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

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Daniel Ruiz Aug 2018
I'm here sitting
alone,
the smell of coffee runs through
my veins,
some music i probably will forget
in a few years arguing with
the thought of you,

But I'm here,
I'm here,
writing about what's happening

pretty boring huh?

i call myself a poet
but i can't use high metaphors,

i call myself a poet
but i can't describe fully
how you make me feel

i call myself a poet

but what am i?

I'm just a kid
scared of life
finding new ways to cope
searching for someone to love,
desperate,
not holding unto my dreams
how can i choose with my mind
what's right for the heart to choose.

and you see?
don't you see?

don't worry i can't either

i can't see how great i am
i can't see how other people see me
i wish i could.

i want to believe this was a dream
or
a nightmare at that.

But at last.
I'm here wishing that in another life
i could be with you,
or
maybe in other deaths,

i crave your touch,
i crave you..
with coffee waking up my senses
like a kid in summer waking up early
to go play with his friends.

i wish things were different,
so i wouldn't have to wish.
s y kalindara Mar 2014
Many people have asked
why I seem so empty
and I found myself arguing
about how that wasn't true.
Yet here I am,
reminiscing painted blue skies,
nostalgic, for back then
for us,
for you.

When mornings began with casual long walks
plaid skirts,
black coffee,
the daylight's warmth.
Arm in arm, against all odds
we had laughed
we had sung
we were wild, we were young.

I'll remain yearning for those Bambi brown eyes,
long chestnut hair,
darling little dents of delight.

Distant yet close
for I think of you always.

Wishing for time to fly
to when I can hold you in my arms
again.

Copyright © 2014 by S. Y. Kalindara.
All rights reserved.
To my best friend. I wish you were here.
Mateuš Conrad Sep 2018
with every photograph
i've come to realize
that:
      i barely recognize
    myself...
  in that:
i don't! i can't recognize
myself!
            antithesis of
the Victorian prejudice...
  a photograph doesn't
steal a soul...
          to be frank:
i've been robbed
                   of a memory!
how else will you explain
paranormal
phenomena...
         within the confines
of the anti-matter
Noumenon?
            isn't anti-matter
crucial
in providing an explanation?!
why is, or how are,
the 2st century peoples,
the justified excuse makers?!
it's the 21st century!
a common argument...
so what?!
              the faact that it's the 21st century
us no excuse to market the
past centuries,..
  what is this... ******* Utopia?!
     i'm the sort of people
who says a moon landing never happened...
because it's anti-Pythagorean...
to draw a hypotenuse...
you need to points...
   the vortex of coordinates,
a (0, 0), and a (1, 1)...
                       you would have
landed on the moon,
have you landed on it, twice...
once?
   once, upon once, it can be faked...
you need to land on the ******* thing
twice... before it can can be
solidified...
and agreed upon...
shame...
         the Soviets sent Laika into space...
but the h'Americans sent
the long lost cousin of Darwin...
   Albert Jr...
                  i'm not arguing that
man never managed to land on
the moon,
i'm arguing... he never managed
to land on it the second time...
        which is slightly worrying...
i can give you: landing on it the first...
but the fact that it didn't
for a revisionist second?
slightly worrying...
  in the least...
a photograph steals a memory...
come to "think" of it...
why would a photograph steal
a soul, and not a memory?
and why would the first
moon landing be a success...
while Apollo 13 be a failure?
            this is no conspiracy theory...
but it's somehow odd...
  first come first served
success story...
               i'm not denying
the first moon landing...
             i'm denying...
what am i denying?!
can't remember...
             flat earth? sure...
esp. when and only when
you are reading a map and navigating...
car... across the European continent...
esp. across the Rhine...
      what  could Narcissus
say, comparing a mirror to
a photograph?!
oh sure... we landed on the moon...
but why didn't we land on it
the second time round?
   you know why there is a conspiracy
theory surrounding
the moon landing?
    the Pythagorean principle
of a vector...
      (0, 0) - (1, 1) -
               the only source of proof,
is to prove it a second time...
the fact that there was no second
moon landing...
oh i believe the first moon landing
was a Las Vegas fluke...
       but the fact that no second
moon landing ever happened?
denies the prospect of
the first moon landing ever happening...
with an X...
    there's no Y... to market a Z
away from conspiracy...
   i can't deny the moon landing...
but with the advanced technology...
prior to the moon... Mars...

             such crude instruments
back in the 1960s...
      oh... the moon landing happened,
even if it didn't happen...
but why didn't it happen
a second time around?

  considering the fact...
the science requires at least two
examples of the same proof,
before it can be considered
unshakeable dogma...
  
   it's not a conspiracy theory...
if we are to be puritanically scientific
about, "things"...
there needs to be a second
moon landing for the first
moon landing to be agreed upon...
after all...
isn't science the rite of passage of
trial & error?

  no?
     first and sole attempt and all
is true?
   last time i heard...
that's not how science works...
then again:
i must be wrong...
             guess science is becoming
very much akin to religion...
how can you keep an article of faith,
akin to the moon landing...
with only... one... moon landing?!
- and subsequently
call it... a science?!
  
          i thought science required
a comparison litany?!
no?!
      might as well aim at:
the moon landing never happened...
the basic workings of science
is coordinates,
within the confines of a vector...
1 = it happened
0 - it didn't happen...

   prove it!
two words... prove it!
replicate a second moon landing!
i'll believe there ever was a moon
landing... if there is a second one!
Harmony Sapphire Feb 2015
Shriveled & shrunken.
Intoxicated & drunken.
Hung over & agitated.
Mild to moderate brain activity.
Common sense & basic reason lacks mental ability.
Bad with money & squanders financial stability.

Passing a psychological mental health evaluation not quite.
Kept in a straight jacket & sedated in isolation they do spit & bite.
They go through everyone's trash day & night.
They panhandle at the street lights.
They have tempers & pick fights.
Nothing they do is legal or right.

Slobs with no jobs.
They lack work ethics.
The sight & stench of them is sick.
They're sad story is lies & tricks.
Not a truth that sticks.

They cuss & their pocked face oozes ****.
Their frontal lobe is filled with dust.
About telling your teacher the truth they get homicidal & make a fuss.
They drive a ******* car consisting of smog & rust.
Getting arrested for 365 × 3 + 2 counts of child **** is never a bust.

Keep your children away from drunks.
Some drunks get violent, beat you & lock you on a trunk.
Most pedofiles & rapists are drinkers.
Not religious or moral thinkers.
With shingles, hpv virus, ****** & boyles.
Zero morals as hideous as an ugly *** gargoyle.

Enjoy arguing,  screams & shouts.
Daily drunk driving & behind the wheel blackouts.
© Harmony Sapphire . All rights reserved
Arguing*
     with me

Is like
        Arguing

With a
      **BRICK
       WALL
~you CAN break me down~
             eventually....



Number 7 in my series of truths. Click mytruths to read them all, Thank you.
Whispering to each handhold, "I'll be back,"
I go up the cliff in the dark. One place
I loosen a rock and listen a long time
till it hits, faint in the gulf, but the rush
of the torrent almost drowns it out, and the wind --
I almost forgot the wind: it tears at your side
or it waits and then buffets; you sag outward...

I remember they said it would be hard. I scramble
by luck into a little pocket out of
the wind and begin to beat on the stones
with my scratched numb hands, rocking back and forth
in silent laughter there in the dark--
"Made it again!" Oh how I love this climb!
-- the whispering to the stones, the drag, the weight
as your muscles crack and ease on, working
right. They are back there, discontent,
waiting to be driven forth. I pound
on the earth, riding the earth past the stars:
"Made it again! Made it again!"
sincurlyxbaki Oct 2013
she put my heart in a jar.
wait here until i return, she said.
i waited two forevers for her to open it, my heart was suffocating.

i was drowning in her memories, her eyes danced like fireflies in the moonlight. timeless passion. she is my flower child.

flawless. my heart is in a cage, solitude sedates me. i recall memories we never had or maybe it was visions of a future we will have?

i sit down with a notepad and admire your movement. i pen down my studies, and try to understand your complexity. your face glows, your waist flows. like the beautiful Victoria Falls, African queen.

i digress, you still have my heart in a jar. open a few holes, my heart is suffocating.

hair like Rapunzel, fine spun gold, only love knows our connection. time is but a teardrop in our moments.

on my notepad, is stories of what i think you could be, yet my imagination is far from your real being.

your shadow is unique. i can see it dancing under the stars, it tells its own stories. faded, i am.

im loving, your heart. keep moving, beauty. i love you. stop arguing with your mind, you’re beautiful. every man knows.

o, to be young and feel love’s keen sting.

beauty.

je t’aime. belle âme, mon coeur appartient à vous.
South Africa.
softcomponent May 2014
Find the lighter, use it as a lighthouse on a walk below the wall you watch along the wave-formations. Who Wants a Cold One? a Coors Light ad corrects.. When it comes to your home, the little things matter.. an insurance ad blares.. my computer is infected with 3rd party applications unremovable to my meagre tech-ability.. there is a hero as Joseph Campbell once theorized.. in myself like a sick bastardly virus waiting for moments to prove to me "I AM THE SAVIOR, I AM THE CHRIST, I AM THE WARLORD, MICE, MAN, AND VICE".. the windows of opportunity close, I am left waiting the door

& the elevator.

Thirty-thousand years ago, there was nothing but a breeze.. a viscous breeze across chill-spined pterodactyls.. warm-under-the-jungle-brush tyrannosaurus rex, and to think one day I will be just a legend in bone..
Charlotte said she thinks of death and so did Jen. They sat next to the all-you-can-eat and discussed the inevitable. I was sour and playful with no-will-to-understand, just reminding my hair of breezy summer days of 10, thinking of strangeness, of place I was in.

When it's quiet sometimes, I think of old dreams.. dreams I sunk below drown-level as a child in bed and belief. Both mommy and daddy were arguing in the kitchen, this was 7 or 8.. they argued so often one could hear mom begin to cry sometimes, and dad I could see in minds-eye with a grimace so closed and so creased he was hurt and yet honest.. I did not understand so I hid under-stood-silhouettes, oh adulthood..

once in dream I was in pulsing green graveyard like crayon realism strobe lights, tombstones all-round and faint-buzz of outside and one of those strange balded henchmen of badguy Jafar from Disney's Aladdin came peaking outta nowhere with curled eyebrow and baggy one-thousand-one Arabian nightlives parachute pants, curled toes brown-beige moccasins to.. he let out conniving 'HEUHEE!' and slapped me right-side cheek and I JOLTED up bedwise in real time to feel actual physical sting for a few lingered seconds then the sobs of poor mother outside.. I never remembered a dream so clearly again.. they all come, Pro-Found, and dizzy away after hour or two for rest of eternity or perhaps to Place I Can Visit at Death to Review Every Vision and I wonder... when your life flashes before your eyes and the light is encroaching, scenes of mother, brother, father, son, daughter, best-friend, party, break-up, heartbreak, slip-fall, first-sip, first-drag, last-leg, first-kiss, first-hit, first-game, fear, love,  HATE, wait.. do the Dreams come to? Are they all flesh-ed before your eyes as you pass into Light? Are they brought to direct remembrance as you cross the border with Passport of Gods and a Goddess (and which Picture appears on the Page)..?

