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Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
I've been blindly in love,
With someone who sees me.
I've been blindly in love...
Like Cupid and Psyche.
I don't have to see,
To imagine and believe...
Cause what's inside truly matters.
What's essential always comes first.
I've been blindly in love,
Yes, I am and I know.
I'll never let you go...
Through the beautiful paradise
And through the darkest roads,
I'll be there walking with you.
I'll always tell you,
"I'm always here to stay."
I'll be giving colour...
To your shades of gray.
To always remind you,
"That's what I'm here for."
I've been blindly in love,
With the way you laugh,
With the way you talk,
With the way you smile...
With your warm embrace,
Reminds me of the place.
I've been blindly in love,
I'm always here to tell you...
That always, I love you so...
Promise me you'll never forget,
That you always know,
I don't have to see to believe...
I've always been yours,
Even if I've been blindly in love.
Thomas Kay Sep 2012
I don't know what this is
I don't know why it is

All I know is I love her
All I know is I hate her

I go around at day
Blindly following her away

But during the night
I see it's just that way

She tells me that she loves me
But I don't think that she knows

She's blindly tearing me
Tearing me apart

I wake up in the morning
And forget all that night knows

I blindly follow her at day
As she's blindly tearing me apart
I saw the piece that'll complete me.
I saw it again.
Maybe, you're confused
And I am so nervous
So how could I start my story?
When I just saw my missing piece?
I am a puzzle
And he's a puzzle piece
I am a mindful art.
A black and white one; gloomy, simple, boring.
I am contented with my life, I am not looking for more.
But then, he came.
He came to me like a thunderstorm
And I cannot do anything because I'm a mere stone.
He's a poor lost soul
And I'm willing to became his foolish map
I was hypnotized with his colorful gaze
And I fell deep.
Yes, I am.
I really am. I knew it was trouble,
He's a trouble.
But I am a willing victim, a suicidal prey
Who’s begging for more.
God! I am pathetic!
I know, those laughter's and fears are worth it.
I know that every burst of anger, every drop of tears are worth it.
I am nothing but a handicapped
When it comes to him.
He used to hug me with his fire- coated body,
It could burn my skin. I am well aware of everything.
Yet I let him.
He touched me like
He's taking the air of my lungs with him
And I know it's deadly
But I can give it all to him.
He's a parasite within my mind, heart, body and soul.
He corrupted me.
He became my skin.
My air to breathe.
I did everything so we could fit perfectly.
And that's when I realized.
I realized that he cannot love me as I love him.
He cannot sacrifice himself as I could give my life for him.
He was selfish, I am selfless.
He was composed of color, I am made of black and white.
That's when it hit me.
I am **** too late to realize! **** too late.
I was falling deep
But I am falling into an abyss of confusion,
An abyss of emptiness and sorrow in the pits of hell.
I am broken.
No, I am always broken.
I look at him blindly and I am at fault.
Maybe I am just desperate
But I am ready to be a fool for him.
I'm a willing victim, a suicidal prey.
I look at him blindly
And forgot that he's a colorful art and
I am just black and white.
I look at him blindly
And forgot that he was a walking disaster
and trouble to my life.
I look at him blindly
And forgot that he's punishing me
With his every touch.
I look at him blindly! I look at him blindly.
But, I cannot look straight at him
'Cause I already gave up… so I am letting him go.
He shattered me into pieces
And now, I'm all alone
As sadness started to grow.
I saw the piece that'll complete me.
I saw it again.
I knew how I reacted
As I saw my missing piece.
I saw it! I saw it.
But I know, someone already took it
Because it is not my puzzle to fit.
Dear Mr. Puzzle Piece,
You're the most beautiful piece that I ever had. I believe that this is not the right time for the both of us, it's toxicating so we'll always end up like this -- broken. I'm so sorry for not loving you enough to hold on, I'm not the "girlfriend type" for you and you're not even the "boyfriend type" for me but always remember that I loved you so much, it hurts. You will always be in my heart. Take Care, I'll always pray for your health and success. Till next time!
Love,
Ms. Puzzle
I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.
I’m done with blindly
Accepting all of your lies,
**** faith, earn it!
I’m shredding your books.
Prove me wrong when I say
That you’ve never helped anyone.
Fix a ******* problem,
Instead of making more.
So far all you’ve been
Is an object of war, hate, and bigotry.
Stand for love,
Like you claim.
Stand for love,
Or get the **** out.
I’m done blindly
Accepting all of your lies,
**** faith, earn it!
When you get on your knees,
And beg for forgiveness,
Remember you’re the only one
Who can fix it so
Put those clasped hands to work.
Get up and do something,
Instead of praying for it.
Don’t thank God for
What’ve you accomplished
With your blood, sweat, and tears,
Thank yourself for hard work,
And party with the devil.
I’m done with blindly
Accepting all of your lies,
**** faith, earn it!
Remember when you say
That you’ll keep me
In your prayers,
That I’ll think of you
Every time I watch the news
And see people dying and killing
For their imaginary friend.
I’m not making the
Leap of faith for
A jealous god,
Or for an instigator
Of hate, war, and bigotry.
I’m done with blindly
Accepting all of your lies,
**** faith, you don’t even deserve it!
Inspired by the line in the movie "The Grey"
gracie Feb 2018
lightning flash across the sky
silver clouds begin to cry
our clothes are cold and soaking wet
but we don't run inside just yet

if I said I'm ready now
darling, would you show me how
to blindly run through fields, unplowed
until the thunder roars?

fire races through my spine
warm hands meet my cold waistline
let's dance together, intertwined
like sunflowers in a storm
only an innuendo if you want it to be
Ayad Gharbawi Feb 2010
ANOTHER LETTER TO YOU AMERICANS: WHY DO YOU BLINDLY SUPPORT THE CANCEROUS, RACIST REGIME OF ISRAEL? AND DO YOU SIMPLY NOT SEE THE CONSEQUENCES?


Ayad Gharbawi

February 4, 2010 – Damascus, Syria


I am writing you from a Third World country. I am trying through my letters to connect with you Americans. I am trying to communicate with you so an understanding can arise between us.
I do not feel in any way optimistic. Why? Because you Americans live in plastic, fake, unreal ‘reality’ that your mass media feeds you that is fundamentally pro-Zionist and pro-Israel. It is precisely this blindness of your slavish poodle behaviour towards this Apartheid state that renders you so much hated by every nation and by every religion and by every race on earth.
It is no secret that US foreign policy in the Middle East is heavily influenced by Zionist lobbies. This is a fact that has acres of literature written upon it. What do the Zionists do whenever any human ‘dares’ to critique Israel? Well, of course, you declare him to be a ****, or a Self-Hating Jew or an Anti-Semite.
In other words: no human can ever critique Israel, and should he critique Israel, in any way, then that means he is a genocidal, mass murdering ****.
Did you see that typical Zionist, Dr. Dershowitz, who has recently labelled the author of the indictment of Israel’s atrocities in the Gaza War as an ‘anti-Semite? Well, Mr. Goldstone is, of course, a Jew himself.
That should point out to you all, the basic law: anyone who even thinks of daring to criticize Israel is a **** or an Anti-Semite.
Therefore, no respectable human can ever critique Israel.
And that means that: Anyone in the civilized, respectable West, who ‘dares’ to critique Israel in any way, shall be expelled from his/her job and shall be an outcast.
That is the Zionism in action in the West.
Fine. So, if no respectable, sane human can critique Israel, does that mean that Israel is the only nation on this planet that must be beyond any critique?
And if so, why are you, the people of the State of Israel, supposed to be beyond any critique?
Obviously, this Zionist twaddle is *******. The Zionists greatest fear is being compared to the Apartheid South African regime.
Why?
Precisely because Israel is an Apartheid state, where any non-Jew is an inferior-class.
Look at Israel.
Look at that cancer, all of you who love Israel. Look at all those American politicians who are paid by Israel to go and visit that land. Do they see the shanty towns where non-Jews live? Do they see the ghettoes where non-Jews live? No, of course not. This ‘tours’ show American tourists and politicians what a great land Israel is for the Jews, while they simply, forget to show these ‘visitors’ how the other half lives.
So what Israel look like?
Israel is a great land for the Jews. No one is going to deny that.
But what is Israel like for non-Jews?
Israel is a land where, because, you are not Jewish, the government, has the right to demolish your home and your land if they so wish and you can do nothing about that.
Israel is a land where they can expel and deport any non-Jew from your home at any time they like.
Israel is a land which has the right to expel any non-Jew from its soil.
Israel is a land that does not allow a non-Jew to marry a Jew.
So what kind of country do you Americans call that?
And then you Americans wonder why do these non-Jewish inhabitants hate poor, democratic Israel so much?
We, the non-Jewish inhabitants of Israel – we the Moslems, the Chaldeans, the Druze, the Armenians, the Russian Orthodox – hate Israel precisely because Israel, under its Zionist ideology, is simply determined to create a Goyim-free land that is only for the Jews. (‘Goyim’ = non Jew). So, we are all to be expelled or murdered in order to make the land of Israel only for the Jews?
Do you Americans think that the entire Goyim (non-Jewish people) are going to accept that?
Did the blacks accept the White Man rule in South Africa?
Did the Albanians accept Milosevic’s Serb-only Yugoslavia?
Israel is one of the few remaining countries where the Racist Supremacist ideology functions fully and is alive.
And yet, the West, cannot even dare, to speak the Truth that everyone knows about.
Israel is a state that was created by:
1. Ethnically cleansing as many Goyim as they can during 1947-48.
2. Israel is a nation that has a Constitution that is based on the sick fact that the land of Israel ‘must only be for the Jews’. Any non-Jews (or Goyims) must be removed.
Now everybody knows these facts, Jews, Zionists, Goyims and everyone else.
But what is so sickening, is why is Israel allowed to practice these Racist rules, whereby other leaders, and other nations were; punished for being racist – such as Milosevic’s drive to expel Albanians and Saddam Hussein’s efforts to expel Kurds?
Why are Zionists immune to any criticism?
Why is it that the Goyim world cannot critique Israel?
What are you Americans unable to realize what a cancer Israel really is?
Frankie Gestone Mar 2013
He woke up in a rapid sweat, darkness surrounding him, his soaked pillow was pressing up on his neck as he could feel the uncomfortable stabbing cold run right threw his whole body. His mouth was dry and his body was in great pain. He lay there practically naked, but not just physically, also emotionally. It was like a catatonic state where the person’s body is paused in reality, but the actual person is far away and isolated even from himself. He wondered why he was so comfortable being uncomfortable and remaining frozen in time.  He saw nothing but the subtle moonlight that peaked through the blinds of his window. A point of existence, he feels nothing because all he has ever felt has drowned him. His numbness was being accepted and he embraced that if he remained this way, he would never have to feel hurt or heartbreak again. It’s better this way, he confirmed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there he was right in the middle of a storm. In so many ways, he realized where he was ending was where he originally began. All the imprints from all he ever knew came back all at once to watch him finally leave all he ever knew from this life. And in the last moments, he found himself with her. He held her hand, while she held his, and the hands of their family and friends. The world was so dark and cold. The wind became much more rapid and an enormous bright light from it came within just miles of them. He kept looking up at the dark black and gray clouds over them, never as frightened as he was now. His focus was on the great strength of the wind. Whatever melancholic thoughts he had of his life, he would not give up hope. Maybe he was just hopelessly hopeful, but holding each other tightly might, in some miraculous way, save them. Then suddenly a deep peace began to sustain his very being. He remembered whose hand he was holding- the only woman to ever understand every level of his being. He looked down at her big, precious eyes pouring out tears. Their eyes locked, as she had been watching him the entire time. No words needed to be said from one another. They knew exactly what they felt and meant. For the first time in his life, everything was all okay. All was beautiful. The whole situation was beautiful, not tragic. In that moment, he understood this was where he was meant to be. This was where he wanted to be, for only in such a life altering moment does one comprehend the very nature of love and life. To just glance into her eyes and see the same person staring back in suspense, while all he ever knew was being born, growing, and dying simultaneously in complete acceptance. They began to fade and disappeared into the light.
Tom Leveille Dec 2014
have you ever believed
in something so blindly
so genuinely
that the moment you realize
it isn't true, something inside you
changes forever?
i wanna tell you a story, see
seldom do i ever
go swimming in drinks
deep enough to drown in
but when i do
i speak in tongues
about things that none
of my memories
are allowed to talk about
like that christmas
at the isthmus
where my girlfriend
plucked a conch shell
whiter than gods teeth
out of the sand
held it to her ear
and stopped time
that day she was a shade of blue
the could've made the ocean sick
see, she loved to play jokes
when she held
the sea shell to her ear
she gasped, called my name
and said "i want you to hear this"
i said "yeah, right, everybody knows it's just the same old sea"
she replied "no. not this one. this one is special. listen. theres music in this one"
she handed me the shell
like a promise she couldn't keep
and i held it to my ear
with all the potential
of seeing shore
after being stranded
at sea for years
only to hear
a tired dirge of silence
spill from its emptiness
i guess she didn't know
how desperately
i wanted to hear it too
because ever since
something inside me snapped
now sand pours out
of every post card i open
i hear seagulls
in telephone static
sometimes i have dreams
where i bury my hands
in every beach
i've ever been on
and exhume this graveyard of noise
every time i try to sleep
i spit up fishhooks
and i guess i'm obsessed
but maybe
if i hold my ear
to enough vacant things
then i could have back
the time stolen from me
since it happened
maybe they would get it
if they knew what i wanted
when i blow out birthday candles
maybe they'll find me
face down in a wishing well
i watch eternal sunshine
of the spotless mind every day
pretending i can forget too
because this sea sickness
has followed me for years
because yesterday
i walked into a music shop
and all the pianos broke
but the only thing
i can think to say is
*do you know how bad
a memory has to be
that you fantasize
about forgetting it?
Jeff Gaines Mar 2018
This girl I know
She is just ... like a book.

