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Sa Sa Ra Oct 2012
****
Repetto
but **** but
Repetto Repetto
I'm Xyzzzasleeping
Mary had a little lamb
who counted all the sheep
like 100 bottles of beer in one
great fall none would of the Kings
horses and all the Queens men  ever
wake up  Pinocchia  from lying  under
the weight of what she believes is her own
Ka-noses, I keep hearing Repetto, Reppetto I
just want the **** of a real gurl Repetto Repetto
Repetto **** Repetto **** Repetto **** Repetto
**** Repetto **** Repetto **** Repetto ****
Repetto **** Repetto **** Repetto ****
Repetto **** Repetto **** Repetto
**** Repetto **** Repetto ****
Repetto **** Repetto ****
Repetto **** Repetto
**** Repetto ****
Repetto ****
Repetto
****
R
e
p
e
t
t
o
'
d
!
Just a little tweaked!!!
A little play on 'Are you around?'
Enjoy this priceless piece
anyway you can!!!
Of Head to to'd!!!
Jiminy Cricket!!!
RIP Geppetto!!!


http://www.imdb
.com/character/c
h0027756/quotes
vanessa Sep 2014
09/17/14 - 1:15 am
**** "buying me pizza and touching my ****" how about you take shots off my stomach and bite my lip
**** "buying me pizza and touching my ****"drip ***** down my ******* and pull my hair
**** "buying me pizza and touching my ****" cuddle with me and listen to depeche mode or pink floyd or the smiths
**** "buying me pizza and touching my ****" let me read books to you as you fall asleep on my lap
**** "buying me pizza and touching my ****" take me out to dinner and I don't mean somewhere fancy, hell take me to an old run down diner in the middle of nowhere and then roam the streets with me at an outdoor swap meet
**** "buying me pizza and touching my ****" bake cupcakes with me on a Saturday evening and watch a bunch our favorite movies
**** "buying me pizza and touching my ****" take me on a Ferris wheel my second favorite place in the world and look at the way the moon wakes up with me
**** "buying me pizza and touching my ****" take me to a rooftop and tell me your greatest fears. Tell me exactly who you are, if you haven't already.i promise I'll remember. I won't be like your dad and forget your birthday. I won't be like your late sister who forgot to say "I love you" on her way out the door that one evening. I won't be like one of those people who forgot to tell how important you are everyday. But I will be your friend when you need it. You're conscience when your too strung out on all the wrong types of right. You're lover when all you want to do is too spoon so you don't feel lost tonight. You're shoulder to cry on when something goes terribly wrong. All I ask of you is
that you do not, "buy me pizza and touch my ****".
*v.m
Sleepless Dec 2015
Do you need a new ****?
Will yours just not do?
Well honey
I've got the store for you!
A gallery for butts
Come one, come all!
There's all kinds of butts
Both big and small

We've got butts that are big
Butts that are round
We've got butts that make
A tiny "toot" sound
Butts that are flat
And butts super small
Butts on short people
Butts for people who are tall

We've got butts that are firm
Hard in your grasp
Butts that are flabby
But nice ones at that
Butts so big
They cover the seat
And butts that are tiny
Cute and petite

We've got baby butts
With the softest of skin
Old ones that show
How old, where they've been
Butts that are fake
so plump and new
Butts that are real
Which are far in few

But what's this?
A **** we don't know?
Yes it's your ****!
And just look at it glow!
It's so very unique
It's one-of-a-kind!
Yes that trunk back there
Is quite some behind!