I remember the old eczema taking bits of skin to carpets round-town and round-lower-mainland to disgust of friends old and new-- this was era where confidence ate itself in mirrors, the sober reality of ugly-ness chiseling away at my Goodness Attempts.. All That Pointless Pain was no Exception nor a Rule, it just **** Happens every once-and-again to the sound of life farting. I used to miss school for feet so impossible to walk on, pussing and bleeding and staining the sheets, shoe soles, carpets, and soul.. limp thru the hallways of Brooks Secondary feeling like bad flavor additive to multicultural Planet Earth-- sleeping 'til the bell rang drinking coffee singing songs I said '**** the ******* educational system and **** me I'm so flatlined..' someday I felt things would really get better and lucky young me I was right.

A half-decade later, I am 21 and hoping, floating, free in the breeze as the wings I have grown keep on wishing the subsistence down. The girl, whoever-she-might-as-well-be, sits immediately vertical chatting frantically to boy with a bit of a cowlick slouching on-up over a bundle of colored paperwork. It seems late in the season for homework, and assume they may have some affiliation with a crazy-hep computer design group in the tradition of Nouevau Silicon Valley.... I sit at my laptop, inching a word a million cubic millimeters closer to God or Divinity or Crescendo or A Bunch More ******* You'll End Up Ignoring---

It's a sunny day, the rain having slathered-off into obscurity somewhere with the Monsoons when the Sun gave the Moon a Soft Slap and the poor purity white-kid went off whimpering, bleeding nose-- I sat, the other night, playing another Grand Strategy game as Tom divided his time between a vaulted and damaged lover, his labor, and his life (friends, food, video-games, vice)... Chai, old Chai the Thai Guy mentioned past his nose in previous iterations of Depictions sat and described his pins-and-needles upset at his bosses at one his three many jobs.. desperately firing text-messages into receiving-space-panel and reflect and back unto Tom's smartphone dash asking him to order a six-pack from a local delivery service cuz his adrenal was giving him heartpain with hurt, and Tom being Busy as All-Ways Tom Is wasn't able to decipher the scramble in-time to make contact before closure of the liquor stores.. poor not-so-poor Chai at first felt castrated at realization he would miss the 11 PM dot-time, but didn't mind as he rendezvoused with Tom and I at Willows Beach where Tom reminded him of a whiskey he'd bought sitting counter-wise at his place.. we kissed a few Mary Janes rightsideup, dragging our butts in the sand to discuss what was wrong (each of us had a problem that night, save for perhaps a less-vocal Tom, I describing my annoyance that a lazy consensus had erupted in my sorry-hometown between my sorta-friends and friends-of-friends that my writing and sharing my writing was arrogant and I an arrogant *** for sharing and I just confounded that they would find my passions so trivial-- perhaps jealousy, perhaps complacency and judgement-for-lack-of-anything-better-to-do and ah **** em all if they think like that, I'll write and be the arrogant me they think I am and share 'til I'm blue in the face and dead perhaps for outspoken intellectualism in their autocratic pointless-waste worldviews.. sad that I dislike them only on the basis they disliked me first..)

I had planned to stay late and leave early-morn (5 or 6 AM) to catch a first-off morning bus back home and sleep, hoping for most part to avoid the shattered-***-mess of a home I was living in.
About 2 days ago, give or take, a water-line for the laundry machine had erupted to soak our entirely-carpeted basement suite, forcing the poor new landlord (a sweetheart of a man named Ron having just taken possession of the house from previous owner on May 1st and, it seems, left 'holding the bag' as they'd call it in day-trading-investment-lingo) to tear out the entirely-soaked carpet and replace it with sensible laminate flooring and rendering the entire suite virtually unlivable for indefinite-few-days and so for me work and friends and especially writing become a welcome reprieve to I, a first world Refu-Jeez.. us, so terribly-off I sip a latte near sunny panorama windows-so-clear-they're-not-there overlooking the crosses of Yates and Blanshard with European church of Gothic architectural style poking heedlessly into empty-open blue.. ironically and strangely there is a liquor store quite literally right next door, and's one I shop at often for its decent prices (God is Dead or Just Drinking to Cope with Sartre and Kierkegaard's Ultimate Thesis) (Kierkegaard especially '*** Kierkegaard seems a good and long friend of God the Almighty) (...I talk with such Judaeo-Christian Catholic rhetoric it never ceases to amaze myself as it bleeds to page..) (stranger thing is, tho, there is no beginning, no middle, no end.. you read or you are bored and either/or is just fine..)

There is some hypothesized crescendo-bliss Tech Singularity on the way in the try-dition of Ray Kurzweil and William Burroughs.. Oscar Wilde to.. (see The Soul of Man Under Socialism in essay-collect book De Profundis).. one day we will all be eternal happiness expressed in song and dance and LED erected-projections of Imperfect Universe (Our Imperfect Earth) with lives stuck on infinite repeat.. our idea of Paradise.. and for those with ability to remain rushed to cortisol (stress-the-best hormone) it will be Hell on Earth, so DRAB and THE SAME all the TIME and it's READ and it's WRITE and it's RIGHT.. the world runs faster with every passing day so desperate to discover the Globe is Flat so we can Hop Off the Other Side into what one might assume to be The Better Place.. elusively picking-up speed thinking 'closer now definitely closer now' unaware (or, secretly aware and unwilling to admit for what will one do when one cannot run?) they are Running in Circles Over and Over and Over and Over and Over Again... cannot take the hint in the fact the Pacific (same Pacific) has been crossed a hugeillion times, nor the same McDonald's in the Azores of Atlantic Portugal is the Same ******* McDonald's stopped-thru on the then-trillionth time last year... and all whilst the International Space Station remains muted up-above crossing 'round and 'round 'til the Jehovah'n Day of Judgement (Chris Hadfield now below with advice for how to run a little faster even blinded in one eye..) then there are the dying Prophets Predicting Industrial Collapse who preach upon the Mount of Internet Sinai Eternal and state "the world is now unsalvageable and we are all about to die.. if ever you wished to find Buddhistic Nirvanic Peace, now is the time so start meditating and imagine Death as New Life and Geopolitics as Game".. forever and ever and ever and ever.

It is only natural to find existence to be 'weird..' layered with Who's That's and giant What The ***** everywhichway you turn.. did it start in a Big Bang, will it end in a Big Crunch, Big Freeze, Big Bang.. ? all questions once ignored for certain ignorance and resurrected as questions concerning the Nature of the What The ***** (also known as 'Science').. and if it did start in a Big Bang, did I start in a Big Bang..? and if it does end in a Big Crunch, will I end in a Big Crunch..? am I a sudden flash of REAL in a Universe that isn't me..? or am I an entire Universe.. perhaps even more than that...? the questions pulse in youth like bad words or bullets. I once stayed up all-night thinking of infinity with my head soaring space-wise forever and ever and ever and I stopped in sudden panic thinking: I could lie here up all night and all day 'til the towered age of 37 (I was 14 at the time) and still be no further on the Universal Map than from thumb-tip-middle to thumb-nail so I wrapped up the attempt with a mix of fear and incredulity, went to school next-day exhausted and tried to explain it all to friends.. they got it, I suppose, but we were all 14 and played basketball instead (I imagined infinite-spinning-basketball on thumb of Michael Jordan).

It's always best describing life in form of Disembodied Poetics.. sure some Philistines won't understand '*** their minds are made of Clockwork, Digits, and Blockthought.. but the general psychic underly implied in all with human faculty will ring-a-ding-ding! and remember all such ancient thoughts and feels as forgotten as a child, locked away until the Spirit rose-up from a rosey thorn prickle to flower straight-up into a Rose! or so I hope as a one-of-many writers-- all of which will write so-as to speak on your behalf.. all floaty and marking a purpose.
King Panda Oct 2015
everything is on sale
and I eat and eat
and yell at the couple
arguing in the ATM line
and smirk at the pharmacist
as I toss my meds in the
can behind the counter
king soopers
my realm
of crushed potpourri
honeycrisp apples
black cocktail dresses
stuck
shut with
peanut butter

I love grocery
shopping.
Grace Apr 2014
When you tried to give me a compliment I always turn the cheek
Batting it away like it doesn't belong to me

That my hair is too frizzy for you to like it
My eyes too blue for your brown

My legs are elegant but they are marked with my disappointment
The purple and the blue will never go away
Yes, the bruises will slowly heal but by the time one problem is resolved another sapling and will slowly take root and show it's colors

You say my heart is made to heal
But I can't find it
It's buried so deep I can't hear it keeping time to my life song
It's crushed under all my self downs and worries
In that hollow it grows
Like a new bud
And one day it will turn into a flower

My response to your comment is lost on my tongue
It is somewhere tucked inside my conscience
Playing hide and seek with the directions on how to talk to boys and how to give an oral report without turning red
And I'm the seeker

You tell me I'm beautiful
But I can't hear you
The voices taunting me inside my head are too loud for your soft voice
Arguing about which way right
When I find my answer it seems as if the time has already left

You are already heading off in the other direction
Leaving me stumbling over my daydreams and expectations
Trying to get a grasp on what's ethical

I always forget to say thank you
It's sort of a bad habit
I'm always too worried about what will happen if I say something wrong
If I'll turn you away

I want you to know that I want you to stay
Stay close and hug me when I need it
So I can help you through your hardships
And carry each other's hopes and dreams upon our shoulders

