy something else,
i can give you another 50...
- oh... ok...
   so me went to and took a bottle
of shveedish cider...
   rekorderlig...
   mind you? the swedish,
what they perfected fermenting
better than what the the irish claim
to fame is?
    sorry... magners:
               irish? stick to the guinness...
(it's actually the only cerveza
i'd go into an english pub to
drink from the tap... bottled? canned?
not the same)...
     but with such swedish delights
such as the above mentioned,
  ålska and K  ö   nigsberg
                            *œ
?
no competition... the suede(s) just
do one thing grand...
    cider...
- what was i talking about?
  ah... the "dreaded" past...
     the people who say:
  but you can't live out a life,
   holding onto a private past,
a memory...
    so... these other ******* were
allowed to implant a false
past, unrelated to me,
teaching me whether it was
Newton, or Leibniz who first
invented the infinitesimal calculus
method?
                i'm betting on Leibniz...
after all... he took the position
of a ******* librarian...
   and he wasn't buried with pomp
& circumstance at Westminster Abbey...
sometimes...
         one person can't have it all...
but if the education system
is a system that is indicative for
the erosion of memory, esp. private
matters... and juggernauts in
with these selective rubrics of science
and history...
fair enough the basic
implants: numerical arithmetic,
and lettering arithmetic -
    and then... lessons in mental
entertainment... when applied
           to menial labour...
memory is: supreme...
          i can't give my memory up...
that's what: killer proteins
eating the fat tissue of the brain
like starvation in reverse
        of a case of Alzheimer's?
memory is: cameo cinema -
    however distorted it might be,
although i beg to differ on
whether time per se,
  is not the better psychedelic
component
when coupled with memory -
esp. the cinematic aspect of memory...
there was never a "living" in
the past -
      there was a point about memory
to sharpen the edges of
    "dasein"... all speculation and
questions regarding consciousness,
as championed through
a chimpanzee's *** are somehow
pointless:
    given there's a higher tier of
conceptualization -
   working from dasein...
            hierjetzt -
      or in english?             presence...
- because why would i treat
a personal memory,
like some inorganic entity of
a schooling system,
under Catholic measures,
  that made it necessary to include
Pythagoras... but not Horace?
that's inorganic memory...
and unless i turn into some
inorganic entity -
   the organic aspect of my psyche:
my past, my cameo cinema?
   that's going to be a leech,
attached to me...
  and i'm not going to give it up,
just like... when i walk about
my door, and enter the england
that i know on the peripheries...
i'll speak the lingua franca -
     but with my privacy?
    you'd better cut my tongue off
before i stop speaking
my western slavic heritage...
    and it pains me...
when certain groups of immigrants...
don't know the POINT
where immigration becomes
insensible... self-lacerating...
           i once hated their approach...
now i just pity them...
anyone ****** can juggle
     two oranges rather than three...
p.s. old school cure for a cold?
forget the pills...
   glass of warm milk,
  an egg yolk,
     and a good scratch of butter...
  (on the rare occasion,
  milk infused with garlic)

mixed together...
before bedtime...
  if the ****** won't sweat out
the bacteria during the night...
     well... stick to the synthetics...
i'm pretty sure i know why i drink...
certainly not to: PARTY PARTY PARTY...
i always aim for
the one safety net of "pharmacology"...
ssssssssleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

p.s. so much for children loving their
parents...
        in vitro and the whole
m.g.m. debacle:
so, sweet little *******,
       no *******, no chance for your
for a quickie satellite launch date from
Tehran, under all the weight of
monotheism turned secular...
christianity: the only "monotheism"
with overt tinged of polytheism,
lutheran, baptist, catholic, orthodox...
just today i opened my door twice...
once to a confused curry house delivery man:
did you order some food:
i too replied with a confused look
and the word: huh?! no.
then a black woman with a a white ol' granny
came by with a leaflet...
the jehovah's witnesses were on my trail...
lucky of my grandfather,
   the profanity brigade of the hebrew name
i will not dare utter came by...

  and if you have lived a good enough life:
memory? memory beats hollywood
technicolour and CGI...
at least in the cinema of memory i always
get to play the cameo (role)...

oh i get the youtube creators:
   living with his parents... still. aged 33...
funny that i don't mind them,
since they're getting older they're settling
into their solispsism,
        annoying as ****, but i stand them,
thank god the protruding caduceus veins
on my phallus protected me from
a circumcision...
  i can ******* like a girl with a web-cam...
no scented candles:
the no. 1, 2 & 3 on the throne of thrones...
the toilet, simultaneously masaging my ****
and prostate...

men were not exactly supposed to derive
pleasure from ***: they were,
supposed to give pleasure,
and in giving pleasure to one outlet,
they were subscribed to finding out what
best pleases them: ergo?
women would always derive more of
the people from *** than men would ever...
*** is not a story of bragging about
a harem... the woman lies flat...
the man pumps her...
after all... she is the one burdened
to carry a child, why wouldn't she be
the one deriving more pleasure from *** than
a man could ever?
72 virgins! ha ha!
   ah ha ha!
             what's the ratio?
   last time i checked... a 3 hole caravan...
of a woman's worth...
   mouth, ******, ****... and man?
only two points of entry, well...
"entry"...
                    seems that the tomatoe,
really is a fruit, but is treated like a vegetable
nontheless!
homosexuality in the 1960s...
william burroughs in Tangiers...
                    when Islam was quiet radical...

well... i cook, i clean...
                what are my other options of continuing
to write and living the ed gein "lifestyle",
i tried getting social housing in england,
but, i'm not a somali with two wives and a dozen
kids...
              rent, in london?
extortion...
                   housing shortage...
                 well there's me hating my parents,
the outside world just needs to see
an ed gein imitation...
               or there's me living off acorns
in the woods, or rummaging on the streets,
making the N25 bus from oxford st. to ilford
my own personal mobile hotel as a homeless
man in london...

   i think it's time to succumb to your
parents prejudices, if only for the jokes,
no point in making ethical high judgements
to fit into a zeitgeist narrative surrounding
yourself with people: you'd never eat a meal with...
that's how i define the highest form of respect:
if i'll eat with you: implies that i respect you...
i drink alone...
a high school fwend once thought he could
bribe me with his company,
that i "had to" drink with him...
      no... not really...
          i much prefer drinking by myself...
these days you're not expected to honour your
mother and your father,
i.e. make them proud...
               honour is a double-edged sword...
just don't be ashamed of having
a mother or a father...
not that hard: given western divorce rates...
i.v.f., frozen eggs... yadda yadda yadda...
lucky me in having went to university...
oh... really? so much cooler in a cosmopolitan
environment with your contemporary
flat-mates?
               get the picture?
                 paying rent while literally living
in a diguised cardboard box?
i can't help the fact that poetry doesn't pay...
that there are economic factors beyond
my control in play...
   maybe if i was the grandson of my parents,
born in england, and not elsewhere,
there would be some sort of + leverage...
for a bricks and mortar start-up...
plus... i hoard...
         books and music...
                     mind you:
neither of my parents spoke english as their
mother tongue...
  neither did i...
they didn't teach me this tongue:
i had to teach this language by myself:
for myself...
           aged 8: thrown into the deep end
of the pool: now swim ******, swim!

i just feel sorry for the immigrant parents
who gave birth to their children into the *****
of the land they immigrated to...

two days ago i found a heartbreak,
a romanian couple, with a child...
the father was stubborn in teach his daughter
his / her native sprechen...
romanian... but she was already speaking
perfect antithesis of accent kindergarten english...
and almost non-responsive to her tongue
alligned to her biology...
    clearly she was born in england,
but her parents were both romanian...
i've had that conundrum in my head
for a long time...
   what if i married an english girl...
and i was unable to teach my offspring
my native language,
what if i had to silence my native tongue,
"forget" it, or only speak it by myself,
via reading a book in western slavic?
what if the woman i married:
wouldn't see the benefits of bilingualism,
outside of the mainstream economic
mantra of ensuring your children
learn either german or mandarin or arabic?
that worried me...
          oh believe me, i enjoy my lapses
into english: since i am providing the groundwork...
but in the case of having offspring...
e.g. teaching them the western slavic tongue
so they could speak to their grandparents
(i.e. my parents)...
       even my grandparents lament
the scenarios when a woman would marry
an austrian... and she wouldn't teach
her children her native tongue,
and when the grandchildren would visit their
grandparents... they'd be speaking
a crude variation of braille, morse,
   sign-language: na migi...
               i know that my mother is alive
in me even under this veil of english...
because she's more than the womb,
the genitals of my conception, the breast fed off...
she's also the Atlas of my vocabulary
of the "hiding" tongue beneath this one...

i already knew the "game" was rigged from
the get-go... i've seen how one hindu woman
suffered being married to a scouser...
she never managed to pass on her language
to her children,
she bought a library, thinking her children
would succumb to learning: however poor
they might end up being...
but she was suffocated by the english
tongue of her husband...
and her children didn't express even the most
vague of desires to learn their mutterzunge...