You don't need a new ****
Why yours is so you!
Who would wear it
If it wasn't on you?
Show off that **** girl!
Because it's got class
You'll have everyone saying
"What an amazing * * *"
With all the depressing poems, I wrote something lighthearted to cheer everyone up

Your **** is beautiful, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise
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ohNoe Oct 2014
the voodoo doll I have for You
  I speak to every night
with babble beg plead please
  and then a wish for Yur sweet dreams

the tattoo I have of You
  I stare at every night
with a sentimental smile singing please
  and then a wish for You in sweet dreams

I Love You Shannon Hickman (S.H.)
  Stud Hero (S.H.) Inspiration
I was put on this planet
  to be the being who whispers to you
Let's hold hands as we journey even further
  let's Love where we are
    & then Love the journey however far

I'm supposed to bring You Happy Fun Joy
  I'm supposed to be Yur Happy ***** Poet Boy
I should show You the You of You
  Incredible Wonderful Awesome Amazing True
That's the only possible reason I exist,
  unless you'll kiss me inside a dream mist
    which You share with me
      WHICH YOU SHARE WITH ME

Every time we were together
  didn't You feel the Forever?
Didn't You hear the tremble in my voice
  which mirrored the Miracle of Yur choice?

I grieve **** shall always believe...
Please never grieve!!
  **** Please Believe!!
Shannon,
  Please Believe!!!!

Oh Shannon,
  when You listen to a song whose emotions You feel saying You are amazing & Yur touch is the
  primordial nova, do You ever remember that was My touch and that EVERY SINGLE TOUCH OF
  MY EYES WAS PURE LOVE

Ohhhhhh,
  Shannon,
    how the **** did I not lift You with me onto clouds where WE could watch Z-O-E climb trees as WE
    giggled at our giddiness?!

My words made You want me
  **** you bored of the real me
HOW is that OUR Reality?

Stud Hero (S.H.),
  Clint shall now strive for excellent,
    far better than merely partying
      with some misc poeting

I will be everything I can be of me w/out You
  even though the only thing I'll ever want
is Yur life, mind, voice, curves, caress, kiss
  and the Soul in Yur eyes

**** how shall it ever compare
  to when You were forever there
when I was suddenly infinitely hotter
  and am pretty sure I could breathe underwater

Oh, Once Upon A Time Lover
  Forever Fantasy Dream Lover
******* with You
  or into You
    or Both
was the most Man I've ever been
  the realest my lips & tongue & **** have ever been
**** besides beyond the ******
  was the sensual
    & You made my heart's soul whirlpool
      with even the hint of a touch
        (a whisper from Yur look was almost too much)

Yet You were able to eliminate Yur Love for me,
  while for me it is the only Forever I'll ever be.
One day You could suddenly unsay NEED,
  **** Yur the only breath I'll ever bleed

Dumped Discarded
  thrown tossed away
Broken Sharded
  so easily tossed away

How?
  WOW to OW
How?
  HOW!?!?

Not just someone,
  not just fun,
    The One,
Not some ******* Stupid Movie “Neo”,
  SHE IS THE ONE

**** she decided i'm noone
  i am none

every belief i've ever held is unbelieved
  wrong wrong wrong wrong un-believed
                                         (i'm not me)

now mostly Yur a memory
  that personality which spoke words with that voice which sang sighed from that face, oh, that that
  face, through that mouth, sweet mother of the universe, that mouth, with those lips (ohhhh, so unfair
  to have those lips AND those eyes)
now mostly a memory

**** I do remember,
  I remember Every time we touched
                      Every time we talked
and when the nerves of my body
  forget Yur Lips, Yur Fingertips
    & the sweet squeezes between Yur thighs
I will still feel Yur eyes

You thought I saw inside You
  **** it was really inside You seeing me

Oh S.H.,
  the silly sweet stunned smile in my eyes
    is because of You
and Yur what makes them Blue
  (even blind I would see You)

My only philosophy
  is You should BE with Me
tell me to touch You deep inside
  that that's how You NEED Clint,
    in every possible way that can be meant

Other than that
  i'm just the shadow of a shell
and i don't understand
  how you aren't as well
You said I was awesome
  Yur that & then some

In some ways
  I'll be that way always
and even prove
  I can improve

My moonlight is as ever silver nova bright
My soul is still a sibling sister to the sun
I am as always an ocean
  my hand the waves upon the sand