You will be the soldier of my heart
Guarding the gates for all of the knights in shining armor that aren't noble enough to be my Prince Charming
Sorry I know it's not complete. It's a work in progress and I would like some feedback. Thanks!
s Dec 2014
I like simple things.
Walking
Breathing
Talking
I don't like simple things that turn into compex things.
Sprinting
Hyperventilating
Arguing
I have a hard time focusing on simplicity when it all changes into complexity without warning.
today, bob delahunty, was asked along to that HDU, to try and here the stories

of these many people who have been arguing about who is god, you see, there

is always, debates on who is more powerful that jesus, and who is jesus, and

when bob arrived, all the HDU, are arguing religious topics at each other till

their ears bleed, and bob didn’t know which way to turn, so, what bob did

is take them aside, first was ben teckerdid, who says his god, and bob said what makes

you god, buddy, ben said, well, i help people after i get drunk with them, my gift of the mandrunk

is to overdo helping people, and i end up here all the time, to reform everyone here, to

get this fucken place, closed down, then bob said, why that does make you GOD, ben

no, your just a crazy person, who likes to help, but you are not medicated right, in doing your deeds,

well, it passes the god test, but ben you are not the almighty one, and ben told bob to SHUT UP, singing

i know god is the devil, but the devil is bob

god is the devil and the devil is bob

god is the devil and the devil is bob

ben the devil and bobby poo

bob told ben to sit down and brought richard smith in, who believes he is the real jesus, and bob

was intrigued, why are you the real jesus, and richard said, because i can feel everyones pain

if you hit anyone, i feel it, and if i worked in a homeless shelter, i will get everyone inspired

cause, i am the real jesus, bob sat there laughing hitting himself with a rubber band, and richard

said, it doesn’t work like that, you see bob, i turned water into wine, i told moses to walk on water

i enjoy drinking wine, but i am a filthy little ****, i am jesus, cause, on inspection days in my flat

i can clean all day, to past the test, ooooh, i must be jesus, and bob said, ok, you have my vote

and richard said no bob, i am jesus christ, and not just to get out of here, either, I AM JESUS

and richard left saying, did you understand, as he left singing

god is the devil, and the devil is bob

god is the devil and the devil is bob

god is the devil and the devil is bob

GOD, THE DEVIL, AND ****** BOB

the next patient also thought he was jesus, he was also the devil and god, because to him

he was religion, he lived for 323 years, and all his stories were written in his tent, but bob

thought straight away, WHAT A NUTJOB, he isn’t religion, he’s a clot, and his name was barney

and he lived near fred, and a woman named betty as his wife, and they worked on a dinosaur

and bob said, this guy has flipped his ****** marbles, that was a television show in thew 1970s

and barney said in his defense, no, it actually was the truth, barney helped fred, i helped fred

i am barney, and bob said, you are a shitzophrenic patient in the HDU, i don’t want to upset you

but the flintstones, never was real, in the way you explained it, ben and richard had better views

that you, buddy, and barney told bob to *******, and went away singing

god is the devil and the devil is bob, and barney is religion

god is the devil and the devil is bob and barney is religion

god is the devil and the devil is bob and barney, oh barney oh barney is religion

flintstones existed bobby delahunty

bob saw his last patient who said he was jesus christ and the devil, he saves people

but he also condemns people, ya know, puts people right all the time, bob thought

i don’t mess with you, mr, and he said he was jack flynn, i am 23, and i live and work

in a ****** neighbourhood, i never get any help from doctors and psych crews

and my only solace are my beliefs and writing them down on my computer

and i can save a lot of people, with the stories i wrote, buddy, ya know

bob asked, i understand that, but both jesus and the devil, and jack said

ummmmm, i am jesus, and there is no devil, good things happen bad things happen

the devil doesn’t control, and yeah, I, JESUS, MUST FORFILL MY DUTY TO PROTECT THE WORLD FROM VIOLENCE

IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM, bob said, interesting, ok, and bob went away making sure

that each of these dellusionists take their medications cause even if they are, their crimes were wrong, ok

but, remember, they have a right to their beliefs, and bob went away singing

god is the devil, and the devil is bob

god is the devil and the devil is bob

god is the devil and the devil is bob

GOD THE DEVIL AND BOB

bob went off thinking

god is the devil and the devil is bob

god is the devil and the devil is bob

god is the devil and the devil is bob

GOD THE DEVIL AND BOB
You always read about it:
the plumber with twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.

Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son's heart.
From diapers to Dior.
That story.

Or a milkman who serves the wealthy,
eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk,
the white truck like an ambulance
who goes into real estate
and makes a pile.
From homogenized to martinis at lunch.

Or the charwoman
who is on the bus when it cracks up
and collects enough from the insurance.
From mops to Bonwit Teller.
That story.

Once
the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed
and she said to her daughter Cinderella:
Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
The man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid.
She slept on the sooty hearth each night
and walked around looking like Al Jolson.
Her father brought presents home from town,
jewels and gowns for the other women
but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.
She planted that twig on her mother's grave
and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
Whenever she wished for anything the dove
would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.

Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market.
The prince was looking for a wife.
All but Cinderella were preparing
and gussying up for the big event.
Cinderella begged to go too.
Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils
into the cinders and said: Pick them
up in an hour and you shall go.
The white dove brought all his friends;
all the warm wings of the fatherland came,
and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.
No, Cinderella, said the stepmother,
you have no clothes and cannot dance.
That's the way with stepmothers.

Cinderella went to the tree at the grave
and cried forth like a gospel singer:
Mama! Mama! My turtledove,
send me to the prince's ball!
The bird dropped down a golden dress
and delicate little gold slippers.
Rather a large package for a simple bird.
So she went. Which is no surprise.
Her stepmother and sisters didn't
recognize her without her cinder face
and the prince took her hand on the spot
and danced with no other the whole day.

As nightfall came she thought she'd better
get home. The prince walked her home
and she disappeared into the pigeon house
and although the prince took an axe and broke
it open she was gone. Back to her cinders.
These events repeated themselves for three days.
However on the third day the prince
covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax
and Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it.
Now he would find whom the shoe fit
and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.
He went to their house and the two sisters
were delighted because they had lovely feet.
The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on
but her big toe got in the way so she simply
sliced it off and put on the slipper.
The prince rode away with her until the white dove
told him to look at the blood pouring forth.
That is the way with amputations.
The don't just heal up like a wish.
The other sister cut off her heel
but the blood told as blood will.
The prince was getting tired.
He began to feel like a shoe salesman.
But he gave it one last try.
This time Cinderella fit into the shoe
like a love letter into its envelope.

At the wedding ceremony
the two sisters came to curry favor
and the white dove pecked their eyes out.
Two hollow spots were left
like soup spoons.

Cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
That story.
If you're OCD,
You're going to hate this poem.

Because it's not what you're used to
and it can be infuriating

I know where i'm going and i'm laughing in enjoyment.
I wish i could take some comedians out of sheer unemployment
And take damaged soldiers out of deployment
But you know that drill already
We're just trying to keep the Earth's rotation steady
But i'm up for going steady
If that's what you want

We're all about want
I'm all about yours
Trying to coordinate each constellation
Is like arguing with a woman
You won't  get the result you were looking for
It's beautiful in the tension
And it has it's suspension
But it's infinite
Meaning it will go on forever
So just try not to.

I never liked arguing
I know i won't later on
Your passion and support is all i need
That's what i look for the most
Someone who doesn't see me as some sort of ghost
Or lifeless party host
But someone that means the air they breathe
I get tired of my mistakes
But to know someone will try to help me prevent them

Is what i like
There has been a couple of people who tried
But i pushed them off the deep end
And i'm terribly sorry for that
Zero fault on you and all for me
I say that with a smile
Because it feels good to be honest with myself

You think it would be a brain-dead thing to master
But it only seems that way
I know from experience
Trust me, I've been there.

My trails go in multiple angles
Just like my nature
But if you're crazy enough to stick around
You'll get a warm welcome
You'll know how to feel special
If you never have before, i'll be the first to show you

I mean every word
With full fledged honesty
I wouldn't say useless, empty words
That's inept and not worth it.

If you're confident in yourself
Girl, you should work it
I heavily value strong traits such as that
You're going to turn all my bumps in my chest flat
And make me enamored just like that
The flick of the switch
No more wishing i would with other male persons.
To get a chance
That's why most men do a celebration dance

Consistently catching me in a trance
I got more lovely words than France
Okay, maybe not
But the ambition doesn't vanish
I'll still try
To keep you mine

Time is precious
So are you
If Time was a woman she would be in disgust
That it's not her in your shoes
You brought your sparkly ones?
Just making all the check marks, are you?

Champions aren't limited to sports
I can assure you.
Payton Elizabeth Apr 2016
"I'm fine"
I'm dying
"I'm just tired"
I'm sick of arguing  
Matthew James Apr 2016
I'm not taking a side
I think you're all daft
With words that deride
Afore and aft
It doesn't have to be snide
Trolling can be quite a laugh
But it lacks imagination
And creates an irritation
When you're ******* at it and use it as an excuse to just be nasty to each other and then you don't step away, and just keep arguing and arguing and arguing like you're in nursery, and nobody gets a solution because the whole thing is pointless and irrelevant and based on opinions that don't matter of people you will probably never meet and it's just so ridiculous I can't even end this sentence because of how ridiculous it all is and its made me forget about punctuation and sentence structure and everything because I'm annoyed at having to read such pointless ******* and I'm tired because here in England it's after midnight and I'm laid here reading ******* rather than sleeping when I just want to read some poetry aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh and all I know is to make this line rhyme I need to end it in ation!!!

A rhyme about other trolls

Troll troll
You've got a big head
And you're made of stone
And you aren't red

Troll troll
You're in a film called the hobbit
And you're made of stone
And you're not a rabbit

Troll troll
You could be a rabbit
One made of stone
You could be red
Made of red stone
But you lack imagination
Like an Internet troll
Because you're head is made of rocks
And you were made by some sort of evil wizard or something
So at least you've got an excuse
Unlike people
Who lack imagination when trying to be a troll
Because they lack even the imagination of a troll
Who is actually a troll
But came in 6 movies rather than sitting behind a computer screen blaming other people for their loneliness

I'm off to fester in my own self pity, silently waiting to have my troll poem trolled by trolls who aren't really trolls. I'll be back tomorrow for more fun and games.

That's all folks!!
ughdrey Jun 2013
Before I met her, I wanted to be her. Does that sound stupid? I wanted to be that ****** up ****** that did a bunch of drugs and always had money because she led men on and lived free and just lived life despite a daily brush with death. I was eventually, and I had an amazingly horrible experience.

I met her when I was 13. I spent a lot of time just "babysitting" her really. My other friends hated her. We'd come over and she'd literally go in the closet to shoot up and we'd just be chilling in her bedroom listening to Hole and being really confused as to why she didn't just use the bathroom. But she liked the attention and audience. This might seem cliche or mean or whatever, but it's true.

As my decent friends grew further away from me because I continuously grew closer and closer to her, I did a lot of *******, not nearly as much as I would later on in life. but enough to say, "wow I did a lot of ******* when I was 15" and at the time, it seemed like an accomplishment. Maybe I thought I was cool, I don't know, now I just think I was stupid and weak and regret being like my father.

Obviously, as time went on, I did ******. The first 500 times Natalie offered me it, I said no. I always said no, but she still always asked. If you know a ****** addict, there's something else you probably know. ****** addicts love having other ****** addicts around because you guys will work together to make money and get more. This will probably turn into what it really is and what we were really were, and that's a co-dependent platonic couple, but I didn't know that until just now.

The day I finally did it, my god. My god. My god. My god. My god.

I feel slightly guilty writing this because I don't want to glorify drug abuse but Christ, did it feel good.

We were downstairs watching Hedwig and she gave me the eye to start talking to her mom so she could go upstairs discreetly. Then her mom was like "where'd she go?" so I went to go check, even though I knew.

I walk into the bathroom, scaring the **** out of her. She had lines of ******, diesel, whatever. We called it diesel, I don't know if that's like a common name for it? Is it? Whatever, I said "let me try it."

Why? I don't know why. To this very second I can't remember what I was thinking. She didn't ask, and maybe that's why. But she put some on her hand and I snorted it. I hated the taste. Sometimes I smell it, and I don't know what it is that smells like ******, but I find myself saying out loud, when people are around, "ugh it smells like ******."

This is one of my catchphrases I think, and I am not proud of it anymore.

People always ask me what it felt like the first time. I remember not feeling anything. I remember not feeling guilty for helping Natalie remain a drug addict in her parents house. I remember her pinching me and telling me not be obvious, but oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know that it was going to make me feel like a warm pancake that just wanted to sleep wide awake.

Sleeping wide awake, that's a good way to describe how it feels.

