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FIRST DAY

1.
Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.
**** the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.
If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.
If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.
It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.
Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.
It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.



2.
Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest *******?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also
tourist attractions
for a cafe society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.

Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.
Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi delta
all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.

Midwest?
Midwest from where?
It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.
The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

Sandburg had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:

Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.
There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymen inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named ****
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
**** believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.

Samuel believes in tradition.
A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.

4.
Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.
Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.
Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.
But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.
The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.
Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.
I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.
WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok where
child slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.

When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.
Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.
Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a *******.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.

Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.
Out my window
the sun has risen.

According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
these extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”

He hands me one of Chicago.
I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.
I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.
For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.
Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.
Concentric circles
surround the city.
After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.
It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.
All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.
The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.
Much much more
in Chicago.

2.
Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everymans expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.
They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

"You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.
What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
from farms
I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?
Is it a warning
of a broken affair?
A pending pink slip?
Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty,
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is?

This seditious talk!

3.
The Loop’s El
still courses through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.
To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a *** rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.
The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.
Their cloths
are covered
in salt.
She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.
Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.
Her blond hair
and ****** features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.
I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.
Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.
Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.
As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
Karijinbba Dec 2018
I could say it to his face
all I felt like calling him
good or bad and he smiled
and immediatly I purred.
We even made a wtitten promise
of such enviable love
yet, we didn't put it in practice.

All stressed a Mom deceived battered threatened,
I parrot phrased to him his evil woman's cursing my MOM birthing me, and I lost him
He forgot his old love letter
free speech oath to me.

My ancient king of hearts continued brewing my twenty year old wine in a barrel of heartache and pain leaving me behind amnesic, and death calm.

My Angel ran brewing an older woman's wine
in his bed married to her
wedding band
and in cellar her wine next to mine.
Running from her many a time leaving her with a cold marriage contract handy
while his heart and brain remained ever ONE with mine.

As her personal lubricant got dryer and dryer it was harder for my beloved to be intimate with the ugliest lawliar twoface snake
surgically enhensed
drug user insignificant other called wife.
And as her hatred malice greed and jealousy blew, out of proportion so did her nasty brew on Outer Limits Twilight Zone
along with a breach of his trust
in her,
spoiling her own brewing wine to a nasty bitter moldy vinagar.
Yet to him all her potions remained ever secret
hidden behind smc sunflower smile, daughters and son used
to blindfold her selfish agenda.

Ever so covertly taunting cursing showing hate to me and my children was her banner.
Smc threatened us
by e-mails behind his back.

Blindfolded unoticed all went 
his alcoholic stuppor was foe.

No justice he could brew on either of us yet my wine remained gold fit for kings
but susy viper apropriated it as her own
killing our free will dreams and promises of old.
My wine brewing pure gold
and his other woman smc's covertly brewing hatred where he held her in high regard.
There can't be peace without justice! BEGIN HERE!
if you ask where!
No peace he bestowed upon
his death calm, silenced slandered beloved Karijinbba!
he left behind...Me

Assassination of character is a method lawliars use to
succeed treachery stealing my perfectly aged wine and man

fooling my weary king of hearts
Jpcrdd

I felt so distant and small so,
I let his black hole crooked seol stich anchored to his drunken down free will and bank accounts
JUST HAVE IT ALL!

My dearest beloved deserved that ugly viper for being such a low self esteem coward!
blind blndfolded drunk *****.

And I changed my name to
"Amazing Grace"
~~~~~~~~~~
Angelina San-Gutier..is my birth namefor short
(April, 16 10;30 AM.)
~ my Perupecha tribe, Mex~
and my wings Bba=Ginny
5-19 -legally given by a judge
as a witness protection's new identity (not that I was hiding any deceptions.)
~~~~~
By; Karijinbba
All R. R. a memoir excerpt.
Have you been been so heartbroken by the insensitivity of the one you loved that you rejected who you loved the most in this life??

Have you ever been hurt so deeply that you deprived the object of your devotion of everything they ever loved the most to gain in you and from you?
It happensnto passinate firely lovers
like us..but I never **** to hurt anyone.
I LOVE LIFE!
if I didn't I would be
six feet under earlier.
Ron Sanders Feb 2020
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
There's a storm brewing I can feel it
We feel it in our bones
There's a storm brewing I can sense it
We hear it when the cloud moans
The storm is getting closer
We can see the sky getting dark
The storm is drawing on us
We can see it making its mark
The storm is affecting our people
We can see a behavioural change
The storm is making us angry
We can see it making us strange
The storm has caused a disturbance
We can see things going wrong
The storm has left its poison
We are living its ugly song
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?
katrinawillrich Apr 2015
He gives me a box of dead flowers
From his garden,
While assuring me he didn’t
Pick them in
Bloom. And
Suggested as a first date
Maybe I could teach him how
To make popourri.
Allen Wilbert Sep 2013
Split Personality

You wanna know what goes on in my head,
if you only knew, you would drop dead.
Anger, depression and suicidal thoughts,
maybe its all those little brain clots.
Conceited, vain and very egotistical,
confused, shocking and very mystical.
I'm eccentric, bizarre, and always unconventional,
my vision is always three dimensional.
I take the path that's less traveled,
things I do leave people baffled.
Even I don't know what I'm doing,
but trust me, I always got something brewing.
I practice in the art of deception,
I'm admired by my depth of perception.
I don't know wrong from right,
I see everything in black and white.
I'm a man you don't wanna meet,
I lie, steal and always cheat.
I'm flirty, ***** and very perverted,
if we're alone, I will leave you deserted.
I'm ****, hot and always aroused,
every girl I have slowly browsed.
I love assault, ****** and ****,
but I only write it for an escape.
Inside my head is torture and pain,
I'm certified and clinically insane.
Sometimes I take my medication,
when I don't, I'm on a permanent vacation.
I'd do anything to become famous,
even **** Donald Trump in his ****.
I've crossed over to the dark side,
to hell, I've already applied.
There is no help for me now,
before I go please give me a bow.
I'll accept a standing ovation,
sick and tired of all the aggravation.
I used to be so nice and kind,
into heaven, I got denied.
Don't pay attention to the things you read,
I entertain you til my fingers bleed.
Ask anybody, I really a great guy,
just like REO Speedwagon, its time for me to fly.
Peyton Scott Feb 2014
Winter is brewing inside of me,
even on a hot summers day.
A snow storm festers inside of my heart,
You can't get in
and you can't get out.

It’s not fair to you or I
that I lay here letting my words fester inside of me
while you lay on the other side of the bed,
tired and waiting.
It’s not fair to you
that someone else made me close off my heart
to them, the world, and you.

Winter is brewing inside of me
even when I have you to keep me warm.
Spring is starting in my heart,
and I can’t let it out.
Caddywhompus Nov 2014
A lone drop of coffee
Running down the side
Of my cup
Escaping the terror
Of teeth and tongue

Black gold in the morning
A precious liquid
Awakes me from a slumber
And brightens my day
Sip by sip

Rejuvenates the body,
Mind and soul
Caffeine flows
Through my veins

Motivation in a mug
Brewing is an art
Coffee so dark
It can wake the dead
But instead
Wakes me
Every morning
Kevin J Taylor Aug 2017
Raymond shifted his weight forward on the coffee
shop chair and leaned his cheekbone into the heel of
his palm. A childhood verse chided him in his
mother’s voice of over fifty years ago.

“Raymond, Raymond, if you’re able,
get your elbows off the table.
This is not a horse’s stable,
but your mother’s dining table.”


It didn’t immediately connect to any
pictures in his mind but he had heard it enough
to know it was real. An hour ago he had been
at his mother’s side in the palliative care ward.

She had appeared smaller than he liked to think of
her—had looked almost like he was seeing her at
a distance. She hadn’t greeted him, only closed
her eyes and said, “Feed the cats, will you.” It wasn’t

really a question. “Yes,” he answered, but the cats,
whoever they were, must have left or died years ago.
The only living thing she owned, he suspected,
was the small Christmas cactus someone had brought to

cheer her up. He looked at her again, waiting for
her eyes to open. They never did. Her jaw dropped
and that was that. Raymond hadn’t wanted to be
in the room when the nurses and orderly would

come to take her away. He stopped at the reception
desk to say that he’d be in the coffee shop
waiting for his brother and sister-in-law to
arrive. They were late and he was thankful to have

a few minutes to himself. From where he sat he
faced the open entrance of the café. There was
a couple sitting tiredly off to one side.
A man in a shapeless blue hospital gown and

slippers shuffled in pushing an IV pole ahead
of him. Raymond heard steps echo sharply down
the hallway. Here they are, he thought, hurrying
needlessly. Bill and Marijke had been fast asleep

at 2:30 am when Raymond’s first text message
came in. They never saw it until 5:00 when Bill
reached for his cell phone as he did every morning
right after Marijke turned off the alarm. “****,”

he said, “No time.” Bill, “William” on his realtor
business card, and Marijke, were used to demands
on their time from potential home buyers. But they
usually had early mornings to themselves—

breakfast, coffee, catch up on current events. Not
today. The text had said, “ASAP.” They hit the drive-
through at Starbucks on their way to the hospital.
“Hey Bill. Marijke,” Raymond said. Bill nodded. “Hey,”

he replied and paused to look at Raymond, to see
if he’d say something else, “Is she gone?” “Couple of
hours ago,” Raymond said. “Should we see her?” Bill asked.
“Can if you want, I suppose. Maybe later,"

Raymond said, "Did she have a cat? She mentioned cats.
I haven’t seen any for years. Did you take them?”
Mother might have mixed him up with Bill again.
Raymond looked at his brother who didn’t seem to

be listening and then at Marijke. "She used to
feed the neighborhood cats before she broke her hip,”
Marijke said. “That might be it.” It seemed odd that
Marijke knew more about his mother’s life than

her sons did. “Maybe you’re right,” Raymond said. “What’s next?”
“I’ll call her lawyer and get him on it,” Bill answered.
Raymond suddenly realized that his brother
had been listening. Marijke started to cry. 
 
