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Zion McKean Feb 2016
Why bother?
Why bother trying?
Why bother looking nice or wearing nice clothes or doing nice thing?
Why bother?
Why bother getting an education?
Why bother trying to make a difference in this world?
Why bother getting married or even impressing that boy who's been staring at you the past hour?
Why bother?
Why bother eating or drinking?
Why bother even pondering the thought of survival?
I don't know about you but as for me I want nothing to do with this conveyor belt that we call life.
One that ends with everyone reduced to nothing but bones in the dirt or dust in the wind.
So again why bother?
Because this inevitability cannot be cheated nor escaped.
Every breath that you've ever taken, or thought you've ever had means nothing to the never ending void that is life.
So I'll ask you again.
Why Bother?
Talon Robinson Sep 2016
Why bother
   If there's no reason to continue
Why bother
   When everything isn't as it seems
Why bother
   If she has already said no
Why bother
   When nothing has gone your way
Why bother
   If no matter what this is how it is
Why bother
   When everything crumbles
Why bother
   If you follow your heart
Why bother
   When you can't help it
Why bother
   If you fall in love
Why bother
   When it's already been done
Why bother
   With these thoughts
Because
   They were always in my head
I bothered
   Myself because they felt right
Arham Nov 2019
My life is their yield
To succeed To fly
They want me to lead
What is their reason
I don't care
Don't bother, Don't despair

They claim to save me
To stand by, a naive me
Foster me, back to baby
Is this love
I don't care
Don't bother, Don't despair

Suspected next best thing
Better be in the running
Every thought, a new suffering
Where is the peace
I don't care
Don't bother, Don't despair

So what if I fail
So what if I don't
So what if I leave it to chance unknown
Where is my joy
I don't care
Don't bother, Don't despair

Love is spare
Hate is routine
Both consume, none is fair
Bring back apathy
I don't care
Don't bother, Don't despair

People must love you
You better love them
Is it a contract
Where is the courtroom
I don't care
Don't bother, Don't despair

Everyone is great
You told them it's true
What if you halt
Brace the varying views
I don't care
Don't bother, Don't despair

Mock values
Forged reality
Blindly upheld
Where is curiosity
I don't care
Don't bother, Don't despair

So far So good
By Hook or By crook
Substance is nothing
Success stories overcooked
I don't care
Don't bother, Don't despair

A common end, A common gain
All the talks, All the games
Best case scenario
It all goes to vain
I don't care
Don't bother, don't despair
Bob B Jan 8
(This poem can be sung to the tune of the traditional Scottish folk song "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean.")

D.T.:
“Oh, I have no problem with war crimes,
Though some people might disagree.
That anything goes is my doctrine.
No, war crimes do not bother me.

(Chorus)
“War crimes, war crimes,
Oh, war crimes do not bother me, not me.
War crimes, war crimes,
No, war crimes do not bother me.

“Some people frown upon torture.
They think it's cruel and perverse.
But I think that it can be useful.
Restrictive rules are such a curse.

“War crimes, war crimes,
Oh, war crimes do not bother me, not me.
War crimes, war crimes,
No, war crimes do not bother me.

“Terrorists are a big nuisance.
But one way to spoil their plots
Is to go after their loved ones.
Then they might have second thoughts.

“War crimes, war crimes,
Oh, war crimes do not bother me, not me.
War crimes, war crimes,
No, war crimes do not bother me.

“Soldiers out there who've committed
War crimes are heroes, you see.
I'll gladly give them a pardon
‘Cause war crimes do not bother me.

“War crimes, war crimes,
Oh, war crimes do not bother me, not me.
War crimes, war crimes,
No, war crimes do not bother me.

“To leaders who rule other countries,
Listen to me, for I swear
I'll bomb your cultural centers.
Let ALL the world's nations beware.

“War crimes, war crimes,
Oh, war crimes do not bother me, not me.
War crimes, war crimes,
No, war crimes do not bother me.”

-by Bob B (1-8-20)
Homunculus Dec 2014
Doesn't it bother anyone else: that by simply participating in our current culture of mindless, resource exhaustive consumer capitalism, we're directly perpetuating a model of conduct that will eventually lead to the loss of our habitat, and the decline of our species; one whose remorseless self indulgence now guarantees a rise of global sea level up to 10 feet?

Doesn't it bother anyone else: that we live in a society run by people who we don't know, who don't care about us, but only their own short term gain, regardless of the negative impact that their actions may and often do have on entire generations of people, present and future?

Doesn't it bother anyone else: that our economy thrives on war, and has since the 1940's, that the total for defense contracts this year has been $253,802,074,353, and that 19% of our federal budget goes to defense, with a meager 1% funding education, that we have a president who calls our congress "ceremonial," wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and then unilaterally commits acts of international terrorism without breaking a sweat?

Doesn't it bother anyone else that we're on camera all the time, that our government spies on all of our communications 24/7 as well as those of other countries, or that people who reveal these injustices are shut up in prisons for life, tortured, or exiled?

Doesn't it bother anyone else that our police force is increasingly hostile to innocent people, that they carry AR-15 assault rifles to peaceful protests, and that they constantly abuse their power? I have never ONCE consented to search, but has that ever stopped them?

Doesn't it bother anyone else that our lives are essentially meaningless in the grander scheme of things, that we all dance like puppets, and jump through hoops like dogs, working at jobs we don't like for people we can't stand, to earn money that often barely supplants our basic needs?

Doesn't it bother anyone else?
Doesn't it bother anyone else?
DOESN'T IT BOTHER ANYONE ELSE?!?!?!?
More of an editorial than a poem, but I had to get it out. I lose sleep over this stuff. (Edit... THIS started trending?!?!?! You guys are awesome!!!!)
Lemonade Dec 2018
Don't worry, I won't tell her about you.
Don't worry, her first word will always be "Mama".

Don't worry, I won't tell her about your deep love for strawberry milkshakes.
Though, she refuses to have milk in everything but strawberry shakes.

Don't worry, I won't bother telling her how good you were at volleyball,
I would tell her its a good sport to play.

Don't worry, I won't bother telling her science fictions are great,
I ask her to just give any of them from the shelf, a read.

Don't worry, I won't bother telling her that she can't bunk classes.
Because she is allowed to but, also read her textbooks later.
Though, she doesn't know how pridefully your attendance used to drop, then.

Don't worry, I won't bother not going to movies with her and yeah, she can choose them,
alternatively.

Don't worry,  I won't bother her to grow up.
She can always have brownies and chocolate ice cream in the middle of the night.
Though, she doesn't know how you used to be lectured for doing the same.

Don't worry, I won't bother asking her to learn singing,
she loves  Jazz dancing.
Though you never stopped moving your feet, to those Irish beats.

Don't worry, I won't bother saying how blowing bubbles and balloons were your favorite pass time.
It's her 16th birthday and all she wants is the party hall to be crowded with red and white balloons.

Don't worry, I won't bother telling her that black is the color.
I tell her that she can always wear black to dates and sometimes, they work out really well.

Don't worry, I won't bother asking her to give me a call
every once in a while.
Because she loves writing letters and mailing them to me.
Little does she know, about your handwritten notes that still hold a place in my diary.

Don't worry, I won't question her choices.
But, will for sure forbid her from falling for a man like you,  
who will soon fall for someone new.

Oh did I forget to tell you, she writes too.
It is a letter from a single mother to her ex-man.
Nicole Dawn Jun 2015
Why bother?
Talking to me
Encouraging me
Pretending to care
Why do you bother?

Why bother?
I'm gone anyway
I know no one cares
I haven't got delusions
So why do you bother?

Why bother?
With me in general?
No one else cares,
So why do you?

Why bother?
Overanalyzing.......
Storm Raven Jul 2015
Don't bother leaving the light on,
I am not planning on staying here
Don't bother leaving the door open,
I am not planning on comming back anyway
Don't even bother to ask,
for the answer is clear,
I don't wanna stay here
Don't bother to wait for me,
as I won't come,
I won't follow anymore
No more steps I will take
So don't bother to wait
Don't bother leaving the lights on
That would be such a waste
Sara Ackermann Jul 2011
Why bother living?
If you're only going to hate.
Why bother loving?
If you'll only be betrayed.
Why bother trying?
If you're only going to fail.
Why bother?
There's nothing and no one to live for.
these days.
There's nobody who will love you,
as they did in old times.
There's nothing to try for,
When it all goes to waste.
No reason to live.
No reason to love.
No reason to try.
So why bother?
Chris Chronister Dec 2015
She acts so cautiously
Like I am made of glass
I attempt to hide that it offends me
A smile appears to let her know…
It really doesn’t bother me
I casually explain that life experiences
Which otherwise wouldn’t have taken place
Are well worth her reason for being here
Despite past hardships I want her to see…
It really doesn’t bother me
We share a couple of forced laughs
And apologize for things
That happened a long time ago
I give her a friendly hug so she can feel…
It really doesn’t bother me
She departs like an old friend
I wave like I might think about her
But won’t mind that she is gone
I am hoping she accepts that…
It really doesn’t bother me
I come back inside and play with our dog
Then I give him a huge hug
As I stare over at my signature
I hold back tears as I convince myself of the lie…
It really doesn’t bother me

© Christopher Chronister  Fall, 2014
Written after amicably discussing divorce with my ex-wife.
orion j Jun 2014
i’m not another ****** card for your deck
and bothering and trying is just
         another leap off a possible cliff except you have a blindfold around your eyes
you may not know this
but its cutting into your skin
and the drops in mood seem steeper each time i return to this rabbit hole, just before it gets too dark

is it really worth trying so ******* a continuous basis when your wings have been clipped ages ago



why do we even bother
      then again why am i speaking on behalf of you?
         why do i even bother
             it’s always thunderstorms and rain with an occasional glimpse of sunshine that seems to be a welcoming party for the hurricane
                   to think that i manage to mask my emotions so well i’m nearly fooled into thinking the same frightens me a bit
take for granted to an extent i’ve become indifferent despite the fact it’s still behind my eyes

close to malfunctioning but i can’t get it out of my system
it’s like grasping sand in your palms and all you can do is observe as each grain slips from between your fingers - a great descent
it’s just the reoccurring feel of never being good enough i do suppose
  whatever y’know
Storm Raven Jul 2015
Don't try to walk away.
Don't you bother to run.
Lower your pace.
Hush now, don't speak.
Why would you even bother?
You can't outrun the darkness.
It is al in your mind.
So accept your fate.
Welcome the darkness.
Stop running, my child.
The darkness will catch up with you anyway.
So why bother to run?
When it is so much easier to just accept your fate.
Mateuš Conrad Aug 2018
. so yeah, perhaps the aboriginals, the argument for the noble savage is there... point being, they have a narrative, more eloquent than the moneticised outside the frantic fanaticism of Harry Potter, a plagiarism of Merlin... etc. etc., with all the scientific superiority, a narrative in collectivism based upon plagiarism? does it really matter? the people who spurn on the superiority of western culture... let's just say, they love to gamble, but don't understand nature's gambling pattern of weeding out the weak... and... given their opinions? i wouldn't want to share a meal with them... contradictory *******... tell them about the Manchester attacks, and they'll cite Yemen! i find it rather uncomfortable sharing a public toilet with them... to begin with... but eating with them? what a strange anticipation of the most profound profanity!
            
                                 so yeah...
  nice critique...
"philosopher" *** sophist -
namely a rhetorician...

i love the giggles,
don't you love the giggles?

philosophy is something to engage
with, rather than explain...
more a tartar steak than
a medium-done slash of slaughterhouse
debris...

ahem... where's your western narrative?
where is the sociological focus?
the focus point?
the campfire?

  where, is, the, glue?

    can't see it...
western civilization is superior,
i grant you that,
but, where is the self-inflammatory
implosion?
  the self-reflecting critique?

look at your literature!
my good fellow!
  the pop-***** of vampire-clad-
neo-gothica?
you have to be kidding me...
too many facts, imbedded with
seeking counter-doubts (i.e. facts):
compensated with an antithesis
of a narrative principle...

a right, without a wrong...
a fact, without a narrative,
is pointless educational rubric -
no more finding an point
of answer, than regurgitating a bunch
of facts...
      i would be so certain as to joke
about the aboriginal culture...
when the western narration continuum
is plagued,
   by inconsistent narratives...
narratives that would never
want me to allow myself
a focus for congregating...

   no, sorry...
           you sit that **** alone in youir
little group-therapy sessions...
i'm about to do a Pontius Pilate
revision...
   i'm washing my hands away
from the gloat...
i can't stomach it...

      i don't want to stomach it...
i don't even adhere to an I.Q. discussion
as astounding racial differences...
i have already the point breaker:
and why so few black athletes compete
in the swimming events,
while so many are prescribed the
100m / 200m distance?

            what comes naturally...
800m / 1500m races?
white...
          the quasi-marathon running?
evidently Kenyan or Ethiopian...

i hate this, the vest iz v besht...
                       i regurgitate on this
factoid...
               with diarrhoea...

for all the science involved...
what is it, exactly, that constitutes,
the gluing fabric of community?

    i hate to say this,
but seldom facts are a differential aspect
    of exploratory conundrums...
Moby **** type of narratives?
the integral aspects...
      science has overtaken the expression
of life, sanitized it,
   securing an antithesis of
misery and mortality...
                    with: "facts"...
      
i might share the pH scale with someone...
but if i don't share the commonality of
a narrative?
  **** me, third party sources...
why should i share?
we share the same factoid,
why should we even bother consummating
this fact, over lunch?!

no bother!
there is no reason!
      live your life, let me live mine...
but don't you ******* even bother
dictating what i can, or can't do,
on the allowance of having invested
in a private property,
you, *******, english, ****!

  savvy?!

  the vest iz z best-chore...
   sure sure...
      love your literature, wonder
of the ******* world!
          YA ******* and your journalism?
makes Mecca pilgrims blush!
  wonderful!
                
...and for not particular reason...
vampires, werewolves,
zombies, the whole generic
exhausted stereotype -
   applause! applause!
applause!

              what?! health service?
i was lucky to have met up with my socialistic
accessible doctor,
   how many? 2 years to spare from
the last visit...
   zee vest iz z best!

            because why would i have considered
studying chemistry to an edinburgh university
level...
    and not began a post-scriptum of schooling,
beginning work in a supermarket?!

nice narrative, love the advertisement...
keep up the belittling tactic...
   glorifying your ***** wiped clean...
nay bother...
  as the Picts used t say...
                there is an actual masochistic
attache of internalized hate,
that even i can accommodate...

                     i hate gloating,
i hate boasting...
   and i hate the sort of people who
self-identify themselves as philosophers...
rather than sophists...
the sort of people:
who, simply, can't, keep, their, mouths,
shut!

don't criticise cultures,
when your own culture...
   is gearing up to problematic investments
of its own,
most notably, the teenage mental
health crisis...
          please...
                       this is not a time scant
for diminishing the already
queuing problems,
   by resorting to I.Q and race arguments...
the ******* can claim to be
philosophers, and entertain
the centre stage...
   i have a bench...
  in a park, talking to an old east london
geezer about rayleigh bikes...
and the scalpel attitude to
finding a prefix, negation,
                in the word disease...

western civilization has been gripped
with an Sunni Islam virus of
a superiority complex...
             they sure as **** know how
to point the good stuff...
   but slightly less...
                dream-detached when it comes
to the current,
    problems...
                  but hey!
the barbaric peoples are our closest
allies of worthy comparison...
   compare a ******* donkey
to a galloping horse!
  that'll fix it!