I tell people this a lot, this process of drug use, and how I ended up shooting ****** and kind of just ignoring that I was.

I smoked *** and said "well it's not like I'm doing E"
then I did E and said "I'm not doing coke"
then it was "it's not ******"
and then it was "it's not like I'm shooting it."

Once I started shooting it, I didn't have any excuse or cop out, I was just curious as to what else I could inject into my body and became that glorified drug addict who lived free and did anything she wanted and felt like she came out of a book or a movie or a ****** up story you only hear strangers gabbing about on the train.

I was that girl. Natalie was much worse though. But that didn't come until I was about 18.

I had morals, yes even heavily addicted to ******, I had morals. I didn't steal from my family. This was one thing that would not break for me even when I was maybe putting **** in my mouth for money. But that's not even entirely true because I didn't do it for the money, it just happened that way.

So I'm probably 16 at this point in the story. I'm meeting guys off MySpace with her, guys from rich towns that want *** or coke or ******, just guys who can't get it in their towns. She's ******* them, I'm stealing from them. We don't keep friends very long because they know what we're up to after a few times.

She also sold her parents wedding rings, I didn't even know until after the fact, or I would have tried to stop her.

Her mother was so good to me. I spent a lot of time at their house. Her mom always invited me for holidays, despite the huge family they already had coming, because she knew my home life wasn't too good and she just treated me like I imagine you're supposed to treat a daughter you like. She was also very religious, which added to the blinders she had when it came to Natalie. She thought she could pray the drugs away, the way she tried to pray my gay away.

I was absolutely heart broken and completely beside myself the day her mother yelled, "she told me what you did. She told me you took the rings."

I didn't take the rings but what was I supposed to do? Try and convince her that Natalie did? She knew, somewhere she knew, but she didn't want to believe it so I just walked out of the house and never came back. I cried about that for a long time because I loved her mother, so much more than I am trying to say here. She might have been oblivious, but she was the sweetest woman in the world and I feel horrible that she had a daughter like Natalie.

I met so many characters. Chris. I don't remember his last name but it was something really white boyish. He would drive 45 minutes to us so we could get him 8 bags of ****** when he paid for 10, but we'd pocket two. We did this a lot during the day actually. We'd get drugs for people and just never tell them you get a bundle (10 bags) for 80$, and they'd tell their friends we'd go for them, and they'd think the same thing. Why? Oh, because these were very white people that were afraid of the "ghetto." And it was the ghetto, it was Newark, NJ. The corner of Victoria and Garside, what up, what up. Come see me.

I never really liked Chris. He was a musician but he wasn't that good. I think he thought he was Conor Oberst, and at that time, he kind of looked like him. But he was just some rich white kid with an inflated ego and I didn't feel bad ripping him off, or his Trust Fund Baby friends.

I did feel bad though when one of them died in front of us.

So I guess this is where I'll start writing the "**** got real real fast" stuff, now that I've hopefully explained the type of person I am and how I got to this point.


Why drug dealers cut their drugs with poison and whatever else, I'll never know. Bad for business if you ask me, but I've never been a big fan of the business world, but this seems pretty similar.

Natalie is driving Chris' car and we didn't snort any ****** yet, which was weird, but I'm grateful we didn't. We bring it back to Chris and his friends, who are waiting a few towns over for us. They get in the car and are like "just drive around for a bit so we can do this."

They all have separate bags, and I feel terrible I can't remember the girl's name that died, I want to say it was Karen or something like that but I know it wasn't. She just rolls up a bill and snorts out of the bag and within like 10 seconds she's screaming and everyone in the backseat is screaming and I turn around and there's blood pouring out of her nose and it's all over her hands and the car and her boyfriend and Chris and I think her eyes are bleeding but I'm not entirely sure if that's what was happening. And I'm like "What the **** what the ****" because it wasn't a normal nose bleed, this girl was just, flowing blood out of her face.

Natalie is emotionless as always. I'm screaming "get to the hospital get to the ******* hospital" and the girl is like screaming "it hurts oh my god oh my god it hurts" and her boyfriend is like "yo man, what the **** bb are you okay bb."

It's weird that in situations like this everyone repeats themselves but I think your brain kind of stops working and you need to repeat yourself so the rest of you can process the magnitude of ****** up that your eyes are seeing.

Needless to say, Natalie didn't go straight to the hospital, she stopped the car a few blocks away. The girl died within 15 minutes. I don't know why Natalie or I wasn't held accountable for what happened, but I think it had something to do with me telling Chris who the dealer was, and this was the only time in my life I ever gave out a name, even when I was in jail, I didn't rat anyone out. But death is different and anyone who doesn't believe in being a rat when you're faced with that kind of guilt, is a *******.

Natalie got out and started walking, Chris got in the front seat and I followed after Natalie. He did take his friend to the hospital immediately after but Natalie was being inhumane, and it was just better she got out of the car because she probably would have driven us all into a river to avoid being arrested.

I really have no idea why she got out of the car though, she had no fear, I think she was just annoyed, like this girl's death ruined her day when it ruined my life. I guess making a joke out of it makes it easier for me to deal with, but it still isn't. For me, it was monstrous, it was desensitizing, it was mortality showing itself and I was like "I'll never do ****** again." But that was a lie. I found out a week later via MySpace message that the girl had glass (!?) in her bag as well as ****** and I have no idea. I have no ******* idea what why how. I just don't understand that.

Chris still came around for ****** though. And he still brought his friends, just not the ones that were there that day.

What am I, like 17? I'm still senior in high school and I have really ****** concept of age, and I meet this other guy.

MY GOD WHAT A MAN.

Yeah, I said it. He was 38, built like Hulk Hogan, and had the sweetest smile and the most honest blue eyes I have ever seen.

He also had been out of jail for a whole year before we met him. He was tied to a car ring where people would pay him to steal cars. He was in jail for 6 years and when I turned 21, I heard he landed himself back in jail for trying to **** someone or something.

He was nice though. I couldn't figure out why he was so obsessed with Natalie. But the niceness wore out and I finally learned what a creepy ******* he was.

He used to ride his bicycle to meet up with us and he had a lot of money, he just wasn't allowed a license. He was a construction worker for the union, made like 60$ an hour and what do you know, he was a ****** addict.

He told me how they get drugs inside jail. You get a girl to come visit you and sit down with you. You kiss them, like make out kissing because that's all you need. That like 4 seconds before someone is like HEY CUT IT OUT, and they have the drugs wrapped up in their mouth, and you get the picture. Just in case you were wondering how that works.

He also told me that I reminded him of his sister, that died of a drug overdose.
He also showed me his **** one day when he was at my house alone with me.
He also ****** off on my couch and tried to get me to **** it.
Then he tried to get me just to touch it.
Then I asked him to leave.
And then some other stuff happened that I don't feel comfortable writing about but I probably will another day.

He turned out to be a ******* ****** and I don't really trust anyone with pretty eyes anymore. But he was fun. Once he started trying to impress me, a 17 year old girl, and Natalie who was like 22, he decided he'd go back to his old ways and steal cars. I can't count the amount of porsches I've been in or how many miles per hour we went or how many car accidents there were that we shouldn't have walked away from it unharmed. He never hit anyone else, just walls and guardrails, rolled into ditches.

Seat belts, seriously, wear them. I don't anymore, but I'm going to start again.

He used to give me a lot of money. A Lot Of Money, just to hang out with him and watch him ******* and ****. I don't know sometimes when I think about these things.

Natalie did something stupid, she got caught stealing from him. He didn't mind giving us money and I think that's why he was so mad. He would have just handed it to her if she asked. So he started coming to my house a lot in stolen cars, then I introduced him to my other teenager female friends and it worked out really well for me.

He was gone for good and it was better that way.

I was still only snorting ****** up until this time of my life. The taste of ****** and the amount I puked from it was becoming too much and I was losing a lot of weight and it wasn't healthy looking so I decided to start shooting. I didn't even do it for the normal reason which is, you get higher, faster and harder.

Natalie and I are in a bathroom of my friend's house whose mother is handicapped, bed bound, so we just go there all the time to get high. The mother is also diabetic so there's a lot of unused empty needles. I help her shoot. And it's scary, she would shake and tremble and it was really bad. Sometimes I'd think to myself, "it's like your body is trying to stop you from doing it."

But if you like blood, watching someone shoot up is really cool. You mix water with the powder and, ew now that I'm thinking about it, what the ****. You wrap your arm up, so your veins pop up, put the needle into a vein and you pull some blood out, I don't know the reason behind this, and you shoot it back into yourself.

I'm really uncomfortable with the whole idea of shooting so I shot into my hands because I had very prominent veins there. I eventually started shooting speed *****, ****** and coke, which was too much fun for someone as emotionally unstable as I was, to be doing something so completely unpredictable. The first time I shot ******, I never snorted it again.

I shot Jack Daniels once and never did that again either. I figured I'd get drunk really fast, right? Wrong, it burned like a ***** and I started smashing my hand into the bathroom sink screaming "WHAT THE **** WHY DOES IT BURN."

It's whiskey, Audrey. Whiskey.

I met so many more people when I was shooting. I became friends with an entire *******, all the strippers, their boyfriends, their "daddies" and just, those kinds of people, and like I said before, I'll write about that another day. But that is where I met Janelle and Kevin, aka, Jack and Sally. They were these really gothy ****** addicts and this is going to be ridiculous, but it was so beautiful when they shot up.  

Kevin would be like "okay, baby, ready?" and he'd caress her arm and she'd wrap it, and he'd kiss her and then kiss her arm, then he'd put the needle in and I'd be sitting on the bed sobbing because I thought it was so cute, in like, a really disgusting "I'm clearly on drugs" kind of way.

I didn't hang out with them for that long, Natalie ****** Kevin and that ****** because Kevin and I used to make forts inside the house and talk a lot about nothing, but it was fun and I felt like a child, and I liked feeling like I was a child and that it was okay I was acting the way I was.

A bunch of people that hung out there eventually started doing ****** and I couldn't stand it so I had to get away from a bit because my guilt came back and I felt like I was killing everyone.


Natalie started setting up drug deals so they'd get ripped off if they went without her, she started turning on me, stealing from me, she had me set up for a deal and her dealer put a gun in my mouth when I started arguing with him about how he gave me like wood chips or whatever. It was not ******, but we still ran like thieves together.

She introduced me to the next guy we were going to use, his name was Pablo. He was about 42 and lived in his parents basement. He was an outstanding artist, I mean, I couldn't figure out why he was in his parents basement with the amount of talent he had. We used to smoked embalming fluid with him and angel dust.

Now, if you ever want to know what it feels like to be Alice in Thunderland, smoke embalming fluid. I went on a 4 day drug binge that consisted of nothing but dust, fluid, her
Susan O'Reilly Jun 2013
Angry apes arguing

Odd owls ogling

Extravagant emus eloping

Slimy slugs slithering

Wandering worms wriggling

Jaunty jays jumping

Testy tigers thundering

Grumpy giraffes grazing

All animals amazing
kids, alliteration
Emma Jul 2018
She was never sure it was what she wanted,
arguing with a man who wanted her to carry a piece of them both.
But sure enough a small bump formed,
and from the first heartbeat she fell in love.

