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DarrianaXo Feb 2014
We are the generation birthed into broken homes.
Backless. Spineless structures.
Faceless fathers.
And miracle mothers.

Brown boys teaching brown boys how to be men.
Brown boys teaching brown girls how to be loved.
Loving her like his “main *****”
like his “side chick”
like his lies. Like his lust. Like his leisure.
Like a good ****.
And she lets him.
She has never seen an example of love.
So he loves her. Broken.
And they reproduce.
Broken.
Another brown baby birthed into a broken home.
With a faceless father and a miracle mother.

Women raising boys into boys.
Not men but boys.
Women raising girls into bitter
Girls into ‘*******’
Girls into bisexual
because there’s no man present.

We are the generation birthed into broken homes.
Inheriting broken hopes.
Boys inheriting the name of a man he’s never known.
Inheriting personality traits from a man we’ll never know.

We’ll never know white picket fence,
We’ll never know 20 year anniversary
We’ll never know happy home
We’ll never know American dream.

We are the forgotten ones.
We are the generation birthed into broken homes.
With hand-me-down hopes.
And Mama’s Spit-shined smiles.

They classified us as the broken ones.
I am from a broken home.
But I am not a broken one.
I pick up my pieces, wrote some poems and made peace with it.

What’s broken can be fixed.
Brother. Be a man.
Sister. Be a woman.
Be royal. Be raw. Be real. Be you. Be king. Be queen. Be father. Be mother. Be love. Be trust. Be home. Be hope.
Be there.
Be there.

We are not broken.
We are the generation birthed into broken homes.
We are rebuilding.
Either lend us a hand or leave us alone.
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.
PrttyBrd Jun 2015
Birthed at the center of my soul
You are my very heart
You are the seed of compassion
And the water with which it blooms

Birthed at the center of my soul
You open the window of joy
And close the doors tinged blue
A teacher of spirits, of freedom

Birthed at the center of my soul
Your kindness bleeds into me
Saturating my casing
Rendering me tender, despite myself

Birthed at the center of my soul
We became...as intended
Entire beings
Flowing between a unified spirit
Connected now as then

Birthed at the center of my soul
62915
BazzaroODST127 Dec 2014
No more than a rumor
Or a legend spoken in whispers
Mischievous folklore
Foretold around campfires

About a man
Skin black, birthed under an Eclipse
Who stalks the dark forces
Casting his might over them

Fending off the evil
Which festers across the land
Bleeding gold ink
That soils the crop and livestock

Wherever life thrives
Evil musters its footprints
But wherever it may be
He is there

Baffling their kin
Striking like thunder
Swift and silent
Like the humming katana

Making clean kills
And fading back into thin air
Being seen as a ghost
When more is known of him

For he is flesh
Great in heart
And vibrant in sight
As the father of judgment

Carrying out his given cases
That are closed by his steel hands
Argentina Rose Oct 2014
You may not have been birthed in the soil,
and granted,
you will not blossom
when spring melts winters wake
but inside of you
grows a thousand gardens
full of exploding stars.
You are of the earth
and your ashes
have been constructed with stardust,
and set free with the wind.
So you may not have a pretty face,
and your body may hold stories
of too many moonless nights alone.
But if you reach inside,
you will find a forest
for a ribcage
and a restless ocean heart.
So don't ever let anyone tell you
you are nothing.
You are a galaxy
holding a million different planets,
and my dear,
that is not nothing.
Patricia Arches Sep 2013
Choices

This ever blotting simple thing that makes up things

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

A simple formula of cause and effect

An effect

A result

A consequence

No pretences

Or fences that guard our decisions

Keeps it safe for being just a choice

For it is no longer just a choice

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

An economic study to this choice where c=e

because

For every cause there is an effect

For every cause there is an effect

For every cause there is an effect

Let it dwell in your mind and affect you

Because that is where it all begins

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

Alongside that implanted thought are a plethora

Of more thoughts that are placed beside your dreams

Nestled in between your hopes, skilfully intertwined with your visions

There they all lay

Our mind is our drive that takes us down

A road that is long and winding

A highway down to our hands

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

Held by that one thought

Your actions are birthed from your thoughts

We see these to be choices

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

To take a leader who steals from his country

Or a mom who abandons her child to keep herself alive

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

How and why?

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

For this is a study of many

Choices

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

Let us open up this book

And flip each page to see what decrees and laws

Revolutions and words put down on paper

Have anything to do with where we stand today

For the choices of the past still linger here

Mixed in with the choices of the present

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

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

A chapter of injustice

A paragraph of cruelty

A statement of selfishness

A line of adultery

But, wait! Oh, let us stop on this

One

story

For this I do not even understand

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

To see the effects and the causes of each

but this story is different

For it is not just one chapter

One statement

One line

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

In fact, the book is titled for this one story

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

By a God

To send his son

To die for men

Men whose choices we see throughout the whole book

Men whose choices are vile and selfish and ruthless

Sinful men

*****

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

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

Now that is not a choice that I would make

But it was made

A man so untainted and holy

Came down

To die for the sinner

Who stole from the helpless woman in the ally

Who murdered an innocent child in the womb

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

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

in the promises lie after lie

To die for the sinner who is you

You

Jesus chose to die for you

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

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

he thought of you

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

but it was done

it is done

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

and all your choices

he negated the effects, and ultimately the effect of death

and formulated a solution of eternal life instead

for this one choice

changed all the rest

Now, think, think it through

Every choice you make

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

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

Still stand true

but also remember Jesus who did what you had to do

for you may make many more flawed choices without a thought

Therefore go down on bended knees gaze at the cross

where stood the Father’s son

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

that any effect wouldn’t be worth it

you are worth any effect

you are an effect

of that one choice made on the hills of calvary

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

then resurface that one choice made 2000 years before

bring it up amongst all the confusion and chaos

study it’s economic worth

hold it dear

smile at it even for

that senseless,

unexplainable,

brilliant,

grand,

intricate,

lovel­y,

merciful,

gracious,

holy,

divine,

choice

is all for you
Harumi Ikeda Jul 2011
Sarah grew up alone.
With no siblings
Distant parents
And no one to call her own

So she birthed a baby
A beautiful baby
With blue eyes
And no regret to her name

She grew up
And despised her mother
When she spoke
"I hate you"
Were the few words she choked out

Sarah laughed
A sad, self deprecating laugh
And said, with a smile and half,

"I had no one
I was on my own
So i decided to have you
And raise you ti'll you were grown
But you've come to resent me
And i don't know why
The child i birthed for love
Was a waste of my time"
Nat Lipstadt Dec 2016
A minyan is an assembly of ten Jews.  With ten present, the group can perform a fuller service, adding congregational prayers that an individual alone cannot say, and in heaven, received, as if from a 
more powerful, unified voice.

~~~
Satan laughing with delight at the happy news,
unusually proud of his soul-retrieving,
red state minions,
having scored late in the '16 season,
a long awaited prize,
a high priest of music, a hallelujah singer
just come  cross the borderline,
once a mere earth bound legend,
now to be mockingly enjoyed
in this, his legendary peculiar tier of heaven
~
a banner year it was, a cornucopia of new arrivals,
singers, songwriters, composers, conductors, rock 'n rollers,
itinerant blues musicians,
who as a rule, were not the most faithful observers
of the Ten Commandments and its host of detailed relatives
~
body and drug abusers,
of traditional morals, not such big users,
and as for their *** lives,
best not discussed in front of the baby devils,
just quite yet
~
all this made for easy "pluckings,"
as he smiled devilishly, his own ironic sense of humor,
an added delight for the new American Pie
that would forever serenade him henceforth
~
indeed this Leo-nine most new arrival,
intensifies the pleasure,
for deep in this one had waxed the god-spark,
his own fractured demise,
now allowing the cracks of light to be closing,
lessening by an immeasurable fraction
the despised joy to the world
-
then a raucous rustling heard,
a voice unseen but siren penetratingly heard proclaiming:

**** you Satan,
this time you've gone too far!

return unto me them all,
for you have overstepped the boundaries I have constructed
when birthed I the universe so long ago

these children, mine,
for though they were not perfect in their lives,
they perfected ever so much my designs,
the world I granted them,
with their music, voice and hands,
absolving them of all their sins

Surrender to me them all!

my Prince,
my lion, Cohen, high priest of my temple,
my haggard and worn Merle,
the greyed and Frey'd eagle, Glenn,
Natalie, daughter of the Earth King of Cole,
my rose of Sharon Jones,
my Emerson and my Lake,
Leon Russell,
my white bearded russet
who wrote 'A Song For You,'
the Duchess, Patty,
my Bobby Vee,
the first ro see
'the night has a thousand eyes,'
Frank Sinatra Jr., his fathers torch bearer,
my David, my right arm, my Bowieknife carrier,
who fell from heaven and needs returning unto me,
mine own Kanter,Jeffersonian pilot of my Airplane,
my Michael, George,
my Martin, George,
who never sang a word
but gifted us some Beatles,
My black and White Maurice,
who reignited the Earth, with Wind and Fire

all these mine and all the musicians of this year,
they have died, but not their music,
now to join my heavenly chorus,
my musicians' minyan
Second of a trilogy, but the first one posted,
about Leonard Cohen

Kohen or cohen (or kohain; Hebrew: כֹּהֵן‎, "priest", pl. כֹּהֲנִים‎ kohanim) is the Hebrew word for priest used colloquially in reference to the Aaronic priesthood. Jewish kohanim are traditionally believed and halakhically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the biblical Aaron. The term is colloquially used in Orthodox Judaism in reference to modern day descendants of Aharon, brother of Moses.

Among the few remaining responsibility of a cohen today is the chanting of the priestly  blessing in the synagogue on high holy days in a special tune, instantly recognizable  by every Jew.   When the  Jewish priest chants the blessing, the Spirit of God is presumed to become present in the synagogue, and all bow their heads, fathers cover their children's eyes, lest one witness  god's image. Ironically, the special way that a cohen extends his arms and holds his fingers in a V  shape, was borrowed by another Canadian Jew, Leonard Nimoy, as inspiration for Spock's  greeting.

see en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priestly_Blessing

see
//jewcy.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/leonard-nimoy-vulcan-salute-yiddish
Francie Lynch Jul 2018
Birthed by altruism or selfishness,
Motivated by personal gain
Or the forfeiting of a nation;
It's the betrayal of friends,
Country, cause and trust.
Cassius,
Judas,
Benedict Arnold,
The traitor has many personas.

Traitors are hated by those they prefer. (Tacitus)

I forgive those who ****** and steal,
but a traitor, never.
(Zapata)

A nation cannot survive treason from within...
He rots the soul of a nation...
No wise man ever thought a traitor should be trusted.
(Cicero)

Softness to traitors will destroy us all. (Robespierre)

An open enemy, however criminal, is no traitor. (Spooner)

To have a traitor as an ally is to have an enemy in waiting. (Carey)

It is the just decree of heaven that a traitor never sees
his danger till his ruin is at hand.
(Metastasia)

There are but two parties now... traitors and patriots. (U.S. Grant)

If I had one bullet and I was faced by both enemy and traitor,
I would let the traitor have it.
(Codreanue)

There is a special place in hell reserved for traitors. (J. Trudeau)

Every man must be for the U.S. or against it.
There can be no neutrals... only patriots or traitors.
(S. Douglas)

Et tu, POTUS. (F. Lynch)
2020 Campaign Slogan: "Make Rusmerica Great"
nivek Feb 2015
peeking into the mirrored sky
I dance around the Sun
casting shadow dances
singing a silent song-
written in the Earth-
a destiny is born
and alleluia son
alleluia son-
is birthed
is birthed
is birthed
Poetic T Oct 2015
I have been on the road for so long, what's it been,
"Weeks,
"Months,
"Moments?
Who knew,since magi had birthed on to the world chaos
Had ensued on a global playground. I remember an old movie

"God I miss the movies,  
"With power there is responsibility of will,

Will power was the key, if you were ill of conviction
It consumed you, each burnt different. I remember
Seeing some gathered when it took upon them.

It was like a rainbow, like spirits ignited. momentary
Beauty in all aspects. Then the screams, like they were
Aware that it wasn't just their bodies but that they were
Burning soul, flesh all was consumed in magi flame.

I don't know if you could call it good or evil but it was
Survival, the old ways were obsolete. There we norms,
And enlightened? if you could call us that, words even
Simple ones were amazing, imbued with essence power.

Some only had to think and auras of essence flickered
On steady hands, it was amazing, with movements
That flowed weaving intricate designs synergies were
Compelled and movement and words became as one.

"Jesus I hate walking though the old city streets,
"I can sense their essence,
"Enlightened can sense each other in some degree,

The decay in these majestic building so many vacant
White tombs, they fed of the residual aura of what happened
That day, many were set ablaze mass funeral pyres.

"The skies glowed red for days,
"Flames touching the heavens themselves,

There is much anger in these places mortal, and enlightened
Steer clear, in the night as auras permeate the surrounding

"I hear something?
"Hello who goes there,

Words I hear even though not spoken. These are dark
Even more than the midnight sky I walk under.

"I hear you, show yourself,

"Aren't we a powerful little one not many can hear unspoken,
"These places are a playground of rage and anger,

He had such a arrogant tone, I have seen others like him.
Thinking they have a right to taunt the dead with promises
Of life, but it is unfounded. They are just puppets on entrains
Strings bonded with words. Sealing them, suffocating within.

"I have no fear of your creation,
"You have twisted a gift, made it unclean,
"The dead should serve no one let them rest,

My words go unheeded, I know this will be a fight to the
End, only one will make the journey onward on this path.
I scrunch my fingers, each cracking, ready in anticipation,
In knowing what is to come. I sense the fluctuation around.

From beneath the ruins of what looked like a heavens building
(Skyscraper) it bellowed forth eyes aglow. I sensed its
Consumed resentment of slumbers awaking, it grabbed
What was twisted beams of rusted metal and rock.

"Be gone slumber once again in ethers sleep,

I tried a banishment spell as the words first too weak
For the anger that breathed.

"The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came light
And chains Mixed with purity , and it was hurled down onto
The earth a prison of release is cursed!"


" Your in over your head little girl.

But I noticed upon its brow glyphs of resistant's, this arrogant
One, not so as I had thought. I noticed from where it clambered
The fallen of before, I was not its first battle. Maybe I would
Not be its last, calm thoughts as it swung nearly taking me apart.

"I will dethatch this creation from this realm,
"It will slumber in eternality's evermore,

Spells I eased on thought and hand,

"Flames entwined on wicks birth, feel rages creation  
From earth, burn in silence burn in air, enlightened in
A suns extinguished birth,


The air crackled as earth turned red, molten rock,
Erupted and white bone crackled under the heats
Relentless grip, now for the opposite to shatter its curse.

"Winters howl beckon my call, A single snow flake shall fa,

I do so hate being interrupted I heard his words spoken,
In silence. A blinding glyph summoned forth. I had moments
To defend, or unseen was my fate and then deaths hand would
Grant what this thing was unwittingly birthed to heed.

"Let light blaze the mists of unseen thoughts, let there be
Sight be seen no darkness's curse,
  

Now I'm angry, what kind of arrogant, egotistical **** hole
Thinks that they can do that to me. Time to finish this, I
Use what I have learnt mastered well, I was one of those
In womb when magi birthed. We are only few but we are
As part imbued not only in word but bloods life essence.

"Winters howl beckon my call, A single snow flake shall fall,
Shatter on earth like glass you will keep,


It was a hard thing to do but to meld two thoughts as one,
I worded it in strength first freeze them then eternities tomb.
"Only to be used on undead,
Never the living as it would fold back and dam the herald that
Spoke the words to a fate worse than death.

"Winters howl beckon my call, A single snow flake shall fall,
Shatter on earth like glass you will keep,

"Let that which was twisted now be granted eternities tomb,
"Earth calls upon your slumber now be granted,
Rest in the toils of soils keep,


And with that moment it shattered as earth creaked and took
What was taken now in its tomb of slumbers keep.
Where darkness was birthed souls rested and bones neat.
We took our paces drained where both as such focus needed.

"Your abomination conceded to a fate worth its keep,
"Now its only us do you concede to fates wish,

It was a long shot but you never know, maybe he would of
Conceded in graceful defeat. "So going to fight dam,
His muttering edged forth a spirit blade, we all have an
Aura and our physical presence births the colour of
Physical forces we bring into our world,

"What a big sword you have, compensating for much,
(I giggled loudly, he asked for that)

"Magi filth, I will end you as my pet failed my will,
"I have taken many and will take many more,

Flames of onyx and luminosity bathed the surroundings
As each of us gauged each others strengths, his blade
Glanced on my arm , searing pain greeted as veins
turned black. We fought I glanced upon his self, but he
Just looked smiled and ****** time after time at myself.

But he was weakening to much had he relied on spirit
And not himself. I ****** upon his being in one last fatless
Blow, His sword shattered in shards of spirit he was cut.
He bleed slowly not blood but essence of himself.

"This cant be your but a girl,
"I will beckon my spirit to the fallen I will live on,

"Can you hear my thoughts?

"No why would I need to heed your contemplation,

"I just sealed your thoughts none shall escape,
"You will pass into the ether there to stay,

"I will not go like this, do you realize who I am,

"A dead man,

And with that I walked off no longer a threat, just a
Dying magi, with moment left to contemplate what
Was done. A noise heard as I walked off, I thought
Of not turning, of not giving satisfaction on a fallen.

"What do you wither about, in dignity fade out,

But my eyes did see what ailed him so, for where his
Essence did bleed upon the patch his creation fell in
Earth it rested but it wanted one more to join its kin.
Swallowed up then silence and gone. He joined those
That had heeded his worded will.

"Daylight beckoned as I walked on the city even though
In ruin had a certain beauty in its collapse,


I walked onwards nursing wounds with word, healed
But still hurt. That was a battle I wish not to repeat. I just
Want to wonder and meet those of norms and magi and
Live in harmony and peace. But remember all, there is
Much power in the world with word and thought.
Nat Lipstadt Jan 2014
Dreams of a Child
Created: Jan 23, 2011 5:44 AM
Finished: Jan 30, 2011 4:23 AM
Posted here  Jan 2014
Warning:
a very, very long poem, but within , I promise,
there is a precise stanza about, for you.  
Take it as my gift.
Let me know which you took home to play.

