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Mike Hauser Aug 2015
I want a beard like Chris's beard
But I can't even grow hair on my chest
This may sound strange if not a bit weird
That I have a Chris beard full on man crush

I swear I'm not gay, why I'm even straighter than straight
You can call my house and ask my wife
She'll tell you I'm out back juggling chainsaws all day
And other manly things I do with my life

But with hair on my face there's not the slightest trace
Not a follicle will you even find
But with Chris's beard I think that it's clear
That sucker could grow over night

So yes, I want a beard like Chris's beard
And that is the straight up fact Jack
Cause with a beard like Chris's manly beard
I wouldn't have to put up with anyone's crap
Check out the photo on Chris's site...cool beard! Have I mentioned that already?
the truth of the past with my thoughts


i remember when i was getting drunk with beer

and my mate lyle was saying my beard doesn’t suit me

but what he really meant was drinking beer doesn’t suit me

because i get too drunk

so he bullied me all the way to the train

he did mean that beer doesn’t look good on me

but he said my beard doesn’t suit me cause he ain’t my daddy

then a man in melbourne said just because you have a beard doesn’t make you a man

but he meant just because you drink beer doesn’t make you a man

young dudes used to call me woosey but they wanted me to stand up to them

so i could get bullied all my life, well, i don’t want to get bullied because only school kids bully

you see i stopped drinking beer but i kept my beard because a beard helps me be a sophisticated writer and artist

and i look good at the poetry slam with a beard, yeah lyle was right, beer isn’t the right drink for me

i prefer cocacola, i know it rots your teeth but it tastes ****** great, dude

beer isn’t a good look for me

my beard suits me down to the ground

just because you drink beer doesn’t make you a man, i could be a cool person who drinks coke, i love my beard

beard = the bushy thing on my chin, it suits me to a tee
Ben Jones Feb 2014
Nestled in a pencil case
And snuggled up in fluff
There snoozed a tiny pirate man
Of legendary stuff
He'd spied the hidden secrets
And trod the haunted shore
Blu-tack Beard the buccaneer
Scourge of the open floor

He stole a shoe-box galleon
And sailed the carpet blue
With pencil mast and paper sails
And crayons as his crew
They forayed on the crooked tiles
And crested every ridge
Blu-tack Beard the scallywag
The raider of the fridge

When moored up in the kitchen
With all his crew around
The captain showed to one and all
A treasure map he'd found
It bore a chart of distant parts
And quite a course it plot
It pointed to the bathroom lands
And tip-ex marked the spot

They crammed the hold with cornflakes
To feed them on their trip
They pulled ******* the piece of string
And weighed the paperclip
The crew they dragged their boat aloft
On neatly woven hairs
Blu-tack Beard the privateer
Surmounter of the stairs

They heaved their vessel restlessly
Atop the final brow
The crayon pirates caught their breath
And leaned against her bow
Then scaled tiny ladders
And each took to their post
Blu-tack Beard was at the helm
And watched the foreign coast

Through countless minutes voyaging
There loomed the bathroom door
They slacked the sail and went below
And each took to an oar
They pulled a mighty rhythm
Till their waxy arms were numb
And Blu-tack Beard the plunderer
Was beater of the drum

But though they pried in every nook
And each last inch of grout
They skirted round the skirting board
They tapped each silver spout
Illusive was their bounty
And they grew ever the crueller
They took their skipper angrily
And made him walk the ruler

He landed glum and ruefully
Amid the ***** socks
He heard the merry spiteful sound
Of laughing, taunting mocks
And saw the sight of mutiny
With waxen little smiles
Blu-tack Beard the cast-away
Alone among the tiles

He commandeered a washing cloth
And weaved himself a rope
He scaled the dreaded washstand
And stole a bar of soap
He carved himself a coracle
And set his sights on home
Blu-tack Beard the wanderer
Awash amid the foam

He slithered down the stairwell
And landed with a plan
For warmer climes and restfulness
A cocktail and a tan
And so he met his final port
Right then did he retire
Blu-tack Beard the pensioner
Of the warm spot near the fire
C J Baxter Feb 2015
There was a young boy who feared that his beard would never grow long and wise, like that of his old mans and his old mans. He could see the hair on the upper lips and chins of his school pals beginning to form, and so he would walk around with his own chin pointing toward the sun, hoping that something in its warm rays would spurt the growth of his first wee whisker. But nothing. From then on every time he got his haircut he would ask the barber not to sweep up all of his hair, so that he could take some of it home; His Mother often shook her head at this, having no idea what purpose it was for, and instead sighed with a " Yer some boy Jack”. Each time he brought home more hair, he would weave it together with the rest of his old curly locks.  You see, although he had a smooth wee baby face, he had the most stunningly dark and wild curls.

Jack turned 18, and into something like a man, but still there wasn't single whisker on his chin or upon his top lip.  He had grown tall and strong, a man by almost every physical determinant, and this only frustrated him more.  He was teased by the other guys in his work, they would all call him        " Talcom Powder", or " Big Baby Baw Face"  - Not the most intelligent bunch- and Jack would laugh along, while cursing his God inside himself.  Still, every Hair cut and **** trimming, Jack got or gave would be weaved together with every haircut he had since he was 12- he had almost two foot of dark curly strands now, as intricately woven as silk.  Sometimes he would put it on, and talk to himself in the mirror.  

However, like all dark things that are hidden, when they come to light things rarely carry on carrying on. One day Jacks Mother walked in on him doing his best ZZ top impersonation and caught one glimpse of his wooly masterpiece, and it blew the top of her head clean off. “ You filthy boy! What have you done… Oh god, is that why you? It better, all of it, be yours…”.  she rambled while pacing in circles, unable to look at her son and his two foot clip on beard.  “ Mum” said Jack, “ I know this is a shock, but I just want to have a beard, everyone else has one: All my pals at work, all those model guys, all those guys with gorgeous girls, All those guys with creative jobs”. “ They are all ****”, she barked in reply, “ Why would any son of mine want to be like any of those low life cretins?”.  Jack was taken a back by just how upset his mum really was by his masterpiece, and shyly asked “ What about Dads? And Granddads? Theirs are the biggest beards I’ve ever seen, and I’m a ZZ top fan”, “ Thats different”, she said, “ Theirs are REAL working mens beards”.

Weeks went on with Jack and his Mother avoiding each others gaze; the only time they ever spoke was when they were arguing about the beard. Eventually it all got too much for everyone, the house had became inhospitable and Jack finally said the words he’d come to regret, “ If the beard goes, I go”. With cold hands, his Mother packed his bags and began cooking the last meal Jack would enjoy in that house; He and his Mother sat there in silence, while the food cooled on the table, waiting on his Father and Grandfather to return home from their labours. Jack shifted with every second ticking by on the clock above his head, still refusing to look at his Mother. Then he heard the gate swinging open, a few shifts later, the keys turning in the locks, then the door flew open, and Jacks mouth did too; For as he looked to see his Father and Grandfather coming through the frame of the door, they looked hard worked and clean shaven ( Well a bit of Five O'clock shadow).I t was the first time he’d ever seen the chins of the most important men in his life.

  After an excruciating feast of eye contact avoidance and the swallowing of feelings, Jack hugged his Mother Goodbye, Shook his Granddads hand and was walked outside of the house by his Father who said he had a few things he wanted to say man to man; This shook Jack inside himself a little; unsure of whether to feel like a toddler on a naughty step or a man about to share his first whiskey with his old man, he nodded and followed behind his Father out the door. As soon as  he’d closed the door behind him, his Father said “ Listen here boy. I know you just wanted to make me and your mum proud, I was the same as you when I was your age, always wanting to be older. Trust me that changes quickly.  But if there’s one thing I can tell you, its this”, his Dad paused and sighed in a soft way, “ You don’t need to go around faking it. If you leave this house and start wearing the beard day after day, you’ll find it gets boring fast. Trust me… Just enjoy yourself and try and remember who and what you are”. Jack nodded to his Father, and hugged him for the first time in his teenage life.

As Jack walked down the garden path, he got to the gate when he heard his Father saying,            “ Remember! No beard *******” just before closing the door.  But like all good sons and bad sons alike, within a two minutes of a walking out of his family hom Jack had ignored his Fathers advice, and rummaged through his bag to put on his masterpiece proudly.

His beard never did grow, and now his masterpiece is so long his feet often trip over it.  Ahh well, ‘Live and refuse to learn’.


The End
drinking warm whiskey... isn't so bad...
it could be much worse:
it could be warm *****:
     not cold enough to reach a gomme syrop
consistency...
life's so tragic... sometimes...
       a warm ***** is like a warm beer...

what am i supposed to say?
i'm just tired of wanting to be in love...
i'm tired of hating...
   i'm tired of being angry...
i'm tired of being preditable and also:
slithering in pickling juices...
i am tired of love because...
               when it was "love"...
it wasn't dog eyes and a leash...
         or: never mind the solipsism of cats
when they still desire to mark your
forehead when sniffing it...
or come up and greet you:
with a "bodzio"... a head-****...

    so much of my cognitive capacity
became a wasteland from having
both woman and love on a peddlestool
of the ideal...
                   it's terrible waking up...
but that "terrible" sometimes becomes
as... exhilarating as taking a cold shower...
or watching a flock of sparrows chirp...

and the ***: cocoon ***... under bed-sheets...
all my one-night stands happened this way...
under the bed-sheets...
i'm happy to give a comparative literature of:
well... at least in the brothel we did it
under dimmed lights...
****-naked on the sheets...
having showered first
and downed a slacker of ms. amber:
oh you know it's bad...
that i have to call whiskey a very personal
investment narrative...
it's not whiskey... it's... ms. amber...

i should have been drinking long ago...
come shoulder to shoulder with
both my paternal and maternal grandfathers...
cocoon ***...
and if you don't think a man can be "*****"...
at the brothel?
  there's the concept of: creaming-up...
if the oyster isn't salivating enough...
yes... "****"... cocoon *** with a sawdust ****...
sanding paper **** more like...
oh the agony: but to my liking...
yeah bud: stick your lesser want of limbs
into a meat-grinder:
is that penetrating enough?
      who would forever suppose...
it's a kangaroo pouch of safety...
the nadir of lucifer's birth:
     free-falling: head first... but not through
a ****... not some floral pattern...

     cesarean... cesarean... are we going to give
births to kaisers or dull-eyed: deer...
i very much like to imagine a band
of mad-laughter hyenas...

               coal-burning black eyes...
      i am tired of giving up my thinking to any
and all ideals of love...
i could have invested my (th)ought i
into... conjuring up an electric bulb...
        a frankestein...
                i became so tired of love...
i had to come across a brothel:
to steal kisses from prostitutes
     and attempt a theft of the halo of st. augustine...
mummify letters in books...

which i have done...
        but love is such a never-dog...
                    one relationship that involved as cooking
together: beside the already necessary
prerequisite of *******-for-free...
her period, the ******, and cooing her
to do it in the bathtub with the water running...

or this: moment when enough ms. amber
is in me... and i turn to...
         the chants of the templars:
            crucem sanctem...
                   dum pater familias...
          da pacem domine...

that clarity of a transaction...
              the growling dog overwhise
teased with food already presented to him
in a bowl...
          count of fingers...
                    
     i'm tired of love... of all of my body...
this nail blunt head from being hammered
too often...
           it escapes me:
why should my libido be compensated
when it requires: exhaustion...
to find the most fanciful thought:
only when the libido is exhausted:
   and if i have to do it myself: so be it...

but of so many people worried:
i am indeed... "worried"... when will it...
subside... die off...
this quills': marquis de sade:
leverage of: to read books using only
one hand...
                        if the acne is so prolonged
to make me...
belzeebub's favourite ***** of:
what precedes ****** / anti-wrinkle creams...
one maggot 'ere... another...

it is simply exhausting to love:
as one is expected to love via fiction...
and it is too costly to love:
poetically... anything but language...
esp. acquired language:
a language learned... most certainly
not passed from a grandmother to a mother
to a son...
some could claim to call these words:
in vitro...
         and on that matter...
which part of me is experimentally "dead":
the mind... or the body?
i am not... a native of these parts...
a native...           a native...

this is the part of the year when
winter is crucified... and reborn as spring! no?
all ******* rose buds and sparrows chirping!
who can love... so... ideally...
idle though: to make the burdens
of the most... boorish matters needing:
stressed concerns for "detail"...

  am i one of the last ones that still
bought a *****-mag when
the free **** was available online...
                     twitch... i'm an old ****:
in a 34 year old body... because:
keeping up... became synonymous with
being distracted...
                  cam-girl... etc. etc.
            "soz": but there just isn't any bragging
to be minded...
or a:        h'american striptease... d'uh: tease...
the carnival of the wriggling maggot
came to invoke
kissing the eyelids... gently teasing
the tip of the nose with a bite...
                             this body... or that body...
an a sculptor...
   in the brothel i was only robbed... once:
well... "robbed"...
this coke-head distrated me with:
do you want to use this *****...
          the proprietors' henchman...
a little turk by the time: i presume to be:
Osman came up with a bundle of stolen cards
and asked me: which one is yours?

that's a pretty good effort...
        i must have been up to no good...
once we stopped ******* because: she started
seeing downton abbey in an epileptic flicker...
yes: and me ******* her wasn't,
exactly... a ******* chocolate fondant...
          
it seems so... pristine when...
two bodies are allowed to touch...
without all that extra baggage...
that is desired to... "beside" the otherwise...
readily available carnality of the act...

e-girl vidoes: teases...
                                    what can be the best
compliment... one could possibly give to...
byzantine culture / the "modern" greek?
   ah... Αγνή Παρθένε... the singing...
                          
   mulier... no... not a woman or wife...
             hardly a property right...
something to boast and concern oneself for
the rattling of feathers of peacocks...
     mulier... the french playright...
ugh... molière - yes, him!
            molière donning a mullet! yes...
and not one of those charles II wigs...
from one wig alone...
               you could have made...
oh... roughly... an orchestra's demand
for violin and cello bows...

              pissy-pant french of 14 year old
past: one direction fandom...
                            for every male fan of tool...
a declared ownership of a *****...
better still... a screwdriver...
    that would be something...

                                or when stand-up comedy
was communist enough to entertain:
a cabaret form... an **** oddity (bottom)...
can't enough not tire of
stand-up solipsism...
the stand-up solo project of...
back-and-forth with an audience of canned
laughter?
cabaret... doesn't have to be switz
ja herr doktor voltaire...
         but some sort of ping-pong...
a game of squash...
i do not know... of a single concept of
sport... where there's only one...
concept-riddle of engagement...
can comedy... or rather... should comedy
have "evolved" beyond the cabaret...
famously: in theatre-land...
stones in his pockets...
two bodies on stage...
  with a plethora of...
how the sequence went...
   BRONSON...
bronson "vs." or rather:
"nursie" vs. "mr. petersson"...

          two names: Conleth Hill and
             Sean Campion... oh look... capital! letters!
yes: of note... circa 2001...
and that's when...
   this... stand-up... hard-on "comedy"
of stand-ups...
no... no cabaret format...
internal-monologues extending into...
an octopus attempting cliff-skimming:
climbing... failing miserably...
   if it's such a "comedy"...
    where's heidegger's hammer?
last time i heard: even by ol' martin's standards:
you'd require two people to talk
about philosophy as a "side-project"
when hammering in nails...
how can one person tell a joke?
oh but they can...
on special occassion(s)...
         the joke is better translate via a dialogue...
rather than a monologue...
last time i heard...
  
comedy doesn't require these stand-up
geniuses...
imagine... ******* is actually...
a *** act...
taking a **** is actually a...
        get together meal for three...
and that's the loaf... equally spread...
for the devil's dozen...
   ******* will satisfy any champagne socialist
get-together...
      
   i have to become bored of love...
the sort of love that would never come with:
the impetus of darwinism's ideologues...
for: now that i have become a father...
           i'm less and less: a ***** satyr!
               wish me 70+ age and being freed
by dementia to curse like a cobbler
and a seafaring man...

              that overbearing: no room for impromptu:
when solo...
otherwise... no otherwise...
just that strict: regime of... an expectation
for and with: canned laughter...
all that's missing are two tin cans
and a placenta of stiched-up tongues...

... for all the movie buffs...
it's not enough to blunt your eyes on movies...
actors: and their subsequent roles
in 3D... why did up stand-up...
the grand mass-orchestrator of giggles be
allowed to cue the audience...
like any minor dictator might: from
argentina or romania?

                 back toward the ***...
yes... stealing kisses from prostitutes...
this was never going to be one about Wordsworth's
"celibacy"... which you would be expected
to partake in... just having bit into
the forbidden fruit of ****** with your sister...
or so... they might say...

daffodils and that "doris" of the...
will the word ****... somehow prevent
you from seeing ****** ****...
or ******* ****?
then at least there's the hope...
to make minors of ettiquete standards
of the: proper social contract approach:
with civility... or therefore: none...

i am finding a rare occassion for:
an as to why, i would ever do anything to begin
with... grow a beard (1)
grow a beard to stop myself shaving (2)
grow a beard to hide my double-chin (3)...
grow a beard because
growing my hair long became boring (4)...
grow a beard because i wanted
to scratch my ***** on my face rather than
scratch them on my "eden region" (5)...
the other reasons congregate under
the status of... rubric and tally...

(6) to grow a beard is better than growing
the hair long...
no chance of becoming bald...
long hair attracts too much female attention...
last time i heard a woman who grew a beard
became a circus-act...
a beard is the safest territory to mind...
when there's a woman that...
somehow needs to compensate!

         all of a sudden: i have forgotten *****
envy... when i came across
beard envy...
   i am... very much so...
envious of mel gibsons beard...
in general: but esp. so in the role...
of prof. murray... with him donning
a cravate and a top-hat to boot:
the epitome of what all men of the world
could have wished for:
the victorian gentlemen...
fiercer still: an autodidact...
a dog without a leash... eh?

     i pity the tattoo of ethnicity:
given that: i would be english...
an ukranian would be scottish...
or a lithuanian... the tattoo of ethnicty or a past...
that i would be the ******...
and there was this tide of cossacks...
i would be... the ******...
           and there would be some
ingenius pict equivalent...
            in my abode...
                      
    i am tired of love...
the most attired love of idealism...
as i am tired of hate:
and anger...
i am tired of both of these latter:
when there's no boxing match interlude
to match-up with...
i'm tired of love as i am tired
of retribution and of justice...
i am tired of gambling...
what right is there fore me:
to steal from the blind?
           i am tired from: expectations...
i am tired of ideals...
i am tired of hate because:
if i wasn't i'd still find it...
egregious to spot the minor offences
of citing the prefixing n-...
                                        as... nothing short
of an "oops" of b-               and -igger!

i'm tired of being: a civil monkey...
if i'm tired of love...
if i'm tired of hate...
i can never tire of language...
but if i become:
zoologically kept: inept...
                      ha ha! ha ha! ha! ha!
i: dodo: tire: and Tod:
of: ******: improm:     p'tooh!
         savvy or the sinking ship?!