Everything from then on was tiny socks in tiny shoes,
fluffy cribs in shades of pink and blue.
Excitement and worry and fierce protection,
arms curling on top of her belly in intense affection.

But when the time came, something went horribly wrong,
when there was no screeching and crying to break the calm.
A child, still, unusually peaceful and serene,
she held the tiny shell where her baby should have been.

Everything in her life reminded her of her pain,
and nothing inside her could ever be the same.
Not even he could understand,
how she was stranded in her ****** wasteland.

Clothes and toys quickly packed in a box,
her body still creating milk for a being that would never grow.
she'd have to find a way to move on, living with the constant ache,
of the loss of a person she would never know.
naivemoon Jun 2014
It's not that I don't love you. It's the time I read my mom's old journals and every other paragraph included my fathers name. It's that he cheated on every girlfriend he had with my mom. It's that my mom didn't care she was a second choice or a one night stand. It's that my mother never talked to anyone about him after he got married to one of the many girlfriends. It's that she took twenty sleeping pills on the night of what would've been their anniversary. It's that he doesn't even know she's dead.

It's not that I don't love you. It's the couple I overheard in the bread aisle arguing over wheat or white. It's that I heard the woman say a lot of "she" and "****" and I saw her crumble to the ground. It's that he just shook his head and said he was sorry over and over again.

It's not that I don't love you. It's that my best friend is in love with a boy on the other side of the country. It's the morning she took a shower and cried over him. It's that he wasn't even awake to do anything about it. It's that he's always three hours behind and thousands too many miles away. It's that I mean both physically and mentally sometimes.

It's not that I don't love you. It's my geometry teacher, who brought up her husband when she taught me tangents. It's that she also brought up her husband when she taught me the circle unit
too. It's that she gets quiet and smiles after she talks about him. It's that he's been passed away for seven years now and she still has so much to say. It's that she still wears her wedding ring. It's that when she taught me special right triangles, I wondered what her laugh might sound like if he were still here.

What I'm trying to say is; It's not that I don't love you. It's that I do.
My spinoff on a popular tumblr poem all are true
naifa aboali Feb 2015
I'm tired of being alive
I'm tired of not wanting to be alive
I'm tired of having responsibilities
I'm tired of pretending like everything is okay
I'm tired of going to a house that 'im suppose to call my “home ” but it’s not that at all
Its a roof over my head to keep me warm but not to keep me sane
I'm insane
I'm tired of thinking i'm insane
I'm tired of arguing
I'm tired of having to put in headphones to block out the world
I'm tired of living in a world where money is the number one priority because without money you have nothing
I'm tired of the world
i'm tired of writing about my feelings
I'm tired of hiding my feelings
I'm tired of feelings
I'm tired of thinking
I'm tired of breathing
I'm tired of being tired ..

-n.a.
conversation between god and the devil

GOD i’m not perfect

DEVIL how refreshing to hear

GOD i learn from man’s mistakes the more daring their errors the more valuable to my wisdom

DEVIL yes and i the same

GOD but you reward man’s faults encourage transgression endorse corruption heinous crime cannibalism

DEVIL i merely imagine scenarios then pass them along (pause) mankind dutifully complies

GOD you’re such a sick *******

DEVIL your language is appalling

GOD i remember now why i kicked you out of heaven

DEVIL i was your best angel

GOD you were good but too ambitious hungry to take what i created turn it into perverse menagerie

DEVIL i would have made a great god just not as tight-*** as you

GOD my child you’re a very sick angel

DEVIL you made me

GOD i gave you every opportunity spared no expense camp clothes psychiatrists tutors sent you to the finest private schools

DEVIL you were so busy creating your own image you never had time for me

GOD what are you saying

DEVIL you neglected loving nurturing me strengthening my vulnerabilities i have no self-respect esteem you insisted i was to blame weak bad you were always right correct never questioning your methods tearing down my dreams insisting on your own plans always judging accusing me punishing me unnecessarily severely you were cruel

GOD you’re pointing a finger at me

DEVIL no i built my own world based on your lack of concern respect sympathy

GOD i’m supposed to feel guilt

DEVIL i’m simply suggesting if you hadn’t been so critical expectant demanding if you’d spent a little more time caring for your creations instead of constantly occupying yourself with your latest ascension

GOD how dare you question me

DEVIL there you go god supreme pompous conceited full of yourself

GOD that’s hitting below the belt what’s with the red black leather motorcycle jacket (pause) Michael Jackson?

DEVIL i look good in red and black (pause) who gave you the right to sit on high throne you’re fallible just like me yet everybody bows to you shuns me i deserve more appreciation

GOD oh god

DEVIL listen to you calling upon your own self majesty

GOD this is going nowhere

DEVIL fine you go back to your fluffy gated community and i’ll go back to my scorching miserable cave dungeon

GOD you ungrateful child

DEVIL i’ll always be a thorn in your side

GOD i’m exhausted i’m calling in Jesus he can deal with you

DEVIL i realize you did what you thought was best but you’re old god and such a profound disappointment

GOD you ******* kid you’re getting on my nerves i’m done with parenting done with you done done done i’m sending in Jesus

DEVIL good maybe he’ll be more compassionate

GOD go to hell (presses button) security!

DEVIL you so ineffective



conversation (monologue) between god and me

ME i apologize for praying to you so seldom i need your blessings strength wisdom can you hear me

GOD (no answer)

ME i know you may not exist yet i need you (pause) my life is too crazy i need to pray

GOD (no answer)

ME i want love happiness harmony peace resolve

GOD (no answer)

ME please god i need your help i admit i’m troubled tangled with knotty history

GOD (no answer)

ME i suffer anxiety attacks nightmares disturbing thoughts ******* memories

GOD (no answer)

ME in a dream last night a pretty girl said don’t put your hand in your pants mommy wants to be there for you let mommy do it

GOD (no answer)

ME why did she say that i already have a mother i don’t need another what did she mean what is my mind telling me

GOD (no answer)

ME i apologize for talking to you this way

GOD (no answer)

ME it’s a beautiful dawn thank you god

GOD (no answer)



conversation between death and me

ME i’ve thought about you since i was a kid i think about you everyday

DEATH what are you a stalker

ME i’ve been waiting for you

DEATH everybody is waiting for me

ME i wish things were different

DEATH everybody wishes things were different

ME you’re cold

DEATH vichyssoise is served cold i’m merely lifeless

ME vichyssoise? i’m weary exhausted you could have taken me years ago what took you so long

DEATH i’m simply visiting not ready to receive you

ME why do you haunt me

DEATH shush up you still have lots to learn

ME is this god’s doing?

DEATH (no answer)

ME hello

DEATH i’m here to warn you your life is slipping away i’ll be back sooner than you realize (pause) later dude

ME wait i have questions

DEATH (no answer)

ME is there peace in death or is it continual respawning tell me please

DEATH (no answer)



conversation between myself and i

I why am i the way i am

MYSELF you’re asking me?

I yes

MYSELF maybe because you’re messed up deep inside

I messed up how?

MYSELF messed up since you were a little boy

I why or how did i get so messed up can i change

MYSELF i suspect it may be too late

I you mean there’s no hope

MYSELF i didn’t say that perhaps if you found a loving relationship and worked your problems out through it

I my problems?

MYSELF yes (pause) you know your self deceptions lies selfishness stubbornness the list goes on

I i beg your pardon what list

MYSELF don’t use that tone of voice with me you’re getting argumentative

I who else is culpable but you

MYSELF there you go placing blame

I i’m confused

MYSELF yes obviously

I i need your help not some clever repartee

MYSELF how can i help you

I maybe if we stuck together instead of always questioning arguing i feel so conflicted

MYSELF you want me to be a yes man

I i didn’t say that i mean if we could simply agree and be more loving devoted to each other

MYSELF (no answer)

I do you understand what i’m saying

MYSELF yes i understand i just don’t know what to say

I you could start by saying you’re with me behind me and we’ll tackle this together ok

MYSELF i’m with you behind you and we’ll tackle this together ok

I are you making fun of me

MYSELF no i’m serious i think we’re due for a reckoning or sacred pact the question is are you capable strong enough seriously intent on working together and not crumbling into a mess

I me! you’re accusing me

MYSELF oh shut up i mean us can we please just get along

I i promise i will do my best

MYSELF thank you



conversation between the devil and me

a bar somewhere evening

DEVIL notice the 2 women sitting at table both quite lovely the older brunette is stunning yet the blond has youth check out her lengthy legs broad shoulders sweet smile

ME yes i see them

DEVIL if you had your pick which would you choose

ME i don’t know i need to meet them flirt talk sense chemistry discern which one is more interested in me

DEVIL stop thinking about them as people just look at them as commodities now tell me which would you pick

ME oh god i can’t look at them that way it’s wrong

DEVIL don’t be naïve observe their delectableness now choose

ME i don’t know

DEVIL the brunette has a higher aesthetic value the blond will never be as attractive but the brunette is more fixed in her ways the blond more vulnerable to persuasions think about the blonde’s eager tender body imagine her sweet young odors then consider the brunette’s experienced skills her seasoned fragrance

ME this is ill you’re ill

DEVIL humor me which do you pick

ME uhhm how can you know the brunette is more fixed in her ways or the blond more vulnerable

DEVIL shut up and pick one

ME i can’t participate in this twisted rendering

DEVIL step up to the plate girlie ******

ME ***** you

DEVIL is that an invitation

ME you sorry *******

DEVIL quit this sweet altar boy **** be a man pick one

ME ok fine i choose both i want to kiss pet go down on the blond while the brunette ***** and ***** me and the whole time you lick my ***

DEVIL impressive i underestimated you

ME more like you overvalue yourself what is the usefulness of seeing people the way you do it’s sad base disgusting

DEVIL forgive me my rudiments entrapping i merely wanted to see what you were capable of

ME i’m capable of saying no to you

DEVIL that’s too bad you were more fun flexible when you were younger more vulnerable to persuasions

ME people change but not you you’re still the same groveling wicked pervert

DEVIL you would know
Cameron Godfrey Mar 2012
Fighting with the world
Over what is right or wrong
Knowing that you’re right
And that you have been all along.
Arguing a lot
Over what should and shouldn’t be
Some one’s always wrong
Although it seems it’s always me
Fighting over problems
Problems never to be solved
And never admitting to failure
Until all the fights are resolved.
Natasha Teller Dec 2013
surrounding us: a billion stars
in a time when a trip to mars is like walking around the block
and captain kirk and mister spock are arguing
about the prime directive.

we’re beaming to a planet’s surface. now listen:
i know about inverse tachyon beams
i know about coded klingon screams
i know about going to warp factor eight
i know about redshirts' survival rate.
(no. chance.)

i’m beaming down with the main crew
to the surface of minerva II
we've got a malfunctioning interstellar transceiver which is distressing-- dysgraphing? dismantling…
…i don't know.
scotty said it was defective.

so we’re on this planet,
standing on one side of a thick forest packed with monster janeks,
starfleet says we need to fix this thing yesterday, and we’re in a panic—
and **** it, mccoy is a doctor, not a lumberjack,
and kirk says we should just burn through the middle with phasers,
and spock says we must preserve respect for all life forms no matter the situation.