~~~~~~~


Some poets care not
for the
discipline of rules,
laws of punctuation.

Why bother brother,
with putting poems
in antiquated jailhouses,
prisons of vertical bars,
or afford the reader,
the courtesy of horizontal lines?

Question and quotations marks
these day refuted,
as a Catcher In The Rye
conspiracy symbology of big lies,,
political interventionism,
to the creative, most natural
right to be crude.  

Inconvenient impositions,
symbolic flailings, of an
over regulated civilization
in the throes of declination

Punkuation is but a
societal annoyance to
today's creative geniuses,
periods, commas,
nothing more than
a pause to think -
who needs 'em?
when we want to stink
up the atmosphere with vitriols
of half truths and inhuman
but oh so gleeful,
concentrated disparagement
of any person worthy of
nationwide late night mocking merriment.

Such free spirits, vivid animations,
within me do not reign,
though upon occasion,
boy got permission slips  
for breaking bad by invention
of an occasional new word.

New words, white truffles
vocabulic incantations,
my own cupcake creations,
meant to burr, or purr,
their tasty meanings, always,
were readily apparent.

Sometimes we rhyme,
sometimes  we can't;
doth not a reading of a
poetic periodic table
of rants, chants
love poems, and paeans
to a shhhh! pretend,
overarching, poesy ego
require some minimalist format?

How I envy you,
kind observer,
possessor of literary powers
untoward and untold,
delicate touches of a fingertip
rule and rue
poetic invention.

You can zoom away or in
for a closer examination
of unscripted revelations,
incinerate them like an
yesterday's newspaper,
thus demonstrate contempt for
less-than-historic ruminations,
as time has done before.

Witness the crumbled ruins of Ozymandias,
king of kings,
and how the critic's machinations
with a dash of tabasco time,
his works, now museum pieces,
in the Tate Modern's room of
Laughable Human Aspirations.

Don't panic, sigh or groan,
kind observer,
infection inflictions,
content of discontentment,  
ancient whinings that the publisher
long ago listed as discontinued,
will not herein unfold.

What has all these mumbled asides
to do with the Dreams of a Child?

Apologies prolific I distribute
for this long winded profligate prologue;
and even for prior invasions
of your contemplative fantasias,
but my intention certain:
**** out the weak chaff eaters,
feigners of faux interest,
who stanzas ago deserted us,
this confessional lore.

These prior lines conceived
to mislead and deceive,
to refer and deter
send away, the hangers-on
who litter our lives,
with whimpered falsehoods.


So, we begin anew:

Today's lecture entitled
Dreams of a Child
were formatted on a silver disc;
this communication's originations,
seedlings of block
roman black letters
on background of cleansing white,
re things that jar me in the night.

Easy slights that waken
from a fitful, pitted rest,
mental paintings
natured in gem colors,
tourmaline auras,
and vibratto hues
of blue zircons.  .  

I have never lain upon the couch,
in the inner holy of holies,
where one whispers
to the Father Confessor
an original composition,
subject, title and inspiration
of said unique origination,
decidedly of one's own choosing,
roots of the essay's telling,
harvested in the root garden
of one's dreams,
where grow herbs,
spicy ones,
flavors of childhood.

The lush and wooded smells
of a forest of childhood scars,
and it's concomitant
putrefying, fruited rot,
awoke and brokered
a stilted, tremulous sleep.

Went to bed a a man
of modest success,
of modest scenes,
a bond trader, who trades
exactly that:
his word, his bond,
his blessing to his
deal constructions,
all of which, ended with an
irrevocable cri of "Done!"

Yet like you,
I am oft undone.

Dreams.

In truth, not dreams, but
spectral moments of
our lives relived,
a melange of ancient lyrics,
taunts of childhood abusers and
peer humilators
who could
teach the CIA
torture techniques
of WORD boarding, par excellent.

Angelic faces of human ****
that birthed in me a holy duality,
anger and a,
love of words,
my vaccination serum.

Granted a love of
human kindness
from teachers who cherished their
high and mighty tight
to publicly humiliate,
knowing full well
that human laws could not
attempt to have them
justly incarcerated.

Where, where were
the supervisors
who let me be spit upon
in the back seat of a
Fifty's station wagon,
by the brothers of
a sainted dead shepherd?

I am still eight,
sitting on a stoop in the
modest side of town,
towel in hand, so handy,
to wipe the tears shed
for cause,
for the car-pool of suburban boys
who "forgot" to pick me up for
Sunday swim night.  

In high school,
in the back row,
I silently ******
the juice of a Sarte lemon and
essayed a term paper,
upon multiple mirrored
reflections of a man
called Camus.

As another self styled, only living
teenage expert
on "alien nations"
received with pride and trepidation,
a sentence of Ninety Eight,
on my term paper,
but the pedantic predators
deemed it an accident
for I, was  inscribed in their
Upper East Side
Coda of Prejudice,
as merely,
"just" a
man of USDA,
B grade quality intellect.  

Hand me downs
I did not get
as I was the
younger, sole brother,
but worn lint lines
of humiliation
when and where my pants
were "let down"
to accommodate growth spurts
were my growing marks of Cain.

Those growth lines
were economic reality signs,
and were rich fodder for
childhood monsters,
Scions of Income Superiority
who lived in ranch homes in
two car, color tv garage slums,
wearing band new Levis.

In the Sixties,
time of my unsilent spring
wore a cross of
teenage hood,
my hair,
worn long,
Jesus style

Worn with labor pride,
for it was
Made in the USA,
I was a most conventional
revolutionary.

In the parochial jail
of educated guesses,
where society's lesson plans
of all that was bad
were O so well taught,
I was apart, ahead,
of Our Crowd,
but not too, radically.  

But a spiteful
Principal of No Principle,
deemed my locks a
disruptive influence,
so to exorcise my rebel streak,
so to crucify his "Jesus Freak,"
so to exercise his diminutive spirit
a pompous uber man,
he had me shorn
like a sheep,
thrice
in just one day,

He loved his full employment
of his pharoic entitlement,
The Educator's Power of Abuse,

I was so denuded
of human strength,
the Italian barbers of the
East 86th Street subway station,
wept for me,
their cri du coeur,
Angels in Heaven did hear
and from God
did dare demand
an explanation!

He roared in manner celestial,
"Is he not my child too,
and if he be treated
in style *******,
it is purposed and willful."

Pornographic compilations of
slaps across a child's face,
I've got plenty
of and in My Space,
should you care to
add your own,
down under,
got plenty of room
for all comers    

In a Facebook world,
I pride, not pretend,
that having fewer "friends"  
is my honest and true
reflection of who I am, and,
life lessons learned -
quality, not quantity.  

Victims of discrimination
can be most discriminating
in matters of
human games, associations.  
****** or word,
lack of taking care
is not heart healthy.

Tried to forgive
the despotic progenitors,
of some of that which
is good within me
that, irony of ironies,
they can claim the title,
creator;

Tried to give them
what I had gotten -
from the happy malcontented  
evil spreaders,

That grace, grace is
the only methodology,
an inestimable but
valuable lost leader,
the only way
to survive on
this planet of
hardtack and
caste striation.  

Though still quick to anger
at the cutters and denigrators
I am quick still to
confess my own failings, and forgive those
of plain and honest folk.

Unfortunately, kind observer,
you had to share my brunt,
syllabic Iwo Jima battles
of a decaying verbal moonscape
to reach the denouement,
for now we have,
mostly arrived

Most likely you too
have long ago
deserted me like
so many others,
no matter,
this modulated breath
was born and released
from my heaving chest and
as I knew it,
know this:

My Absaloms
where ever you be,
presumably and hopefully in hell,
I give you thanks
and a mini bar drink
of absolution.
a tin medal of appreciation,
for the
Marked Improvement
you inadvertently nurtured
in this restless,
voyagered soul.

My ancient enemies
till now, be advised,
forgive and forget
was and has not  
fully formed
in my penitential template,

Unlike your natural capacity
for cruelty and mean
birthed unto you
in your third rate
genetic melange,
forgiveness is taught
in a Master Class
at a famous school of Ethical Drama,
that I did not attend

Though resident in
a better place,
my root garden,
the bitter herbs you planted
still grow but,
are welcome in sweet brotherhood,
until the selah days
of just one flavor.

Though the universe's expansion
is of a pace such that
time and space definitions
will stretch and warp
and need be
refined, replaced,
the governing principle here.
need not be rephrased.  