that's what worried me to begin with,
marrying an english woman i was afraid
of the ignorance that someone bilingualism
was en route toward a psychiatrist disorder
i was diagnosed with: schizophrenia...
this anglophonic ignorance still scares me...
like: everyone is expected to speak the revisionist
globalist lingua franca: this anglo lingua...
if i didn't meet a bilingual / polyglot woman,
i'd return to rearing idiotic children...
anglo lingua was only supposed to be a middle-ground,
a "no man's land"...
             a language of trivial economic transfers...
a language primarily orientated around usage:
rather than an ethno-centric basis for "englishness"...
to **** with: god save the queen...
the british grenadiers' fife & drum...
                 old scot dragoons': auld lang syne...
those where my forever anthems...
see...
        what gave birth to a jihadi john?
his mother "forgot", his father "forgot":
his "mother" forgot, his "father" forgot to speak
the "ancient" tongue...
there's a point to integration of the immigrant,
an immigrant is a forgetful creature,
an ever pleasing creature...
never to mind himself as an ex-pat...
you ****** forget your mutterzunge...
you'll be speaking in cockney accents
with broken affairs of arabic beheading people
for zombified reasons of grandeour!
*******...
          you, you: you are to blame!
you were so ashamed of your parents that you
delved on honoring them to the point
of thinking giving pride unto them was very
much akin as keeping shame away from
their girdle of the wedlock of your own existence!
death has not made your a martyr...
i guess you deserve those 72 mishaps,
those 72 annoying voices...
and i pray to god that you receive your reward!
i hope that among the 72 you will never find
a chance a repose to find your: self!

integration is one thing,
pandering to the "elites": plebs who think they
are kings among the plebs,
is quiet another...
plebs who go places and think english
is a universal tongue: just because
uncle sam says so...
of those i respect:

y cymraeg: pwy dal eu tafod...
an gàidhlig: cò fhathast bruidhinn an cuid teanga...
i nawet moim: co ma mówić
to nawet tyle: co znaczy tak niewiele!

there are boundaries... learn the customs
of the natives, but ensure you retain the customs
you were born with...
a child, born in a foreign land,
ought to ensure his parents teach him
the words to speak to his grand overseers...
complete immersion,
this cultural abortion,
this cutting of the umbilical chord
from: i have never met a people so
content at having been subjugated outside
the indian sub-continent,
cricket... for ****'s sake...
       as to demand other europeans
to treat them as superiors,
when sitting alongside an englishman...
****-bud-bud, the **** are you on about?!
once again: england has become the circus
for the grounding of what began
with engels and marx...
   wasn't communism born from
engels and marx observing english society?
sure... first experimented en masse in
mongolia... but its origins?

   so of course i had problems finding a suitable
mating partner... i was afraid that my nativ-zunge
would die a slow but solemn death...
that an english bridge would not consider
the worth of a bilingual child, or a polyglot,
or that she would repress the chance of my
"biological continuum nuance" to respond outside
of the anglo lingua refrain of: beside the english language?
there are quiet a few one might want to learn...

it's not easy being a first generation immigrant,
esp. if you moved aged 8, mute as a wolf
to a domesticated dog's barking...
but hey, no jihadi john in me...
           jihadi john should have been raised
bilingual... i wouldn't be the one speaking broken
tourist arabic while beheading someone...
jihadi john spoke tourist arabic...
the dichotomy of the mind to the biological
reality, beside the current, western,
"biological relativism" debate...
      clearly darwinism was "wrong"...
man is, these days, left with neither a biological
reality, nor a historical reality...
              but there is a historical reality:
but it's so knit-&-picky...
come on... philip augustus of the capetian
dynasty?
                 casimir III...
                        jeremi wiśniowiecki...
konrad I of masovia...
                           kuno von lichtenstein...
alles ist gott: und gott ist alles -
  gott mit, uns!

              mit eine leben wert leben:
    erinnerung ist die nur kino
             wert sehen eine film beim;

hell... could be worse:
   i might have translated some latin
of horace into pig-trough comfort food.
Kassiani Nov 2010
I always suspected electricity
Ran rampant through my veins
To make me dazed and dizzy
But unable to sit still
It made me prone to flights of fancy
So I left giddy trails of sparks
Blazing proof of my restlessness
That once brightly caught your eye

Once your gaze had found my own
My moods came in swooning flares
And you crackled alongside me
Filling my aching, empty silence
With shiny, blessed noise
We burned so beautifully
With my electric fire
And your trilling declamations
Light and sound intertwining
Like thunder that had finally caught up with its lightning

It seemed like Nature's order
A completion of the whole
Two halves that followed each other
Unthinkingly and automatically

So one day when I found silence
It felt like Earth itself was splitting

Panicked, I burned more brightly
Stoked the fire just in case
I feared that I had dimmed
And been the cause of this new quietness
So when I still heard nothing
I thought my efforts insufficient
And I ran my highest currents
Until my wires nearly melted
Thinking the sun and I were comparable
And anticipating a response

And still I heard no trilling
No crackling at my side
So I wondered if perhaps
I had shined beyond your limits
Swiftly, I contracted
Reined in my flares and doused the fire
Thinking sudden darkness
Might just shock you into sound

I finally heard the faintest popping
Not quite the rending that I wanted
But a break from quiet all the same
Afraid of spoiling the moment
I leashed my electricity
Kept myself dim so I could hear you
Though I felt the writhing beneath my skin

It finally became unbearable
So I flashed like wild lightning
Lashed out and struck the ground
Hoping for your thunder
A dark and roiling storm
Swirling raindrops and clouds colliding
And deep, ugly noise

All I wanted was your thunder
But in the end
It was only me yelling
Screaming out for downpours
Alone
Listening to my own echoes
Waiting for you to harmonize

In the end
I was always waiting
Wondering when you'd chosen silence
Wondering why I'd let you dim me
Wondering how it was we'd ever *burned
Written 5/22/10
Patrick Austin Sep 2018
Autumn Angel, bring in fall,
see me, like me, text me, call.
Connection made is strong and now,
life comes quickly, she comes how?
Traveling vessels far and near,
planes and ferries bring us here.
Walking, waiting I grow eager,
business first before I meet her.
In the district lounge I perch,
finding me will end her search.
Her approach was my delight,
for now, we can begin our night.
Strong and vibrant she is ample,
allure and wares for me to sample.
Pints and chatter, Blue Ribbon prize,
my glare is locked into her eyes.
Her exchanges are so charming,
pleasant, light and not-alarming.
Time has come to find our way,
joined departure, plans to play?
Lodging and rides arranged by phone,
She knows her way, away from home.
5th floor shoe box, now our lair,
pajamas, toothbrush I’m prepared.
Netflix and chill is common trend,
Hulu and hold is our new friend.
I lay beside her, still not sure.
She watched her show, as I watched her.
I longed to kiss her neck and ears,
doubtful hindrance of my fears.
Surely right, it must be so,
She wants me here, and this means go.
I slowly start to kiss her lobes,
Her standing neck hairs brush my nose.
My mouth, it waters, for her kiss,
She turns to me and grants me this.
Her constellations are so bright,
Her moles like stars, I count tonight.
Her lips transport me to this place,
where there’s no time but only space.
I’d live here for a thousand moons.
sadly, departures come too soon.
Our time is short, not long enough,
I touched her face, she felt my scruff.
Constant contact, senses aflame,
I want her more, she feels the same.
Her essence sweet like summer flowers,
I found the center of her powers.
Far inside, my fingers reach,
while I explored her weeping peach.
Touching, tasting, and some teasing,
Her satisfaction, was my pleasing.
I want to give her more of me,
the part that daylight never sees.
I gave myself the best I could
& tried to make her feel so good.
My comfort lies in her content,
She understands, our needs were met.
Lying by her was so free,
I love the way she feels by me.
Alongside slumber was so grand,
snoozing blissful, hand in hand.
Several times I would awake,
was so pleased with my evenings fate.
When light began to fill the room,
we knew that we’d be going soon.
We didn’t want to leave this place,
I planted kisses on her face.
Once again we shared in pleasures,
in life, these are important treasures.
The final moment had arrived,
we packed our bags, prepared to drive.
The sun shone like no other day,
as we drove down towards the bay.
I sadly had to disembark,
but kissed her more while we were parked.
We said goodbye and rightly so,
our faces had a special glow.
This magic evening, all a blur,
more vessels take us where we were.
This poem is about my chance encounter with another traveler and our romantic evening together before we parted ways. "Hulu and hold" was an original idea that came to me during our night together.
the british way, not mentioning
yarn, too much, repeating words,
where no longer necessary. wool
in abundance here, piled on wool
lorries, neatly balanced with

premium  acrylic.

it is a fine line we walk,
gently avoiding peptides,
only just a theory, yet used
independantly, alongside
honest work, for mending.

today is hallow e’en

sbm
Ed Cooke Jan 2011
Two boys
and girls
unclothed each other
simply at a picnic
flush with wine
alongside
sun-flecked trees.

The girls,
easy as the
forest round,
burned,
delicious,
as the boys
eager and nervous
in unequal measure
partly gave up
concealing
their joys
at forgetting
or remembering
in flickers
their bare bodies.

It went on
over nettles
and half-hours
and clambered
trees and
photos taken
almost formally
(on film,
of course).

And boyish lust,
at first sinuous,
a darting tongue,
began to
soften against,
for instance,
the sheer,
unthinkable
texture
of the two
girls carved
now backward
over the bough
of a storm-felled elm.

And there
in the embers
of evening
they learned
to thrill originally
at the vast,
gorgeous
and astonishing
irrelevance
of what
might happen next.
We had a very happy conversation about family matters.

Mom, Dad. I’m OK.
They’ve been really honest with me
but they’re perfectly willing to die for what they’re doing.
And I want to get out of here
but the only way I’m going to
is if we do it their way.
And I just hope that you’ll do what they say
Dad
and just do it quickly.
I really am alright.
I just hope I can get back to everybody really soon.

My little girl.