Her cover is so beautiful
And yet ... forever changing looks.

But this girl's beauty
Is unlike any that you've seen.

It really comes from all those pages
Those pages in between.

Each page tells a story
Some of sorrow oh so sad.

But for every one of those that you read
You'll find one of better time's she's had.

This girl I know
She rules a realm that no one ever see's.

This girl will never show it to you
And she will never show it to me.

This girl is tough
And dauntless and strong.

This girl she sings
The most beautiful songs.

This girl will never let you see her cry.

This girl will never answer you why.

This girl she doesn't need wings to fly.

Because this girl ... She is the sky.

You will find her overhead
Every day and every night.

Her sun will warm the hardest heart
And her stars they shine so bright.

If you should ever catch her and open that book
You'd better read as fast as you can.

Standing still in any one place
Is never in her plans.

But, this girl I know isn't running from something
And it's not that she's some bird on a wire.

She isn't blindly running through time, you see
This girl I know ... She has a world to set on fire.
Written in the Fall of 2012 about a friend of mine that just means the world to me. I'm too shy, or whatever, to show it to her. With my chronic case of Charlie Brown Syndrome, I am forever in fear that I will be somehow misunderstood. I hope one day, if she ever see's it, that she realizes it is about her.

PLEASE, with all due respect, do NOT tell me to give it to her. If I haven't in 5 years ... I am never going to. That's just me. I PROMISE you that I am THEE most stubborn Aries that you will EVER encounter. My stubbornness has made my family and friends, quite often, call me "The Immovable Object".
J Chicago Mar 2015
lust was in her eyes so blue
did things good girls just won't do
with that wicked glance
made your **** hard in your pants

she was her own *** show
let everybody know
what she was thirsting for
desire burning in her core

your perfume lingers in the air
i reach for you but you're not there
pull back the sheets and blindly stare
cold pillows laced with strands of hair

she don't **** around like some
only hopes you'll make her ***
she'll wake up the neighbors
as she's layin down the favors

always up when she goes down
then she grinds her hips around
her hair tangled and naughty
as sweat glistens off her body

your perfume lingers in the air
i reach for you but you're not there
pull back the sheets and blindly stare
cold pillows laced with strands of hair

fingernails down your back
better than a hit of smack
her flesh ripples with passion
howl and moan in rhythmic fashion

she screams and gyrates one more time
giving reason to your rhyme
carnal pleasure she defines
like an ****** that blinds

your perfume lingers in the air
i reach for you but you're not there
pull back the sheets and blindly stare
cold pillows laced with strands of hair

always pushing one step further
is this *** or is it ******
leave you gasping as you shake
both get off like a **** earthquake

the world around stops turning
lying there in blissful burning
the myth takes human form
as all night she keeps you warm

your perfume lingers in the air
i reach for you but you're not there
pull back the sheets and blindly stare
cold pillows laced with strands of hair

shadows dance across the wall
as your bodies rise and fall
she feels you deep inside
ebb and flow she rides the tide

you stare into her eyes
as the sun begins to rise
a smile begins to creep
then your grinning in your sleep

your perfume lingers in the air
i reach for you but you're not there
pull back the sheets and blindly stare
cold pillows laced with strands of hair
Michelle Garcia Nov 2014
i used to write about him
endlessly
in tattered journal pages
and in cheesy poems
but i didn't want to admit it

i didn't want to admit
the fact that he was gone
and writing him into paper
wasn't going to bring back
the person i once knew

i didn't want to admit
that i wasn't in love-
that instead, i was cold and lonely
for endless summer nights
in the pitch black vacuum of my room
when everyone else was sound asleep
and i should've been, too
i guess at that time
i just didn't want to admit
the fact that i was too busy writing
to realize i was just lying to myself

so this is me finally admitting it-
this is my apology letter
for blindly lying to myself,
for believing the miserable lie
that writing about him
would bring us back to life

because so far it hasn't worked
and i'm undeniably sick
of lying to myself
and ignorantly believing it will
O'er the midnight moorlands crying,
Thro' the cypress forests sighing,
In the night-wind madly flying,
Hellish forms with streaming hair;
In the barren branches creaking,
By the stagnant swamp-pools speaking,
Past the shore-cliffs ever shrieking,
****'d demons of despair.

Once, I think I half remember,
Ere the grey skies of November
Quench'd my youth's aspiring ember,
Liv'd there such a thing as bliss;
Skies that now are dark were beaming,
Bold and azure, splendid seeming
Till I learn'd it all was dreaming —
Deadly drowsiness of Dis.

But the stream of Time, swift flowing,
Brings the torment of half-knowing —
Dimly rushing, blindly going
Past the never-trodden lea;
And the voyager, repining,
Sees the wicked death-fires shining,
Hears the wicked petrel's whining
As he helpless drifts to sea.

Evil wings in ether beating;
Vultures at the spirit eating;
Things unseen forever fleeting
Black against the leering sky.
Ghastly shades of bygone gladness,
Clawing fiends of future sadness,
Mingle in a cloud of madness
Ever on the soul to lie.

Thus the living, lone and sobbing,
In the throes of anguish throbbing,
With the loathsome Furies robbing
Night and noon of peace and rest.
But beyond the groans and grating
Of abhorrent Life, is waiting
Sweet Oblivion, culminating
All the years of fruitless quest.
Victoria Ruth May 2014
My dear I fell in love with you
blindly
You always treated me oh so
kindly
I would lay my hand gently on your
chest
Burry my head in your shoulder to
rest
Cup your cheeks and kiss your
face
You always had such everlasting
grace
But since those days the times have
changed
And for drugs my love had been
exchanged
You started to chase the ultimate
high
I was left alone in the blink of an
eye
You began to lose everything you
had
You were an addict, I went absolutely
mad
Nothing more important than your
dope
But all of this time I held on with
hope
That you could some day stop the
addiction
You were nothing more to me than an
infliction
Of pain, I was broken it was me you
destroyed
All you were was a crazy drug addict
unemployed
But I didn’t mind I was blindly in
love
I’ll admit it’s something I’m not quite
*proud of.
being in love is sweet. no matter how many times the things he does hurt you, you stay blindly.
There is no more painful love
than unrequited love
A heart that is open
pouring out to another
but an empty space
like a vacuum
with nothing in return

Like giving a gift
‘Tis better to give than receive
And the heart offers freely
all of its wonderful presents

Free of expectations
when truly filled with love
It blindly releases itself to another
With a simple creed
‘I am for you’

Like the wall of a dam
suddenly letting go
A deluge of emotions
Thoughtful, interest, caring, warmth, love
A flowing waterfall
of Niagara proportions

However, without intention

which goes without saying
since the truer the love
the blinder it be

The vacated space
creates a sudden vacuum
A sharp, deep pit left
where once all of itself was housed

For a brief time
the heart is unaware
still glowing in the warmth
from the happiness and joy
of the love it gives

But slowly the glow fades
And the presence of the empty space
becomes more obvious
and apparent

A coldness sets in
An addict looking for a fix
The heart desperately seeks
in return what it has given

Never intending to give with strings
but so it finds itself
now tied to another
with the strongest of bonds

The intense fulfilling feeling
once experienced
Replaced with anguish,
longing, loneliness and pain

The mind and heart begin
an epic civil war
Feeling the torment
and seeing the destruction
the mind invokes all its resources
to break the bonds
the heart has created

But with hope that is
almost sad and pitiful
the heart refuses to let go
So sure of the ties it made
And fighting back with all
of its might to defeat
any attempt
the mind has
to remove the bonds of love

A man at war with himself
will find himself at war with others
And so, the inner conflict
resonates outwardly
displayed aptly with defiance
and destruction

Like a pebble in a pond
each action creates ripples
Slowly at first
but then with exponential speed
a life is destroyed
leaving only a broken
and beaten shell

And after all the destruction
and loss
All of the pain and suffering
The tears and sorrow
At this moment
standing on a pile
of nothing but debris
The mind,
with a sense of arrogance
and certainty,
confronts the heart
and pointedly asks,
“Do you see now?!
Do you see the
error of your ways??
Look what it has cost us!
Do you see the
mistake you’ve made?!”

Without hesitation or waiver
the heart responds
with a steady certainty
that is calm and cool in nature,
“No. Love is a risky venture.
One always, ‘takes a chance at love’.
But I will not admit
fault for trying.
When I love
I love freely and openly
I offer all of myself
without expectations
It’s only when you get involved
and create conflict within
that we have problems
To love is to love
It brings joy and happiness within itself
If it is not returned
then it is not returned
but an open and loving heart
can not feel emptiness and pain for it is filled with love
And there is no greater reward
than finding that love in another
and having another
find that love
in you
Written: March 4, 2018

All rights reserved
She said those words
'Let's be friends'
If I never hear
those ******* words again
I swear to God
it would be too soon
Comical words
invoking cartoon
characters that are
kooky and dumb
Because that's where
these filthy words are from

You must take me for a wide-eyed naive
Or an escapee of the mentally insane
ward of a prison or "hospital"
or whatever politically correct term it's called

You can take your friendship
and shove it up your ***
I know,
I'm sorry
Such a statement has no class
It's crass
But I don't give a ****
I'm angry right now
For a moment
I had hope
You got back in somehow

I built such sturdy walls
grand and tall
Made you stand outside
Press that intercom button to call
Kept you at a distance
But time turns scar tissue dull
You smiled and you waited
Baited me into a lull

We'd hang and talk
You'd smile and laugh
Hours upon hours
the time would pass
So comfortable; So easy
Something others don't have
Thoughts and dreams start again
But Nope,
Sorry! Too bad!

A forgotten feeling
Also an ember burning deep
High hopes birth expectations
That you did not want to meet
'It's just complicated right now'
Some ******* that you say
Oh! Okay! That makes everything better now
Hip-hip-hooray!