- but i thought that western culture was
all for the inbreds,
the down syndromes?
  the last birth mothers?!
   so?
        some cultures are somehow
more clingy to a peoticization of
the past...
    which... says much more...
for what currently grips the western
inconvenience in the pursuit of
a narrative, whether historical,
or fictional.
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.
Bergen Franklin May 2015
Why
why.
what is the point of all this?
why do humans bother with such useless games
bother with pointless escapades
all we are is glorified beasts
******* between every feast

eat.****.eat.****.eat.****
****.eat.****.eat.
eat.****.
th­e food is rotten to those who hear
the buzzing of flies in rotting flesh
the stench of deep regrets
is sweet to those who forget

why.
what is the point of all this?
why do humans bother with such useless games
bother with pointless escapades
all we are is glorified beasts
half asleep

illusions of grandeur filling our brains
dreams as sweet as the buzzing of flies
why bother?
why?

dreams are fantasy.
nothing more.
what we want,
what would make hearts soar.
waiting for a window or door,
what pleases us to our very core
dreaming too long simply gives you bed sores.

why.
what is the point of all this?
why do humans bother with such useless games
bother with pointless escapades
all we are is glorified beasts

we exist for one simple thing.
babies.
again, again, and again.
All we are is gilded beasts
writhing in a lustful heap
9/22/05
Jordan Fischer Aug 2015
Is it nature to change yourself for a mate even when that change exiles the ones who didn't require a change from you?
Changing for a mate that only lasts a fortnight, this sudden respect for an other
Makes everyone question, where is your brother?
It's not that I don't love my brother
It's what he becomes in the presence of the other that gives me all the bother
Possible work in progress
Kate Eddy Jun 2019
The blaze took the house with great speed,
Those inside at once had fleed,
But all was not as it appeared,
For when at last the smoke had cleared,
Among the husk of the home
The children discovered they were alone.

They dashed about at a frantic pace,
Looking around for the smallest trace,
Fearing the worst was yet to pass,
One last glance the children cast,
It was then they noticed her cloth of blue,
And the fate of their mother they finally knew.

Running to where their mother laid,
They knew a farewell they'd have to bade,
Knowing that they couldn't stay
For their only relative live far away,
When their mother was put to rest at last
Julie knew she had to push them past.

Leaving the ashes of their past behind,
Hoping a new home they would find,
Julie did for her sisters all she could,
Knowing that reliving the past would do no good.
And so at last Julie and sisters journey began
To reach their home was the only plan.

When the sky turned black as night,
Julie knew something was not quite right,
Stopping their ride Julie and Linda can tell
That something must not be going well,
As they returned they were alarmed to see
Their sister Clotild drowning in the sea.

Julie at once knew what to do,
Into the water at once she flew,
Clotild's head went slowly down below,
The fate of her sister Linda afraid to know,
But when Julie came to the surface at last
Seeing Clotild, Linda knew the danger had passed.

"Clotild, what were you thinking?" they wished to know,
Clotild answered simply saying she was hot and wished to go,
To cool her feet with the fresh feel of the sea
At the time not seeing where the fault could be,
Please don't do that again, they'd scold,
For had they not known, a different story would of been told.

Racing to where the smoke had led,
Each took in the scene with dread,
As flames spread across the little town
Chaos had evidently ensued all around,
Julie looked about the destroyed land,
Knowing what it was like to see the damage firsthand.

What Julie saw then made her blood go cold,
For upon a burning threshold
A girl lay unconscious in need of aid,
Julie knew if she stayed
Or if she delayed-
A heavy price the girl would of paid.

Julie ran as fast as she ever had before,
Diving last minute towards the floor,
Dragging the girl safely away,
The girl opened her eyes as if to say,
She felt she was going to be okay,
Julie couldn't imagine how she'd come to be alone,
Thankfully, evidence of life had clearly shown.

Many had seen what had transpired,
The courage of Julie they had all admired,
But when asked why she put herself in harm's way,
She said, I couldn't very well let her stay,
Julie then took her to where Linda and Clotild stood
Knowing that she'd done all that she could.

It was clear that the girl had no home,
As tattered clothes had clearly shown,
Julie realized that there was one thing she could do,
Knowing that the girl's options were few,
She decided to offer her a chance to restart,
For with them she'd always be a part.

Frightened she was when she finally awoke,
Noticing in gentle tones the sisters spoke,
What happened? They wished to know,
Tears at once began to flow,
They listened to the tale she wished to be told,
As the story of Chloe began to unfold.

I'm an only child, I only had my mom and dad,
In fact they were the only family that I had,
I had to do homeschooling for we were too poor,
Yet, even with that I'd been happy as none before,
Then today fire took my home and the next I'd known
I was fighting for life on my own.

Julie didn't know what to say,
Yet she noticed even now Chloe seemed to be okay,
As if she'd accepted what had passed,
Hoping her parents would feel peace at last,
Linda and Clotild felt like they could relate,
It seemed as if tragedy was the common trait.

As they continued on their way,
Julie and her sister's story they relay,
Finishing with when they had met,
There was something Chloe couldn't forget,
She looked at Julie asking,"Why help me?"
For the reasoning she did not see.

Julie looked at her kindly and without hesitation said,
If I didn't move I knew you'd be dead,
I knew I couldn't leave you there to die
Hopeless though it seemed at the time I had to try,
I took a emergency class a few weeks ago you see,
And the first thing I was taught was never to flee.

The spell of silence was suddenly shattered,
When Julie noticed a girl pale and battered,
Who suddenly collapsed in a heap
As if she'd fallen fast asleep,
Julie went at once to her side,
Sweat thick on her brow she spied.

They knew something had to be done,
Already the setting of the sun had begun,
Julie drove as fast as she could,
And into view a little town stood,
Spotting a doctor's office the girls go,
Hoping the illness the doctor will know.

Slowly the girl began to groan,
Opening her eyes confusion shown,
Seeing her awake Chloe asked her name,
Instead of an answer a blank look came,
The doctor took the girl into another room
Returning a few moments later with a look of gloom.

"Please, she said gesturing to some seats,
With a critical look she asked,"How'd you meet?"
We were driving along when we saw her in the road,
The girls said as their concern clearly showed,
The girl sat in quiet destress as the doctor stressed
This poor child's memory is quite a mess.

"What could you possibly mean?" Julie asked at last,
The doctor answered as a pitiful glance she cast,
She doesn't know who she is or where she's from,
Linda asked," Then for her.....what is to come?"
She will have to go into foster care I'm afraid,
Yet as she said that the girl had swayed.  

Julie was at her side rather quickly,
As the girl appeared even more sickly,
Against Julie the girl then went,
As if to show her energy was clearly spent,
Julie and Linda laid her in a bed,
Knowing she heard all that was said.

The next day when the first ray of sun appeared,
The girl's condition seemed to have cleared,
She said to the doctor as if to get her to see,
I think those girls are my only family,
Julie heard what she said wondering where this would lead
For it appeared as if she planted a seed.

The doctor went to the girls asking if this was true,
"Yes, was the answer that Julie threw,
As the doctor could not prove them wrong,
The girl was allowed to come along,
Leaving the little town behind,
All appeared to have recent events on mind.

Finally Julie asked the girl as she wished to understand,
What was it that made it so she lied to change the plan,
The girl said at last, I felt a bit safer with you,
And I'm not saying that the doctor wouldn't know what to do,
But you helped me , even though you didn't know me at all,
I didn't want to be alone, she said appearing small .

They looked at the girl in a kind way,
At first not knowing what to say,
Finally, Linda asked if she remembered her name,
The girl responded with much disdain,
I'm afraid no name comes to mind,
And I want to leave my past behind.

It's time I start again she proclaimed,
As things can never be the same,
I think we should start with who I am,
So you can call me and all can understand,
How do you like Lucy as a name?
I think that will do nicely as it is simple and plain.

And Lucy was what the girl was to be known,
As if to show how she felt, relief was what had shown,
Lucy then listened to their adventure,
Ending with when they'd met her,
Lucy looked at Julie in a new light,
Saying, "now I know my decision was right."

When the day had come to an end ,
A night under the stars the girls did spend,
Do you ever think about that day ? Asked Clotild
Her voice was sadness filled,
Julie and Linda glanced at her and with pity said,
Clotild we've got to move ahead.

Clotild said nothing and proceeded to bed,
As if to shut out her sister's presence instead,
The next day away from her sisters Clotild did stay,
And not one word did she say,
They came at last to a city to see,
And angry mob corner a girl while she looked back defiantly.

The girls went at once to the scene,
So the situation they could glean,
Linda asked what they were doing,
The mob answered saying, a thief is who we're pursuing,
Linda got in front of the girl asking, "what has she stolen?"
A shop owner pointed saying, it's in the bag she's pullin.

Linda took the bag and looked inside,
In which many foods did reside,
The group glanced at the girl asking the cost,
Paying for the items they had lost,
As the mob slowly trickled away –
the girls asked why she didn't pay .

The girl hung her head Shamed,
you can't blame me she claimed,
at first they had not caught on,
it was then that a girl came along ,
she doesn't have any Home,
she's with me and we're on our own.

My name is Nancy and this is Carol she said,
saying this as if on thin Ice they did tread,
Julie stepped forward and said then,
We won't hurt you, we are friends,
Linda went to them with the bag
knowing that it was all they had.

Once the bag was in their possession,
Nancy said as her weariness began to lessen,
"Thank you for all that you did,"
and with that the farewell they bid
later that night where the girls stayed,
an unexpected visit Nancy and Carol paid.

Hey , Chloe said is everything okay?
Carol answered saying we decided not to stay,
the girls looked at each other asking where they go,
as all of them now wish to know ,
Nancy looked at the girls with hopeful pleasure,
Hoping to find a life that was better.

We were wondering if we could join you guys
and find out where our future lies,
Come and join us, Lucy said to them,
for now they only saw friends,
it was then their story they began to tell,
and at once silence fell.

We are sisters you see,
For so long we'd no where to be,
Believe it or not we had a home,
Better than any have ever known,
For a minute not a word was said,
Carol continued with a look of dread.

"We were well off because of our parents occupations,
The girls listened with much anticipation,
My mom was a doctor and dad was a lawyer you see,
That's why we were such a wealthy family,
One day, said Nancy picking up the story, that changed
Dad came and with mom words were exchanged.

Apparently, dad was being sued,
For as far as his client viewed,
Dad hadn't done all that he could,
Therefore to his client he was no good,
I don't know how much they took,
But the nerves of our parents it clearly shook.

Soon word spread throughout our town,
And eventually people stopped coming to him all around,
Soon mom had to pay for all of bills on her own,
And the stress of it had clearly shown,
One day our parents argued whether or not to send us away,
Carol and I didn't bother to stay.

The girls looked at them with dismay,
Wishing there was something they could say,
Nancy continued saying, the next day we packed our bags,
As she said this  her shoulders sagged,
We knew then that we'd never see our home again,
I thought Carol and I eventually mend.

We ran away from every place we were sent,
Even though no unkindness any family meant,
Since that time we've been alone with nowhere to go,
Sighing, Nancy said, now our story you know,
Julie put her hand reassuringly on Nancy's shoulder,
Thanks for letting us know, she had told her.

What about you? The two sisters wish to be told ,
So to the sisters the story did unfold,
Nancy and Carol stared at Julie with the look of awe,
As if realizing only now who it was that they saw,
Is this really true? They asked as if yet to believe,
It's true, they said as if to show they didn't deceive.

"We've heard of you! Carol said suddenly,
As if the memories of those events surfaced finally,
You were on the news a few days ago,
She looked at Nancy as if she'd know,
Yes, Nancy slowly said as if the story began to return,
Julie was surprised at what the news people had learned.

I just helped those who I thought I could,
Just like I think anyone should,
Carol and Nancy smiled at Julie as if happy to know,
To a new home with Julie they would go,
Several weeks had passed since their journey began,
And out of Europe they were as they planned.

Six days later in New York they came,
And though tired they were happy to be on land all the same,
Through the vast city the girls drove,
Right down New York's main roads,
Throughout the day many had noticed the girls go,
As recognition slowly began to grow.

Comments circled about them regularly,
"Can't we be left alone!", Clotild said sullenly,
Linda and Julie glanced at Clotild momentarily,
She was worse then they thought, they noticed worryingly,
They went to a park and set up camp for the night,
Somewhere that was out of sight.

The glow of the moon lit up their camp in soft light,
Julie and Linda had a feeling that Clotild wasn't alright,
She hardly paid them any heed,
And when they approached she'd recede,
They wished they could make her feel better,
But she was just too bitter.

The next day the girls went through  to Nebraska's state,
Clotild what's wrong? Chloe asked seeing a look of hate,
"I'm fine!" Clotild said violently,
The girls stared at her silently,
It was then that Linda and Chloe swapped,
As the others continued to look at Clotild shocked.

A village came out of the blue,
Those in the village had looked at them as if the girls they knew,
As they set up camp villagers watched in awe
Not believing who it was that they saw,
A girl said, " mommy it's the girl from tv,
The mother glanced in their direction saying-it is indeed.

Looking in their direction Julie sees,
Sheltered in the shade of the shops a girl looked on miserably,
Julie went at once to her to see what was wrong,
All at once had withdrawn,
As the girl noticed and began to retreat, Julie shouted wait!
Catching up Julie noticed that she was pale and under weight.

Are you okay? Lucy asked then,
As a cut Julie did tend,
Linda went and got her food and drink,
And looking at the girl Julie began to think,
Looking at the girl seeing the bleeding,
Julie asked her what was wrong and she said," I was fleeing."

Julie glanced at the others with concern,
Trouble at once they began to discern,
Julie took the girl into her tent,
The other girls to guard the tent they went,
An hour later Julie came out at last,
How bad is it? They asked noticing the look she cast.

Her name is Rose and she's frightened and has good reason,
Julie said this her voice began to lessen,
Last night her parents were robbed and killed,
She witnessed it Julie said her voice with concern filled,
After a minute she continued, apparently the robber knew,
She ran because she didn't know what to do.

She's still in shock unfortunately,
Since no one's caught him he's still at large you see,
She no longer has a home,
She's afraid and she's on her own,
We can't leave her alone with that man on the run,
Okay we'll leave tomorrow at the rising of the sun.

The next day at first light the girls left the village behind,
Each one with the thought of home on their mind,
The sky was crystal clear the air crisp and sweet,
For a minute a pair of eyes Julie did meet,
It was a figure of a boy her age she saw then,
She did not see him again.

For the rest of the day Julie's attention seemed to stray,
To that boy that didn't stay,
Who was it who she had seen?
Was it an illusion or a dream?
As she watched the smoke from their fire burn into the night,
Something went across Julie's sight in flight.

Julie got up and said,"whose out there?"
As this reaction seemed quite fair,
It was then a boy had appeared as a silhouette in the night,
Julie went up to him before he went out of sight,
Why are you following us? she asked her voice tight,
Looking at him Julie can tell something's not right.