Catherine and Randy gave impeccable dinner parties.

I am an Establishment person.

I am being held as a Prisoner of War
and not as anything else.
I mean I am being treated
in accordance with
international codes of war.
I’m not left alone, and I’m not just shoved off somewhere.
I mean, I am fine.

Also, since I am an example
and it’s really important
that everybody understand that
you know,
I am an example and a warning.

And so people should stop acting like I’m dead.

Mom should get out of her black dress,
that doesn’t help at all.
and just hurry.
Bye.

Patty honey I want you to know
that your father is doing everything in his power.
Millions of people all over the world are praying for you
I know it’s been a long time sweetheart
but keep up your courage
and you keep praying
pretty soon god will touch their hearts
and they’ll send you home.


Mom, Dad.
I've been hearing reports about the food program.
So far it sounds like you and your advisors
have managed to turn it into a real disaster.
Anyway, it certainly didn't sound like the kind of food
our family is used to eating.

I called him a couple of weeks ago and said,
Hey, Randy, let's play tennis.
We haven't played tennis in months
and he said
Gosh. I just can't. I'm busy.
I know he's got a lot on his mind,
But, I think he's pretty obsessed with this.


Mom, Dad.
Tell the poor and oppressed people of this nation
what the corporate state is about to do.
Warn Black and poor people
that they are about to be murdered
down to the last man, woman and child.
Tell the people,
Dad
that the removal of expendable excess,
the removal of unneeded people
has already started.

I have chosen to stay and fight.
I have been given the name Tania
after a comrade who fought alongside Che in Bolivia.
It is in the spirit of Tania that I say,
'Patria o Muerte, Venceremos.'

She was one of the prettiest young women south of the Mason‐Dixon line.

Q. Okay. As a matter of fact, when you got to 1827 Golden Gate, or this apartment on
Golden Gate, you were not being held in that closet all the time, were you?
A. Yes, I was.
Q. You were?
A. Yes.
Q. Was there a previous closet in which you were held?
A. Yes.

DEATH TO THE FASCIST INSECT THAT PREYS UPON THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE

She is a winsome beauty and her sweetness of manner has endeared her to all who know her

Whatever happened to the real men in this world? Men like Clark Gable? No one would have carried off my daughter if there had been a real man there.

She was somewhat of a revolutionary savant.
We kidnapped a freak.
I think that she was spectacular.
At that point, it was against her will to go home.

Q. And you moved in a car, I take it?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you blindfolded?
A. Yes.
Q. And whose car was it, do you know?
A. I don’t know. I was put into a garbage can that was ******* and put in the trunk of the car.
Q. And then, was the garbage can taken into the apartment on Golden Gate when you arrived?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you in it?
A. Yes.
Q. And you were placed in a closet immediately, is that correct?
A. Yes.

I. She’s an amoral person
thought that the rules did not apply to her.
She lied to nuns at school
about her mother having cancer
in order to get out of an exam
engaged in ****** activity
at an early age
and experimented with drugs
such as LSD.

II. Velcro Theory defined the aimless, lost souls
such persons, he said, who float around
in an empty moral space
and then find stuck to them
the first random ideology they bump into.

III. She is a celebrity prisoner of war
but the other thing
is that listening to her voice
is kind of hypnotizing
and not at all unpleasant
she speaks in this whisper
the well-enunciated voice
that someone called
the rich girl’s voice
The eerie voice of an heiress
and it's hard not to admire her composure
considering the ordeal she just went through.

We didn't know whether we were looking at a live girl or a robot.

Greetings to the people.
This is Tania.
Gabi crouched low with her *** to the ground.
Perfect love and perfect hate reflected in stone cold eyes.
To shoot first and make sure the pig is dead before splitting.
I died in that fire on 54th Street,
but out of the ashes I was reborn.
I know what I have to do.

Catherine was mentally and physically exhausted after the kidnapping. No wonder she developed a drinking problem.

Q. Okay. And is it true, Miss Hearst,
that you in the presence of Thomas Mathews ejected a live round from the M-I
that you had near you
and inserted that in the clip,
and put the clip back in the weapon?
A. I don't recall, it is possible.
Q. It is possible you may have.
And did you, in fact, also at that time
load a couple of live rounds
into the chamber of a revolver, a pistol?
A. I don't recall.
Q. Did you give Bill Harris a pistol
in the presence a Tomas Mathews?
A. I don't recall.
Q. You don't recall?
A. No.

I’ll think of it all tomorrow—I can stand it then.

I think this has been extremely ******* her
She's what the kids call ‘spaced out.’
Her religion holds her together.
And when you talk to her,
you see reality escapes her.
All she can say is that people are
‘persecuting’ Patty.
That's the word she uses,
‘persecution.’
We all love Patty,
and God knows she's had a terrible time,
but the whole complexity of the situation
seems to escape Catherine.

You're being told this
so you'll understand why I was kidnapped.
The S.L.A. has declared
war against the Government
I'm telling you now why this happened
so that you'll know
so that you'll have
something to use,
the knowledge
to try to get me out of here.
Bye.

I’m the happiest mother in the whole world.

I hope that you'll make sure that they don't do anything else like that Oakland business.

Q. Do you recall you spoke those words, Miss Hearst?
A. Can I see the transcript?

I don't believe Patty's legal problems are that serious. After all, she's primarily a kidnap victim. She never went off and did anything of her own free will.

From the moment I was kidnapped,
they consistently attempted to
discredit the revolutionaries.
After the first communique was received,
the pigs reacted by hauling out the stress machines.
The machines indicated I was being tortured
and kept awake 24 hours a day.
I guess that all the pigs expected me
to keep my mouth shut,
but I was furious.
They put away their trickology for a while.
If you believe the media,
you'd think I was totally weird.
According to them, I never mean anything.

Catherine, while still blond and attractive, has aged around the corners of the eyes.

Greetings to the people,
this is Tania.
Our actions of April 15
forced the Corporate State
to help finance the revolution.
As for being brainwashed,
the idea is ridiculous beyond belief.
I am a soldier in the People's Army.

I am Tania and We are not fooling around.

What could have been a tremendous instrument for change—Patty's kidnapping—has failed, and their old attitudes toward life—I guess it's called ‘conservatism’—are back

The kids who went to public schools
were not the kind of people
we should have close associations with.
As a result, I spent twelve years
almost totally surrounded by young people
who were busily developing
ruling class aspirations.

She has nowhere to go,
as resulted in only a change of captors.
But at least now,
as long as society is her
captor,
she does not have to worry about being killed.
Freedom may be a more awesome
alternative
-- you are not here to decide that.
We have a framework,
the SLA predicted this trial.
If we can't break the chain
at some point in their predictions,
there are going to be other Patricia Hearsts,
the blueprint is plain,
it works

A year and a half after her kidnapping,
she's in the safe arms of the law.
So, what does she do?
Patty gives the revolutionary salute,
even when she's in handcuffs.
And when she's booked,
she's asked her occupation
and what does she say?
Urban guerilla.

Bailey, I just –
I don't know him,
you know,
like he just kind of drifts in
and you know,
says blah, blah, blah
and I just go,
oh,
okay.

It was never true that our objective was to reconvert her.

You can almost see how Patty couldn’t relate to her—you know, trying to be so self-righteous and so upright.

Well, I always knew
that the Lord was in my life,
kind of on my shoulder.
I started to stray off
I always knew His hand
was there to bring me back.
I got to the house,
put my bags down in the entry,
went right to the kitchen
and the first thought on my heart was
I need to hear Jesus.
I picked up that Bible
and started in Matthew 1:1.
For that whole five days
I read and cried
and read and cried.

In short order, she returned to being the Patty Hearst of Hillsborough, California, the heiress herself.

It's kind of fun because back then,
there's nothing else to do but paint your nails.
It's really exciting.
I have been crocheting now.
At least, my mother came in and she asked –
she had asked me,
about my hair,
you know,
like
can I change it back?
She asked if there was a beauty parlor.

Her eyes are,
for the most part,
downcast,
as if she were sharing a secret with
herself.

She’s such a devoted, old-fashioned Southern lady, that we just died watching her facade break. That hysteria wasn’t just grief that Patty was gone—it was guilt, you know, ‘What have I done wrong?’

I'm being treated in accordance
with the Geneva Convention
and one of the conditions being
that I am not being tried
for crimes which I'm not responsible for.
I'm here because
I'm a member of a ruling class family,
and I think you can begin to see the analogy.

She writes these dramatic
love letters to her boyfriend saying,
"I want to keep up the fight for the revolution."
And she wants to overthrow the government in America,
which she spells A-M-E-R-I-K-K-K-A.

Q. And you were reading a paper, were you not, when they were in the store?
A. Yes.
Q. And you looked up from that paper, did you not, and you saw that William Harris was being held on the ground by someone and being detained, isn’t that true?
A. Yes.
Q. And you picked up an automatic weapon and shot in the direction of Mel’s Sporting Goods Store?

OBJECTION

I have a really nice brown pantsuit.
Al got it.
He has really good taste.

Trish Tobin
is telling her
that she is about to head off to Switzerland
to go skiing for three weeks.
I mean,
so what you have
in this compressed circumstance
is the old life skiing in Switzerland
for three weeks,
and Patty is saying,
I've got a life now.
I've got a new life.

The Hearsts are really ramping up for this one.
He is a bright guy,
but in terms of just his manner and his dress,
you couldn't help but be struck by
how square he was.

Q: I've become conscious and can never go back to the life we had before." Do you recall saying those words?
A: I don’t recall seeing a transcript of that tape.