                       RATZ!

better a concern for prostitutes:
seeing that... there's no...
jackie ol' myth to be cooked from my "affairs"...
i thought about:
how about... now was the best time...
to not **** prostitutes...
i stole kisses...
an exercise in making videos...
bring back blockbusters!
             bring back blockbusters!
**** the content creators of youtube!
give, me, back, my, *******, jukebox!
give, me, back, my... thesaurus algorithm!
give, me, back, my, *******, jukebox!
give, me, back, my... thesaurus algorithm!

           once upon a time: dubbed:
paupers... the homeless...
prostitutes... now... eh... one sly loss of calling
these... the... leeches of: welcome tomorrow!
so the price of... being...
astounded... that's it?!
                the magnified statement
of karma-phobia...
there has to be a concept akin to:
karma-phobia when islamophobia is already
too bogus to touch...
there has to be: karma-phobia...

a ******* a canvas:
i went down this alley because...
i just... wanted to show-off...
for myself...
the most better part of myself i could never
show with... a girlfriend...
and showing my best:
armed with merely a dog and a leash:
just wasn't enough:
or a fabergé egg: missing a matryoshka doll
"detail"...

like kicking a dog in the *****...
like... attempting to catch a mosquitos
by the ******* donning boxing gloves...
the lowest of the low:
of picking the "fruit"...
jackie ol' burrow: ripe-kipper...
and that merry-o-round of...

                give me enough upper-body volume
to rummage and ruminate...
to clearly identify the psychopaths
leisuring themselves over a thursday's
afternoon worth of sun-soaking
a metaphor of bath...
         and all those minor grizzly detials
of swathing a mosquito or two...
because we are inclined
to spare the flies...
because: we just, are... thus inclined...
i hear an argument: i will: without a doubt...
also hear a guillotine do us all a favor
of detailing the: "chopper"...

my my: that ripe keeper of a pulsating
neck's worth of a rhubarb...
salmon teriyaki...
                                       n'est ce-pas?!

in between: calling it learning to tie one's
shoelaces...
having no better synonym detail
of comparison other than...
             with depeche...
                                no song to be worth
any particular: sort of... originality...
and or in... detail...
                   there's only a hope for
giving a particular sort of wind:
associated with a month...
and with a month: a sorting-out of a year
within and beyond a decade...
a century...
                    
this had to be forever: and one...
enough for the worth of tonight...
and with it... no other, better, compensation
other than my own input;

ha ha!                          grace?!
JB Mar 2015
I got sick of shaving
Every day
So I started growing a beard
For a while, it was technically stubble
But now it would make William T. Riker proud
Or at least smile and nod in approval
At the effort
I bought a beard trimmer at Walgreens
And I trimmed that *****
Made it nice and even
But it itches a lot
So I have to use dandruff shampoo on it when I can
I get compliments on it
From my mom and my brother
Whose beard should belong to a Canadian lumberjack
(Not my mom, my brother)



I love this beard
But I still get the urge to shave it completely
And return to baby-face
Mateuš Conrad Dec 2017
i like the experience of having a mad
former jewish lady a newly
muslim convert singing her songs
while taking a bath while i'm trying
to take no. 1, 2 & 3 on throne of thrones,
mood no mood, no scented
candles either...
                   it was called self-****
then, it might as well be called self-****
now...
         but then the gladdening
moment of her coming in the evening,
saying something or other,
bu then paying me a compliment
on tending to my bush-wagon that's
a beard...
            i love these extremes -
as a young man i decided to grow long
hair...
        that died...
           then came the ambition for a beard...
now with a beard you can really
forget any ambition to become
a fiddler... or eating raw carrots...
              shampooing and conditioning
is fun...
                mm... scented *****!
       ha ha...
            a beard to a man is like
        dough to a woman...
         to knead it, fiddle it,
                      thinking about that
ancient city of the sight of a chin...
               and the sandpaper fibre of
  5 in the afternoon...
                        god...
      i became such a kid after attaining
mid-20s maturity of actually having
the hair intended to be deemed:
           Bodom.
                      still... she can sing all she wants,
i'll do my no. 1, 2 & 3...
      and then answer the door
one evening and it will still be:
like your beard...
    thanks;
so how does that work,
  i keep my beard you keep your brazilian
wax,
          or is it: you only get a brazilian
wax because i have a beard?
      or, you don the short-hair pixie
fetish i have, you keep
  the ***** dreads, i shave my beard,
and grow my hair long?
or i shave my head,
   grow a beard,
  you get a brazilian, grow some underarm
hair, but at the same time
don a pixie hairstyle?
          i mean... ****...
it's confusing with so many
variations!
Brian the cool vinnies bloke


you see brian allan was looking for something to do, to get him from being street trash

and a very nice lady named rowena said why don’t you work for vinnies, and brian said why not

and the next day, he was given an interview with helen, who was the boss at vinnies, and

she thought it would be great to have someone to do the bins and vacuum the floor before the start

and after 4 weeks of being there, brian thought he would like to be santa claus, and had to make uo

a proper reason for doing it, so brian said, i like the idea of giving the kids, who hate shopping with parents

a treat and helen thought she will make gingerbread men, to tickle the childs taste buds a lot,but helen was

in a bind, because i haven’t got a beard and she suggested i spray paint my real beard, but my parents were against that

because it would go against everything that santa stood for, but brian got angry with his parents and told them

that if they spray painted his beard, there will be no smart alek of a kid to pull his beard off, and as brian said that

his father yelled out, THAT’S ENOUGH, thinking i cared nothing about the kids of this city but that offended brian a lot

and made him hit his father, and this got brian really hyped up on being the best santa claus in canberra, and then

when brian explained to helen that it was causing a stir with the family to spray paint the beard, helen decided to

get a fake beard for me to use, and on the first day i played santa, i offered some of the adults gingerbread men

and they said, save them for the kids, and one little girl, who had the same resemblance to my eldest niece, said

i was a fake santa, and the santa at the mall was more real than i was, and some of the vinnies ladies brought their

own grandchildren in to get their gift from santa and i did my first year of santa, despite some smart a lek of a kid

attemptng to pull my beard off, but i was too smart for him, and after christmas was over packed my santa suit away for the first time

and then i met david who did the shoes, and i found him very good to talk too, you see i said when he dies he will be the

shoe shine man in heaven, but he sounded like he hated the idea, and he liked to joke around with stephen and mable and

i vacuumed the floor and then went outside to empty the clothing bin, and i did this all the time, ya know every day, and i had ken and brian

to help me, but brian thought it would be cool to bang on the clothing bin, while i was still in it and i told helen and she said

you should speak up for yourself, because i seem to let people walk all over me, and really i can’t be bullied by this so called brian

character, and then i started something new, you see i thought, it would be nice to to cook lunches 3 days a week at the new mental health

building, called the rainbow and i learnt how to do creative writing as well as meeting the messiah and a man named barry, who was a

really cool poet, sort of reminded me of my father, mainly because of his poem sounding like banjo patterson and henry lawson, and barry

was a lover of fitzroy, and supported the brisbane lions afl club, and i went to the club i do the bbq for, to watch the game with him and

he left before the end of the match and, i continued to go about my merry way, cooking meals at the rainbow and going on trips with the rainbow

having sing-a=longs and one man, warwick, swam 45 km at once and helen got a fire engine and i sat in it, and a star canberra raiders star

came to vinnies and signed a ball for me and my second year of santa claus went well also, i wrote fly burgers also that year, which was

funny and when i read it out, everyone was laughing along with it and they clapped it, and i read out the fact i missed scott macdonald also

and i went to queensland that year also, and when i got in my santa suit, i was visioning i will tell the kids i am an australian santa and instead of

living on the north pole, i lived right here in canberra but my parents who were strict on keeping kids imaginations flowing, hated me disillusioning

the kids minds, you see here is a poem about the aussie santa

ya see g’day mate i am the real santa

i don’t live at the north pole

i live in canberra australia, ya know the hot place, around christmas day

ya see ya know christmas is great as i do my gigs at vinnies

and as a treat i give out gingerbread men and lollies

you see christmas is fun for all ages dudes, yeah it’s fun oh yeah that’s right mate

i hope you don’t do ya santa gig way to ****** late


you see i thought i was given this gig, to bring the cool into santa

and one year i was doing my gig with an orange soda

who loves orange soda, i love orange soda

is it true, oh yeah it’s true ooh ooh ooh oh yeah

and in the following year, i was feeling fine, and my psychiatrist reduced my medication and that pushed me straight to the psych ward, where i thought

i died, and the psych ward was the gate to heaven and that ended the cool vinnies kid reign but i came back and i was more interested talking with david

and doing santa claus and that year i was checking tapes, but that only lasted 5 months, because there were getting more tapes coming in, i couldn’t keep it up

and santa was the thing, and because i was a good worker, suddenly everyone wanted me, but that was because of my manly charm, and helen left and glenn

came in and he had this little jingle, brian brian brian everything is fine, brian brian brian he’s a friend of mine brian brian brian makes the carpet shine?

you see his name is brian brian brian, and glenn sang that song to me every time i did the vacuuming at the shop and then after a few more santa gigs, glenn left and

paul s came in after vinnies had no boss, but i was still santa claus there and paul s was the official photographer for my santa claus gig, and that made me feel cool

and now, i am not santa anymore, but i really enjoyed the attention.
Thomas M Franey Mar 2015
I always enjoy flying high, but many things bring me back down, so I grow a beard
I am up to see another adventure that I indulge as I shave.

My heart beat drops, of memory of you, and what should have become, so I grow a beard
I converse with new souls that pick me up , shall i shave.

As all things, life complicates and freedom of thinking is defused, so I grow a beard
I overcome the difficulties and see new opportunity, only to shave.

Once again the thought of you, and stress lowers me to a place where I grow a beard.
I only shaved a little as I know what means to me.
highs and lows of life
Mateuš Conrad Dec 2019
i never write "anything"...
i'm claustrophobic when its comes to
exploring cognizance...

'wow! what a fancy word!'

i hardly beg to differ...
i hear of people fathoming the novel...
and...
i'm a monolith monstrosity...
some bourbon, some german:

ich bin gut zu gehen: ja!

spucke bourbon au zu mein gesicht!

i will never write a novel,
i deal with butchering an animal
for: ein stück von fleisch...

"a novel" und barockarchitektur:
sounds similar?

oh but it's a freel available tattoo
in the anglophonic frame of ref....
Hastings, 1066...
hard to come by when the tattoo reads...
ahem...

Tannenberg, 1410...
Vienna, 1683...

clear-cut... almost safe-net catch-em
while you can...
the Hastings folk were pagans...
don't you know?
don't you know that only white
people can be racist?

pst... ask the russians "about that"...
see what you come back with...
i will have to...
S'****** at the reply...
no... honestly: "because" it's forbidden for
us former iron curtain "roma" folk...
**** dastardly's dog: muttley... S'*******...
giggles in...
we former folk from the eisenvorhang...
coming across the californian:
siliziumvorhang?!
where are we... polacks...
hunagarians... czechs... estonians...
lithuanians... ukranians...
yugolz... at?!
we don't fit the narrative... do we?

it's the 27th of december...
and i'm "thinking"... it's mighty fine...
to celebrate something with the aestigermani!

the children of ***** sought a father...
the children of gomorrah were akin...
i do not know whether i am
a father figure or whether:
there's that pointless safety question
to mind: did i wear a ******?
i was assured! i was assured there were
contraceptive pills involved!

i'm tired on the usual steaming-heap
pile of warm ******* and ****
to give a psychoanalyst his rhetoric
elevated status of disinhibition...

cocktail! madonna's papa don't preach...
dusty springfield: son of a preacher man...
and any other formidable calypso
study of salsa... should this sugar baby
this sugar baby be my baby
and if i would never become a sugar daddy...

and because i was only ever looking
for the six oops-stones of womanhood...
infinity: eh... bag 'em one weekend...
forget 'em the next...

god... let me this one type of racist...
Jefferson keeping "green things" akin
to Zoe Saldana in some variation
of a "basement"...
i'm good with green...
use enough cumin, coriander or
cinnamon powder in your cooking...
you'll ask: what's wrong with green?
i'd **** green! i'd **** green sitting down
i'd **** green of the sort sleeping!
i'd peacock myself in many variations
of drunk to stage:
that one sober sort of **** with her
and... it's no samantha 38g and...
classics come to mind...
homer, horace... and plump models
of: extra cushions!

ha ha... i make myself laugh:
i make myself laugh because:
there's about zeo chance of me...
conjuring up a novel ambition...
me and a novel...
a "supposed" schizoid and a novel...
ha ha! Noel! Noel!

there was a time where i grew a beard for a reason:
i.e. exercise less..
grow a beard, hide the pride of a walrus
minus the harem...
double chin and the...
Zoe Saldana in green skin...
octopus fucky-fucky or what?

- never mind -

grow a beard... hide the shar pei...
i figured over time...
my beard became a giza pyramid
focus of my eyes...
it took some persuasion...
namely 4 years and my grandmother
finally pointing out:
oh look how thick it is...
she wanted to play g.i. joe with...
prior to: my hair...
like some thor meets barbier universe
dolls extravaganza...
a hard-on waiting...
with an ava lauren limp twist...

"oops".

now the beard is all about...
being 34 years old... while donning
the *** leftover skivvy look
inflating the organic body for a media
frenzy to "compenstate" it to be aged:
49!
ha ha...
i keep forgetting why i'm in such a good mood!
today is today! and i'm...
and i'm not allowing myself to succumb
to an anglophonic seriousness
of staging an elvis costello seriousness
of: everyday writing the novel...

pst: sounds better than that obvious...
"nook 'n' cranny"...

my alternatives!
minnesang - neidhart:
meie din liechter schin!

weihnachten ist erledigt!
weihnachten ist erledigt!
weihnachten ist erledigt!
weihnachten ist erledigt:
lassen uns singen!
lassen uns geben loben!
lassen uns männer verlassen
der mutterleib!

ensemble für frühe musik augsburg -
mayenzeit one neidt...

jetzt kommen der lieder:
zu gesungen! für alle das jahr!

i guess i grew a beard to hide a shar pei...
then again:
perhaps i grew a beard to pretend to
fiddle with a throng of violins?
perhaps i found growing my hair long...
i had to compensate!
i had to exfoliate in the downward
spiral and exchange...
oi! baldy! baldy!
i can juggle! i can juggle!
i can grow long hair and a beard!

but never the two at the same time!
germany and the nazis...
i just can't stiop thinking about
the lucky... those frivolous drunks
of the holy roman empire...
esp. when peering via their folk songs...
i call it: having to succumb to
english prune and pristine pressures...
even these days...
being wholy saxon is to be:
most unwholesome when it comes
to the german federation...

it's called cheating:
eatin saxon white soy
and not... riddling oneself
with Bavarian rye!

i'm drunk! it's the 27th of december!
the little ******* is born!
now i can celebrate!
chevalier, mult estes guariz!
on the 27th of december i can sing
german, and french crusader songs!

on the 27th of december i can celebrate!
nothing has to be left so innocent
and passive! so coddled!
and if they weren't singing byzantine
chants... prior to this day?!
let them sing no more!
i have found my happiness! once more!

Ö dies freude!
jetzt ich können: singen!
einst die kinder und engel...
ar legen zu bett!

if i am to be the integrated kind...
now i rejoice!
for i have all the reasons to rejoice!
i do no have to pander
to a babe!
i do not have to force myself
into elevated expectations with
a pre- litany of the omni- suitor...

now i can champion the romance
of the crusade...
i am... freed from the utopia...
that only one heart is allowed
to feel... and its feeling is to be contested...
solely by the sacrifice of a crucifixion...
not by iron maiden outlets "etc."...

now muttererde...
ihr liebhaber: wind - seine unterschrift!
weihnachten ist erledigt!
weihnachten ist erledigt!

it's the 27th of december and i can finally
celebrate with songs...
that... celebrate the sort of christianity
i am accustomed to...
french crusader songs...
german folk...
that i can stomach...
not this... pandering...
expecting the nuns to not...
somehow, not, become...
the ****** of the christ-harem!
a nun is a nun is a nun is a nun...
is a nun...
but i very much like...
being considered...
for... the better part of the feminine whim,
outside the realm of:
the usual rejection tactics of:
the aborted... i like my exercise of yielding:
DAS WORTE... ooh... chisel that
with a base goosebump strut to be worth
being added!

em... it's almost like that...
time-travel question of:
why not travel back in time...
and **** the baby adolf ******...
dunno... no point doing that with a jesus...
since... m'eh... his cross is our
genuflexion... yes: kind sir...
yes mr. greek and mrs. hebrew...
esp. in this script...
esp. when its alive and "we" debate...
the pronunciation of:

nil admirari prope res est una, Numici,
solaque, quae possit facere et servare beatum...
hunc solem et stellas et decedentia certis
tempora momentis sunt qui formidine nulla
inbuti spectent: quid censes munera terrae,
quid maris extremos arabas ditantis et indos
ludicra, quid plausus et amici dona quiritis,
quo spectanda modo, quo sensu credis et ore?

there's nothing to be surprised by, Numicious,
in this life's mainstay, peace of soul and happiness;
others, onto the sun, the stars, azure bodies...
on the round year of orbital changes, look with
a calm... and you would, upon the gifts of earth,
pearls of the sea, what of the distant Arabs,
Indians beyond the Arabs,
on the Kwiritow (googlewhack...)
Quiritus' honours, questionable plaudit: peer
raptured in awe without measure?

a very ******* bad a very ******* terrible
translation... as you do...
as you do... sinking into bourbon...
thinking about... maritza mendez...
sylvia loret... samantha 38G...
and all those lost plump classics of *****...

i would have sunk the Potemkin!
drunk... i wouldn't even require
a sober catch / scrutiny of "character"...
because now i am yet to translate
some latin, use this... ahem...
pseudo-cuneiform text:
"LATINE QUOD MORTUS EST"

perhaps that's mis-translated as:
qua: i.e. "as being"...
perhaps MIT... some runic...
or glagolitic... we AWAIT: the revival!
of the grand h'american protestant church
of apocalyptic wonder!
maybe, perhaps... "then"!

but it's the 27th of december...
the... "messiah" is born!
now we can reroute and go back to our...
current year... ***** and gomorrah type
of *******...
the cosmopolitan whoop-t'd'ah is 'ere!
come easter, come spring....
come the crucifixion! come the resurrection!
Poetic T May 2014
I have a little friend that lives
within my beard, she is my
morning wake up call as she
pecks and chirps in my ears.

People think it may be strange
to have a little bird in my beard,
but she never goes hungry, as she
cleans all the crumbs from
my breakfast, lunch and tea.

I have a smile each and everyday,
for when I look in to the mirror, I
see her in her nest beard, looking
back at me.

So if ever walking and see me talking
and chirping, know I am not as
crazy as I seem, I'm just chatting
to my friend who lives within my beard.
Taru M Dec 2012
Train Sets were always the coolest gift
I mean, I never got one
but that's what the movies say

now I ride trains daily
monotonous jumble of
commute.work.commute. sleep.

a ******
   brains get swallowed whole without my morning Joe
but there was a time...

...there was a time when
I rode that Polar Express to bliss
        crazed off hot chocolate
   golden ticket in hand

then
I slipped on ice caps
instead of sleeping on beaches
dreaming up Mad Hatter candy mogels

then
Tom Hank's voice was the patter of reindeer
and magic was cast by wizards
   not scientists

A White Beard
wise as Gandolf & Dumbledore
   specked with canyons of God
would laugh jolly into a nation
        into a season
   into that dusting galaxy of a child's eye

that beard
   holy and revered
would laugh humanity into a rattled world

slipping down chimneys
it would leave propaganda of hope
in the form of trainsets

No, I never got one
     but I loved that beard
        and the silver bells on its sleigh

they are voiceless now
but I keep them for their shine
I miss those days
                 ...sometimes...
I think about them on my train rides
wishing I had a different destination
Nick Moore Mar 2016
My friend called Bruce
had a beard
long and loose

If you looked closely
finding,
food there hiding

It didn't bother him,
he was kind and giving,
until a mouse was found there
living

What can I do about this tenant
I have acquired?
this beard I have grown
must be fired

But first find a new house
for my guest
mouse

So I looked closely
into the beard
to find, a small family
had been reared!