Hello Julie, I've come to warn you,
So when the time comes you'll know what to do,
There is one among you you call your friend,
That person you'll lose in the end,
Julie glaring said, " What do you mean then?"
The boy said," the one you call a friend will betray you in the end

Beware he said on and on,
Then as suddenly as he appeared he was gone,
Julie looked at the place where the girls laid,
Suddenly feeling very afraid,
She didn't know why for she thought it couldn't be true,
So to bed she went and thoughts of that night flew.

The next day into Colorado they appeared,
For all the girls weariness at last had cleared,
As each knew their journey was about to end,
And soon all of them would have a home again,
Keeping that in mind, the girls look until a clearing they find
Where a cabin lay with trees behind.

The group went to work setting up camp,
As the air turned cool and damp,
The girls sat to eat dinner at 6:00 that night,
Finishing they feel tired and Julie knows something isn't right,
Because try as they did to stay awake,
Julie knew a drug was placed in something they ate or drank.

As Julie was the last to go down,
The closing of a door was her last sound,
When she woke at last around a room a glance was thrown,
As this room she had not known,
Wondering where you are? Asked Clotild in a mocking tone,
Julie looked at her as confusion shown.

Clotild what.....Julie stopped as understanding grew,
Julie felt as if she'd been hit in the face as she said,"It's you!"
"Why? Julie asked, what have any of us done to deserve this?"
Looking at the others who she originally missed,
Clotild glared as she said, " you don't care or know
To hear Julie this and Julie that wherever you go.

Yet even with that- before any of this began,
Instead of taking command,
You left mom in that fire to die,
And you didn't even bother to try!
So yes Julie, it was me
Because I had every right to be.

"Clotild, how could I have known this would of occurred?"
Yet even as she said this, she knew she wasn't heard,
Goodbye Julie, said Clotild as she stood,
"Clotild, Julie said realizing it'd do no good,
Julie tried to stand only to find her hands and feet tied,
Clotild ran out the door as the binds she tried.

When Julie freed herself to the door she went,
Without luck opening the door her energy she spent,
The others finally woke with a groan,
All went to Julie as she sat alone,
Linda came to her asking, Where are we?
And where is Clotild? For it was her they didn't see.

As they looked at Julie they knew something was wrong,
For she had an expression that didn't belong,
Julie told what happened and the girls began to dispute,
"It's true, said Julie at last , an answer they couldn't refute,
"What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?
The answer of which nobody knew.

The door was locked from the outside,
And yet no matter how hard they tried,
The door had stayed in it's place,
It seemed like too much for the girls to face,
When all seemed lost and hopeless then,
The door opened revealing only a friend.

The boy Julie had met came at once to her side,
As a look of depression on her face he spied,
"Who are you? asked Rose suspicion clear in her voice,
I'm a friend and I'm here to help, he said by choice,
"How did you find us?" asked Julie her annoyance plain,
"I followed your sister as she took you away", he claimed.

We might as well leave as there is no reason to stay,
"Be wary, your sister intends to make you pay,
What on earth could you mean? asked Linda upset,
Wondering how much worse things could possibly get,
But again as suddenly as he had come to their aid,
He vanished as if to show they were too much delayed.

Their journey home they still went,
To each other their strength they lent,
Not one word had anyone said,
For due to recent events their hearts were filled with lead,
Finally a town came into sight,
As they came they noticed a girl in flight.

From trouble the girl ran,
Behind her as she went she scanned,
Glancing to where her eyes lead,
The group at once to guard the girl they sped,
For a few thieves at once took chase,
Stop! Julie said intent on putting them in their place.

They stopped asking, And why would we listen to you?
At once a fist Julie threw and away they flew,
At last the girl the group had found,
Julie went to her saying, "they're gone, no one's around."
The girl glanced shyly about,
Sure it was now safe she then came out.

"Why bother to help me when you didn't know me at all?"
With them after me, I don't see why on you responsibility'd fall,
They had no right to take from you,
And I knew there was something I could do,
The girl said, I don't even have a home,
I was going to try and  find a life of my own.

Would you like to come with us? asked Rose,
Really...yes please the girl said as the door on her past closed,
What is your name? asked Rose facing their new friend,
Sky, said the girl as a note of confidence she did send,
Where you heading? asked Sky as they left the town behind
Linda said, we're hoping our dad we'll find.

Sky asked confused, what could you mean?
So the girls explained how their journey came into being,
Sky was so amazed that for a minute she could only say,
Julie there's no way
They looked at her and Lucy said, it's true,
And her admiration of Julie quickly grew.

Sky then said, I am sorry that your sister lost her way,
For the wound was still fresh and twas a heavy price to pay,
Thank you, Julie said to break the ice,
For silence had latched on as a vice,
At long last to their father's house they came,
Realizing to each girl life wouldn't be the same.

Knocking on the door as anticipation did build,
Throughout Julie's being fear had filled,
For Clotild's eyes Julie had met,
A look Clotild sent as if to say Julie's actions she'd regret,
At once Clotild took flight-
Quickly vanishing from Julie's sight.

"We need to get inside now, Julie said urgently,
The girls glanced at Julie not seeing what the trouble could be,
Julie? Asked Linda with growing concern,
Seeing what she could learn,
She's here, was all Julie had said,
The girls heard and looked around with dread.

The door opened to show a man with a serious look,
Asking angrily," where is the money that you took?
Your money was stolen? Was it by a girl with blond hair?
The man looked annoyed saying yes as if he'd despaired,
We'll get it back, Julie said taking off with speed,
To the place where Clotild had fleed.

Clotild was hiding in a group of trees in view of all,
"Clotild, Julie's voice did call,
Don't make this harder than it needs to be,
Julie ran into the area as the threat she didn't see,
Running at Julie blind with rage a knife she drew,
Yet as the knife was ****** in Julie it didn't go to.

For right as it came it was Rose who took the blow,
And slowly to the ground she did go,
Dropping the knife Clotild ran,
As she noticed the failure of her plan,
"Rose, Julie said as she sank into her arms weakly,
Her breath came rather futility.

Rose weakly noticed all the girls had gathered around,
They watched shocked and no one made a sound,
Julie asked her voice sad "Why did you jump in front of me?"
Rose smiling said, Julie you taught us all what we should be,
Wincing she said, I didn't want my friend to die,
So futile though it appeared at the time, I knew I had to try.

Rose had tears in her eyes,You gave more than I ever dream of,
Julie cried as Rose went to be with the ones she loved,
After everything Rose had been through,
Julie felt peace for she knew
At last her wish came true,
At once Clotild Julie went to pursue.  

But Julie didn't have to go long,
Seeing Clotild's hands tied Julie's eyes were drawn,
For next her a boy stood tall,
Seeing Julie a serious look did fall,
The money taken to their dad they returned,
Julie then to her dad she turned.

Do I know you? Her dad asked looking at her hard,
Suddenly appearing on guard,
"Dad, It's me Julie, she said as her voice cracked,
"Julie, is it really you? Her dad said as to react,
Why are you here? And why are these girls with you?
So introducing the girls, Julie explained what they'd been through.

For a while, Joe hung his head in shame,
Your mother's dead? As if he was to blame,
"It's not your fault!"Julie said with conviction,
"Yes it is, he said looking stricken,
I was a cop and I promised our plan wouldn't change,
For a time it worked until...as he said this he aged.

What? Julie said wanting to understand,
Joe didn't meet her eyes, my job kinda took command,
I missed our anniversary and your birthday,
After a time your mother said she couldn't stay,
That was the last I'd heard from her unfortunately,
For years you girls were all I wanted to see.

"Dad,  we can be a family again,
Linda said jumping in hoping strength she'd lend,
Joe looked up with a sad look in his eyes,
But why would Clotild blame us for your mother's demise?
Julie said, She's broken and just looking for someone to blame,
I'm sad to say, she is not at all happy we came.

Joe looked at his girls and said, you truly wish to live with me?
Wondering where the reasoning could be,
Yes, said Julie I promised these girls a chance to restart,
I told them with us they'd always be a part,
Then yes, you can come and live with me here,
Hearing the girls did cheer.

Turning to the boy Julie smiled back,
You like me, she said as if it were fact,
What makes you think that? the boy asked in a mocking tone,
Looking up Julie noticed a smile had shown,
So why then did you come to our aid?
Because to the those girls survival a huge part you played.

So who are you? Julie asked then,
A tone of curiosity she did send,
My name is john if you really wish to know,
And as of now I don't intend to ever go,
Leading John into her home
A happy ending the girls at last had known.

Until we meet again  -
I have 2 words and they're The End
This is the first epic poem I've ever written. It's based on a story I wrote as a kid.
Savannah Oct 2012
Why bother with life
When all you get is pain
Nothing good ever happens
It’s all the same
People breaking your heart
But then you wonder why
Why do you even care
Why do you always cry
People say things
Just to get you mad
They wanna see you cry
They wanna see you sad
Others say they’re your friends
But then they talk crap
You hate to go home
Because nobody there cares
You just wanna run away
But then you don’t dare
Almost every night
You go stand outside
Look up at the stars
And think why oh why
Sometimes you just wish
That you were dead
You’ve cut yourself before
But said you would quit
Now you wonder if you can
While youre on your bed
It seems like people
Wanna get you in trouble
Seems like people
Are always pretending
Seems like people
Don’t respect you for you
But then there are
Only those few
Why bother with life
When all you get is pain
Why bother with life
When there’s nothing to gain
You slit your wrist
And punch the walls
Dream you were dead
And you weren’t anything at all
jeffrey conyers Jun 2014
Gifts, flowers and various cards.
Why bother sending them?
When I can vocally express my love.

Yes, why bother?
Why?
Because love should be expressed in various ways.

Sure, to some it barely important.
Sure, to some it's vital.
So I say it to you every hour of the hour.

Why bother worrying about others opinions?
When your focus is upon your love interest.
And it seem others just butting in your business.

Yes, why bother?
When they probably has no one to love.
And seem highly jealous of yours.
Armand-DeamoJC Aug 2018
To all the goodbyes
I say goodnight
To everyone that dies
I hope it's bright

To everyone;
With a razor
Hand of pills
Tied rope
Dangling keys
Extreme height below
Finger over a light trigger
Electricity at hand
Open propane tank
Empty plate, with full glass

Stop, think about who you're leaving behind
I know my words aren't going to stop you, but just read
Did you bother to write and leave a note?
Is it worth it then?
Saying you're sorry, knowing you'll leave someone behind?
Stop. Think about why you're doing it
Do you have nobody?
Think about your opportunities that'll fly past
The chance of ever meeting someone?
Did you lose someone?
Think about if you'll actually see them again?
Being bullied?
Fight back, with whatever you have
Life shoved you down?
No, I'm not asking you to get up!
I'm telling you to get your *** into a nap
Think about all the possibilities that might not be
Think of all the opportunities and people in the future
Think of your legacy
Think of anything except the pain
Now balance the pain and everything else
Want to jump? Skyfall
Want to shoot? Paintball and games
Want to hang? Bungee
Want to overdose? Take 10% of it and party
Suffocate in propane gas, or blow up? Cook a nice meal, invite a friend or family. Surround yourself. No friends and family? Find a friend, build a family.
Want to speed wrong side of the road? Speed on the right side of the road and get carried with the wind, do it over again
Want to cut yourself? Cut off the pain and wrong influences
Electrocute yourself? Rather save electricity and watch a good movie with friends or family. Have none? Watch a movie alone, play a game online. Make friends, build a family
Want to starve yourself so you can get drunker and finally forget it all, when your liver gives in? Eat a lot more, blow off some steam at the gym and build a body that girls/guys would like, attract them and make new friends. Drink with friends.

I've tried many things, some of them didn't work out, or I couldn't stay awake longer. Create new dreams if the old ones died. Work hard for them. Achieve something
"At least leave a ******* legacy behind" is what my bestfriend, Steph used to say
"You can get out of this alive, but maybe a little ****** up, but anything damaged can be repaired" My bestfriend Josh used to say
"Life can carry you away without what you thought you needed" my bestfriend Divene used to say

Even more quotes from people I've lost in my life, so I ask you just think about it all
Still going through with it? Remember it's a one way ticket
I'm suicidal myself. Been for a long time. Just speak to me. Speak to someone. Let's fix this ****.

You deserve to live. Thank you for 50k views
DRPQ Feb 2015
what happened to all the feeling? am I becoming less and less real to you? can't you see that I have a heart and it's dying because of you? you say things I know you don't mean,
please don't mean them.
it only seemed like yesterday when we were laughing without a doubt of whether the future would swallow us up. i still am not quite bothered by it just yet. but if I ask you all about tomorrow you'll say you're unsure.
you won't plead for me to stay anyways, so why should I bother waiting?
why should I bother pinning down my insides to submit to the practicality of my own mind?
why is there an ambivalent voice telling me that this isn't about how I feel, but instead a test whether my love is real?



To stay means to trudge through the thoughts and thorns heavily scraping my chest
To love means to set aside what might benefit me, and instead continually asking "how are you?" even if I know you'll answer that you're more than fine.

And it probably won't bother you that I'll fade away sooner into the sidelines, where the present is the future, and I remember how unsure you always sound--- but that's alright. I still just might be hoping for the best of us.
heavy-hearted nights, days
here's to these feelings that might never reach you
NitaAnn Oct 2014
I haven’t been sleeping well for over a week…Nightmares, tossing, turning – it comes in waves I can sleep for a few nights – then it starts again. The tossing and turning – I can’t lie on my side because my hips & chest hurt, so I try to lie on my back – but then I feel like something is crushing me and I can’t breathe…and I toss and turn back and forth – for hours.

Sometimes I cry and try to talk to myself, tell myself that it’s okay to cry, that it will pass, and I’ll be okay – I try to forget the pain in my hips and my chest- remind myself where I am, repeat my address...I’m a grown up now. This is my house, and I’m okay.

Sometimes I lie down in the guest room and open the window to feel the cool air on my body and listen to the sounds outside. Other times I lie on the floor in the bathroom, feel the cool tile on my face.

Sometimes I fall asleep but then I wake up, startled, from a dream…sometimes I can remember the dreams, sometimes not. But it’s been a really long week, and I’m really tired. I am sooooo tired. And nothing is working now. I’m so tired. And I can’t sleep.

And the lack of sleep exacerbates everything else. The anxiety, the anger, the panic and fear. And there’s no relief…no help. My problem, I get it – at night when everything happens it’s just me here – by myself. No one else. My problem. My issues…all mine – I own it. Me. No one else’s problem – why bother even talking anymore.

I don't even bother calling DT for help anymore - because really - it doesn't matter. It just "is" and nothing can be done about it. And maybe I'll get a "good" night soon - a night where I actually sleep...a night with no body memories or nightmares, no panic attacks or anxiety, no voices, no SI...and then maybe that will be enough to get through another few nights of hell. Maybe - Maybe not.

Just "riding the waves" as you say, DT - I won't call - I won't ask for an "extra" session or bother you on your weekend off. Because it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter anymore. I've ridden the waves for 40 years now! BY MYSELF! Has it gotten any less turbulent? Um, no - so again, I have to ask the question: Why ******* bother? I sure don't have an answer to that question, do you?