I have chosen to stay and fight.

She is still an uncommonly handsome woman, prettier in fact than any of her daughters.

It’s a miracle she survived at all.
The ordeal nearly killed me,
Mrs. Hearst once admitted and,
asked what sustained her,
she answers instantly: My religion.
Yet her victory over despair
sometimes seems more apparent than real.
After her divorce, she moved to Beverly Hills,
where she supported Catholic causes
and joined the Beverly Hills Garden Club.

I just want to tell you like, my politics are real different from way back when.
Obviously, right.

Q. Is it not true that you ejected
from your automatic weapon
a live round and placed into it
an additional clip?
A. I did not have an automatic weapon.
Q. You did not?
A. No.
Q. What type of weapon did you have?
A. It was an M-I carbine.

She’s a victim of thought control by terrorists. And all I can do is hope and pray that God will bring her home again.

She was de-programmed and de-radicalized,
returned to the persona
more similar to what she was
She was essentially brainwashed
by her side team and her lawyers.
By the time she walked into the courtroom,
nail polish,
nice pair of shoes,
very well dressed,
it was impressive.

I'm terribly happy. More happy than predacious.
Do you have any notion what you'll say to her when you see her?
I'll tell her I love her.
Are there questions that you want to ask her?
No questions in my mind.


I want to see my parents, and my sisters... I'm really happy to be going home.
Äŧül Mar 2014
A necessary evil for our segregation,
It's the deadly examination monster.

It's rough-tough so it never spares us,
Alongside the weaknesses it bares us.

Prepare for them if you want it easy,
Your scores often determine the life.

Never you give-up all fearing failure,
For you can write your future bright.

Holding shining silver string of love,
You 'come more courageous in life...
My HP Poem #594
©Atul Kaushal
Gina Old Nov 2015
In the old house up the hills -
Yes, the one that gives you chills
Whenever you walk by its fence -
Lives someone who, no offense,
Looks like she'd puts kids on grill.
Children, puppies, all she'd ****
For food.

Lady who, probably, likes to
Know the places each kid hikes to.
There she, later in the day,
Waits for village kids to stray.
Some will die and some live on.
Who? That really depens on
Her mood.

Some say that she used to snitch,
Others say that she's a witch!
Nobody was ever in
The house whose walls are made of skin.
Nobody would ever dare
To set their foot on the porch where
She stood.

They'll never know that her kitchen
Smelled like flowers, most bewitchin',
They won't see her paintings, neat,
Her living room where you could meet
A fire giving warm embrace.
And alongside her fireplace
The wood.

Now, if you got in, you'd stare
on stinky fish bowls, everywhere,
whose cloudy water calls for changing,
and rooms in need of rearranging.
But since you never really tried,
No one knows the lady died.
Yes she's dead for good.
CK Baker Apr 2017
to exonerate the clipping
we took the back road to oswega
the tudor house rabbits
had long lost their heads
(presumably to the *****)
and what remained
of the scape
was dead
and dry
and orange

that happy home
on the brink
of cattle loop
was now gull grey ~
the needles
and stragglers
(from shady bay)
remained in numbers
on the outskirt
of the park

the fabled town
of horse drawn tours
was stone washed ~
on the back of
government docks
sat decrepit toppers
set on high tide
against the lighthouse
and its measured song

flutes and fiddles
and acoustic sitars
ride the accompaniment
nose rings
and signage
in the hands of
staged protesters
the sickly spit strewn
with tidal run
and ocean bags

hedgerow trimmed
alongside the sea walk
rolling hills bend
before the chuck
mint juleps
and flop hats
peak the parade
clydesdales
and royals
blinded in back
You kept complaining
'bout those people corrupting
then afterwards you'll be saying
Money can't be brought alongside with you on the day that you die. Why are they being so corrupt?
Yet why aren't you trying to question thyself?
When in fact, you aren't any different.
Save, Save, Save
That's all you think about
Prices, Prices, Prices
I thought we were here to survive?
Money is an element for survival.
Why are you keeping every single dollar?
You always count your money as if it is your baby.
Complaints are all that I hear each day every time you pay.
Pffttt... Money lover... Keeps a *** of cash inside their bank accounts yet are way too afraid to spend it on things that they like. If ever they do, they'd complain afterwards. What the actual fudge? -_-
Part I

It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

The bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
Mayst hear the merry din.’

He holds him with his skinny hand,
“There was a ship,” quoth he.
‘Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!’
Eftsoons his hand dropped he.

He holds him with his glittering eye—
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years’ child:
The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

“The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

The sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon—”
The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud bassoon.

The bride hath paced into the hall,
Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes
The merry minstrelsy.

The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner.

“And now the storm-blast came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o’ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

With sloping masts and dipping prow,
As who pursued with yell and blow
Still treads the shadow of his foe,
And foward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—
The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name.

It ate the food it ne’er had eat,
And round and round it flew.
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The helmsman steered us through!

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner’s hollo!

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white moonshine.”

‘God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends that plague thee thus!—
Why look’st thou so?’—”With my crossbow
I shot the Albatross.”

Part II

“The sun now rose upon the right:
Out of the sea came he,
Still hid in mist, and on the left
Went down into the sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow,
Nor any day for food or play
Came to the mariners’ hollo!

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work ’em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

Nor dim nor red, like God’s own head,
The glorious sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
’Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

Down dropped the breeze, the sails dropped down,
’Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea!

All in a hot and copper sky,
The ****** sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch’s oils,
Burnt green, and blue, and white.

And some in dreams assured were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Ah! well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.”

Part III

“There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye—
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist;
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could nor laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I ****** the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame,
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the sun.

And straight the sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven’s Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered
With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the sun,
Like restless gossameres?

Are those her ribs through which the sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a Death? and are there two?
Is Death that Woman’s mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
‘The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!’
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper o’er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.

We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman’s face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The horned moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

One after one, by the star-dogged moon,
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.

Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.

The souls did from their bodies fly,—
They fled to bliss or woe!
And every soul it passed me by,
Like the whizz of my crossbow!”

Part IV

‘I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
I fear thy skinny hand!
And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
As is the ribbed sea-sand.

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,
And thy skinny hand, so brown.’—
“Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!
This body dropped not down.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

The many men, so beautiful!
And they all dead did lie;
And a thousand thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I.

I looked upon the rotting sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I looked upon the rotting deck,
And there the dead men lay.

I looked to heaven, and tried to pray;
But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came and made
My heart as dry as dust.

I closed my lids, and kept them close,
And the ***** like pulses beat;
Forthe sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky,
Lay like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.

The cold sweat melted from their limbs,
Nor rot nor reek did they:
The look with which they looked on me
Had never passed away.

An orphan’s curse would drag to hell
A spirit from on high;
But oh! more horrible than that
Is the curse in a dead man’s eye!
Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,
And yet I could not die.

The moving moon went up the sky,
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up,
And a star or two beside—

Her beams bemocked the sultry main,
Like April ****-frost spread;
But where the ship’s huge shadow lay,
The charmed water burnt alway
A still and awful red.

Beyond the shadow of the ship
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.

The selfsame moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.”

Part V

“Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from heaven,
That slid into my soul.

The silly buckets on the deck,
That had so long remained,
I dreamt that they were filled with dew;
And when I awoke, it rained.

My lips were wet, my throat was cold,
My garments all were dank;
Sure I had drunken in my dreams,
And still my body drank.

I moved, and could not feel my limbs:
I was so light—almost
I thought that I had died in sleep,
And was a blessed ghost.

And soon I heard a roaring wind:
It did not come anear;
But with its sound it shook the sails,
That were so thin and sere.

The upper air burst into life!
And a hundred fire-flags sheen,
To and fro they were hurried about!
And to and fro, and in and out,
The wan stars danced between.

And the coming wind did roar more loud,
And the sails did sigh like sedge;
And the rain poured down from one black cloud;
The moon was at its edge.

The thick black cloud was cleft, and still
The moon was at its side:
Like waters shot from some high crag,
The lightning fell with never a jag,
A river steep and wide.

The loud wind never reached the ship,
Yet now the ship moved on!
Beneath the lightning and the moon
The dead men gave a groan.

They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose,
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.

The helmsman steered, the ship moved on;
Yet never a breeze up blew;
The mariners all ‘gan work the ropes,
Where they were wont to do;
They raised their limbs like lifeless tools—
We were a ghastly crew.

The body of my brother’s son
Stood by me, knee to knee:
The body and I pulled at one rope,
But he said nought to me.”

‘I fear thee, ancient Mariner!’
“Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest!
’Twas not those souls that fled in pain,
Which to their corses came again,
But a troop of spirits blest:

For when it dawned—they dropped their arms,
And clustered round the mast;
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,
And from their bodies passed.

Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
Then darted to the sun;
Slowly the sounds came back again,
Now mixed, now one by one.

Sometimes a-dropping from the sky
I heard the skylark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seemed to fill the sea and air
With their sweet jargoning!

And now ’twas like all instruments,
Now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel’s song,
That makes the heavens be mute.

It ceased; yet still the sails made on
A pleasant noise till noon,
A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June,
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.

Till noon we quietly sailed on,
Yet never a breeze did breathe;
Slowly and smoothly went the ship,
Moved onward from beneath.

Under the keel nine fathom deep,
From the land of mist and snow,
The spirit slid: and it was he
That made the ship to go.
The sails at noon left off their tune,
And the ship stood still also.