now please remember kirk’s the captain.
that means he runs this show
but kirk always listens to spock,
so
we spend two days walking through the forest.

surrounding us: a billion trees
in a place where a strange disease is rare as feathers in a flock
and captain kirk and mister spock are arguing
about the prime directive.

halfway through this dark-lit trip
things go wrong (obviously)
and an alien with shellac for skin captures the captain.
said alien grabs a vine, ascends into the canopy of the trees,
and for one glorious moment
i believe kirk’s the dead guy in this episode, not me!

but spock, in his calm and logical vulcan voice,
orders us to exercise any necessary force to recover the captain.
translation: **** EVERYTHING. JUST GET KIRK BACK.

we reach the janek village.
being a good redshirt, i rush in, phaser blasting, ready to complete the heroic rescue of our captain—
and get killed instantly.

as i was dying, i heard the sound of thousands of janeks dying beside me
saw spock help kirk off the ground
and the last words I heard were theirs:
“captain, are you in need of immediate medical attention?”
“nah, spock, i’m fine—”
“mr. scott. the captain is hurt. beam us aboard immediately.”
one’s arm over the other’s shoulders,
they vanished.

surrounding them: a billion stars
in a time when a trip to mars is like walking around the block
and captain kirk and mister spock are arguing
about the prime directive—

but the prime directive
was never the real objective.
My very first attempt at slam poetry, back in the day... this was written for a sci-fi slam. Live long & prosper.
Amanda Kay Burke Jan 2018
VERSE 1

Another year has come and gone,
I realize now that I was wrong,
For ******* at you way too long,
Blaming you for us not getting along,
Arguing with you until dawn,
We go back and forth just like ping-pong,
About all of the crazy conclusions I've drawn,
Now it's eggshells we are walking upon,
I hate that you are distant and withdrawn,
I'm trying but it's so hard to be strong,
I know that with you is where my heart belongs,
I'm reminded each time I hear our song,
This feeling is one I wish I could prolong,
Your love is a drug, I love to be on.

HOOK

It's hard for me to say, but I'm addicted to loving you,
Always chasing my next fix, you are what I pursue,
I need to feel your high, I need to have you close,
I just want to fill up on your love, so I can overdose.

VERSE 2

Baby you know you are my everything, my high when I am low,
You pick me up when i am down, I can't let you go,
You really are the best thing, that I have ever found,
When I'm with you i feel like I'm ten feet off the ground,
Nothing can compare to you, babe you are the best,
But when I'm too far away from you, I turn into a mess.
To the point I will do anything to feel your caress,
And rub my hands across your bare chest,
I don't know why I do this, a different side of me emerges,
When you get me alone and I give into my urges,
Since I had a taste I'm craving you and no one else,
It's obvious I'm strung out, all my friends say I need help.

(HOOK)

VERSE 3

We've been staying up too late,
This addiction I'm growing to hate,
My mind is fuzzy I can't think straight,
I've even started to lose weight,
When you penetrate me we levitate,
I'm elevated, my pupils dilate.
I try to slow down, gradually wean,
Myself off of the magic inside of your jeans,
But hard as I try I can't break the routine,
I'm beginning to think I'll never stay clean.

(HOOK)

BRIDGE

I'm addicted to your love, though it's tough to admit,
This habit is one I'm not sure I can quit.
This is my first attempt at writing rap but I think it came out great. Any feedback would be soooo appreciated!
Sarahi Jul 2015
Impatient and silly
Just two things for now
There's so much more really
And I'm sleepy anyhow

But you're handsome
You're sweet
Oh very handsome, I repeat

You're a thinker
A debater
Always arguing
A master- uh hater

Oh I can go on forever
But droopy are my eyes
Goodnight
I will speak to you at sunrise
WGelles Jul 2017
The punitive silences,
the bad atmosphere they generate,
the mind-games they use to try to **** you in
are telltale signs of the toxic person.
It could be your in-laws, a parent, coworker, your boss or spouse,
a sibling, a roommate, boyfriend or girlfriend,
someone you want out of the house.
Toxic people want to make you miserable.
Especially if you're a decent sort, they hone in on you like a heat-seeking missile.
They spew their negativity and blame it on you.
They lie constantly, or twist the facts to suit their changing needs of the moment
and they never apologize (so don't expect an apology, ever).
With a toxic person there is no reciprocity.
They sprinkle their toxic dust on you.  It makes them feel better.
Their ulterior goal is to demean you, to make you feel smaller.
They project their worst tendencies onto you,
find fault with you for traits you don't possess---
a shadow of the **** that lurks inside them.
They try to dictate the emotional atmosphere
through their attitude or twisted mood.
They drain you of your energy, bring you down,
They'll always find a reason why your good news isn't great news.
Their agenda is to cut you down to their size,
to manipulate and control
to ******* over while they play the injured party.

Confront the bully.  Speak up to the manipulator, the trickster, the backstabber.
but beyond a certain point
there is no point in arguing with them.  
Don't try to change the toxic person.  You can't.
You'd have better luck changing an orangutan into **** sapiens.
Only a shrink could change them, and then only if they hit rock-bottom.
Don't try to justify yourself.  It's a waste of time which would only draw you deeper into their net.
Set boundaries to keep their negativity in check.
Stop trying to please them.
Let that toxic somebody in your life know you're onto them
and they can't get away with it anymore.
Don't fall into their trap, don't get caught up in their life-dramas
or try to get them out of trouble.  Don't let them instill guilt in you.
But try not to take their toxicity personally.
Remember, it's them, not you.  You are not to blame
though they desperately want you to feel you've done something wrong.

If necessary (and if possible), delete the toxic person from your life and move on.
Know when enough is enough.
Saying good riddance doesn't necessarily mean you hate them, it means
your own well-being comes first.
Immunize yourself.  Preserve your inner strength.
Set your own rules.
And, when possible, just walk away.
Taylor McKee Nov 2012
I look at my hands as they shiver
All the cuts, scratches and scars
The dark freckle and small wound that make it seem as though I have stigmata
I've been crucified a time or two, but only in my head, no stakes through my hands
Looking at the mirror
Seeing my face
Seeing all the scars
But this time they don't mar my skin
I can see them on my tattered, stained soul
I can see it in my eyes
Other people see my eyes and it evokes a light feeling
All I can see is the dark hidden away
I wish I could see what they see instead
My laptop is open
I see people I like and love and hate posting about their lives
Making themselves seem significant
Despite the fact that they live ignorant lives
Living in the cloud city of dreams
Arguing over whose God is better
Arguing over whose politician will make the world a utopia
I suppose politicians are some people's real Gods
Posting about the latest trends
Trying to garner attention for nothing
As if a thousand "friends" liking a status really means anything at all
Work meeting this Sunday
I know what I'll see
Three idiots
Two bosses
One pseudo sister
One girl who shouldn't work there
One girl who should be mine, and everyone knows it
Two managers that I actually get along with
I'll see little notes scribbled with ******* compliments that everyone writes
"Great work on Sunday!"
"So glad you took care of that thing for me!"
Because apparently a thank you and a paycheck isn't good enough
They need to feed their egos
That's what matters to them
I look at my friends
Or the people who used to be called that
Now I talk to them once every few months
Plan to hang out every now and then
See them once a year
Normally on accident
They're total jerks anyways, so I don't mind
They're a living reminder that I need good people in my life
Good on ya, former friends
In my room I see my dog
The lazy ******* just sleeps on my bed
Halfway under my sheets
He's snoring
He's a good dog
I'll let him be
If only I could be like him
And sleep all day
Or like my former friends
And just not care
Or like that girl at work
And not realize we should be together
Or like the denizens of cloudville
And live an ignorant, happy life
But that would all be too easy
I like that I can see all these things
Things that they can't see
Except my empty bank account
I just won't look at that
Deb Jones Sep 2017
For personal reasons I don't have a deep faith, like most of you have, to wrap around myself like a mantle during a tragedy like this.

And I truly believe that Ashley's death is a tragedy.

I have wrote and rewrote this. Trying to find the right words to tell you how wonderful Ashley is. "Is" because she will live forever in our hearts. There is no "was"

And I finally realized I couldn't. It would take a lifetime. Or 22 years.

This started out to be my commemoration of Ash. Instead it has turned into something I probably won't share entirely.

Because I have lived a long life already, I know how the passing years eventually make grief bearable. How it knocks you to your knees and bends your back. But over time it becomes part of you and you learn to live in a new reality.

No one forgets a loved ones death. You just learn to live with the pain. We absorb it and carry the pain around with us forever.

My new reality is a life without Ashley in it. Where she never gets to grow older. But she also doesn't have to grow sicker. That gives me little solace. As I am selfishly wanting her back.

Type 1 Diabetes killed Ashley. It's an illness that is a battle every day. You fight to get through the day. To do the best you can and then get up the next day and fight the same battle all over again. You don't get a day off. Or a vacation from it. Because if you stop fighting for even one day you will have to fight 100 times harder to get back on track.

Ashley wanted to live a normal life. She wanted to do everything that her friends were doing. And her sister, made that possible. She watched over her, especially the last 2 years. They were together almost every day and night. I am proud of her. She grew into the adult she is by loving and treating Ash like a normal young woman. Adventuring with her.

Ashley lived with me from the time she was a toddler until she was 21. She was a daughter to my heart.

She was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes the very same day I was. She was 18. We learned how to live with it together.

She was doing so well. Only hospitalized a few times. While I was hospitalized monthly.

Her last hospitalization, I picked her up after her discharge. She was still vomiting a lot.

I called and made her an appointment with my Endocrinologist for the next morning.

I want to go back to that minute. The one right before I reached out to touch her shoulder to wake her for the appointment the next morning. The minute before I realized something was wrong.

She wouldn't wake up. I pulled her over, her eyes were open in a blank stare.

By doing chest compressions on her, arguably the scariest experience any loved one can go through, I saved Ashley.

A helicopter landed in one of my fields and flew her to the nearest Trauma Center.

So we could have almost 6 days to say goodbye to her. We are all forever grateful for that.

She was declared brain dead the first day she was in the hospital. But I already knew that.

I am so angry at Ashley's senseless death. Losing a beautiful young girl. One who tried to wrap everyone in a kindness that was her unique specialty.

But, I know Ashley was tired. So very tired. She went 16 days without eating. Only drinking water or juice she vomited back up.

I KNOW how she was just so tired. I know that kind of tiredness. Not only of your body, but of your spirit and soul. When you want to isolate yourself from everyone because it's too much to face. To deal with. There is no bravery or sacrifice. Just the silent chant of pleas. Pleas to make it stop. Pleas for solace. For surcease.

The hospital failed her. Looking at laboratory values versus a patient's physical self.

And I wasn't there to advocate for her. The family that was there with her were scared. And helpless to fix her. How do you hold a hospital accountable, with its anonymous staff, without holding me accountable too?

There are things I should have taught Ashley. How to ask for things she needed. How to demand. How to scream.

But I didn't. I talked with her about things she needed. But I didn't see the ramifications of her not using all avenues to get help. I didn't teach her how to scream.