With some scissors
Bruce gave a grin,
As I removed the beard
from his chin............... and so the beard got sheared


Outside within a hedge
was an old birds
nest

The beard slotted in
and the family
within

I had a small doubt,
when five heads
popped out!

Returning to Bruce,
what was left of his beard
got sluiced

As sharp as a lazar
I used my cut-throat razor

So ends the story of
how I came to
spruce up Bruce.
A cup full of pennies

The sun had dipped into the ocean and sizzled out it’s bright. The sky was a bipolar devil trying to glow in the dark.
He was a man with a red beard and a cup full of pennies from all the times souls like mine had wandered here seeking his stories.

In some way he was a memory of the past, words of light that cast shadows on the men we used to be, and he was also the hope for the future, a seed breaking its shell learning to trust the earth, knowing that people aren't always good, but aren't always bad either.

When he said if I ever do die, I can take care of my soul, but somebody please take my body home. All I could say was I will, all I could think was, I know a few things about being lost myself, I have perfected the art of drawing circles with my footprints, the sand between my toes is not from this beach, we are both travellers of some sort.

No room to feel he began, we were men
Our hearts of stone were never for evil, it just had to be strong enough to protect the people in it.
That’s the problem with poets
The sunset was never meant to be stared at, it was the only sign that we had fought the sun that day and won and the sunrise was a new days battle cry.
The stars were never meant to be gazed at, they only remind us that anything that can only glow in the dark will always remain small and common.

So no room to feel, maybe every silver lining is lightening and thunder is the sound your body makes when it hits the ground, you my dear boy are trying too hard to touch the clouds, there’s ground that needs breaking.

So leave dreams for sleeping men, leave sky for birds and leave tears for shoulders strong enough to carry them.

But what do I know, I’m just an old man collecting yesterdays till tomorrow comes. And you are a young man with the foolish of pride and the wisdom of time. The sun’s coming up, leave a penny in the cup.


2. The bread-maker's son

He lets the rain kiss his closed eye wet, he buries the air in the depths of his lungs and counts the seconds between each wave, this has always been a funeral for his fears.
And tonight he washes sugar and yeast and his father’s name from his finger tips, he knows all that has no place in war and sunrise will be a new days battle cry.
But he yearns for Glenbeigh, for the kiss of her rain, how her waves rise like the yeast in his father's kitchen, how sunrise was an ode to the sunset before.

When did the crashing of waves give way to the clashing of men, and bodies fall to kiss the ground loud, they do not rise like yeast anymore.
In honour of the one hundred and twelve, how much room do the nameless dead deserve on a monument?
He lets the blood kiss his closed eyelids wet, he buries the dead in the depths of his mind and counts the seconds between each loss, this has always been a funeral for his friends.

I remember Lagos. Her humid air and lazy clouds that did nothing to stop the sun, she is nothing like Glenbeigh. But she is everything like Glenbeigh, they’re both distant homes of two soldiers in different wars, a burial ground for fears and father’s names that have no place in war.
I came here searching answers to questions that others had asked me, so did Paddy, this was not our war.
But we search all the same, we fight all the same, if not for anything then for love, for home, for hope, for every time life hits you and you rise like the yeast in Paddy’s father’s kitchen, for those that cannot rise anymore.
If I ever do return
I’ll let my love kiss my closed eyelids wet, I’ll bury the air of my sister’s laugh in the depths of my lungs and count the seconds between each wave of tears from my mother’s face, this will be a funeral for all my fears.


3. Old School

She runs down the stairs forgetting the age of her bones, He drops the walking sticks in each hand and spreads his arms awaiting impact.
She runs into him like a car crash, with the impact of a single applaud, soft and firm and loud, as his fingers rest on the home of her spine, the place where they had lived for the past 50 years.
Her laughter, mending the broken fragments of his aching heart.
Her tears, drowning the purple heart on his uniform.
Paddy uses ******* to put her hair behind her left ear and whispers to her, "You're stepping on my toes"
They hug and sway, their laugh was like a hip hop and jazz jam session, Paddy was always trumpet loud and Sarah was always drums, the beat to which the rhythm flows. So each skip of a heart beat was half cardiac problems of an ageing man and half love.
I am half whatever you want me to be and half yours.
If Paddy could fight an entire war then what is an ocean, if not eight hours and two planes, what is a movie over Facetime, if not the sound of your heartbeat when you fall asleep with your phone on your chest and what is a half empty bed, if not a metaphor for all the parts of me that you complete.
And every time that we meet and forget the reason we were apart in the first place like drowning purple hearts.
I pray that my fingers will find home in the arch of your back
And my toes will find comfort underneath your feet.
My love,
When we are old and frail and walk the streets with love like thunder, the loud that is left after all the spark is gone, the sound of a single applaud.
I pray that our love will be proof that jazz and hip hop are a match made in heaven.
But till then, pick up your phone.

4. Price and Punishment

The lads and I were gathered around his stool like stars around a half moon, his stories were always the longest, mostly because each sentence was followed by a swirl and swallow of Guinness, he described it as the worst thing he ever tasted, but said drinking this was the duty of every red blood red beard Irish man.
His stories were always the longest but always the best, they were always about the same stranger, the same soldier, the same red beard, the same tattoo on his wrist where he had hid his lover’s name, the same war.
Red beard Paddy never really believed in God, but it didn’t take long for him to learn the language of the enemy, it didn’t take long for that to convince him that he deserved death just as much as they did. The first time he got shot, it was a graze across his wrist like something was trying to tell him we know where heart is, like something was trying to tell him there is no love in war, that death and blood are prize and punishment.
But Paddy, Paddy fought for love, for love of country, for love of family, for love of the ******* his wrist that bullets couldn’t ****. For what is blood if not the price of love and what is death if not the punishment for apologetic sinners, for God so loved the world, that he killed himself.
The war as patient as his love both waiting long into the night, the days as many as the number of fatherless homes, each bullet hole just something else for bullet girl to fill, her touch was soft and deep and complete.
Paddy prayed in the language of the enemy the day he heard the war was over, he cried in the language of God the day he heard he had lost her, almost half expecting it, something for his sins, a bandage for his wrist that heals and covers all at once.
The stars were gathered around a half moon that day and that was all Paddy and I had in common, my father’s death was no price for sin my pain was no punishment. I sat there, listening to this story about the price of sin and the punishment of war wondering, what was my sin? Why do I always have to look at a half moon and wonder, where are all the stars gone? If death is the price for love then what is the price of life? Tell me and I’ll pay it.
Maybe Paddy and I aren’t so different after all, maybe we love a bit too deep and cry a bit too God, but losing her will always be his price and loving you will always be my sin.
Patrick Austin Sep 2018
Our Backgrounds before we met...

I'm an only child born in Montana in 1983, from a divided home. Parents divorced at seven, Mom was unstable and unfaithful. Dad obtained custody of me and we moved to Oregon Coast to live with my Grandma. I had unhealthy visits and relationship with Mom thereafter. My Grandma died at 12 and at 13 my Dad remarried an alcoholic woman, I had a strained relationship with them until adulthood when she stopped drinking. I had exposure to trauma; alcoholism, mental illness, verbal abuse and juvenile troubles. I rebelled by using drugs in my late teens and early twenties, I lived on my own for a few years after high school but had little direction.

My bride is the eldest with two little brothers, parents stayed in same area of Portland during childhood with lots of family support and her parents stayed married. They had Christian values but some anger and anxiety issues at home. She was sexually assaulted at 17 and never had good closure with this. She told me her parents didn't provide her enough help with things like this growing up. Status quo was the backbone of the family dynamic, challenging emotions were discouraged. She rebelled by being reckless with herself, financially and sexually. She decided to join the Navy at 19. She lived alone briefly, but mostly with Grandparents & Parents before our marriage.

I loved how we both grew up reading Archie comics. No other girl I had ever met had that in common with me. I think we wanted a surreal life like the one in Riverdale.

2002

She and I were 19 when we first met in my home town on the coast at an arcade. We became friends and secretly liked each other. I was too nervous to ever make a move on her. We traveled together, she stayed with me, we used drugs together and drank at times. One night she drank too much and had *** with a guy I knew at a party. I was devastated by this. She was Navy bound and I didn't see a real future for us. The next morning she left and I didn't talk to her again for two years. I figured she would be gone with the Navy soon and that she must not have been interested in a relationship with me despite the time we spent together.

2003

I was depressed about this rejection. I dated an older woman who was interested in me but was no substitute. I eventually moved to the Portland area to work and live. I still had few plans and was lonely, in or out of the few brief relationships I attempted. I never found someone that I felt safe with or had a true connection, let alone true love. She ended up not following through with the Navy and continued working her way up in her job at the call center. She attended community college and dated a few guys. She dated one guy for a couple of years who was not a good match for her but stayed with him off and on despite issues. His family was wealthy and treated her well. He slept around on her as did she. At one point he gave her an STD. She also had an ongoing affair with a married man in the military that she went to high school with. He had a child and a wife with mental health issues. She was still hurting a lot at times and not always doing well.

2004

She reached out to me via email after two years of no contact. We emailed back and forth a couple times over the next few months. We talked about meeting up. We spoke on the phone and eventually met up in Portland. We had an amazing night getting to know each other again and work past the confusion of our earlier days of friendship. I realized that she did in fact like me before but since I was timid and trying to be proper and take things slowly she didn't understand my motives. She apologized for her actions at the party as well. She claimed she was in a really messed up place and was making bad choices at that time. Getting our feelings out in the open was good and she appreciated my attitude towards being slow to make moves on her when we first met. I was worried about falling for her based on our history but eventually I was determined to give it a shot. We soon after starting dating and being intimate. Our love was extremely powerful and beyond all others we had both experienced. She broke ties with other suitors and shortly after we talked about marriage and started planning a wedding for the next year.

I remember when we first held hands. We were so shakey and she was quivering on my couch as I had my arm around her. We felt so safe with each other. We could finally be ourselves and do what our hearts desired. We knew we were on to something new and so amazing. We were so patient with each other as we navigated our new love and emotional thresholds.

I remember when we saw Matisyahu in concert together. That was a once in a lifetime experience and a life-changing moment for us. I feel it set the tone for things to come in our future.

I remember how creative my proposal to her was, in the Arcade where we first met. I hid the ring in a prize container from one of those claw machines. Pretending I got the ring from inside by reaching into the machine on one knee I was so nervous and wasn't sure if I could pull it off before she caught on. She looked so shocked and surprised. I was so excited she said yes! We took pictures in the photo machine and had burgers afterwards, I'd do all of it all over again just to see her face in that moment.

2005

We found an apartment for us in Portland. I moved in while she was still living back with her parents until the wedding. She had to change her number because the married man she was previously involved with kept calling her about changing her mind about marriage and continuing their relationship. She was offered a job in Denver and we decided to move away together after our sandy wedding in Cannon Beach. I still had a very hard time and was embarrassed with my past history with her. Many of my friends knew what had happened at 19 and how much it hurt me but I was so crazy about her I think I tried to pretend it didn't happen or that it was not a big deal because we were younger. We got married and moved to Colorado soon after. We made friends at a church, I became more active as a Christian and really loved being married. We were very involved in keeping spirituality in our marriage. I began to notice her poor financial decisions and practices more. This caused conflict but we always tried to communicate and work on things.

I remember when we went down to my folks for New Year's in 2005. We sipped tea in my Datsun as we drove to the coast over the snowy mountain pass. We told them of our engagement. We were all so blissful and excited. We never knew what was to come. We didn't even know about the opportunity in Denver yet. Our story is amazing!

I remember when I wanted to go see her in Portland and the roads were iced over. I left my car at a park and ride before I caused a wreck. I took the light rail across town then rode a bus to the Eastside shopping mall. The bus to her house was not running because it wasn't safe so I walked the rest of the 4 Miles sometimes having to crawl on my hands and knees to make it up hills in the ice and then I finally made it only to just spend a couple hours with her and fall asleep on her parents couch. Her Dad drove us back the next morning to my car so I could get to work. It was all worth it just to see her for that little extra time. I would have done anything for her.

I remember when she was interviewing for the new position in Denver? I drove all over Portland trying to find little toy cars to help with her illustration about how a team is like a car having all four wheels and how they work together to accomplish a goal. I was so proud of her for giving it her all and succeeding at earning that position. Now that I think of it, that car analogy applies to our family and us. We all need each other to be better and keep on track and be a team. I am so motivated by that and our boys. I lose my way without that and I want to be her reflection and motivation as she has been that for me. I truly thought we brought out the best in each other when we were together.

I remember when we were given tickets to see Fiona Apple. That was so spontaneous and a great way to kick off our time in Denver together. We always used to watch our same movies over and over again. Like the Friends DVDs and White Christmas every winter break and The Wedding Singer. We walked everywhere and lived simply. "I wanna be the guy, who grows old with you"

I remember in our first Denver apartment when we took baths together in our claw foot tub in the big bathroom. We put a board over the top and played cards. I liked playing Uno with her in bed too. She was so funny being slightly color blind and in the dark, mixing up the greens and blues. We played Uno in Breckenridge too at that cool bed and breakfast in the fall.

2006

We had continued fun and adventure in our new home of Denver. She was doing well as a trainer for the bank and I started working in health foods. We went camping in New Mexico a couple times with friends and we both took individual trips to Oregon as well as one together for her uncle's wedding. We had marital spats on occasion but always bounced back. The issues we had seemed like part of a normal marriage and were far better than what I had grown up around. I realized that marriage was a lot of work but I was up for the task. She occasionally became aggressive throwing things at me or breaking things during conflict.  I believed I was the problem and tried to change for her in many ways. With two incomes we still had trouble making our bills at times. She had debts that I never knew about that started to catch up with us but I took care of getting them settled and we paid off her car and traded it for an older Volvo Wagon that we both loved, I even had it repainted her favorite color for a birthday gift. Overall things seemed like they were progressing in a positive way.

I remember when we saw Midnight in concert in Boulder. That was the peak of our hippy days. We were alive with pleasure in our healthy vegetarian diets and practices living in a time and place like no other. I want to be like that again. Reggae was our music. We had much in common.

2007

We really fell into our roles in our marriage and the community; church and culture, friends etc. Things seemed very balanced and appropriate for us at that time and that age (24-25). We had separate bank accounts and jobs. I had money in savings. We started the process of buying a house so we could invest in something. She became pregnant shortly after. I embraced the challenge with positive energy but we were both in for a big change. We started having more fights. I didn't have many friends and would write to old friends via social media just so I could to catch up and tell them things were going great with being married to make myself feel better than I actually did. She hated the dawn of social media and also felt isolated I'm sure. She felt I should be doing more for her and I didn't know how to do what she needed but I failed to ask a lot of the time. After one argument, she left the house. My instinct told me to look at ******* and ******* as a retaliation. I had not done this much once we were married because she always met my needs but when things were difficult between us I felt more emotionally isolated. She walked in and realized what I had been doing. She was very upset, and because she was pregnant, thought I was not attracted to her. The truth is I found her even more beautiful and in fact when I looked at ******* I tried to look at women I found less attractive than her so that I feel good about what I have. I mostly fantasized about how these women were more submissive and loving than her. That is the part I needed to feel good about and feel better about myself with because I felt very dominated and controlled. She has never forgiven me for this and I will never stop feeling sorry to her for my brokenness. During one particular argument that year she was getting close to being violent towards me again and I pushed her away on the chest with my fingertips. She got very mad and said I hurt her. I immediately felt terrible and apologized. I never let something like that happen again. I have always avoided violence towards others especially women and of course her. I was defenseless against physical and emotional abuse.

2008

Our eldest son was born at the beginning of the year, it was a traumatic birth for everyone. We wanted a natural birth with a midwife but we were transferred to a hospital and she ended up having an emergency C-section, nothing went as planned. We had a really hard time coping with the emotions of this experience. A lot of buried feelings and trauma from both of us started coming out. We moved a month later into our new home outside of town. No more walking or biking to places, we had to drive everywhere. This house was next to our friends from church. We thought this would make us feel less isolated but we didn’t really have the community with them that we had hoped for. They were upset that they didn't have a child of their own yet and being around us might have been hard for them. My wife stopped working and stayed home with our son. All these changes made for a very difficult time. I did my best to support them but this was the first time we shared a bank account and needed to follow a budget more than ever before. We had no debt at the beginning of the year with money in savings but then the hospital bills put us down about $7,000 and rising with new home and moving expenses and baby needs. My job could barely keep up. She and I had a hard time adjusting. We could not afford to travel home to Oregon and visit family as much and we felt more and more isolated. She started showing me more signs of instability, locking herself in the bathroom with kitchen knives and scraping her legs which continued off and on for years to come. Talks of divorce and suicide threats seemed to happen more than before. I felt responsible and tried to fix her ever changing issues with me.

I remember when herr ******* were full and swollen with milk. It is so beautiful the way she could feed our babies. I wanted her in every way, our bodies belonged to each other. I was there for her and our shared pleasure. I loved it when she told me that she was mine in the heat of passion. This spark could only be a bandage for so long but I didn't know that yet.

2009

I tried to promote within my company but was not selected, they were cutting budgets and employment all around me. I felt worried about our future. I had always thought the military might be a good opportunity and could move us closer to family back home. My father-in-law encouraged me to look into the Coast Guard. I felt this would be a good way to get moved closer to Oregon.  I ended up joining the Navy because we found out we were pregnant again with our second son and that was the only way I could join a military branch. She worked off and on as a nanny and later in the year at a coffee house working nights. We barely spent time together and when we did it was a lot of hard conversations or arguments about finances with making up intimately in the middle of the night between times of caring for the baby. She once scratched my neck with her fingernails during an argument. People I worked with noticed. It was a hard time and we knew change was on the horizon with jobs and moving. We did visit Oregon that summer though and had a great vacation at the beach with a borrowed 4x4 and staying at a hotel and picnicking out of a cooler as well as going to her brothers wedding. I was 26 and about to join the Navy to provide better for my family at all costs sacrificing myself for their benefit because I would have rather died than look like I didn't try my best for them.

I remember when our babies would kick and move around inside her belly. I loved laying by her and feeling her tummy. I would hum to the baby and hear them move and squirm. I loved giving our boys baths when they were babies too. We had our little bundles of our love, wrapped in a towel in our hands, so tiny and vulnerable. I miss those days and want to remember them with her, aside from this state of melancholy.