I've decided to be healthy
  and so I shall be
I've embraced positivity
  so I'm as pleasant as can be

Active athletic
  no longer amateur alcoholic
I push to make me
  the Me knowing You
    made me want to Be
Goals for body & soul
  and the Noe I want you to know

And I'm reaching them
  & teaching me
Although other than that
  i'm just a shallow shadow of a shell

And Always
  And All Ways
S.H., S.H., S.H.
  my every realization
  my only information
    is Yur my Inspiration

Maybe Yur future music muse will Someday as a guitar sing my name

Maybe someday as You ride mtb miles
  or rule the road Hickman style
a song will echo in You our smiles
  for miles & miles & miles & miles
Maybe Yur memory music muse
  shall moan laugh sigh
    as a guitar sings my name

Then as You ride on by,
  will You call my name?

I'll be biking or hiking
  or swimming or gyming
    or running or writing
as I'm hoping & wishing
  & wanting & waiting
ben a while, sorry, have a few looong ones to catch up typing, been focusing on physical, triathlon training and miles of riding thinking...
Poetic T Sep 2017
Well what can I say, he says I'm an ****,
I just told him he was just full of air..
But we were the closest of friends and were
always found close together like pees in a pod.

"So what's the plan for today windy,
"We just going to gas? or we just breathing in silence?


"I thought you were pulling the other cheek,
But all that comes out of you is crap Hahaha.....


They were always getting each other in trouble with
one thing or another, if it wasn't **** holding wind in,
it was **** whispering in a lift. But not so silently,
more like a  tiny trumpet going off for moments at a time.

There was one time were **** was letting off as usual,
but he let just a little too much out, and in that moment
he told ****.

"That was close, I was one **** away from a poo,

**** couldn't  contain himself and amusement turned
to horror as laughter had loosened both there grips.
And now Mr Poo who usually went diving in
the porcelain pools was now frequenting  upon both.

I think I'm going to be sick said ****, **** laughted and
then another friend of Poo's joined the party, cleanliness
was obsolete, now as it was like a food fight in close quarters.
Poo slipped out to freedom down the trouser leg and "SPLAT,

**** and ****, stunned by poo's lack of grace. "Could have
stayed for a while,
But **** conceded that he would have
just talked crap, like he did every time he popped out
to see his friends.

Well what could be said, a wet wipe, and **** forgot poo
had even been there. But his odour still lingered gently on.
**** was gassing on and **** clenched so not to
expel to much laughter.. especially in enclosed areas.
**** was just gassing, this duo were always going
be the closest of friends.
Madison Williams Apr 2015
I told my dad
I was watching the poetry slam on my laptop.
He scoffed and rolled his eyes.
“Opinions are like **** holes.
Everyone has one.”
Quote/unquote my father.
Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world.
Or is it what’s right?
Father sees more of a square,
but I like to see the world as a mess.
A beautiful mess, yes,
but not a square, geometric shape;
Sharp with points and edges and straight lines.
Are opinions really like that?
Opinions should be opinions.
Not right.
Not wrong.
I want to change his opinion on opinions.
Funny, isn’t it?
How can that be possible
if he sees a stream of words not a meaningful mind?
“Opinions are like **** holes.
Everyone has one.”
Could it be the opinion that seems so far fetched.
So out stretched.
So **** wretched.
Opinions are not **** holes.
Opinions are messes.
Some beautiful.
Some ugly.
He may see a **** hole,
but he may need to back up or put his glasses on.
These “**** holes” he speaks down upon are the “**** holes” that inspire me.
They make me feel like I’m not the only one who thinks like I do.
Like I’m not the only one that thinks stereotypes are stupid.
Like I’m not the only one that thinks equality is talked about
but not acted upon.
Like I’m not the only one that thinks that there is a God
and that is my God.
Like I’m not the only one that thinks opinions are not **** holes.
I told my dad
I was watching the poetry slam on my laptop.
Now I wonder, if he heard this poem, my poem,
Would he think that opinions are still
only just “**** holes”?
My father irks me.
Ruth Boon Jun 2013
Let me touch your ****
I love your ****, it’s so soft
*places hand on ****
Judy Ponceby Jan 2011
Doctor, Doctor, did u hear?
There's a new infection coming near.