For goodness
from evil
doth come
and should your
evil spectres
once more try
for resurrection
in my benighted
dream world.
you will find the doors
locked and barred,
upon them a sign
not verbose,

**Done.
Whew.
Scott M Reamer Apr 2013
Man life know just set eyes way like young world soul day hunger space mouth earth thoughts ignorance blind things mind knew final moment human creation kind creatures souls high forgotten dream love spoke self existence face holy deep bound think home void say surrender ear forever called held ephemeral red state end shall heed hope edge living waking fall sea wake garden need February thought past wanderer got men page colored tepid terrible **** proudly untitled features point painted faceless box forgot render wild spring splendor  handfuls looking half brain lost torn ancestral  unseen vision inner summer honor mister owned banner save today fear groans wasn't smoke  street fable strange year contrast black years  able pain body spoken word known motion  palpitate reeling nature culture disclaimers  cancer beg attentive frames ****** base profound double remember wholly finger death token  cries continue folk oh fishing form broken true  divides spread ah twas away breathe wait warning hallowed wish closer lens turn eye live  constant current author hung theory dangle  bramble chemical new force changes adderall  anymore giving beneath possess pardon commentaries eternity internal walk reason  long change does idea glimpse consciousness  wandering simply wonder physical dreams war  sleep told rest benign prior begging truth little  2012 born tale crow bowels allegory animal rule  exasperate making horse curse hands ones read  rearrange capture doing command fail awake  aperture seedlings shift steely sir nap spead ****** demons slits clever telling loud spits la-la-di-dah killing slip game reflected nameless ask  lovers rabid bear salivate plunder shameless  famously savior mint rides menthol bully fate traded melodies play misunderstand mammals gentle witless fine utterly savage silt tongue-less  dirt dilutes pure non-sensory taste briefly ravage dismember it''ll shedding ruined curtain  knots offers plot fulfills munificent two-act  relegates boxz bug altruistic wintergreen tossing  callously guise grovels one's singers treachery ashes mid-life mutter fashion parading  ambiguity separatist liars staple steeping neath  guidelines scoffing stitch moans civil wrote  Fictitious undoing fables table effigies serve  sonnets staged remark psalm swoll praise harken  beggar verse bread lines heavily electricity detection snow sack-happy preaching credit  spotted wicked best gravity gun campaign owe  barge choir revelry celebratory satiated sinking  headline pack hound persistently propaganda  gentlemen excluding diminished ******* run idles  occupied levies wolfishly honestly misinformation cuba vehemently dumb grace spectator erasing  toned sage crowded secrets inter-connectivity  loaned prayer hymns grave mistaken magnified  vandals selective jump leak escapes says minister  buckle mass honesty shut tar children's hats  monument doping long-lived electrical ladle  exaggerated cartoons address seconds cool cradle bleak yang's mind-framed hypnotic  walker caps folly treble claim streaks mixtures  swelled interstate elapse teasing spoon mobile  succulent witchcraft borderline fatal 99 temple stacks sups plastics creeps neurotic ills tossed  meek sipping old crack interlock wax alleyway  coughing blown freak clock birthdays societies  slow flashing viscous candy argument toothless  pills cerebral rapt wall bisect lives wheezing  photo kid starter foiled pair saturated self-castrating pre-packed naked uncertainly pill  used came chaos coated reprisal fells wrack  irreverent mirth sickly disinherited proudest  collate wheeze appearance palette disharmony  discontented bastardized emotive bio inhale diction beat spoiled reclamation loudest tempo  totally disembodied matte imperfect shells flat  struck sounding imparts flak origin severance remarked bone walls snared leaflets mocking  hot scripting adjective noun agape seemingly  resistant gawk calamity passage paintings wind  trashcans signings sits cheap makers poetry persist scrap slipping individual talk wonders  leaving questions fold actor fancy parchment  fates engenders flown jaws stripped longer music  sacrifice fakers book boldly frown sigh atop patient hang trade occupation blows spectacular  whispers worthy backward waving certainty danced suppose needn't ‘drawkcab’ second-guessing  boys forget marched motto heads tightly lies two-tone earthbound harp twice turns goodnight  lying ***** internally indiscriminate nickname  drunk convictions myth steep  in-consumption  fitting artist **** universal sick expressions bad  du spell melody big siphon proud learn sprawls song spastic something temperaments utter check  fissures stomp totality blend definitely thrall sing rug voice shade pestilence ties commiserate round devil steady brains emotional certain gate  suckling gates dearth decay weight bounce pound  carrier pangs glass startle contest earthen web  tug pressed air patience flush amassed guest gone apprehension staring empathize captain believe fading in-perceivable deathbed guarder makes surrounds scatter drooling ebb blink cob tome  venom near door lair derision draws host stairs scent parts curiosities spider webbing surprise wares tips stepping ascetics starkness realize picture surroundings dictations grand pillars  deaf limited comparisons greet visual residents  personal settings dismiss alien law stability common earthly shiftless places prelude  understanding mosaic keen trifling embodiments  geared inception whisper visible jowls kiss murky  puddle rank dawn dichotomy single faithful fraying pays tailor veil climb mores pence whim  breath wellspring samara god stony pear  shadows fruiting forebodes moonlit looming  shown passed bog gold wracked faint tongues  noble preachers mirror shifting layered depth  threads jungle narcissus bemused seamstress self-worshiping architect's wore slumber anomalous  opened barren seam lip caustic scene coupled brick gardener's clenches -with forms idle breed  embodied lore starving empathy design illusion  tree coat fabricate lucid mason scatter-all  narrative seeking imbued 16th shivering chemicals 17th 15thrisk improperly dare  deliberate plan purge try brought chapter speed  aide utmost spirit leading intervention felt  recall recent advent sincerity times diary  lackluster piously lasting happy holding hear  stem tasteless whimpers wet spine monstrosity  dripping causes position quite softly claws pallet  answer digging tearing beast satiating circle breaks skips redwoods beckoning rotted hushed  gray lapsing monoliths deities creborus  imbuement hand stroll paradigm rendered chorus shy whispering forest residual tension  surrenders tolerance lull anew sentenced  bearing tide birds dirge divergent rim joined  cogs wood hesitant mist emergent towering offer  awareness confinement inverted faultier stowed  plane sanctified blanketing trusting memory fossil flash twists laden self-indulgent fleeting invitation agony grip shore impetus lingering  crows 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interment paradox bitter heart  devoid jeopardy angry sensation confidential guilty arrogance mercy compliance reprieve  vincent deadening factual sign emotion awe  inhibition shackled butterflies absence actual sciences acknowledgement violent stagnant  spiritual American doors roots lack matted fore  gestures society cause streams intensity hair impossible discord lonely hearts resounding  jest  what's flavored pains closed toxic contented  happenstance scientific knowledge yeah  wizardry shaking stifled withdrawn bloom  jitter dreads settle asocial hulton make  predisposed figurative reflections demeanors  wondered affect hulton's projected sense  morning industry arrays ghosts feeling  certainly endomorphic where's partially wrath  passer mornings jovial unease advertized asking  trash onward wished tempers media mentality connect pasts sharp-toothed scramble great colours trial test salvation continually lent  degree secretly subjection social waned  disconnected colors grimly intellectual civilization cash trading baffling particular  digest myths monumental ending seasons winter  repetition introducing agent everlasting  shoulders delivered honestly-- possession funny  continence history unsightly function suffering propulsion profession divulge familiar tugs era  importance capability perpetuation spite inventory words entirety leveling fray insight  date record continues writer getting evermore fellow tongue possessions identical proof accuracy education similar sack admittance  favor unravel conveyance guilt gives beginnings  predicting audacity definition bobby heady eaters frameless learned release stone grandeur sang  speak molds sleeps split built seats people folded  sheer pour evoked playhouse liquid boring  tellers frayed stark walked reality pleas doth  preformed shows beak pride squawks opinions  greatest bold stunning sightings he'd loudly slain  sunk watch legend precipice theater deeper compound commentator civility justly silly sin  reverent seen prophetic moral confounds notion  lacking explain attempt prolific viral estrange proclivity scorn hide blur pious strung eden's  horror cut skin arch cruel twig mother vile  pass lend woods peach shrunken trail man's canopy worn 434 eat warm limb familiar father delete.

You are what your reading lady. Now would you hold this gun?
Korey Miller Oct 2012
stars and stardust fall to freedom
from the press corpse,
from the incessant demand of chemical crises.
crowds ache for love or a substitute
and false amore is what they have.
love is folie a deux-
[the shared madness of two.]
attachment is an affliction,
infatuation is disease leaping from remission,
with deadly symptoms.
red roses lead to black coffin doors,
roses dropped on floors
from vases shattered,
and life is the water spilling from the stems.

golden hair won't keep me docile-
blue eyes and a smile
are weapons of mass destruction-
cities sunk and flags risen
from the depths of inhumanity.
it's all for you, Helen, and humankind will never
perceive its aftereffects,
its hangover headache
sprawled over the world on a bad day.
little city partylights and shiny beer bottles
broken upon the concrete
covering the grass.
reflections of insanity upon the glass.

devilish, the temptress,
the succubus, a mistress
sent by Him, to spin doubt into
the spiderwebbed life of family trees
split in two by axes, divorces
to fifty percent, no-
no wedding band-aid will stop this flood.
abandonment.
neglect gets to a child's head-
can't help but wonder if
they were the cause of this.
little anchors,
keeping the heart in one place-
an anchored rubber band that demoness
stretched and snapped.
the relapse gave her whiplash, and
the stepdad whipped the boy's back, and
the boy grew up and
found a girl to take his pain to.
she gave him five stunted children,
with eyes hollow and glazed,
a mechanical response to a command.

lack of emotion only seems cruel
to those on the other side.
lack of flourish means nothing
to those who grew up to grey skies.

chains and handcuffs keep stardust grounded,
remains from a nebula which
birthed a black hole.
straight razors and pinky nails
teach fledglings to reach for the sky
and never fall back down.
glass ceilings never seemed so
breakable- tiptoe upsidedown
and reach the other side
before you fall back down to the real world.

angels have no eyes.
angels have no souls.
angels judge and leave the helpless for below.
cliffsides crumble and clouds dissipate,
and the devil lends a hand-
he is helping sinners make it up to him.
in his face sit eyes gleaming brightly;
there are teeth grinning, off-white-
he is human, though sadistic
and he understands your plight.
the devil is forgiving,
and you understand nothing, because you
are nothing.
you are nothing.

stars and stardust fall to freedom, and the devil takes in all.
Andre Baez Mar 2014
The seductress on my mind
Lives in full on expression
Laced in the free confines
And platitudes of direction

The sequential confessions
A private march of signs
Lead aggressive regression
A spinal tap of times

Timid forms of prose
Do not impose, much
In the way of speech
Or the ways of preach

A dandelion blossoms
Fully under direction
Of gunfire and hellfire
Made in mans *****

A milk which is colored
A dark, rusting, crimson
For this is the gift adorned
An antiquated prison

A dream once flowed upon
The rivers that line my arms
Texts of pharaohs charmed
With distant songs sung  

Yet, not distant enough
Into a further realm of
Steak, salmon, wine, and
Pontification, a type sublime

Cardiac and stop and frisk arrests
Psychedelics and prophylactics
Insomniacs and chipper morn birds
Courage and numbing fear tactics

Topics are churned forward
As thoughts are yearned for
But are seldom rewarded
Without snide comments

Even if contorted to fit
Daily textbook definitions
A raindrop is precipitation
Not tears from eyes of perdition

Said a jeering member of an alley
A gatekeeper for all of Hades
A living reminder of what shape
Controls societies minions a plenty

I believe you are a queen lost in time
You are the seductress on my mind
The boom-bap of 90s street art hop
A collection of lives birthed caught

You are the desire of my epicenter
The freezing of my two lips together
A culture of desire and of fortune
A soft room with croons in tunes

I believe you are not pink matter
You are the color scheme in the sun
A serpent slithering within disaster
A tale of victory and woe as one

Tears sting the edges of my eyes
As shadows are cast upon my soul
A tree in mourning for it's seeds
As oil desecrates, dry, shallow soil

When did this become a love poem?
Atop the raft my dreams have flowed
Wordsmiths fashion sturdy homes  
To heal the word and to help growth

Inside one of these I fled and bled
In it I found fish, water, and bread
Self-hate and despair had spread
Until it was fully excreted in death

The seductress on my mind brought:
Dandelions with smoke from gunfire
Milk which was crimson in color
Pharaohs songs of golden charm
A conversation in full, and open arms
Arms that held my dreams with calm

Constructs of love and poetic meals
Heal the surface of darkness scorn
Feeding the soul of it's sullen needs
A return to an innocence unborn
Poetic T Sep 2014
And the suns of man
Fell
Upon
The ground
Mushrooms grew from
This birth of suns to ash
These seeds did
Fall,
Blossom,
Burn
Life from the ground below,
The stalks of man
That once grew to the heavens,
Now
Crumble,
Topple,
Fallen,
Achievements of man
Life turned to dust,
The sun blinds for a moment
Then incinerated
Troubles of life vaporised,
In
a
Instant,
These creations of man
Burst to life all across the land,
And ash filled the air
Flesh,
Bone
Soul,
Burnt out of existence,
And still they blossomed
Rains of fire,
Upon the lands of green
Turned to black,
Suns birthed by man
Now extinguish,
*Man from the existence of life upon the land.
Its not how, its a matter of when
Sally A Bayan Mar 2016
Every death
I have felt, or known,
In silence, i mourn,
Within my breath...

No words come upfront
Just thoughts, preponderant...

I'd feel the freezing cold of an empty space
Feel the absence...clearly imagine a lost face
No smiles, spanning from cheek to cheek
Eyes, seek answers...
suddenly, I'm there by the shallow water of the creek
While some nearby creatures quietly chirp...and squeak
While I......... I could not even speak...