You were just being honest
Saying how you felt
It was me with the problem
A hand of cards that were self dealt
All the work I had done
The counseling and the meds
Heart-to-heart talks
Many books I have read
Feeling so confident
but overconfident I was
Unaware of the noise
A teeth shattering buzz
Blindly I stood
with the answers there for me
Head in the sand
Look away; don't want to see

'Only fools love'
you said to me once
Thought I knew what you meant
Had an inkling or a hunch
But not a ******* clue
is the sad, sad truth
Your forked-tongue spit it's venom
Words used to sooth

Mask after mask
you pulled from your face
Never the truth
Confused in a daze
You grasped with tentacles
Ensnared with your web
Lies are your candy
I was endlessly fed

My mind a toy
Not anything more
My heart for your consumption
***** kept in a drawer
Rip me apart
Please tear me down
Your never-ending heartache
I'll choke in and drown

Under your foot
Under your thumb
An insect; A maggot
Piece of dirt; Lowly ****
What am I now?
What have I become?
What was I to begin with?
A child on the run
Running with fear
You made my heart run
Mouth running had your ear
My torture was your fun

Should I call you a '*****'?
Smear your name? Shout out '*****!'
Would that equal out the playing field?
Somehow even the score?
Playing games, put on pause
Maybe save for later
But there's no saving this time
Tend each need; I am your waiter
Forever I'll wait
so endlessly I am waiting
Madly love you
Yet for me, I am hating

Thunderous booms
The sky streaked with light in veins
War is raging all around us
and in the balance we remain
Here I remain
even though there's no balance
Must be insane
Have me committed to this mess

You are a jigsaw puzzle
with half completed pieces in my mind
The rest of it a jumble
The other pieces I can't find
The nervous dog who is confused
I follow your commands
Unfulfilled, I'm simply used
Didn't go the way I planned

Now to me you speak
as you tell me so much more
of the textbook cliche nonsense
Told a million times before
You feign heartfelt sincerity,
interest and concern
Who you care for is a short list
It's as if I'll never learn

There was a version that before
was living at one time I think
But nothing in this life is free
As rain pours down, in mud we sink
So proudly I strut and adorn
my stunning hand-made concrete shoes
The complimentary attire
fitting all the bad I choose

Now frozen here
as I am kept
unkempt in this very dark place
Place marker for my maker
Marks
Without a mark
An unmarked
grave
Written: March 8, 2018

All rights reserved
Mateuš Conrad Jul 2018
.wow, i never thought it would ever be possible,
i'm sorry, i have no empathy for these youtuber "creators",
any idiot can regurgitate the news,
venture into vulture journalism,
  then again: gone are the days of closely associated
with people like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein...
they are really gone: what the hell was gamer-gate
compared to watergate? gate after gate,
and all i'm hearing is response videos,
it should have never come to this,
whereby journalists are as untrustworthy as politicians,
and of what remains, come the saturday and
the sunday editions, when the petty bourgeoisie
come out of the woodworks of a week,
album reviews, book reviews, t.v. reviews,
restaurant reviews: real, real journalism,
all the grit you'd expect from a warzone...
           journalists forgot they were not kindred spirits
of politicians: but immediacy historians...
the front-line history chroniclers...
i find... these days, esp. these days...
    you know why i like heidegger so much,
and forget the fact that he joined the **** party?
in 1938 he was already disillusioned by it...
so the ad homine fallacy bites the dust...
   even a **** deservers a redemption...
but i find that these days, of all days...
   man, as a historiological creature has to bow
before the unshakeable facets of the biological man,
esp. in the english speaking world...
    in terms of history and biology:
     history has all the fun stories,
and a sensible "concern" for time,
   well... if not "concern" then at least a bearbable
time-frame...
                  after all, i am the one who said:
all the great deserts of the world,
akin to sahara? they were once great
mountain ranges... you already know where
to look between a mountain range akin to the alps
and a desert... bound to h'america...
   monument valley: utah...
  a mountain becomes a rock after a while...
while the desert expands...
    ayers rock (uluru)... but monument valley (utah)
is a transition period between a mountain range
and a desert, if we're going to stand outside
of all space and time, and look back in...
we have plenty of time to catch-up on...
           just like i believe that black holes
are actually 2-dimensional objects:
   that spin really fast, giving an impression
of them being 3-dimensional objects:
as usually represented by a gravity dip associated
with them pulling matter into themselves...
i think that black holes are paradoxes...
since how can a 2-dimensional object
actually exist in a 3-dimensional space?
   that depends on the size of the "3-dimensional"
object / space... the universe is a medium,
it's defined as a "space" but to me...
      it's beyond space... it's only space on the grounds
of isolated time, 365 days,
the time and space it takes for the earth
to orbit the sun... which is an isolated example,
outside? well: there's atmosphere on earth,
outside? vacuum!
who's going to prove my theory wrong?
               not anyone in my lifetime -
besides the point with these youtube content
"creators": where credit is due, credit is due,
but once might have cared for their vulture
journalism... two old farts akin to felix (black pigeon
speaks) and sargon of akaad talking about how:
the youth are congregating to youtube to listen
to music: that's what i've always done...
  i discovered these youtube "creators" by accident,
i just wanted my jukebox back, man,
i wanted my algorithm back, my imprint back,
now that the devil's dozen scenario took hold
of the platform: 1 video playing, 12 back-ups...
and they're all the same, unrelated, *******...
        talk all you want, please, just give back
my algorithm imprint, where i can discover new music...
again... i never thought i'd see another
compilation video, 173 videos bound to one...
and, mind you... after finding about 6 googlewhacks
(googlewhack? when you use the sort of
language that provides you with only one search
result on the behemoth platform of billions
of results, 1 is grand, but 6? it's becoming too
predictable)...
                        so here's what i found
   (band - song):

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hell... could be worse:
   i might have translated some latin
of horace into pig-trough comfort food.
judy smith Sep 2015
Sep 28, 2015- A cocktail party is a fad in big fat weddings nowadays, and so have elaborate and voluminous cocktail gowns! But before you head to buy such an outfut, it's best to evaluate your body type and choose something that offers comfort, says an expert.

Divya Sisodia, fashion stylist, VioletStreet.com, an online shopping destination, has shared tips on how to choose a cocktail dress that can flatter you:

* Before picking a cocktail dress, evaluate your body type on whether it is pear shaped, rectangle shaped, apple shaped, petite, bony, boxy or full-figured.

* Instead of blindly following the trend spotters, opt for a dress which is comfortable and suits you. For example, apple shaped women, who carry most of the fat around their abdominal region and often have a large bust and waist, but narrow hips, must opt for soft fabrics rather than fabrics that would cling to their body. Cocktail dresses with flowing or A-line cuts are perfect for pear shapes, as they silhouette the hips beautifully.

* Full-figured and plus size women must choose dark coloured dresses that make them look thinner.

* Accessories are a great way to add oomph to an evening look. It can help to add one’s own flair to a dress that might be beautiful on its own. Even a simple black dress becomes a style statement when paired with a pair of edgy earrings and spiked heels. You can also use interesting or chunky neckpieces to divert attention to your upper body than to your lower body.

* Don’t try to fit into ill-fitting cocktail dresses as they will only make you feel and look uncomfortable.

* To create an hourglass delusion, highlight your waistline. Blouson dresses that gather around the waist add a curve to the upper hip and show off your perfect legs. You can further enhance your waistline with a wide belt or corset belt in a contrasting colour to your cocktail dress.

read more:www.marieaustralia.com/cheap-formal-dresses

www.marieaustralia.com/princess-formal-dresses
Perched upon a corporate throne,

We march into the great unknown

As wasted words of gossip drone

And steel replaces brick and stone.
Soon you find yourself alone

In crowded streets with a global phone,

Doing a random strangers bidding.



A means to an end they say,

As poor men die while rich men play,

When honest work brings modest pay,

And doesn't last 'em through the day

Though profiteers in moral grey 

Flood the airwaves to in turn say,

"Our wealth simply paves  the way,

Tomorrow is your salvation day,

You want peace? Then war is only fitting."



Look and you will see

Money buys democracy,

The Citizens United, see?

If we knew the truth, would we agree?

Those answers are not  going to be

Yes or no but more likely

Maybe, perhaps, or possibly,

Because in reality,

Right and wrong are just kidding.



To those who fret the plagues we face,
Yet believe we can change this place,
Who stifle doubts about the Human Race,
And yearn to be together in this chase,
With subdued pride and envy, in every case,

Seeking common goals to found the base,

May we lay the evil plots to waste,

For evils clients who once stood are now sitting.



The time is now, make a stand
,
Pull our heads out of the sand

Call their bluff with a hidden hand

Of virtue they don’t quite understand,
Defy procedure’s they have planned
,
Unite across the lines that brand,

Refuse all prejudice, none may be accepted.



Some know for they already looked

And the flow of money keeps them booked,

Takes but once to have them hooked,

Setting the table with food uncooked

For others whose foundations shook

Are pitted against the small time crook

Hoping only that we be protected

.

Hark the sounds of rebellious cries

For those that call, they realize

All that lives sure enough dies
But when displeased we close our eyes

To the masters of disguise

Who think their profit justifies

The invisible hand growing in size

While their strings attached go uncorrected



They kept us quiet all the while

Waiting with numbers dialed

To put the innocent to trial

Lining up in single file

To be cast into the same old pile

None willing to lay down their tile,

Casting shadows upon their guile,

The double agent mercantile,

Lobbying candidates to endorse.



All I ask, is to what do we base belief?

Dying children get no relief

Oil poisons the coral reef

Prophecy of the fallen chief

Given a thought but a bit too brief
Together a tree, alone but a leaf
Although it is all who feel the grief

Of our actions consequential course



Corrupted elites discuss our goals

So we continue to dig our holes

To depths that darken souls

Rigging markets to decide our roles

Assumptions made so that greed controls

They draw their graphs till the pencil dulls

Then add a factor, see how that goes

Without even the slightest feeling of remorse



Growth is sacred, but is it moral?

Strengthen reason yet we quarrel

Over falsities of ***** oral

Arrangements like that of floral

Remedies but not doctoral

Blood of fallen lives pastoral

Remind that we’re all mortal

But all thereafter bear the force.



So please tell me at what cost?

In a moments past our objectives lost

Compassion was our hand now tossed

Lines we’ve drawn, lines we’ve crossed

How much dirt can be washed

From our conscience we exhaust

Before shattering glass of fate we sloshed?

Working from the scattered pieces back to the source



It is us who blindly lead the strut

We are the source and nothing but

Whose center point is one giant rut

Where false desires cracked and cut

And the selfish feed an endless gut,

When our culture begins to split and jut,

We might finally ask... It was all for what?
Inspired by the great Bob Dylan. I refer you to the song “It’s Alright Ma’”
Monkey Jul 2014
I followed blindly
Not knowing where I was going
Not know I was going
Took every step with out looking
Took everything lightly
Like it didn't matter
But I didn't know that it didn't matter
And thats why it did matter
I followed blindly
Until I realized
That there was nothing to follow
Nowhere to go
I started doubting everything
Was anything real?
Did anythig matter?
And thats when it stopped mattering
When I questioned whether it mattered or not
I was no longer sure of anything
Lost in a realm of uncearinaty
It destroyed me
The me that had not been real
And brought out the real me
And the real me is the one who doesn't exist
The one who doesn't matter
The one that will never matter
The one inside my head
The one with no end
Just like these words
I know you’ve heard these words before
I've said them many times before
I wish that I could use them more
To make things better like before

There was a time these words had meaning
Sheathed in heartfelt cries and feelings
But a shaman who can't heal
Is just a man and nothing more

Like worn-out, old and ***** pennies
Now diluted by the many
There's so many, many pennies
Don't care there's one on my floor

My cries of “wolf” no longer heeded
When these words are truly needed
To the darkness they've receded
Blindly searching for that door

In my chest still beats a heart
While pained regret tears it apart
Can't fix or go back to the start
And you don’t want me anymore

My anger and my finger pointing
Foolishly like I'm anointed
Not the one you are annoyed with
You were wrong; I was so sure

Attentively I listened to you
In-and-out my ears your words flew
Silenced; Gave no value to you
Truth revealed strikes at my core

Awakening I newly have
With gained awareness of how bad
I took for granted what I had
A rolling tide erodes the shore

Alone I sit and think of when
We were not lovers just good friends
Fun times together that we’d spend
And from that my heart starts to soar

Reality then brings me back
Jolts like a sudden heart attack
A deep sharp pain gives me a whack
I scream until my lungs are sore

Can't fix the memories or replace
My nightmares wake me; Teary-faced
Past filled with guilt, shame and disgrace
Start questioning what life is for
October 13, 2017

All rights reserved.
Hersch Rothmel Jun 2013
when home feels like miles away
and theres nothing to look at but yourself
being lethargic in your own right
helps put your feelings on the shelf

talk to me when I’ve become older
Because right now is for ******* up
Happier than I’ve ever been
chasing my own shadow
even though I will never be taller than it

Walk with me through this mangled landscape
The most beautiful pavement you’ve ever seen  
Talking to myself out in the open
Its better not to speak

You wouldn’t put me in a hole with nasty lovers
But you would take me to the peak of misery
I’ll follow you blindly till I am made up
I’ll follow you blindly because its easier not to see
Sometime lay your weapons down,
To think of peace and no more fear,
No longer will the young ones die,
To fight for what is so very unclear.