2010

The Navy recruiters would only take me if we rented out our home and had her stay with family during boot camp and training. We moved to a furnished apartment in Denver and put our things in storage. She was 5 months pregnant and our eldest was two. I shortly after was let go from my job. Our second son was born in April. I got a contract with the Navy at the last minute but didn't leave until August. We sold our beloved vehicles and lived off retirement funds for six months and moved down to Florida where her parents had just moved out of the blue for work, to stay with them until I left for boot camp. I applied for temporary work in Florida at a dozen places but had no luck in my three months there. I took care of our eldest a lot while she took care of the new baby. Being in Florida was a culture shock for us but we had our moments of romance and made the best of it. Eventually I left for boot camp in August. It was really hard and sad to be gone. She stayed in Florida and came to visit me with the baby at boot camp graduation in October. I then went to Connecticut for five months of training. It was also hard but at least I could call home every day and be in the same time zone. I visited Florida during the winter break and saw my boys and her. We went to Disney world and had a great time on her parents. We also made a romantic home movie I could enjoy while away from her. I flew back to Connecticut and tried to make the best of things. My roommate was very abusive of substances and I resisted the temptation for a long time but the threat of being submarine service bound and missing my family pushed me to drinking every weekend and getting messed up to escape before I left.

I remember when we drove to Key Largo, Florida and stopped at a crazy bird wildlife center. I remember our oldest was so amazed hearing a bird say hello back to us. It was so foreign and fun there. I am glad we all shared that experience together.

I remember our trip to the citrus grove in Florida. That was such a great day for our family. I always look back on that with really fond sentiment. I felt like I was in a beautiful family music video with them.

2011

I finished Submarine Training and got orders back to the Northwest. The plan was all coming together. I arrived first and bought a car and got our items moved from storage in Denver to our townhouse rental in Washington. She and the boys joined me a month later. I didn't report to my Sub for another month as they were at sea. She became pregnant again with our third son right after arriving. We had just bought a small car and were not planning on another child. Towards the end of the year I was working a lot and having a really hard time, being bullied and treated poorly at work plus our financial situation was still very difficult. Adjusting to the military was hard among younger men being 28. I dreaded each day in that environment but I tried to endure it for my family. I went to sea for a couple months at the end of the year stopping in Hawaii and California. During this time She reached out to her ex married affair partner after six years of no contact. She didn't tell me until later. She said she needed closure with him, we were not in counseling yet but she decided this was appropriate. I flew home early from sea and wanted to surprise her. The stress and trauma of this quick transition home after being to sea for the first time (which was also traumatic) made me want to drink and get messed up before flying. I arrived home and surprised her but I seemed off to her which I was but didn’t explain why, I have never done that since. I got to be home for two months almost work free while we celebrated the holidays and prepared for the new baby to be born. She started getting more involved with a church and building a community for us which was great. Our financial struggles almost led us to foreclosure of our home back in Colorado but by the grace of God we got it sold with a short sale just in time.

I remember when I came back from Hawaii and brought her a beaded necklace and she wore it naked with her big beautiful pregnant goddess belly and we made passionate hippy love together. I want to grow out my beard again and spend my life making hippy love and feeling free again.

2012

Our third son was born in January. It was a very positive birth experience and much less stressful than the other two. Shortly after I flew out to finish the other half of the deployment I had missed. I really focused on being positive and spiritually connected by reading my Bible at sea which was helpful. I called her when I arrived in Japan halfway through being gone. She was upset because she tested positive for an STD while trying to get on birth control. I became suspicious of her yet she was suspicious of me. We both got tested again and I was clean, she told me she had a false positive after all. This put a big strain on our trust, especially being so far away. This forced us to be honest with each other about some things such as her contact with her ex lover and my drinking to cope. We were both very upset until I returned home and we could start some counseling to work through things. Forgiveness seemed to be difficult for us. It brought up hurts of the past when we were 19. She also had severe postpartum depression that became worse after each birth. I was still having a hard time with work and the submarine environment. Our church friends tried to counsel us but it was not the most helpful. My submarine was scheduled for extended repairs and not going to sea for three years, I would be transferred before the end of that period. I used this time to bond with her and my boys. I wanted to get better involved in our community and do volunteer work and side jobs to earn extra money. Our boys were all given diagnosis's for autism which begun to fill our lives with appointments and challenges for years to come but we were a good team in dealing with all of it. It gave us something to work together on but took our focus away from working on our own personal issues and relationship with each other as much as we should have.

2013

We had new years with both sides of our family in a snowy mountain setting in Oregon. It looked like it was going to be a great year until her Grandpa passed away suddenly. It ripped our entire family apart but especially her. He kept the family grounded and she was very close to him, he really loved all of us. She and I started going on dates again because we had Navy sponsored child care. It was the beginning of a really good thing for us. Tragically one night after a date we were dancing with the boys on the patio and I tried to pick her up and I lost my balance and fell on her, breaking her collar bone severely. She needed surgery and was very mad at me for years to come. She has a scar, a metal plate and numbness in her chest. We worked through it with our community from church but she still is very mad at me. I feel more terrible about this incident than she could ever know. I would lose a finger in place of that incident if I could. I continued having a really hard time in the Navy and I didn't want to stay in but She insisted our boys needed care only the Navy could offer. She also said she would divorce me if I ever left the Navy. I took this threat seriously even though she assured me later that she would never actually do that. Against my own convictions I reenlisted because I wanted to do the best thing for my family. We moved into base housing at the end of summer and didn’t go out to do things as much anymore. The house was nice but it ****** us in, we also had less community with people around our home. I started volunteering at church more and doing work with special needs people. I felt like I was doing good things and that I had purpose all around. I think she appreciated this about me.

2014

We started seeing a professional counselor together and individually. It became a regular event. I worked on myself and she worked on herself. I had a lot of issues with my Mom and eventually broke off communication with her for my own well-being and the betterment of my family. I got past a lot of the bad feelings I had. She worked on her traumatic experiences and our relationship dynamics. Just when things were going well I got a new boss who made things hard for me and others at work and I started messing up more. I got in trouble for messing up a job at work and was given strike one on my record. She lost respect for me as a provider but I tried to stay strong showing her that I would continue to do my best.

I remember when we had an appointment in Tacoma and we had a brunch date together afterwards. She looked so beautiful that day, I took her picture and was so proud to enjoy  huevos rancheros and momosas with her. I remember going to the Tacoma Art Museum seeing the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, we have a great time together doing new things and feeding each other's interests. I loved laughing with her too, sometimes we just bust up like nobody's around. I loved the sound of her laughter. I loved watching Portlandia with her, it is so funny to remember the funny place where we became close and be able to relate together.

2015

I kept working hard and being involved with family and appointments for my boys and her. I still maintained my volunteer work and part time side jobs. I got strike two with the Navy for messing up again... I had just gained orders to leave the sub for local shore duty. I could not get out of the extended repair situation soon enough. She was very disappointed in me and not so understanding. I worked through this situation with our counselor as did she. He always told her I am a good man and that I do a lot for her and the boys. It's true, I care more than anything about them, I made mistakes and I feel bad especially when I cause my family stress. I left for shore duty in April. It was a hard time adjusting to the new routine but eventually we seemed to make it work. That summer we took a trip to visit Texas where her parents had just moved from Florida. We spent a great night together for our 10th anniversary in a hotel in Texas and went dancing. We had a lot more time together as my work schedule was less. The more people we had in our home working with our kids on issues the less useful my input seemed. I was not included as much in making family decisions because they all seemed to happen while I was at work, despite my objections. We tried to get our budget under control but she still had anxiety discussing spending. She continued to struggle with depression and was put on medication because she had still been harming herself. She was put on Prozac daily and anti anxiety medication as needed. He family members were not very supportive of medication which upset her but I always tried to be supportive in seeking help and continued care for both of us.

2016

We had a busy routine of kids in school now and home school and preschool and appointments for all of us. She wanted to go to church less and less. I started drinking a couple beers at night almost every day. I tried to mask my stress from her mood swings. She decided not to go to church at all anymore and focused teaching the boys about Jewish traditions exclusively which was hard for me to adjust to and confusing for the boys. I loved her and wanted to be supportive. As usual I was submissive and removed myself from the Christian church and some friendships. I feel like we lost our community at that point. We searched for a good place to have a new community with Jewish people but it was like starting over. I felt like I converted to Christianity for her when we got together and now I had to convert again, either way I would have done it for her because I loved her that much. The kids were confused by this change. After trying and failing at many synagogues we finally found one that seemed right for us.

2017

We finally had some money in savings because I kept it a secret and ended up planning a trip to visit her parents in Texas but it fell through due to lack of military flights. Instead we spent three nights away in a nice hotel resort as a family in February. We had three days of pure family time. Playing Battleship and other games in our room as a family, watching movies and eating at all the different restaurants and getting room service. Going swimming everyday in the foggy pool. I love our family and how we can have a great time together doing nothing but at the same time so much. That was so peaceful and relaxing. I wanted to keep doing things like that together as a family before our boys got too old. Shortly after this vacation she wanted to go back to school, then we bought a third vehicle so she could. Shortly after this she changed her mind about school and wanted to buy another house instead. I went along with it to please her and we practically killed ourselves trying to get the move accomplished with not much help or money. We had a good year over all. We got away for a romantic anniversary together in the summer. Just before the boys were going to start public school in the fall, her parents moved back to the area. She had anxiety with this and cut off contact with her parents and brothers for a while. Her Dad called me very upset and I tried to keep the peace until they reconciled. I was doing better with work and made up for lost progress as well as making arrangements to change jobs in the Navy to something more fitting. Since the boys started public school, I planned on leaving for Navy training in my new position after the beginning of the new year when they would be at a more settled place in their routine.

I remember when we went to the Olympic Club for our anniversary and we stayed there for a night away. We drove the long way through the countryside talking about new music that she wanted to share with me and she made notes of it on my phone notepad. We brought our own cooler and picnic that included Session Lagers and chocolate. We checked in to our room and made noisy bohemian love on the edge of the creaky bed in our small European room inches from the door. Then we went to the theater downstairs and watched the late showing of a really interesting Sci-fi movie "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets". We took showers and slept sweetly together. We made love again in the morning before we had a delicious brunch outside on the patio. We took the long way home and drove around on new roads and found our way out of cell phone reception. We figured out the road less traveled to get back to our home. We loved being alone and away together, just one night can make such a difference and mean so much.

I remember going to the Forest Theater to see Tarzan with our boys. That was such a great time. I would love to get our boys into theater and go see them someday. I wanted to keep our dreams and goals together alive and not lose opportunity and fall short by losing our partnership.

I loved going camping in Seabeck. Loading the truck with all our gear and getting away. Archer got sick from the cowboy caviar and I had to clean him and the tent up in the night. I was glad we had each other to be a team in our marriage in that situation as with all the other times. These sorts of things are what escape a person's mind when they are determined to get a divorce.

2018

We had a lot less money than the year before, again buying a house took its toll on finances as did the boys school and after school activities. I stayed very involved taking the boys to appointments and sporting practices. We stopped going to synagogue but tried to practice Judaism at home as much as possible, which I was very supportive of and involved with. She was still depressed and talking about suicide at times. I encouraged her to get help as I always had. Eventually she was diagnosed as Bipolar 2 and manic depressive by a new provider. She started taking new medicine for this and was worried I would want to leave her. I assured her I would never leave her and that I always wanted to work on things with her and help her. I left for training in Mississippi February 8th. It was going to be hard but I thought it might be good to have some time apart from each other to miss one another and reflect on things as well as prepare for times when I would be away at sea. I got in trouble in Mississippi for giving junior personnel a ride and being negligent of people who might be underage and possibly drinking, this became strike three. I never thought this could happen. I became recommend for separation from the Navy shortly after and was stuck in Mississippi for six months instead of six weeks. She was supportive through most of it but seemed to fall into hopelessness. Money was spent by her that we didn't have without discussion. She quietly leased appliances and tires and purchased a vehicle as well as having a secret bank account and email address. I discovered through our insurance company that she wanted to leave our policy for divorce. I didn't know this and she had even told the boys she wanted a divorce before I even knew. I was caught off guard and confused. I kept trying to communicate and reason with her but she didn't want to talk. I refused to give up and wrote emails and a letter but it only seemed to push her away further. By the time I left Mississippi she had filed for divorce and a restraining order against me saying I was unstable and a threat. I couldn't return to my home. My whole life fell apart in just a couple months. I found out she had been talking to other men in the Navy and keeping more secrets. I assumed this was her way of taking control during a difficult situation. I really needed her support during this hard time of transition out of the military. I became homeless, jobless and without my family in a month. I prayed to God that given time things might change between us but it was of no use. Bipolar had consumed whatever was left of my bride and there was no turning back.

I felt that our love was not one to be cast away. Other people might not understand or agree but what we had was truly special. We may have surely needed some time and space to get counseling as well as reconfigure and repair our marriage but I didn't feel like our relationship was irretrievably broken. She was so important to me and I thought she was the love of my life and would always have my heart. I wanted to be her partner in love and life, watching our boys grow up and being there to support each other. Being that she is Bipolar I knew she will need a lot of help and I was more than willing to assist her in making sure she was taking care of herself and not throwing herself into harm's way, ensuring she sticks with a plan we agree to for consistency. I cared about her deeply and had much compassion for her. I didn't believe she was thinking this through or thinking about the future. I really wanted to look at the long and short game with her, neither seemed appealing to me if we progressed but here we are. Things are not going to be easier. She will still have to face her problems and deal with me on a regular basis for the rest of our lives no matter what happens. She can believe her lawyer when they promise she'll get the moon and stars out of this in the end but they only see half of the story. Above all they want our money. It would have been good for her to face me in person and tell me she wanted to divorce and we could have started talking about it with a counselor to figure out how that could even work. Instead she chose to avoid as much responsibility for her actions as possible by doing everything in my absence as if I am not a real person. I had to find out about it from our insurance company and was last to know.

Immediately after I hear the word divorce I looked into her cell usage history and find she has a new military boyfriend that she talks to 20-30 times a day. She felt she owed me no explanation for this and it was none of my business. A mature person would have let me know about this months before and I would have seen it coming but there was no sign until it was seemingly too late. She strayed down a dark path and never turned back.

Her proposed parenting plan was cruel and had no thought put into it. Two hours a week with supervision, no holidays but father's day? She said she’s not trying to keep me from the kids but this is the exact opposite of what she’s saying with the paperwork she filed. She seems very mixed up and still you continues to make rash and sudden choices. Like a completely bogus restraining order against me that contradicts so many facts she has stated herself on record during my Navy retention process. She was so bold as to want to change her identity and even put it in ink on the divorce paperwork as well to a whole new name. That is not the actions of a stable person. She has since changed her mind again on that just as quickly as everything else in her recent life choices. I can't trust that any decisions she is making right now are for the right reasons or that she is of sound mind. I have never seen her so conflicted and confused, grasping at straws and running scared from herself.

Using the legal system so carelessly and going back and forth makes me feel like she is not ready to be making big choices and changes for her and our family. It is very unfair that she can’t consider my feelings on things and what I wish for the boys as well. Very reckless behavior. She can’t anticipate that the day would come where she has to face me and talk to me like an adult. She wants to hide behind the legal system which only leaves much to be unresolved. Ghosting me is not really an option in a marriage of 13 years with children.

Having relationship conversations is too difficult for her at this time and she would rather avoid it and skip to divorce because she thinks that will somehow be easier. I suspect she knows she is making poor choices, possibly out of fear and lust for something new and less painful than the reality of things right now. Our marriage was nowhere close to divorce when I left. She was sad to see me leave and woke with me at 3:30 am to say goodbye, making me coffee and cookies for me to take with.

Our community and accountability seems to be gone due to the continued trend of isolation that she is drawn to. The God fearing loving committed wife I thought I had is gone or trapped inside a terrified shell of herself. She cut me off from her family members and I can't discuss my concerns about her with them either. She only seems to have community with those who are not going to discourage her from these destructive choices.

I understand we have had issues and struggles but we are no worse off than other couples during challenging times. I think that because we loved each other so much it just hurt more when things got hard. I can't accept or believe this is justified or the right choice based on the positive trend we were on before I left. This was the longest break we have ever had from each other and I think she just needed someone to be there more for her, no matter who it was. Time can heal all wounds and I hope that is true for our relationship as co-parents.

She still refuses to tell me about why she wanted a divorce or talk about anything beyond caring for the kids. I have fought the restraining and I can see my boys again but I am still not allowed to my home without her permission.

I have risen from the ashes in just a couple months. I rent a room from a nice couple from our old church and obtained a good paying job while I continue paying the household bills.

This is a really hard time, this difficult spell could have been a tool to better our relationship. I wanted to experience more beautiful memories with her. We had so many more beautiful memories and dreams left to create. This is what marriage looks like to me now as I lower the casket.
This is a timeline of the major events during my 13 year marriage. Amidst the reality, I injected all the lovely memories that refuse to leave my mind.
Weird I know
but as I sit or stand and watch my beard grow
it seems to tell me of my days spent in an alcoholic haze or drug fueled cruise down motorways without an end,
yet through all this,my beard has kissed my face as if I,the Angel, was just another case of ,
Mistaken Identity ,and the beard becomes me, like it's using LSD and has a mind not of its own,but oh my,
how my beard has grown
as I have too
and all I have to do is reconcile this beard that stares at me through the mirror,I can see it's not an easy task,
but I ask in all humility is should I shave it off or wait and see and let it grow and If I do will the beard I see become the man that's me or something more?

I watch the shadow,seven o-clock, there's a knock upon the bathroom door and then it fades away along another motorway and LSD has got the best of me again.
Drugs are no longer the 'Hip' thing to do and as I am so hip and have an arthritic hip I don't do them anymore.don't you do them either.
Austin Bauer Aug 2016
I'm growing my beard now,
And there are certain friends
I surround myself with when I need
Beardly encouragement.

You see, like life,
My beard can be patchy,
Scratchy, ugly, and sometimes
A pain in the ***.

But, I have learned to
Surround myself with those
Who love a good beard
Just as much as I do.

Each year, when summer dies,
I seek their counsel and
Encouragement, my reason
To go on.

When I stare into the mirror
In shear despair,
Wondering if it is worth it,
I remember their kind words.

Whether their compliments
Are true or not,
They give me the courage
To keep growing.
A poem about those good influences in your life that help you see the best.
your beard doth have

a villainous nature I think

one that would for want of mischief

whisper uncertainties

into a grieving ear

as such would cause

a flailing of tongues

and extract dire extremities

from a grief stricken father

who through an acid mist of tears

would summon a pale horse

to seek a blank claim for revenge

that would magnify

existing greif a thousand fold

such is the nature of your

villainous beard

begone I say from

this house of sorrow

or it shall be you

who in a box shall lay

without grief to borrow

you villainous beard

begone I say
1
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

2
Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with
perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the
distillation, it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and
vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing
of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and
dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,

The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of
the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields
and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising
from bed and meeting the sun.

Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the
earth much?
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of
all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions
of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look
through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in
books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

3
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the
beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.

Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and
increase, always ***,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of
life.
To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well
entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not
my soul.

Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they
discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.

Welcome is every ***** and attribute of me, and of any man hearty
and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be
less familiar than the rest.

I am satisfied - I see, dance, laugh, sing;
As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the
night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy
tread,
Leaving me baskets cover’d with white towels swelling the house with
their plenty,
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my
eyes,
That they turn from gazing after and down the road,
And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,
Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is
ahead?

4
Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and
city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old
and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss
or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news,
the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is *****, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with
linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

5
I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to
you,
And you must not be abased to the other.

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not
even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,
How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn’d over
upon me,
And parted the shirt from my *****-bone, and plunged your tongue
to my bare-stript heart,
And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my
feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass
all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women
my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap’d stones, elder, mullein and
poke-****.

6
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more
than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green
stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see
and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the
vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I
receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the ******* of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out
of their mothers’ laps,
And here you are the mothers’ laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for
nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and
women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken
soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

7
Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know
it.