Living,
Is realizing...and accepting
At the right time, they turn brown, the weeds...and reeds,
But, under the water...waiting, growing...are their seeds
Brown ferns...are almost detached from a mossy concrete wall
With a strong current, and wind, they'd be carried...ready to fall

The driftwood lying by the shore...is always wet, but petrified
Brown fallen leaves, on the green grass...no more hold...crisp and dried,
The dead bark of a tree...in pieces...are crumbling...
Merging with the wet earth...in a process of fertilizing
Deep down under ....a fresh spark of life is starting.
All these, remind,
Life and death stand side by side,
That in the midst of death-
Something new is birthed...
When faced with death,
there is always someone's living breath
And, as long as the heart wills to beat
Then, life.....will still exist.

Hundreds, or a thousand times,  
We all have died
In the high and low of life's tides,
Physically,
Emotionally.

We remember
Those who have left
Those who have survived..are still around
We think of those who are next to leave,
Waiting for their chests' final heave

---And then, we think of ourselves---

Worry not of our own time
Make each of our remaining days
Be golden, beaming, and bright
With good deeds, and straight pathways

The earth is a moving circle
It makes a round.......as it spins
We try to live outwards....and then, within
Any way we live it...life is an endless cycle.


Sally



Copyright March 23, 2016
Rosalia Rosario A. Bayan
***A  HAPPY  EASTER TO EVERYONE!!! ***
To expel the outlines piled in my mind on paper,
With a light pencil in one hand,
And slice of rubber in the other,
I parent an impression of hope.

Therein lies the potential and the excitement;
A basic figure given the foundation of grandeur,
Amplifying in complexity before me,
With every scratch of graphite.

As it evolves, a heaviness sets in.
And I pause,
And I stop...

I've given something beautiful a half life, again,
As if it was birthed human,
With no flesh to cover its nerves,
And no breath to cry out its agony.

It remains still in my lap,
Eyes blank as ever staring, maybe, at me .
Out of humility, I tack it up on the wall,
A space shared by its many siblings.

I retreat shamefully with the promise to complete them,
Fumbling with the reality of what I do;
Playing God, I shape the husk of a soul,
And drop it when it's still brittle.
s u r r e a l Jun 2016
i thought you were a painting at first,
with the way those dyed eyes matched mine,
with lips as full as a novel and as red as lower worlds,
made me think you were a painting--of something most divine.

i thought you were a painting at first,
with the way those small hands rose as mine did,
with the way those lips tasted of cookie dough and warm sugar,
with the way those eyes never seemed to leave me for naught,
and abandon me in lakes.

i thought you were a painting at first,
when i approached and eels ignited my mind--
with the thought--the picture-- the painting of you, O dear,
and set my mind within seas--clouds--of gladiolus's.

i thought you were a painting at first,
with that ever-always smile,
for do you not bleed at the mouth,
with that kryptonic sunshine?

i thought you were a painting at first, my love,
when my hand touched your sadistic smirk,
knowing i couldn't truly reach you,
and the heathers over-lapse me.

i thought you were a painting at first,
when my cheek touched your cool one,
and stained it with cherry pop blush,
for i know it's your favorite,
as you wear it to bed, all-while.

i thought you were a painting at first,
when i froze and my mind sung eulogies,
at my death at your satin feet,
for your beauty reaches past heaven.

i thought you were a painting at first,
when my smile synced with yours,
when they poked our eyes,
when they wrinkled our noses,
and when the sun shone still--even though ours were enough.

i thought you were painting at first,
until our lips met 'neath blue light,
and the shivers i bled,
fueled our world a-night.

for, dear, i thought you were a painting at first,
when i could see my heart beat--pace as yours,
and the moon and sun morphed--into entity,
and made us water lilies birthed with ravens.

i thought you were a painting at first,
when God told me,
'for you are the most beautiful person i have birthed from my lungs,
and spoke my heart to,
for you--and your painting here--are the only things that dance to my world.'

i thought you were a painting at first, my love,
when i bleed into pots and saw you doing the same,
now i know when my time is scuffed 'neath the barren sand,
your blood--our resin--stains lots.

lots.

lots.

for i know you're a stunning painting, O love,
for you lock many hearts.
i'd hope to own thrice of many,
so you could master theft over, and over, and over again.

i know you're a wondrous painting, O dear,
when people beg you to pose,
so they could see that beauty too, O love,
and kiss it a wish.

i know you're a masterpiece, love--
sweeter than melted butter,
and the finest of berries,
for you're worth--worshiped--much more than,
such mundane things.

i know you're a vintage classic, O wonder,
when my eyes turn blinding stars,
and fill up night skies.

for i knew you were a--

masterpiece...

master... piece...

master...   piece...

master.

for i knew you were a human, O master,
when my eyes gloss over in drunken clarity,
and my lips spill cider;
my hand becomes water at your touch,
for the pool knows no words,

to bask in my beauty.
So caught up within our beauty we don't see the world 'round us.
The family tree is dying
Everyone seems to be lying.
The tree is falling apart,
Everyone stops caring
My family grew from the same roots,
But our branches are growing so far apart.
Everyone is letting this demon into their heart.


I am planting my own tree.
This tree is going to grow in upmost care,
With no one to stare at us.
This tree
I will call my own
Will have strong roots,
Values and traditions.
While the old tree dies away with every bad omen.


This tree will grow with care.
It will grow with every emotion to spare.
I will feed my new tree with genuine love and understanding,
No more fighting.
No more judging.
Just pure patience
Our branches will grow intertwined.
The roots go deep into the ground,
Tons of people in so many places.
But the past is dying.
The traditions are dying like a malnourished plant.
I cannot believe how low this tree is coming.’
These roots which grew deep
Are soaking in poison
Feeding the poison through the tree,
And affecting the modern members.
Anger the only root.
These roots are becoming ghosts.
They watch us.
Our moves.
Our actions.
My family is not a family.
These roots which was so deep are killing us at the top
Our lives falling like leaves in the fall.
I know that I want to make a new tree.
But let it not be in vein.
I will learn from this old tree,
An old mentor,
Who lived a life most unsatisfied.
This new life starts at 18,
Carving my name at the beginning,
And as I live,
I will see the sapling grow,
While watching the other tree die.
Its pain is my gain,
Because I am learning the tricks of the trade,
I am learning how to escape the grips of anger,
The accuser who condemned my family for generations.
I will break free,
Grow with the tree.

My family’s branches are high, but alas far.
They are becoming separated, but I am young and watching.
They say that your life is set by your parents,
But I am not fueled by abusive fire,
I have grown past them,
I have thrown this virus of the tree away.
I am not going to fix their problems,
But I am growing my own success,
My future.
This sapling here,
The seed to be birthed,
It is going to grow,
So tall.
These notes I have scribbled,
Will lead to the happiness of my child,
The contentness of my wife,
The success of the spawn of us.
This tree is going to take a long time to grow.
It will learn from its mistakes as its predecessor did not.
It will be tall.
Making this broken tree nothing more than a shell,
This life,
This tree.
It is going to be free.
The sickening evil for blood with dry up,
The new tree will feed on smiles and happiness,
And out will sprout
The family,
I have always hoped for.

But this hope started somewhere.
This hope I birthed had pain.
It is a spawn of abuse.
Which seems to be the main cause for the old tree to dig so deep.
The anger of the leader spread somewhere,
And though not everyone is the cause,
We were ALL effected.
It took our values
Pushed them to the depths of hell
And left a chilling heat of anger and hate,
And though this is a debate,
Our family’s trajectory is going straight to hell,
Back to the man who gave us anger.
I cry today,
For those who were consumed by the darkness.
I feel sorry for those in the tree who did not reach for the sun,
Who did not fight for the family,
Who did not fight the urge to inflict pain.
A sad thing indeed,
But this is why I have the need
To start again.
This is why this life,
This current tree
Just isn’t working.
I’m tired of being fed hate.
It not too late.
My tree is going to grow strong.
It’s starting now,
Here
Today
It always has been.
I was superglued to someone else’s tree.
Taught their values.
Taught their insecurities and told they were my own.
But the forbidden word.
No.
Is becoming my advocate.
I will reach for the sun.
I vow to encourage
I vow to take what is rightfully mine.
I vow to start anew.
Make this tree reach high.
This new tree will never know the “Mendoza” way of things.
This new tree
Started by a sad situation
And a definite resolution
Is becoming truth.
I may have grew up in the poison,
But more and more ii have found a cure,
Immune to anger
To hate
I have found that these roots of their tree,
Which has poisoned each twig,
Has one fault.
It never tried to reach for the sun.
So I,
I take this,
And I make this my own.
This house is not my home,
But things will bend
And I will break,
And start anew.
I will live to see my family flourish.
As its predecessor did not
for my family
C S Dec 2013
Contentment is for people who are satisfied to stop thinking.
To turn off all those parts of your head
That constantly generate questions
And continuously probe the accepted.
To hush the cells jumping up and down
To show you a new way to approach a topic,
Begging you to acknowledge the incredible plans
That could be birthed from the impossible way
You see the ordinary.
But I have an obligation to my mind.
Yes, sometimes it feels more like shackles than duty,
And yes, sometimes I want to abandon my notepad and paper
On the bedside table to have a "me day"-
Whatever that's supposed to mean -
Or halt the carousel of whirling thoughts for a nap,
But I can't.
I will always be curious, at my roots.
I grow from the dedication to my thoughts, upward.
A tree straining towards the light of innovation.
Why would I forsake the places my thoughts can take me,
Or the adventures my pen can take in translating them.
For the gifts this head gives me,
I must always be on call, on edge, on fire.
Contentment: unattainable.
Even if it weren't it would interfere with the very process
That would allow me to derive what meaning lies in contentment.
So that's my secret.
The Hulk was always angry, which is how he controlled and dominated.
I'm always searching, which is how I find and thrive.
I can't drown out my thoughts just to soak up the sun.
That's not contentment: that's complacency.
And complacency is not in my vocabulary.
How funny-
I am content with losing that one word
For the chance to be brilliant.
Seán Mac Falls Nov 2013
.
"I shall welcome the majesty of the ******
Loam, the honour of being the daisies mantle
The goodly fortune to sleep under the golden
Stars who birthed my dream of grace and light.

World, ply my ship and sail it to the seas
Of love, poem and song, I was unworthy
Shaper and so, whereby cold fates decree—
Here lies one, whose name is traced in vapour."
Aaron LaLux Feb 2018
Man,

Man has certainly caused too much hurt already,
abused every position of power,
in every possible way,
turned outrageously courageous women into inwardly awkward cowards,

how awkward,
that Man would attack,
the very Ones,
that birthed Him,

how many wars have woman started,
how many drilling expeditions have been led by females,
but then again I guess it’s fitting that Men do the drilling,
wanting to enter into Mother Earth the Devil’s in the details,

see Men always seem to want to enter everything,
like a Hermit Crab into a seashell,
and I’m a Man so I share the guilt,
which is maybe why I don’t feel well,

see I am so ashamed,
and sometimes I’m embarrassed I even have a *****,
I regret so much Collective Man’s past aggressions,
like a past life regression I still have visions of my bad decisions,

and I’m tired of making bad decisions,

heck I’m tired of making any decisions,
I’m tired of leading expeditions,
I’m tired of going to a beautiful place like a lake,
and when I go there all I do is start fishing,

why do I have this impulse,
to catch beautiful things,
to bait them then hook them then take them,
why do I find the meaning of life to involve killing?

No problems will be solved if they involve,
taking the life of a living being that’s not willing…

What’s wrong with me,
are all Men predators,
do all men want to conquer mountains,
hook fish and eat steak cooked ****** rare?

This blood lust is just fckt I few us with disgust,
all this forward progress thinking seems backwards,
I mean even this otherwise beautiful blank space here,
can’t be left alone without me wanting to add ink black words,

well blah blah blah,
and hardy ha ha ha,
it’s so sad I’ve gone mad but I’m still glad,
because the home team’s still winning rah rah rah,

got all the trophies,
got all the glory,
got all the medals,
got all the power,

all the Women have been laid,
all the Beasts have been slayed,
all the Money’s been made,
all the Players have been paid,

I’m the King Don Juan Gansta Baller Man,
KDJGBM for short,
I got girls at every club,
and players on every court,

got gold chains,
and money wads wrapped in rubber bands,
got a flashy car complete with leather trim,
it’s fitting when the skin of a cow wraps around the ride that I’m in,

given that we’ve killed the Holy Cow to get the cream,
because we don’t hold anything sacred anymore,
well nothing except for the All Mighty Dollar,
made all this money but don’t know what we made it all for,

I guess we made more money to make more war,
treated our fellow Men as enemies and our fellow Women as ******,
I guess absolute power does corrupt absolutely,
and at the end of the day really what was it all for,

because once we’ve neglected every Woman in our life,
and treated wrong every Woman that ever treated us right,
and we’re all alone at home dying in our own body with no one by our bedside,
who will we run to to nurse us back to health and hold us tight,

that’s right,
likely a woman,
so when will we realize,
we can accept them without having to understand them,

Women,
are meant to be accepted not understood,
Men,
have done enough bad already it’s time for some good,

I know I for one am ready to surrender,
let the Women have control,
because I no longer trust myself,
to keep dear everything we hold,

so I open up,
I surrender,
I let the Feminine in,
and I let Love conquer,

because,

it’s time for some healing,
and that’s not going to come from the Masculine,
the only way we’ll collectively heal our humanity,
is with the Most High power of The Divine Feminine,

it is finally time let the lead be taken by Women,

Man has certainly caused too much hurt already,
abused every position of power,
in every possible way,
turned outrageously courageous women into inwardly awkward cowards,

how awkward,
that Man would attack,
the very Ones,
that birthed Him,

how many wars have woman started,
how many drilling expeditions have been led by females,
but then again I guess it’s fitting that Men do the drilling,
wanting to enter into Mother Earth the Devil’s in the details…