The roar and rant of bombs alone,
Enough to cause the strongest to cry,
The battlefields so littered with youth,
Can't stop my tears from flowing down.

We start our lives with hope and dreams,
Learning to love and have playful things,
With our eyes fixed  solid on many days,
There comes a joy and peace within.

But leaders can't learn how to share,
They want the power and glory there,
But war is nothing so glorious to see,
When fears and tears outnumber dreams.

I say no longer should people blindly follow,
The leaders who seek to destroy the world,
Instead we should fight them where they stand,
Deny the leaders their quest for destruction.

No more should soldiers die so suddenly,
We hope no more the mothers will cry,
No one but God can take a life we say,
Except in times of self preservation.

So despots where you slither and slide,
Destroy your madness no longer the lie,
Push those who seek no peace of mind,
Until they are gone from all humankind.
Ayad Gharbawi Jan 2010
PASSION PLAY

Ayad Gharbawi




Location: Desert Shore, Bitterly Cold Night, next to strong waves from the ocean.
Characters: Man ((M) and his Lover, a Woman (W).

----------------------------------------


W: “Search as I forever do, in manifold ways unknown, I seek but to love thee, and the meagre goodness from Life, with steely ardour - my armour faithful.”
M: “Alone I may be, and still, yes I love thee; these days heavy are and beset I am by burdensome trivialities, but I remain trusting, though my corner so narrow remain.”
W: “My Love! Your speech I hear aloud and thine lips I live within and yet, my Love, all Solitude I am. Man! I am unaided! In this journey of sinful thorns, my love, in this unforgiving journey, this blurred odyssey, I stand alone”.
M: “This trial you speak of, but I do know of it well; so, listen then: within the strength of trusted togetherness we can plough on, though everlasting harm shall do its spiteful tricks, warm to our united truth shall we remain.”
W: (Surprised) “O! My love! This thought I cannot hear! My life, my destiny, is but mine. And all have their own solitary roads of jagged rocks to embrace, like it we or not. We heartbreaking earthly sad beasts, either fiercely clutch at integrity, or we do let it go to perish away.”
M: (Confused) “My Love! I do hear, I do hear. But when Times decide on burdening us, what then can we achieve? To face Reality within the frail arms of solitude is to ignore, to refuse the severe threats of repulsive grins.”
(Silence)
M: (Passionately) “O! My sweet! Only in us, can we envelope, through joined, clasped warmth can we be as one united! The screams that so truly are meant to slice us off, only we, our Unity, can destroy. For mine eyes can only find sleep in your ears, and it is so - for otherwise nothing and no one can be.”
W: (Angry) “My Passion too is bubbling for thine bewildered ears. Am I not your soul? Do we not suffer as one? Do we not reflect as one? Am I not your lover true? Is not our warmth not weighty to our fickle bones?”
(Silence)
W: (Passionate) “But, Lover, this much ought I to formally declare unto thee: For our eyes, and all eyes, envision unequally at one another. Till eternity, in its casual, indifferent flicker, snatches at us all wretched mortals, the gazes from lords to paupers remain veritably mismatched. O my passion! My woeful heart! These words I thunder forth defines love unfeigned, and what mine eyes do pour out unto thine ears is authenticity true.
(Silence)
W: (Passionately) “What joined mem’ries you choose to caress may possess thee, but your exactness for what love is to you, doth not dwell in mine mind. What tears, what weepings you do, fall stormily upon thine own soul’s wildernesses. You choose to be chained by changing visions and indefinite sentiments of light weight – though so poignant at the moment they veritably are?”
M: (Inquiring) “My love! I cherish thee; where hast thou been in thine mind, for now ye talk of that truth you relate to in your heart. Your pronouncements, what depths I do feel! Can it perchance be that my passion has strayed our winds far from me?”
W: “No, my love! Why is anger, I feel, lush on thine tongue?”
M: (Surprised and Frightened) “Anger! I am too distant from that affliction! But yes, I feel my words make only for unstable murmurs in my breath.”
W: (Quietly) “Then, do tell me, lover, who do your murmurs betray - myself or yourself then?”
M: (Quietly) “Perhaps so, perhaps so. But my anxiety wilfully demands of me to eradicate your vision.”
W: (Firmly) “You answer naught from my undemanding question. Or, are mine meanings too violent for you? What aches thee?”
M: (Passionately) “My sweet! In so many moments, I created mysterious planets for thee! Bizarre worlds of contrasts and opposites and musical words of antiquity and sensual ravines. My love! I, my soul, my life, my inner deepest breath, tempted as I am by Fates’ inscrutable cruelties to ashamedly yield, I have yet always expressed to mine eyes’ heart, though they be in bleak darkness, to faithfully fight without pause all shades of vice and still yet - with loving integrity; I have stood with arms of righteousness and love for thee up and never down! Yes, sincere good and venal ill remain joined in life for all to feel, but you knew it was not for me to disentangle them. And so, I pronounce unto thee, still, and yet ever and ever more, my love for thee, though still beholding a thousand mountains before me, I remain sturdy for thee; I remain undisturbed by burly laws, and by exotic dictums, I stand fierce and unhurt, save in your absence.”
W: (With Sadness) “My beloved, your vivid voice stabs the falsehoods for thee, and I say unto thee, unto thee your excessive and unreasonable chains, and for myself my unreasonable and extreme chains remain.”
M: (Shocked) “But I burden thee with no steely chains, nor verbal fetters! For naught I produce for thee save grace, passion and freedom to love for us both to be in Unity Sacred! Dost thou embrace my visions as ‘shackles’, then ‘tis better we agree to class that which we are as but madness! Hear me, for my tears now must truly change their colours!”
W: (Determined) “Your feverish hands clutch only upon mine erratic wings!”
M: (Anger) “Never! Never! For I clutch only to destroy all malevolence; as for thee, Lady of the purest, untouched, guarded, secluded Ponds, I seek to unshackle for you the scattered, scared shadows that yearn for thine sovereignty. And what is this ‘sovereignty’ but our Sacred Union? What curse deemest you I impose? Do you equal my purest passions with atrocities? Murmur unto mine ears, your clearest love for me.”
W: “Ah! You enquire of me my ‘sincerity’ for thee? What demands!”
(Silence)
M: “I see naught but heaving forests of love betwixt us, and yet, you discover my words being ‘demanding’?”
W: (Drily) “Perchance, your visions are indistinct and ever more blurred, through these years cannot be ignored.”
M: (Begging) “My love! All mine life, though it be lengthy, I fought most venal tyranny, and for this moment, you question my righteousness?”
W: (Indignantly) “I have been plunged into seas hostile and I have plunged in a thousand miles of inert minds troubled beyond conceivable comprehension and I have yet to have my Right for my own greedy, ravenous flesh to be vigorously and forcefully embraced by sensuality and serenity. Yes, I do love thee, and yet in our union, as in all unions, I have been adorned with naught, save snickering, gossiping scenes of festive *****, games, chatter and farewells, themselves festooned within silly and sincerely stupid smiles and frowns, and shallow tears and never ending ludicrous chatter unworthy of monkeys conversing. I have met programmed rows of pats, respect and all other so-called decent intents and gestures, but, where, lover that you are of mine, where does my personal heart, throb and manically vibrate, save in your heavenly imaginations?”
(Silence)
W: (Quietly but Determinedly) “My love! I truly thee love and with passions, I tell you, of proportions of precise exactitudes; in your eyes I have witnessed symphonies of exquisiteness; and, I of thee ask: where dwelleth your own love for myself in thine body?”
(Silence)
W: (Passionate) “Do you recognise the changing structures that form this, that I name ‘My Love’? In my solitude eternal, I do evermore and always do pause, and be pensive, and be thinking of questions, such as ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘when’ ‘how’, and ‘which’ should be my path; I am forever and ever more searching, seeking the heavens of every corner, and the irritable tempests, within my changing self as they themselves do try to seek me, and we forever, through inconceivable murkiness, do try to assemble the everlasting entirety of these disorganized puzzles into some measure of comprehensible cohesion that ‘I’ am. That is how the ‘I’ you love is forever changing and thereby formulating itself, and within all these meandering passions, and endless errors, where am I to feel thee? Where? And where do you seek me? In which land? In which forest? You trivialise my beingness as you focus upon my lands as being that which so effortless to find, and yet, you are much too distant from an understanding of my conflicting, emerging civilisations.”
(Silence)
W: (Passionate) If the utterance ‘Never’ is pathetic for thee, then allow me to introduce you to my latest heart: for it screams out that single, protracted utterance! Never! My love, these winds of raging wraths, both within and outside by flesh, must and can only be annihilated by mine own sincerities – were I not to play against my own self. My uncontrolled desires and, yes, thirsty manic passions can only be tempered and thoroughly satiated to the utter brim, by mine own loving, sources of pleasure, my own uncontrollable ecstasies. As for the rest of ****** pleasures, my own erroneous words, speeches and utterances can only be severed and sliced by my tranquillity.”
M: (Resigned) “I hear thine words. Do not abandon me. Do not destroy our civilisation of justice.”
W: “What we share, the bonds, are enjoyment. Listen though to mine lips: enjoyment is what - when it is to be compared with convulsive ecstatic quivers of satisfaction?”
M: (Puzzled) “And what of all our journeys to attain that unity? For all that, is it to be of mere insignificance? And if that be your truth, for what then did we toil and labour for unity of minds and bodies?”
W: (Laughing) “Did you understand from Life itself, that here it was, grandly to proclaim its furtive faces unto thine own awaiting face?! “
M: (Baffled) “It was so far too plain and vastly clear unto me these sceneries we faced before our loving bodies.”
W: “Yes, and I too, did see them with thee. Our four eyes, did see unity for that flicker of time. How true you speak! But, time clocked on, I saw you as you stood there, moving nowhere, unawares that it was your duty to squash onwards whatever vile breaths faced us.”
M: (Desperate) “And did I not? Did I abandon thee in these crushing paths?”
W: (Accusing) “No, you did not. Never, once did you abandon me. I ask of thee; for what sense do we feel a need for a continuation of these gruelling marches? For unity? For love? Or, is love unity? Was that and is this our reason for us to carry on with these shackles?”
M: “For assuredly, yes, and more yes, I tell thee! Toil and gruelling dawns, and unbearable evenings and the whitest of nights are all for the sacred attainment of that heavenly summit of joy I name as blessed ‘Love’.”
W: (Assured) “And, Sire, what if my nerves, blood and ****** hunger tell thee in truth that we, all of us, need no longer, and need never in truth, to undertake these paths, for we find naught that nourishes us at the blessed summit of your definition of what ‘Love’ is?”
M: (Confused & Sad) “So, I falter here and now upon understanding your speech; do I reason from thee that our loving days in unity are frivolously bygone now?”
W: (Calmly & Gracefully) “Do the wandering birds, and do the blind bats, and do the reckless storms, and do the blindly, raging waves and do the supremely arrogant oceans eternally march on in but one direction only with the savage passage of time within their particular lives? You did pronounce that you built planets for our unity; well then, did you not view how planets endlessly revolve along the same path?”
(Pause)
W: (Calmly & with Dignity) “For, Sire, I am not as a Planet - could you not feel that throughout our journeys? You endlessly query and question ‘who’ it is that ‘I’ am? Well, I speak this much on myself; I am as the birds, and the bats, and the storms and the waves and the oceans.”  
M: (Angry) “Woman! I can only then tell of thee that you are naught but feuding clutter and violent disarray!”
W: (Unconcerned) “Those are your words. Not mine. Speak for what you wish, Sire.”
M: (Angry) “And I stand here, before thee, in anger – nay, more, more! In fury!”
W: (Laughing) “For what? For the deeds that created but sticky, and grimy grains of sand for the undoubted pleasure our eyes?”
M: “And so you label our truths, our love so much! Fair indeed, you speak, Woman of Justice.”
W: (Arrogantly) “Man! Express your delights for your own delights. And, alas, there the circle and reality ends – and it ends only for you. That is one morsel of truth for you to ponder. What we ‘created’ and what we ‘loved’ was never and never, ever be the same for you as it is for me. Are you a sincere believer that your personal vision is the same sight all other seeing creatures envision?”
M: (Angry) “Woman, you enrage me! Your arrogance is drenching thine rags.”
W: (Sarcastic) “Tis the Man with no reason who allows his breath and words to be a veritable cesspool of fuming stenches!”
M: “But I, that I am, no longer can define your contours?”
W: (Pointedly) “Precisely, Man, precisely. Perhaps, now you have come closer to the vulnerable shores of reality!”
M: (Confused) “Do you express that you are ever varying and so for that reason there is not a one unified you?”
W: (Calmly) “For we are all ‘varying’, to borrow your word – if you do so allow me, Sire. There was never ‘unity’ of soul, nor mind, nor self, nor of any one personality. This, I desire, that you may understand.”
M: (Aghast) “Then if that be your truth and then, are we naught but multitudes of ever changing confusions, Lady of the Desert?”
W: (Calmly) “Yes and no! For those who are muscular and full of fertile vigour in their flesh, and in their intellects, and those that are severely and strictly scholastic, then they do need and they can succeed in time, in their never ending struggle to bring together the mutually antagonistic factions of that which constitutes our beingness. And, as for the dense brained soulless beings, then, it is equally veritably true that, a descent into madness can be rapidly produced, since from their erratic constituents, they cannot attract together these antagonistic and mutually-hating emotions in some vision of cohesion, and thus mayhem can be fashioned.”
(Silence)
M: (Calmly) “So, pray do tell me, where does Love and Justice and Truth and Morality stand in your universe?”
W: (Serenely) “That has been mine desire to hear the words being produced from your lips, Man!”
(Pause)
W: “So, now perhaps, your sight may be getting clearer, for your question is certainly apt. Foremost, we pathetic mortals, we the be are forever slimy specks of sand that  crumbles, must necessarily seek to survive and flourish within whatever forest, desert, meadow we find ourselves cast upon.”
M: (Startled) “At what cost, Woman? At the expense of Morality?”
W: (Rapidly) “Yes and no.”
M: (Shocked) “Horrendous! How can you spout out such filth?”
W: (Quietly) “Restrain your stupidities, and give more room to your intelligence, Sire.”
(Silence)
W: (Gracefully) “In times of trouble, what can Man do when he be forced to embrace evil, even though he finds the act of the embrace loathsome, but he does what he does for the truth of his vital existence to continue. Only when he need never embrace vile, and then allows himself to commit the act, then he is for certainty to incur the everlasting wrath of God. Evil is thus never one truth to be utterly rejected, perchance you may now see. ”
M: (Calm but Tired) “I follow your words and their ideas therein.”
W: (Gracefully) “When you talk to me on Man and everlasting, conflicting changes within that self-same creature, I tell you with all the earnestness that I possess, of what God has scattered and endowed upon me; for this beast, we all call in unity Man, this creature has far too many a numberless number of mutually self-contradicting, distrusting, loving, hating, inspiring and a never ending number of feelings and emotions that are in constant flow and change – as in any rapid river descending unto its eventual destination, which in its case, is the sea, while in our case, it is Death itself for sure.”
M: (Despair) “And how can this beast ‘love’ anyone within this welter of confusion?”
W: (Rapidly) “He cannot!”
M: (Rapidly, Begging) “But Man and Woman do love with bristling passions! Do you deny that, Woman?!”
W: (Calmly, eyes downwards looking) “Yes, and no. Since the beast has needs, based on his vastly intricate constituents, to ‘love’ his fellow beast, he imagines and believes
Nathan Millard Jan 2013
In ant populations
Worker ants are blind  
Follow one another by scent
Pheromones are released from their feet
Leaving a scent trail from the next to follow
A single file line
Blindly trusting pheromones