Raymond pulled some napkins from their holder and pressed
them hard against his eyes. Bill looked down and away.
Over the next few days life seemed to stop. Nothing
more than daily routines and only as long as

they didn’t require much effort or attention.
Coffee, whatever was in the fridge—dishes sat in
the sink. Gradually he began to feel alive
again. It was as though he had been wrapped in blankets,

hearing distant, mostly muffled voices, glimpsing
unfamiliar rooms and spaces when he closed his
eyes to sleep. Marijke had startled him this morning
when she called and said to the answering machine that

Bill and she were coming over with something from
the lawyer and hoped he would be in. She didn’t
wait for him to pick up. She’d have known he was at
the kitchen table. They arrived mid-afternoon.

No knock at the door. Bill was the older of the
two and was the most like their dad. And Dad had not
been the knocking sort. Not with Raymond anyway.
Bill and Marijke each carried a bag of groceries

which they placed on the kitchen counter. “Thought you might
need some things,” Marijke said. “Nice to see you, Ray.”
She took a bag of groceries and made room in the
fridge for its contents: milk, BBQ chicken and

eggs. She placed the bananas in a wooden bowl.
“Saw the lawyer yesterday,” Bill started. “He has
the will but it doesn’t amount to much except
for the house,” he paused, “The equity has mostly

been ****** out of it. God knows what for. And there’s this…”
Bill dropped a large manila envelope in front
of Raymond. “I’ve already opened it. There’s an
envelope for each of us in there. Marijke

says we should open them together because we’re
all the family we have now.” He tipped the envelope
on its end and let the two smaller envelopes
slip out. One each for William and Raymond. Bill picked

his up and tore the corner of the flap destroying
most of the envelope in the process and
extracted what appeared to be several sheets of
neat handwriting. “It’s just a letter,” Bill said. He

put it into the inside breast pocket of his
suit jacket. Raymond waited a moment then picked
up the other envelope, turned it over and nodded
almost imperceptibly. He stood, walked to the

shelf between the window and the back door where he
had made room for the Christmas cactus instead of
leaving it behind. Not sure about the light, he
thought, and leaned the unopened letter against the

earthenware ***. “Not you, too?” Marijke shook her
head. “It’ll be like…” Raymond said, he paused, looking
at her, “It’ll be like not hanging up the phone.”
Marijke understood—he’d never open it.

“I get it,” she said in a softer tone. Bill looked
blankly at his brother. And Raymond smiled a little
for the first time in a while. By six the next
morning Raymond was already dressed and brewing

coffee. Usually he would head down to Timmy’s
Donut Shop for his caffeine fix. “Double trouble,”
he’d say, meaning “Double double,” as he always
did at Timmy’s. It amused him and often made

his favorite server smile. “Too much trouble, you mean,”
she’d say. Human contact. Raymond guessed that some of
the guys at the corner table would be wondering
how he was doing. They’d know what had happened, of

course, but they’d ask just the same. He poured his first cup
and walked out onto the back porch. Still a bit cool
out here, he thought as he leaned against the railing,
sipping his coffee as his eyes wandered around

the yard. He’d have another cup in a while but
first he had something he needed to do. Raymond
sat down on the porch steps and slipped his feet into
an old pair of shoes. He tied them and flicked the loops

with his finger to see how the laces fell, to
make sure he had not tied them backwards and would not
work their way loose. Someone had taught him that a long
time ago when they had seen his laces come undone.

He stood up and walked across the yard to the back
lane and the narrow picket fence, missing a picket
here and there and much of its original coat
of white paint. Some boys had probably pulled the missing

pickets off decades ago and with galvanized
garbage can lids for shields spent a Saturday
morning sword fighting. The gate was leaning and half
open, held there by uncut grass, weeds and neglect.

He stepped out and onto the lane that led between
the two rows of houses that backed onto it. Raymond
looked at each fence, each set of stairs and window as
he passed them by. A block later he turned and headed

home satisfied that he had seen at least one cat,
maybe two. Another cup of coffee in hand,
Raymond sat on the top step. On his way out of
the kitchen and onto the porch he had stopped to

turn the cactus in the morning light, stepped outside
placing a saucer of fresh milk by the porch door,
and sat down.

THE END
.
Derek Leavitt Aug 2016
When she's around... time slows down... almost to the point of complete nothingness... I look at her and think, is there truly anything more gorgeous?..

When She's around, I feel safe and that anywhere could be called home. Her eyes; a curious stare... my hand twitches, longing to touch her curlicious hair.

Our gaze's meet, and I find myself drifting... closer and closer to her feet. Her lips just within a leanings reach. Her dimples nearly touching my cheek... Her sent... 'Heavenly'.

I run my hand through her hair, and I hear her gasp, a sudden rush and a cool breeze changes the whole atmosphere. Her legs grab my waist and I stare into the pupils. She leans in, our eyes drift shut but our lips finally meet and I feel the grip of her legs tighten around my waist...

I walk forward until her chest presses against mine and her back makes love with the wall. I wrench her hair and kiss down her chest, real slow.

I mumble sweet nothingness into her ear whilst I caress her bare *******... Her legs decend and wrap around mine and I hear her begin to beg. The second my tongue makes contact with the nape of her neck her hips grind tight against mine.

This is not routine, she is trembling. Brewing like a steam pipe, compressed, ready to burst. I slip my tongue into her mouth and open it as I **** the air clean from her lungs.

It is at this point her legs curls inward and rips me back, causing me to fall and back crashes against the floor and she lands right on my lap. I grab her waist as she grips onto me.

The night is young, and ready to be explored. Our quest into each other will bring us beyond the star systems to a plane uncharted and unlike any other, ventured before. The night sky will bear witness to our event and the stars will weep out of sheer awe from beauty. Life, being made in a single dance of love and our moans, and wails and cries of ecstasy and desire, passion and Love...

and when it was all over.. we held one another.. and peeped into each others soul. It was love... Love.. Love of the Titans.
a storm is brewing
over Bakers Creek
the sound of the thunder
is less than meek

streaks of lightning
have hit the tall gum trees
and scattered
the small native bush bees

grim grey tones
have replaced the sunlight
the tempest is ensuing
with all its might

out of the full clouds
the rain now generously falls
rolling thunder echoes
through the Western wind squalls

on the bare hillsides
the dampness soaks in
giving the soil
a good drench to the skin

the dusty track
is laden with wetness
which leaves a smell
of sweet earthiness

the storm has past
and quietness descends
it is making its way
across the Clerkness wends

then it shall travel
along the Eastern range pines
until it resounds
over the acqua blue coastline
Joe Workman Aug 2014
The radio alarm is a bit too strong
for his afternoon hangover taste.
He goes downstairs, sets the coffee to brewing,
rubs his hands through the hair on his face.
As he sits and he smokes, he can't quite think of the joke
she once told him about wooden eyes.

The coffee is ready, his hands are unsteady
as he pours his first cup of cure.
He tries to be happy he woke up today,
but whether being awake's good, he's not sure.
Outside it's raining, but he's gallantly straining
to keep his head and his spirits held high.

As soft as the flower bending out in its shower,
fiercer than hornets defending their hives,
the memories of sharing her secrets and sheets
run him through like sharp rusty knives.
He decides that his cup isn't quite strong enough,
takes the ***** from the shelf, gives a sigh.

He goes to the porch to put words to the torch
he still carries and knows whiskey just fuels.
Thunder puts a voice to his hammering heart.
Through ink, his knotted mind unspools,
writing of butterflies and of how his love lies
cocooned under unreachable skies.

From teardrops to streams to winter moonbeams
to a peach, firm and sweet, in the spring,
he writes of pilgrims and language and soft dew-damp grass
and how he sees her in everything.
He rambles and grieves, and he just can't believe
how much he has bottled inside.

He writes how the leaves, when they whisper in the breeze,
bring to mind her warm breath in his mouth,
how when walking through woods he loves the birdsong
when they fly back in the summer from the south
because she would sing too and he always knew
he wanted that sound in his ears when he died.

He writes even the streetlights, fluorescent and bright,
make him miss the diamond chips in her eyes,
how the fountain in the park plays watersongs in the dark
when he goes to make wishes on pennies
and while he's there he gets hoping
there will be some spare wishes
but so far there haven't been any.

He writes that the cold makes him think of the old
hotel where they spent most of a week,
lazing and gazing quite lovingly,
and how he brushed an eyelash off her cheek.
The crickets and frogs and all of the dogs
sound as mournful as he feels each night.

He writes about chocolate and fun in arcades,
he writes about stairwells and butchers' blades,
and closed-casket funerals, and Christmas parades,
then sad flightless birds and tiny brigades
of ants taking crumbs from the toast he had made,
and political goons with their soulless tirades,
old-timey duels and terrible grades,
strangers on  buses, harp music, maids,
the weird afterimages when all the light fades,
the pleasure of dinnertime serenades,
sidewalk chalk, wine, and hand grenades.

He writes of how much fun it would be to fly,
and saltwater taffy and ferryboat rides,

sitting on couches, scratched CD's,
pets gone too soon and overdraft fees,

the beach, the lake, the mountains, the fog,
David Bowie's funny, ill-smelling bog,

jewelry, perfume, sushi, and swans,
the smell of the pavement when the rain's come and gone,

and shots and opera, and Oprah and ***,
and tiny bikinis with yellow dots,

stained glass lamps, and gum and stamps,
her dancing shoes on wheelchair ramps,
that overstrange feeling of déjà vu,
filet mignon and cordon bleu,

bad haircuts at county fairs,
honey and clover, stockmarket shares,
the comfort of nestling in overstuffed chairs,
and her poking fun at the clothes that he wears,
and giraffes and hippos and polar bears,
cumbersome car consoles, monsters' lairs,
singing in public and ignoring the stares,
botching it badly while making éclairs,
misspelled tattoos, socks not in pairs,
people who take something that isn't theirs,
the future of man, and man's future cares,

why people so frequently lie
and bury themselves so deep in the mire
of monetary profits when money won't buy
a single next second because time's not for hire,
and that he sees her in everything.