It starts with a flush and then a blush,
Then gets down right scaly in a rush.

It's nothing other than the dreaded disease,
It's called Dragon ****, if you please.

First you're numb
About the bumb.

Then you itch!
What a *****.

Then out grows the scales,
Watch out for the tails!

Just heed this warning, secretaries out there,
Dragon **** can catch you unaware.

Look out for the numbness, the itching, the scales.
Avoid the dryness, the burning, and flails.

There's nothing worse to work all day,
Draggin' ****, is no way to play.
For a spectacular secretary who asked to remain nameless
You know who you are, Darnit   :D
jeremy wyatt Jan 2011
Goats and skinheads try to boast
they say they do it more than most!
Musk ox have a mighty try
Bang! A crash to split the sky.
Alpine sheep, buffalos too
all decry "the rest are poo!"
But they see stars around their nut
when they receive a Dragon ****.
No run up or deep breath required
**** all day long , they're never tired.
Oh how the jealous ones desire
a headbutt fuelled with dragon fire!
Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

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

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

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

                                               WORLD

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                              MA­STER

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

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

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

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

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

                                                  BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                HERO

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

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

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

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







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
liza Apr 2014
i laid down across the desks
     like always
and started writing
     like always.

i felt her hands on the back of
my upper thigh
she wasn't trying to arouse me
but i could feel her little fingers
bumping up my thigh in
a rhythm, thumping while she texted on her phone
and i felt a light touch on my ****
a packet of papers
and another pair of hands doing work
on their work
on my ****
and i felt the light massages of her fingers on my thigh
and i wondered if other girls felt this way
when they were touched
and i wondered what made me different
and if i was different.
jesus christ going through that stage
Curtis C Jun 2017
Ms. Minerva’s
Helpful Hints and a guide through life



Ms.Minerva…
Born September 1885….died September 1976, 91 years old.  She didn’t marry until she was 45 and had her first child that year.  Getting married at 45 was something that didn’t happen to often for women back then, especially a black woman.  Then low and behold 5 years later: what the doctor called her second tumor, she had her second and last child at 50, a baby girl and her change of life in one shot.
        But her true joy came along 17 years later at 67….only being a mother for 22 years; she was now a grandmother……that’s where I came in!  My mother’s oldest child and Ms Minerva, my grandmother’s baby boy……..Mama!!

    It is important to tell you that from here on, the stories will be in no certain order….they’re as I remember them.  As I found understanding, THE LIGHT, as she called it.
MS. MINERVA’S HELPFUL HINTS…
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[Song – Higher & Higher]
This song became her theme song for a while:  Love, knowledge taking you higher!!  Ms Minerva (Mama) the first career women I knew.  In 1967, she heard this song and realizes that this song talked about what kept her going…LOVE!  Love took her higher and higher and it was love that she shared………with me!

MM: “Boy, you might not understand what I’m telling you, but remember it remember all you hear, see, taste and feel….. because understanding come with time and when you ready for it!”
Knowledge……. Love………Understanding……Enlightenment take us higher.

How?  How did a black woman in south Louisiana go out, have a career, a family with little education but wise beyond her years.  Oh, when I say career woman I mean a cook, maid, nanny but mama said,

MM: “those jobs keep us going and I was one of the best, always be the best at what you do…greatness comes in all sizes!”


3
Another thing I should say is: some of the stories that I will share have not been documented as fact.  They were hers that she shared with me…..
Like one night watching TV…….