I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash’d babe, and
am not contain’d between my hat and boots,
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good,
The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and
fathomless as myself,
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
For me those that have been boys and that love women,
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted,
For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the
mothers of mothers,
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
For me children and the begetters of children.

Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be
shaken away.

8
The little one sleeps in its cradle,
I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies
with my hand.

The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill,
I peeringly view them from the top.

The suicide sprawls on the ****** floor of the bedroom,
I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol
has fallen.

The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of
the promenaders,
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the
clank of the shod horses on the granite floor,
The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-*****,
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous’d mobs,
The flap of the curtain’d litter, a sick man inside borne to the
hospital,
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall,
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his
passage to the centre of the crowd,
The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes,
What groans of over-fed or half-starv’d who fall sunstruck or in
fits,
What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and
give birth to babes,
What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls
restrain’d by decorum,
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances,
rejections with convex lips,
I mind them or the show or resonance of them-I come and I depart.

9
The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready,
The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon,
The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged,
The armfuls are pack’d to the sagging mow.

I am there, I help, I came stretch’d atop of the load,
I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other,
I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy,
And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.

10
Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,
Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee,
In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night,
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-****’d game,
Falling asleep on the gather’d leaves with my dog and gun by my
side.

The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails, she cuts the sparkle
and scud,
My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from
the deck.

The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me,
I tuck’d my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time;
You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle.

I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west,
the bride was a red girl,
Her father and his friends sat near cross-legged and dumbly smoking,
they had moccasins to their feet and large thick blankets
hanging from their shoulders,
On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his
luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck, he held his bride
by the hand,
She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight locks
descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach’d to her
feet.

The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside,
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and
weak,
And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,
And brought water and fill’d a tub for his sweated body and bruis’d
feet,
And gave him a room that enter’d from my own, and gave him some
coarse clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,
And remember putting piasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass’d north,
I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean’d in the corner.

11
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.

Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth
bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their
long hair,
Little streams pass’d all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies,
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the
sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending
arch,
They do not think whom they ***** with spray.

12
The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or sharpens his knife
at the stall in the market,
I loiter enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and break-down.

Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil,
Each has his main-sledge, they are all out, there is a great heat in
the fire.

From the cinder-strew’d threshold I follow their movements,
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms,
Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand so sure,
They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.

13
The ***** holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags
underneath on its tied-over chain,
The ***** that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and
tall he stands pois’d on one leg on the string-piece,
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over
his hip-band,
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat
away from his forehead,
The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of
his polish’d and perfect limbs.

I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop
there,
I go with the team also.

In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as
forward sluing,
To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing,
Absorbing all to myself and for this song.

Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade, what
is that you express in your eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.

My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and
day-long ramble,
They rise together, they slowly circle around.

I believe in those wing’d purposes,
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,
And consider green and violet and the tufted crown i
Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
working "backwards" from something already
started in: collateral and the chicken scratching exercise...

how can you not have a hard-on
for mel gibson's beard...
in... the professor and the madman -
detailing the... etymological events
surrounding something more dear to me...
than the pslams of king david
or the: wisdoms of king solomon...
the wisdom: thus derived...
after a man becomes: ostensibly...
bored with a harem...
that would become the blueprint
of envy for future men of the world...

alexander the great...
muhammad...
           it's not a bible... it's a...
dic-tio-nary... stop the press...
pluck all the feathers from all the magpies
in the land... tell Xerxes to stop
whistling at the sea and...
can we just stop with the b.d.s.m.
of the waves?

        head: rotondo! spin ****** spin!
anything in the "pejorative"...
god... this moloch of grammar of a deity...
we need to ensure there's a scrutiny
of each and every, yes: every word...
we need to sieve them through
the categories!

i put to mind:
     it's a comparison of catchphrases...
the war hogs cite it as:
collateral damage...
the civilian will rummage and pluck out:
the... "rhetorical question"...
can... you... put... rhetoric: to a question?
can a rhetorical question:
actually exist... like a unicorn can?
oh wait... kangaroo yes...
a platypus... oh a double yes...

can you... can you... "rhetorical question"?
what the hell is a rhetorical question:
if not, something akin to a fashion statement...
of the calibre: a short-black-'un...
a coco chanel mini-skirt...

what is... a rhetorical question?
a question is, i hope...
something that manages to endorse
the dialectic...
and anyone who engages with a dialectic
will / or should know:
there's no rhetorical question...
when being asked:
one doesn't... "somehow"...
find a magic plot of a forest with smurfs...
and goes off on a tangent speaking...
persuasively...
a rhetoric question isn't a question
at all...

        collateral damage among the war hogs
is a rhetorical question among the civilians...

the story of professor james murray
and dr. william minor...
and to think... the alienists (psychiatrists)
at the time thought that...
enforced regurgitation...
could animate the body to conjure up
an already exhausted soul...
what ancient romans did for masochistic pleasure:
bulimia in the rudiment of:
a fork of fingers agitating the throat
and subsequently the oesophagus
to: bring back... what was already in fractions...

some call it soul, some call it x... y...
that... indispensable will: for animation...
to perform the 80 year old (in total) magic trick
of being: immune...
to the ills and forgivings of others...
a standard praise of solipsism...
as a thought-experiment... nothing more...
from which one can...
come and go as freely as one can vote
in a democracy...

come when summoned... leave when...
not made into any greater necessity other than:
to make fair of the count...

truly: a hard-on for mel gibson's beard...
some can claim ***** envy...
i have beard envy...
like to-hat envy when someone is 5'11"
and i'm still the same old 6'2"...

rhetorical question... i always found questions
to be... of a... dialectical nature...
i can hardly think of a rhetorical question
or rhetorical answer...
a rhetorical question implies:
the questioner has more to say...
than the person intended to answer...
i can hardly anyone burn through oration
when being posed a question...
a question: per se... is not something one
can be certain about: esp. when giving a reply...

a rhetorical question is a k.f.c. mouse urban
myth... a bit like collateral damage:
did we destroy a bullet making factory?
no... but we killed some civilians...
or some sort of entreating variation of worshipping
the drugging and bullet dodging machinery
of: cold the bullet bit...

how can you pose a rhetorical question?
is someone about to make a rhetorical answer?
robots would behave within rhetorical confines
of being asked an absolute:
error message - replying with an absolute yes / no...

a rhetorical question would beg
for a ore rotundo: with a voice filled with assurance...
the question is imposed...
with a curiosity... at best: with doubt...
uncertainty... at worst: with a negation:
waiting for the wrong answer...
but no dialectic is ever to be established
working from a rhetorical question...
a socrates would be:
the dialectical surgeon...
the affair of the question doesn't go beyond...
whoever is questioning:

oh!           oh!
a rhetorical question is... not for someone
to address the question...
but a pursuit of the questioner to continue asking
question...
a rhetorical question is... to further the lineage
of questions... to be therefore "rhetorical"
is to inquire more... rather than reply with
a rhetorical certainty...
a rhetorical question isn't a question...
it's a cascade of questions...

******* and the myth of the gateway...
after **** i did the next best thing...
i rediscovered bourbon as ms. amber...
that once you watch just a little bit of it...
you will turn toward finding out more graphic
content...
so... me looking out for the most *******
music: combichrist... :wumpscut,
vomito *****...
                  *****... graphic... *******?
or... gloryhole ***** *******...
               or pregnant women: so *****...
       or japanese gravure models...
"problem" with japanese models...
              *** bots? aren't they here already...
with these porcelain mannequins?
touch a hand it breaks or fizzles into...
ash...
  as happens when you've been at "it"...
puritanical victorian von krafft-ebbing...
i sometimes know what the ******* is for...
i hardly think it necessary to listen to what's
"moral" from circumcised... gentile...
north-h'americans...
                    jerking off since aged 8...
brain rot started way back... in 1994...
which is before the internet...
   gateway... my ***...
         japanese gravure and Agnolo Bronzino...

who needs "more"... when you have a mel gibson
beard-envy!

the chair can remain a chair...
but there's a termite colony wriggling in it...
i don't need to see it...
i just need to hear it...
combichrist: like to thank my buddies,
    today i woke to the rain of blood...
                   all pain is gone...
       cheap thrill seeing heaven:
better tamed - attempting to listen to the litanies
escaping hell...
a written word in hell is like...
     because the hands are being crushed
in monkey-wrenches and there's Spinoza
cackling...

   who needs more ******* and ride-me-timmy
the horses' laugh when music can
compensate... and otherwise find the better
kind of: the feeding outlet...

a rhetorical question: is that for the answer to
be tinged with rhetorical gravitas?
no... then every question socrates every posed
what a rhetorical question:
and the concern for dialectics is a dummy...
which is probably true: reading what sort
of answers those put under the scrutiny give:
is response...

i must be wrong: a rhetorical question:
is not simply a question...
a rhetorical question could perhaps give
the person answering a spark of rhetoric...
a rhetorical question should:
by default... provide you with a rhetorical
answer... but all it does is...
further a second question...
and a third... a fourth...
    so more for the "famous" dialectic...
when all that seems to happen...
one only becomes a rhetorician: via question...
rather than merely: talking...

the rhetorical question is therefore
the basis of "dialectics": which is no basis for
dialectics per se...
it's the persuaded question-prone antagonist:
who is hardly the narrator...
and the answer is always the same:
shut up! i'm talking over you...
i'll just disguise this whole affair in a question
and minor answer cited: a perfectly well
equipped yes: or no... will suffice:
or a nod of approval worded...
                  socrates the bane of sophists
and rhetoricians...
a subtle project... you are not interrupted...
when to stress an invocation
of fake curiosity: by asking a question...
the sort of question...
a rhetorical question... that will not usurp
your original: intent monologue of sophistry...

an echo is all the rave when it comes
to a rhetorical question...
a rhetorical question feeds of: yes / no answers...
and there i was thinking that a rhetorical
question implies:
whoever answers... will break into
a rhetorical answer... verbatim the quran
akin to a hafiz! nope...
a rhetorical question is a punctuation mark:
one hopes... of what a rhetorician would usually do...
when having a voice in the congregation
of docile elders...

socrates: the elder... found an audience
among the athenian young... because?
        he stressed that rhetoric had to have overtones
of questioning: without really questioning...
what sort of "dialectic" is there to be had:
what: dialogue...
when... the dialogue leaves one side with
a narrator and protagonist semblance?
and the characters: ergo? are nothing but nail-heads
for the hammer to plough through?!

oddly enough... Plato ****** off Socrates so
hard... that Socrates became...
the first non-hasidi...
to be circumcised... by pursed lips...
yep... Plato ****** off Socrates' *******:
right off... thinking the phallus...
was in the no-man's land of comparsion
to a chicken drum-stick!
antagonism: of how favourable the "dialogues"
are cited...
i've had a similar experience...
i really don't know what this... "e-prostitution"
is about...
before the internet... i am probably one of
the last few who blushed when buying a magazine
at the newsagent with all them *******...
and: curated ***** hairs:
less of a chin and more...
the pelvic "hubris" / canvas...

                 brothel: tick...
strip-club: tick...
              what's given everyone a hot-cross bun
shivers...
          "never paid"... but otherwise paid:
for the insinuation...
and the insinuation was: a date...
look at it as... no ******* dysfunction...
and no money for a date...
straight back into the salt mines
and trench digging... no time for honey:
oh boobie and frankly my dear:
i don't drown herrings...

       a rhetorical question is also a compound-misnomer...
yep... the idea of a rhetorical-question
is a compound-misnomer:

take me on a chain to the goblet...
pay the extra to rid the matter:
seven tongues instead of one...
gorging on the inquiry of Gomorrah...
to better couplet to the banquet of *****!
that ***** treat us Gomorrah civically dutied:
as worse than rats and shadows...
and the plebs just entertain...
       what would ever come from
the mouth of ***** as:
       prized bulls of drag-queen story-hour...
shame those without foreskins...
comparison...
a o.k. to be gay...
                what's date-night?
is that... something -esque having coupled
a mahjong with a niqab?!
why don't all the muslim women take
the best route... join the surgeon mask-equipped
crowds... and no... simple forget the hijab...
donning the full niqab?!
why?!

who needs seeking more depraved *****
beside... Bronzino and japanese gravure models...
and all that elasticity of:
electricity passing through an iron maiden
via... combichrist: sent to destroy...
hardly "destroy": cultivate...
recycle... call the parasites into hubris *******
haitus...

also "in response" to: the kinks and the...
"celibate" priesthood...
        because: you know, the kinks and all that:
******* music and fine detaiks of:
when the butcher will be cited...
looking at a slab of meat...
and calling a harem of pigs...
that floral... pinky tidbit "in the middle":
avert your eyes:
how god's finger touched adam's...
and via what...

it doesn't come more ******* than...
drinking lukewarm whiskey...
that i can stand...
but if anyone's drinking ***** not suberged
into gomme syrop consistency...
there's: should we say...
a... "spot of bother"...

              i wouldn't mind...
that bourbon as a quiet distinct perfume
associated with brothels...
and it's just that...
          but... e-prostitution: for the "tease"?
the wrath of adam:
sort of ******* in between:
when the ****** brigade comes along
and stops at thge madonna-***** complex?
i'm scratching my head:
either i'm thinking of a ? or my i.q.
one internet sight should be in existance...
dedicated... to the unabashed puritanism
of dogs licking their genitals...
because: a priori: who would have "known"...

and also to chronicle the sights and wonders
of... KMFDM stand-out tracks...
but a sight levereging "*****" of...
dogs teasing testicles with "prudence"
of a... the fastest waggle in all of: "arizona"...
chant!
chant! F.S.A. - which makes it more and less:
"united"
   the federal states of h'america...
     number 1 subscriber...
albert razin...
    is this... is this... what "integration" looks like?
like hell i'll give up what's
festering knee-deep at the rim...
i'll talk english just fine with
the natives... but when the natives:
tell me that:
true integration is a complete whitewash
of your "former" identity: you
integrate by "forgetting" your mother tongue...
i have... this juggernaut... craze-fit in
my eyes...
   then, why, don't, you, send, me,
a, postcard, from france: IN FWENCH!
this global mantra of: english solves everything...
not unless you're of a Dutch or
Scandinavian origin...
you have already learned this...
"lingua franca": this l'inglese...
lucky for the WELSH! who are you...
you anglo-saxon globalist mongrel?!
where is your anglo- counterfeit bypasser...
UND... wohin ist ihr Sachsen?
and where is your saxony: saxon?
have i an axe to better grind?
           jude-nomade-mischling!
you're no better than your claim!
ficken-jude-sächsisch-anglo-anlage-gehenvolk...
all this: for the insomnia parade?!
24 / 7 news reels?!
         alles diese... für was?!

if they only spoke two languages...
perhaps... less retards spreading the "crown":
licking ice-cream tubs...
open / the end... closed: also the end...
verzögernzüchtung...
          ******-breeding...
        ­                i have to admit... it sounds as crisp as:
gin
                                   &                        tonic...
and lapses into epilepsy...
because the "hierarchy" says: such words...
such words: no no: with a BIG no-no
when used...

                here too, i... will ****...
on every prematurely demented kin of moi...
because... the hierarchy of termites and of ants...
dictates so... while the congregation of:
man and ape... isn't sure... what animal is worth
borrowing a metaphor from!
to... "progress"...
like little **** and please staging all that
copernican ******* ever did...
the surgical masks...
shot dead in the Philippines
for not wearing one... "stigma" and the niqab...
at least the cherries on these cream-pies...
could at least turn proper ortho-and-doxing...
with a niqab...
pwetty pwease...  

all the airs and graces...
some nut would have made it this far...
Kierkegaard as proof...
"you don't think before you speak":
i rather, i much rather entertain
the freedom to think... and extend this freedom
into writing...
before i have to eat my own *****
when having to place editorial pressures
on having made video content...
i much prefer the ignoble citation:
and the devil has had these hands busy-bodied...
and all the blessings to the devil for that...
because...
is there such a concept as:
an idle tongue?

               i don't know:
i would like to, though...
live a month's worth of living...
on a salary of a... h'american...
             preacher...
under communism:
no brain-drain...
not best of the best will ever rise...
but at the same time...
so too will not the mediocre...
i thought it could be cited at:
the meek shall inherit the earth...
   talk about a disparity between
the meek and the mediocre...

if only i was the "correct" pronoun
to want: but i do...
have the capacity and enough excuses...
to start donning...
corsets and... high-heel shoes...
then again: if i joined the army...
nothing stand-out...
not uniforms to stand out within
a caste system... uniforms for
the napoleonic era... and that noting me as...
quick-off-the-mark...
suregon of the needle... and quiffs...
until the wehrmacht period...

  ha! the poles on horseback: "once upon a time"
looked bewildering...
the charge of the Krojanty...
well... horses do not seem that bad...
the poles on horses...
when back west...
you had the Dutch... on bicycles...
oh sure... the horse was somehow the "joke"...
but the bicycle was...
   like the pope appeasing the fuhrer...
and "they" would wonder:
        who's who....
the bicycle is gone...
who's who on the left-over peddlestool?!
postman pat proof:
  i think i oops... forgot to detail
the whole idea and economy with...
licking something... beside...
   that quick-and-made-essential:
              amnesia rubric count... which was?

yep... the poles on horseback look
and will forever look more ridiculous...
than... the dutch defence...
on... ha ha! bicycles!

read my proof: am i... "integrated"
is my: english not a word salad:
the scrutiny will come from someone sobering
up from an irish heritage...
is there a niqab or a bindi or a turban on me?
is my language still a word salad?
am i, integrated... "enough"...
not enough i dare say...

       well... about time these natives
learn some postcard and tourisms' worth
of second lingo... italian would be just fine...
since... they are still... hung up on being
so pround of being the afghanistan of the roman
empire...
          and... where is afghanistan when is comes
to... the house of saud and arabia?
i'd grovel... for that kind of goat herders...
and... pashtun poetics!
   queen of the floral: no **** mind to spare...
and if only this wasn't...
rummaging in essex...
more for the cause! new york!
n'aaaaaah...
                
                        i speak for the devil i speak
in about 12... with variations of invocation...
but this is not god speaking...
i am... not a monolingual pre-nomad arab taste...
sitting on a coal-**** turning liquid into
oil: "all of a sudden"...
Alexcandra Jun 2012
Two thousand and ten,
that's when I noticed my heart beat for you.

Two thousand and ten,
I thought I was crazy to even look at you.

I've been here for you,
I've cried with you,
I've admitted I wanted to die to you.
I've also left you passed out drunk of the floor, just so I wouldn't kiss you.

Two thousand and eleven,
suicide strikes and you disappear.
It's ******* me too,
I'm always here for you.
Let me cry with you,
I always say how I'd rescue you.

Two thousand and twelve,
I admit my love for you,
you love me too?
I'm not a real girl to you.

You said you always wanted to know,
so go, kiss me.
You made my heart skip a beat.
You make me nervous,
you make me look twice after we kiss.

Your beard scratched my neck,
you make my eyes roll back,
with a simple press of your perfect lips.
And, those finger tips,
tracing me, learning me, finally touching me.