Then unexpectedly, unbidden from where it was hidden
comes the punchline to the joke she had told him.
He laughs -- it's too much and his heart finally tears
as a blackness rolls in to enfold him.
The last thing he hears is birdsong in his ears --
the sound brings hope and is sweet as he dies.
Poppies abloom in memoriam.

Fields content of the past.

Storms brewing above.

To renew them once again.

Memories of battle, scars on the earth.
Revealed once again.

In the fields.

It was the poppies to bloom

In memoriam.
By J.R.Williamson
Kitt Jul 2017
It smells like first love
Says the perfume bottle
Smells like true love
Says the bath bomb

What does first love smell like?
First love smells like rain
The heavy scent of the air
Before a thunderstorm

True love smells like cookies
Baking in the background
And a rich *** of coffee
Brewing from fresh beans

And of cinnamon in hot chocolate
And lavender, like my lotion
And spice, like his deodorant

First love smells lightly of sweat
Because you're nervous
True love smells like tears
Because it's never a dry-eyed affair

It smells like the flowers
Of the wedding bouquet
And the crimson and white
Christmas flower display

First love smells like body spray
Slathered on to hide the sweat
True love smells natural
Bad breath in the morning
And yet fine
Because it's theirs.

First love turns to sweet summers' air
Vanished with August's last week
True love kisses the scents
Both foul and fair
That break upon my cheek.
Seán Mac Falls Jul 2012
At the end of night she bathes in light,
We tussle in the warmth of morning,
The blankets and she are of sea foam
And found shells, whispering lost ocean 
Words.  Our bed is a raft, drifting aloft,
The coffee is brewing with mellow sun,
Her smiles, filling my silly, giddy mug.
Soon, we walk to the pebbled beach,
Her hair is waving at the friendly seas, 
Gulls are circling in the moving skies
Reeling with the slow, slipping tides
And I skip stones with her as our feet 
Sink in the milk of morning sands—
Must we be off to Dublin town?
Akemi Oct 2013
Chapter 1

There was a woman. The cost to love her was your life. No other payment but a sending off, a revolver cocked to your temple’s side.
There was no spite in your death, just business.
Hell of a business to run.

I was protecting someone. Never been one to stick around, but this drag had carried for the past year. That gang-owned joint lay but two doors and a cold alley away. Popular place, maybe not the classiest but it had its patrons. Packed with your essentials: pool tables, dirt-licked walls and chairs, mean folk mixed in with the nice. Old fashioned joint with a history. You could almost feel it when you walked in. That small pressure when it’s about to rain? Felt like that had been building up for a decade there.
Some Madonna owned it. Names elude me, but she was just another front; as was the barkeep, the hired bouncers and those mean-eyed slingers that spoke loud in company, silent alone. Heh, almost like an old-fashioned saloon. Who the hell am I in this tale of cowboys and crooks?
I was holed up in that apartment block for the winter. Stiff drapes covering a stiff cold that seeped through the cracks anyway. Cold chills to wake to, and the whiskey don’t warm a **** thing. Maybe it was the ache of a past flame that led me to her. That old touch had languished and misted away in the night of some long dead memory, leaving an old kiss from a young lover on my shivering body. It grew faint with every year’s passing. I struggle to remember this keepsake.
Every night.
I was a no name protector protecting a no name ghost of a man. Yeah we knew each other. I’m no stranger to keep past talking terms . . . but, hell if I remember his name, how we got into this **** situation and why. Mind’s a little off. Been like that for years.

It was a stumble through the wrong door at the wrong time. Some spiteful voices in the back of the joint or the back of my mind telling me I’m headed for hell and ain’t coming back. See, every day is a crossroad, and I happened upon the worst one yet.
I remember that flaking paint; grime-covered white on a moulding door **** near off its hinges. That suited me, and I hated it. Maybe I grew sick of wandering the same way and turned my life on its spinning head. Spun me all the ways I couldn’t face. Saw a glimmer that fate had readied for me. Don’t think I’ve looked at anything with such eyes since; nor have they looked back at me.
The room was a cramped, dilapidated hellhole like every other room, but with her laying on that bed of hers . . . she was the only clean thing in the whole of this cursed city. Save, she wasn’t clean. No such thing exists; no such thing as clean since your adolescent innocence, and even that went up in flames. Hell, in a city like this I wouldn’t be surprised if the skeletons we kept so tightly locked in our closets outnumbered us ten to one.
Should have remembered that when I saw her, but my mind lay a blank canvas and I couldn’t help but fill it with all the details of this pretty bird. Even those that weren’t there.
No Name yanked me out quick. Never seen him so pale, ghosting further and further from a human being. He’d been running so long I don’t think he even knew what he was running from anymore. His past? Some cop chase from years back, ending with blood stains and shaky hands? A dead kid in the arms of a suicidal wife? Maybe he’s running from himself. Fear in the capacity we contain, and fear in the ways we unleash it around loved ones. I don’t blame him for running. If I was a worse man I’d run from him as well.
Now No Name has it all figured out, even if he won’t let on; and that bird in there ain’t part of the plan. Cash cash, first train out to some no name city for this no name man. In this together, he keeps repeating, like some broke down record player that only plays one song. Well I guess we share more similarities than I’d like to think so.

One night, about a month after settling in that old apartment, I hear raised voices. Not uncommon, but something about this still night woke some fear inside me. A fear I needed to meet with my eyes, a score to settle with myself. Sounded like some ******* outside was hoping to bring down the sky with volume alone. No type of gentleman, just a no ***** kid who doesn’t know the difference between command and screaming like a babe.
One gets you respect. Now, the other. . . .
I open those stiff drapes with stiffer fingers. Brush that layer of frozen breath and mist to find some mid-twenty good for nothing punk holding a struggling figure. The apartment ain’t exactly ground floor but even up here I can spot the difference between a gent and a sally. Some broad was in trouble.
Grab that six shooter, old man. The holster smooth from years of wear, small frays on the weathered jacket rubbing against goose-pricked skin. Comfort clothing that never really brings comfort. Not anymore. Guess I’m as bad as No Name. I’m just repeating routine.
Out the hall, no doors left in this apartment block. Stolen, broken, ain’t exactly your family fun lifestyle we’re living. No Name’s holed up in this fortress of upturned furniture and dresser-barred doorways. Lights flicker from between the cracks. The devil ain’t gonna bother with the door, I tell him. He doesn’t reply. Maybe he’s a religious man with one too many sins above his head.
There’s another yell and I feel my blood rise, hairs picking up static, a storm brewing inside that clenched stomach of mine. Take a tumble down the stairs in my haste. **** crooked balsa wood. Those stairs are gonna end me one day, I swear.
Ground floor. I slam that kitchen door and it cracks against the brick wall outside. ****. No Name’s gonna burst an artery. Call out for that ******* punk but he’s already eyeing me up. Only a few steps away and I can see the white in his eyes. No . . . those are his pupils. Wide, all cloud-like, he’s ******* dusted up. . . . Almost like looking into the past. Thrice-cursed ****. I’m in trouble.
This ain’t some lover’s quarrel, some twisted ****’s thought of a good way to end the night. This is a dusthead addict and I’m out of my league. His mid-snarl distorts and stretches past his cheeks and that devil grin sends an electric jolt from the wires of my brain to my heart.
This six shooter is as good as a pea gun against a Smiley.
He’s spouting some glossolalia drifts, layering it like an abominable duet. The coked-up boy in me yearns to understand again, but stiff joints and washed-out dreams have made me a cynic. Ain’t no beauty when you’re tearing things apart to see it. ******* Smiley’s on the edge and he’s ready to pounce right off. If that broad’s sobbing didn’t **** at those heart strings of mine I’d be running for my ******* life.
I lift that pea shooter and aim it straight at that devil smile.
He howls. Glass shatters from above. Some black monstrous thing comes speeding at me. I leap through that apartment doorway in time to see ******* Smiley consumed by it. All sharp, all solid that beast slams into Smiley, screaming loud enough to wake this dead city twice over. Smiley thrashes, he splays out to the ground, the beast’s seared flesh erupting in front of me. A piece slices past my cheek and I’m on the ground in tears. I hear No Name scream an incomprehensible curse above. I’m bawling now. Through my tears I spot that chunk of flesh. ******* balsa wood. Thrice-cursed balsa wood.
No Name had thrown a piano out that barricaded window of his. Tears of pure comedy, that’s what left my face. A Smiley taken out by No Name, I’ll never live this down. His mangled body lies under polished wood. Someone’s yearly worth gone in a second of frantic panic, reduced to twisted wires and cracked ivory. To see something so beautiful destroyed in seconds makes me wonder if the Smiley had gotten the better of us after all.
That broad’s in shock. Splinters covered every inch of ground save that around her; looked like a comet, trailing emptiness behind.  Should have noticed it then that something wasn’t right with that scene. Perfectly unscathed beauty sitting there with not a single scratch nor splinter on her, but I was too **** amazed I was alive. Knelt close to her and caught a whiff of some exotic scent on her skin. Some flower. Saw her face and it added another colour to that filling canvas of mine. This pretty bird from the joint. The one men died for. At least No Name had saved one life worth saving, funny it happened to be the one who could take yours in a night.
Names elude me, but the way I remember her . . . the way I remember her is Blossom, for when she came into my life she gave colours to my black and white memory, colours I didn’t know existed, and my black and white morals took a turn down some dawning grey-blurred alley.
So I’m a ******* gentleman and I walk Blossom home while No Name shifts furniture above us. Scrapes of hard wood against wood, filling that void in his once impenetrable bastion. I told you No Name’s got it all planned out already. Guess I’m just here for the ride.
Welcome to the paranormal neo-noir gangster world of Devil Smiles.
J M Surgent May 2015
I brew beer because I like knowing
I created something from
Only what the Earth gave me
My father taught me
And my hands could carry
Remember all you see each day
All the things that are around you and
Keep close to all the friends you have
in the bubble that surrounds you

Simple gestures, little things
The stuff that's out of sight, most days
it flows on by without a look
in the bubble that surrounds you

Don't ever take for granted anything you have and hold
It's only through respect and love, that straw can turn to gold
You're my first though in the morning dear, up with the rising son
You're the last thing that I think about, when the moon says day is done

I never say "I love you" dear
not as much as I guess I should do
After time it is an unsaid thing
although you know I still do

A gentle kiss upon the lips as you are on your way
forgotten in the winds of time, but just enough to say
the words now left unspoken as we trundle through our life
Now, a touch, or look's "I love you for saying yes to be my wife"

Breathing, seeing, hearing things
the smell of coffee brewing
things we never think about
and vows that need renewing

There'll be a day when I wake up
And you just might not be there
If I don't treat you like I ought to now
I have to show you that I care

Don't ever take for granted anything you have and hold
It's only through respect and love, that straw can turn to gold
You're my first though in the morning dear, up with the rising son
You're the last thing that I think about, when the moon says day is done
RCraig David Apr 2013
From my "Bestifreadaloud" series about a girl that got away that Spring because I waited too long.