And I wish I had the courage to STOP all of it. But I don't today...and even if I had the courage - I don't have the energy.
Em MacKenzie Oct 2018
I’ve had a rough night.
I’ve had a rough decade.
To clear my head I decided to go for a drive,
the cold autumn air, the dark sky, the vacant streets and the glow of the traffic lights can sometimes heal.
Not tonight.
The cold air chilled me to the bone,
the dark sky is without a single star,
the vacant streets create an atmosphere of being on another world; completely desolate, utterly isolated.
The traffic lights are all red, like the anger that burns inside me.
I shouldn’t have gotten in my car tonight.
I have a single headlight, my passenger side burnt out sometime last week.
These things bother me more than they should.

I drove to my old home, where I spent twenty three years of my life.
It’s gone and I knew it would be, they started the demolition in spring shortly after I left it, during one of our coldest winters yet.
But now, a house is being constructed on the lot.
Where once stood a small, modest, cottage looking home has been turned into only a gigantic skeleton of what will be a modern house that holds no unique characteristics.
It will blend in with every other house on the street.
Notice how I say house, not home.
They built right to the hedge, Jesus, they didn’t even leave room for a yard or driveway.
Besides all that, I can only think
“my mother’s soul left her body on this land.”
The same land they’ve covered.
Her temporary bedroom when she turned palliative will probably be their living room, or maybe bathroom.
Whoever lives in this house won’t know that the most wonderful mother in this world died where their house is standing.
They won’t know it was a Christmas morning, and the last thing I ever heard from her mouth was “your arms are getting strong” after helping her to her OMS supplied hospital bed.
These things bother me more than they should.

I usually drive fast and play my music loud,
tonight I’m driving fast to get anywhere but where I am,
tonight I’m playing my music loud to drown out my sobs.
The kind of sobs that hit your body like aggressive shocks.
I hate crying, I despise sobbing.
I don’t get embarrassed, but I’m mortified by my own vulnerability even though I’m alone.
I even fake a laugh and shake my head.
Pretend it’s nothing, and that I’m an idiot, that “that’s just life” and so forth.
These things bother me more than they should.

When you lose the only home you’ve ever known,
are you destined to be transient eternally?
Is it possible to find someone who will love every part of you,
and love you enough to actually show it?
But most importantly,
does it ever stop hurting,
even for a ******* second?
Just spewing out the cold and dark feelings that are devouring me right now. Sorry for the angst.
ivey c Sep 2014
when i turn to you
expecting your smile, i see
the back of your head.

it's too familiar
of a sight. i don't know why
i even bother.
Jeff Gaines Mar 2018
OK Reader, I'm going to tell you a tale … with great trepidation. You see, this tale, well, it's kind of like telling someone that you've seen a UFO. They want to believe you, but … it's never really been proven scientifically. Not to mention the fact that most folks who believe in such things are often the tin-hat wearing types, written off as … lets be nice and call them “odd”. And, of course, the more you swear to it, the crazier you appear. It's an epic tale, spanning 30 years of my crazy life.

  But, It's a story I want to tell, because it happened to me. I can barely understand it myself, let alone explain it. So … I'm just going to launch into it and you take it any way you wish.

*  *  
Where Can You Be?

Where can you be?
Where can you be, my love?
Oh, can't you see?
You're not with me!

I'll search with gazes and I'll search with cars,
I'll search the cities and I'll search the stars, well …
I'm gonna find you, oh, wherever you are,
I'm gonna find you baby …  near or far, but …

Where can you be?
Where can you be, my love?
Oh, can't you see?
You're not with me!

I thought I'd found ya, but she wasn't you,
that girl she left alone and blue, well …
I know that's something that you'd never do,
your love has always been strong and true, but …

Where can you be?
Where can you be, my love?
Oh, can't you see?
You're not with me!

If you must settle for some other man
and deviate from our immortal plan, well …
I hope you realize I will understand
and I'll try and do the best that I can, but …

Where will I be?
Where will I be, my love?
Hoping the next life sees …
our destiny!


Where can you be?
Where can you be, my love?
Oh, can't you see?
You're not with me!

~Wednesday, April 1st, 1987
10:30 P.M.



  I was singing in a band back in those days and, as it happened, this was the last song I'd ever write for it. Just after this, as it does, it all came crashing down and the band was finished. But in those last days, they pondered this song, with great puzzlement. You see, it was unlike anything I'd brought them before. It wasn't rock … It wasn't a ballad … it wasn't even structured like a “normal” 80's rock song.
  
  No bridge, no solo, no loud grinding guitars, etc. It even had bits where I hummed, yes hummed, the melody, like a lullaby. As they read the lyrics and I described how it went, they all looked at me like I had three heads and asked where this had come from. It was nothing like anything I'd written before. I could only tell them when and where I'd written it, but had no explanation of what inspired it. It had just came to me, so I wrote it down. They didn't know what to make of it, or even what to do with it.

  One of them said it sounded like a late 70's or early 80's adult contemporary song or even in the vein of The Eagles. Another asked if it was about reincarnation … And I honestly, until that moment, hadn't thought of it that way, I didn't think like that at 24 … but then, one of them said it was “Haunting” …

  “Haunting”?

  “Wow”, I thought, I'd never had anything I'd written described as that before. When I asked him what he meant by that, he told me that it was haunting to think that this poor guy is desperately seeking a girl, that may or may not even know that he exists … in a world with billions of people in it. To top that off, he fears that she may off and marry someone else if he doesn't find her in time.

  This, along with the suggestion of it being about reincarnation made me rethink and rewrite the song. Well, a few lines in the last verse and chorus anyways. It actually made the song flow better and seem more complete. In a way, it actually made the song make more sense … to me and them. Sadly, we never did anything with it. There wouldn't be time. Ha … Time … how ironic. Over 10 years later, came this …


For Someone I've Never Met

Please save a place for me,
deep inside your heart.
Always know that I think of you,
as we both practice our arts.

Our worlds are full of temptations,
so very hard to resist …
and the good Lord knows
we're both far from,
sixteen and never been kissed.

Wealthy men with jaws divine …
Temptresses with looks so fine …
Paths that lead our hearts away …
Paths that surely lead astray …

They'll lead us there every time.
They'll leave us there … so  unkind.
Our hearts must shine,
night and day.
Through any darkness … they'll light our way.

If you never touch my face …
If I never look into your eyes …
We'll always have the comfort of sharing
the same
big, blue sky.

If I never smell your hair …
If you never kiss my lips …
Always know the search for your smile
has launched a thousand ships.

So, I hope you save a place for me
in your heart so sweet and kind.
Please, save a place for me …
Heaven knows you've one in mine.

~Thursday, September 9th, 1999
9 A.M.



“For Someone I've Never Met ” poured out of me in the midst of another breakup from the second, and last, girl that I wanted to marry. That emotion, never found me again. I looked at it on my computer screen and smiled, seeing “Where Can You Be”, in my mind, on my tattered old note pad that I called my “Song Book”. The memory of me writing it while sitting in my Z-28, looking out over the Gulf of Mexico as a beautiful heat lighting storm sent bolts across the sky, came flooding back; as did the debate of reincarnation I'd had with my pals in the rehearsal room all those years before. Here I was, again, writing about “someone” that I sensed, for lack of a better term, was out there … somewhere.

  Well Reader, do you believe in reincarnation? I was never really certain, but, as you can see, I had twice written pieces to someone I wasn't completely sure existed. I had always “sensed” someone out there beginning with the period after I wrote “Where Can You Be?” and thereafter. So, there they were, each written after losing someone I was deeply in love with. Each came out of nowhere, as they usually do. By the time I was in my 40's, I began to think I was either imagining it all (a side effect of being a hopeless romantic) or that I had just somehow missed this person and our “moment”.

  And then …



Epiphany

There was a place.
There was a time …
There, I stood … still unknowing
and everything seemed fine.

But there in that place …
at that moment in time …
the moment I saw the eyes,
I'd never believed I'd find.

Well, what could I say?
What could I do?
In a world filled with billions …
and there … was a you.

I'd always known you were out there …
even written of something amiss.
I never, ever stopped looking for you …
because my heart always said you exist.

My breezy Fall became harshest Winter.
My crazy life left my health running out.
I'd resigned myself that our moment had passed …
but this moment … it removed all doubt.

Well, what could I say?
Tell me, what could I do?
There we stood, staring … alone … in a city of millions …
yes, there … there was a you.

Oh, that mistress fate, she is just so cruel.
Frustration, a curse to be mine.
   I'd searched for you my entire life …
but now … my clock … knows a limit of time.

You see, I would never venture a love with you,
while knowing I'd have to leave you … hurt and alone.
I could only admire from afar … stoic and aloof …
while turning my heart into stone.

Nothing I could ever say and nothing I could ever do …
But now, at long last … at least I finally knew.

There, you stood … green seas, gazing up … into skies of blue.
My long-awaited revelation … become sorrow-laced realization.
There really is … a you.

~August 12th, 2009
  

  Typical of my life-long Charlie Brown syndrome … After being told in 2005 that I had “the lungs of an eighty-year-old man” and that I had “Six to Ten years” to live, I made a conscious decision in that Doctor's parking lot that I could never have another girlfriend and that I must face this alone. I don't see woman as objects. They are glorious creatures that are here to be our partners and friends and to make our lives amazing. I could never, ever knowingly let a woman fall in love with me, all the while knowing I was going to die and leave her. It's not in me to do such a thing, lonely or not.

  Yes, I'm still alive, I'm stubborn like that. But, some days are better than others and my new doctors say that they don't give people “time limits” anymore … because of people like me. I can't afford the lung transplant. So, as Bono so aptly put in one of his songs: “The rich stay healthy, while the sick stay poor”. It is what it is … and like the energizer bunny, I'm still going. Good for me.

  In the moment that I met her, the morning that followed, and the amazing speed of our nexus over the next several months combined with a string of synchronicities (Coincidences? Did I mention that she too, was a poet and writer?) that not only came after I met her on the sidewalk in front of the publisher we shared, but in those pieces I had written before and in several after; I was pretty much convinced I had actually found her. I have NEVER experienced anything like this, or her, in my entire life.

  So, after all this time, here she was … and there wasn't a **** thing that I could do about it. Besides, she was much younger than I and it probably would never have worked anyways. ****, the universe is rotten sometimes, huh? Maybe, if I'm lucky, things will balance out better in the next life. I can only hope. But I'm reminded, worryingly so, of the **** The Alarm song: “Collide”:

“All of these thoughts pounding in my head …
with the words I've wrote, in the letters I've never sent.
The distance in our lives may change …
Times that you can never erase …
But will our worlds collide?
Will our worlds collide, the next time?”



  Only time will tell.



  “Colors”, and a few others, were written about/for her. But, I could never show them to her. I would never endanger my friendship with her. I just wanted to keep her in my life. That, and that alone, was the only motive I'd ever had with her. I looked forward to seeing her marry, hearing her stories of her three kid's adventures; Hubby, all greasy, working on the car in the driveway, rabbits in her garden at night, eating her precious organic veggies or even about her new curtains. Just to know that she was alive, happy and doing well. I found a solace in her voice I could never describe and I was completely content to just have her in my life and watch hers unfold. Only I could end up in this odd position.

  I feared that she might get weird-ed out because I'd never displayed any romantic inklings toward her, so, to suddenly read these might make her feel a bit, lets say: uncomfortable. Actually, I didn't write them with any romantic intentions, per se; I just did what I always do … write what comes out. Still, there's no denying that they come across romantic. Again, so, so Charlie Brown. (long sigh)
  
  It is what it is. I also have to ponder the fact that maybe all those Charlie Brown moments in my life were preparing me for this one big, painful one. That does makes sense … ******' Universe.


Colors

Well when you're Green, I'll be your Brown.
Like the earth that loves the flowers,
I'll will be your solid ground.

And I'll be your Azure, when you are Verdigris.
We'll be thee most beautiful ocean
that eyes have ever seen.

And when you're Black, I'll be your White.
Mixing all of the colors … I'll make everything alright.

Now when you're Blue, I'll be you're Red.
If something should make you wanna cry,
I will feel your pain instead.

And I'll be your Orange, whenever you are Pink.
We'll be thee most amazing sunset,
that the sky could ever ink.

And when you're Black, I'll be your White.
I'll mix all of your colors … and make everything alright.

Should you be Violet, I will be your Beige.
Like a sleepy moonlit desert,
pasteled in dunes and sage.

And when you're Grey, I will be your Rainbow.
We'll be thee most soothing rainstorm
the world has ever known.

And when you're Black, I'll be your White.
I'll mix all of your colors … yes, I'll make everything alright.

With love on my palette, painting a glorious sunrise …
I'll color all your mornings with a smile and brighten up your skies.
If you should find yourself in sorrow from someones hate or lies …
I'll take the stars down from the heavens … and paint them in your eyes.

So whenever you are Black, I will always be your White.
I'll mix all your colors with a promise … everything will be alright.

Yes, I'll mix all of your colors with a promise … Everything's gonna be alright.

~  Winter 2012



  I wrote this after she had rang me up one afternoon lamenting about her life at the moment, troubled that her latest novel hadn't done as well as she'd hoped and now she had to be waitressing to make ends meet. I tried my best to cheer her up and assured her that she was strong enough to handle anything and that she must keep chasing her dreams. I wrote it as a poem, but I can't help but notice it looks like a song, though I've never heard music for it. Those repeated verses look just like choruses to me.

  Earlier in the day, I had been looking at a booklet of paint swatches. I guess, up there on my roof looking at the Manhattan skyline, her sadness and me looking at all those colors melted together somehow and, as happens, out came this piece. Even this, became another synchronicity as she would name her next novel “Show Me All Your Colors”. I remember seeing it in the bookstore and looking straight up … shaking my head at the sky. Was this the universe telling me to show and tell her all this?

  Well, if it was, I stuck with my gut and kept it to myself. My God, if you only knew how many of these synchronicities there were between her and I. It simply boggles my mind. I wanted to call them “coincidences”, but there were just so **** many of them … Each so unique, they just couldn't be called that. I don't want to tell them all here, because like I said, the more you swear to it, the crazier you sound. And I'm sure your questioning my sanity by now, aren't you? (Smirk)


  OK, OK … this one is definitely romantic. I wrote it one night, drunk to the bejeezus. I'd done what we called “The Crosstown Crawl” with my pal Tristan and a gaggle of assorted waitresses we knew. This involved starting at Brass Monkey on the west side highway in the Gansevoort District and ending at my favorite hookah bar, Karma, on the Lower East Side … Drinking in, and often being “asked to leave” (Read: Kicked out of) every bar that took our interest as we walked (Read: staggered) west to east, staying below 14th St.

  On my way home from the city on the J train, I thought about all the phone conversations we'd had while I was on this train crossing the Williamsburg Bridge. Being drunk, I guess, I caught a bout of sadness that I'd never get to tell her any of this or even how I felt about it all. Before I hit my elevator, this piece was swimming in my head. It's about as mushy a piece as I've ever written … if not thee most! Not the norm for me, but this is, after all, a lot to keep pent up inside you. I wouldn't wish this predicament on anyone.


For My Little Red-Haired Girl …


You …

My Love.
My Queen.
This Shining Light in my eyes.

My Laughs.
My Dreams.
My Soft, Contented Sighs.

My *****.
My Lavender.
My Dew Covered Rose.

My Smile.
My Cinnamon.
The Joy in my heart … ever inspiring my prose.

My Best Friend.
My Co-Star.
My Fearless Partner in Crime.

My Breath.
My Cohort.
My Side-kick throughout time.

My Snow-capped Mountain.
The Wind caressing my face.
My Vast Green Field.