Sometimes an ant loses the scent though
And wanders off looking for the trail
Leading the others off behind him
And if he looks hard enough
He’ll find the end of his own line
And follow the tail of a train
He created
Subsequently creating what is scientifically known as
    a Death Spiral

For these blind ants are unaware
They are following the same path over and over
It does not lead anywhere
It does not lead home
Eventually they walk until
They walk no more…

Pheromone- “any chemical substance released by an animal that serves to influence the physiology or behavior of other members of the same species.”
Originates from the Greek phérein and that means to bear or bring and Hormone

Many people say that love
Is a chemical reaction
A perfect blend of pheromones
To produce attraction
Affection
And in the end reproduction
Love was
Scientifically disjointed
To fit better on a slide
Linguistically altered
To fit better on paper

But isn’t love just pheromones?
Like it is to the ants
Attractive footsteps
We blindly follow
Even if they lead us to no good

Most times Love leads us home
Leads us to prosper
Tells us where to go
What to do
To survive
Until it doesn’t…

Then our pheromone path
Leads us in circles
It leads around and around
Love can lead us in a death spiral
And if we are blind we will not step out
Step out of the path:
That winding circling path of doom
Made up of previous mistake we have made
That left attractive footsteps in their wake
Footsetps that when we go lost we again found
And now we choose to blindly repeat them
Over and over
In the pursuit of Love

Because of **Pheromones
Maya Veilleux Oct 2014
we all seek the truth
walking around blindly
but we cannot find the truth
until we find ourselves
truly.
my first poem:)
Timothy Oct 2012
Abbreviated to my favourite parts.

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;


Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.


Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.


Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.


Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.


We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.


Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,


But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.


Forgive what seem'd my sin in me;
What seem'd my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.


Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.


Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.


1849.


I
I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.


But who shall so forecast the years
And find in loss a gain to match?
Or reach a hand thro' time to catch
The far-off interest of tears?


Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown'd,
Let darkness keep her raven gloss:
Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss,
To dance with death, to beat the ground,


Than that the victor Hours should scorn
The long result of love, and boast,
'Behold the man that loved and lost,
But all he was is overworn.'


II
Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Thy fibres net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.


The seasons bring the flower again,
And bring the firstling to the flock;
And in the dusk of thee, the clock
Beats out the little lives of men.


O, not for thee the glow, the bloom,
Who changest not in any gale,
Nor branding summer suns avail
To touch thy thousand years of gloom:


And gazing on thee, sullen tree,
Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
I seem to fail from out my blood
And grow incorporate into thee.


III
O Sorrow, cruel fellowship,
O Priestess in the vaults of Death,
O sweet and bitter in a breath,
What whispers from thy lying lip?


'The stars,' she whispers, 'blindly run;
A web is wov'n across the sky;
From out waste places comes a cry,
And murmurs from the dying sun:


'And all the phantom, Nature, stands—
With all the music in her tone,
A hollow echo of my own,—
A hollow form with empty hands.'


And shall I take a thing so blind,
Embrace her as my natural good;
Or crush her, like a vice of blood,
Upon the threshold of the mind?


VII
Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,


A hand that can be clasp'd no more—
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.


He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.


X
I hear the noise about thy keel;
I hear the bell struck in the night:
I see the cabin-window bright;
I see the sailor at the wheel.


Thou bring'st the sailor to his wife,
And travell'd men from foreign lands;
And letters unto trembling hands;
And, thy dark freight, a vanish'd life.


So bring him; we have idle dreams:
This look of quiet flatters thus
Our home-bred fancies. O to us,
The fools of habit, sweeter seems


To rest beneath the clover sod,
That takes the sunshine and the rains,
Or where the kneeling hamlet drains
The chalice of the grapes of God;


Than if with thee the roaring wells
Should gulf him fathom-deep in brine;
And hands so often clasp'd in mine,
Should toss with tangle and with shells.

    
XV
To-night the winds begin to rise
And roar from yonder dropping day:
The last red leaf is whirl'd away,
The rooks are blown about the skies;


The forest crack'd, the waters curl'd,
The cattle huddled on the lea;
And wildly dash'd on tower and tree
The sunbeam strikes along the world:


And but for fancies, which aver
That all thy motions gently pass
Athwart a plane of molten glass,
I scarce could brook the strain and stir


That makes the barren branches loud;
And but for fear it is not so,
The wild unrest that lives in woe
Would dote and pore on yonder cloud


That rises upward always higher,
And onward drags a labouring breast,
And topples round the dreary west,
A looming bastion fringed with fire.


XXII
The path by which we twain did go,
Which led by tracts that pleased us well,
Thro' four sweet years arose and fell,
From flower to flower, from snow to snow:


And we with singing cheer'd the way,
And, crown'd with all the season lent,
From April on to April went,
And glad at heart from May to May:


But where the path we walk'd began
To slant the fifth autumnal *****,
As we descended following Hope,
There sat the Shadow fear'd of man;


Who broke our fair companionship,
And spread his mantle dark and cold,
And wrapt thee formless in the fold,
And dull'd the murmur on thy lip,


And bore thee where I could not see
Nor follow, tho' I walk in haste,
And think, that somewhere in the waste
The Shadow sits and waits for me.


XXVII
I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:


I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfetter'd by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;


Nor, what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth
But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.


I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.


***
With trembling fingers did we weave
The holly round the Chrismas hearth;
A rainy cloud possess'd the earth,
And sadly fell our Christmas-eve.


At our old pastimes in the hall
We gambol'd, making vain pretence
Of gladness, with an awful sense
Of one mute Shadow watching all.


We paused: the winds were in the beech:
We heard them sweep the winter land;
And in a circle hand-in-hand
Sat silent, looking each at each.


Then echo-like our voices rang;
We sung, tho' every eye was dim,
A merry song we sang with him
Last year: impetuously we sang:

We ceased:a gentler feeling crept
Upon us: surely rest is meet:
'They rest,' we said, 'their sleep is sweet,'
And silence follow'd, and we wept.


Our voices took a higher range;
Once more we sang: 'They do not die
Nor lose their mortal sympathy,
Nor change to us, although they change;


'Rapt from the fickle and the frail
With gather'd power, yet the same,
Pierces the keen seraphic flame
From orb to orb, from veil to veil.'


Rise, happy morn, rise, holy morn,
Draw forth the cheerful day from night:
O Father, touch the east, and light
The light that shone when Hope was born.


XXXIX
Old warder of these buried bones,
And answering now my random stroke
With fruitful cloud and living smoke,
Dark yew, that graspest at the stones


And dippest toward the dreamless head,
To thee too comes the golden hour
When flower is feeling after flower;
But Sorrow—fixt upon the dead,


And darkening the dark graves of men,—
What whisper'd from her lying lips?
Thy gloom is kindled at the tips,
And passes into gloom again.