∆ Aaron LA Lux ∆

The New Book Is FREE Here: https://www.scribd.com/document/367036005/The-Sydney-Sessions-12-Steps
Matthew Jul 2014
Every self defeating metaphor anyone has ever birthed
A mug of orange juice in a giant’s hand
Three tablespoons of soil that you will misidentify as dirt
A motif specific to the reader
The sound of a tree falling alone in a forest
A manual titled Insects in the Garden of Today: Pests & Benefactors
Three redwood seeds in a row without pause
My go at surrealism. Let me know what you think!
Hal Loyd Denton Nov 2012
We know not the times or the gifts that are ours specifically and unequally you see someone at a
Distance walking through a pastoral scene away and down a hill at first by voice recognition you
Know who he is this grandfatherly figure brings a flood of feelings and moods to brush your soul
With the telling of wonder of intimate days and moments you have shared so often you smile as
He naps quietly and then a night comes where for one reason or another you get involved and the
Whole night is used for this activity the next day being Saturday you relax and in the late afternoon
You at first just set for what you think is a moment but the previous night delightfully and pleasantly
Catches up with you sleep affords you this non cumbersome trip of ease and you awaken and it is dark
At first groggy disoriented just like in a dream this logical but off answer is provided then you finally
Figure out what is going on what surprise and pleasure to know you have been ambushed by a slight
Tiredness that robed you in sweet bliss then trimmed it in solace you stir yourself and do minor things
Until it’s the bed time hour but instead of the normal lights out its turn away from the computer shut off
The television **** all the lights but one and then just purposely luxuriate in the soft amber glow it
Provides set the rudder to take you to sweet wonder as you drift to unspoken destinations these are
Truly simple joys where the need to be careful comes in we know even creation and all its splendors are
Fragile a great rush of water with four feet of foam froth and power charges down it has a twin that is
Separated by this mass of rock that rises upwards of fifty feet the water falls over it in a different way
These strings of water that cover the face from one side to the other and they are accompanied with the
Sweetest mist so you have this forked water show on both sides of powerful water all this glory of white
Power rushing then falling and then the center piece contrasted to this sense such power and mass and
The water is shear as it tenderly descends the mist is truly natures kiss the sound is the embrace the
Engulfing privilege we possess and own as humans but this could be harmed and ruined in so many sad
Ways thats why we are extraordinarily careful we want to preserve it for all times as human beings my
Friends we also can by indifference and lack of understating can harm friends that in their own right
Are spiritual streams that come from great spiritual head waters that were pristine and then one greater
Than all of us caused such harm and destruction in the purist place a garden I wrote and posted Fertile
Ground the great mind of Lincoln said in his day and he meant it for all of our history a nation as great as
Ours can and must be sustained yes our armies and navy are a part but in his speech He says if
“Destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher as a nation of freemen we must
Must live through all time or die by suicide what constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and
Independence it is not our frowning battlements our bristling sea coasts the guns of our war steamers
Or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army these are not our reliance against the resumption of
Tyranny in our fair land all of them may be turned against our liberties without making us stronger
Or weaker for the struggle our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms our
Defense is in the preservation of the spirit that prizes liberty as the heritage of all men in all lands
Everywhere destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around you own doors
Familiarize yourselves with the chains of ******* and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them
Accustomed to trample on the right of those around you you become the fit subjects of the first cunning
Tyrant who rises” sound words of wisdom that benefit all men we can’t release our responsibility and
Expect a continuance of our freedom this is careful part of this piece Thomas Jefferson had this to say “I
Tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and his justice cannot sleep foe ever” what more
Prized possessions do you own than family and friends but if we deny and ignore our duty to be men
And women of righteousness how can we complain when civil authority in all manners deteriorates it
Can stand on no higher moral ground than we the people ourselves maintain we are the streaming
Waters of good or bad that flows through relationships ungodliness is a reproach to any nation by their
Fruits they will be known like it or not eat sins treats fine but know this the soul that sins it shall surely
Die it is a law an all living and loving father died to make sure no one could be a tyrant over you only
Yourselves hold that power every devil in hell can assault you but never can he claim victory until he
Sees the white flag of righteousness flying and it is saying I surrender my life of freedom bought by the
Pure sacrificial lamb God’s own son you could practically tell he was human they whipped him with a cat
Of nine tales with metal and bone he struggled down the Via Dolorosa each step declared your freedom
The song says He could have called ten thousand angels and it wasn’t nails that held your Savior to that
Cruel cross he had the ability to see everyone of us he knew how bitter and hard life would be if you
Walk it without him He said my burden is light and my yoke is easy it might sound obscure today but it is
Just as real walk beyond his love in disobedience and you will be punished by the god of this world and
Then he will take you to his fiery home as his subject I wrote before you are his greatest trophy he has
You on display in his lair because you are the greatest treasure God has not golden streets
You fist loved me and my brothers and sisters the tears that I cry in private it says this is doing the work
Of the savior increase my tears and sorrow because too many of them are hurting and know not your
Comfort lost in a savage world not any longer their own a usurper took them captive love replaced by
Cruelty is their lot if they could only see your painful longing as you look for them to come home every
Day they would truly break ties to this fallen world and fly to your presence they believe the lie that they
Have it figured out what sadness they are left with and they never have tasted your sweet spirit they
Mistake the boundless love they feel as if it were your spirit of intimacy outward love doesn’t reach
Inner depths satisfying to the point one person who cried stop no more I will die his love is truly deeper
Than the sea even the universe and Carl Sagan a man of science he was an American astronomer
Astrophysicist cosmologist author science popularizer science communicator sounds impressive but the
Reality he had an assistant and she had to be brilliant to a degree to be working with him but she was
More she was a born again Christian many were the years she loved and sought to help him not to just
Love the Cosmos but love the one who made them her persistence was to no avail you can make a god
Of many things even science how tragic he can be a warning guard your heart and you will preserve your
Soul

Going to include Fertile Ground that includes Streaks of Jefferson and Most Hated Twins I put on there
Lincoln said we should read such things

This important if you haven’t read it

Fertile Ground
O thou great Jefferson in whom dwelled the fidelity of a nation of free men.
Thy secretes can be viewed as we watch you live and breathe the life of a grand Virginia planter
When one is a student of nature and observes its subtle lessons becomes its master and ally. The next
Step of going to lead men is reasonable when taken into count the natural gifts that were refined in
Quiet fields and hills in lengthy times of treasured solitude that is not to say there won’t be difficulties
But to a merchandiser of lofty thoughts this is of little consequence. There are issues that must be
Divined through the protracted business of hard arduous study. Man’s soul drifts in and out of the valley
And hills taking unconsciously truths that exist they are everywhere but can be buried in life’s clamor.
To purposely walk across a field with your with your senses open will usher you into a place quiet
Unsettling if you are one who is uneasy in your own thoughts because the vistas will allow your mind to
Extend it to the far reaches ordinary thoughts will jump over conventional restraints and give you
Profound insights Jefferson graduated from this school of higher learning for this very important time
This man of stature arose he flung freedom’s door wide open walked through set down at his desk and
Masterfully penned immortal words, to this day time hasn’t diminished any of their importance or there
Revered excellence this document would go unparalleled in type and execution, in forming the basis for
Human conduct it would forever alter the landscape that that had existed before its grand arrival.
The stinginess of former centuries were at long last over the mind had finally
Liberated the body the willingness to do for one’s self had taken the lead there was no
Turning back, these actions would recommend them as a people. Their credentials intact now they were
Ready for the world stage a new birth of nobility walked into the human condition and it wasn’t
In the least bit hesitant to speak thoughts that had long been silenced.
The trouble today stems from the lack of understanding we have about the truth,
Of what oppression would be unleashed if our form of government would be allowed to be dissolved we
Love the dream but deplore the reality. That this system will only work when we are involved. It has a
Built in detection device, you can’t use its rewards without paying it back with service.
The results will be contagious you will be left with a weak sickly government.
The remedy simple everyone has to be its central guardian.
This does not mean that it is weak this was the way it was created it is as strong as you
Are willing to have it know this it will always be dependent on human involvement.
We might not like it but we are making a choice freedom will be loosed or bound by our decision.
The product that we deal with is very supple and ever changeable it becomes whatever form you pour it
Into this is in accordance with its nature it also is a gauge of those that handle its virtues and shows if
You have had reverence or contempt. You will be left with honor or disgrace did you carry forth the gift
Or allow it to waver the children of the next generation are watching.
Streaks of Jefferson
In freedom’s blessed glorified sky through streaks of immortal gold his visage we behold
He looks upon the fields of liberty that he and the founding fathers sowed he sees the
Richness America has become he also beheld her struggles catastrophic wars abroad
And the most painful the one that divided the nation marred it with southern and northern
Blood saw the affable the sad giant Lincoln take the reins of discontent hold them by
Shear will and with uncommon sagacity guided it back in line to fulfill its destiny as the
Powerful fount that would always pour forth waters of freedom for all of earths peoples
Total unconditional acceptance of liberty and all the fruit it bears to establish a
Government like no other this golden grain has waved under bluest skies and brightest
Sun light its rich harvest has gone to darkest prison cells Mandela was sustained by it
For twenty nine years and by its moral purity it fed the lives of those that over threw
Apartied and Mandela finally freed by principals it avows rose from prison clothes
To wear the mantle of president of his country and the honor of the man instilled
Quality that transcended political office Jefferson not to be disrespectful to his progeny
Whispers today’s politicians could do well to look on this African model of good
Stewardship of public trust with that Jefferson faded back into the mist pray that’s
Not the fate of this country
Most hated twins
Who are these two desperate characters revered but feared by all
To make their acutance few will volunteer those who know them well
All can tell by the drawn face and the tears that swell the pool where wisdom has her rule
Achievers welcome them as honored guest they withstood the test now they the richest blest
At mornings first blade of light they strike with all their might they the quickest to fight
Timorous to afraid how many have dwelt by waters undying well only to die unfulfilled
But others tried and they fell the well is to deep its where darkest shadows creep
We will be lost in these new surroundings the familiar there will be water there too
Yes stagnant unmoved guarded for naught its benefit was for the traveler going places
For you it will be your grave marker he talked and talked but venture on never
He said he was the clever one as his countenance slowly turned to stone killed by apathy
Green pastures call to find them in yourself health you will install
Few are they that were meant and born to reside in the same place you must go
If you stay rebuild the common and ordinary your monument then they will admire
Who stood to long and with all intention he gave it only words action was the wonder that was missing
Treading a narrow path in the end if you buried or squandered your talent divine wrath you will face
Cast your seed far and wide how can you not see the need sorrow has them tied
Push back the encircling darkness with the light in your heart that God did endow
Go and answer the door your guides are here I want you to meet two friends Pain and Adversity
Two finer companions you will never know Washington and his men befriended them at Valley Forge Concord, York town. Lincoln met them first at Bull Run Antietam I think he gave a little speech at Gettysburg. One birthed a nation the other saved a divided one.
DaSH the Hopeful Apr 2013
Being birthed
           I was given two options
  Departing the usual direction
        Or taking the path of enlightenment
   In the womb of my soul
      I calculated each step before it was to happen
              Spending an enternity rolling the pros and cons over like cement not yet layed
               Then I knew
   Like a knife sliding across the throat
      It was exposed to me clearly
         And taken like a breath of air
        I climbed through the opening in the veil of consciousness
            ****** and soaked in self-awareness
                      And took my first step

        Into the light
King Tutankhamun Aug 2018
Check it I be the mic originator greater than the next hater
So my nines will degrade ya send ya back to ya maker undertaker
Shake ya
With my earthquake flows formin' portals bigger than the black hole leave ya third eye swole
My thoughts travelin' faster than the speed of light say goodnight from the snake bite
A rhyming python wears cables and nylon runnin' bars harder than marathon true champion none could knock a don
Birthed by the sun raised by moon Sonic booms soundwaves from heart rates feelin' doom and soon
To be resting in the womb
The belly of the earth retaining my turf know my worth make words hurts
So suckas better tuck in ya skirts
I'm catching mirth
Along with death til my last breath cookin' up rhymes from the *** of my mind n continue to shine
Its asinine to flex ya mind if you cross the gun line don't be a victim of a graphic design

(Ya tapped out)



Scatzzz all over the kitty katz with my woody bat making them brains cracks
Cells it ain't hard to tell ****** fear me cuz I be the archangel Michael
fallin' deep into the depths of my hell o well
If you try to inhale my lyrical tales this ship is set to sail
On ya brainwaves these days fools rappin' for cheap pay lookin' all gay **** that I rather use the AK
Sittin' by the window seal signing the release will my soul'll still
Be reaching regardless the hardest artist
Usually ends up a carcass manifest the darkest
Rhymes but shine light at the same time crime at an all time
High once I blaze my thoughts cells fought & caught
By the smokin' arrows of a ghostly pharoah
Thats just my ancestors though lettin' me know it's time to show and go blow for blow toe to toe
Hands or the chrome pistol
The ghetto Aristotle makin' bodies mold from the enemies that caught a cold
Months of stale, cigarette smoke
and spilt **** water pleasantly
offset the stench of cheap cologne
and ratty, abused furniture.
    
Fictitious stories occupy this tiny, dim
apartment, birthed on the lips of
rebellious juveniles whose tongues
pierce the ears of our elders.

In a forsaken corner, Jeremy lounges
awkwardly on a grubby-plaid sofa that
suitably complements his button-down shirt.  
I join him.