Two thousand and twelve,
if you leave now I have no where to go.
I'm starting to feel low,
nothing that good could be so wrong.
Maybe some clarity will bring us to where we belong.
Max Watt Apr 2014
I’ll only say this once, and once a ******* lone.
There’s a problem to address, and yes, there’s a reason for my tone.
You’ve been prancing around me blissfully, and in a few seconds’ time,
you’ll think of someplace else wishfully. Once I say. Just once.
It’s certainly not fair when I’m the one removing the hair from that hole.
I’m a sick ******* but I have no lust for disgust.
After my mind is perused, I’m angry and confused. The possibility
dawns on me that it could well be your *****.
Or the gel ridden, straw-like hair on your head.
That image fills me with a different kind of dread.
With this in mind, I’ll be shuddering with repulsion,
Trapped later in life with memories of physically indulging
my hand your slimy Barnet. Believe me, that’s not normal hair,
so don’t start telling me to calm it.
Or no…perhaps…

It’s sent my mind searing, it’s ever so weird
to, for one moment, consider that you have the ability of growing a beard.
You’re baby-faced, commonplace, and don’t have a thought worth hearing.
You’re still a child, a mental ******, and to top it off, a beard is now appearing.
Well that’s great. Another thing I have to deal with.
Can you not take care of your own affairs?
If I were you I’d encase all the little hairs
in a purse of some kind, so you’ll always pay mind
to the fact that you now look like a man
despite being a ****. Miraculous. I must say, I’m a fan.
Well I guess now it doesn’t even matter,
your face is bare and the bath tub is spattered. I’m shattered.
This isn’t how I pictured my early years, wasting furious tears over beards.
If only early on I had been told, that eventually I would end up
staring in outrage daily at your beard in the plughole.
There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who sat on a horse when he reared;
But they said, "Never mind!
You will fall off behind,
You propitious Old Man with a beard!"
Kendall Mallon Feb 2013
A man sat upon a pub stool stroking his
ginger beard while grasping a pint with his
other hand; an elderly gent sat down next to
him; this older man saw the ginger bearded
fellow’s pint was quite ne’r the bottom

A woman with eyes of amber and hair like
chestnut strolled through a vineyard amongst
the ripening grapes full of juice soon to become
wine she clutched a notebook—behind black
covers lay ideas and sketches on how to bring
the world to a more natural state; balancing
the wonders and benefits of technology with
the beauty and sanctity of the natural world

When the ginger bearded man finished
the last bit of his pint another appeared
before him—courtesy of the old man,
“Notice you got the mark of a man accustom
to the seas,” said the old man gesturing to
the black and blue compass rose inscribed
in a ship’s helm, imbedded into the back
of the ginger bearded man’s right hand.

“I have crewed and skippered a many fine
vessel, but I am giving up the sea. I have
one last voyage left in me—to my home.”

“Aye the sea can be cold and harsh,
but she captures me heart. To where
are ye headed for home, there son?”

“’tis not a where, ‘tis a who. Sets of events
have lead to separate from me my wife. I
have been traveling for  five years waiting
to be in her embrace. The force of the sea,
she, is a cruel one for at every tack, or gybe
I am thrown off my course to stranger and
stranger lands… I have gone to the rotunda
of hell and the gates of the so called heaven.
I have struck deals, and  made bets only a
gambling addict would accept. All to just be
with her. I am homesick—she is my home; it
doesn’t matter where—physically—we are
my home is with her. I was told to come to the
clove of Cork and wait, wait for a man, but I
was not told anything about this man only that
I must return him this,” the ginger bearded man
held out a silver pocket watch with a frigate
engraved on the front and two roses sharing a
stem swirling on the back upon themselves.

“Can it be? ‘tis my watch t’at me fat’er gave
me before he died… I lost t’is at sea many a
year ago; it left me heartbroken. For ‘twas me
only lasting memory of him… Come to t’ink
I was told by a beggar in the streets, I do not
remember how long ago, but it has been many
a years, t’at I would meet a man with something
very dear to me, and I would take this man on
a journey, and this man would have the mark
of a sailor. What is ye name? Can it be…?”

“My name is Lysseus dear old man—it seems
the Sea is holding up her bargain—though a
little late... do you have a ship that can fair to
Rome? All across this land, none a skipper will
uptake my plea; they fear the wrath of the sea.
If they have no fear, they claim my home ‘is not
on their routes…’ ‘tis a line I’ve heard too often;
I would purchase a boat, but the sea, she, has
robbed me identity and equity; I’m at her mercy.”

Penny with her rich chestnut hair sat on a fountain
in a piazza—her half empty heart longing to feel
the presence of the Lysseus and stroke his ginger
beard… everyday she would look out at the sea;
where she saw him leave port—five long years ago…

All said she should give up; that he
was dead by now—his ship (what
was left) was found amidst the rocks
of Cape Horn, but she knew there was
hope, she should feel deep inside her
soul he is alive somewhere fighting to
return home. Never would she leave;
never would she abandon her post.
She made that promise five years ago
as he set out on his ‘last’ sail off shore.
And she would be ****** before she
broke her promise—a promise of the
heart; a promise of love. He said, “You
are my lighthouse; your love will guide
me home—keep me from danger. As
long as you remain my lighthouse I will
forever be able to return home—to you.”

Off from Crosshaven the old man took
steadfast Lysseus en route to his home.
Grey Irish skies turned blue as they made
their way out on the Celtic Sea, southeast,
to the Straight of Gibraltar; gentle cold
spray moistened his ginger beard, his
tattooed hands grasped the helm—his
resolute stare kept the two on course.

It was a shame to the old man that this
would be Lysseus’ final voyage—he was
the best crew the man had known; he
was  not sure if it was just the character
of the  fellow or his personal desire to
return  home after five long, salty-cold,
years being a slave to the sea and her
changing whim—never had he seen his
ship sail as fast as he did when Lysseus
was his crew—each sail trimmed perfectly,
easing  the sheets fractions of an inch to
gain just the slightest gain in speed; the
sight warmed the heart of the old man.

The old man mused: maybe this is the
reason the sea has fought so hard and
lied to keep Lysseus from returning
home… she could not bear to lose such
fine a sailor from her expanses—she
is known to be a jealous mistress…

The old man, as he smoked his pipe, sat on
the back pulpit staring at Lysseus’ passion
to return home, as he calls her. But for all
his will and passion the, old man had to
insist for the fellow to rest; otherwise he
would go mad without sleep; reluctantly he
would retire below deck, but the old man
doubted the amount of rest he actually
acquired in those moments out of his sight.

The seas were calm as open water can be,
rolling swells rocked and pushed the vessel
forward. The Straight of Gibraltar opened
up on the horizon like a threshold—a major
land mark for the Lysseus; he was closer to
home than he had been in five long, salty,
years. His limbo was starting to fade, his
heart slowly—for the first time since he left
port—was beginning to feel whole again.
The Mediterranean Sea—his final sea—he
would not miss the gleam of his lighthouse…

The closer they sailed to Rome, he could sense a
change in the water, a change in the weather; clouds
grew darker and bellowed like gluttonous bulbs. As
he feared, the Sea was breaking her promise—she
was not done with him yet. She could not let him
return home—the jealous temptress who has ruined
many a fine men—the least honest of all the elements.

“I see she ain’t done wit’ ye yet,” said
the old man. Surveying the dark, grey,
clouded noon-day sky from the bow pulpit.

“Nothing will keep me from reaching home; even if I
have to swim the final nautical miles. I will not let the
Sea break her deal; I will make her keep at least one of
her deals. My love is stronger than her forces. That I
know for certain. That I know beyond doubt.” Such
cried Lysseus out to the darkening sea and old man.

As if on cue—waiting for Lysseus to finish
his soliloquy—the clouds let out a deafening
cacophony of thunder cracks rolling through
the heavens towards their vessel. Lighting
grounded on the horizon around them creating
a cage of light and electricity. The gentle rolling
swells grew in stature with every cracking
second. The bow smacked and dove into on
coming waves; drenching both Lysseus and
the old man; with each flood of water over
the deck. The swells grew to such heights the
horizon transformed into dark clouds and
white peaked waves merging with the sky.

A wave crashed over the windward side of
the ship, the force of it cracked the base at
which the compass stood fastened to the deck
of the cockpit a larger wave hit abeam further
loosening the compass from its purchase; with
the angle of the ship and the rise and fall in the
waves it was all Lysseus could to do hold on
and watch the Sea slowly take the ship’s
navigation instrument into Her dark cold depths…

“Oh why do you curse me you foul tempest?
Cannot you see all I desire is to return to my
home!? I have done all you asked; I have
played all your games and won! now it is my
turn now—time for you to play by my rules!”
Lysseuc beckoned the old man to seek refuge
below deck—he would sail them through the
storm, and assured him the ship would reach
port afloat; for, “I can feel my lighthouse in
the distance; do you hear me Sea? You can
take away our mariner’s compass, but you
cannot take away the compass in my heart;
and the light of my home on shore. Five long
years ago she made a promise to me to be
my lighthouse—to guide me home no matter
what—regardless what you do, Sea, you can
never break her promise—only your, promises.”

As a lighthouse she stood through the weather
of the night—risking pneumonia, for Penny’s
heart told her she could never abandon her
promise as the waters fell flat and the sun peaked
through the storm clouds, a silhouette stretched
in the sunrise light, pointing to her feet. Upon the
bow Lysseus stood, his eyes fixed at the dock
where his lighthouse stood, fixed. Upon the dock
he jumped into the warm, loving, arms of his
home both of their hearts became whole again.
In my head, this is the beginning of a longer epic, which I still have yet to write. Would any of you who read this like to have more to the story; or do you like it as it is?
suppose
Life is an old man carrying flowers on his head.

young death sits in a café
smiling,a piece of money held between
his thumb and first finger

(i say “will he buy flowers” to you
and “Death is young
life wears velour trousers
life totters,life has a beard” i

say to you who are silent.—”Do you see
Life?he is there and here,
or that, or this
or nothing or an old man 3 thirds
asleep,on his head
flowers,always crying
to nobody something about les
roses les bluets
                    yes,
                              will He buy?
Les belles bottes—oh hear
,pas chères”)

and my love slowly answered I think so.  But
I think I see someone else

there is a lady,whose name is Afterwards
she is sitting beside young death,is slender;
likes flowers.
Today I took a stroll.
I found a dusty beard and I knew it would suit my face.
Now this beard I cannot erase.
News gribble.
When I sleep, on my beard I dribble.

Some days I wish my beard would melt away.
But usually, I accept that on my face the beard will stay.
Quirt on the squirt. Squirt it off.
That's all it took. Now it's gone. Oh floff my toff!
Now I am nothing but a beardless face.
Mateuš Conrad Aug 2018
daj, do wynagrodzenia: reszty.
daj: to niby: siebie;
a... dam... dam...
ale pierw: powiem:             to!
(ich) nicht werden
                  geben (ihr) das nacht!
first... i'll punch myself
hard enough to give myself
a plum-eye: ******* pacifists...
and then?
    then i'll strap a trouser belt
to protect my knuckles...
and then... then...
                    then: we'll "talk":
who might find a translator
ready...
   god...
i'm gagging for a
knuckle exchange...
        almost... itching!
like i might await
a shaving... from a Turkish
barber... in Essex...
of all Danish palaces;
and why would i want to allow
consort with these women?
considering the fact that
the russian ones believe in trans-national
grievance taxation:
of someone... who hasn't...
actually died...
              you know what?
*******...
suffer...
       watch me wipe my ***
with a satanic smile
ennobled
by a coulrophobia...
excesses of vogue
                      atypical models...
how is it... that...
coulrophobia doesn't translate
in reverse?
  and what's up
with the black privilege of
jass music, akin to white mozart...
as...  
  sure as ****, the drum would be
the first, and only thing,
prior to the people learning
the ******* clarinet!

oh drop me your ****** ***
holocaust dead bomb
on a polish ***...
     i triple, quadruple dare you!
you *******... ivory coast
   centipede!
               i'm *******...
as watts: wild-eyed...
       unstrap me from this
"unreality" of conversation...
then undo the internet banking...
and the rest of it...

             not adam watts!
    glitter & doom....
who?      tom waits...
oh **** me... blue valentine?
if that's not a **** with me
album... what is?
                 live circus?
        
do i look like a ******* ****-
(see the hyphen?
it's a prefix... the english are
lazy sometimes: couldn't,
i.e. could not,
remnants of shakespearean
english...

       i'll always cite macbeth...

  time, thou anticipat'st my dread
exploits: the flighty purpose never
is o'eertook, unless the deed go with it.
from this moment, the very firstlings
of my heart shall be
  the very firstlings of my heart.
   and even now, to crown my thoughts
with acts, be it thought and done.


it's hardly a racial slur, ergo...
why so ******* sensitive akin to a french
footballer or a ballerina?
   ****- (hyphen! hyphen!) ergo a prefix...
as already mention:
no, no...
   it's not: no iraqi ever called me a pa-ki
      (pákí)... yeah...
and you never called an afghanistani an
afghan, ever, no?
   pure camaraderie in that part of
the world... all the way... yeah yeah... yeah...
-stani (suffix) is sometimes missing
because... the english like to shorten words...
e.g. why is daniel: dan,
why is matthew: matt?
  why is muhammad: mo (farrah)?
                                    ******* pansies...
police your circumcised penises fiddling
english teenager girl, first,
come after my vocab. justifications: after;
savvy?

or a gypsy?
   by now...
     i'm looking like any
traveler...
and the world...
       forever resembled
a world,
  in the confines of
      a claustrophobia...

but... if there's a bigger concern for
a world...
  and a freedom...
i want a bare knuckle fight...
a black eye...
namely...
you bring  BOXING GLOVE...
and i'll bring...
     a LEATHER BELT...
wrapped around my knuckles,
and the wrist...
    like i might care to give
a second attempt to smile...

ah... the men... who care
about minding, if not in the least,
keeping women...
      bye bye, bye bye...
       and i've allowed myself
to know my grandfather...
as i did the slap in the face...
and...
the key question:
in the unfathomability of counting
the 32 / 4 ratio...
alas... one fist... one smile...

and countless... dentistry encounters...
because?
   because the rest?
the cultural artifacts of a today?
  lost to h'americana...
            as i might have wished...
for my prior genes
to make an autobiography
in **** germany...
  
   what?
  
      well... obviously: the oops.

no, for the crescendo...
you know...
           i'm getting this funny vibe...
gott ist tot... it's not really spectacular...
nietzsche really believed in eternity,
to the point where he pointed:
what does science offer, only old age...
what does religion provide? eternity...
oh nietzsche was big on eternity...
   gott ist tot is as unspectular as:
is it: how to do you pronounce x,
or is it: how do you pronunciate y?
debate:
              everyone says around here
the former... since no one wants to be a *****...
pro-nun-ci-ate (pro-nun-cíate)...
   might as well replenish the vocab. bank
and replace the word with:
how do you elocute z? / recite)....

gott ist tot / gott ist tod...
    "same ****, different cover"...
you know why i believe in god?
    not the christian reference points...
salvation blah blah, saviour and hide & seek blah blah...
n'ah... where would i derive all my vocab.
hunger if not from him?
   some men derive their vocab. from
women or gambling...
            i am not in the position of their
luxury... so god it is...

            primarily though?
               god is metaphysics...
             ergo? his judgement is not clouded
by metaphysical questioning...
it's impossible to receive a metaphysical
answer from a metaphysical question
when engaging with a metaphysical
ontological paraphrase of one's own search
for meaning in this mortal frame...

oh sure sure, my belief in god is as juvenille
as anyone else's belief in humanity's
clarity when it comes to jurisprudence
and its application...
    i've experience "jurisprudence" once...
drive-by phone theft...
me and three fwends...
   i catch the number plate...
i tell one of my fwends to note it down,
police station, report, culprit found,
a sit in at a barkingside police station
looking at mug images,
spot the ****** (it was dark when the mugging
took place, photographic memory, **** happens)...
a court session, australia is playing england
at the ashes (****, i missed it)...
in court the defence lawyer shows me
another picture of the culprit...
back then photogrpahs had dates
attached to them...
the photograph? over 4 years old...
i tell him: but this photograph is 4 years old!
how can i identify if this is the same
person: i, myself, will probably
don a beard in four years time!
      a simple slip-up...
        now that i have a beard:
it's so much more fun than growing your
hair long... i hated the nickname
chewbacca back in high school when i was
growing mine for a french braid...
i walk out of the court,
come to terms with the detective...
and i see the same hunger in him as i see in me...
will justice be served?
highly unlikely... since the victim
didn't recognize the *** in the mug-shots...
justice was probably not served...

   and this is how god plays into all of this,
hell or heaven, blah blah...
man created the figure of domina Iustitia
as blind... god created death to be blind...
justice was never supposed to be blind,
death was: the unfortunate deaths
of teenagers in car accidents,
among all the other freak accidents...

clouded with so many metaphysical questions
i don't appreciate man's ability to adhere
to jurisprudence without being
subjectively contaminated...
i have more belief in an "imaginary"
god than belief that strains me to belief
in man's sense of justice...
          the nuremberg trials are a rare exception...
but only when the culprits are
unabashed and fathomable by a collective
sense of pride... a blidness...
i believe in god, because i'd love to experience
the judgement of a post scriptum of
metaphysics...
  personally? i have been wronged...
heavily...
            i will not name names....
i know when and how i was wronged,
and by whom...
                2007... Canterbury...
      i won't name names: i'm not a rat...
man is too clouded with metaphysical questions
to begin with, god isn't,
he's a metaphysical ontology "bias"...
which is why, he is primarily a jurisprudent
answer...
   i'd love to experience divine jurisprudence,
hell or heaven are not of my concern...
and i don't imply divine jurisprudence
associated with the polytheistic take of
jurisprudence via a solipsistic mechanism
of a minor god and the person in question
without the hurt party...
in monotheism the god is solipsism personified...
these days: also the personna non grata...
so no... gott ist nicht tot...
            he's a personna non grata...
i just don't appreciate the human *******
of law, law governance...
   come on, in england you can receive
an a.s.b.o.s. for your cockerel being too loud
in the morning, your dog barking...
           would you trust man with
jurisprudence?
  a woman was cleared of the ******
of her husband
       when she hammered his head into a pancake:
over an abusive relationship...
police, weren't, "there"?!
sure sure... the hammer will do...
i believe in god without a sense of reward...
i just don't think man is capable of
passing justifiable laws...
no man could ever pass the eternal laws,
gravity... 100°C for the boiling of water...
i need a being  who has groundwork
in eternal laws, in unshakeable laws...
the ten commandments aren't:
you shall not...
   more... maybe, you shouldn't...
they are the most pristine jurisprudent
laws available... the: maybe you shouldn't,
eh, chappy?

       i just don't like playing the thesaurus game
on the more tight-knit game
of "passing" the wink-wink of Solomon's
judgement...
please, **** me please,
i'll eat 20 raw herrings in a cream sauce,
slurp 30 oysters,
eat 40 strawberries on a hangpverl
eat out about 50 harem virgins
like a castrato if you ask me, nicely,
**** camel cockey:
lucly i landed on a black gold slurp
with plenty of bangladeshi slaves:
******* of riyadh...
     what did muhammed tell you?
you camel jockeys / sand *******
have clearly forgotten...
******* arabs: short attention span...
you need to remind
the retards...
the dajjal would come from the east...
a palace of gardens...
well obviously the prophet wasn't
thinking about genghis khan...
            
  hmm barbarians...
vikings, arabs: yet so inclined to like poetics...
funny, that...
the civilized peoples banished
the poets...
            the ruling class and their cushioned
people: sacrosanct sycophants...
wankers, basically.

    the hajr? muhammad spoke of the dajjal
coming from the east,
and the east being a city of gardens...
where isn't riyadh and where is mecca?
isn't riyadh east of mecca?
was the dajjal to come from the outside
of islam, or from wtihin?
      last time i checked...
sh'ite islam isn't friendly to sunni islam...
if islam was the one true religion...
would have a shcism have occurred?
i don't think so...
   a persian would never bow before
an arab... that much os true...

oh i believe in god...
given how man practices jurisprudence...
is it some sort of, a, thesaurus game
i wasn't told about?
to me the human quest for jusctice is
a thesaurus game...
man is incapable to pass but one,
eternal, law...
he's great at nuanced laws...
laws allocated to sports...
i mean, **** me, cricket?
the best vocab. you'll ever pick up...

even god isn't as pertinent
in making the sort of music associated
with the limited alpha-to-beta
of A, B, C, D, E, F, and G...
wow! seven... seven?!
how many heads does the beast
of revelation have? oh... 7!

i'll stop tolerating islam, and start respecting it,
when it, acknowledges its presence
as a character study in the book of revelations...
then i'll just move on,
having made my point...

until that time comes...
    it's 600 years shy of becoming what
degenerate christianity has become,
oh and it's ripe...
it's gagging to implode!
600 years and wait for it to become
the next secular vasal conglomorate...

the warning muhammad gave
about "the best from the east"
was in point of question:
   a reference ti gneghis khan...
more like ibn saud:
  thst fat diabetic one eyed ogre...
and the legacy of decadence he left
behind...

saudi men with slavuc girlfriends,
buying up pink cushions and *******
chihuahuas...
**** after ****...
  you know the three slavic proverbs?
1. better a sparrow in your
hand, than a dove on your rooftop?
explanation?
better the small joys at-hand,
than impossible possibilities out of reach....
2. a drunk can spot east,
past mecca, whenever honing
the safety of his own bed... even at night...
not much of a proverb...
3. i don't care to rememeber...

once toleration comes into play,
i will, respect... just a waiting game...
i'm pretty sure no iranian will
bow down to a sunni camel jockey...
i like proud *******,
it implies: there are absolutes,
un-moveable goal posts...

                      if you are ever to bind yourself
in supporting a "side" outside a sports' dynamic,
always the outsider...
always the outsider... in this case?
the ****'ite islam brigade...
       the persians...
the sunnis can shove it...
   *****, bones, whatever....