LIV
Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;


That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroy'd,
Or cast as ******* to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete;


That not a worm is cloven in vain;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivell'd in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another's gain.


Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last—far off—at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.


So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.


*~Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809—1892~
Kate Apr 2015
They say artist have a unique way
Of looking at this place we call our world
We miss that there is more they don't display
Unlucky their vision has been disturbed

You see, we think we live in harmony
Blindly going on with our restless lives
Ripping off their band-aide now nakedly
To only be looked at as a lowlife

Facing the truth in a perspective matter
By various colors and feelings
Watch as they pick a beautiful flower
Painting black to give it a new meaning

But even though they bring much delight
They are curse with the artist eyesight
A sonnet
Devin Ortiz Jun 2015
Devilish blue eyes, frozen gaze.
Influencing me against my will,
Submitting into dropping defenses.
Overcome with an inability to escape,
I become bound by those piercing eyes.

Sapping once kinder thoughts,
Replaced by detached isolation.
Shuttering at the crack of the whip,
Blindly I walk to death.
Carved flesh ammunition against
You, weakness exposed.

Lacerations to the heart exchanged,
Milky fog clouds my oppressor.
Pieces held together by hatred,
One blow away from cracking.
Further into broken self.
All freedoms come at a cost.
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
    Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
    In the jingle-jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand,
Vanished from my hand,
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.

    Hey, Mr.Tambourine Man, etc.

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship,
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin'.
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,
I promise to go under it.

    Hey, Mr.Tambourine Man, etc.

Though you might hear laughin', spinnin', swingin' madly across the sun,

It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin'.
And if you hear vague traces of skippin' reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it's just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn't pay it any mind, it's just a shadow you're
Seeing' that he's chasing

    Hey, Mr.Tambourine Man, etc.
Éan Richardson Mar 2014
Hurling insults, trading blows,
These are the evenings I hate the most,
Let’s paint a smile for the world,
Paper over freshly wounded words.
And I sit on my bed,
The bleeding knight,
Stifling my sobs,
Because they’re don’t deserve
To hear my shame,
That I backed down once again.
I let go of what I believed,
Lost hold of what I seek,
Forgot what I’d found.
We don’t agree,
That is clear.
But why must I always be,
The one to bow?
One day, soon, not soon enough,
I’ll turn the tables,
But for now I turn away,
I hide my sorrow.
I can not look at myself,
(did you not know?)
In a mirror,
When all I see,
Is my mother’s looks,
And betrayal and hate,
Hacked into my four year old self’s face.
And why must it be,
Because you come from the generation,
Where for me to speak my mind is a crime.
Where my desire to be seen,
As equal to my brother, a joke.
And where my feelings,
Are simply empty words,
Silken cobwebs in autumn frost,
Easily brushed aside.
Had I been born a boy,
I do not think I’d have this problem.
But it does not do well to dwell on,
If’s and could haves.
I can not escape,
I am trapped,
I bolt to my hole,
Like a frightened rabbit,
But the ferret it is in my home.
Where could I go that they would not follow?
When even society itself,
Is fighting against me.
Passive aggressive.
Constantly tripping me,
Telling me how,
I should dress and act and think.
And when Victims of ****
“Deserve what they got,
For wearing a skirt too short”
And a family man,
With two kids,
Is beaten to death
Because the person he loved,
Happened to be a man too.
When young black men,
Are stopped and searched for no reason,
Other than they “look suspicious”
By a white police officer.
When people vanish,
And no one cares,
Because biology and society told them one gender,
And their mind another,
How do I stand a chance?
I actually feel pity for my parents,
It’s not their fault that
Society told them to live a certain way.
But something is their fault,
Because after all,
They’re the ones who chose to
Blindly obey.
Ayad Gharbawi Jan 2010
PASSION PLAY

Ayad Gharbawi




Location: Desert Shore, Bitterly Cold Night, next to strong waves from the ocean.
Characters: Man ((M) and his Lover, a Woman (W).