Behind his right ear rests a lonely cigarette, while
another sits snug between his lips, set ablaze
by the 1968 Slim Model Zippo he inherited from
his beloved grandfather.

His transparent sense of self-worth emanates
from his grubby, grease-stained hands, scuffed boots,
blotchy-checkered flannels, and faded blue jeans
that are completely obliterated with holes.

I look into his pale blue eyes, the depth of which
often goes unrecognized.  Jeremy is a soft-hearted,
pudgy youngster with the kind of chunky cheeks
that all grandparents love to torture.  

But his marred, acne-ridden face betrays the transition
that has been forced upon him.  Slowly, his trademark
grin appears across his face – subtle, mischievous, and
typically without reason.  But this time it appears justified.

Jeremy takes a moment’s break from his cigarette to drop two
hits of acid.  A new drug for him, he hopes to find relief from
his seething anxiety, evidenced now by the wide expansion of his
chest as he takes another, more lengthy and powerful pull from his cigarette.

The mundane chatter that fills the room continues, a seeming
necessity to offset any potential awkward silence. I feel as if
this noise is closing in around us.  But just as suddenly as I
feel overwhelmed by this sensation, the noise stops.

I look around, noticing everyone’s eyes staring in my
direction.  Jeremy is still next to me, now giggling
like a little school girl.
I begin to feel sick.

Jeremy swiftly leans forward, giving his
cigarette a premature but honorable
death, eliminating its glow as he smashes
the cherry into tiny bits against the ashtray.

As he sits back against the couch, I can see that
his eyes are now indifferent. Foreign.  With a perplexed
and fascinated stare, he watches the pearly-white smoke
slowly slither upwards towards the ceiling.

There’s no question in my mind that his
soul has fled. Jeremy sinks further into the
couch, turning his vacant eyes in my direction.
I want to *****.

His high-pitched giggle has now subsided into a
low whimper.  Gradually extending his left arm into
the air, he tilts it from side-to-side, examining it as if
an infant discovering his genitals for the first time.  

Bike wheels appear in the corners of the room.
Entertained, his eyes rapidly zigzag from the
corners of the walls to his hands. He asks me
if I can see the wheels. I don’t respond.

Intervals of psychotic emotion begin to cycle. Jeremy’s eyes
fill with tears as he tries to understand the hallucinations
engulfing him.  The expression on his face betrays the reality that
he has stepped onto the never-ending theme-park ride from hell.  

Together we leave and walk to the bus station, Jeremy
walking slowly and whimsically. The bus arrives,
and I hand him a few crumpled, single-dollar
bills as I attempt to instruct him where to get off.  

All I can envision is his mother’s first reaction to her son’s arrival.  
Would she collapse at her son’s knees, crying like a mother whose boy
has come home from war?  Would he forever be an awkward guest
at the dinner table? Would she disown him?  Would he become a feral child?






I no longer know what day it is. I am surrounded by lockers
and students, trapped in a tunnel of shadowy walls.  As I stand
alone, I find myself entranced by the blinding, January sunlight
that floods through the double doors a mile away.

My vision is unexpectedly blocked by a figure
standing in front of me. Clothed in little but jeans
and a bright, white t-shirt, Jeremy stares at me, his eyes
mirroring the emptiness I now feel.  

“Do you have a lighter?”  My hands pointlessly search my pockets for
what I already know is not there. “No, man. Sorry.” A look of confusion
spreads over his face, and I suddenly cannot help but notice the sick irony
of the scene in front of me - Jeremy flooded in light as if born again.  

My thoughts linger here too long, and just as swiftly as Jeremy
appeared, he is a mile away sauntering out through those double
doors. Estranged, I continue to stand here, hoping with
futility that this isn’t the last time I have looked upon him.
Year: 1995
Makana Queja Jan 2013
What makes one man superior to another?
Born at different times.
Birthed by different people.
Forged in different habitats.
Formed by different education.
The men are different in every sense,
Yet they are compared by the same bar.

Truly, a man should only measure himself,
Against who he was yesterday.
Paul Celano Jun 2010
A body still from excitement
Head to the sky, waiting
A whole frosted dance is about to appear

Earth’s colossal yet gentle hands grab the sun
And turn off the gleaming lights

Darkness
Restful darkness

The ample wind covers the area
Like an invisible curtain of chilled silk

Then a moment of calm
Everything is still
As if a single picture was taken

Vibrant silver angels in their white cotton
Fall from endless stage in the sky
Embodying the frozen air
Thrusting their ****** dance
As they float towards the ground

These suggestive pale dancers
Land on your still excited body
Using it as their new birthed platform

They use their sensual ballet
To send ice cold stings through your bones
To bring a ****** tingle to your mind
Until your heart ******* to a perky smile.

This is called the seductive winter dance
Able to make your mouth gleam
And your soul tickle

Embrace the frigid sensation
As you give birth to your inner thrill
©2008 Paul Celano
Ken Pepiton Oct 2018
Honest,

that meaningless word left dangling before children,

a damoclean sword held fast in a gordian knot tied with scarlet thread,

finer than the spider's that once tied men's souls to an angry American God,

birthed in Transylvania,

over the woods, and through the dale, no lie

There is a tale of lies told in Nobel houses, never reachin' ground,

Down here, we situations manifested to, vain, again, stem the tide,

We flounder, fish out of water, why are we sent if

wait



he hears, he listens, haps he knows, and

how such as we came

to be here,

Welcome and see, dare ye ask me in? Might I ply you with lies

and you, believe 'em?

I could make a mindless robot out of your parts, but

that would take forever and

that's not how

Wisdom's child would tend to be, for first,

You must believe a lie and I, amusing as can be,

can't tell lies.

Discernment, fine points, per-spicacity per se, the only way.

Good luck (Luc, said luck in many tongues, is said Lose- as in Luc-ifer.

It means light, as in light, regular old granted light.)

Lightifier, good, take some, good light, for the travail, in the night.



You see, not so long ago, for me, five years before I'as born,

my momma moved to town.



What was that like, I axed my old uncle, while back,

movin' t'town, in 1943?

Well, he says,

We had electricity.



USA, 1943, some folks still was poor, and all the good men

was gone to war.

Cities, it was different,

if the movies got it right, Bowry Boys, n'em.



In the desert we did, okeh, in town, though,



we had electricity.



He was ten back then. He'd been huntin' rabbit's,

to buy Christmas presents from Sears and Roebucks,



since he was five.

C'mon, I say. No lie, he say,

BLM or some gover'ment

whatsajigger, was payin' 2 cents a pair fer jack rabbit ears.



'Said he bought Christmas presents for his mom and dad,

and my mom, with his first rabbit money, at five.



Shootin' with a single-shot 22, 12 cents a box,

Jack Rabbits, 2 cents a head.



Three Christmas presents, plus postage, $2.56.

Do the math, I think, and go -



Five years old, at ten, he moves to town, 1943,

we had electricity. That's all.
An older man than me gave a thought to ponder. Thought I'd try to share the bounty. This is read, by me at http://anchor.fm/ken-pepiton
Emanuel Martinez Mar 2015
What is it about this chase that eludes me
That runs away from me
That seeks to experience and then flee me
Until I get hijacked by another
Consenting to my own free fall into ignorance and bliss

Conditioning myself to transmit
Abundance without reservation
Until shot at the knee
But dragged along for a while longer
By the chains I so genuinely let bind me

And even before the wounds have healed
I don't stop running, I won't stop running
Resolute in a chase that targets me
I do so unconditionally

But you can't hijack my senses
I am not an experience or experiment worth having
I am not a temporary treat to be improperly digested and defecated
I am not an amber that ignites upon initial contact
To then be mediated or extinguished if the temperate is not right
I am not the holy water that you colonize
And shower with to cleanse you
To then invalidate that sanctity
When it falls down the drain
I am not a barometer that reliefs the labor
Needed to challenge the aberrations
Of your colonized and colonizing tendencies

I exist
Physically insignificant
As the earth that birthed me and will bury me
But eternal in essence
I am a permanent presence
I am an unforgettable imprint
I am your equal, no less, no more

The moment that we mutually acknowledge
Each other's existence
I have bound myself to you
From that moment...loved you unconditionally and eternally
And expect no lesser commitment
From you to me, or any other person you meet

And even after the wounds have healed
I don't stop running, I won't stop running
Resolute in a chase that targets us
We must unleash our abundance unconditionally

And when we leave
We will have given
Absolutely everything
That we had to give
During that time of our existence
March 6, 2015
Joseph S C Pope Jun 2013
There is nothing new under the sun, but it was night and the indifferent blinks of gaseous lives above looked down while my friends and I were at a new fast food joint that moved next to a now lonely Wendy's, with a faded sign tarnished by something the new fast food joint had yet to experience—mundanity by time. But I had my notebook with me while we ate outside, but it was in the car. My mind is always in that book, and I remembered something I had written for a novel in progress: 'Nothing is new under the sun. How is it possible to watch stars die? There is nothing new to their dust. We are the flies of the universes.'
It was just when I had finished my BBQ pork sandwich when Ariana suggested visiting a graveyard. I had the idea to visit a Satanist graveyard that our friend, Lanessa warned us against for the better safety of our sane souls—good luck with that. I wanted a revival of fear. How the beast would rip at the roof off our metal can of a car—the greater our barbarism, the greater our admiration and imagination—the less admiration and imagination, the greater our barbarism. But Ariana disagrees with words I never say, Nick laughs with my simple words to that previous thought. How funny it would be to burn eternal.
But then he suggested we should go to the Trussel in Conway. I had no idea or quote to think about to contribute to this idea. I wander, as I like to, into the possibility that his idea is a good one. Like some wanting hipster, I dress in an old t-shirt with of mantra long forgotten in the meaning of its cadence.
That is the march of men and women into the sea—honest, but forgetful and forgotten.
I was wearing a shirt sleeve on my head I bought from a mall-chain hippie store, and exercise shorts, finished off with skele-toes shoes. I was ready for everything and nothing at the same time. And that fits, I suppose. But all that does matter—and doesn't, but it is hard as hell to read the mind of a reader—it's like having a lover, but s/he doesn't know what s/he wants from you—selfish *******.
But there I was,  on the road, laughing in the back seat, sitting next to a girl who was tired, but also out of place. I could see she wanted to close arms of another, the voice of another, the truth that sits next to her while watching tv every time she comes over to hang with him, but never accepts that truth. She is a liar, but only to herself. How can she live with that? The world may never know.
The simple rides into things you've never done before give some of the greatest insight you could imagine, but only on the simple things that come full circle later. That is a mantra you can't print on a t-shirt, but if it ever is, I'm copyrighting it. And if it's not possible, I'll make it possible!
When we got to the Trussel, the scenic path lit by ornamented lamps seemed tame once I stepped onto the old railroad tracks. They were rusted and bruised by the once crushing value of trains rolling across it's once sturdy structure. Now they were old, charred by the night, and more than just some abandoned railroad bridge—the Trussel was a camouflage symbol birthed by the moment I looked into a Garfish's eye as it nibbled on my cork while I was on a fishing trip with my granddad when I was eleven. I remember that moment so well as the pale, olive green eye looked at me with a sort of seething iron imprint—I needed that fear, it branded instead of whispering that knowledge into my ears.
That moment epitomizes my fear of heights over water—what lies beneath to rip, restrain, devour, impale, and or distract me.
But epitomize is a horrible word. It reeks of undeveloped understanding. Yet  I want a nimble connection with something as great as being remembered—a breathe of air and the ideas  thought by my younger self, but I will never see or remember what I thought about when I was that young—only the summary of my acts and words. And by that nothing has changed—am I too afraid to say what I need to say? Too afraid to hear what everyone else hears? Or is it the truth—depravity of depravities that has no idea of its potential, so I am tired of the words that describe my shortcomings and unextended gasping hope. I am tired of living in the land of Gatsby Syndrome waiting for Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy!
But when we got to where the Trussel actually began I felt the fear hit like the day it was born—all hope was drained, and I was okay with abandoning all aspirations of having fun and being myself in the face of public criticism. I was flushed out by the weasel in my belly—the ******* beneath those still waters. I compare it to someone being able to handle Waterboarding, but can't handle being insulted—it's that kind of pathetic.
I stood just on the last understandably steady railroad ties that I knew were safe and watched my friends sit off the edge of the bridge, taking in the cold wonder of the night, and I was told at least I was smarter than my dead cousin who managed to get on top of his high school in the middle of the night, but had to be cohearsed down for fifteen minutes by a future marine, and future mourner who still grieves with a smile on his face.
The future mourner, he laughs at the times he insulted, or made fun of, or chilled with his now dead friend. It's never the bad times he cries about, there are none—just the good times, because they don't make them like they used to.
I watched them in that moment, and I don't know if I can deal with knowing my life is real. I began to blame my morality on this fear even though I already justified the fear just seconds before. But as I write this, I look over my notes and see something I wrote a few days ago: 'Life is ******* with  us right now. You laugh and I laugh, but we're still getting ******. The demon's in our face.'
As morbid as that comes off, it resonates some truth—what is killing us is going to **** us no matter what we do—and I don't want to be epitomized by the acts and words I didn't say.
I was never in the moment as a kid—I was raised by by old people and kept back by my younger siblings. The experienced tried to teach me wisdom, and the inexperienced kept my imagination locked in time. I don't want to go home as much now because I see that the inexperienced are becoming wiser everyday and the experienced are dying before my eyes. My idea of things is enduring leprosy.
But back to the simple moments.
Ariana saw a playground as she stood up and investigated the Trussel. It was next to the river, behind the church, fenced off by the fellowship of the church to keep the young ones in and the troublesome out. Of course, we didn't realize there was a gate and it was locked until Nick stated the probable obvious within ten feet of the nostalgic playground. And that's when Ariana pointed out the bugs swarming the parking lot outdoor lamp that blazed the fleshiness of our presences into dense shadows and more than likely caught the eye of a suspicious driver in a truck passing by. But I was still on the bridge—back in the past, never the moment. Me and my friends are still children inside these ***** forms. I muttered to myself: “Life ain't about baby steps.”
Nick looked over and asked what I said. I turned around, dramatic, like I always like to and repeated louder this time, “Life ain't about baby steps.”
He asked if I needed to do this alone, and I said he could come along. I walked rhythmically across the railroad ties, and heard Ariana comment that getting to the railroad up the small, steep hill was like being in the Marines. I laughed sarcastically. Nick and I had been to Parris Island before, and I know they test your possible fears, but they beat the living **** out of them.
I casually walk into the room where my fear lives and tell it to get the **** out.
When I reached the precipice of the last railroad tie I stood on before, I felt the old remind me that death awaited me, but there was no epic soundtrack or incredible action scene where I stab a manifestation of my fear in heart—a bit fun it might have been, but not the truth. I bear-crawled over the crossings of the ties and the structure of the bridge itself. I felt Relowatiphsy—an open-minded apathy self-made philosophical term—take over me. It is much simpler than it sounds.
There was no cold wonder as I imagined. There was just a bleak mirror of water below, a stiff curtain of trees that shadowed it, and the curiosity of what lies in the dark continuing distance past the Trussel.
Nick sat with me and we talked about women and fear, or at least I did, and I hoped he felt what I did—there was a force there that is nabbed by everyone, but cherished by few—courage. And I thank him for it, but I know I did it. Now I want to go and jump in that still water below—Ariana later says she's happy I got over my fear, but I'll probably have a harder time during the day when I can see what I'm facing, but I see it differently. During the day, the demons are stone and far away—like looking down the barrels of a double-barreled shotgun uncocked and unloaded, but at night is when the chamber is full and ready to go, and you have no idea who is holding the gun with their finger on the trigger and your destination in mind.
Then we threw rocks into the water in contest to see who could throw past the moonlight into the shadowy distance . I aimed for the water marker, and got the closest with limited footing, using just my arm strength. But it wasn't long before we had to leave, making fun of people who do cooler things than us, on the way to the car. I had to ride in the back seat again because I forgot to call shotgun. But on the way home, the idea popped in our heads what we should get my hooka and go to Broadway, and get the materials so we could smoke on the beach.
Nick's girlfriend and her friend joined us.
I missed a few puns against my co-worker as I was sent to get free water from the candy store where I work. I ended up doing a chore because I was taller than most of the people there. Appropriate enough, it was filling the water bottles up in the refrigerator.
All the while I loathed the fact that I would have to be clocked in tomorrow by two in the afternoon. I grabbed the water and got out of there as fast as possible without appearing to be in a hurry.
Impression of caring matters more than the actuality where I work—and yes, that makes me a miserable ****.
Perhaps it's not too late to admit I am recovering pyromaniac from my childhood and the flavoring we use for the taffy is extremely flammable. It would be a shame to drench the store in what people love to smell everyday when they walk in, and light the gas stove. Then, maybe I could walk away real cool-like as this pimple in this tourist acne town pops like the Hindenburg. The impression of splendor is like a phoenix—it grows old, dies, resurrects into the same, but apparently different form, spreads it's wings, and eats and ***** on everything simple, or presumably so.
I forget the name of the beach, but it was the best time I've had in a while. I was whimsy, and high on the vastness of the stretch of beach around us. They could bury us here. But me in particular. I rolled from the middle of the beach to the water, stood in the waves and shouted my phrase I coined when I realize something as wonderful as conquering a fear or realizing a dream;
--******' off!
And I stared at the horizon. My friends came up behind me and I looked back to see it was Nick and his girlfriend hugging. I gave a soft smile, put my hands in my pocket, and turned back to stare at the clouded horizon. What beasts must lie out there—more ferocious than the simple fresh water beings that wait beneath the earlier placid waters. I was a fool to think that was the worst. Nick said as I pondered all that, that I looked like Gatsby, and I tried to give him a smile that you may only see once in a lifetime, but I'm sure it failed.
I wanted to tell him that, “You cannot make me happy. It is usually the people who have no intention of making me happy that makes me smile the quickest.” But I don't. Let me be Gatsby, or Fitzgerald, if to no one else, but myself.