Part 1 The Past
A case made now faded of a simple place, a time, a space,
a perfect moment let pass in haste.
Clasped in clashes,
brash in passion,
rose from ashes,
desire fires every second's essence as it passes,
a ton amasses.
Fast bloom,
Blast!! Boom!!
The past relapses.
Notably lesser song notes float hopeful, emotional ends and remember whens.
Sent us spinning, then spin adrift again.
Sprung in spring, we fell,
Some are reasons to recall.
Summer's season breaks, we fall.
Flocks fly down and fallen callings fade to Winter's south.
How fate related still debated.
Re-Sprung the next Spring' rise, chance misses fate this date.
I weighed and debated and waited too late

PART 2
Still all these years alone, the "one", the "purpose" unsought.
Capturing thoughts,
The ones I caught and tossed,
Things I was taught and lost.
Proof framed and embossed for a cost.
Coping through the unabashed hopes to one day cash in on all this stashed trash I clash with.
"Smash it?" ...the thought crossed.  

Unimpressed by my evidence of self-less requests,
pursuit of self-evident truth proves a most ruthless abuse.
Even less are my skewed protests for “selfish quests" at the behest of the very strangers I sought to impress.
I digress.

The years compound, bossed around, kicked down but soundly employed,
I turn cold, blaming Freud for defining my non-violent, intolerance threshold on page 23 of some textbook I should have resold.
I go silent. Grow old.
"While your whining and shunning your shinning,
They're sinning and winning." Bad timing.

Girls come, go and follow this shallow, hollow fellow on the run.
While preyed upon...I paid a ton. I play.
The sum never more than the cost of rented fun.
Without insight but consent forthright,
my 30 years of intent were spent in a fortnight.
Still bent on shedding every pound of one first-moment's ton I lost not won.
Can't buy happy for less than the cost of your one-ness.
While prayed upon...paid a Son, they say.

part 3

Ohh the wait....
Ohh the weight...
My set-adrift-soul's mending depends solely on tossing
lost cause cost-spending into thrift.
Well it's a beginning.
All the amassed notes, quotes, boat-floaters,
and sailboat hopes spun in one 1-ton loss moment sprung that one Spring.

Now and again, it creeps in,
like slowly growing stinging nettles around a squelched,
once steaming scorched dream kettle.
Still stays packed away in my heart's darkest parts.
Blurred by time and place,
this burning, misplaced furnace space lays in wait.

Such compiled cold-case denial files from other life trials, lay piled in haste on my proverbial, "less pressing" messy desk of "not ready to face."
Too scared or daring to date, try to relate or contemplate
how to best equate this great weight.
Wait?... Wait.
Elation brewing from pursuing future fruition or ensuing
pure ruin gates these fates from moving, year-to-date.
For the sake of trying or dying forsaken,
another day awake is another day gained or taken.

I found her again,
the town's she's in
but she is taken and then
She learns of my wait, it's weight, my fate, she's shaken,
another ton amasses again. I pretend.
Lay down.
Drown the score of sounds surrounding.
Furthermore, slow the pulse-pounding abounding your core.
Fill your breath.
What is less is gone, tomorrow more.  

by R. Craig David-Copyright 2012
Sa Sa Ra Oct 2012
When we play...---...
Is it for our better'... or
for the better equipping's
of hearts, and minds freeing
to bare our souls within
as this body of life
life has given
living still
scribbles
of scripts
positioning
composition's
bets mete bettering
to better ourselves unto
this weather of givings
whether we see it 'tis
take's or receiving's
without the grace
of a child's it is
all too much
deceiving
one's
greener
leafing's fall
blowning off 'tis
grieving's leaving
going going
glowing
gone

Gong GONG GONGING GONG GONG!!!!

a
sad
noise 'tis
@ competition
shush'... listening
did you hear that if
you don't better me
i may better you
if  you don't
win,  i win
dominion
of you
too,
am
I?
Y
my
eye'...
the pain of bye's
in natures foreboding
I
by
eye
cops
comp
cop cop
for bronze
comping copper
stamping stomping
          ramp's romping
inclination's
phrasing's
of phases
chosen's
ration's
poses
to
e
y
e
be
war's
worshiped
rule breaking
nature's fool
forsaken
lost
'---
my
Y
do odes of '--- my'...??? of the sullen
gloomy calls within the ***** of tears
in paralyzing fears or of the faceless
ruse of starkness descending upon
a dimming simmering flame
shining yet or singing
'if I had a hammer'
one hammer pounds
one above, another below
another softens the soundings
of where the cooper's barrel is at
of making a rest for dearest guests
one basket withers glittering gone sold
another is casket's for the cooling
with taken souls captured
enslaved to undo ruins
whether by a taking
this being to grave
or in misgivings
crook simply
sins  fouled
"fooled" or
schooled
a fool
feels
all,
m
I
?
Y
is it
however
that dogs are
revered and best
friends
too
be
.
Y
so
then,
what is
humanity
for food controlled
leashed, collared gate
for a lease of our
soul tethering
weakening
pained ill
limping
gait
'--- ode
to the meek
the taken
of taker's
speaking's
mistakenly
tokened
tolls.

What are
being's selling's
paths by soles paving's
for hunger's relinquishing's
as footprints trodden the
starving are solemn's
no food for souls
with out love
the broken
...---...
pitch me a sales
as i already do wail
a 'poor granted soul
in soils poor planting
or then ...---... please!!!
leave and so take
your willing
chilling
chills
sown
as ...---...
to the forsaken
who depend on that pill
for the pain and the fright
which steals our dear breath
takes wings, life and flight
death walks as much
as the grim reaper
still is brewing
opiates for
balkers
asleep
walk
bye
as
I
---
you
'--- my
gr8 greeter
called life as the living
living in memories of darkness
to the soul calling light
sleeping by day
only by night
'tis flight
...---.... 'o
deceive me deception
i made you mad
really made
therefor
eyes
shuttered
fractal spawn
i can not beat thy
blinded own childs
if eye can not control
the only owners of me
sold for the glittering scold
you would be my excuses
as a mother defends
what a man can
not achieve he
must create
pretending
it's all in
the brewing
stillery stewing
so let us all play
the game as it is
of spiritual potions
where meek meets might
in the awesome of loathings
dark-lings of fear breathing omens
while dragon's breathe fire in deep keepers
Still Our Colosseum is so Romanesque
so forgive my doting while stilling
the stiller's still and so no, no
I am not that player of so,
called so of the gaming
darlings ac-cursing of
flashings thrashing
trashing of our
lives truly
dearest
here
eye
be
to
...---...
my friends clear and
Sow the never-ending story of
Our lives more worthy nurtured of loving as
Silly Will Nilly fairy dragons fired in the natures of love with
air to wax and oils fired breathing anew guidance for misgivings of
lost roaming tillers, till within it is found the pounding of lost vile's
Pouring out transmutations of the flowering scents of forgiving
Pearly rivers torrentially rush the heavenly sendings of
Soothing balm to wounds in mending and cries of
: SOS unattended finally heard as
<3 <3's ...---... <3 <3's
in the living river
of life walked
and spoken
words
are
LOVE IN ACTION!!!!!!
DING DING DING
GONG!!!!!!!!!
<3 <3
:)
Begin again!!!
Lovingly, Ra
Sa Sa Sun
Sunny
Run
Un
1
'
.
.
.
To the Roman and lost (to all those promises) roaming's of us all and the knives and swords we each wield both ways some slicing in vain in veins  and in others where hate is cleared from love as you will see, understand and accept. Yes, and still is in 'as' always and stiller-y, our brewery of soul potions more real than any witches or alchemy drink. The spirits within heart, mind, soul are the real transmutable of holy grail mountain movers, shakers, makers and breakers.

PS: ... --- ..., = SOS such is key to the rest if you would consider most other punctuation's here typical though minimally used.    
The way I wrote would be as 'help' and or 'save our souls' and 'save our selves' is worth a gander; http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/SOS

So about read again if you read once ignoring the ...'s and or ---'s that is overly well then is why I suggest just on the one hand as far as the read is concerned anyhow the rest you know already much about take the ...'s as s's and ---'s as o's got it go go go!!! The ...---...'s are best for your hearts choosing really of course always as with all!!! >3 >3 :) :) R

PPS: Stanza from "eye am I to ... --- ... (help) my friends dear has 3 consecutive lines respectively starting with S, O, and S leading also a second set with P P S : SOS unattended finally heard as hearts help hearts ding **** gong!!!!

PPPS: take PPS: as post post script in reading down in typical fashion or as across the lines loosely cryptic as post postmortem script, or un-dead finally!!!

PPPPS: “"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?” - Alice in Wonderland quote
http://thinkexist.com/quotes/alice_in_wonderland/

******written from the left margin indeed it too would be easier to follow some of the encrypted or encoded keys; but understanding that it still can be had as in final edit it is shifted right and overall the read and shape at least on a screen with enough pixels to me seemed over all having more potency for the more willing understood albeit!! Thank You!!! Ra

What a hungry soul can do running on two grapefruits and a cup of black coffee for the day!!!!
Nite Nite!!!