----------------------------------------



W: “Search as I forever do, in manifold ways unknown, I seek but to love thee, and the meagre goodness from Life, with steely ardour - my armour faithful.”
M: “Alone I may be, and still, yes I love thee; these days heavy are and beset I am by burdensome trivialities, but I remain trusting, though my corner so narrow remain.”
W: “My Love! Your speech I hear aloud and thine lips I live within and yet, my Love, all Solitude I am. Man! I am unaided! In this journey of sinful thorns, my love, in this unforgiving journey, this blurred odyssey, I stand alone”.
M: “This trial you speak of, but I do know of it well; so, listen then: within the strength of trusted togetherness we can plough on, though everlasting harm shall do its spiteful tricks, warm to our united truth shall we remain.”
W: (Surprised) “O! My love! This thought I cannot hear! My life, my destiny, is but mine. And all have their own solitary roads of jagged rocks to embrace, like it we or not. We heartbreaking earthly sad beasts, either fiercely clutch at integrity, or we do let it go to perish away.”
M: (Confused) “My Love! I do hear, I do hear. But when Times decide on burdening us, what then can we achieve? To face Reality within the frail arms of solitude is to ignore, to refuse the severe threats of repulsive grins.”
(Silence)
M: (Passionately) “O! My sweet! Only in us, can we envelope, through joined, clasped warmth can we be as one united! The screams that so truly are meant to slice us off, only we, our Unity, can destroy. For mine eyes can only find sleep in your ears, and it is so - for otherwise nothing and no one can be.”
W: (Angry) “My Passion too is bubbling for thine bewildered ears. Am I not your soul? Do we not suffer as one? Do we not reflect as one? Am I not your lover true? Is not our warmth not weighty to our fickle bones?”
(Silence)
W: (Passionate) “But, Lover, this much ought I to formally declare unto thee: For our eyes, and all eyes, envision unequally at one another. Till eternity, in its casual, indifferent flicker, snatches at us all wretched mortals, the gazes from lords to paupers remain veritably mismatched. O my passion! My woeful heart! These words I thunder forth defines love unfeigned, and what mine eyes do pour out unto thine ears is authenticity true.
(Silence)
W: (Passionately) “What joined mem’ries you choose to caress may possess thee, but your exactness for what love is to you, doth not dwell in mine mind. What tears, what weepings you do, fall stormily upon thine own soul’s wildernesses. You choose to be chained by changing visions and indefinite sentiments of light weight – though so poignant at the moment they veritably are?”
M: (Inquiring) “My love! I cherish thee; where hast thou been in thine mind, for now ye talk of that truth you relate to in your heart. Your pronouncements, what depths I do feel! Can it perchance be that my passion has strayed our winds far from me?”
W: “No, my love! Why is anger, I feel, lush on thine tongue?”
M: (Surprised and Frightened) “Anger! I am too distant from that affliction! But yes, I feel my words make only for unstable murmurs in my breath.”
W: (Quietly) “Then, do tell me, lover, who do your murmurs betray - myself or yourself then?”
M: (Quietly) “Perhaps so, perhaps so. But my anxiety wilfully demands of me to eradicate your vision.”
W: (Firmly) “You answer naught from my undemanding question. Or, are mine meanings too violent for you? What aches thee?”
M: (Passionately) “My sweet! In so many moments, I created mysterious planets for thee! Bizarre worlds of contrasts and opposites and musical words of antiquity and sensual ravines. My love! I, my soul, my life, my inner deepest breath, tempted as I am by Fates’ inscrutable cruelties to ashamedly yield, I have yet always expressed to mine eyes’ heart, though they be in bleak darkness, to faithfully fight without pause all shades of vice and still yet - with loving integrity; I have stood with arms of righteousness and love for thee up and never down! Yes, sincere good and venal ill remain joined in life for all to feel, but you knew it was not for me to disentangle them. And so, I pronounce unto thee, still, and yet ever and ever more, my love for thee, though still beholding a thousand mountains before me, I remain sturdy for thee; I remain undisturbed by burly laws, and by exotic dictums, I stand fierce and unhurt, save in your absence.”
W: (With Sadness) “My beloved, your vivid voice stabs the falsehoods for thee, and I say unto thee, unto thee your excessive and unreasonable chains, and for myself my unreasonable and extreme chains remain.”
M: (Shocked) “But I burden thee with no steely chains, nor verbal fetters! For naught I produce for thee save grace, passion and freedom to love for us both to be in Unity Sacred! Dost thou embrace my visions as ‘shackles’, then ‘tis better we agree to class that which we are as but madness! Hear me, for my tears now must truly change their colours!”
W: (Determined) “Your feverish hands clutch only upon mine erratic wings!”
M: (Anger) “Never! Never! For I clutch only to destroy all malevolence; as for thee, Lady of the purest, untouched, guarded, secluded Ponds, I seek to unshackle for you the scattered, scared shadows that yearn for thine sovereignty. And what is this ‘sovereignty’ but our Sacred Union? What curse deemest you I impose? Do you equal my purest passions with atrocities? Murmur unto mine ears, your clearest love for me.”
W: “Ah! You enquire of me my ‘sincerity’ for thee? What demands!”
(Silence)
M: “I see naught but heaving forests of love betwixt us, and yet, you discover my words being ‘demanding’?”
W: (Drily) “Perchance, your visions are indistinct and ever more blurred, through these years cannot be ignored.”
M: (Begging) “My love! All mine life, though it be lengthy, I fought most venal tyranny, and for this moment, you question my righteousness?”
W: (Indignantly) “I have been plunged into seas hostile and I have plunged in a thousand miles of inert minds troubled beyond conceivable comprehension and I have yet to have my Right for my own greedy, ravenous flesh to be vigorously and forcefully embraced by sensuality and serenity. Yes, I do love thee, and yet in our union, as in all unions, I have been adorned with naught, save snickering, gossiping scenes of festive *****, games, chatter and farewells, themselves festooned within silly and sincerely stupid smiles and frowns, and shallow tears and never ending ludicrous chatter unworthy of monkeys conversing. I have met programmed rows of pats, respect and all other so-called decent intents and gestures, but, where, lover that you are of mine, where does my personal heart, throb and manically vibrate, save in your heavenly imaginations?”
(Silence)
W: (Quietly but Determinedly) “My love! I truly thee love and with passions, I tell you, of proportions of precise exactitudes; in your eyes I have witnessed symphonies of exquisiteness; and, I of thee ask: where dwelleth your own love for myself in thine body?”
(Silence)
W: (Passionate) “Do you recognise the changing structures that form this, that I name ‘My Love’? In my solitude eternal, I do evermore and always do pause, and be pensive, and be thinking of questions, such as ‘where’, ‘why’, ‘when’ ‘how’, and ‘which’ should be my path; I am forever and ever more searching, seeking the heavens of every corner, and the irritable tempests, within my changing self as they themselves do try to seek me, and we forever, through inconceivable murkiness, do try to assemble the everlasting entirety of these disorganized puzzles into some measure of comprehensible cohesion that ‘I’ am. That is how the ‘I’ you love is forever changing and thereby formulating itself, and within all these meandering passions, and endless errors, where am I to feel thee? Where? And where do you seek me? In which land? In which forest? You trivialise my beingness as you focus upon my lands as being that which so effortless to find, and yet, you are much too distant from an understanding of my conflicting, emerging civilisations.”
(Silence)
W: (Passionate) If the utterance ‘Never’ is pathetic for thee, then allow me to introduce you to my latest heart: for it screams out that single, protracted utterance! Never! My love, these winds of raging wraths, both within and outside by flesh, must and can only be annihilated by mine own sincerities – were I not to play against my own self. My uncontrolled desires and, yes, thirsty manic passions can only be tempered and thoroughly satiated to the utter brim, by mine own loving, sources of pleasure, my own uncontrollable ecstasies. As for the rest of ****** pleasures, my own erroneous words, speeches and utterances can only be severed and sliced by my tranquillity.”
M: (Resigned) “I hear thine words. Do not abandon me. Do not destroy our civilisation of justice.”
W: “What we share, the bonds, are enjoyment. Listen though to mine lips: enjoyment is what - when it is to be compared with convulsive ecstatic quivers of satisfaction?”
M: (Puzzled) “And what of all our journeys to attain that unity? For all that, is it to be of mere insignificance? And if that be your truth, for what then did we toil and labour for unity of minds and bodies?”
W: (Laughing) “Did you understand from Life itself, that here it was, grandly to proclaim its furtive faces unto thine own awaiting face?! “
M: (Baffled) “It was so far too plain and vastly clear unto me these sceneries we faced before our loving bodies.”
W: “Yes, and I too, did see them with thee. Our four eyes, did see unity for that flicker of time. How true you speak! But, time clocked on, I saw you as you stood there, moving nowhere, unawares that it was your duty to squash onwards whatever vile breaths faced us.”
M: (Desperate) “And did I not? Did I abandon thee in these crushing paths?”
W: (Accusing) “No, you did not. Never, once did you abandon me. I ask of thee; for what sense do we feel a need for a continuation of these gruelling marches? For unity? For love? Or, is love unity? Was that and is this our reason for us to carry on with these shackles?”
M: “For assuredly, yes, and more yes, I tell thee! Toil and gruelling dawns, and unbearable evenings and the whitest of nights are all for the sacred attainment of that heavenly summit of joy I name as blessed ‘Love’.”
W: (Assured) “And, Sire, what if my nerves, blood and ****** hunger tell thee in truth that we, all of us, need no longer, and need never in truth, to undertake these paths, for we find naught that nourishes us at the blessed summit of your definition of what ‘Love’ is?”
M: (Confused & Sad) “So, I falter here and now upon understanding your speech; do I reason from thee that our loving days in unity are frivolously bygone now?”
W: (Calmly & Gracefully) “Do the wandering birds, and do the blind bats, and do the reckless storms, and do the blindly, raging waves and do the supremely arrogant oceans eternally march on in but one direction only with the savage passage of time within their particular lives? You did pronounce that you built planets for our unity; well then, did you not view how planets endlessly revolve along the same path?”
(Pause)
W: (Calmly & with Dignity) “For, Sire, I am not as a Planet - could you not feel that throughout our journeys? You endlessly query and question ‘who’ it is that ‘I’ am? Well, I speak this much on myself; I am as the birds, and the bats, and the storms and the waves and the oceans.”  
M: (Angry) “Woman! I can only then tell of thee that you are naught but feuding clutter and violent disarray!”
W: (Unconcerned) “Those are your words. Not mine. Speak for what you wish, Sire.”
M: (Angry) “And I stand here, before thee, in anger – nay, more, more! In fury!”
W: (Laughing) “For what? For the deeds that created but sticky, and grimy grains of sand for the undoubted pleasure our eyes?”
M: “And so you label our truths, our love so much! Fair indeed, you speak, Woman of Justice.”
W: (Arrogantly) “Man! Express your delights for your own delights. And, alas, there the circle and reality ends – and it ends only for you. That is one morsel of truth for you to ponder. What we ‘created’ and what we ‘loved’ was never and never, ever be the same for you as it is for me. Are you a sincere believer that your personal vision is the same sight all other seeing creatures envision?”
M: (Angry) “Woman, you enrage me! Your arrogance is drenching thine rags.”
W: (Sarcastic) “Tis the Man with no reason who allows his breath and words to be a veritable cesspool of fuming stenches!”
M: “But I, that I am, no longer can define your contours?”
W: (Pointedly) “Precisely, Man, precisely. Perhaps, now you have come closer to the vulnerable shores of reality!”
M: (Confused) “Do you express that you are ever varying and so for that reason there is not a one unified you?”
W: (Calmly) “For we are all ‘varying’, to borrow your word – if you do so allow me, Sire. There was never ‘unity’ of soul, nor mind, nor self, nor of any one personality. This, I desire, that you may understand.”
M: (Aghast) “Then if that be your truth and then, are we naught but multitudes of ever changing confusions, Lady of the Desert?”
W: (Calmly) “Yes and no! For those who are muscular and full of fertile vigour in their flesh, and in their intellects, and those that are severely and strictly scholastic, then they do need and they can succeed in time, in their never ending struggle to bring together the mutually antagonistic factions of that which constitutes our beingness. And, as for the dense brained soulless beings, then, it is equally veritably true that, a descent into madness can be rapidly produced, since from their erratic constituents, they cannot attract together these antagonistic and mutually-hating emotions in some vision of cohesion, and thus mayhem can be fashioned.”
(Silence)
M: (Calmly) “So, pray do tell me, where does Love and Justice and Truth and Morality stand in your universe?”
W: (Serenely) “That has been mine desire to hear the words being produced from your lips, Man!”
(Pause)
W: “So, now perhaps, your sight may be getting clearer, for your question is certainly apt. Foremost, we pathetic mortals, we the be are forever slimy specks of sand that  crumbles, must necessarily seek to survive and flourish within whatever forest, desert, meadow we find ourselves cast upon.”
M: (Startled) “At what cost, Woman? At the expense of Morality?”
W: (Rapidly) “Yes and no.”
M: (Shocked) “Horrendous! How can you spout out such filth?”
W: (Quietly) “Restrain your stupidities, and give more room to your intelligence, Sire.”
(Silence)
W: (Gracefully) “In times of trouble, what can Man do when he be forced to embrace evil, even though he finds the act of the embrace loathsome, but he does what he does for the truth of his vital existence to continue. Only when he need never embrace vile, and then allows himself to commit the act, then he is for certainty to incur the everlasting wrath of God. Evil is thus never one truth to be utterly rejected, perchance you may now see. ”
M: (Calm but Tired) “I follow your words and their ideas therein.”
W: (Gracefully) “When you talk to me on Man and everlasting, conflicting changes within that self-same creature, I tell you with all the earnestness that I possess, of what God has scattered and endowed upon me; for this beast, we all call in unity Man, this creature has far too many a numberless number of mutually self-contradicting, distrusting, loving, hating, inspiring and a never ending number of feelings and emotions that are in constant flow and change – as in any rapid river descending unto its eventual destination, which in its case, is the sea, while in our case, it is Death itself for sure.”
M: (Despair) “And how can this beast ‘love’ anyone within this welter of confusion?”
W: (Rapidly) “He cannot!”
M: (Rapidly, Begging) “But Man and Woman do love with bristling passions! Do you deny that, Woman?!”
W: (Calmly, eyes downwards looking) “Yes, and no. Since the beast has needs, based on his vastly intricate constituents, to ‘love’ his fellow beast, he imagines and believes
I hateth th' song of th' grass outside;
and t'eir blades t'at swing about my feet
like fire. How unfeeling all of which are-
did t'ey really think I wouldst ever be tantalised
by t'eir sickly magic? Such a gross one-
demanding, rapacious, parasitic!
Even I am fed up with t'eir proposals,
and ideas t'at t'ey fervently throw
in th' hope t'at t'ey canst corrupt my dreams,
my feelings-ah, yes, my sincere feelings,
and secure, t'ough imaginary, dreams.
Oh, and my comfortable desire as well!
My rosy desire-which at times canst tiringly
petrify me-ah, unbelievable, is it not? Th' fact
t'at I am so satiatingly, and daringly, petrified
by my own desire-and reproved by th' one
whom I am astonished at, praise, and admire;
How pitiful I am! How horrific and tragic!
I hath knitted my sorry without caution,
I was too immersed in vivid glances
and disguises and mock admiration.
Perhaps it hath been my mistake!
Eyes t'at blindly saw,
ears t'at wrongly judged!
Lies t'at I forsook,
tensions t'at I undertook!
Oh, how credulous I am-to vice!
Mock me, detest me, strangle me!
Stop my sullen heart from breathing-
as I hath, I hath spurned my darling-
oh, I hath lost my love!
How sorrowful, tearful-and painful!
And how I hath lost my breath; for cannot I stop
my feet from swimming and tapping
in t'is fraudulent air, gothic and transient
With poems t'at no matter how mad,
but nearly as thoughtful and eloquent,
I shalt still remain doleful and sad,
for my love for him is indeedst thorough-
and imminent; No matter how absurd he fancies
I am, and how he looketh at me oftentimes
with twigs of governing dexterity;
but most of all, shame.
I hath no shape now.
I hath lost, and raked away,
my elaborate conscience;
I hath corrupted my conciseness,
I hath wounded my sanguinity,
originality, and thoughts even, of my poetic
soul-of my poetic bluntness and sometimes
rigid, creativity.
I am an utter failure.
I am a mad creature; I am maddened by love,
I am frightened by virtue, I despise and reject
truth. I hath no sibling in t'is world of humanity,
ah-yes, no more sibling, indeedst,
neither any more puzzles of fate
t'at I ought to host, and solve;
I deserve nothing but fading and fading away
and give up my soul, my human soul-
to being a slave to disgrace
and cordial nothingness.
I belongst not, to t'is whole human world;
T'is is not my region, for I canst, here-
smell everything sacrificed for one another
and rings of delightful and blessed laughter
which I loathe, with all th' sonnets and auguries
of my laconic heart. Oh, I am misery!
I am evil, evil misery!
I, myself, equal tragedy; I am a devil,
a feminine and laurel-like devil-
just like how I look,
but tormented I am inside,
as a cursed being by nature and God Almighty
for never I shalt be bound to any love;
and engaged to any hands
in my left years and in th' afterlife outright.
I shalt have never any marriage within me,
any marriage worthy of talks, parties,
neither anything my wan heart desires;
like sweets with no sweetness,
or dances with no music.
No human love should ever
be properly conducted by me,
I am incapable of embodying
a unity, I am destined to be with me.
To be with me only-ah, as sad as it is,
as vague as how it sounds, or it might be.
O, and how I should love, emptiness!
Any loss should thus be romantic to me:
Just how death already is;
my husband is death,
and my chamber is his grave.
I shalt, night and day, sing to th' leaves
on his tomb,
ah-as t'ey are alive to me!
Yes, my darling reader! To me, t'ey are living souls,
t'ey open t'eir mouths and sing to me
Whenever I approach 'em with my red
bucket of flowers; lilies t'ey eat, ah-
how romantic t'ey look, with tongues
slithering joyfully over th' baked loaves I proffer!
T'eir smell of rotting flesh my hug,
meanwhile t'eir deadness my kisses!
T'eir greyness, and paleness-my cherry,
and t'eir red-blood heath my berry!
So glad shalt I becometh, and shimmer shalt my hair-
and be quenched my buoyant hunger-
beneath th' sun, with my hands, t'at hath
been aborted for long, robbed of whose divine functions
Laid in such epic, and abundant rejections
Brought into life again, and its surreal breath
But t'is time realistic, t'ough which happiness
shalt be mortal, as I perfectly, and tidily knoweth
and as I flippeth my head around
And duly openeth my eyes, I shalt again
be sitting in th' same impeccable nowhereness,
nowhere about th' dead lake, with its white-furred
swans, ghost-like at t'is hour of night-
Wherein for th' rest of my years should I dwell,
with no ability and desired tranquility
t'at canst once more guarantee
my security to escape.
T'ere's no door-yes, no door, indeedst,
to flee from th' gruesome trees,
t'eir putrid breath solitary and reeks of tears,
whilst t'eir tangled leaves smell strongly
of vulgarity and hate.
I hate as well-th' foliage amongst 'em,
grotesque and fiendish art whose dreamy visages,
with sticking tails wiping and squeaking
about my eyes, t'ough as I glance through
thy heavens, Lord, gleam like watery roses
before t'eir petals swell, fall, and die.
Oh-so creepy and melancholy t'ese feelings are,
but granted to me I knoweth not how,
as to why allowed not I am,
to becomest a more agreeable mistress
to a human-a human t'at even in solitude
breathes th' same air, and feels all th' same
indolent as me, by th' tedious,
ye' cathartic, morn.
Ah, and shalt I miss my lover once more
And t'is time even more persistently t'an before,
For every single of his breath is my sonnet,
and every word he utters my play.
He is th' salvation, and mere justification
I should not for ever forget,
just like how I should cherish
every sound second; every brand-new day.
My heart is deeply rooted in him;
no matter how defunct-
and defected it may seem,
as well as how futile, as t'is selfish world
hath-with anger and jealousy, deemed.
How I feel envy towards t'ose lucky ones,
with lovers and ringlets about t'eir palms,
so jealous t'at I cringe towards my own fate,
and my inability to escape which.
How unfair t'is world is sometimes-to me!
Ah, but I shalt argue further not;
I shalt make t'is exhaustive story short-
I am like a nasty kid trapped in th' dark,
without knowing in which way I should linger,
'fore making my way out and surpass her.
She is a curse-indeedst, a curse to me,
t'ough at th' moment she is a cure-but to him,
but she is all to forever remain a bad dream,
which he should but better quit,
she shalt subdue my light,
and so cheat him out of his wit.
She is an angel to him at night,
but at noon he sees her not,
she is an elegant, but mischievous auroch
with ineffectual, ye' doll-like and plastic auras
She is deceit, she is litter, she is mockery;
She hath all but an indignant, ****** beauty
She does not even hath a life, nor
a journey of destiny
She hath not any trace of warmth, or grace,
and most of th' time, at night
It is her agelessness t'at plays,
she ages but she falsely tricks him-my love,
into her lusted, exasperating eagerness;
t'ough colourless is her soul, now,
from committing too much of yon sin
She still knoweth not of her unkindness,
and thinks t'at everything canst be bought
by beauty, and t'at neither love nor passion
canst afford her any real happiness.