                   ****'ite islam i can
fathom, even respect,
sunni islam i just tolerate...
  as much as iran takes claims for the
big satan in ref. to h'america...
well... if h'america supports the infantile
saudi arabia, who's to blame them?

you know that polonaise joke about
about the pacifism of jews in
2nd world world war poland?
the joke ran along the words:
weren't the jews shooting the nazis
using crooked elbows (rifles)?
they always seemed to miss them,
taunted into walking into gas chambers,
the ******* hobbits...

          what? some bolshevik Brooklynian
jewish rada is to spare me
                 the pay-up diffrential
telling me, i was wrong?

  as i said before: the nazis lamented
when the warsaw uprising happened...
no, st. paul's doesn't stand proud
because, because...
   even with the blitz...
                 the luftwaffe were told:
you drop a bomb on st. paul's: firing squad...
and when notre-dame de paris -
last time i checked...
   the nazis didn't luftwaffe the **** out
of paris... did they?!

                  the nazis weren't mongols;
no people so well versed in chanel in terms
of their military being so well
   suited & booted could ever make such a
                              architectural sacrilege...

what?! people under the silicon curtain
are gagging, begging even: for nazis!
can i be the first?!
i just want to please the hungry!
if not punk then moving swiftly into ska...
am i the first?
   siliziumvorhang...
well, **** me... from under the eisenvorhang...
what's with these neo-communist pseudos?

and the hebrew god?
a jealous god... so a god with the knowledge
of the existence of other gods...
why wouldn't a jealous god have
no knowledge of other ("imagianry") gods?
to be jealous of only one's own existence?!

3 / 1: that's the ratio....
that's the only ratio... 3 times i experienced
love at first sight:

when i fell in love at first sight...
malina, samantha, janina,
priya....

equal measure: isabella of grenoble...

in reverse:
magda, promis, ilona, kot (i forget her name,
7 years old, first kiss, you can be forgiven
to forget, she had two twin sisters
and she was the senior,
her fasther drove a distribution truck,
milk, i think)...

****, i actually mismanaged
that ratio...

i believe in "a" god...
since i find too much of human jurisprudence
to be riddle with the thesaurus...
i don't think man can pass
law, he can "suppose so"...
but he will never pass the sort of law,
made forbidden,
or absolutely allowed....
i don't believe in a god akin
to the sort of a pontous pilate god
where i'll always find myself
outside of punk evolving into ska...

         mind you...
i'd hate to be trapped within
the confines of an atheistic exclusion zone
of intellect,
      to be trapped in nothing is one
thing, but to be trapped inside
the confines of an atheist's "nothing"
is quiet another....
i don't like being a hamster inside
a cognitive wheel of another...
   god is the jurisprudence spirit,
man the metaphysical spirit...
and i would very much like to stand
in the light of divine law being passed
to finally feel my shadow...

kult: brooklyńska rada żydów...
  not familiar?
  i forgot punk a long time ago...
esp. when californians came up with their
version, ergo? ska...

i'm currently taping a film
about the silesian vampire...
how strange, that the prussians came
back into the ***** of the polonaise...

growing a beard is so much fun!
fiddle after fiddle: and no violin!
atheists bore me
as much as the theistic hags
who's only ambition are
the thrill associated with Sunday
h'america and cinema...
               i can imagine only one
heaven...
where i am blind and given
               a large library of music.
Bo Burnham Oct 2016
"No one understands me."

         it slipped out in
         a timid whisper
          
                             as she combed her beard.
tauhid Mar 2016
I have a full beard
Finely combed and shiny
that's why when I walk,
I walk with shoulder high
When I smile or laugh
It radiates and awaken dead soul

I have a full beard
it covers the skin blemishes
it makes me handsome,
humane and not a terrorist

my beards make me proud
it brings happiness and sheds depression
I'd have it over all the wealth in this world, cause Islam says so

Note, I speak bearable English
sibe sibe omo yoruba nimi pelu
i majored in law
So you need not utter disrespect

I pray five times daily, read the quran
Every good reward I earn is mine
I follow the hadith and sunnah
And no, that's not a crime!

You all gossip as I walk by
You hate my beard because you don't understand at all
But peace and power I have found
As I am equal to any male!

I am a Muslim
So please don't pity me
For God has guided me to truth
And now I'm finally free!

{final verse courtesy of an online source}
Robin Carretti Jul 2018
The sunny time's no old news
She is doing the walking in her
instant replay just pray for her
The Instant "Karma Shoes"

Any or too many Travelers' Advice
       ---    ....   _   _gone.. down
You set your own sunset like a price

A lovely lady bringing out
Her sunset went lower down her
body waves
What's inside us that craves?
It's time for you to figure out
her clues

Like he's the detective

A mind is a terrible thing to waste
Being selective pickier
The colors of the sunset change tricky
Burning heart love can be massive
What lines ahead of both of them
The crimes build like a guild

To run or to paint a lovely stay put
Eyes move the sunset
Like a crystal rock shield
Medieval love don't move
Changes the sun yellow yield
The women so beautiful
as they are to hold
  The King-set the chair or cheer
drinking
International  lip to lip he gets
The waitress jumps in an instant
Him or the hugs of bears or  beers

In her honor the Tapestry
What an artistry pink reds
burnt orange
The Venus of Dynasty

Instant Karma thinks he's
the Genious that prodigy
It will get you in your
boxers inside
Like a top student of biology
Like she's the
instant pudding smooth
To mix movie buff
The network like a NetFlix
She had another brainstorm
That's another flavor
puddling to fix
What are you waiting for?
What a gentleman opening
up her door
The Business workers, metals of hearts
Like steel robotic digging for metal heart
the undertakers tearing words apart
The true pledge leaders and
pitter scatter
heartbreakers
Was better watching the
Dog breeders your watch
Something changed at midnight
Cinderella without her clock

Who are the dreamers waiting for there love the sunset
It hot you don't get it yet? You need to cool off

The chocolate to die for the vanilla we cry for
In an instant, he opens her most dangerous door
Watch your heels clicking time bomb floor

You decide the bet never the ring box set
Lord of the rings we are never ready
at the same time near the sunset

The Dragon Lady like a picnic of flies
Vanilla sky

Dinner at eight Jean Harlow
How did she get into the picture
Don't ask why?

Just mellow transcend the prime
picture yellow
Like wings, you smile the butterfly
Your steps will get you just realize

In his Gucci shoes in the sandals
That sunflower hits her every hour
The instant smile resort
Be a sport, the sunset goes down
Can we change someone's heart
Another bone to throw dog watchers
X-Box you're moving to watch your
weight watchers
Your sunset all blood sweat and
tears beard trimming

The Dalmatian keeps taking your spots

How many times to be outfoxed
That sunset will be my last lick shot
Another heart to repair
Have dignity it's hard to work miracles
Don't fall for Autumn
when its the summertime

Her pink blush you heard it through
the grapevine wine
I heard her through the grapevine
How many times did she want him to be mine?

Sweet Caroline loves her lemonade
Flowers at her stand how lovely
Adds character like a big fun parade
They are  growing how her brain works
losing hope
The trees wake you up the color's alive

She's blooming innocent
until we meet again my sunset after 5
  The first time so instantly I saw her face
Those instant messages you need to feel
to regain consciousness your
skin of a  baby seal

She's the cloud passing her
whip cream delicious
But you have been whiplashed
Love should be clean something
cruel leads to mean

Seeing the change to have perished
The sunset disappears when my love
grows deeper it moves to vanish

But someone plays with your head
like a game *Instant Karma

No time for daydreaming
Like a bundle of cute Pomskies
Part huskies and Pomeranians
The sunset is coming
In the strangest place
You've been backhanded
the card game kingdom

Like a demonic joke
Or going broke life is a
comic book Fandom
I phone ring every day
in June

But your not ready its way too soon
Another instant Karma I Tunes
Miss Apple Jubilee so materialistic
you had me
The tapestry box
Poems of letters paradox
Who is truly the go-getter
Someone is springing like a
change of season
The four seasons love liaisons
For the right reasons
Like a new renovation
Internationally speaking
the whole entire
Sunset lips look divine waiting wet
Please don't dampen her spirit
To Remember September to relive it

The Morning glory Sapphire

Her energy got riveting so cheek razzled
Like the magician lost his love facts
Instant Zazzle Red Riding hood
Looking down going to Grandmas house
But down and out like the sunset of the Gods

How the sunset keeps coming love is more puzzling?*

This is a small figment of your imagination
A small town is divided like division
But the huge love
Came with the Divination
Ruled by the bark and paws mission
Something got caught
Bone to pick near her sunset
They left the love was too much
The camera wasn't set up

The love Men they ran with the box set
of boxers and ruff with
mans best friend their boxer bark
Their home is their bark
Instant Karma this is in our heads, not the wedding bells that are to ring  just relax I don't bite perhaps a French croissant all night something is always crispy and flaky but what about dreamy or to top things off Sunset is not set into your ******* just racing over something this not real
Mitchell Duran Dec 2013
In the Fall, when the temperature of the Bay would drop and the wind blew ice, frost would gather on the lawn near Henry Oldez's room. It was not a heavy frost that spread across the paralyzed lawn, but one that just covered each blade of grass with a fine, white, almost dusty coat. Most mornings, he would stumble out of the garage where he slept and tip toe past the ice speckled patch of brown and green spotted grass, so to make his way inside to relieve himself. If he was in no hurry, he would stand on the four stepped stoop and look back at the dried, dead leaves hanging from the wiry branches of three trees lined up against the neighbors fence. The picture reminded him of what the old gallows must have looked like. Henry Oldez had been living in this routine for twenty some years.

He had moved to California with his mother, father, and three brothers 35 years ago. Henry's father, born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, had traveled across the Meixcan border on a bent, full jalopy with his wife, Betria Gonzalez and their three kids. They were all mostly babies then and none of the brothers claimed to remember anything of the ride, except one, Leo, recalled there was "A lotta dust in the car." Santiago Oldez, San for short, had fought in World War II and died of cancer ten years later. San drank most nights and smoked two packs of Marlboro Reds a day. Henry had never heard his father talk about the fighting or the war. If he was lucky to hear anything, it would have been when San was dead drunk, talking to himself mostly, not paying very much attention to anyone except his memories and his music.

"San loved two things in this world," Henry would say, "*****, Betria, and Johnny Cash."

Betria Gonzalez grew up in Tijuana, Mexico as well. She was a stout, short woman, wide but with pretty eyes and a mess of orange golden hair. Betria could talk to anyone about anything. Her nick names were the conversationalist or the old crow because she never found a reason to stop talking. Santiago had met her through a friend of a friend. After a couple of dates, they were married. There is some talk of a dispute among the two families, that they didn't agree to the marriage and that they were too young, which they probably were. Santiago being Santiago, didn't listen to anybody, only to his heart. They were married in a small church outside of town overlooking the Pacific. Betria told the kids that the waves thundered and crashed against the rocks that day and the sea looked endless. There were no pictures taken and only three people were at the ceremony: Betria, San, and the priest.

Of course, the four boys went to elementary and high school, and, of course, none of them went to college. One brother moved down to LA and eventually started working for a law firm doing their books. Another got married at 18 years old and was in and out of the house until getting under the wing of the union, doing construction and electrical work for the city. The third brother followed suit. Henry Oldez, after high school, stayed put. Nothing in school interested him. Henry only liked what he could get into after school. The people of the streets were his muse, leaving him with the tramps, the dealers, the struggling restaurateurs, the laundry mat hookers, the crooked cops and the addicts, the gang bangers, the bible humpers, the window washers, the jesus freaks, the EMT's, the old ladies pushing salvation by every bus stop, the guy on the corner and the guy in the alley, and the DOA's. Henry didn't have much time for anyone else after all of them.

Henry looked at himself in the mirror. The light was off and the room was dim. Sunlight streaked in through the dusty blinds from outside, reflecting into the mirror and onto Henry's face. He was short, 5' 2'' or 5' 3'' at most with stubby, skinny legs, and a wide, barrel shaped chest. He examined his face, which was a ravine of wrinkles and deep crows feet. His eyes were sunken and small in his head. Somehow, his pants were always one or two inches below his waistline, so the crack of his *** would constantly be peeking out. Henry's deep, chocolate colored hair was  that of an ancient Native American, long and nearly touched the tip of his belt if he stood up straight. No one knew how long he had been growing it out for. No one knew him any other way. He would comb his hair incessantly: before and after a shower, walking around the house, watching television with Betria on the couch, talking to friends when they came by, and when he drove to work, when he had it.

Normal work, nine to five work, did not work for Henry. "I need to be my own boss," he'd say. With that fact stubbornly put in place, Henry turned to being a handy man, a roofer, and a pioneer of construction. No one knew where he would get the jobs that he would get, he would just have them one day. And whenever he 'd finish a job, he'd complain about how much they'd shorted him, soon to move on to the next one. Henry never had to listen to anyone and, most of the time, he got free lunches out of it. It was a very strange routine, but it worked for him and Betria had no complaints as long as he was bringing some money in and keeping busy. After Santiago died, she became the head of the house, but really let her boys do whatever they wanted.

Henry took a quick shower and blow dried his hair, something he never did unless he was in a hurry. He had a job in the east bay at a sorority house near the Berkley campus. At the table, still in his pajamas, he ate three leftover chicken thighs, toast, and two over easy eggs. Betria was still in bed, awake and reading. Henry heard her two dogs barking and scratching on her bedroom door. He got up as he combed his damp hair, tugging and straining to get each individual knot out. When he opened the door, the smaller, thinner dog, Boy Boy, shot under his legs and to the front door where his toy was. The fat, beige, pig-like one waddled out beside Henry and went straight for its food bowl.

"Good morning," said Henry to Betria.

Betria looked at Henry over her glasses, "You eat already?"

"Yep," he announced, "Got to go to work." He tugged on a knot.

"That's good. Dondé?" Betria looked back down at her spanish TV guide booklet.

"Berkley somewhere," Henry said, bringing the comb smoothly down through his hair.

"That's good, that's good."

"OK!" Henry sighed loudly, shutting the door behind him. He walked back to the dinner table and finished his meal. Then, Betria shouted something from her room that Henry couldn't hear.

"What?" yelled Henry, so she could hear him over the television. She shouted again, but Henry still couldn't hear her. Henry got up and went back to her room, ***** dish in hand. He opened her door and looked at her without saying anything.

"Take the dogs out to ***," Betria told him, "Out the back, not the front."

"Yeah," Henry said and shut the door.

"Come on you dogs," Henry mumbled, dropping his dish in the sink. Betria always did everyones dishes. She called it "her exercise."

Henry let the two dogs out on the lawn. The sun was curling up into the sky and its heat had melted all of the frost on the lawn. Now, the grass was bright green and Henry barely noticed the dark brown dead spots. He watched as the fat beige one squatted to ***. It was too fat to lifts its own leg up. The thing was built like a tank or a sea turtle. Henry laughed to himself as it looked up at him, both of its eyes going in opposite directions, its tongue jutted out one corner of his mouth. Boy boy was on the far end of the lawn, searching for something in the bushes. After a minute, he pulled out another one of his toys and brought it to Henry. Henry picked up the neon green chew toy shaped like a bone and threw it back to where Boy boy had dug it out from. Boy boy shot after it and the fat one just watched, waddling a few feet away from it had peed and laid down. Henry threw the toy a couple more times for Boy boy, but soon he realized it was time to go.

"Alright!" said Henry, "Get inside. Gotta' go to work." He picked up the fat one and threw it inside the laundry room hallway that led to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Boy boy bounded up the stairs into the kitchen. He didn't need anyone lifting him up anywhere. Henry shut the door behind them and went to back to his room to get into his work clothes.

Henry's girlfriend was still asleep and he made sure to be quiet while he got dressed. Tia, Henry's girlfriend, didn't work, but occasionally would put up garage sales of various junk she found around town. She was strangely obsessed with beanie babies, those tiny plush toys usually made up in different costumes. Henry's favorite was the hunter. It was dressed up in camouflage and wore an eye patch. You could take off its brown, polyester hat too, if you wanted. Henry made no complaint about Tia not having a job because she usually brought some money home somehow, along with groceries and cleaning the house and their room. Betria, again, made no complain and only wanted to know if she was going to eat there or not for the day.

A boat sized bright blue GMC sat in the street. This was Henry's car. The stick shift was so mangled and bent that only Henry and his older brother could drive it. He had traded a new car stereo for it, or something like that. He believed it got ten miles to the gallon, but it really only got six or seven. The stereo was the cleanest piece of equipment inside the thing. It played CD's, had a shoddy cassette player, and a decent radio that picked up all the local stations. Henry reached under the seat and attached the radio to the front panel. He never left the radio just sitting there in plain sight. Someone walking by could just as soon as put their elbow into the window, pluck the thing out, and make a clean 200 bucks or so. Henry wasn't that stupid. He'd been living there his whole life and sure enough, done the same thing to other cars when he was low on money. He knew the tricks of every trade when it came to how to make money on the street.