MM: Lord, Lord, Lord…
CC:  What’s the matter Mama?
MM:  Did I ever tell you about when I worked at an all boys’ school in New (N’Orleans) Orleans.  I was the one who stayed with the boys at
night.  Well, there was one lil’ boy that was always
sneaking out of bed going outside playing his horn.
I would take it from him and beat his ****.  The day
they give it back to him, that night he would sneak outside
again.  Beating his **** didn’t help, he just kept sneaking out
no matter how long we kept the horn.
CC: What happen to him mama?
She pointed to the TV and said:
MM:  There he is……


4
Louie Armstrong singing HELLO DOLLY raise in an all boys home in New (N’Orleans) Orleans….was this true……I don’t know.  Did and do I believe it….YES!
This was also one of the times I receive one of ….Ms Minerva’s Helpful Hint:

MM: You can be anything you want if you believe
and have the passion for it! Believe in
your passion because you are your passion
and you must always believe in you….yourself!  
No matter what others say or think….it’s you who
must believe!

Believing, she was a big believer. she believed in people and the good in them.


5
MM:  Always see the positive in people, in everything thing.
No matter how negative someone or something is
there is always an ounce of positive…..go for the positive,
it will always carry you through and shine light

Everywhere, positive light.

I often wonder how someone so positive in my life, who taught me to look up and be strong could be so down on her daughter , my mother.  When I was sent to fly with the eagles she was told to stay on earth.  This was one of my confusions, I knew there was a lot of love there between them but so hard for them to share……Understanding comes with time.

When I was 7 years old I was sent to the kitchen to cook for a family of 5.  It wasn’t what you think.  At 72 years old Ms. Minerva wasn’t seeing things to well. So, instead of saying; Old woman you need to stop, you’re losing it.  She was told; “It’s time for Curtis to start learning how to cook, he needs to know how to take care of himself.”  So, what I thought was a prison

6

sentence became some of the most wonderful and important times of my life……
I was allow to be a child and do the things children do but at 5, maybe 5:30 I went to spend my hour or two with Ms. Minerva, my best friend…..learning the secrets of the kitchen and of life.

MM:  you have got to know how to take care of yourself.
I won’t be here to take care of you but I’ll always
be watching over you, I'll always be with you!

Like a lot of things, I didn’t get it then, but I do now:

One day, I was tormenting my grandfather….Oh I haven’t and won’t say much about him because that is a whole other story, but I’ll share this much with you:
  His name was Tower Jackson Sr. better known as Bud (papa to me).  He was born in December of 1880 and died in 1969, it’s funny but I don’t remember the month or day, it just kinda went a way.  Anyway, I think he
7
was married once before Ms Minerva…that’s what he said.  He had a daughter…Aunt Traci….who was old enough to be my mother’s mother.  Remember THE COLOR PURPLE he was kinda like Mister and Old Mister but not as bad.  But Ms Minerva wasn’t Ms Celia…she was more like Sophia. Papa loved me unconditionally and he was my playmate but I don’t think he realized that point but I had a great time.

Back to one of the days I was tormenting him…he was finish with me and he got up and came after me…he was between 75 or 80.  I starting running and he came after me.  We lived in a house that was once a duplex, I ran out of his room, which was in the middle of the house, took a left and headed for the kitchen and the back door, that was open to freedom.  I got to the kitchen and I could see the back door standing open and waiting for me….  But out the corner of my eye, I see Ms. Minerva washing dishes.  I turn right, then a sharp left and I’m almost to the door…..just then an arm reach out and push the door close…..I can’t stop……I hit the door and fall to the floor.  Just before papa grab me to start the whipen’ and mama looks down at me and say:      

8
MM: Boy, didn’t I tell you to stop running in my house and don’t every run away!”
Well, it was all over.  I got a whipin’…one I would never forget.  Papa felt so guilty he took me for Ice Cream almost everyday for a week.
But later that day…….Ms Minerva’s helpful hint:

MM:  Baby the reason I don’t want you running, especially when
you’re scared, is because you’ll be running for the rest
of your life.  When you run out of fear you’re only
running from yourself.  No matter what people think
or what’s happening stand and face it…Don’t Run!
Believe in yourself and you can beat it.