The sun, right up above the mast,
Had fixed her to the ocean:
But in a minute she ‘gan stir,
With a short uneasy motion—
Backwards and forwards half her length
With a short uneasy motion.

Then like a pawing horse let go,
She made a sudden bound:
It flung the blood into my head,
And I fell down in a swound.

How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare;
But ere my living life returned,
I heard and in my soul discerned
Two voices in the air.

‘Is it he?’ quoth one, ‘Is this the man?
By him who died on cross,
With his cruel bow he laid full low
The harmless Albatross.

The spirit who bideth by himself
In the land of mist and snow,
He loved the bird that loved the man
Who shot him with his bow.’

The other was a softer voice,
As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he, ‘The man hath penance done,
And penance more will do.’

Part VI

First Voice

But tell me, tell me! speak again,
Thy soft response renewing—
What makes that ship drive on so fast?
What is the ocean doing?

Second Voice

Still as a slave before his lord,
The ocean hath no blast;
His great bright eye most silently
Up to the moon is cast—

If he may know which way to go;
For she guides him smooth or grim.
See, brother, see! how graciously
She looketh down on him.

First Voice

But why drives on that ship so fast,
Without or wave or wind?

Second Voice

The air is cut away before,
And closes from behind.

Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high!
Or we shall be belated:
For slow and slow that ship will go,
When the Mariner’s trance is abated.

“I woke, and we were sailing on
As in a gentle weather:
’Twas night, calm night, the moon was high;
The dead men stood together.

All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
All fixed on me their stony eyes,
That in the moon did glitter.

The pang, the curse, with which they died,
Had never passed away:
I could not draw my eyes from theirs,
Nor turn them up to pray.

And now this spell was snapped: once more
I viewed the ocean green,
And looked far forth, yet little saw
Of what had else been seen—

Like one that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

But soon there breathed a wind on me,
Nor sound nor motion made:
Its path was not upon the sea,
In ripple or in shade.

It raised my hair, it fanned my cheek
Like a meadow-gale of spring—
It mingled strangely with my fears,
Yet it felt like a welcoming.

Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
Yet she sailed softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze—
On me alone it blew.

Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed
The lighthouse top I see?
Is this the hill? is this the kirk?
Is this mine own country?

We drifted o’er the harbour-bar,
And I with sobs did pray—
O let me be awake, my God!
Or let me sleep alway.

The harbour-bay was clear as glass,
So smoothly it was strewn!
And on the bay the moonlight lay,
And the shadow of the moon.

The rock shone bright, the kirk no less,
That stands above the rock:
The moonlight steeped in silentness
The steady weathercock.

And the bay was white with silent light,
Till rising from the same,
Full many shapes, that shadows were,
In crimson colours came.

A little distance from the prow
Those crimson shadows were:
I turned my eyes upon the deck—
Oh, Christ! what saw I there!

Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat,
And, by the holy rood!
A man all light, a seraph-man,
On every corse there stood.

This seraph-band, each waved his hand:
It was a heavenly sight!
They stood as signals to the land,
Each one a lovely light;

This seraph-band, each waved his hand,
No voice did they impart—
No voice; but oh! the silence sank
Like music on my heart.

But soon I heard the dash of oars,
I heard the Pilot’s cheer;
My head was turned perforce away,
And I saw a boat appear.

The Pilot and the Pilot’s boy,
I heard them coming fast:
Dear Lord i
Alice R-P Jun 2015
Grey skies,
Green eyes,
Yellow autumn leaves.
Your hand
Against my cheek,
Caressing it tenderly.

Piercing weather,
Warm embrace,
There isn't much I need.
Howling wind,
At peace inside,
I'll follow You, just lead.

Heavy rainfall,
Lightness within,
It feels like a calming song.
No why's,
Only highs,
Alongside You I belong.
Ugo Jan 2012
In a blind of an eye,
we were flying with pigs
and swimming with pigeons.

Marching alongside famous carcasses
and singing gospels with the Pharisees.
We stood on water
and bathe on the pyroclastic flow.

A flock of ants gave us clothing,
as the army of sheep gave us a scolding.

We drank the Nile ‘till we got thirsty
and Bismarcked our way into the Revolution
and fought the Bolsheviks
alongside Lenin.

We cooked the ***,
cooked it right down to the marrow
until we were walking down to heaven
to rescue Rasputin.

Overlooking eucalyptus groves,
we made love,
while they were out with bullets
searching for a truce.
http://www.amazon.com/OLAF-Nothing-Above-Fiction-ebook/dp/B009XZ9OVY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid;=1353822133&sr;=8-1&keywords;=olaf+last+king+of+nothing
Kevin J Taylor Jan 2019
The photograph hangs on the wall by the window,
Three judges appear (one carries a folder)—
A tarot card reader, embalmer, engraver,
Without much to say and not much of it said
About the boot in the crib and the tire in the bed
The round faced man and the *** on his head
Painted with flowers and chipped on its edge.
And the cat near the door with its collar and bell
Flailing and airborne and mid caterwaul.
And the three-leggèd dog with her leash on
And sweater, jubilant, leaping— Mon Dieu! Grand jeté!
And the crow— O the crow! In its cage cawing “Fire!”
The crow crowing “Mayhem!” and “****** most foul!”
The dog and the cat and the crow and the tire
The cage and the crib, the *** painted in flowers;
All in a frame with a sign alongside—
“Self portrait. Around the Ides of July.”
A ribbon is clipped and then hung for its owner.
It bears the word “Mention” and then the engraver
Makes a note on a form he hands to the embalmer.
The tarot card reader turns— She and her hat,
And addresses the room, “Ain't no card made for that.”
.
An ekphrastic poem.
Francie Lynch Sep 2015
When poets die
It's sad and true,
It matters not
What their bodies do,
The spirit flies
To Poet's Corner,
In Westminster Abbey.
You'll not see
Busts or inscriptions
For all the poets
Whose spirits linger
Alongside Chaucer, Browning, Spencer,
And a myriad of authors.
Dead Poet you have earned your share;
Dead Poet I will know you're there,
Composing in the Laureate's lair.
For all poets.
LexiSully Jan 2016
She strolled down a winding pathway, admiring the brightly colored roses, listening to the loud chirping of the birds

As she walked,she hummed a tune of joy and followed the path marking on a map, just to reassure herself that she was heading in the right direction

Around a turn o the left she went, then back to the right, as her pace sped with every step

But then the beautiful path that she'd been following for so long fell into a babbling creek, only to continue on the other side

Had she, excited for her long journey, mistaked this path with the one she wished to take?

"No," she decided, for she checked the path a million times before beginning, and she was positive she had journeyed on the correct one

Should she give up on her journey, only to turn around and go home?

"No," she told herself, for how could she live with herself of she gave up on her dream?

But how will she, small and dainty, cross the sputtering creek that lays before her?

She gazed at the creek in front of her, considering walking alongside it until she reached a spot where she could walk across

"No," she determined, for there was no way of knowing whether there'd be a break in the flood of water, and even if there was, she'd be lost in the forest, continuously searching for the path

She glanced from left to right, searching for something to aid her in crossing the creek

To the left of the path, she noticed flat stones, the exact size of her foot

"Yes!' she exclaimed, as she sets them in the creek and skipped across them

She was back on her way, strolling down the pathway, headed towards her dreams.
Teetering on her baby legs
A newborn with a Solo cup
bombastic red with a few
undulating ribs
Held firmly in her hand
Is this her first or her third?
Somnambulant yet eager
And just a little out of place
In a foreign territory
On newly contested lands
She stumbles through a raucous crowd
Or was it just white noise?
She’s lost her companions
Somewhere
Although they could very well be close at hand

In the distance she can make out
Laughing faces
Bodies moving to and fro
Spilling forward, little messes
Throwing back cheap libation

She passes through a room and out the door
Into the out-of-doors
Someone following her unbeknownst
Watching her cautious, curious steps
And when she turns and sees the blur standing
She greets it
“Hail Fellow!”

Bouncing from variable to variable
Frequency to frequency
Confident and in command
Of a seemingly controlled chaos
He approaches smiling and holds out his hand
Anonymous

Having drawn her attention from the stars
That she could not find above
Leaning against the garage’s eastern wall
She takes it awkwardly
Tentative she smiles back reassured
Wobbling she returns standing alongside him
Or was she in front?
Purposeful and en route
Emboldened by his presence
And how the way was parted before her
Just by his being there.
By being so close.
She felt vaguely special
it showed in her half-smile
Cloaked in bangs
She held her head just a little bit higher

The co-conspiratorial glances
Met by boys eyes
And shes
Went unseen by the girl with the
Solo cup
One of tens upon tens upon tens
A coven would have known
It’s better not to

However.

She was shown a seat to rest
And her cup refilled
She takes a sip and smiles again
She takes another and then a gulp
That spills
He takes the cup away
And places it on the low table
Suggests she go to the restroom upstairs and get herself
Sorted

Embarrassed she is relieved for direction
Someone knows what’s going on
And his caring
Taking the time
His kind eyes
She’s usually alone
She waddles up the stairs to find
a toilet and a mirror
God she thinks
I look a mess
She tries to fix it
The hair
The eyes
The lips
The dress
The stomach
The *******
The thighs

She shrugs her shoulders at her reflection
Exhales and steps out again
To find him standing there
waiting for more.