On the road, Henry passed La Rosa, the Mexican food mart around the corner from the house. Two short, tanned men stood in front of a stand of CD's, talking. He usually bought pirated music or movies there. One of the guys names was Bertie, but he didn't know the other guy. He figured either a customer or a friend. There were a lot of friends in this neighborhood. Everyone knew each other somehow. From the bars, from the grocery, from the laundromat, from the taco stands or from just walking around the streets at night when you were too bored to stay inside and watch TV. It wasn't usually safe for non-locals to walk the streets at night, but if you were from around there and could prove it to someone that was going to jump you, one could usually get away from losing a wallet or an eyeball if you had the proof. Henry, to people on the street, also went as Monk. Whenever he would drive through the neighborhood, the window open with his arm hanging out the side, he would usually hear a distant yell of "Hey Monk!" or "What's up Monk!". Henry would always wave back, unsure who's voice it was or in what direction to wave, but knowing it was a friend from somewhere.

There was heavy traffic on the way to Berkley and as he waited in line, cursing his luck, he looked over at the wet swamp, sitting there beside highway like a dead frog. A few scattered egrets waded through the brown water, their long legs keeping their clean white bodies safe from the muddy water. Beyond the swamp laid the pacific and the Golden Gate bridge. San Francisco sat there too: still, majestic, and silver. Next to the city, was the Bay Bridge stretched out over the water like long gray yard stick. Henry compared the Golden Gate's beauty with the Bay Bridge. Both were beautiful in there own way, but the Bay Bridge's color was that of a gravestone, while the Golden Gate's color was a heavy red, that made it seem alive. Why they had never decided to pain the Bay Bridge, Henry had no idea. He thought it would look very nice with a nice coat of burgundy to match the Golden gate, but knew they would never spend the money. They never do.

After reeling through the downtown streets of Berkley, dodging college kids crossing the street on their cell phones and bicyclists, he finally reached the large, A-frame house. The house was lifted, four or five feet off the ground and you had to walk up five or seven stairs to get to the front door. Surrounded by tall, dark green bushes, Henry knew these kids had money coming from somewhere. In the windows hung spinning colored glass and in front of the house was an old-timey dinner bell in the shape of triangle. Potted plants lined the red brick walkway that led to the stairs. Young tomatoes and small peas hung from the tender arms of the stems leaf stalks. The lawn was manicured and clean. "Must be studying agriculture or something," Henry thought, "Or they got a really good gardener."

He parked right in front of the house and looked the building up and down, estimating how long it would take to get the old shingles off and the new one's on. Someone was up on the deck of the house, rocking back and forth in an old wooden chair. He listened to the creaking wood of the chair and the deck, judging it would take him two days for the job. Henry knew there was no scheduled rain, but with the Bay weather, one could never be sure. He had worked in rain before - even hail - and it never really bothered him. The thing was, he never strapped himself in and when it would rain and he was working roofs, he was afraid to slip and fall. He turned his truck off, got out, and locked both of the doors. He stepped heavily up the walkway and up the stairs. The someone who was rocking back and forth was a skinny beauty with loose jean shorts on and a thick looking, black and red plaid shirt. She had long, chunky dread locks and was smoking a joint, blowing the smoke out over the tips of the bushes and onto the street. Henry was no stranger to the smell. He smoked himself. This was California.

"Who're you?" the dreaded girl asked.

"I'm the roofer," Henry told her.

The girl looked puzzled and disinterested. Henry leaned back on his heels and wondered if the whole thing was lemon. She looked beyond him, down on the street, awkwardly annoying Henry's gaze. The tools in Henry's hands began to grow heavy, so he put them down on the deck with a thud. The noise seemed to startle the girl out of whatever haze her brain was in and she looked back at Henry. Her eyes were dark brown and her skin was smooth and clear like lake water. She couldn't have been more then 20 or 21 years old. Henry realized that he was staring and looked away at the various potted plants near the rocking chair. He liked them all.

"Do you know who called you?" She took a drag from her joint.

"Brett, " Henry told her, "But they didn't leave a last name."

For a moment, the girl looked like she had been struck across the chin with a brick, but then her face relaxed and she smiled.

"Oh ****," she laughed, "That's me. I called you. I'm Brett."

Henry smiled uneasily and picked up his tools, "Ok."

"Nice to meet you," she said, putting out her hand.

Henry awkwardly put out his left hand, "Nice to meet you too."

She took another drag and exhaled, the smoke rolling over her lips, "Want to see the roof?"

The two of them stood underneath a five foot by five foot hole. Henry was a little uneasy by the fact they had cleaned up none of the shattered wood and the birds pecking at the bird seed sitting in a bowl on the coffee table facing the TV. The arms of the couch were covered in bird **** and someone had draped a large, zebra printed blanket across the middle of it. Henry figured the blanket wasn't for decoration, but to hide the rest of the bird droppings. Next to the couch sat a large, antique lamp with its lamp shade missing. Underneath the dim light, was a nice portrait of the entire house. Henry looked away from the hole, leaving Brett with her head cocked back, the joint still pinched between her lips, to get a closer look. There looked to be four in total: Brett, a very large man, a woman with longer, thick dread locks than Brett, and a extremely short man with a very large, brown beard. Henry went back
Kendall Mallon Jul 2013
Book One


Prelude:

As Romans before them, they built the city upward—
layer ‘pon layer as the polar caps receded
layer by layer—preserving what they could, if someday
the waters may recede back into the former polar
ice caps; restoring the long inundated coastlines.


Home:

A man sat upon a tall pub stool stroking
his ginger beard while grasping a pint loosely
in his other hand. An elderly gent stood
next to him. The older gentleman noticed
that the ginger bearded man’s pint sat almost
quite near the bottom of its tulip glass.

A woman with eyes of amber and hair
as chestnut strolled through a vineyard amongst
the ripening grapes full of juice to soon
become wine. She clutched a notebook—behind (10)
thick black covers lay ideas and sketches
to bring the world to a more natural
state—balancing the wonders and the merits
of technology apace with the allure ‘n’
sanctity borne to the natural world.

When the ginger bearded man finished the
final drops of his stout, another appeared
heretofore him—courtesy owed to the elder
gentleman. “Notice dat ye got d’ mark
o’ a man accustom amid the seas,” (20)
he inferred; gesturing the black and blue
compass rose inscribed inside a ship’s wheel,
imbedded into the back of the ginger
bearded man’s weathered right hand.
                 “I have crewed
and skippered a many fine vessel, but I
am renouncing my life at sea—one final
voyage I have left inside of me:
one single terminal Irish-Atlantic
voyage t’ward home.” (30)
“Aye d’ sea can beh cold
‘nd harsh, but she enchants me heart. Ta where
are ye headed fer d’ place ye call home,
d’ere sonny boy?”
     “’tis not simply a where,
‘tis a who. Certain events have led me
to be separate from my wife. For five
eternal years I have been traveling—
waiting to be in her embrace. The force
of the Sea, she, is a cruel one. For (40)
it seams: at every tack or gybe the farther
off I am thrown from my homeward direction
to stranger and stranger lands… I have gone
to the graveyard of hell and the pearly gates
of (the so called) heaven; I have engaged
in foolhardy deals—made bets only a
gambling addict would place. All to just be
with Zara. I am homesick—Zara is my
home—it doesn’t matter where (physically)
we are located, my home is with Zara. I (50)
was advised to draw nigh the clove of Cork
and wait; wait for a man, but I was barely
given a clue as to who this man is,
only I must return him this:” the ginger
bearded man held out a dull silver pocket watch
with a frigate cut into the front cover
and two roses sharing a single stem
swirling upon themselves cut into
the back.
   “Can it be? ‘Tis meh watch dat meh (60)
fat’er gave t’ meh right before he died…
I lost it at sea many a year ago.
It left meh heartbroken—fer it was meh only
lasting mem’ry of him… Come to t’ink I
was told by a beggar in the street—I
do not remember how long ago—dat
I would happen across a man wit’ somet’ing
dear t’ meh, and I’d accomp’ny dis man
on a journey, and dis man would have upon
‘im d’ mark of a true sailor…” (70)
    “Dear elder man,
my name is Abraham; the mark you see
represents the control that I have on my
direction—thought it appears the Sea retains
some ascendancy… Yet now, it appears,
the Sea is upholding her bargain—though
a bit late... Do you, by chance, own a vessel
that can fair to Colorado?—all across
this mist’d island no skipper ‘ll uptake
my plea; they fear the sharp wrath of the Sea (80)
or (if they have no fear) simply claim my home
‘is not on their routes…’ i’tis a line I’ve
heard too often. I would’ve purchased a vessel,
but the Sea, she, has deprived me completely
of my identity and equity.”

Zara, with her rich chestnut hair sat upon
a fountain in a piazza—her half empty
heart longing to savor the hallow presence
of Abraham, and stroke his ginger beard…
Everyday she would look out at the sea (90)
whence he left…
     All encouraged her to: “forgo
further pursuit”; “he is likely deceased
by now”—his vessel (what left) scuttled amidst
the rocks of Cape Horn, yet Zara could feel
deep-seated inside her soul he is alive;
Alive (somewhere) fighting to return home.
Never would Zara leave; never would she
abandon post; she made that promise five
years ago as Abraham, ‘n’ his crew,
set out on their final voyage; and she (100)
would be ****** ere she broke her promise—a promise
of the heart—a promise of love. Abraham
said: “You are my lighthouse; your love, it, will guide
me home—keep me from danger—as long as you
remain my lighthouse, I’ll forever be
set to return home—return home to you.”

Out from Crosshaven did the old man take
steadfast Abraham en route to his home.
Grey Irish skies turned blue as they made their
way out on the Irish Sea, southwest, toward (110)
the southern end of the Appalachian Island.
The gentle biting spray of the waves breaking
over the bow and beam moistened the ginger
bearded face of Abraham; his tattooed
hands grasped the helm—his resolute stare kept him
and the old man acutely on course.
A shame,
it struck the old man, this would be the final
voyage of Abraham… he: the best crew
that the old man had ever came across; (120)
uncertain if simply the character
of Abraham or his pers’nal desire
to return home in the wake of five long
salty-cold years—a vassal to the Sea
and her changing whim. Never had the old
man seen his ship sail as fast as he did when
Abraham accorded its deck—each sail
set without flaw: easing and trimming sheets
fractions of an inch—purely to obtain
the slightest gain in speed; the display warmed (130)
the heart of the old man.
        And thus the elder
gent mused as he lightly puffed on his pipe
while sitting on the stern pulpit regarding
at Abraham’s passion to return home
(as he calls her):—maybe dis is d’ reason
d’ Sea has fought so hard, and lied, t’ keep
Abraham from returning home… Could not
bear t’ lose such fine a sailor from her
expanses—she is known t’ be quite a jealous (140)
mistress…
      But for all Abraham’s will and passion,
the old man insisted for the fellow
to rest; otherwise lack of sleep would cause
the REM fiddler to reap his debt—replace
clarity of mind with opacity.
Reluctantly stalwart Abraham gave
in and retire below deck—yet the old
man doubted the amount of rest that he
acquired in those moments out of his sight. (150)

For the days, then weeks, in the wake of their
departure from the port-island Crosshaven,
the seas were calm as open water can:
gentle azure rolling swells oscillated
and helped impel the vessel forward. The southern
craggy cape of the Appalachian
Island pierced the horizon. Like a threshold
it stood for Abraham—a major landmark;
the closest to home he had been in five
salty long years—his limbo was beginning                               (160)
to fade, his heart slowly—for the first time since
he left port in eastern Colorado—
started to feel replete again. The Great
Plains Sea—his final sea—he would not miss
the gleam of his lighthouse stalwart on shore.




Book Two

Oracle:**

Upon a beach, Abraham found himself alone—gasping
in gulps of moist air like that of a new born baby first (10)
experiencing the breathe of life; he felt as if he
would never become dry again… the salt burning his skin
as it crusted over when the water evap’rated
into the air; Abraham took the first night to rest, the
next day he set to make shelter and wait for a rescue
crew; out he stared at the crashing waves hoping for a plane
or faint form of a ship upon the horizon…days and
nights spun into an alternating display of day then
night: light then dark—light, dark, light, dark, grey, grey, grey…

Abraham (20)
gave up marking the days—realized the searches are done—
given up after looking in the wrong places (even
he did not know where he was…) the cold waves and currents took
him to a safe shore away from his ship and crew, in a
limp unconscious float…
From the trees, and what he could find on
the small  island, Abraham occupied himself with the
task of building a catamaran to rid himself of
the grey-waiting.
Out he cast his meager vessel into (30)
the battering surf; waves broke over his bows and centre
platform—each foot forward, the waves threatened to push him back
twofold… Abraham struck-beat the water with the oars he
fashioned; rising and falling with the energy of the
waves; Abraham stole brief looks back with hopes of a van’shing
shoreline—coast refused to vanish… his drenched arms grew tired;
yet he pushed on knowing he would soon be out passed the
breaking waves; then could relax and hoist sail; yet the waves grew
taller—broke with greater power… Abraham struck-beat the
water with his oars—anger welled—leading to splashes of (40)
ivory sea-froth instead of the desired progress
forward; eventually, his arms fell limp beyond the
force of will… waves tumbled him back to shore as he did the
first night upon the island…
Dejected Abraham lay
in the surf that night—the gentle ebb of the sea added
to insult, but hid the tears formed in the corner of his eyes—
salt water to salt water… the next day Abraham took
inventory of damage: the mast snapped in multiple
places, the rudders askew—the hulls and centre structure (50)
remained intact; the oars lost (or at least Abraham cared
not to search); over the next weeks he set to improve
the design and efficiency of his vessel—the first
had been hurried and that of a man desperate to leave;
the bare minimum that would suffice—he set to create
a vessel to ensure his departure from the des’late
accrue of sand and vegetation; Abraham laboured
to strengthen his body—pushing his arms further passed the
point his mind believed they could go—consuming the hearty,
protein-rich, mollusks, and small shellfish he could find inside (60)
tide pools or shallows—if lucky, larger fish that dared the
nearby reefs.
Patiently, Abraham observed the tides and
breaking water; he wanted to determine the correct
time to set off to ensure success—when the waves would not
toss him back to the beach; the day: a calm clear day—only
within few metres of soft beach did there exist any
breaking waves, and those that broke were barely a metre high;
loading provisions upon the vessel, Abraham bid
farewell to the island (out of wont for the sustenance (70)
it gave not for nostalgia) grasping his oars, he set forth
to find open sea—where the waves do not break and set you
gingerly on foreign shore(s); Abraham paddled passed the
first few breaking waves, his heart pounding with hope—he stifled
the thoughts (celebrate when the island is but a subtle
blue curve upon the horizon); as the island began
to shrink in his vision, the sky to his back grew darker…
the waves started to swell—moguls grew to hills—Abraham
stroked up and rode down; the cursèd Island refused to shrink…
if not begin to grow wider… stroke by stroke Abraham (80)
grew frustrated—stroke by stroke frustration advanced into
anger—stroke by stroke anger augmented into fiery
beating of the water!—Abraham struck and struck at the
Sea—eyes closed—white knuckles—trashing!—unsure which direction
he paddled…sky pitch-black, wind blowing on-shore Abraham
bellowed out to the Sea in inarticulate roars of:
hatefrustrationpitydesperationheartache!
Towards
Abraham’s in-linguistic roar, the sky let out a crack
of authority! a wave swept the flailing Abraham (90)
into the ocean—cool water only heated the rage
in Abraham’s mind—his half empty heart only wanted:
to sail home, become whole  again—sit under and olive
tree and stroke the chestnut hair of Zara as she drifted
off to sleep on his chest while he would whisper sweet verses
into her ear… Abraham’s rage, beyond reason, forgot
the boat and all clarity, he tried to swim away from
the cursèd island—scrambling up waves only to tumble
back with their breaking peaks—salt, the only taste in his mouth;
churning his stomach to *****; his kidney’s praying he (100)
would  not swallow anymore… his gasps stifled any curse
Abraham’s head wished to expel onto the Sea—yet she
swore she heard one final curse escape his lips! at that the
Sea tossed Abraham (head first) into his ghost-helmed vessel—
all went dark for hostile Abraham…

Contemplating back
at his rage—knowing the barbarian it makes of him,
Abraham peered into the band inscribed into his
ring-finger and saw the knot tying him to Zara—shame
at his arrogant-uncontrolled-fury sent Abraham (110)
into a meditative exile inside of his mind
(within the exile of the island…) in his mental
exile Abraham spun into deeper despair at his
two failures—even more at the prospect of failing the
vow he professed onto Zara: return home—home from this
final voyage, grow old with her on solid ground, never
to die apart and cause the pain of losing a loved one
without the closure of truly knowing the death is real,
to die by her side white, white with the purity of age…
Abraham’s destitution turned inward—his fury, the (120)
lack of control, the demon he becomes when rage surges
through his muscles; equiping him with untamed strength without
direction or self-possession—so much potential, yet
no productive way to use it… Abraham’s half-full-heart
burned, ached with passion and anguish—all desire
focused on home, his return, but the mind’s despondency
and insistent ‘what-ifs’ kept poor Abraham prostrate in
his mental cave—all his wishing for anger and vi’lence
to force his will, it did more to retain him upon the
cursèd island than bring his heart closer to fulfillment: (130)
his long awaited home…
Out of his mental exile did
Abraham’s irises dilate and contract with blinding
illumination—self-pity is not what make things happen—
it would only serve to anger Zara—nothing other
than I can be to blame for my continued absence; I
am stronger than that!—looking at the tattoo in his hand,
he remembered the reasons for the perennial brand—
the eight-spoke ship’s helm: the eight-fold-path—I must cut off my
desire for anger to be the solution and focus (140)
on the one path to Zara—the mind can push the body
further than the body believes is possible—the star:
the compass to guide me via celestial bodies
to where my heart can see the guiding beam of my lighthouse!
This is the Final Voyage epic thus far. I am converting Home into blank verse and it is taking longer than I thought to do; which is why that part is incomplete here. I also added line numbers. I changed The names as well.
we lived for long
And built alot.
You're truely the one
with my favorite beard.

she loved to sing and no
verse went by without the beard
she wished to grow it
And she never slept without
A hand on it.
she said I sounded good
Because of my beard
And she loved my kisses
To feel my beard.

yes she left and so did the beard
I grow it often but she has
never returned.
I will grow it longer
And wait for her, for she loved it
To comb it! was her favourite
it was a present she boasted over.
nivek Oct 2015
I pull fingers through my beard
untangling the night
while my mind gropes around
for anything sublime
I realise there is nothing deeper
than the love that cradles its child
all the way to dreams
tumbling out an untangled beard.
David Nelson Sep 2013
The Rainbow has a beard
             (where's Eric)

So many magnificent colors
so many sounds of the artist reaching
the tones so inventive and creative
it was new then, different, not like another

the melody carried away in timeless echoes
sending us off drifting into the unknown
the burning hot strings overcharged
while Mr. Bruce treated our ears lyrically

the Ginger was sprinkled everywhere
exciting the air molecules with explosions
off timed, eccentric patterns of rhythm
but Eric was the warrior of epic proportions

the white room with black curtains
just beyond the crossroads of that time
and the sunshine or their love blossomed
and indeed the rainbow did have a beard

to this day the performances continue
greying temples now appear in the shadows
still very special to the old warriors that remain
but not like the Jedi from whence he came  

Gomer LePoet...
Inspiration by Cream (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker)

— The End —