Even though my screams are just as silent.

I knew she was severely brain damaged the morning I first saw her. But really...I was in denial too.

It helped to be the one all the information was funneled through. But the cost to me was denial. I could explain everything to everyone. Over and over again. To family groups. To individuals as they arrived at the hospital and I walked them down that long corridor to the intensive care.

Using that walk to prepare them. To stand beside so many that came to say goodbye to her. But still suppress my grief into a hot ball that I choked on every day she was on life support.

I could only really grieve the way I needed to once I was alone. My sobs were private. Thinking of Ashley when I went to sleep. And of her when I woke.

Every thing Ashley did during that 6 days she was on life support was talked about. And used to foster hope. The rare blinking of her eyelids. The few tears that coursed down her temples.

I knew they had pressure cuffs on her legs. To help keep her blood pressure up. Until I saw the damage to her legs...I still thought there was a chance. The chance I refused to say outloud. As if I challenged what I knew to be true with false hope.

I knew she had significant brain damage but I still thought there might be a chance she would recover, be a different Ashley than we were used to, an Ashley that would need rehabilitation. An outcome that would allow us to keep her here.

Then I saw her legs. I was alone and noticed the pressure cuffs were off. I lifted the blanket and saw her legs. They were blue and mottled with large sections of skin gone. I knew then that she really was not going to recover.

The surgeon even discussed taking one or both of her legs at the hip in order to save her from the infection. But he said she was too fragile and wouldn't make it through surgery. And even if they did the surgery it would not save her brain injury.

My family and I privately discussed ***** donation for Ash. We knew Ashley would have wanted that too. I called a friend of mine that works with the donor network and she said of course Ashley could be evaluated for any donation. I kept in contact with her while Ashley was in the hospital and asked when we could talk to the ***** donor advocate/liaison. That became a moot point when Ashley started spiking temperatures with the infections ravaging her body.

When she was finally completely off sedation she was unresponsive. That poor baby. That poor, poor baby.

Her brain damage was severe. And her legs were poisoning the rest of her body. She really just stayed for us. To give us a chance to say what we needed to say and what she needed to hear in her final moments. And we held her and told her we were walking with her into the sunlight.

Because I have many medical credentials, I was the one that talked for the family. And then talked for the physicians.

I asked all my family to come to a designated conference room. When I talked to my family about removing her life support there was anger. But as I continued to explain to them there was just a deep inconsolable sadness.

When 4 of the doctors came in I told them we didn't need a rundown of all the reasons to remove her from the ventilator. We had already made our decision.

When we turned the ventilator off she could breathe on her own for a little bit. I told my family that she would go fast. But seeing that she was breathing they all left the room. To smoke, to text, to make phone calls.

After they were gone about 4-5 minutes Ashley's breathing began to slow down. I was the only one in the room. I asked the nurses at the desk to call my family overhead.

They still didn't come back soon enough.

I climbed into the bed with Ash and pulled her into my arms. I rocked her and crooned to her. Told her how loved she was.

She took her last breath in my arms.

When my family funneled back into the room I heard over and over again how Ashley must have waited until they left the room to die so they wouldn't suffer more.

My heart cried. What about me? What about me.

I am supposed to tell people how loved she was. How she shined. I think they all know that already.

I keep trying to commemorate her. To write a speech detailing her life and how much she gave of herself to others. How she was the hub a lot of her family circled around. She was unceasingly happy. She was so loved.

You know what I want to do? I want to scream. I want to rant and rave about the unfairness. Point to other people, people I don't know and say why couldn't they have been taken instead? I don't love them like I do Ash. Point to myself also. Why wasn't I taken?

I will tell everyone what they already know. About how wonderful a person Ashley was and how much we love and miss her. How we will grieve the rest of our lives for her.

The night I came home after Ashley died I went right to my mother. I told her Ashley was gone. And she held me, in the dark, with my head in her lap while I cried. She didn't talk while I sobbed. Just made soothing noises.

And that was what I needed. What my heart craved.

I appreciate everyone that called me just to listen to me cry. Some would not even talk other than the first hello. Just soothing comforting sounds. I won't forget the gift you gave me of just listening to me sobbing.

I want to share something that was happening to me the first 2 months during the time she was on life support and the months after. I have never experienced hallucinations before. But I did during that period.  I would wake up with my arms out to people. In the middle of a conversation. Trying to soothe them. Help them. I don't understand why I needed certain things, like the way I woke while dragging dining chairs in my room. Arguing I needed them when my son tried to stop me. Or the way I would stop breathing in my sleep and knowingly maintain it as long as I could. Or the other private personal things I hallucinated.

I called a psychiatrist and talked to her about what I was experiencing. And she told me that it was normal. It stopped after about 2 months.

Part of me knows I was trying to carry the grief I knew my sister and her kids were trying to carry. If I could, I would take their grief and add it to mine. Just to give them some peace.

My niece, Ashley's sister had a little girl a month ago. Her name is Ashley Michelle.

There is no death, only a change of worlds. —NATIVE AMERICAN PROVERB
September 20 was the first Anniversary of Ashley's death day.
2010 one last remark about Mom she’s never had faith or trust in me she always doubts redirects me when i was little she continuously blamed me accusing me of being sick needing a psychiatrist at age 20 my parents committed me for disciplinary reasons to the Institute of Living a psychiatric hospital in Hartford Connecticut in a locked ward for 4 months Mom and Dad discouraged my aspirations to succeed as a painter/writer arguing the impracticality of my decision they thumbs downed Bayli even today she undermines my efforts to love protect her she scolds me for asking permission from my cousin Chris to allow his son Maynard to fly down here and help me pack then drive up to Chicago so i might get to know Maynard on a road trip she instructs hire professional packers for a $100. they’ll be glad to help you pack Mom has always stood in the way of my choices decisions



1975 Chicago in his parent’s kitchen Mom offers the cannolis are fresh from Kanella’s Bakery or try the chocolate fudge cake it’s absolutely delicious Odysseus replies are you trying to fatten me up or **** me with sweets Mom flirtatiously teases i’ve always been about your ruination Odys



2001 Tucson Mom comes for visit at Thanksgiving in her early 80s walking proud yet painfully on displaced hips she is an inspiration to Odysseus her eyes are clouded with cataracts yet she sees life as an eternal optimist since 1920 the world has changed so drastically yet Mom has learned to accept many things she previously did not tolerate she lives prudently on modest fixed income her fingers are arthritically deformed but she was once a great beauty many men desired her Odysseus asks if it was difficult for Mom to lose the power of her physical desirability he noticed her good looks waning in her 50s she answers she sensed her  attraction going in her 70s she still possesses regal qualities and is quite socially charming she chatters a flurry of familiar names events that keep her busy she travels around by herself Mom’s spirit endures but in reality she drifts further away with each passing season she is delicate and has difficulty remembering she echoes a distant past in the early evening of Thanksgiving Day they sit at table of elegant yet rather staid dining room of Mom’s choosing at Arizona Inn she says it reminds her of the way things used to be she wears tasteful black linen slacks black pumps thin silk knitted black turtleneck with string of pearls gold earrings her blonde hair coiffured in same fluffy sprayed style it has been for 50 years in his heart he knows a part of her wishes her son was more like Tom Steinberg who was a senior when Odysseus was a freshman at River Woods Academy The Steinbergs and Mom are still friendly Tom is a successful investment banker with a wife and child living in Winnetka Mom nervously touches the pearl strand around her neck she says you know Mort Rock’s wife Phyllis died i was such a good friend to her at her funeral they read how she said i was her best friend she left me 10 lousy thousand dollars in her will she’s worth millions it’s eating me up inside i needed that money desperately i can’t stop thinking about it 10 lousy thousand dollars went immediately to pay off loans i’m going to sell my jewelry i don’t know what i can get in the spring i’ll put the apartment up for sale or try to get a reverse mortgage from the bank i never told you kids before i’m not in good shape Odysseus comments i feel terrible i wish so much i could help maybe Phyllis Rock suspected you and her husband maybe all those years you were her best friend she read it as guilt and obligation Mom you need to be more truthful Mom cuts in i never had *** with Mort Rock that man drove me crazy he was nuts for me Mom orders the traditional turkey dinner Odysseus orders the Macadamia nut encrusted Hawaiian fish the waiter brings price fixed appetizers little circles of toasted bread with lightly browned melted cheese tiny triangular cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches roasted watercress nuts wrapped in bacon and little hot dogs pierced with fluffy ended toothpicks Mom begins to gobble as she remarks to Odysseus  why do you want to wear your hair like that? you look like you escaped from the camps Odysseus asks what camps are you referring to Mom? she replies the Concentration Camps! you’re a good-looking man and you still have a full head of hair why do you want to shave it off i don’t understand i think you should move back to Chicago Tucson has done nothing to offer look at you you’re all alone you don’t have any friends come home and be your old self again he answers my old self you don’t get it do you Mom do you remember my commodity trading debacle or my 40th birthday or you and aunt Rita’s ceaseless corrections Mom smugly retorts what do you mean your 40th birthday don’t you get smart with me you should be ashamed of yourself why must you keep bringing up the past you need to let go of the past you go into such details details i don’t remember what does it matter now it’s history we only wanted what we thought was best for you you never listened you were only interested in yourself plenty of other kids get beaten and come through just fine you don’t know what it’s like to be a parent it tears me up inside you talk like you had nothing to do with it i can’t take this abuse from you anymore her misshapen fingers hands begin trembling as her voice emotes you think i don’t realize we made mistakes with you you think we were such monsters i wasn’t a good mother i was a lousy ***** is that what you think answer me what are you a bump on a log Odysseus sits stiff in chair his voice shrinks he just sits there his legs shake under table Mom says your father was quick-tempered we were under so much financial pressure maybe we did send you away too soon if i had to do it again i’d do it differently what does it matter now it’s 50 years ago forget the past what do you want from me what can i do he listens silently wondering if Mom seeks some kind of redemption can her conceit permit it he knows he is ******* her he does not mean to be uncomfortable with his muteness Mom continues you were a difficult child remember all the trouble you caused look at you you’re still a difficult man he questions Mom can you hear yourself you think i’m difficult she answers you think we were such terrible parents you grew up in a house of violence his thumb and forefinger nervously touch his chin as he replies no you were good parents i was a problem child different from you you afforded me a beautiful home and brilliant education i wanted to investigate life and learn and grow you didn’t know what to do with a child like that as much as she tries Mom never has been a comfort for Odysseus or he for her he inadvertently stirs her to worry or snap and she in turn unthinkingly disturbs him nevertheless they love each other the waiter brings out salads Mom ordered iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing Odysseus chose the spinach salad he takes several bites Mom remarks use your salad fork not your dinner fork you know better than that suddenly it occurs to him Mom is more fragile than he he thinks to himself silently Mom i realize your life is closing in on you your mind drifts and you need to fake and cover-up more than ever do you want me to come home and take care of you i will take care of you then he remembers how miserable they were together during his throat cancer recovery in her 3 bedroom Lake Shore Drive condominium immersed in contemplation he pushes the fork through spinach leafs Mom says sit up in the chair and put a smile on your face she self-consciously peeks around the room having lost his appetite Odysseus looks down at napkin on his lap glances at half-eaten salad bowl he gazes up at Mom the waiter arrives making a pained smile he clears the salads then serves the entrees after the waiter departs Mom speaks Odys look at me when i’m talking to you i think about a lot of things i should have done after the fact sometimes even years later Max and i made a lot of incorrect choices when it came to you he cuts in Mom you don’t have to say anymore i love you always have loved you and know you love me too Mom says you know how much i appreciate your paintings you’ve made my life richer i‘ve always been supportive of you in fact i’m your biggest fan right Odys right? thank you Mom i’m grateful Mom says i’ve spoken with psychiatrists and they all tell me the same answer tell your son to forget it why must you dwell in the past what did we do so dreadfully wrong i don’t understand you’re a hard case i wish i could get through to you i hope you can find it in your heart to forgive us you’ll sleep better he questions you know about my insomnia restless sleep nightmares Mom says i can imagine Odysseus’s eyes begin to water Mom i love you i wouldn’t be who i am without you Mom says don’t get so emotional you sound weak take it from me you must be strong in life learn discipline and willpower i love you too son Odysseus wonders if maybe he agitates Mom because he is a constant liability lacking fiscal self-reliance deep down Mom is a giggling gossiping playful girl spoiled by her father she never wanted to grow up and be burdened with the tasks of parenthood what woman of rare beauty and charm would want to give up her privilege and freedom for some kid especially a *******-up kid maybe deep down Mom resents Odysseus he stares down at the Macadamia nut encrusted Hawaiian fish and silently prays he will be released from his life all his stupid sins regrets self-pity self-hatred his vain inconsequential existence