The Ivy Covered Wall
that harbors my soul … ever refusing to yield.

In a different time ...

You … would have been my Life.

You … would have been my World.

You … would have been my Everything

and I will always love you for my own special reasons.

It is just a shame … and I'm so, so sorry … that you … must never, ever know.

Maybe next time.


~Charlie Brown




   When I came-to in the morning and read what I had wrote, I had to laugh a bit. It is borderline corny, very beautiful, very telling and very sad … all at once. I shook my head, laughing and told myself :

  “*******, Sam … yer losin' it. Get your **** together, will ya?”

  I guess in my stupor, I was imagining what it would have been like to write something for her. I don't know … There it was and I was stuck with it. I almost deleted it, but, my finger wouldn't press the key. As I told you before … I'd NEVER show this to her. She'd probably never speak to me again.

   As a sadder epilogue, that eventually happened. I still don't know why, but we haven't spoken in years. Maybe she sensed this emotion in me and ran away. Or maybe, just maybe … she thought I'd pushed her away somehow … but for whatever reason, we drifted apart. I guess I'll never know.  As you can see by reading this, that was never my intention. But, like I keep reiterating … It is what it is.

  One day, I called her number to catch up and shoot the breeze. I hadn't spoken to her in a few months as she'd been busy promoting her new novel and I didn't want to pester her. But … it was disconnected … I checked my emails … nothing. I'd never been so confused, she just closed me out. I didn't want to bother her. I was sure she had her reasons and if she wanted to reach out to me again, she would. She had my email and my phone number. But, for now … she was gone … and that was that.

  So, what do you think, Reader? Do I get the Tin hat … or a Badge of courage? Am I bat-**** crazy … or just eccentric? I'll leave it up to you to decide, because as I said, this all happened to me and there isn't a thing I can do about any of it. I just had to get it off of my chest. Thanks for letting me vent.

  Wherever she is … she will always mean the world to me. I can see her green eyes if I close my mine and look for them. Sometimes, on occasion, her face haunts my sleep. Still, I like to picture her, kids playing in a sprinkler behind her, digging in her garden, wearing gloves too big for her hands and a smudge of fresh dirt on her cheek … it makes me smile.


-Sam Webster
Brooklyn, New York
2013
OK, you can stop scratching your head. I'm sorry if you feel like I tricked you or was playing a prank … That was not my intention. This piece is experimental writing, of sorts. If you are wondering, it's titled “Somewhere … Out There”. But I didn't want to put a title at the head of the page, as that might have clued you in too early.

I also confess that “Sam” the narrator is, on no uncertain terms, based loosely on myself. But hey, what better way to string you along? Besides, as Stephen King said, you “Write what you know”. As far as I 'm aware, using poetry within a short story like this, or in this manner, has never been done before. Welcome to the future!

It really belongs in my “From Thee Edge” Collection with the rest of my Twilight-Zone-esque short stories. (You can now read some of these fiction short stories here, posted in my "NoPo@HePo" posts, along with some non-fiction essays. I hope you enjoy them.) But, because I pieced together several of my poems to not only tell the story, but as a vehicle to carry it along as part of it; I wanted to put it here on Hello Poetry just to see if I could convince you long enough to get you through the story … while having you believe it was me speaking to you and that it was all very real to me. Thus, making it feel real to you as you read it.

Was I having you along right up until it was signed by someone else? Or, at least until the narrator addressed himself as “Sam”?

If so, then I accomplished my mission. I'd love to hear your comments on it. If you've been reading any of my other posts, I'm sure you've figured out that I like to run wildly outside of the box sometimes. This was just, as I said, an experiment in a different way to tell a story … fiction or otherwise. As always, I hope that I took you on a journey and, more importantly, that you enjoyed it.

~Jeff Gaines
L.A.
(Lower Alabama)
2015
Celeste Caster Mar 2014
Waking up at night tears shedding from my eyes
Lets out screams, cuts, and whys
Try to keep it in but I know I cant
I know I tell you everything but
This time I can't

I know you really don't care
But, you act like it to see me smile
I know you mimic me when we're on the phone
Because, you've heard my **** before
And, I don't wanna be the one to bother others

Sometimes I yet wonder
Why won't anyone be straight forward
Are you not trying to hurt me
Are you thinking I'm over reacting
Tell me please~~

So I stop bothering you and you randomly visits
"What are you doing"
I'm cutting can't you see
"Why"
Cause I told you I'm not a bother

"Are you  thinking of suicide"
Well **** obviously
" You know I'm here for you"
I can't tell I need you do you need me
"Yes we all do"

Just leave me alone
"You're life is precious"
JUST ******* GO!
An hour later things starts getting hectic
I don't know what to do

I tried crying
I tried singing
I tried talking
I just couldn't do it
Boom~

I don't wanna be a bother
Sorry I'm really a disorient poet~
Tyler Matthew May 2018
Well now your tears
they don't bother me.
I said your tears
they don't bother me at all.
You know your tears
they don't bother me.
Your tears, now,
they dont bother me at all.
But I'd hate to see you leaving.
Leave me with my back
against the wall.

I saw your train pull in the station.
I heard the whistle start to blow.
Yeah, as your train got to the station
I could hear that lonesome whistle start to blow.
Well, I could meet you down the line,
but where you're headed
I just dont know.

As those wheels got to turning,
so did my heart, girl, ya know it did.
When them wheels started turning,
so did my heart, girl, yes it did.
And I could see you in the window
laughin' like some little kid.

I guess my tears didnt bother you
and you know that's such a shame.
I guess my tears didn't bother you
and ain't it such a shame.
'Cause the reason they were falling
is 'cause you're gone and I'm to blame.
Nobody Aug 2017
There's no place to suffer,
no going away.
It's dark in here
all of my days.
No smiling lights,
no happy surprise.
Only this disguise,
of constant lies.
I know they bother them,
my sad eyes.
They can't bear to see,
they want me to hide.
Just stay empty inside,
so they won't feel down.
Still one by one,
they'll all turn around.
They won't ever stay,
or test their extent of pain.
They only obey
their impulse to stray far away.
They'll desert me to ache
in this dark hole they can’t take,
where I get no relief
not even in sleep.
So I guess save yourself
I’ll taint that light you keep.
I'll burden your soul,
til you can't take anymore.
Then I'll drain you dry
before I kiss you goodbye.
And you'll never know
when it's all done,
I'll still be empty
but you'll be gone.
Annika Sayson Feb 2016
I don't know if I bother you at all. Like on a regular day, do I sometimes pop out in your head? Or a post or quote and instantly, you are reminded of me? Do our memories together and your memories of me bother you at night or even bother you at all?

I know that for me this is a fact. That you bother me. My thoughts still lead to you. I think I know why but I don't want to assume, I think it's because maybe I'm not really over you.
That what I did feel for you was and is still true, that you were the dream come true yet you were the sugar coated worst nightmare to ever exist.
I don't know if I bother you like you bother me, I don't even know if what you've said you felt for me was even true at all.

You see and you know I've always had trust issues because of people leaving and I try not to care when they leave me. But you, when you left... I felt like crashing down and it was like a pang of reality that people do still leave me and I do still care and that I do still break. I don't know if my thoughts are just lingering memories of the imaginary us and the what ifs in my mind and the unfulfilled plans and desires for the supposedly love story of us.

You don't know how much I broke down when you chose to stop loving me, you don't know how angry I felt towards myself because yet again I was not enough and still was just an option and the least option that you'd ever pick, you don't know how much I wanted to beg you to stay but what's the point of you staying with me if you've already chosen another and you're unsatisfied with me?, you don't know how I have deeply loved you even though we only had the shortest "becoming to be" love story, you don't know that I still care for you deeply and silently hope you'd come back for me, you don't know how much I want you to regret leaving me but I am not cruel enough to make you suffer the way you made me suffer...

You don't know how much your memories have poisoned my mind, heart and soul.

I always want you to be happy, even though you're not with me. I know you'd suffer when you'll stay with me longer so it was really better for you to leave... but, you still don't know that I am both selfish and selfless for you.

You don't know at all.
It was truly over before it even started.
When you get fixed and they still throw you away, like most toys.
Mateuš Conrad Jul 2018
.    like cardinal Leto remarked, having received news from Versailles... why is it always the ******* French?

perhaps in a less crude manner,
drinking wine,
while eating raw fruits -

  always a bad combination...
no *****, no meat?
   bad idea... wine, and raw fruit
akin to strawberries?
    irritable bowel movements...

- and that's because Einstein
didn't discover the concept of
gravity, in the format of: sideways?
in the form of orbits?
   expansive waves...
   that allowed for the elliptical interpretation?
like the old
              argument:
      (heliocentric) oval...
             contra the (geocentric) circular
"concern" for...
   whatever is up / down
            sideways in
      the Copernican terminology...
because there was ever a "shape"
concerning the universe,
  and not a medium,
            an extraction for the metaphor
for water,
   gas, liquid, solid...
              and the fourth aspect
of ancient elements:
   its existence in a vacuous "space"?

- but i can't fathom the French at this point...
once upon a time...
one Frenchman equated the motivation
for a "summa summarum"
    to be bound with a thinking,
and a curiosity...

            the current fashion of Latin
abbreviations...
   this... cogito ergo sum?
   it's nonsense...
    speak it long enough...
   and you'll find yourself inclined
to suppose that cogitans per se:
is a motivation, an impetus to exist...
yet... so much of thought it "wasted"
or, rather, to craft an impetus to
"doubt", within the confines of fiction...
but the motivation has lost its
origin within the confines of doubt,
and has been replaced by
the Freudian unconscious,
   a serialized phobia fest... notably
including a, clown...

originally, thought (per se) was
a secondary motivational outlet
that precipitated into being...
    first came... doubt...
   but... these days?
               doubt is a conspiracy theory,
no longer an emotional thrill
to prop-up thinking...
   and we have the French existentialists
to thank for this...
for they subverted their own
idea...

             negation has replaced doubt
as the origin, and motivation
for thinking...
        yet... this sort of "thinking",
has made, its materialization, so, so...
obscene...
    i can hardly find it surprising while
i took to propping two worthwhile
economic outlets...
   prostitution (since they will spend
the money i give them...
on things... i wouldn't even care
for propping up)...

    and... alcohol (scotch whiskey,
russian standard *****...
    shveedish cider...
                     german beer)...

but how can you even claim an existence,
if...
       there is no thrill...
of what is the secular expression of faith:
i.e. doubt?
  how can you replace doubt -
a motivation for thinking, materialized
into being... with negation?
  jean-paul Sartre attempted this inversion -

doubt has been replaced with negation
in his system...
             it's like that cliche of an English
1960s ***-joke / ***-like...
       this... frivolity over a blatant lie...
a lie so... bogus...
    so ineffectual in translating a hidden truth
that... you allow it...
   to care for the cheap comic aspect
of the execution...

but how can the French suddenly
feign to disbelieve their secularism -
   resorting to the antithesis,
namely:

  original

  doubt motivates thinking,
  which subsequently motivates
   being within the confines of reason,
or rather, reasonableness...

20th century existentialists

negation "motifs" thinking,
   which subsequently motifs
"being" within the freedom of non-reason,
or rather, unreasonableness...

   and by negation,
   i don't mean the atomic conceived softening
blow...
   akin to: dis-ease...
    i.e. (as i explained it to one old man
in a park, walking his dog):
  a negation, or ease... a denial of...

how can the Cartesian model work,
when the 20th century French existentialists
began with the presupposition:

   i deny, i think, therefore i exist?
where is the original thrill of
the secular aspect of faith, within the boundaries
of doubt?
              gone... vanished!
****! a **** on the London tube,
during the rush hour,
  during the heatwave
                of the past month!

                   perhaps this only comes
as a method of assimilating an increased population,
within the confines of the Taoist maxim:
the best way to aid the world,
is to forget the world, and let the world
forget about you...

             perhaps... the Andy Warhol 15 minutes
analogy...
      that in order to encompass the individual,
the world, and the individual within it...
   the approach had to change
from the original, exciting, exploration
genesis of thought, bound to the genesis
of doubt...
             having to be replaced by
a genesis of denial...
      the second tier of a secular society...
    the zeitgeist of Herr Censor...
to filter through what we see so often,
faces, bodies...
  but would be much more comfortable
having been bound to Plato's cave,
         of complete shadow theater...

perhaps... but the original tier of
secular societies' alternative to church prescribed
articles of faith...
                     to have replaced
the thrill of doubt...
      with this... Byzantine pillar of denial
as motivational groundwork for
thinking impetus
   that becomes an article of being?
am i the only one to see the frustration,
how, people abhor their being,
being founded upon an act of denial,
rather than an act of doubt?

     the once thrilling maybe (gnostic):
   has become the stale, "i don't know"
    (agnostic) - as if... people can't tell you
whether zebras have stripes!
   where there was once an article
of secular faith (doubt) -
   now?
                        there's not even that!

p.s.
  there has to be a much needed new mantra,
all publicity: is bad publicity -
unless of course you're riding that
fame juggernaut and are paying
for your all-inclusive status akin
   to madonna: since fame dies off
and you, none-the-less invest in the momentum...

one day where i drink a bottle of wine,
half a liter of whiskey,
   and i'm apparently not "screaming" in
my sleep from the heat,
the whole, "apparently", as i retorted:
at 5:15am? i was alseep! i was asleep!
how can i stop screaming in my sleep
like a banshee:
the sleeper and the blind man both see
eye to eye regarding the future to come...

one day without engaging in internet
content: of my own accord,
next day? this... this... lethargy builds
up in me... i end up thinking:
i can't do this any more,
this insomnia culture globalism of
24h news reels is tirying me,
i pick up the sunday newspaper
which i found to be respecteable...
the sunday times,
  i peer into the magazines...
toxic masculinity,
    desire: what three women want...
i'm bored...
well more tired than bored,
bored-tired...
                 what women want:
what an exhausting question...
**** fantasy, beta-male provideer...
yada-yada-yada...
                    
    the only relaxing aspect of the day
(apart from the shade) is watching
england beat india in the cricket...
i always loved cricket sport terminology:
50 overs... innings...
wickets... 6 throws of the ball in an over...
the rest? i'm no atlas...
i don't like the world crashing in on
me with all its problems...
not because i don't have the right
advice to give,
but i remember the most modern secular
motto about giving advice borrowed
from Athos of the creation of alexandre dumas:

the best advice? to not give advice...
you cannot be held accountable
for giving bad advice: and people complaining,
or good advice and leaving
people in your sphere of influence...
asking for more - non verbatim... of course...

second categorical imperative?
tao...
              the best way you can help
the world: is to forget the world,
and let the world forget you...

                        you only need two absolute
maxim vectors to orientate yourself
in this world,
a third is nice, but: it can be kept loose...
at least two on a tight leash...

but one night spent drinking,
not writing anything:
and i am... spent!