She wants another cup.
She’s missing her cup.
I’ll get you the cup he says
In just a second.
Come.
Mara W Kayh Nov 2014
outside it's browns and greys
Inside an orange glow permeates,
skimming the surface
a Ravel march serenade.
the scent of burning pumkin.
You're in the garden planting tulips for
Spring.
when it arrives,
will kindness bloom anew
alongside the rows of colour..
or will we witness the beauty out there
Separately?
a snap shot of the moment. sitting at my computer, trying to make soup. :-)  in a light mood while it's grey outside. with a tinge of fall/winter blues
Melissa S Jan 2017
The scars are there
but they are hidden on the inside
Makes it easier for us to hide
They are not very pretty
but have learned to live alongside
Sometimes buried deep
Sometimes buried
beneath......
Life is made up of darkness and light
What matters most is how
We choose to act on this
Sometimes dark takes us for a spin
Then light finds us and cuts right in
We choose to believe there is
still beauty in this world
Bad stuff in life happens
But guess what? We are still here
There is always going to be darkness
Just look to the light when you can
Don't let life weigh you down
We can always begin again
Darkness doesn't have to be the end
Not when you have a sister....a
unique connection and poetic friend

*Love to you my sister/poetic friend K
aka Ghost of Jupiter
Thanks to all  who read this and gave me a heart and  or comment.
This was a very happy unexpected surprise
Martin Narrod Apr 2014
I used to think that all of them were just bodies. She-figures, they came and went, facilitating infinite happiness and following with hellacious heartbreak, aorta explosions galore. They pass. I stay. She goes. I remain. We all take a trip, but she falls asleep while I follow the road, I sing the song, make the lyrics up as the 101 heads West, and I careen against the Pacific. I see silvery-white plumes of whale breaths spouting, they break the rocks of my rock and roll. When the levee breaks, we'll have no place to go- I'm going back to Chicago.

California. Line 5. Verse 1. She is born in Arkansas, in Denver, in New York City, in the back of a taxi cab, her parents waiting for a table at Earth Cafe, 1989. There are concerts, balconies, elevator shafts, and on benches. The gain rises, the volume up and up and up, I offer her a cigarette, I ask her if she likes my dress, I show up with two palms full of a flame, and I say hello. Browsing in high-definition, the water is warm, my feet are planted and I have everywhere to go. Classical emporium of light fill me with ease, greatness, and belief. She asks me if I'm gay. Every great confusion can be proven to be fortuitous with enough time on hand. I kiss in cars, in bathrooms, and barrooms, in hallways, on staircases, on beds, church steps, and legs. I touched a leg, ran my fingers through her hair, my thumbs curved to the height of two ears alongside a size B head. I love art *****. i burn candles, and I swirl the wax around until the walls wear masks of white. I check-in to a hotel. I stop to buy wild flowers on the side of the road, or to climb down a ravine, we open a page into an enormous patch of strawberries, wind-surfers, and the golden Palo Alto beaches. I am in Bronzeville, on my way to Bridgeport, I am riding the train, browsing magazines, and singing new songs in my head. My lips are wet with excitement and the musings of the Modern Art Museum and the gift of a first kiss; behind the statue on Balcony 2, near the drinking fountain, the Eames couch, and two lips meeting anew. Bravery in twos.

Chapter 1, Verse 2. The chorus is large and exciting. New plastic shining coats. Smocks patterned with the Random House children's stories that we played with as children. We didn't wear gloves, or hats, or pants, or our hearts on our sleeves. I was up to my knees in hormones and very persuasive. My fifth birthday was at the Nature Center, you chased me into the boys' bathroom and kissed me with your wet and four year old lips in the second stall from the door. I eased up maybe 2% since then. The speakers are a little bit fuzzy, it's like listening to the spit of someone's tongue cascade the roof of their mouth while they pronounce the British consonants of the 90s. Said and done and saving space.

I am saving up for Grace. A crush in the mid 2000s, black hair, long legs, and the only brunette for a decade before or after. We played doctor, with the electric scalpel we turned our noses red with Christmas time South American powders. A safe word for an enemy, the sun for an enemy too. You bolted out and took my early Jimi Hendrix Best Of compact disc case too. While we're at it, you took my Michael Jackson cassettes as well. I go mid-range, think Kiri Te Kanawa in the whispers of E.T.'s Elliot. Stuffed-animal closet party for seven minutes in heaven. Your family came with butlers while mine came with over-educated storage. A blue borage sky in the intestines of life, a splinter in the shanty-town of invincible daily struggles- both of us were born again in O'Hare Airport's Parking Level D. Too many nonsensical arguments in two-tone grayscale ripping open the packaging of a course about trysting in your twenties.

Your stomach's history is overpowering. It is temperamental, mettled by spirits and sleepless nights, borborygmus, wambles, and shades of nervousness you were never comfortable speaking openly about. The history of your ****** was privatized, in options and unedited films shot over and over candidly by a mini DV desk camera, nine months to read you wrong to weep in strong wintry walks back and forth from The Buckingham to the Dwight Lofts, Room 408 without a view. All of your secrets in a little miniature of a notebook, bright cerise red. You captured teardrops in medicinal jars meant for syringes. You tied strings to your fingers, named your field mouse Ginger, and introduced your mother as Lady Darling. Captain with stingray skin, the hide of Ferris Bueller with the coattails of James Bond, dusted with daisy pollen, and clearly weakness. You ate me like bitter herbs on Thursdays, and like every other woman I've ever met, on Tuesdays you always kept me waiting.

I have wings for everything. Yellow wings for a woman in a yellow dress, Red, White, and Green wings for Bernice from Mexico City, Purple wings for  Mrs. Doolittle the doctor who worked at Taco Bell, the Jamaican priestess who was traveling through Venice Italy- we smoked hash with the grandchild of James Joyce on the Northern pier against the aurulent statues of Apollo and Zeus, Cupids' collection of malevolent tricks, SleepingB Beauty's rebuttal in fending off GHB attackers, my two dear friends who were kidnapped in clothes, abandoned in the ****, and only remember eating chocolate donuts with sprinkles and the bruises and dirt on the insides of their thighs. Nothing clever. Nothing extraordinary. Everything sentimental, built to withstand soot, sourness, and early female bravado.

You know how to play the piano so you've said, but i only have the CD you gave me to prove it. I do have evidence of your addiction to men and *******. I have your collection of dresses with tags still on them (but every woman has some of those), there is the post office box in Kauai, the Halloween card from last November and the two videos I have stored on an external drive in a nightstand adjacent to the foot of my bed. You sleep atrociously, talk too quickly, and **** like your father abandoned you when you were five. Your talent for taking photographs is like your skill-set for playing the piano, but I don't have the CD to prove it. You don't believe in social media, social consistency, friendships, or hephalumps and woozels- with the exception of the classes we shared together in college, I've never seen you outside of the most glamorous of fashion. You hate flats, hats, and white wine, and for as sad as you can seem to be at times, I've only had you cry on me once. While we were on the phone, three days after your mother hung herself. That's when I last left California, and I haven't been back yet.

I love a Kristine, but once a Britni, a Brandi, a Joni, a Tina, Kristina, Kirsten, Kristen, and a Katherine and Kathryn too. I know rock stars who are my dearest friends, enemies who I share excellent taste in music with, and parents who've always had my back but show it in lashings of the tongue and of the belt. It's been two years and three states since I was two sizes smaller than I am now. I've never considered the possibility that I was the main character and not the supporting actor, but due to recent developments in antipathy and aesthete, reevaluation, and retrospective nostalgia. All of this is about to change.

I am me still evolving without my usually stolid and grim ****** features. i bare brevity to situations existing that would **** most or in the least paralyze a great many. There is one for every hour of every day, and one for every minute in every hour, second in every minute, and more than the minutes in every day. No one has a second chance, shares a different time, or works off a different clock. I have been called the master of the analog, king of the codependent, and rook to queenside knight. I share a parabola for every encounter, experience, and endeavor. I am three minutes from being a cadaver, one drink away from a drunk, and one thought away from being completely alone. I think upright, i sleep horizontally, and I love infinitely. I am the only finite constant i have ever known. I am the main character, the script, satire, sarcasm, and soundtrack are mine.

"I don’t care if you believe it. That’s the kind of house I live in. And I hope we never leave it.”
There's A Wocket In My Pocket by Dr. Seuss
Mateuš Conrad Dec 2015
only an idiot like me, the rain poured down, my socks were wetted,  and i looked at the pavement for glory, instead i found a £10 note and  imagined my right shoe on my left leg, and my left shoe on my right  leg... just to prove the luck.*