<3 <3 :) R
Emma Johnson Apr 2010
You think that smile will make it all right,
Do you realise you’re enraging my mind?
Think it’s okay because you believe your better, why?
Like that grin makes it okay to stay blind.

Because I’m young you think I’m dumb,
You count your manners on one thumb,
You speak out; you smile like I’m making fun.
I got a rage that will make you wish you were numb.

Anger, my rage erupts enough for me to lash out,
Punch the wall, should have been your face, ow.
You have directly affected my mood now
Brewing and steaming, to release I jot this down.
Now how do I get rid of this frown?
© Emma Johnson 2009
Ann M Johnson Aug 2015
I see the lightning flash across my screen
There is a storm brewing of that I am sure
This storm has no warning except notifications
I have to check this forecast
I may or may not see many notifications on my page this time
Of this I am sure there is a storm coming
A storm is brewing it is raining down creativity
I see the effects of this storm when I read your poems
The ideas are like tornado swirling in our minds
Instead of destruction our words take a toll, on others minds and souls
There is no need to take cover and hide from this storm
We have no cause for alarm
We can grab a pen or computer and play in this type of rain
Let creativity rain on us and may it reign in our minds
May we drown in the floods of inspiration
May we stay away from the clouds of doubt
I think the poetry storm is brewing, you can shout with joy when it rains on you!
This poem is revised and dedicated to all of you MY Hello Poetry Friends, my the Poetry Storm rain on you and Inspiration never end.
I greatly appreciate you all my friends and mentors, in poetry we are united.
pluto Jun 2015
I always walk up the stairs with a cup of tea filled to the brim. Not even walking just taking small steps periodically just in case the tea spilled. Sometimes I made it to the top and sometimes I spilled it and I would have to come back downstairs, go the the kitchen, get a paper towel, wipe up the mess, throw the paper towel away and try again.

It was a very tedious Task.

My mother used to yell at me for the times I get too lazy to clean up the mess and just allow the tea to dry up on the floor to stick.

When I was twelve I realized how many times I allowed the tea to dry up. Most of the time I didn't even care if all the tea spilled by the time I got to the last staircase. The boiling hot tea spilling on my feet and the carpet and the granite didn't bother me. My mind was wayward- somewhere unknown. My thought process didn't care to think about my mother after a hard days work coming home to yell at her old enough daughter to stop drinking upstairs. She used to get so mad at me sometimes wondering why I always said "I don't care,".

She used to despise me for it, and I did too.

Maybe I liked how the tea burned my feet causing me to walk faster, maybe I liked the pain. Maybe I was too busy to care about the abundance of spills maybe I wasn't. Maybe I just didn't care.

The whole world stopped spinning for me but my mind didn't. I loved leaving a trail of sweet hot tea for me to follow again and again, my mother didn't.

Finally my mother broke all the teacups and threw away all the tea we had in the house. In all honesty I freaked out. I could've ripped the whole house from its foundation and throw it toward the horizon. I could've take matches and burn the place down letting its ashes fill the toxic sky. I could've done all of that.

But I didn't. I disintegrated into my covers and let my bed seep me in, like tea leaves brewing. I was brewing.

And like the perfect cup of tea, I finally became that dark, rich color with the perfect amount of milk and sugar, placed onto a saucer that was the right size. I the ridges kept me in place and the walk upstairs wasn't so bad anymore.
a poem about tea which was really about my depression but through the act of making tea. poetry. wild.
a storm is brewing
over Bakers Creek
and the sound of the thunder
is less than meek

streaks of lightning
have hit the tall gum trees
and scattered
the small native bush bees

dim grey tones
have replaced the sunlight
the tempest is ensuing
with all its mighty

out of the full clouds
the rain now generously falls
rolling thunder echoes
through the Westerly wind squalls

on the bare hillsides
the dampness soaks in
giving the soil
a good drenching to the skin

the dusty track is laden
with wetness
which leaves a smell
of sweet earthiness

the storm has passed
and quietness descends
it is making its way
across the Clerkness wends

then it shall travel
along the Eastern range pines
until it resounds
over the topaz blue coastline
Mike Hauser Mar 2014
When you ask of me, why poetry
I'm not sure you understand
That it's the center of my universe
The very depth of who I am

The molecules in the air I breath
Oxygen pulsing through the veins
The storm brewing beneath the surface
The pounding of the rain

It's the timeless anticipation
Of the thought that's yet to come
The tearing open of life's seam
The beating of the drum

The first peak of the desert flower
When it feels the gentle touch of spring
The smile in the eyes of a child
And all the joy it brings

The in and out of the tide
In the pulling of the waves
When you ask of me, why poetry
What more is there to say
Jules May 2016
in the face of this,
what else matters.
it becomes difficult to concentrate on trivial things
when larger moments stare you in the face.

in the face of this,
my hands lose power, start to shake. my mind strays,
falls to thoughts of sadder days.
the art either loses meaning
or transforms into something
i do not wish to create.
in moments like this,
when the world grows too big
for me to inhabit it,
when the worlds within me
are turned to dust by the sun,
i can only hope to stay stable,
stay clinging.
i fear the alternative is crumpling,
a breaking no one is ready to see,
a void -

and isn't that strange,
to be filled with empty?

so in the face of this,
i can only stare the sun in the eyes,
meet it glare for glare.
i am hesitant to mutter the word breakdown
in the fear that it will all turn real,
and the world will shatter around me.
right now it is paper-thin.
fragile glass, and i fear the firestorm brewing within me
will set everything ablaze.
i ache;
each breath heavier than my heart.
try my best to swallow the scream churning in my throat.
blink to keep the burning out of my eyes.
my bones creak whenever i move
like a rotten thing. a skeleton.

i stay here,
stay clinging.
wait for the firestorm to fizzle into a kind wind,
fizzle into nothing.
it takes its own kind of eternity.

still, clinging, i wait.
here, it is the most i can hope to do.
wrote it out for once
instead of suffering through it.

keep clinging, my love.
Linda Pahl May 2014
fiery cumulonimbus of emotion
gather ominously on your horizon
fierce silence of a righteous rage
electrifies the very air you breathe
bursts of lightening pierce the darkness
chased by thunder that shocks the heart
shattering the silence with a deafening fury
To see the image that inspired this:
http://instagram.com/p/n6swj5Td-I/
.
ArturVRivunov Oct 2011
life is never what it seems to be, always reoccuring with a thought as put upon the length of arms that revolutionize this thought. . .for those that can be bought,
is day like today less then feeling of want to rot, because so simple as a breeze brought down your temperment to be pleased. . .caught in a storm, that has outlasted
longer then your heart to feel content and warm, to feel the essence of a breath among a group of bad breaths, in other words, to breath among a group of brothers and sisters
from whom you can gain so much. But life is never what it seems to be, instead you look yourself in the mirror pointing at me, you, fool. Glowing from ragging frustration,
the toll blows for you unsurpassable deflation, because it is not for your hand that grows for the motion, to pick which ******* **** you want to lotion. Spearing the reasons,
the ego is your hero, born to work zero, and trusted with such hand to uphold all by command. To twist on the ****, that opens your door, to circumstances i certainly care less
the **** to continue to explore. But with this slight little mention, please pay close attention because this song is a *****. At least to explain the message, my whole is a
whole that takes life time to experience and grow, and appreciate the things that stoop all the levels around me, no barrier, no door, just genuine life experience to bring me
to come to this point to explain to the world something within the self, that is described by astute persons, for whom these ideas carry on to fulfill an immense part of
something that is casually slipped in and never thought about because it is told within reason that humanity cannot be without such astute person's idealogy. For **** sake my
friend, if your have many common sense, think of the common thing that has driven you to come to the conclusion that you have come to about anything. Everything is absolute and
existent and is evoked through the means. . .from the time of your dissapating freedom, as kids, not as adults, because look at how adults are this days. They teach their kids,
and they let others teach their kids, but the kids never get the feeling of being free. I promiss you, that cry or emotion you have experienced due to lack of friendliness from a
neighboring ****, it is an instillement that sparks up many motions of your life to believe into bizarre things the world portrays. For myself, I find the starting point of my
when I first breathed my first sensible air, when I walked in my own two feet without guidance as to where my eyes were seeing. How can a mind be so tender, lost by the misconformed
train thogh after train thought. That is why I find schooling such a fascinating ruthless thing that can be broken into several fashions as to why is that case. But not even
reason to fashion an answer that I know will and is definetly can be viewed to abhold a societal dismark of "wF"is wrong with that guy's mind. He must be **** casing a storm to
bring an ideaology of thought or some **** religion, but that's what so funny to me. I find everything in life comedic, non concerning except at times if I feel similar to
someone adjacent because that is their essence in my prescence, and I feel the need to comfort it, to bring back the importance of that self. The part of life I find so comedic,
how bits and bits and everything with **** have all so many fascinating
things to learn from, the progression of one's mind never attains self worth in the world with something interfering. That something interfering for example, is me personally
writing what is can be taken as pointless and presenting my writing to you how I say I do. But did I say how I am presenting this writing, absolutely not. So brings the funny,
that school teaches the aspect of disfigurament of a person's essence. This thing is a complete oblivion to everything and anything, that because even though I did not specify
how I tone myself on this paper, there is the predicament to assume that I am very angry deranged person who but pokes charasmatically at something no one can grip, because he
is portraying me the image the way I was bred to see. But then it is so **** funny, you can also take my words describing
all that I intend to explain and stick them against me to simplify your circumstances as to the causitive feeling your experiencing, and maybe the confusion that I am creating
noting a significant point that I do write intentionally without any figurative wording, just simply talking about this to evoke a presence of an essence within you that is hindered,
by what type of **** everybody is wearing, where they are starring, who is ******* and adoring, and who's simply the **** because they don't fit in a deranged group, developed by
ego-centric level stingers, who but want either good for you, or it is the drive to profit from you everything. That is, words blah blah, can take stroll
on one day's role and make no complete sense, and all they did were live the sense of a tangled mind that fostered on what has been in some form, taught, over
what you can call a lively existence, considering how much traumatizing headaches this could cause, and resembled among a group of similar constituents with similar reasons
as to whatever the situation might be. I could point this out within one sentence, but it wouldn't hold any deeper understanding of this essence, so instead I decide with all
my reasoning and tremendous experience that even to some, even at this gritty expertisians who grease up the world to guess everything based on study and reasoning by other humans,
who believe all these ideas are shifters to the mind but always stem the relentless, functioning without any perspectives open to the idea that mold humans into one spatial and far better
so called community, which in all it's case has lost the essence to preserve the self without a ***** on the back. That ***** of course is the communal ****, that builds from a
trigger of words, then they teach the brain as if it is known how to be as a functioning unit. The amount doesn't matter, the amount that is thought brings hope, but the most
amount to the self is the function of you, like I feel I function amongst anyone because I have come to terms and realize what really important things I have learned from my life.
My life to some is gripping, only because it sounds unbelievable, but of that life I found the same driving forces that drive madness even today, and has been reaccuring for as
long as some form of expression has been. And in all humiliation of humanity, or as I consider it digression of being self around the bounds of comfortability, it has been
a grand experience to see many a people transgress from the point of my meeting them with a continuous contact to the point of now, and then, and future plausible. But then
and future plausible for me stand out as notions needless of evocations due to the fact that the self is a dwindling factor hung by a rope to swing the way the self first portrayed
to me, and then to the direction away from the first encountered mind. But in all, without senseless ignorance, I do understand these things are studied for a reason, for a reason
that is workable to be as they are for some variables do affect person's in many different way. That is why, the sense of one roof and too many aloof is but a big spoof. With
sensibility, how can forging something into your life help you to achieve greatness within self to portray it in a manner plausible. The only way is as a current flows, so do
the gulls.