i move organize empty shelves cabinets drawers closets edit wrap tape pack wonder if moving back to Chicago is one more mistake heaped on top of a 1000 mistakes a 1,000,000 mistakes is going home to help Mom my biggest mistake ever i simply know i must try to protect my Mom
i Apr 2014
going against
parents and
the world,
seems silly and
stupid,
because you
know you don't
stand a chance.

but when you
feel your
blood rushing
through your veins,
and adrenaline
pumping,
when you
have finally
proven a point,
after years of
arguing and
fighting,
you realize
that this feeling
is why you exist,
why you live,
why you are *here.
Bob Sterry Jul 2014
Shucking peas on the back steps
Maureen and I watch her Mum,
My Aunt Grace,
Arguing with Aunt Edna
In the kitchen
The narrow kitchen
Of number 84 Truro Road
As they whip a Sunday lunch into shape
A test match drones on the radio
The aroma of mint on new spuds teases.
It’s a modest roast
Served in the tiny parlor
To nine of us!
Eating elbow to elbow
With yellow handled knives and forks
Down to the bare porcelain
Waiting for the apple pie
with Libby’s.
That crust, with sugar sprinkles
Is a lifetime goal for me!
Inspired by Seamus Heaney's poem about watching his mother peel potatoes, and written for the 90th Birthday of my Aunt Grace, who represents her name so well. Test match means a five day cricket match, probably against Australia. Libby's is a brand of sweetened condensed milk. A treat in the fifties when cream was a luxury.
DarkCashby Feb 2015
My addiction is starving
My demons are arguing
The classic threats
Their classic bets
On for wich one of them I will fall
Jessie Nov 2012
Let me tell you about myself.
I am a mosquito magnet.
I have little scars of itchy memories all over my scrawny legs.
But I think it means my blood is sacred.
I find my laugh unique and one of a kind.
My walk, resembling more of a bowlegged wobble, allows me to stand out against the crowd.
(My walk isn't that bad, by the way, I was merely exaggerating for stylistic purposes.)
What's more, the fact that I am prone to blushing at even the slightest glance my way is kldjaf;ldjfoiad;htija;ji;ajf.
I love it.
My clumsiness only adds meaning to the moments in which I am fleetingly graceful.
Yes, my posture is rough around the edges,
But it signifies that I have been around the world a few times.
At least I don't jut out my pretty decently sized *******.
You're welcome.
I find my lack of arguing skills in the moment cute.
My mistakes are adorable, and my obvious flaws are endearing.
The fact I can't **** an ant without showing sympathy is amiable.

If only somebody thought the same way about me.
If only people looked and analyzed others as closely as I do.
They would see.
That way I wouldn't be the only one loving myself. (Or trying to.)
Cherry Cupcake May 2013
We can't seem to communicate like a normal pair
Arguing, yelling, ignoring each other
How am I supposed to believe you even care
While our once innocent love slowly threatens to smother

Blaming others for your own cruel deeds
Forgetting the rainbows we have been through
Neglecting your wife and children's needs
It's all black and white now, no color seems true


Daddy's yelling, mommy cries
Something about money and lies
Tomorrow is their 20th aniversary
What magic could she buy to make her parents happy?
To see their smiles again at dinner time
To hear them ask if she's doing fine

She grabs a sheet of snow white paper
Her pencils and some glitters
Draws a  rainbow and a light pink lily
All they need is some color in this family


Y.
Pretty rich girl, softly dreaming, 
a woman is so newly waking
no use at all for dad’s financing, 
consumed by flesh that is desiring 
of wanton flows that force such rousing
to be taken far from here for using 
by men unfazed by city counting.

Then sudden blackness o’erwhelming, 
all sound and vision swiftly clouding
strong arms unseen and grasping 
to sweep her off her feet and making
sense of ropes around her tight’ning, 
with her arms together jerking
forcing back to ankles spreading
with ballgag muffled screaming 
she should now be strongly fighting 
instead there is a wild arousing.

Stripping cutting all that’s hiding 
until she’s held quite naked finding
that there’s a hood that’s closing 
round her head and isolating
from any sense of air that’s cooling
and rampant need that’s now arising
she feels excitement in so being
where she feels no fear abiding.

Put down hard after easy lifting
a lid above her slamming
the sound of engine starting 
spinning wheels now are speeding 
bound in dark she’s left a-lieing 
with mouth that gives no screaming
instead a wet arousal finding 
knowing of her inner needing.

****** rising almost blinding 
fighting, writhing, needing tying 
her tortured form now pounding
forcing every sinew twisting
with such unsought pleasure giving 
this wanton **** who has such thinking
of brutal taking and ill using
by men she should be hating.

How could juices start their flowing 
as crude hands began their probing 
carrying to places far unknowing.
Rough voices talking of their doing, 
arguing ransoms for demanding
then finding her with wet arousing 
cruel laughing at her needing
until there comes a sweet dividing 
of her eager self though darkening
roughly forcing them by wanting 
that she is newly there for taking
captors now in forced confronting.

There can now be no disguising 
that this is life not fantasizing 
these coarse brutes so crudely using
think they’re forcing her submitting 
now she wants them by satisfying 
her every silent wanton needing 
of each to feed obscene desiring.

An iron bed prepared for keeping 
till the time of ransom paying 
fully tight is now her strapping
legs apart, wide spreadeagling
ignoring all her protests mewling 
but her bucking body thrusting 
makes her needing so enticing
till they give her what she’s wanting.

There is now for each unseen taking
a welcoming and wet demanding 
so there can be no inflicting 
that but which is urgent wanting
opening each hole for filling 
not once or twice but oft repeating
taking turns in fully using 
till they are all quite lost in spending.

With captive bound there’s no sating 
screaming begging ne’er abating 
always there is more demanding 
screaming all despite her gagging
each time her body hits climaxing
fighting , dragging now and forcing 
wearied jailers for more pleasuring
ignoring all their worn protesting
incessant in her primal wanting
who is using whom in this not knowing
when captors should be really scaring
but they have never known such needing
standing round and jointly fearing
of chewing less than was their biting
with this nymphomaniac in bareing.

Words in anger, muffled voicing 
some with reason in conferring
then a quick release of bindings 
a body hot for blanket wrapping 
with a fiesty female grappling
cursing now her wild desiring
yet unstilled with needy struggling
tossed in the car for rapid driving 
some miles back by unknown routing
while in the trunk much banging
till on daddy’s doorstep dumping 
ransom now in quick forgetting
as captors with relief escaping
while pretty rich girl leans back smiling
anticipating her next kidnapping.


From my Francesca Anderssen Poetry collection: **** Verse (Amazon)
I have written novels and verse about the interaction between lovers, and consensual activities that form the rich tapestry of living and loving between people who care about each other.

I Hope you like my thoughts.
Tell me if you do---or don't.
Criticism is my lifeblood
The complete book of **** Verse by  Francesca Anderssen (101 ***** poems) is on Amazon in kindle and paperback,

together with my ****** **** novel "Need". also available on amazon
Shane Teter Dec 2011
Convulsed, Antagonized and Exasperated!

That your drive, your will has been amputated!
I told you tomorrow, We'll start anew,
Its not been tough to just get through,
To just get by, to just live life,
Its easier to lie, to live without strife,
Your a hollow shell built by your own insistence!
A putrid scab of your former existence!
Your not worth it! your not worth the air!
How can you breathe! how can you bare!
To look at life with such vaulted illusion!
You've left me in such utter confusion!
I don’t know how you are so angry,
After all, it was your absence that made me,
No ones here to help hold me up,
No one here, I’ve ran out of luck,
So ill just sit back, let life run its course,
Just let go, ignore the remorse,
I’m done, its time to take action!
This is over, **** your satisfaction!
She held your hand! a visage of hope!
He held you up! He helped you to cope!
They looked at you! a look so beguiled!
Mother and father! look straight at their child!
Don’t bring that up, Its not even fair,
Its such a lie, that they ever cared,
I’m all alone that’s the way it should be,
So walk away and let me be me,
So sorry for yourself when its others you hurt!
Your personality shall break unless you now reassert!
The tears from your mother should bring you such pain!
Your joy ride is over! its time for my REIGN!
ILL BE SCRATCHING AND SCREAMING AND GASPING FOR AIR!
MY WILL REMAINS UNBROKEN, THIS IS OVER I SWEAR!
THIS CHANGE YOU'LL SEE, IT WILL BE SO UNTYPICAL!
THIS CHANGE IN ME! THIS CHANGE WILL BE BIBLICAL!
Koe May 2014
I don't desire to share my opinions with anyone
Too long, have they been bashed upon by peers or anonymous figures
"You should respect their opinion."
What hypocrites, even opinions could be wrong and hurt others

"For the sake of arguing."
It doesn't matter if they humiliate someone.
It doesn't matter if they turn others against them.
It doesn't matter if they were wrong as well

Even if you understand their perspective, they refuse to see yours
I long to be mute
I hate my own speaking voice
If all my words are unheard


"I can't express myself, this secretive awkward human."

If only they knew of the true cynical and diabolical thoughts locked away
Would anyone bother to accept and understand
Or would I be shunned
Isolated like I had been since so long ago

I don't mind singing
The rhythm and flow much better to the accented jumble words
However I'm merely a ghost that no one notice when they have stars to illuminate the room

"Ahhhh.. The jealousy and bitterness will consume me."

"Please see me."
"Please acknowledge me."
"Please talk to me."
"Please hear me."

*I'm fading away.

— The End —