it came from listening to rotting christ's kata
ton daimona...
i wrote the poem on two tesco receipts
numbering them no. 1 - .4,
it made sense to just give it a narrative...
the naturally apparent lisp of greek is due to...
lies between theta (θ) and phi (φ)...
check feta cheese... it might be less morbidly fermented...
that's why the greeks have a natural lisp...
it's theta and it's phi...
in english it's like chinese.... w & r...
something's rolling something's waving,
something's trigonometric...
harrison fowd was almost jonathan woss if i care...
the chinese in english debate with chin-chin-******
scissors piece of paper stone good luck on the handshake:
lost the price of interest being gained for excavation
purposes of dinosaur bones and inflation via the
ptertodactyl of the extended mohawk shave...
english dicionary makes me confused...
it places theta alongside the, than... but then
it's therapy... thermometer...
too many unique examples i'd have said...
that's the lisp there... sidelined phew and engaged in phew
in byzantine...
english linguistics is filled with too many "unique" examples
of expression... coupled with the celebrity culture...
i farted and a person took hold of a *** squeeze...
how's that?! english language in summary?
pleasing on the eye... but the spelling? a burden on the tongue.
i know that slavic linguistics would make enlgish that's written
ugly...
it wouldn't be pharmacology but farmacology...
then it made sense, i stopped asking the english dicta
written down, the greek θ wasn't a couple of th & etc...
a few athenains in death metal said it like i said it... the 2nd f...
it was απηθανoν - because it was simply athens - fern fence...
and not d... defence, or anything easily acquired as a prescription
of zee wee point of german scottish.
I am angry, but am not sure if I have a right to be. Between all or rather among all the other emotions I am feeling it is hard to discern and clarify the balance and reasons for my anger. Naturally I want what is best for you, that in itself is a conundrum. Is having what you want best? Or do I actually believe that what I have to offer can ultimately elate you to a higher level of happiness than that of your current situation? Another question comes to light now and that is, is what you currently want what you actually want, or is it merely that it was something which at first appeared to be and has over time slowly dissolved into something far less, into something you thought you had wanted but now see that in it's current form, really is not?
        Suppose one of these speculations takes a solid form and settles as the true idea, then in what way could any of this upset me enough to reveal itself as anger in my mind? Primarily, it would seem my own jealousy or want of you could be a proprietary perpetrator in this matter, but I am sure that the true identity of this perplexed feeling runs much wilder and entangled with a slue of uprooted inner conflicts. So then, what are they? As I reflect on the many faces of this anger, the feeling of pain surfaces, but not the kind you feel for yourself, rather it's more of the selfless type. I am, by all means, a bystander on looking the trials and troubles that lay ridden in your path. I see you struggle to hold on and in turn attempt to stay as composed as a rigid coastline baring the constant battery of each careless and possibly calculated undulation of every crashing wave which from where I stand rises more often than not than the natural course of a waxing and waning tide. And it's as if from a distance I can see and hear bits and pieces of you crumble and crash, slowly receding into the horizon with each unrelenting wave.      
        At times finding myself diving into the chaotic and churning crush of waves to gather and salvage whatever I can mange to and still keep myself afloat so that when the tides recede I, with safe passage, climb ashore to safely return to you whatever it is I managed to cradle from the depths. As I take those sandy steps I now understand the reason for my anger, if but only for a portion of it. Watching as I do from my ship, it hurts to see the waves crash, to see something so paramount in beauty, in life be so carelessly attended to. Yet, the fault is not but of one, but of two. It can hardly be helped, you are who you are, and the beauty in you is as with most, your flaw. The core of you, revealed more and more with each crashing wave, smells damp and sweet of hope. Such a hopeful being, that even after the tempest has risen a tsunami to thunder coldly on your very shores, you merely wince and hope that just maybe a windless day will break through to passing clouds to ease each tide to a lapping kiss upon your now jagged shores that in time, piece by piece, return to you what is rightfully yours.
        Throughout all this though I bare a different caliber of weather, one which strikes at my splintered ship with jagged volts of lightening, searing all aboard until your gentle rain turns its pulsing red embers into a faded glow slowly giving way to smoke and ashes. I watch from this distance angry at everything on this side of the world. Anger towards the carelessness, towards the helplessness, at the one flaw that you and I share, at knowing my selfishness in it all, toward the thought of walking on your shores but only quietly as not to summon another unwelcome tide, and finally and most perplexing of all...for being angry at all. It's what upsets me the most, that I'm even angry. Yet, I am as helpless against it as we are with the sunset of hope we both hold so close to sight and mind, for you, hope of a sleeping tempest and in return a more attentive life by the ocean, and for me, the hope of one day being able to cast my anchor down into the depths so that I may enjoy the warmth of your sand, cool nights against your moonlit caves heated by the warmth of your heart, your hope, and to above all tenderly enjoy and return to your ever-reaching shores of love all that it gives and deserves.
        But at times I see that this endless commotion disorients even the strongest of shores and that in it all , there is no surprise that a mere ship in an open sea can seem to be anything more than a flick of candlelight alongside the heat of a chaotic wild fire. Despite this pulsing surge of discouragement,I angrily, hopefully, caringly, and thoughtfully will continue to cast my net to show you that though right now I quietly wisp each flickering dance of summer light, that I too am relentless in my will, but for a different reason. I see now, that my anger is acceptable because above all else,I am your friend and wish for you only the best, for what would make you happiest. And that despite my wants, yours will always come first, whatever they be or you may think they be. My ship will sail alongside you no matter your choice, and if ever the day comes when I walk up on your shores with candle in hand, you need but kiss the tender tendrilous flame I carry to awaken its unconditional and fervent inferno that lies patiently inside, waiting.
Angrily, your loving friend
Dahlia May 2019
I have been here before, and with this same pen, I express myself through words.
To better understand myself, and to avoid being misunderstood.

Some call it bewitched, but I call it love.
There is an emptiness in the freedom of being alone,
And liberty in being caught in that divine spell.

The day that I stop writing love poetry is the day that my pen's ink will run out,
Along with my sense of connection to humanity.

Love is hard, and so difficult to describe,
Too complex to express simply by stringing words together.
Yet here I am, trying over and over,  
Always feeling limited, unfulfilled, unsatisfied.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have been here before, I am comforted by love's familiarity,
Its pleasant tenderness, shining like rays of sun, enveloping me in warmth and sincerity.
Its floral fragrance in the form of beautiful golden sunflowers,
Bundled with red ribbon at the stems, followed by conversations that go on for hours.
Its sweet taste in the form of kisses, followed by more and more and more, all over my cheeks and face,
Until there is not a spot that his lips have not touched, and then I point lower, to a different space.
I want more but I am too timid to say,
But my flushed cheeks and smile gives it away anyway.

But, I've also been here before, reminiscing on this familiarity,
I am then reminded of the heartache that follows, and I get a sense of polarity.
The shattered promises of forever, and the final goodbyes,
The returning of sweaters that smell like him while holding back desperate cries.
The empty and cold interactions as he shuts the door behind him,
The sinking loneliness as I stand in the room that is now increasingly dim.
The racking sobs as my heart begs me to stop doing this to myself,
So, I take the thought of love, lock it in a box, and put it high on a shelf.


But, I have been here before, knowing that I cannot stop,
Love is embedded deep inside of me, it is not something I can just drop.
My heart knows how capable I am to feel such raw emotions,
It flows gracefully through me, and soars with plummeting waves like the ocean.
My heart demands to spark a flame in the one who ignited such feelings inside of me,
It longs and yearns to douse them with love and unwavering loyalty.
It demands to be expressed, through every form of self-expression that I use,
Whether that is poetry, painting, music, whatever outlet I choose to let loose.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have been here before, trying to express my feeling of love.
It is difficult and frustrating, and most attempts are ripped apart and disposed of.
I have been trying to describe love for years, and still feel unsatisfied,
The countless filled notebooks are evidence of all the times that I have tried.
I cannot find how to put it simply but in a beautiful way,
I write about it for hours and hours, from night until day.
I want to be cherished for not only who I am, but who I was, and how I came to be,
So instead of writing about love, I will write about how to better love me.

I have not been here before, so I will take it slow,
If it helps you better understand me, please let me know.
This is for you, if you want to love me,
It is complex and it may not come immediately.
Please understand that it will take time,
For you to love me the way that I need, this is not just a rhyme.
This is new to me, I have not been here before,
If it makes you see the real me, for you I will write more.
I have not been here before, but I am still using the same pen,
If you follow my trail of disorganized thinking, please nod every now and then.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I am honest, and I will never lie.
I want you to be my best friend before being my guy.
I want to build a sense of familiarity -- to know about you and your life.
I want consistency, continuous communication, so we can avoid all strife.
I want passion and longing, the magnetic pull between our lips and bodies until they unify.
I want "I love you"s to be meaningful, not fillers to be thrown in when our conversation dies.

He must know that the "he" in this story, could also be a she.
My ability to love isn't limited by appearances that fade with time, life’s bittersweet guarantee.
He must know my personality, my strengths, goals, hopes, and dreams,
And when we fight, he must remember that we are not on opposing teams.
He must know how to support me and my life goals, how to motivate me,
When the coldness of the world frightens me, and I search for ways to escape reality.
He must want the best for me, for me to be happy, even if that is not by his side,
If we realize that we are not compatible, or our relationship makes us feel unsatisfied.
He must know my weaknesses, my flaws.
My tendency to push away when I am overwhelmed, and how to find the probable cause.
He must know that though I love to care for others, I am not great at caring for my own body.
My self-destructive nature has a story of its own, and it is not shared with everybody.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have been here before, and with the same pen, I try to help him understand me,
I have been fighting my demons for a long time, and I can't remove the shackles that would set me free.
He feels a need to fix me, as if I were a broken wine glass,
I tell him to mind his footing, bringing attention to the pieces he should avoid and overpass.
He thinks that sweet words could be the glue to adhere my shards together,
And praises the curvature of my body, accentuated by a jacket made of leather.
He believes that he could love me more than anyone else has, and by doing so, he would mend me,
I quietly sigh, close my eyes, and slowly count to three.

I have been here before, and with the same pen, I try to make him see,
My broken pieces are not mean to be picked up by fragile hands, nor by anybody.
He learns this when the sharp sting of glass runs along the tips of his digits,
He realizes that the scars on my fingers were from all the attempts I made when I felt brave and ambitious.
Trust me, I have been there before -- I know how much it hurts, I do not want you to share my pain,
I know that I am a sad girl, but still some happiness remains.
I want to embrace this darkness, my ability to feel emotions so immense,
My dear, there is no need to put your fists up in defense.