where do you. . .come from. . .so many leagues unbeknownst among my dreams.
life is never what it seems. . .until i met your eyes.. . that built
my stongest implication, dire in desire to live a life inspired. . .
but then so is, to dream upon what tends on building motivation. . .
life is beautiful sensation. . .
from the first rainfall with you meeting outside spontaneous realm. . .
we fought the solemn wind to calm our cumbered spirits. . .taking flight,
fighting what might have been. . .semeless to even entertain. . .lost in
each others warmness. . .everything we built tended harmless.

now see how we have. . .related to each other's hearts. . .left the scrutinity
at obscurity prolonged on scale of mirror. . .where it has always belonged.
now it's just time darling
i promiss it wont be long until our roots bind the maximum strong.

from even across the plains, and mountain long trip stains. . .i feel
less pain. . .from what's the phrase non loose then gain, consorting time
absorbing each other's essence in rhyme.
the deepest of sensation of you. . .the meekest of me, makes me be the simple thing
that i've reconnected to . . .to realize, the sensation of you. . .from our first
encounter, i felt deep into your eyes. . .what agree's none behind with lies. . .
you evoked the deepest motion within my sphere of emotion not to betray myself within
this realm and dark frivolous potion. . .for my first set of emotion set on your tone behind
this potion. . .

i face you eye for an eye of every day until i die, but will ever will i die. . .not with you
never. . .darling angel, angel you are my expressive tone to call you so. . .nothing more
is the essense of you that you seem to implore, how busy life must be. . .we need feel free
to good ridance from this fee that life doesn't instill our good griefs beyond simple joys and beliefs. . .
for simply darling we are each other's heart beats, if it's simple smell of you
i will carry out my deeds in hell. . .beneath on hearth this earth, where all of us have been given
birth. . .but sent to spend what is driven by multipolluted cord, the time in blunt approach from
the thing that planted our roots. . .

how i feel you is simply too rich for some dirt to enrich you. . .i simply love and cherish
every bit of your essence, it has lifelong presence that even doing what they call
reminiscing, can't surpass living without missing what they have been reminiscing. . .
i cherish you beyond what little faith can teach about having bigger faith, when all my hopes
ride faithful slopes without elongated stops and rope bearing hopes. . .
my life i see to the extent to remorse only what some feel beyond scope of too openly. . .
but how can i retreat on what i can't stop to feel to protect you from, to their heads we are getting closely. . .
how in the scope of your first essence, can i give up to give way to ruin such pure essence. . .

i understand the world makes a feeling for such pure feeling is counted by blessings. . .
and in order for us to make it, that thought i feel senseless baking . . .constant roll of assorted
reasons for why we bleed to them treasons . . .for how can i express, how simple love doesn't
just digress, or something with time you invest. . .it's simply have been a joy of building
together a foundation for our nest. . .**** the rest. . .**** the pest. . .the world is the best
when sleepers are put to rest and the spark of commune are dwellers dwelling on these mischivers'
locked up chest. . .
to find out that darling. . .you simply are a joy to give me whole, that i'm not uninspired troll
reluctant to breath beside the one he placed his greed upon. . .or her, or it. . but all the essence
is closed and beat, by some known with ideals humanity can't consider too farfetched to bare to grit. . .
and sway to the essence that i hold in my glances. . .are as simple as these branded constructed norms
that most tend to manipulate and distort to one contorted form. . . .so all can bend into one socket for 365
degree view that most tend to agree. . .but never really see.

i know it's many there with this essense around the breeze of an aura, that simply are stranded too far apart by such horror.. .
to relent their essence with their prescence. . .to whom Barbarians find the essence is planted full on messes.
but how can we relate to such things darling. . .when the first glow of your essence showed me life full
of memories by the smile in your eyes, glowing beauty of any sort. . .i feel the world will someday . . .
take flight. . .in my way, but **** that. . .i'm to speak when my message is too simple, provoked only by the
thought, "protect the world its miser mother has been beaten". . .i can never relent, the message that is never
but to contradict what's life has not eaten. . .because of the times put to squares, living life, fostering a step back, into recluce. . .these biches wont even
say cause their too ****. . .to figure out that there's a worrior to stump them pleaded sheets out of wood. . .
i say this out for your sarcasm, elongated this song a bit to give you big ******. . .so when you repose, you
think nothing but what side are the pro's. . .and enter them into oblivion, grasping each by the billion, how
can i repose for i know, without one word it is and has been always come down to the special chosen million. . .

because my darling, i feel the miser that this essence in me you inspire, is up and target for no good. . .for
these pleaded fockers granted themselves unrelentless priveleges for centuries, changing diepers to giving
blood diamond marriages. . .riding on what they call prestine carriages. . .oh what,you don't recognize this
what the world has come to building from everybody's demise. . .feeding on high rise. . .splitting cots in the
rots, most alluded with plots and continued building upon the essence of you, keeping you stewed, brewing up a flu. . .
to this day when i met you. . .
will never cease your memory by only that it was circumstance. . .romance among thieves denying our chance to dance. . .
with one glance, their world just plopped a chance. . .for i know they know who im refering to, without a glance
i'm sure they feel my stance just to look **** eyed puking. . .**** blocking their world to rocking, while else where goes to foster under
this ugly monster. . .stooped on a porch ******* their air, without any underwear. . .haha must be due to how
much pull goes to their hair. . .how do i, they feel ****** diddlidy ****, what, is this person a human or a
restored frame of mind living. . .i can't be what's in my eyes to be believing, but i simply am retarted man. . .
a ******* rough psychological fighting bluff, to them i would. . .but trust me, how could i in my life, i
never could.. . .fall to false pretention, that life is a great invention, that my desire's are for simple
hires. . .for i know my life evolves around that which your first essence, darling, we built stronger everyday
to our future of what we call present. . .

life with you, i simply can't resent. . .but figure out what's best
to make what we don't need to make. . . because the essence uproots life's shrivel of what they call romances. . .
rooting upward from the seed we planted on the day people deside to bleed
all over the notion, that this emotion they conquered stems from shot of elixir handed down from the heavens by
some they call cupid fixer. . .relentless, they push through many dances. . .all so strained and constricted by many
glances, restricting their free essence to feel in whole their life is shot down by simple messes. . . .
but you, none taken, broken and mistaken. . .how can simple things be so. . .when you know my essence for you is
far greater then what one instance can remark for the whole, i feel simply. . .protect you from their hole and
bind you with my essence that strives in whole. . .even through tormenting lonely dances. . .when i saw the world an ugly form. . .
nowhere to want to run to, or feel
resentment.. . where's life going to go. . .if my essence in a whole feeds you. . .away to their
mysterious goal. . .i wouldn't have the patience to ***** their abnormal pretence, as if life is sweet with
such mysterious fowl. . .create little thought to create bigger picture, many aditions just create tensities
among those who bicker, loosing control each time only quicker. . .that's why it's never lesser to speak for the lesser
dresser, or the person they showed you, that looked like he ******* told you, but instead they made the mistake
to grow lower. . . cowering even bolder. . . what **** is the point of that. . .to say it none meeker as if its meant to outcast the bleeker
. . .i'm not that so. . .to scowl like fowl crackhead, loosing self reliance to gr
Jaide Lynne May 2014
It is days like this that I wish for a thunder storm, because maybe the crashing thunder and blinding lightning will drown out the storm brewing in my head.
It has rained for a while, but no storms
Third Eye Candy Apr 2013
Gemini in seasonable  evening,
serenely swirling in Septemberous
ferris wheels
reeling in the vast domain
of lonesome leviathans
and witch-fires;
nowhere bound in the boundless fecundity
[ the feral joys of creation... ]
twins
meander in gravity's
well of souls,
swollen with unknowns and proteins;
golden rods in pointless foam
brewing the elixir vitae
in the Dippers cup. the Milky Way,
a wayward gush
from an ancient Mother Goddess,
plump and shameless, pumping teats
to nurse worlds
infused with divine rays of gamma and x...
why set dark apart
from firmament burning
spheres?

dragons
must clutch eggs in the void
as much
as fork tongue white dwarfs.
of course, the Source
unfolds
as  Love does. it's purpose,
in thrall of fearless veracity,
spinning yarns for glad garments
to clothe the naked dread
of such fearful symmetries
as roam the wild delights
of the infinite
meringue.

the Pi
on the window sill,
tempting the circular frame of reference
to square with the sublime Will.
another Fibonacci in your
bedpost,
to better hobnob with
broomsticks.
everything annihilates hatred.
from within,
we sojourn to sovereign super-continents
of opulent peace.
profound realities surge serpentine
with Meaning.
we are outdone on the inside by small minds
and farcical
hearts.

so at night
look up.