                            the boogieman of england's
persistent complaints...
the muslims are not integrating,
the english: we should give them more
ground...
           o.k., o.k.... joe peshi in the role
leo getz in lethal weapon II...
            i too had to integrate!
i said: like **** if you think i'll give up
my native tongue when spoken in private...
you're not getting it...
i'll spreschen ihre zunge, no problem,
i'll even write you pwetty free verses to boot!
but, guess what?
  i will not force you to eat my
sauerkraut, my schnitzels,
                           my smoked sausages,
my raw herrings etc.,
                      integration does not work
within the confines of: pampering to a people
expected to meet you half-way...
what happened when the polonaise attempted
to meet the english half-way?
brexit...
oh come on guv'... is there a ******* tram
echoing its way out of my eye
when you peer into it while i attach
an index finger to the bottom lid to give
you a clearer picture?
           25 years in england: no englush girlfriend:
i guess all the english girls just love, just love love
being ***** by 9 pakistanis
daubed in gasoline...
                   hey: they **** thrill...

i'm tired of the weakness of the english,
the humpty-dumpty nature they are imposing,
self-cencorship,
    appeasing, like neville chamberlain...
bringing back the munich agreement...
not on a piece of paper,
instead... waving a scrap of a toilet roll...
so the english could wipe their own *****
on the promises of the germans...
if this really hurts the northern monkies...
guess how much it hurts the sourthern fairies...
(well... fairy, is a designated region surrounding
devon, bristol, hardly a ******* fairy in essex)...

   why am i foreigner and i share
the same nausea of the natives,
                     exhausted by the narratives?
i guess the english didn't like the polonaise:
but the polonaise are to blame...
came here with a list of benefits they could claim:
without having even lived 5 years among
the natives... housing benefits, child benefits...
believe me: the polonaise are the only
people in the world that hate each other...
to the extent of citing bitter criticisms...
whenever i pass through warsaw to see my grandparents
i am gripped with a sickness:
this homogeneity is too much for me...
shove me back into the east end of London...
too much of the same genetic material...
and that's when the language i am keeping
(seemingly for vanity reasons) fizzles out
into your basic encounter and that basic reminder
that circa 40 million speak it too,
better or worse, but they speak it...

of all the festivals? download...
                                   i wish...
    glastonbury?       not my thing...
kylie? i'll concede: slow? live, with instruments,
rather than the studio original...
wasn't that a cover of
   bowie's fashion?
                  sure as hell sounded similar...
but i heard the cure were playing...
so while writing my father's invoice
i made myself a paperclip bracelet...
   i figured... "let's just pretend to be there"...
and no, the 1980s weren't that bad when
it comes to music,
not now, by comparison...
the cure's kiss me, kiss me, kiss me (1987)
release?
one of those rare albums you can
listen to akin to reading a book...

                       but there's still that persisting
exhaustion... i came from under communism,
from under the iron curtain,
but at least there was the economic aspect
of communism involved...

   only today i watched the story
of the terrible inversion of english jursprudence,
i.e.: guilty until proven innocent...
the 1975 case of the silesian vampire...
an innocent man was hanged...
the original vampire?
    smashed his wive's head in,
then his childrens', then he set himself
on fire...
              then again: the tragedy of those
rare cases of being presumed guilty
rather than innocent...
then the reverse: presumed innocent rather
than guilty and getting away with it,
through the parody of death
and the non existent god...

   there could not be anything more exhausting
than communism without a communist
economic model...
this current state of affairs in the west:
cultural marxism and the yet to be discovered
antithesis of cultural darwinism...

i'll use the cartesian chirality for a moment:
sum ergo cogito...
i don't like using political terms...
but... liberal (classical) - i don't even know
what sort of thinking goes into the label -
in the east? the liberals are exhausted
by a resurgent nationalism within
   the newly acquired capitalist system...
in the west? the liberals are exhausted
by an insurgent communism within
an ageing capitalist system...

         on a side: seriously, why even bother
engaging in any sort of "public intellectual"
debates when the public are only
discussing two books: 1984 and brave new world...
**** it, might as well talk to a camel jockey
who only own and rides the waves of
time in this world only using one...
muhammad...
   whom Khadija **** Khuwaylid
would probably whip into his young
respectable shape...

                  and this is how Ezra Pound comes
into rememberance:
usura... at least the muslims do not
play into the game of usury:
of interest... borrow a quid,
pay back £2.33...
            that's the only way you can
gain respect of the muslims:
if they truly were the money lenders
of this world: which they aren't...
unless a newly blessed...

   among the philistines and the proselytes...
england is such a tiresome project,
even on the outskirts of London...
i'm being dragged down by this intervention
of marxism: on a whim,
on a whimsical projection...
of "adding" values...
            
           communism would have worked...
in exceptional circumstances...
poland... circa 1945 - 1990...
syria: the current year...
  to whatever year is demanded...
exceptional as in: war torn...
where was the marshall plan
   for poland, when there was one
for sweden (neutral) and switzerland
(also neutral)?!
        black youths bothered about
the summer holidays,
having to live in council flats,
  concrete goliaths...
           want to know what it feels like
when entire cities are like council
estates,
with only pockets of remaining
   free-standing houses among
overshadowing council flats?
                                    nee bother...
sure... in a country where:
the house is the castle and there's a labyrinth
of castles constituting outer suburbia...
balconies... that's what the soviet
models had... balconies...
where women could grow flowers...
concrete staccato gardens in the sky...
the blocks of flats in england
didn't have balconies (sky gardens,
          esp. the early ones, massive fault)...
i spent one summer reading
bertnard russell's history of western philosophy...
lying in my grandparent's balcony,
in the shade...
watching passerbys among
          the barking dogs of the neighbours...

one day, one ******* day!
   and i'm already exhausted from the castrato
english narrative...
pandering to the people you expected
to integrate...
  no! you're not changing your standards...
your standards are perfectly reasonable!
i'm tired of the english pandering
to the sort of people who, will, not,
integrate!
               i integrated in a way
of respecting both the english culture,
as well as hiding / preserving my own...
why don't i just do the following:
   pisać po polsku?
                      like some czesław miłosz?

ah... good point... at what point
is the standard of integration appreciated?
when nothing is preserved?
surely integration is supposed to
accommodate some variation
of preservation?
     i might add: that's a fine line...
preserve all? no integration...
preserve some? integration...
                    preserve none? no integration...
food is a cheap target to example
with...
                   it's a low hanging fruit...
given that even i find indian cuisine
   the most superior in the world...
food is a cheap target concerning integration...
but the niqab?
  when the local english authorities
are employing face-recognition
technology and when testing it...
are forcing people to uncover their faces,
subsequently arresting them out of protest...
but not the women wearing the niqab...
out of? out of what?
   a secular society shouldn't be allowed
to discriminate against any religion...
it should discriminate against: all religions!

                isn't that what the secular ideology
is all about? the... softcore version
of soviet atheism?
        secularism of the west (miltary-industrial
complex)...
"vs." soviet atheism of the east
  (scientific-industrial complex)...
           i'm still so ******* tired
               of this bogus trap of "necessary"
                       commentary.
Tom Leveille Nov 2014
here's how it happens
the morning after
you reach into the drawer
where the your t-shirts live
to find it austere
you'll shrug because
you're still drunk
& you can't remember
when last it was
that you had something wet
or how long it's been
since you made the floorboards blush
or why the carpet is upset
who wouldn't be
the contents to the upended ashtray
strewn around the apartment
resemble the aftermath
of the smallest war
to ever take place in norfolk
some midnight thief
must've made off with the lighter
because it isn't in
any of your favorite spots
maybe you chucked it
along with a hundred other things
that make noise when they land
in the neighbors yard
you won't remember putting
the refrigerator's belongings
in the bathtub
or scrawling a buzzard
on the bedroom door
but then again who would
you'll pretend it's spring again
before putting on your winter coat
to go out front with a cigarette
in your mouth
you'll hope for a passing stranger
to *** a light from
or drag yourself to the corner
with couch cushion change
to buy a new lighter
and on your way
you won't bother looking back
this is just another day
on eggshells for no reason
another november
choking on birthday candles
on your way home
you step over beer cans
the kind you fell in love with
and wonder who
had the last laugh last night
or if anyone said a word at all
it might've been another
moment of clarity
it might have been some idiot savant
any adjective that feels like home
anything that keeps you thirsty
Mateuš Conrad Nov 2016
before i pull this one out of my *** (again - listen, these words are not coming from either head or heart, it's best to pull them from the bowels, a gut-wrenching-feeling is more potent than that "something" that "something" delusional pulled from a clenched heart... as far as i know, the brain is incapable of emotions, it doesn't understand them, and since it doesn't understand them: it ridicules them)... which brings me to point:

(a) perhaps the idea of a soul is out-dated... why wouldn't it be, 21g worth of breath does not equal a soul... hence the autopsy of man, each detail studied seperately, the cardiologist knows the heart, the neurologist the brain etc., but some items work in a solipsistic mode... the heart is robotic, automaton pump queen (and not the kind of pump you'd get from Shveeden) - thump thump thump! come to think of it, most of our bodies are robotic, automated... lucky for me: i don't have to think about the heart doing what it does, it just per se does it... i'm not even sure i'm gifted with the a.i. brain functions... but there's an underlying principle that governs all of these items... some call it the self... i prefer: the Σ ultimatum... some would call it soul... but there has to be something akin to the Σ ultimatum that allows me to become detached from this body, while at the same time be bound to it: high blood pressure, heart attack on the horizon... take the high blood pressure pills... ****... what was (b)? oh... yes...

(b) i'm sorry, virginity doesn't cut it for me, lucky me that it was isabella of grenoble that allowed me to move aside from: god, prior to losing my virginity.... roxette: do you feel excited, you're still the one (shanaia twain), fade to black - metallica... i was such a romantic before i lost this dreaded curse... i was a romantic... 19th century style romanticism... but you really can see past this sort of romanticism unless you haven't ******... these days the right complains about cultural marxism: plenty of things to complain about... it makes as much sense as a pickle in a dollop of custard... or cooking with pale indian ale to make a stew: bad idea... wine, brandy, cider? fine... beer? terrible idea to cook with... but unless you haven't lost your virginity, you can't see what cultural marxism chose as its opponent: cultural darwinism... you know how little you hear about darwinism outside of the english speaking world? zero to none, yes, it's an accepted fact, but this fact does not permeate outside of the fact per se, the fact contains itself and the whole subsequent narrative because subconsciously stored... no other people than the people who found it ensure there are subplot proof statements of a reconfirmation of the validity... the whole social science bogus trap of rating people on looks... contradicting the meritocracy of that old Socratic saying: let me be as beautiful on the inside as on the outside... if you haven't ******: you're still the same old romantic i was at puberty... once you ****... well... cultural marxism dwarfs... yes yes it's there... so? but at the same time you can at least appreciate seeing the antithesis: cultural darwinism... the romantic needs to die the most carnal death via experience... all my ideals were shattered, this perfection of woman... i very much liked the idea / not even the ideal of a woman... but when the idea fizzled out and there was no ideal to begin with... i saw cultural darwinism for the very first time and... it was as ugly as cultural marxism so heavily criticized by the conservative right of the west... so... i decided to walk the middle ground, ignoring both sides (of the argument).

(c) i wouldn't have come up with a point see, unless my favorite square schematic didn't pop into my mind, Kantian, as ever: the best philosophy is the antithesis of English pragmatism and overt-politicisation, so it has to be German, ergo? i will not explain these terms, i figured: if i nail a decent example to fit each category, that's enough: since you can then visualize the concept via the example:

analytical a priori                           synthetic a priori
there's a need to throw                   learning
a ball at                                                to throw a ball
a target                                                 at a target once
                                                            ­  the need has been
                                                            ­  established...



synthetic a posteriori                    analytical a posteriori
there's a  need to                           perfecting to throw
      throw a ball at                               a ball at a target
a target, in order
to perfect this need...

                                            baseball..­. cricket...
at least: that's how i define knowledge of something
simple without having to use mathematics
that Kant used to explain... 2 + 2 = 4...
mathematics isn't exactly a man's best friend
at explaining philosophy...
you write philosophy that alligns itself
to mathematics... no wonder: moths in books...
yawns, unfinished works...
i found that sports work just as well
as mathematics... and you have the already
primitive objects to work with...
rather than pseudo-objects: i.e. numbers...
the abstracts of perception: i'm actually 6ft2...
not 6ft1... karolína plíšková is 6ft1...
       as noted when watching her today...

  i'll admit, i'm always a bit shaky when it comes
to this sqaure, whether it's over-simplified,
notably the top left corner: analytical a priori,
i'm always of a mindset that wants to associated
this definition with: analytical a- priori...
  i.e. borrowing from atheism:
    to analyse something without there
being a prior to example...
               analysis without a prior example...
i guess that's the mojo of science... the driving force...
back to sports... bow and arrow...
   tools: target...
       whether a bow and arrow and a deer
to begin with...
or a hand and ball and a wicket to end with...

there's a need to throw                  
a ball at a target...

            and cricket was the precursor of
baseball, but prior to cricket?
   there was archery...
              and prior to archery...
   there was forever a fundamental need,
e.g. to go from point X to point Z...
   see... as much as Kant wanted...
   numbers don't really solve the "problem"
of explaining something: algebra would be
better suited... x + y = z...
                    with numbers either hovering
above, or below (in the instance of chemistry's
subscript)...

talking of squares... sūdoku...
well, if at any time the french were to receive a hard-on
in terms of inventing something,
the english: rugby, cricket, football, tennis...
the french really did read some of the hebrew
qabbalah literature, as i am doing...
magic squares...
       the secular version of this puzzle
first appeared on july 6, 1895 (the modern version)...

it came to us from India and China...
again... why do western cultural darwinists
always tell our genesis from
the perspective of: "out of Africa"?
aren't there elephants in India?
            i will not believe i originated in Africa,
i'm not an "out of Africa" sorry state of
incompetence... i place my origins in
the sub-continent... at least that's where my
current language originates from...
the great migration across the Siberian tundra,
rather than some African savannah...
after all the Bangladeshi and the Sri Lankans
(the tear of India) resemble burnt cinnamon
in tone, some even as dark skinned as
east africans...
   if the germanic people want to stick to
the "out of Africa" narrative (notably the English):
let them have it... i place my origins in
India...

   never mind, now i'll write a name's dropping
history of how july 6th, 1895 happened...
the "magic" squares...

    from either India or China (chess from India)...
moschopulus of contantinople
  introduced them (the "magic" squares)
in the early 1400s... apparently ancient qabbalists
had knowledge of them
  (so... a trip well spent)...
                             rabbi joseph tzayah (1505 - 1573)
magnum opus: responsa...
             rabbi joseph castro: avkat rokhel...
tzayah in jerusalem wrote his major work
Evven HaShoham (the onyx stone) - 1538 -
   a year later the book: tzeror ha-chaim discussing
the Talmud: he never really bothered about
the Zohar...
               the hebrai word for "letters": otiot...
divided into two:
                         tav aleph (a line of aleph)
and tav yod (a line of yod)...
                   one is to never concentrate
upon the keter within the realm of the sefirot...
hence the matisyahu expression:
   king without a crown...
                         one example of a "magic" square
later dictated into a 9 x 9 newspaper puzzle?
      2     9     4
      7     5     3
      6     1     8     (up down across = 15...
my date of birth? 15th may 1986,
no coincidence, just stating an oblivion's
worth of a "point)... 15 x 3 = 45...
   and that's about as significant as any
                               insignificance can be...

album of choice?
    old horn tooth - from the ghost grey depths...

and without even associating the arabs
to the hebrai practice of gamatria,
i once inquired an old pakistani (who tried to convert me)
what: Alif, Lam, Meem
implied in the opening of the al-baqarah sutra
implied?
   he replied: god knew...
        so i thought, you don't know what
alif (letter) what lam (letter) and meem (also a letter)
means? you have to search for god
for the answers? good look making me into
a proselyte... mind you:
if the jews abhor proselytes,
while the muslims are so so oh so *******
welcoming... isn't that a tad bit suspicious?
how can a muslim convert me
when he can't explain to me what
alif lam and meem implies at the opening
of al-baqarah?!
            let's play some hijāʾī order game...
and the three letters...
       28 letters in total...
alif (28), lam (6), meem (5)...
    i'm not even going to go into the gamatria
mental gymnsastics related to any
"significance"...
   point was made upon the question being
asked... if a muslim tries to covert you...
and he can't explain to you
the significance of alif lam meem at the beginning
of al-baqarah... they're letters...
well... how is he going to explain to you
what's bothersome about those letters
to begin with? ALM... does that imply: zakat?!
to give alms? zakat being one of the pillars
of islam?
  **** me... i haven't even converted
and it would appear: i know more than the person
who tried to convert me!