Ah, my love, I am hung about
by t'is prolific suspense;
My heart feels repugnant in its wait;
uncertain about everything thou hath said
As thou wert gentle but mean to me;
despite my kindness, ye' mistaken shortcomings
as I stood by th' railings th' other day, next to thee.
Ah, thee, please hear my apologies!
Oh, thee, my life and my midday sun,
a song t'at I sing-in my bed and on my pillow,
last week, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I am, however, to him forever a childlike prodigy-
shalt never he believeth in my tales,
ah, his faith is not in me,
but I in him.
How despicable!
But foolishly I still love him,
even over t'is overly weighing injustice
on my heart-
ah, still I love him, I love him!
I love him too badly and madly,
I love him too keenly, but wholly passionately.
I love him with all my heart and body!
Oh, Kozarev, I love thee!
I love thee only!
For love hath no more weight, neither justice
within it, if it is given not by thee;
I was born and raised to be thine,
as how thou wert created
and painted and crafted-by God Almighty,
to be mine. As I sit here I canst savagely feel, oh,
how painfully I feel-yon emptiness,
t'is insoluble, inseparable solitude
filled not with thy air, glancing at
th' deafening thunder, rusty rainbows
With thee not by my side.
I fallest asleep, as dusk preaches
and announces its arrival,
But asleep into a burdened nightmare,
too many fears and screams heightened in it,
ah, I am about to fallest from smart rocks
into th' boiling tides of fire beneath my feet.
I wake into th' imprudent smile of th' moon,
and her coquettish hands and feet
t'at conquer th' night so cold.
She is about to scold me away again,
'fore I slap her cheeks and send her back
to sleep, weeping.
I return to my wooden bench, and weep
all over again, as without thee still I am,
barefooted and thinly clothed amongst
th' dull stars at a killing cold night.
Th' rainbow is still th' rainbow,
but it is now filled with horror,
for I am not with thee, Kozarev!
Oh, Kozarev, th' darling of my heart,
th' mere, mere darling of my silent heart,
even th' heavens art still less handsome
t'an thy images-growing and fading
and growing and fading about me
Like a defiant chain, thou art my naughty prince,
but th' most decorous one, indeed;
thou art th' gift t'at I'th so heartily prayed for
and supplicated for-over what I should regard
as th' longest months of my life.
O, Kozarev, thou art my boy,
and which boy in th' world
who does not want to
play hide-and-seek in th' garden-
like we didst, last Monday?
Thou art my poem,
and thus worth all th' stories
within which. Thou art genial,
cautious, and beneficent. Thou art
vital-o, vital to me, my love!
I still blush with madness at th' remembrance
of thy voice, and giggle with joy and tears
over yon picture of thee; I canst ever forget thee
not, and sure as I am, t'at never in my life
I shalt be able to love, nor care for another;
thou art mine, Kozarev, thou art mine!
Thou art mine only, my sweet!
And ah, Kozarev, thou knoweth, my darling,
t'at the rainbow is longer beautiful
tonight; and as haughtiness surfaces again
from th' cynical undergrowth beneath,
I am afraid t'at t'eir fairness and brightness
shalt fade-just like thy love, which was back then
so glad and tender, but gets warmer not;
as we greet every inevitable day
and tend to t'eir needs,
like those obedient clouds
to th' appalling rain, in th' sky.

Ah, but nowest look-look at thee! Thy innocence,
t'at was but so delicate and sweet-
like t'ose bare, ye' green-clustered bushes yonder,
is now in exile, yes, deep exile, my love!
I congratulate thee on which, yes, I do!
I honestly do! For thy joy and gladness
doth mean everything to me,
'ven t'ough it means th' rudest,
th' eeriest of life; t'at I shalt'th ever seen!
But should I do so? T'at is a question
I canst stop questioning myself not.
Should I? Should I let thee go
and t'us myself suffer here
from th' absence
of my own true love-
and any ot'er future miracles
in my life?
I think not!
Ah, and not t'at there'd be
any ot'er mirages in my love,
for all hath been, and shalt always be-
united in thee! O, in thee, only, Kozarev!
For I am certain I love thee,
and so hysterically love thee only,
even amongst th' floods-ah, yes,
t'ese ambiguous piles of flooding pains,
disgusting as blood, but demure,
and clear as my own heartbeat;
I love and want thee only,
as how I dreameth of,
and careth for thee every night,
t'ough just in my dream,
and in life yet not!
Ah, Kozarev, I am thy star,
just like thou art mine-already,
I am fated and bound to thee,
and thou to me.
Thou art not an illusion,
neither a picture of my imagination.
Thou art real, Kozarev,
thou art real-and forever
shalt be real to me;
thou art th' blood,
t'at floweth through my veins,
thou art th' man,
t'at conquereth my heart-and hands,
thou art everything,
thou art more t'an my poem
and my delicate sonnet,
thou art more t'an my life
or my ever dearest friend.

Probably 'tis all neither a poem,
nor a matter of daydreams;
perhaps still I needst to find him,
t'ough it may bringst me anot'er curse,
and throwest me away
and into anot'er gloom.
Ah, Kozarev, thou-who shalt never
be reading t'is poem, much less write one
Unlike thou wert to me back t'en;
Thou art still as comely as th' sun;
Thou art still th' man t'at I want.
Even whenst all my age is done;
and my future days shalt be gone.
Alison Apr 2014
the future was a tunnel
with no pinprick of light at the end
and i stumbled blindly
sensitive fingers keeping balance
by the roughness of the walls
eyes never fully adjusting
                          you tore the roof off
sunlight is a powerful thing
to someone who is used to the dark
The first one.
Sean M O'Kane Sep 2018
Robert Frost once talked of taking the ‘road less travelled’.
Well, I didn’t.
When the time came, I blindly went and took the safest road.
A very long path where the pitfalls were plenty.
I stumbled in the bracken. Stymied by the darkness that fell quickly as I ambled along.
The soul bruised, battered and exhausted at every infrequent stop.
It was not apparent then that in this venture there was a bleak dead end ahead.
I plowed on even though something inside was telling me again and again to turn back.
But, slowly, a gleaming light of hope crossed my vista beckoning me home.
I crawled. My strength regained as the light intensified.
Then the end was in sight - the portal was within grasp.
And so, yes, I now take that road less travelled.
Standing tall and proud as I gleefully stride down its glowing thoroughfare.  
Smiling at the diverse and playful changes that cross my pathway.
All told, it’s never too late to trust your instincts and make a difference.
Just ask me.
And Robert Frost.
Bunhead17 Nov 2013
Intro: 2Pac

There's gon' be some stuff you gon' see
that's gon' make it hard to smile in the future.
But through whatever you see,
through all the rain and the pain,
you gotta keep your sense of humor.
You gotta be able to smile through all this *******.
Remember that.
Mmm, yeah.
Keep ya head up.Yeah.

Verse One: 2Pac

Our lifestyles be close captioned
addicted to fatal attractions
Pictures of actions be played back
in the midst of mashin'
No fairy tales for this young black male
Some see me stranded in this land of hell, jail, and crack sales
Hustlin' and heart be a ***** culture
or the repercutions while bustin' on backstabbin' vultures
Sellin' my soul for material wishes, fast cars and *******
Wishin' I live my life a legend, immortalized in pictures
Why shed tears? Save your sympathy
My childhood years were spent buryin' my peers in the cemetary
Here's a message to the newborns, waitin' to breathe
If you believe then you can achieve
Just look at me
Against all odds, though life is hard we carry on
Livin' in the projects, broke with no lights on
To all the seeds that follow me
protect your essence
Born with less, but you still precious
Just smile for me now

Chours: Johnny P, 2Pac

Smiiiiiile for me , won't you smile (smile for me now)
Just smiiiile (smile), smile for me
(What cha lookin' all sad for, ***** you black, smile for me now)
Smiiiiiile for me (***** you ain't got nothin' to be worried about)
Won't you smile (no doubt, smile for me now) just smiiiiile
(And the next generation)

Verse Two: Scarface

Now as I open up my story
with the blaze a your blunts
And you can picture thoughts slowly
up on phrases I wrote
And I can walk you through the days that I done
I often wish that I could save everyone
but I'm a dreamer
Have you ever seen a ***** who was strong in the game
overlookin' his tomorrows and they finally came?
Look back on childhood memories and I'm still feelin' the pain
Turnin' circles in my life came to dealin' *******
To many hassles in my local life, survivin' the strain
And a man without a focus, life could drive him insane
Stuck inside a ghetto fantasy hopin' it'd change
But when I focus on reality we broke and in chains
Had a dream of livin' wealthy and makin' it big
And after all my momma's thankin' God for blessin' the child
All my momma gots to do now is collect it and smile
Smile

Chorus (without 2pac)

Verse Three: 2Pac

**** the world as we ???? and witness furious speeds
of nasty questions keep us all stressin', curious G's
Backstabbed and bleedin', ******' thoughts laced with ****
Learnin', duckin' stray shots, bullets be hot, they burnin'
Inhalin' sherm smoke, visualized the flames
Will I be smothered by my own pain?
Strange whispers, cowards conversate, so quick to dis us
Takin' pictures for the feds, and desperate hopes they'd get us
Hit us off, give us plenty centuries, forgive my sins
Since I ain't in many penitenturies the best revenge is **** friends
We military minded soldiers, bustin' shots blindly
Tryin' to find Jehovah to help me
Somebody save me
Lost and crazy, scared to drop a seed hopin' I ain't cursed my babies
Maybe now ****** feel me now, picture my pain
embrace my words make the world change
And still I smile *****

(Scarface talking)

And now a moment of silence, let us pray
And as you journey into outerspace
may the angels help to lead the way
shine up on your soul to keep you safe
And all the homies that done passed away
They there to greet you as you pass the gates
And as you headed to the tunnel's light
I hope it leads to eternal life
We say the prayers for our homie 'Pac
Smile

(Smile for me)
(All ya need to do is smile)
(Woooo smile for me)
(Come on smile for me)
R.I.P : (2pac) Tupac Shakur. #bandanna and nose ring  
the lyrics to "Smile" by Tupac.

— The End —