Love's Tongue Is
Love's
Word.
Jen Apr 2014
black is the rain cold on your skin
the merciless storm
that's brewing within
being knocked down by the strongest of winds
after you've just learned how to stand up again

its holding his hand, then letting it go
its him moving on, when you're going slow

black is saying goodbye, for the last time
the look in their eyes as you stand there and cry

its secretly dying inside
closing your eyes
trying to hide
never welcoming the light

black is being unable to see any relief
them watching, uncaring, as you openly bleed
dying of thirst
without the water you need
its planting a rose,
and getting a ****
still unfinished
James Jarrett Jul 2014
To put our current legal situation into context you have to ask one basic question; what is law? Is law as we have been lead to believe, the codification of statutes defining what is illegal or not? Or is there some inherent property of moral righteousness that must exist for that law to have force?

I will argue that there is a moral component of law that must be present to make the system of law work. I am, of course, aware that there are many places that laws are passed that have no moral basis at all. There are dictatorships around the world that oppress their peoples and use their codified statutes to imprison and **** any who dissent.

The ultimate example of this is was the **** Germany government who made it legal to **** Jews. It was not only legal, but a system of laws was implemented to guide their extermination. But those laws, even though written out with penalties for those who did not follow them by the legislature, were illegal.

It is a basic component of the human being to know right from wrong. It is the reason that human beings set up laws in the first place. They are set up to make sure that innocents are not victimized by the predacious in our societies. In virtually every place that a human society exists, whether on a group, tribal or civilization level, there are always laws that govern behavior. Even those that break the laws have a sense of righteousness. In prison populations, if the prisoners feel that they are being treated in a fair and just manner they will comply with the rules and follow the system. Take away that feeling of just and fair treatment and prison riots and mayhem ensues. The prisoners realize that they have broken the law and when treated humanely will accept their punishment for the most part. The prisoners know that they have committed a wrong and they knew the possible penalty beforehand and knew what they risked. If torture, mal-treatment and other injuries are added to the punishment then a situation of self-righteousness is set up. The only way to control a prison population under those circumstances is with solitary confinement and complete isolation; if left to exist within prison society it would quickly conflagrate into confrontation.

In places where law exists without any moral authority there is always rebellion brewing just under the surface of society. The dictators and bureaucracies of these societies must rule with an iron fist because they know that one moment of slackness will have them swept from power and executed or exiled. Every single individual who is subject to these laws knows that they are illegal. How can they be illegal if they are written into law you might ask; Is that not the definition of law?

My argument is that it is the moral component of the law that is essential for it to work. It has nothing to with writing a statute and everything to do with human nature. We are after all the ones who create the laws, then write them and in the end follow them. It is at the very core of our nature to organize and codify law because we are innately social by nature and always end up forming some type of society that must have rules. It is also our own feeling of self-righteousness that makes us create the laws.

Certain things are innately wrong and one person should not be able to do this or that to another, and that is the basic creator of law. Laws don’t start out as regulations to govern society. They start out as basic rules of moral behavior; don’t steal from those in our community, don’t **** anyone and don’t try to take my wife. It is this same sense of self-righteousness that drives us to rebel when we know that a law is being applied without any righteous basis.

Take traffic laws for an example. Someone is driving down the highway when they suddenly see blue lights in the rearview. They were oblivious to their speed, lost in thought, and look down at the speedometer and see that they are doing 70 M.P.H. When the cop walks up and gives them a speeding ticket for doing 70 M.P.H. in a 50 M.P.H zone, there is little room for self-righteousness. Most people knowing that they broke the law, and one enacted for public safety, will accept the ticket and pay it without even showing up in court. The next example is the opposite.

Someone is rolling down the highway and the only difference in the scenario is that when they look down they see that they are only doing 45 M.P.H. They continue on for a while, waiting for the cop to go around them. When they eventually pull over, part of it is curiosity as to why he would be stopping them. In this case when a 70 M.P.H. ticket is handed out the reaction is going to be entirely different. That person will go to court. In addition to going to court, if not resolved there, they will spend large amounts of time and money to right the injustice. They will actually spend time and money far out of proportion to the actual injustice that happened because they are self-righteous.

Now imagine that the law was written like this: If you are driving down the highway you can be pulled over and issued a speeding ticket at any time no matter what your speed was. That is the point where the law goes against human nature. People would naturally begin to rebel against it because of its inherent injustice. In the second case it is not only that person’s right to rebel against the law, but also their moral obligation. They have a moral obligation to rebel because they should be seeking to re-establish moral law. If they live in human society then moral law, compatible with human nature should be the rule. If this is not the case, then they are being set up to have very bad things happen.

The Jews in **** Germany also had a moral obligation to fight and for the most part they did not (With the notable and heroic exception of the Warsaw ghetto and a few others) and were led to their slaughter. They had a moral obligation not just to themselves, but to their fellow Jews and compatriots. They were obligated to save their children, their mothers and fathers and other humans and in the end, for the most part did not.

Instead they followed the laws of **** Germany. (Just as the German soldiers at the Nuremberg trials did) They agreed to be registered because to not do so would be breaking the law. They showed up in groups to be transported away because to not do so would be breaking the law. They gave up their goods and businesses and money because not to do so would be breaking the law. There were, of course, severe penalties for breaking the law such as being imprisoned or just disappearing into the night and that drove most to comply.

I know that faith also played a part for many and I am not judging their actions or inaction. I am simply stating the results of what happened by their following the law and putting forward the fact that we are all morally obligated to act when law becomes illegal or immoral.

When law has lost its moral authority and becomes nothing more than something punitive to arbitrarily punish enemies then it is not true law; or at least not true to human nature , by which we all act. In that case all the law becomes is a fear of retribution. No one cares if they break the law for they feel no guilt about doing so and we humans, for the most part, are moral beings. Personally I don’t rob people because it is against the law. I don’t rob people because of the fact that it is morally wrong and I have no desire to violently take from another to gain wealth. I will die before I take the sustenance of another to live.

Once the moral component of law is removed only fear of punishment remains. If someone follows the law it is only because they don’t want to be fined or imprisoned; It I not because they have a moral imperative. But fear only goes so far; when the law becomes illegal its moral authority is transferred to those against whom it is used. They now have righteousness on their side and righteousness has a way of cancelling out fear.

Counter-intuitively, the more injustice that is piled on the more it is met with resistance. The IRA is an excellent example. By the 1960’s their membership was flagging and their armed struggle against the British was at very low ebb. That all changed on ****** Sunday when British troops opened fire into a crowd of demonstrators and killed and wounded a number of them. Instead of being frightened by this, they were outraged and active resistance against them doubled. A vicious cycle was started as the British escalated their actions in response to the increase in attacks and therefore caused even more.

The result of the British crackdown was the highest membership in the IRA in history and the start of a real shooting war. The level of violence escalated to a point never seen before and eventually drove the Brits to sue for peace. The danger of enrolling in the outlawed organization was more than offset by the sense of self-righteous outrage that was generated by the deaths and military lock down of entire neighborhoods. When one joined the IRA it was not a matter of if you would die or be imprisoned, but rather when. Still, even knowing what the outcome would be the ranks of the IRA swelled to enormous numbers. When the British military began a covert assassination program to **** suspected IRA members and affiliates, instead of instilling fear it just added to the sense of outrage and drove more to join and fight.

It was the (Legal) injustice of what was being done that gave the moral righteousness to the IRA and drove them to war. I bring this all up because we are now, in our own society, entering an era of legal lawlessness. We will be forced to make choices about how we respond when confronted with these laws. From the patriot act to the NSA spying, the NDAA authorization of indefinite detention, the IRS and the DOJ it is becoming clear that we are living in an increasingly lawless society.

The lawlessness is not on the part of the people, but rather on the part of those writing the law. The irony is that as the laws become more illegitimate the numbers of them are increasing exponentially. There are already so many federal laws on the books that at any given time any given individual is guilty of a crime. We have now become beholden to the very institutions that are supposed to be serving us as a society. Instead of serving us, the people, they now serve the bureaucracy instead. The bureaucracy and the institutions thereof have become the center of law giving rather than we as citizens. The law, rather than protecting us has become an instrument to protect the bureaucracy and punish those who disagree with it.

We have come to the point where our laws are becoming as corrupt as any given banana republic and if we do not actually want to become one, then we need to make a stand and say enough is enough. I am sure that while I have been writing this that I have committed at least three crimes; either by what I have written or done or thought or possibly what type of lighting I used. Do I care? No not at all. My sense of self- righteous indignation has grown to the point that I have no fear. I have no fear of death or imprisonment. The level of outrage has grown in me to the point that I will go to war.

Will they put me in prison? Go ahead lock me up with a captive audience and let me speak the truth to them; I will leave with an army of self-righteous individuals. Of course the speaking of this truth is illegal in prison, but at this point what is law? We all have hard choices coming up in the future; choices that could affect the rest of our lives and need to decide how to act. In the end how we act is going to be influenced by how the legal system acts. Let me end this with a question: If you receive a letter from the IRS informing you that you are subject to an audit, is your hard drive going to crash? I know that mine is.
A storm is coming.
Can you see it rise?
Clouds on clouds,
Darkening the skies,

A whirlpool of seagulls
Their wings spread wide,
Observe from above
The swelling of the tide,

The sea as it churns
Angry and white,
Waves foaming and spluttering
In outbursts of light,

The air is like static,
Hear it crackle and hiss,
As it itches to experience
Lightning strike the abyss

The beach is deserted,
Been left cold and bare,
The ruins of sandcastles
Abandoned without care.