.i. Yuri Gagarin and the yo-yo

if ever the potency of a "keyboard crusader"
existed, it's now -
   i can dangle a mouse above a bear-trap
and tell an elephant of a phobia concerning
mice any day of the week,
          when in fact i'm talking about
a mousetrap: nothing more.
     hence the exaggeration in the imagery
comparison:
        or it begins with a story told in the 20th
century:
             when women put down their mascara
brushes, men put down their swords:
never mind the voice in the wilderness:
       mind the voice in the crowd -
there's absolutely no reason to speculate
urbanity and tribal environments without
addressing, or regressing the crowd,
or as i like to call it: what Nietzsche said,
minus the Wake... but now inclusive of the wake
and the Bacchus cult of fun fun fun.
            the Wake in condor terms?
we congregate praying for something to die...
      i don't pretend to be whatever
that sachet of concrete-Cartesian labels entitles me
too:        for the most part
        people say 'i am' without a thought to
govern the rain shaman telling you what thought
is required to 'be', oh, a very old ontological
stipend: you need people to experience a collectivisation,
a herding, a "bound together" sort of mentality
before the critic arrives and says: well, that's not
what i'm really about.
                    a bit like the **** firs, mouth second
debacle...
                but what heart they had, our predecessors!
what heart!
             they'd wage war over a woman,
a Helen,
                  would you wage a war against
the feminist version of Helen these days?
would you pluck a Scottish thistle over an English rose?
      true: you might be a bishop
and of lesser rank... but would you wage a war
over the women of these days?
my **** is in a pickle jar anyway! we have become
a *** of a species unburdened by an obligation...
             finally! we can become eternal bachelors
sort of ******* that we're here, and hear less and less
of sayings about the "things that matter".
            you know what vile? really really vile?
oh i know my contemporaries when i bother to
hear them talk, oddly enough never bother when they
think, i'm quiet content with a Godot stage of
a park bench and an old man as my company,
      i know Douglas Murray,
               i know the wild-eyed Icke,
but a thing that concerns me is why: the safety room
parallel to the leftist thesis of offensive speech
was put in play when a discussion took off
concerning feminism, between milo yiannopoulus
and julie bindel - that's like saying:
ask a pederast to talk for a heterosexual man
with a woman safe-space...
                                no one wants to hear
the heterosexual side of the argument....
  you'll sooner see heterosexual intellects have their
marriages come undone then get paired with either
side of the argument...
     little richard is in the pickle jar anyway,
and he's not coming out...
                it's a bit like ****** for dummies....
       hence i have to succumb to violence without
the glory, tongue waggling blah blah
when i'd gladly take a weapon and shove it into
a shattered cranium bone: had i the ****** chance to
do so!
           no heterosexual is taken seriously:
and won't be:
    of a woman to be like a rosy cushion on which
i can lay my head after the darkly toils of
    roofing, or laying bricks, or excavating the sewers...
no! let the Chinese do that:
the basic argument of slavery, although imported
therefore ****** ******* fine.
                         cryogenic fathers,
      pickled *****:      where's the middle in all of this?
     a coconut just fell from the Boddhi tree:
money!           and those that defend it,
don't know squat about the tribalism of squatters!
but hey! they have the ****** stage!
         i have a bench when someone approaches me
and talk, doing the best thing possible:
               knitting opinions -
i don't want the truth of opinions: i want a sweater,
or a pair of socks! that's metaphor for something
different altogether.
  keyboard crusader? really? can i ask you for
directions to the high street, in every single town
across the country? i can't find one!
         no one hears a heterosexual argument
on the various topics: because there isn't one -
                     as of the end of the 20th century,
working classes in the west striving to ensure
there is something mundane to do during the day
and kick back with the family in the evening
are the "inferior" neanderthals: who
haven't jacked into discovering a 3D reality
of what's otherwise a 2D computer screen and
aren't hooked on #crack;
honestly, so much debating ought to be opera,
and so much opera ought to be debating -
    ah: that famous tingle of utopian paradoxes
never in duality, but always in dichotomy.
   keyboard crusader?
really? i thought people were always moaning
about how many emails they receive:
   and never a single postcard from, say,
someplace like Venice?
           it's still early days,
                   and already we're brewing enough
cliches to replace all known nouns in
    the surrogate mother that's the dictionary
of our completed version of a soul -
if ever to be experienced upon meeting the omni-vocabulary;
jigsaws, i know my idiosyncratic version
of events, he says photosynthesis within parameters
                            of photon deconstruction of hydrogen;
'cos' it's sub; d'uh! i say god i say this perfected
version of nearing telepathy - you say god i hope you
don't mean satan's clause - great anagram to frighten
children with: the Babushka surprise of a Pumpkin head
laughing it's way toward: how easy life would be
if we had all that time to think it through as being hard,
rather than that mortal fleetingness in both thought
and body.

ii. Macbeth

it really dawned on me, when i was watching the film
Macbeth (2015) -
            there was an eeriness to it, a near perfection
of Shakespeare on screen...
           honestly? i'd rather read Kant early on in life
while i have the vigour, and leave old age to Shakespeare...
but it truly was eerie all over the place.
      i do recall seeing Romeo + Juliet
          and reading the script, and imagining the fallacy
of word for word translation from theatre to cinema
of the script: the narrator a news channel anchor,
and everything said, word, for, word.
that film with DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes
as Juliet - it just felt itchy, uncomfortable -
                            Shakespeare, word for word, on screen?!
     (surprise, then astonishment, not !? or astonishment,
   then the surprise, because: it didn't really work);
and it didn't! you can't adapt Shakespeare to the screen
and put everything in! i noticed it at that ******
generous scene in Macbeth concerning the battle
of Ellon... so i was like like... this isn't typescript...
(and thank **** it isn't) -
you can't depict Shakespeare word for word,
to be honest, Macbeth (2015) is the only worthy
translation of Macbeth (the text) into Macbeth (the movie);
all this scientific exactness in previous examples
like Romeo + Juliet, the Merchant of Venice
and a Midsummer's Night Dream don't work,
it's their precision making,
     a theatre cast can take it, but a cinema going crowd,
with all these cutting and copying and repasting
    succinct moments? it doesn't work!
maybe because there's no actual narrator in the staged
examples? narrator as a necessary character understudy:
surely Puck and the news anchor are there:
don't know about the Shylock scenario...
           but these screen adaptations didn't work for me,
too rigid, too formal... in the case of Macbeth?
finally! the long awaited piquant version of Shakespeare:
all that matters, and the rest is thrown into
poetic technique: imagery, metaphor,
                everything that's necessary can be given grammar
as image and not word!
       want an example? from the text...
the Royal Shakespeare
  from the text of Professor Delius
  and introduction by f. j. Furnivall, ll.d.
         vol. v (special edition)
Cassell & Company, Ltd.

        sure, it feels like a Roman Polanski moment
akin to the 9th Gate scenic affair of a bibliophile
fetishist, and it is:

     ... (the only enemy of enso poetry
is the bladder) ...

well the screen play first:

banquo: what are these?
macbeth: live you? or are you aught
                          that man may question?
       speak if you can - what are you?
1st witch: macbeth! hail to thee
                    thane of Glamis!
2nd witch: macbeth... hail to thee,
       thane of Cawdor!
3rd witch: all hail Macbeth! that shalt be king in-after.

but such disparity, such **** as if once
of Lucretia, then of the authority,
for i have before me the original composition:
which is not worth cinema -
nonetheless, a **** takes place:
an assortment for the abdication of a king:
or as ever suggested: the wrong footed path:
never was tossing a coin in a gamble
that of tossing a crown into the air
for a court jester to appear less amusing
and more scolding.

act i, scene iii: post the battle of ellon...
  if ever the refusal to give up Greek myth,
then Macbeth's witches
      and Perseus' Graeae -
                            or naturalise a myth:
like you might not naturalise a strengthened
economy.... canonise the nation
with Elgin Marbles - Elgin: less than
what's said to be the exfoliation of the Aegean -
a municipality somewhere in Scotland:
west of Aberdeen, on the Northern Sea's
battering of the coast...
but word for word? or how to write Shakespeare
into cinema?
                 herr zensor must come into play -
you have to bypass imagery in poetic tongue
and relay it with actual images, a direly needed
necessity:

just after the three witches arrive,
enter Macbeth and Bonquo...

   Macb. so foul and fair a day i have not seen.
Ban. how far is't call'd to Fores? - what are these,
     so wither'd and so wild in their attire,
that look not like th' inhabitants o' the earth,
   and yet are on 't?
             live you? or are you aught that man may
question?

                  (how word for word, but the words
waggle from a different tongue, namely that of
Macbeth, and not that of Banquo, hence
italicised).
                   continuing:
       you seem to understand me,
by each at once her choppy finger laying upon her
skinny lips: - you should be women, and yet your
beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.
Macb. speak, if you can - what are you?
         the witches. all hail, Macbeth!
     hail to thee, thane of Glamis!
         all hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane
of Cawdor!
         all hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.
            
so does he really belong on the psychoanalytic
couch? is he really that necessarily wonton of talk?
  Cawdor v. Gondor - it's an ongoing narrative.
but is he in need of a couch?
                 what sort of talk is talk when
in fact the only talk that's need to be said is the talk
of man's sexualised naturalisation for strife,
and here: as if knocking on a door:
you want to simply hear the onomatopoeia of
the Kabbalah in a woman gasping for breath
while puny Jewish boys under strict rabbinical
studies study?

                mama, take this badge from  me,
i can't use it, anymore,
            it's getting dark, too dark to see,
feels like i'm knockin' on heaven's door -
      my big mouth and man as a piston
                                               Ferrari acrobat


(even the soundtrack is a shrill, a strangulation
variant of higher pitch of the bagpipes -
not that braveheart ****** of whisking out
a song like for the love of a princess addition to:
  and can i have a madonna to boot too?
it's piercing, a whale sonar above refrigerator
white noise hum for the new age Buddha -
and that's because all the poetry has been excavated
  to suit cinema: not theatre).

and this is the first adaptation of Shakespeare i actually
could stomach...
     the genius was in how Macbeth spoke the lines
of Bonqua - so the character didn't start smacking
the narrative ****** in terms of solipsism:
even Shakespeare can be attacked on this front...
        if in the movie Banqua said all that was in
the typescript: the film wouldn't have worked...
i don't know what the big deal is with Lady Macbeth:
i thought that in the olden days
Macbeth suggested to King Duncan that:
can i leave the warring if you **** my wife?
i can go on the contract that you **** my wife
and i stop serving you?
      first impressions: strange English.
well, i'm sure she's important as it might be said:
within the programme of Orthodoxy,
            but never catholic (metadoxy) tradition of
saying: way hey! ensnare the mare in a funfair!
       and play the game: pin the tale on the donkey!
heads or tails?      it looks pretty damnable
     in the first place: as all honesty hogs to pout and
***** a hoggish sneeze out of the story.

iii. shaken, not stirred

and indeed, how many a times
did not a neon blossom sprout,
thinking it might rattle an oratory
with an oak in autumn, and behold
a swarm of leaves descend -
not out of passing ease,
but out of wishful thinking
that some indentation might be made:
with whom the hands of will reside,
and yet: to no gratifying effect,
to whatever atomic-centralisation
dream, be that ego or be it hydrogen
(lending hands: so too
electric or thus negative, neutral and
thus proto) - shake foundation
and give a revising repertoire of
              the covering dust humanity
that once made famous: never
again to learn the humility of the start;
        to whatever centric dream that
does not waver in demands of orientation,
be it father (sun), son (shadow)
  or the holy spirit (night) -
  make them earn! be obscure!
            or simply say: in the community
of the stated congregation:
  i find all to be as night,
   and safer that plague the father:
  i am not akin to the shadow:
                   but the shadow in mirror.
so, a centric dream that does not
waver in demands for orientation,
has ever or will be enthroned in man's
heart as the stability of Sabbath's demands
       for less, oh so much less to agitate with!
as too, when the ancient appliances
were adorned by countless demands of
mimic, so too our modern
fibbles are to stage a usurping of
such things demanded and their mimic;
for with such disclosure does all fate
of anewed become burdened in what
history could be: shaken,
rather than simply a stirring of the void,
nothing more than the unburdening
of sweetening a cup of coffee, of that and
the layers: or bitter at the top, drank
through toward the sedimented sweetness -
and all that: hoping i could have retained
that silver spoon lodged in my ***
          when i first met her and thought about
consolidating marriage: so fresh, eager prune
of the flesh embodiment as first
    watered ash, then entombed in marble
and the eternal... ah
               but it was all just the faintest of dreams;
so lumberjack sleep ensued,
                      as did a kindred worth ethic:
we are a long way from Eden...
      there is but the idyll of the absurd fruition of
albreit macht frei... or a redefinement of
such stakes as: what occupies our days?
                    if not war, if not disease,
if not the Chinese... what does, occupy our days?
Sam Conrad Dec 2013
Don't.
Don't bother.
Don't bother to care.
Don't bother to care enough to talk.
Don't bother to care enough to talk to someone like me.
Don't bother to care enough to talk to someone like me who will love you regardless of what you say.
This line is missing.
This line is missing.
This line is missing.
Don't bother.
Don't.
It seems I only understand the kind of values that come in children's math books.

"With walls built up around us, the bricks make me nervous...they're only so strong though, yes, they're only so strong though"
Death Cab For Cutie - "Home Is A Fire"
by
Alexander K Opicho

(Eldoret, Kenya;aopicho@yahoo.com)

When I grow up I will seek permission
From my parents, my mother before my father
To travel to Russia the European land of dystopia
that has never known democracy in any tincture
I will beckon the tsar of Russia to open for me
Their classical cipher that Bogy visoky tsa dalyko
I will ask the daughters of Russia to oblivionize my dark skin
***** skin and make love to me the real pre-democratic love
Love that calls for ambers that will claw the fire of revolution,
I will ask my love from the land of Siberia to show me cradle of Rand
The European manger on which Ayn Rand was born during the Leninist census
I will exhume her umbilical cord plus the placenta to link me up
To her dystopian mind that germinated the vice
For shrugging the atlas for we the living ones,
In a full dint of my ***** libido I will ask her
With my African temerarious manner I will bother her
To show me the bronze statues of Alexander Pushkin
I hear it is at ******* of the city of Moscow; Petersburg
I will talk to my brother Pushkin, my fellow African born in Ethiopia
In the family of Godunov only taken to Europe in a slave raid
Ask the Frenchman Henri Troyat who stood with his ***** erected
As he watched an Ethiopian father fertilizing an Ethiopian mother
And child who was born was Dystopian Alexander Pushkin,
I will carry his remains; the bones, the skull and the skeleton in oily
Sisal threads made bag on my broad African shoulders back to Africa
I will re-bury him in the city of Omurate in southern Ethiopia at the buttocks
Of the fish venting beautiful summer waters of Lake Turkana,
I will ask Alexander Pushkin when in a sag on my back to sing for me
His famous poems in praise of thighs of women;

(I loved you: and, it may be, from my soul
The former love has never gone away,
But let it not recall to you my dole;
I wish not sadden you in any way.