Hell is the deterioration of all that matters, and as the five of us sat around the hooka, and inhaled the thick blueberry flavored smoke that hinted at the taste of the Blueberry flavoring I use to make Blueberry taffy, there was a satirical realization that the coal used to activate the tobacco and flavor in the bowl is sparking like a firework, and reminds us all of where we're going.
It's a love affair between that hopelessness and hope of some destination we've only read about, but never seen.
By this point Nick and I are covered in sand, because he joined me in fun of rolling down the beach. We want so bad to be Daoists—nonchalant to the oblivion as we sit in. Just on the rifts of the tide, he and I scooped handfuls of wet sand, and I lost my fear of making sense and let Relowatiphsy take over again.
“Look at the sand in your hands. It can be molded to the shapes your hands make. We scoop it out of the surf and it falls through our fingers. There are things we're afraid of out there, and we sit just out reach of them, but within the grasp of their impressions. The sand falls through our fingers, and it plops into the tide, sending back up drops of water to hit our hands—the molders of our lives.” I said all that in hope against the hopelessness of being forgotten.
Then he said, “What if this is life? Not just the metaphor, but the act of holding sand in our hands.
I relish in his idea of wiping away my fear of an unimportant life. And by this point, it's safe to assume I live to relish ideas.

The last bit of sand from the last handful of sand was washed from my hand and I looked back at the clouded horizon, pitch black with frightful clouds and said:
“Nick, if I don't become a writer. If I live a life where I just convince myself everything's fine, and that dream will come true after I finish all the practical prep I 'must' do. I will **** myself.
I looked at him, Relowatiphsy in my heart, and he said:
“As a friend, I'd be sad, but I'd understand. But that means you have to literally fight for your life now—regardlessly.”
And he left me with those words. Just the same as my granddad left me a serious heed before he wanted to talk about something more cheerful, when I asked about his glory days fishing the Great *** Dee River. He said: “I wish I'd been here before the white man polluted the river. It would've been something to fish this water then”, then he paused to catch his breath, “Guess there are some things that stay, and others than go.” Then joy returned, as it always does.

But the idea of what was happening to me didn't hit me until we were a few miles away from the beach, covered in sand, but the potential of the night after conquering my fear of heights over water had been shed in the ocean.
Around midnight, when the headache from the cheap hooka smoke wore off and the mystic veil of the clouds over the horizon has been closed in by the condensation on the windows of some Waffle House in Myrtle Beach. There was a wave of seriousness that broke over my imagination. Works calls for me tomorrow by two.
There's not much vacationing when you live in a vacation town.
And midnight—the witching hour—spooks away the posers too afraid to commit to rage against the fear.
But there are others—college students that walk in and complain about the temperature of the eating establishment, and the lack of ashtrays—how they must be thinking of dining and dashing—running from a box, but forever locked in it.

They make annoying music as I write this. That is how they deal.
This one was the unedited version (if I make that sound naughty or euphemistic).
Mohit mishra Jul 2016
Oh motherland, at your feet
may all moments of my life lie sacrificed
This strength of my youth, these breaths,
All are surrendered to you

To protect your honour
I would forego hundred lifetimes
I would either embrace death or
vanquish your enemies
Touching your feet in reverence
I take this solemn oath
until the end of my life
I would be loyal to you
Those who have died in your lap
their spirits bask in eternal happiness
Oh motherland, at your feet
may all moments of my life lie sacrificed


My mother tells me
I will go on without you
bearing the pain of your passing
by turning my heart into stone
However, if in your lifetime
there is a threat to this country
and being fearless you do not
fight this threat, my son,
then, I will think, I birthed
poison instead of life
or that my nourishment
did not give enough strength
Listening to these words
my head lies forever bowed
Oh motherland, at your feet
may all moments of my life lie sacrificed


It is not only said by my mother
but all mothers of this country
to give birth to a Narsimh
they bear difficult pangs of labour
Those brave warriors who wrote
history with their life blood
carry their images in your heart
and placing your hand there, promise,
you will forsake everything else
at the call of your motherland
Your body, soul and life
surrendered to your country
Oh motherland, at your feet
may all moments of my life lie sacrificed


Narsimh - an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu,often visualised as having a human torso and lower body, with a lion face and claws. He is known primarily as the 'Great Protector' who specifically defends and protects his devotees in times of need.


Translation is given by karishma ji
Kenn Rushworth Jun 2015
A world in colour lies
                semi-distant, semi realised,
A near-forgotten future exsanguinates, yearning
              in the weakened glow, of infinite winter morning.
The voice, the voices, the voiceless, my anger, my age,
                Pan-millennial youth in coming years will fade,
It will carry duvet and pillow from hateful home
                to halfway-house until half way home
It will make all its hearts into the shape of cardboard,
                blemish the fire with chemical ****, **** hard,
It will seek forgiveness at the steps of screen,
                beat asthmatic chests, fingers, ribs and seams,
It will see itself cower in the horrible light of mirror,
               sail to the sun on wings of fakes lashes,
And it will burn, burn not in forgiving hangover sodium,
                but burn in the eye of a guilt yet to come,
And it will drown, drown at the blessing of the water,
               drown at its birth time and time over,
And it will wound, wound in scythe and cushion comfort,
                wound the waking dream in Siamese horror of sorts,
And it will leave strangled in the cords of its university hoody,
                leave alone at night, touch itself and cry.

Bursting rhythm from the panopticon, viewing all aspects
                of itself engulfed in ex-disney coloured acid
                spewing forth from the desired wreck,
Hurtling profound and profane into and beyond
                ******* and love and love and *******,
                *****-tinged snows lubricating seasons onward into each other,
Gut-busting, gut-busting, gut-busting societal downpour to harridan office
                from liquor dormitory, escaping and elevating
                on citalopram or selegiline,
The surgeons and nurses, the poets and builders, ever restless
                at the unbolted door, screaming into their unread palms,
                comparing varying hell to holy water lakes of others,
Sipping the dew from paradise wing, discontent with all
                in purgatory-England whilst licking the knee
                of America and imagined Europe,
Wanking itself dry at the lottery of thought,
                crude reckonings spiralling sugar into salt
                landing on the tongue of want,
Feeling crucified at the Atheist tea party,
                climbing the cross of trend
                supplying own milk and nails,
Unwanting in the chrysalis, ignoring coming candles
                but fantasising a thousand symmetrical suns
                to limited avail and idea.

But idea there will be, birthed, blood-hungry
                gnawing at the heel ‘til bare bone,
And it will rip apart fat riddled arteries,
                Deconstruct, Reconstruct all the bodies and the cites,
And it will write and spell all the words wrong
                realising that what ‘they’ are selling is sign language for the blind,
And it will note of itself as harsh but not unkind,
                reject bribe bread and water be it divided or divined,
And it will say of cartography “No need as of yet,
                I have seen men lost in the lining of a suit,
Crying into their shoes, uncombed, unfettered, unfertilised, without hope,
                after laughing into empty lakes.”
We can each say “My God, my empty sky, my cartoon prophet, my local MP,
                I have seen everything and want none of it,
                I am alone in a narrow shape of time,
                watching us all unfurl to the scent of burning feathers and hair,
                to the sound of punctured veins.”
We watch silent litanies for graceful pardons of filth,
                in “Amen” then nothing,
We watch our age’s world rend lung
                through hollow cheeks and air in our bones,
We watch ourselves into eyes or no eyes at all
                watch ourselves read last lines and then
                watch ourselves realise and whimper
                from ulcerated gut, tongue or pen,
                the everlasting knell…

                “…And it will happen again…”
Nat Lipstadt Jun 2019
poems are cheap they say, the supply exceeds the demand,
all are product of criminal mischief, and Lord, I know,
I’m one of the most thieving, most mischiefing ones

when no one was about, I scribbled many notes,
transplanted from my eyes, for a bottled voyage
to fallow beaches for sandy seeding

no matter IF these poems are from your womb ripped,
****** red concoctions of life’s cute cutting edge inscriptions,
no one cares re your titanic love’s labors, your children’s betrayal

no one cares from whence and wherefore they birthed,
all words, low class and progeny, not prodigy, of demeaning circumstances, best tossed back without much foolish hesitation

writ with pen tip of broken green glass from a parking lot,
the point I broke once more before my commencement,
inked from a wicked witch’s melted green spittle pooling alongside

poets of no way, falsely prophesying falsehoods most singularly bad,
waste not-want not, time better spent than reading rhymes of stolen disrepute and cloudy ownership and ignoble authorship

unless you among a blessed few, who see a full blown poem in glassine clarity, birthed fully formed Elton songs in a mouth full of amniotic fund, you, put down thy laboring eleven instruments

if words you claim of new parentage, you as the mother dear,
know there is nothing new under the sun, even these very words,
scripted by Israelite king whose tomb gone, he, too, poet forgotten

join me in a needle park of junkies who tried and failed, nickel bag
smoking budget dope words, in cigarettes of mostly discarded seeds and twigs, hallucinatory inhaling the same vision again & again

you refuse, naturally, glamming in notional newness, your arrogance, a plentiful commodity of wood-be writers by thousands buried in wooden caskets, under wooden inscription-less crosses

and of the trillion readers possible, to coloring picture books and instant grams, all have gone to the labor-free glancing look-see
of a seconds-short, lengthy meme, 10 second videos, 140 limitations

of the greatest, of Shakespeare and Coleridge, reader’s fast-dying, sunburned neurons reply; “free ***** of his Love’s Labour’s Lost, and the Ancient Mariner, overdue, free him too!”

ancients mock you aware that there be no verbal combination yet to foretell, what Lear said, that’s the the idea, “When we are born, we cry, that we are come to this great stage of fools.”^

fools we are, for there be no fore, the tale already told, once before & more, vaingloriously does this poet’s false vanity speak, so, so boisterously,
  
“why my tale, why my tail, is as new as the oldest fossil”
^ King Lear, Shakespeare
Ted Scheck Jan 2014
She visited my house, home
Wife, Boys:
Soaking up what little she could of Little Brother’s life;
And I hugged her, I put my arms around her frailty,
My big sister, now tiny and ravaged by the word
That shouldn’t rhyme with
Dancer, but
Does.