A storm is brewing,
Disturbed from its sleep,
Ruthless and wild
As it stirs from the deep.
Moth Aug 2019
liquid gold splashes down
bitter drink made warm and sweet
wakes me up smiling
NitaAnn Oct 2013
The storm clouds have been hovering all day and now the darkness has closed in. The dark portentous clouds that have been looming ominously overhead have finally rolled in with the force of a category 4 hurricane. My body no longer feels like it belongs to me. Even little things are such an effort. I feel ravaged by the torrential rain and devastating winds of the hurricane.

The burly winds have destroyed lawn furniture and sent backyard grills reeling from decks and porches – they have scattered tumbleweeds across the plains…the ability to keep your eyes open in the midst of the flying dirt and dust has diminished. I am blowing in the wind…tossed like the tumbleweeds. I am constantly fighting the winds of depression, fear, sadness, hopelessness and tonight my overwhelming feelings are a force to be reckoned with!

Sleep fails to bring relief…the darkness invades my sleep, my dreams….I fight sleep – fear it, even. And when I do sleep, I talk and moan, thrash around and whimper frequently. I wake up multiple times a night from a nightmare only to find a broken compass and an inability to navigate myself from the past back to the present.

So much of it is irrational – and the small, logical voice inside of me tells me that – but the logical part of me cannot overpower, or balance, the other irrational, illogical voices of the terrified children trapped inside my mind and my body. I know I'm not in control. All the drive and spirit and determination that made me ME has been drained from me and most of the time I just feel like a rag doll….just do with me what you will…I'll just wait here.

And I have these horrible thoughts…what if I took a few extra sleeping pills, anxiety med…maybe chase them down with the ***** in the freezer…..

It's not about suicide….although I'll admit I have fleeting thoughts that death would be easier on everyone around me who suffer with me, despite my trying to keep it all inside of me. But it isn't about suicide – it's about making it stop! And I know that sounds sick…

I have always been strong, a fighter! Always! And certainly I've been through worse than this…… But I hate this! I hate the panicky feeling when I wake up from a nightmare and I'm in a state of half-consciousness. I hate the overwhelming feelings of rage that make me lash out at those undeserving and sometimes unsuspecting souls. I hate the external scars I've inflicted upon myself. I hate that I have these overwhelming urges to hurt myself and I sometimes act on those urges and then suffer the feelings of guilt and shame that come afterward. I hate that I've given them my joy and that means they win! I hate feeling and acting like a child! I hate the memories, and the crying and all of the feelings, feelings, feelings!!!!!!! I hate it! All of it!

I feel like I'm going crazy. I'm in such a state of darkness tonight and I need something to renew my courage, to get back my determination and drive. Now I feel like my body and mind have been taken over by a poltergeist! It’s all fear & darkness now.

There is thunder, and wind and lightening and hail raging in my head and I'm caught in this storm with no protection, no umbrella, no coat or boots.
I'm not writing this as some ****** irrational woman getting ready to climb to the top of the empire state building and jump off – so please don't think I need to be committed to some psych ward. I'm writing because this is how I feel right now. This is my struggle, my journey through the rocky terrain.

There are no valleys without hills, and I've hit a landslide. I can't talk to my friends about this, or dear husband, I can't face the looks of fear, or pity, or concern, or maybe even anger and rage. I just can't. I just need to figure out how to find my way back to the land of the living. I want to feel the warmth of the sun again, see the brightness – feel the heat. I want to sleep 8 hours without fear and panic. I want to feel safe again. I want to get through a weekend without completely losing my mind. And I'm not sure how to do that, or if I even have the strength.
Stephen E Yocum Jun 2017
Gauguin or Michener
horizon lust inspired,
The South Pacific desired.
From early childhood on.
Fiji in the 70’s all alone in
A Personal journey of self
and world discovery.

From the big island of
Viti Levu, embarked
on native small boat, fifty
miles out to the Yasawa group.
Reaching tiny Yaqeta with
300 souls living close to the bone,
No Running water, or electric spark
glowing. Remarkably bright stars
shine at night, no city lights showing
to hide their heavenly glow.

Unspoiled Melanesian Island people
Meagerly surviving only on the sea
and a thousand plus years of tradition.

I welcomed like a friend of long
standing, with smiling faces and
open sprits. Once eaters of other
humans beings, converted now to
Methodist believers.

Their Island beautiful beyond belief,
Azure pristine seas in every direction,
Coral reefs abounding with aquatic life.
Paradise found and deeply appreciated.
I swam and fished, played with the kids
and laid about in my hammock, enjoying
weeks of splendor alongside people
I came to revere, generous and loving
at peace with themselves and nature,
Embracing a stranger like a family member.

My small transistor radio warned big
Cyclone brewing, of Hurricane proportions.
My thoughts turned to Tidal Waves.
The village and all those people
living a few feet above sea level.
Tried to express my concerns to
my host family and others, getting
but smiles and shrugs in return.
Spoken communication almost
nonexistent, me no Fijian spoken,
Them, little English understood.

It started with rain, strong winds,
Worsening building by the minute.
The villagers’ merely tightening down
the hatches of their stick, thatch houses.
Content it seemed to ride out the storm,
As I assumed they always did.

Shouldering heavy backpack
I hugged my friends and headed
for high ground, the ridgebacks
of low mountains, the backbones
of the Island. Feeling guilty leaving
them to their fate from high water.
Perplexed, they ignored my warnings.

In half an hour winds strong enough
to take me off my feet, blowing even
from the other side of the Island.
On a ridge flank I hunkered down,
pulled rubber poncho over my body,
Laying in watershed running inches deep
cascading down slopes to the sea below.

The wind grew to astounding ferocity,
Later gusts reported approaching 160
miles per hour. Pushing me along
the ground closer to the cliff edge
and a 80 foot plunge to the sea below,
Clinging to cliff with fingers and toes.

For three hours it raged, trees blowing
off the summit above, disappearing into
the clouds and stormy wet mist beyond.

A false calm came calling, the eye of the
Cyclone hovered over the Island, as I
picked my drenched self up and made my
way over blown down trees and scattered
storm debris to the Village of my hosts.

Most wooden, tin roofed structures gone
or caved in, the few Island boats broken
and thrown up onto the land. Remarkably
many of the small one room “Bure” thatched
huts still stood. Designed by people that knew
the ways if big winds.

The high waves had not come as I feared.
Badly damaged, yet the village endured,
As did most of the people, some broken
bones, but, mercifully, no worse.

Back with my host family, in their Bure,
new preparations ensued, the big winds I
was informed would now return from the
opposite direction, and would be even worse.

For another four hours the little grass and
stick House shook, nearly rising from the
ground, held together only by woven vine
ropes, and hope, additional ropes looped
over roof beams held down by our bare
hands. Faith and old world knowledge
is a wonderful thing.

Two days past and no one came to check on
the Island, alone the people worked to save
their planted gardens from the salt water
contaminated ground, cleaned up debris and
set to mending their grass homes. The only fresh
Water well still unpolluted was busily used.

With a stoic resolve, from these self-reliant people,
life seemed to go on, this not the first wind blown
disaster they had endured, Cyclones I learned
came every year, though this one, named “Bebe”
worst in the memories of the old men of the island.

On the third day a boy came running,
having spotted and hailed a Motor yacht,
which dropped anchor in the lagoon on the
opposite side of the Island.

I swam out to the boat and was welcomed
aboard by the Australian skipper and crew.
Shared a cold Coke, ham sandwich and tales
of our respective adventures of surviving.
They agreed to carry me back to the Big Island.

A crewman returned me ashore in a dingy.
I crossed the island and retrieved my things,
Bidding and hugging my friends in farewell.
I asked permission to write a story about the
storm and the village, the elders' smiles agreed,
they had nothing to loose, seemed pleased.

One last time I traversed the island and stepped
Into the yachts small rowboat, my back to
the island. Hearing a commotions I turned
seeing many people gathering along the
shores beach. I climbed out and went among
them, hugging most in farewell, some and
me too with tears in our eyes, fondness, respect
reflected, shared, received.

As the skiff rowed away  halfway to the ship,
the Aussie mate made a motion with his eyes
and chin, back towards the beach.

Turning around in my seat I saw there
most of the island population, gathered,
many held aloft small pieces of colored cloth,
tiny flags of farewell waving in the breeze,
they were singing, chanting a island song,
slow, like a lament of sorts.

Overwhelmed, I stood and faced the shore,
opened wide my arms, as to embrace them all,
tears of emotions unashamedly ran down my face.
Seeing the people on the beach, the Aussie crewman
intoned, “****** marvelous that. Good on 'ya mate.”

Yes, I remember Fiji and Cyclone Bebe, most of all
I fondly remember my Island brothers and sisters.

                                    End
Two years later I returned to that island, lovingly
received like a retuning son, feasted and drank
Kava with the Chief and Elders most of the night,
A pepper plant root concoction that intoxicates
And makes you sleep most all the next day.

My newspaper story picked up by other papers
Galvanizing an outpouring of thoughtful support,
A Sacramento Methodist Church collected clothes,
money and donations of pots and pans and Gas
lanterns along with fishing gear and other useful things.
All packed in and flown by a C-130 Hercules Cargo plane
out of McClellan Air Force Base, U.S.A and down to Fiji,
cargo earmarked for the Island of Yaqeta and my friends.

On my return there was an abundance of cut off
Levies and Mickey Mouse T-Shirts, and both a
brand New Schoolhouse and Church built by
U.S. and New Zealand Peace Corps workers.

This island of old world people were some of the best
People I have ever known. I cherish their memory and
My time spent in their generous and convivial company.
Life is truly a teacher if we but seek out the lessons.
This memory may be too long for HP reading, was
writ mostly for me and my kids, a recall that needed
to be inscribed. Meeting people out in the world, on
common ground is a sure cure for ignorance and
intolerance. I highly recommend it. Horizon Lust
can educate and set you free.

— The End —