I loved you silently, without hope, fully,
In diffidence, in jealousy, in pain;
I loved you so tenderly and truly,
As let you else be loved by any man.
I loved you because of your smooth thighs
They put my heart on fire like amber in gasoline)

I will leave the bronze statue of Alexander Pushkin in Moscow
For Lenin to look at, he will assign Mayakovski to guard it
Day and night as he sings for it the cacotopian
Poems of a slap in the face of public taste;

(I know the power of words, I know words' tocsin.
They're not the kind applauded by the boxes.
From words like these coffins burst from the earth
and on their own four oaken legs stride forth.
It happens they reject you, unpublished, unprinted.
But saddle-girths tightening words gallop ahead.
See how the centuries ring and trains crawl
to lick poetry's calloused hands.
I know the power of words. Seeming trifles that fall
like petals beneath the heel-taps of dance.
But man with his soul, his lips, his bones.)

I will come along to African city of Omurate
With the pedagogue of the thespic poet
The teacher of the poets, the teacher who taught
Alexander Sergeyvich Pushkin; I know his name
The name is Nikolai Vasileyvitch Gogol
I will caution him to carry only two books
From which he will teach the re-Africanized Pushkin
The first book is the Cloak and second book will be
The voluminous dead souls that have two sharp children of Russian dystopia;
The cactopia of Nosdrezv in his sadistic cult of betrayal
And utopia of Chichikov in his paranoid ownership of dead souls
Of the Russian peasants, muzhiks and serfs,
I will caution him not to carry the government inspector incognito
We don’t want the inspector general in the African city of Omurate
He will leave it behind for Lenin to read because he needs to know
What is to be done.
I don’t like the extreme badness of owning the dead souls
Let me run away to the city of Paris, where romance and poetry
Are utopian commanders of the dystopian orchestra
In which Victor Marie Hugo is haunted by
The ghost of Jean Val Jean; Le Miserable,
I will implore Hugo to take me to the Corsican Island
And chant for me one **** song of the French revolution;


       (  take heed of this small child of earth;
He is great; he hath in him God most high.
Children before their fleshly birth
Are lights alive in the blue sky.
  
In our light bitter world of wrong
They come; God gives us them awhile.
His speech is in their stammering tongue,
And his forgiveness in their smile.
  
Their sweet light rests upon our eyes.
Alas! their right to joy is plain.
If they are hungry Paradise
Weeps, and, if cold, Heaven thrills with pain.
  
The want that saps their sinless flower
Speaks judgment on sin's ministers.
Man holds an angel in his power.
Ah! deep in Heaven what thunder stirs,
  
When God seeks out these tender things
Whom in the shadow where we sleep
He sends us clothed about with wings,
And finds them ragged babes that we)

 From the Corsican I won’t go back to Paris
Because Napoleon Bonaparte and the proletariat
Has already taken over the municipal of Paris
I will dodge this city and maneuver my ways
Through Alsace and Lorraine
The Miginko islands of Europe
And cross the boundaries in to bundeslander
Into Germany, I will go to Berlin and beg the Gestapo
The State police not to shoot me as I climb the Berlin wall
I will balance dramatically on the top of Berlin wall
Like Eshu the Nigerian god of fate
With East Germany on my right; Die ossie
And West Germany on my left; Die wessie
Then like Jesus balancing and walking
On the waters of Lake Galilee
I will balance on Berlin wall
And call one of my faithful followers from Germany
The strong hearted Friedrich von Schiller
To climb the Berlin wall with me
So that we can sing his dystopic Cassandra as a duet
We shall sing and balance on the wall of Berlin
Schiller’s beauteous song of Cassandra;

(Mirth the halls of Troy was filling,
Ere its lofty ramparts fell;
From the golden lute so thrilling
Hymns of joy were heard to swell.
From the sad and tearful slaughter
All had laid their arms aside,
For Pelides Priam's daughter
Claimed then as his own fair bride.

Laurel branches with them bearing,
Troop on troop in bright array
To the temples were repairing,
Owning Thymbrius' sovereign sway.
Through the streets, with frantic measure,
Danced the bacchanal mad round,
And, amid the radiant pleasure,
Only one sad breast was found.

Joyless in the midst of gladness,
None to heed her, none to love,
Roamed Cassandra, plunged in sadness,
To Apollo's laurel grove.
To its dark and deep recesses
Swift the sorrowing priestess hied,
And from off her flowing tresses
Tore the sacred band, and cried:

"All around with joy is beaming,
Ev'ry heart is happy now,
And my sire is fondly dreaming,
Wreathed with flowers my sister's brow
I alone am doomed to wailing,
That sweet vision flies from me;
In my mind, these walls assailing,
Fierce destruction I can see."

"Though a torch I see all-glowing,
Yet 'tis not in *****'s hand;
Smoke across the skies is blowing,
Yet 'tis from no votive brand.
Yonder see I feasts entrancing,
But in my prophetic soul,
Hear I now the God advancing,
Who will steep in tears the bowl!"

"And they blame my lamentation,
And they laugh my grief to scorn;
To the haunts of desolation
I must bear my woes forlorn.
All who happy are, now shun me,
And my tears with laughter see;
Heavy lies thy hand upon me,
Cruel Pythian deity!"

"Thy divine decrees foretelling,
Wherefore hast thou thrown me here,
Where the ever-blind are dwelling,
With a mind, alas, too clear?
Wherefore hast thou power thus given,
What must needs occur to know?
Wrought must be the will of Heaven--
Onward come the hour of woe!"

"When impending fate strikes terror,
Why remove the covering?
Life we have alone in error,
Knowledge with it death must bring.
Take away this prescience tearful,
Take this sight of woe from me;
Of thy truths, alas! how fearful
'Tis the mouthpiece frail to be!"

"Veil my mind once more in slumbers
Let me heedlessly rejoice;
Never have I sung glad numbers
Since I've been thy chosen voice.
Knowledge of the future giving,
Thou hast stolen the present day,
Stolen the moment's joyous living,--
Take thy false gift, then, away!"

"Ne'er with bridal train around me,
Have I wreathed my radiant brow,
Since to serve thy fane I bound me--
Bound me with a solemn vow.
Evermore in grief I languish--
All my youth in tears was spent;
And with thoughts of bitter anguish
My too-feeling heart is rent."

"Joyously my friends are playing,
All around are blest and glad,
In the paths of pleasure straying,--
My poor heart alone is sad.
Spring in vain unfolds each treasure,
Filling all the earth with bliss;
Who in life can e'er take pleasure,
When is seen its dark abyss?"

"With her heart in vision burning,
Truly blest is Polyxene,
As a bride to clasp him yearning.
Him, the noblest, best Hellene!
And her breast with rapture swelling,
All its bliss can scarcely know;
E'en the Gods in heavenly dwelling
Envying not, when dreaming so."

"He to whom my heart is plighted
Stood before my ravished eye,
And his look, by passion lighted,
Toward me turned imploringly.
With the loved one, oh, how gladly
Homeward would I take my flight
But a Stygian shadow sadly
Steps between us every night."

"Cruel Proserpine is sending
All her spectres pale to me;
Ever on my steps attending
Those dread shadowy forms I see.
Though I seek, in mirth and laughter
Refuge from that ghastly train,
Still I see them hastening after,--
Ne'er shall I know joy again."

"And I see the death-steel glancing,
And the eye of ****** glare;
On, with hasty strides advancing,
Terror haunts me everywhere.
Vain I seek alleviation;--
Knowing, seeing, suffering all,
I must wait the consummation,
In a foreign land must fall."

While her solemn words are ringing,
Hark! a dull and wailing tone
From the temple's gate upspringing,--
Dead lies Thetis' mighty son!
Eris shakes her snake-locks hated,
Swiftly flies each deity,
And o'er Ilion's walls ill-fated
Thunder-clouds loom heavily!)

When the Gestapoes get impatient
We shall not climb down to walk on earth
Because by this time  of utopia
Thespis and Muse the gods of poetry
Would have given us the wings to fly
To fly high over England, I and schiller
We shall not land any where in London
Nor perch to any of the English tree
Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Thales
We shall not land there in these lands
The waters of river Thames we shall not drink
We shall fly higher over England
The queen of England we shall not commune
For she is my lender; has lend me the language
English language in which I am chanting
My dystopic songs, poor me! What a cacotopia!
If she takes her language away from
I will remain poetically dead
In the Universe of art and culture
I will form a huge palimpsest of African poetry
Friedrich son of schiller please understand me
Let us not land in England lest I loose
My borrowed tools of worker back to the owner,
But instead let us fly higher in to the azure
The zenith of the sky where the eagles never dare
And call the English bard
through  our high shrilled eagle’s contralto
William Shakespeare to come up
In the English sky; to our treat of poetic blitzkrieg
Please dear schiller we shall tell the bard of London
To come up with his three Luftwaffe
These will be; the deer he stole from the rich farmer
Once when he was a lad in the rural house of john the father,
Second in order is the Hamlet the price of Denmark
Thirdly is  his beautiful song of the **** of lucrece,
We shall ask the bard to return back the deer to the owner
Three of ourselves shall enjoy together dystopia in Hamlet
And ask Shakespeare to sing for us his song
In which he saw a man **** Lucrece; the **** of Lucrece;

( From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
  And girdle with embracing flames the waist
  Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.

Haply that name of chaste unhapp'ly set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not let
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight,
  Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
  With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.

For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlock'd the treasure of his happy state;
What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent
In the possession of his beauteous mate;
Reckoning his fortune at such high-proud rate,
  That kings might be espoused to more fame,
  But king nor peer to such a peerless dame.

O happiness enjoy'd but of a few!
And, if possess'd, as soon decay'd and done
As is the morning's silver-melting dew
Against the golden splendour of the sun!
An expir'd date, cancell'd ere well begun:
  Honour and beauty, in the owner's arms,
  Are weakly fortress'd from a world of harms.

Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator;
What needeth then apologies be made,
To set forth that which is so singular?
Or why is Collatine the publisher
  Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
  From thievish ears, because it is his own?

Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
Suggested this proud issue of a king;
For by our ears our hearts oft tainted be:
Perchance that envy of so rich a thing,
Braving compare, disdainfully did sting
  His high-pitch'd thoughts, that meaner men should vaunt
  That golden hap which their superiors want)

  
I and Schiller we shall be the audience
When Shakespeare will echo
The enemies of beauty as
It is weakly protected in the arms of Othello.

I and Schiller we don’t know places in Greece
But Shakespeare’s mother comes from Greece
And Shakespeare’s wife comes from Athens
Shakespeare thus knows Greece like Pericles,
We shall not land anywhere on the way
But straight we shall be let
By Shakespeare to Greece
Into the inner chamber of calypso
Lest the Cyclopes eat us whole meal
We want to redeem Homer from the
Love detention camp of calypso
Where he has dallied nine years in the wilderness
Wilderness of love without reaching home
I will ask Homer to introduce me
To Muse, Clio and Thespis
The three spiritualities of poetry
That gave Homer powers to graft the epics
Of Iliad and Odyssey centerpieces of Greece dystopia
I will ask Homer to chant and sing for us the epical
Songs of love, Grecian cradle of utopia
Where Cyclopes thrive on heavyweight cacotopia
Please dear Homer kindly sing for us;
(Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we
feasted our fill on meat and drink, but when the sun went down and
it came on dark, we camped upon the beach. When the child of
morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I bade my men on board and
loose the hawsers. Then they took their places and smote the grey
sea with their oars; so we sailed on with sorrow in our hearts, but
glad to have escaped death though we had lost our comrades)
                                  
From Greece to Africa the short route  is via India
The sub continent of India where humanity
Flocks like the oceans of women and men
The land in which Romesh Tulsi
Grafted Ramayana and Mahabharata
The handbook of slavery and caste prejudice
The land in which Gujarat Indian tongue
In the cheeks of Rabidranathe Tagore
Was awarded a Poetical honour
By Alfred Nobel minus any Nemesis
From the land of Scandinavia,
I will implore Tagore to sing for me
The poem which made Nobel to give him a prize
I will ask Tagore to sing in English
The cacotopia and utopia that made India
An oversized dystopia that man has ever seen,
Tagore sing please Tagore sing for me your beggarly heat;

(When the heart is hard and parched up,
come upon me with a shower of mercy.

When grace is lost from life,
come with a burst of song.

When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides shutting me out from
beyond, come to me, my lord of silence, with thy peace and rest.

When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner,
break open the door, my king, and come with the ceremony of a king.

When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy one,
thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder)



The heart of beggar must be
A hard heart for it to glorify in the art of begging,

I don’t like begging
This is knot my heart suffered
From my childhood experience
I saw my mother
Blissful Nobody Aug 2018
I lay under the sheets,
Undressed and yearning,
Famished and waiting,
For a taste of ambrosia.

Knock knock knock!
Come now and come in,
Embrace your desire,
And ravish my senses.

Don’t tease me,
I am at my peak,
Mortally enraptured,
By my physical form.

Come lay beside me,
Put your hands on me,
Take me whole,
I surrender in flesh.

Caress my *******,
Moisten my urges down,
Hold me tight,
And feel me now.

Hold me down now,
Watch me sizzle,
With fierce intensity,
Burn my passion out.

I need your body,
When mine takes over,
Come in and take it all,
Out ; when I simmer down.

Come again when I desire,
Hear my carnal call,
I want you in me,
A taste of ecstasy.

I lay here now,
Bare on the bed,
Ceased by desire,
Free me now.

Restless feet bother,
Kiss them and in between,
Soften the bridges,
So you may pass.

Forward and backward,
All leads to ecstasy,
Touch me whole,
Touch me now .
Experimenting with erotica;)
Ginger R Jul 2018
If I were to **** someone
Without all these witnesses
Someone without family
Who didn't know another being

If that person was dead
Would anyone notice

Maybe if it was an accident
Maybe if I hid the body
Maybe no one would ever know
Would ever care
Would ever want to know,
To care,
About a person
Who had had a life
It was a lonely life
Probably a sad life

But would anyone bother to care?
And what if it were me
Magdalyn Jun 2015
Maybe I should worry about
the hole my dad kicked in the wall
and I drew a smiley face on it to make myself feel better
and still it's there after more than five years.
Or that it doesn't bother me
hearing my eighteen-year-old brother cry
anymore.
Or that I don't know how to explain
why I'm so jumpy
and why it's not exactly funny.
But instead I just focus on myself, my mind
sometimes it's easier
to study the storm inside my head
even though
I'm getting
soaked.

— The End —