I have been here before, and I watch him try to fit the pieces together,
But they are sharp, merciless, and weigh much more than a feather.
They are not a puzzle, they do not even fit me anymore,
But he becomes increasingly frustrated, exclaiming that this is more than he asked for.
I try to make him understand that they do not define me,
I only want them to be a visual for my story, I do not need them to be complete, nor to feel free.
I want him to see my past and my struggles, laid on the table,
Only then he will know how intricately strong the roots are that ground me and keep me stable.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have been here before, and I don't feel like rhyming anymore,
It took me a long time to understand myself and what I stand for.

The shattered pieces that lay before him are all of the times I've lost a piece of myself;
The innocence that I clung to for so long and had to drop in order to survive and adapt.
The ideologies of supportive families, shattered by abusive alcoholics that no one questioned.
The expectations of loving and supportive friends, broken by betrayal and abandonment.
The life that I once knew, had to leave behind, and the shock that crackled my perspective and forever changed me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have been here before, and with the same pen, I try to reassure him,
But he is drowning in my sorrows and has forgotten how to swim.
He feels a need to scare away my demons, and cure what plagues my mind,
He becomes frightened by my pain and wants to protect me, so he covers my eyes.
But my self-destructive nature was never his job to correct,
I try to help him understand that I am grateful, I never meant any disrespect.

I have been here before, and with the same pen, I try prove that I am his equal and that we are the same,
I am not expecting him to be anything more than he is, I am not a helpless dame.
But he feels that it is his duty as a man to complete me, to support me, to give me a reason to smile.
I put down my pen, and and stare into his eyes for a while.

Though I may be broken, I am complete on my own.
The only support I want is holding hands as we walk side by side, not in the form of you carrying me.
Our world is beautiful enough to make me smile, I only want to enjoy it alongside you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

But, I have been here before, and I have been through all that.
For 24 years actually, so that makes me stronger than you.
I am better equipped and more than capable to deal with certain things on my own,
These pieces are not even a part of me anymore.
My demons do not need to be slain by a knight in shining armor, because they are more afraid of me.
They know what I've overcome, and know that I will not take **** from anybody.

I've been here before, and with the same pen, I acknowledge my strength,
I've rebuilt the walls of my wine glass exterior with precise width and length.
I designed them using the knowledge that I have gained from my hardships and where I went wrong,
I shaped and molded them with the experiences that have taught me how to be strong.
And I placed seeds that blossomed when nourished by my own self-determination,
I spent many years adding to my durable and unbreakable flooring and foundation.
I painted the walls crimson red, and hung golden accents on the ceiling,
And laid mats to meditate on when I am hurting and need healing.

I have been here before, and I've created this for myself,
I will invite you in, if you'd like to see it for yourself.
I am strong, I am intelligent, and I hope to be more brave,
But I am a lover and a fighter, so please don't think that I need to be saved.
I want to share this beautiful experience of life with you,
But it is not a journey that you have to carry me through.
We will put on comfortable shoes and make our way together,
And we'll prepare for obstacles, challenges, and unpleasant weather.

I have been here before, and I see that look in his eyes,
The corners of his lips curl down and he feels the need to apologize.
I don't need an apology, or for you to change who you are,
Let's enjoy our time together and have a cigar.
The universe granted us to exist alongside each other, and we have crossed paths for a reason,
So please enjoy the warm weather with me this season.
There are so many beautiful sights out there,
I don't care what we do, or where we go, we can go to Times Square!
As long as I'm by your side, and you love me,
In the most pure, raw, and passionate form, it would make me so happy.
Put on the other headphone in and listen to this song,
I think now that you understand how to better love me, you can do no wrong.
I put my pen down as we listen along,
I dedicate a playlist to him, filled with love songs.

I have been here before, and even though my pen is down,
It seems that I cannot and will not stop expressing love.
Through the years of transparent existence, a void of illusion becomes apparent and slowly becomes nothing more than a side-show. The dribbling glimpses of truth fade like the bones of old. No man can create such an indentation in the mold of space and time that the observers at the end of eternity will render their imprint upon the infinite gaian consciousness and body of universal proportions of any significance. Even the earth laughs at such ridiculousness. The ego is a strong bind - it can create maya and attachment to such fantasies easier than a bear can find it's ideal location for a winter hibernation. It's a world of craziness, where nobody knows whats going on.
The man woke up from his deep slumber. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Squinting, he looked around, studying his surroundings and taking mental notes. His thoughts are ***** scribblings on a subway wall. His heart is beating, searching for a band to play in rhythm with. His soul is aching from loneliness and desire. His feet lifelessly surrender their position up on the couch and find the floor, shrieking from the cold of the linoleum. His presence is that of a bird with a broken wing still attempting to fly. He stands up and stares at the ceiling.
The room is small. Four walls of white, one window and one door. The window looks out over the grey city. The door leads into another room - the room most would call a kitchen. In the small room before the kitchen, there is only a couch and a blanket. No lamp. No television. No electricity. No electricity in the entire apartment. The kitchen holds no refrigerator, no oven, no toaster, no pantry. It's called a kitchen because that's what it would be if somebody else was living in the apartment. There are two bananas on the floor along with a box of wheat flake cereal. No milk, no bowl, no spoon. The bananas are almost entirely rotten. The box of cereal is on its side, leaking bits of wheat flake, resembling a dying soldier on a battlefield who's losing all his blood through the wound on his neck rather than a box of the West's favorite morning go-to breakfast.
The man is observing the cracks on the ceiling, along with various stains with no known origin to him. His eyes dart from one corner of the room to another to another to another and back to the first. Spiderwebs. Dust. Decay. A perfect example of life's ability to take care of itself. Biodecomposition. When no one is around to look after a house, over time, Nature will take over it. Vines will grow and overcome the walls. Rain will fall and wear away the roof and general structure. Winds will blow, taking blindshots at the weakened building, eventually cause it to fall. Nothing lasts forever. Everything goes back to where it came from.
The man now steps into the "kitchen", where he begins to study the stains on the ceiling in this room as well. His mind is electric, with no thoughts in the usual sense, but rather just a vague presence of void to help the ceiling stains feel important. He is the space through which everything around him can exist to their fullest potential. After a measureless amount of time, the man walks over to the sad bits of food on the far side of the small room. He picks up one of he bananas and studies it. He feels where it came from. The tropical skies and smells and earth of Costa Rica. There's a little sticker on the banana that says so. Each bit of fruit in the markets nowadays are individually stickered...for prosperity, one can only assume. Though it's best to never assume anything, and instead be open to everything - afterall, anything is possible, at any time. Likelihood and probability are also important factors in the universal constitution of existence. What was the likelihood that this man, when he was a little child, figured he'd be holding a rotten banana from Costa Rica in his hand inside of a kitchenless kitchen? Who knows? The man wouldn't be able to recall his thoughts from early childhood - he barely remembers waking up and experiencing the chilling sensation of early morning linoleum. In any case, everything is exactly the way it's supposed to be, for it wouldn't be if it wasn't meant to be.
He slowly peels open the banana peel to reveal this brown, soft mush of tropical fruit. Just the way he likes it - soft enough to chew with his toothless mouth. He takes his time consuming the fruit, savoring every particle. After a good bit of time, the fruit is gone and all the man is left with is the peel. He takes another good look at the peel, once again imagining where this particular banana came from. Then, in two swift bites, he devours the entire peel - sticker included. He figures the sticker came from Costa Rica as well, and thus must carry that Costa Rican tropical vibe of health and longevity. His eyes then focus on the wheat flake cereal lying next to the other rotting banana. He bends down and picks up the box. The box is upside down when he picks it up and so the cereal spills out all over the area of the "kitchen" floor that seems to be dedicated to eating food. The remaining banana is now covered in wheat cereal.
The man drops the box back onto the floor and takes a seat alongside of it. His fingers hold his face from drooping onto his knees. His knees are keeping his torso from melting onto the floor. He screams with no sound. The pains of existence seep through his hollow eyes and into the receptors of his soul. He screams with no sound. He’s as empty as the American Dream.
The cobwebs are spreading from the corners of the room and are aimed for the human form sitting in the “kitchen” screaming silence with all his might. The cobwebs grow. The commuters of the city highway are commuting. A thousand birthday celebrations are being had. A thousand people sexually uninhibited, joyously seizing the moment in disgusting miraculous unity of mortal physical desire. Junkies are roaming the street for their morning fix. Teaching are teaching their students absolute lies. Governments are stealing the lives of billions and counting. And the cobwebs are growing, encompassing entire walls. The the ceiling. Then the floor. Then they crawl up the lifeless legs of the man who sits screaming in silence and the spiders overtake his body. They stitch his mouth shut and close his eyes with their spun proteinaceous spider silk. The man withers into the wind of time and vanishes from the world without a single soul taking notice. Leaving nothing behind except an empty apartment, overdue rent, and a number in the system of Western Society. His spirit cries sorrowfully as it flees the clutches of molecular existence into the realm of eternity and space. Heaven. He made it. He looks down at the people of the world he just left and sings a pitiful song for them. He’ll see them again. Afterall, they are Him. And He is Them. His Heart, the Sun, burns as the world he left turns. The lessons He left are slowly being learned. One by one. But still, there’s a space between the atoms, between the cells. And that space can never disappear. Without it, there would be no point to the story. All would be one, as it is, and there’s be nothing to overcome. No triumph. Just an endless loop of bizarre beautiful experience and pattern.

— The End —