Here in her last September, last
September.
A
Final tour of her
Favorite Places, a
Preacher’s Mountain.
And looking into her
Eyes kind and squinty,
I had the feeling that
One hand held the
Times I would see her.
I was off by two,
minus the thumb.

Forward-fast to Dec.
27th, my Niece’s Wedding
I held her again, and
She was more frail
And unsteady and her
Eyes rimmed red with
Spreading Pain;
The rain relentlessly
Hammering on the roof of the
Membrane-thin
Quonset Hut-Shell.

Walking unsteadily steady back
To her Dear Friend’s car
My heart in tatters, sad, yet
Glad for her to visit that
Distant Shore
That her eyes so longed for.

And now, in this frozen January of
2014
Wintry-Mixed Nut Group
(That is my family)
I enter her ineptly-named
Living room, where she is
Laid prostrate before God
And everybody.
And I enter into such a blender of
Sweet-sour-bitter-salty
Emotional juices.

I take her hand
And kiss her cheek, and an
Eye perks up at the sight of
Little Brother.
Yet that eye is tired of
The uphill worn treadmill that
Life has turned into.

(Please God take her away
With You. Deliver my
Sister Amy
From the planet’s
Gravi-pain-tiful
Pull)
And that prayer flew out of
Me driving back to Indy
Sunday at about 2:00 pm
Central Time.

And at 11:30 pm UGT
(Universal God Time)
An Angel wakes a
Slumbering Saint.

And Amy Scheck closes her
Eye on this world
(And opens the eyes of her
SPIRIT
To the
Next)

(And we are in the presence
Of God’s Messengers,
That Warrior Race of
Angel Guardians).

He is of a height much,
Much greater than her
Small yet intensely curious
Form.

He has mysterious and utterly fabulous
Wings tucked and tightly-sprung
Beneath impossibly-broad
Shoulders; his sword
Gleams like a hundred
Suns glistening on the dew of
A thousand worlds.
Radiant! Radiant and
Mighty is he!
And he is here
For her.

A voice of velvet thunder, low
Mixed with music and fury.
“Rise, Little One.
Child of God!
Rise, and grab hold
Of my tunic!
It’s time to enter
Into the Throne Room of
The Most High!”

And, forgive me for imagining
(What cannot be imagined, but
Longed for, yes. Longed for
By countless numbers).
I write in faith, hope, and
Love for my dearly-
Departed sister.
I use the tool
God gave me
Before I was born.

I imagine the transition
Of death to life
Of life from death.

A unimaginably-large soul
Trapped in a dead husk of
A Mortal Shell
Winds down like the biological
Clocks we resemble; metering,
Measuring heart beats of time,
Of counted breaths breathing
No longer. Of pain, and suffering,
And the emotions swirling off both
Like streamers moved by the wind.

Amy Winifed Scheck
Dies. She breathes in/not out, or
Opposite so.
Her heart goes
Blub/Dub
And then stops
Forever.

But something amazing begins to happen.
In her soul is a key.

This key has a name unknown to us.
That name defines the soul of
Her New Existence.
To me - to us - it is...
UNSPEAKABLE.

The fleshy fleshly tongues
Are as worthy as uttering it
As slugs are equipped to hit
102-mph fastballs.

It’s her soulprint, though it does
Not belong to her;
It’s the print from the Soul
Of Jesus Himself.
HIS mark. HIS claim.
HIS.
It is the manifestation of
Amy’s Name
(Written in the Book of Life).
There can be no better assurance
Than to know, without that
Demon of Uncertainty, known as
(Doubt?)
That YOU are in THAT BOOK!
Are you?

So Amy’s soul is
Delivered, birthed, taken-
TRANSFORMED and
Enters the Waiting Room
Of Heaven.
Holy, Holy, Holy...

Feathers weigh millions of
Tons compared to the
Lightness of Being
Amy feels as, nearly
Transparent, she is a more
Solid creature than the largest
Pod of Blue Whales ever to
Swim and sing.

Her Angel takes Amy
To the Throne Room.
Falls prostrate for a moment,
Amy sees a burly tree
Fall, then, instantly,
Stand; the tree rumbles words.
“I have done my duty,
Precious Little One, as
Your Angel Guardian.”
He bows his head,
And then is on one knee,
So that his great shaggy head
Is nearly level with his
Little Charge.

His voice is surprisingly gentle, for
Before Amy was created:
This supernatural being was
Assigned this precious little bundle
Of joyful humanity, and he fought:
Fought! Fought the great battles
Against the ravages of the earthly
Realm; the seizures, the sickness, the
Angel Guardian was inside the baby's
Heart as it struggled to do its job, to
Deliver the blood to the extremities, to
Live, to grow, to fight, fight!
This one, in a little over half a
Century, became close to Jesus,
And, by proxy, close to the Being
Who created Angels!
Man! Woman! Child!
Did she not have the heart of a
Lion?
Did she take on the Spirit
Of a prayer Warrior?
Yes. Indeed she did.

Heaven's tears are thick, syrupy. Alive
With the Immense Sadness and
Immeasurable Joy of Christ Jesus.
They flow slowly down the shaggy
Angel's scarred face. God only
Knows how close this Angel was/
Is to Amy.

His voice is choked with emotion.
“It was my pleasure to serve and protect you,
Amy Winifred Scheck.
You must Wait."
He wipes tears from his eyes,
Knowing he has done his job,
HIS job, protecting, serving,
Ministering to this Little One,
As he soon will Minister to
The next Little One.
"You must wait. Wait upon the Lord
You heard His Call
In your life on Earth."

The Angel looks gravely
At the tiny, frightened
(Yet terribly excited)
Little Child of God.
And does something rare,
Even for the Guardians.
He spreads massively-wide arms and
Draws the trembling
Child into his protective embrace.
Her small hands grasp mountains
Masquerading as shoulders,
Hugging the Being with surprising
Might.
And Amy does quite an amazing
Thing. She senses her Angel's
Distress, and gently, lovingly,
Pats his shaggy beard, his cheek,
Praying! For the Messenger and
Deliverer!
Her little form squeezes strength
(Love)
Into her own Angel Guardian.
And Jesus, Everywhere,
Smiles and wipes tears of His own
From his face.

The Angel speaks in a
Whisper as gentle as a soft hush of
A breeze after the first
Spring shower.
“You will hear His Call
Again.”
And the Angel does not
Vanish comically in a puff
Of cloud; it is as if he
Fades away into the
Multitude of the
Heavenly Fold.

Seraphim, and Cherubim,
And fantastical wing’d and claw’d creatures
Amy has only dimly dreamed about,
Sing, and shout with sound-ful colors that
Could never exist on earth, for
They would melt the bonds
Of reality itself
And drive mad all the ears and eyes
Which suffered to sense it.

Off in the strange
Far-close distance
One Figure Stands
Above, Most High Above Every Thing
He created:
The Most High
Being Who Was Ever,
Is, Will Be,
And Is To Be.
It is Him

Jesus Christ
(And the people of earth,
Myself included, sing, sing! SING!
Blessed is the Name of the Lord!)

“My Child, Precious child,
Enter the Holy Throne of God.”
And in steps that cannot be
Measured by any earthly
Standard, Amy Winifred Scheck
Enters Her Savior’s Throne Room.

With her new feet, Amy
Walks bravely, surely, securely,
Eyes low, her countenance recognizable
To the One Whom it resembles;
And:
All around her is a Living
Chorus of Beings shouting
Holy! Holy! Holy is The Lord!”
Yet within the cacophony resides
The Still and Quiet Presence
Of The Lord of Lords.
The Prince of Peace.
Upon His Throne, He sits,
Waiting and Being
Waited Upon.
Worshiped.
As only God should be.
It is Through Him - Jesus Christ -
That Amy enters into the Kingdom of God,
The Presence of the King of Kings.

Amy speaks, using a voice that she never dreamed
She had with her long-gone forgotten
Vocal chords.
“Here I am, Oh Lord.
Oh Lord, I am Here!”
Her life is Measured
Judged.
Because JUDGMENT
IS HIS!

Of:
The Judgment Seat
Of Christ:
I will not insult
My Creator
By imagining the content
Of my sister’s
Heart,
Or what goes on there,
In the most important moment in the history of a human being.
I will experience it;
So shall you, Dear One,
Who reads and contemplates the meaning
Within these words.
(ALL will experience
The very same thing)
So, human beings, get
Your affairs in order, for
We know not the hour
Of our demise.
If there is any doubt about what
Happens to you when you die...
Seek Him!
Accept Jesus Christ as your
Personal Lord and Savior!

Amy Scheck
Loved Jesus, and spoke His Name
With a rare form of deep and wide
Conviction.
She was a Christian, a Child of God.
She had a smile for everyone,
And most everyone left her
Smiling.
She loved Jesus on earth.
She was an obedient servant.
And what do we take with us
To Heaven?
What is in our HEART.

Jesus loves us all, all of us.
So I will believe,
Believe, I will, that
Amy’s love for Her Savior,
And her acknowledge, public,
Amidst scorn, ridicule, love, and
Acceptance
Were the Words
That Jesus used
To write
Amy's Name in His Book
She sowed and reaped, and
Reaped and sowed, and led
Others away from sin,
And, more importantly,
To Jesus Himself.
Amy’s life was full of
Good Fruit from
The Vine.

Interlude: The Other Side of Grace
And Jesus Christ spoke to Satan,
Who said, of this new soul:
(As he says to EVERY single
New soul entering into God’s
Eternal Kingdom):
Because, you see, we are fallen...

“What of THIS one, Lord?
She is MINE, I should think!
I have a long list of her
Considerable
Sins.”

And His voice the Thunder of Heaven,
Jesus stands for Amy Winifred Scheck.
(As Amy counted times stood for Jesus)
Her love for Him in no way can equal
HIS love for HER, but that is the great
Sacrifice that Jesus took upon Himself
On the Cross-the staggering weight of
Humanity's sin.
The equation does not have to be
Equal to be right, and true, and real.

So now Jesus raises His voice, and
Speaks, and the Foundations
Of Eternity shake, and every One
Within Heaven’s Realm
Trembles at Glory
Personified in Voice,
At Love, walking upright.
“CAST YOUR GAZE AWAY FROM HER, SATAN!
GET THEE BEHIND ME!
THIS ONE BELONGS TO ME.”
And Satan slinks away, knowing,
Knowing the answer already,
Yet eagerly awaiting one of
His
Coming to him soon, soon...
Soon.
Satan is, if anything,
Patient.

“You are Amy Winifred Scheck,
Born to Ed and Mary Scheck on
January 11 of the year
1960! Your body died
January 27, 2014.”

Amy is simply in the State of
Eternal Awe.
Jesus. Is speaking. To her.
Her new tongue must not be
Functioning properly.

“Well done, good and faithful Servant!
You have been faithful with what
I bestowed upon you! I gave
You a seed, which you
Planted in good soil, and
Tended it; watered it; pruned it
So that it
Multiplied many, many times over!
The Fruit of your life resides
All around you!
You led many who were
Astray to My Kingdom!
Enter!”

“OH! MY JESUS!”
She exclaims, her voice
Accompanied by the blasts
Of trumpets and a chorus
Of Angels.

Amy runs with joy as her feet and
Hugs the shoulders
Of The Almighty, feels
Scarred hands cupping her
Tiny face, as eyes blazing
Brighter than a thousand
Stars gaze into hers.
Everything that ever mattered,
That matters now, that will
Matter on down mortality’s
Road
Resides in the Sweet, Lovely
Kind eyes of Our Savior,
Jesus Christ.
He speaks:
“I’ve a place prepared for
You, Dear One.
For there are many rooms
For the Names in the Book of Life!
I have great
Adventures planned for you!
Eternity awaits! Does your new
Spirit thirst? Are you ready for
Your celebratory banquet?”

Amy can only cry and weep and sob
With joy so pure she will have
To learn an entirely new
Vocabulary to give it substance, depth, and
Clarity.
She looks around, seemingly,
For the first time, and sees the
Familiar form of Mary Elizabeth,
Her earth mother, now
Transformed, as she herself has been
Transformed.
Amy sees her new form in
The form of her loving mother.
They embrace, Mother and
Child.
And the applause of Heaven
Is Sweet Thunder.

Amy’s earthly father,
Edward James, is there,
Joking and smiling
With his older brother
Michael and his wife,
Tess.
He sees his daughter,
And shouts with Joy.
More embraces.
Heaven is a place of
Embraces, the birth
Place of Joy itself.

“WELCOME, TO HEAVEN’S TABLE,”
And Jesus speaks Amy’s new name.
“LET US REJOICE, MY FRIENDS,
FOR AMY IS NOW,
FINALLY,
HOME.”

— The End —