I didn’t really understand what she was saying, but when I’m scared I hear her voice and I stand (sometime that old confusion comes in with my mother) but most time I stand, face it and deal with it.  Growing, Changing and changing and growing!  Stronger everyday.


9
I remember when I was 12, it was a Sat and a beautiful day and Ms. Minerva called me into the house.  It wasn’t time for cooking and it was Sat but I went:
MM:  I need to talk to you.
CC: Mama can we talk later I’m playing.
MM:   No, I want and need to talk to you NOW!. let’s cook.

I knew that was it.  When she says: “let’s cook” the battle was over, she felt it was important.  We got to the kitchen and started pulling stuff out …
MM: You’re special
CC:  No, no don’t start this again.
MM:  No, no, no you’re special! You’re a *****, a punk, *****…

There were a few other choice colorful names…Then she said:

MM:  Now that someone that loves you, truly loves you have
called you these names they can’t hurt you.  You’re gay
and it’s not something I would chose for you but it’s

10
who you are.  But it makes you more special and wonderful because you are different. You are my special, but it’s only apart of you and your life, not your whole life or the whole you.  You can chose to practice or not.  You are made up of many parts, many yous…..Be Proud of who you are! Never hang your head, You will be a great man…even greater because you know who and what you are.

That day, I knew what love was and what love is.  Unconditional Love.  I was Proud to be who and what I was and who and what I was to become.  Proud of Who I Am and What I Am.

Music was always heard in my house, all kind, mama believed in   experiencing everything in everyway.
MM:  You need to know about it all, don’t let ignorance
be your down fall.  That’s what’s wrong with most folk,
they just don’t know and don’t want to learn.  Education
is freedom; knowledge is light….don’t ever stand
in the dark, you’ll only hurt yourself.

11

There were a few things I didn’t learn or just didn’t remember.  Remember I said; she didn’t like running in her house.  Well, when I was a kid I was a runner, a mover, didn’t want to get caught…so I just kept moving.   Well, one day my mother was going to whip my ****, I don’t even know why this time but she grab my arm and I just started running around her and every time I heard the belt hit…I would yell.  I think I might have gotten hit once or twice but my mother’s legs, oh boy, but she kept going and so did I.
Then I heard the voice…….
MM:  Sister, what are you doing?
Sister, that’s what everyone called my mother, even me.  she sat down in her chair
MM: Bring that boy over here and let me show you
how to do that.

The she put me on my knees and stuck my head between her knees and turn her feet in and locked her knees.  My ears were hurting but not compared to how my **** was going to feel.  Then I heard……

12
MM:  Now, see you got wide-open ****!

Then the whipping began and it was one I’d never forget and the whole time she just kept talking to my mother…..I can hear her and feel the belt now..

MM:  Girl you need to get out of the way and stop making
it so hard.  Just breathe and believe, it’ll come together….
Now, go put something on your legs.

It took me awhile to start breathing but I did and I remembered what she said; “Just breathe and believe.” and when I don’t I just remember that belt on my ****.
Whenever people hear this story, they’re shocked, confuse…well, this was a different time and Ms. Minerva was a different kind of woman.  A wipen' wasn’t something that happen everyday, I never ended up in the hospital and I was shower with love….. a different day – a different time.
              


13
Around that time I remember I went through my Ultra Black stage.  I had some problem at school and I hated all white people and I was very
vocal about it.  Mama, just listen and I went on and on and on….and somewhere in there she hit me and it shocked and stopped me in my tracks.  Then she looked at me and said:
MM:  Who spit on you?  Who’s bus did you sit on the back of?  
Who’s kitchen or yard did you work in?  Nothing, nothing has happen to you that bad to hate…..Don’t hate it takes to much energy.  Remember the positive.  Some white people are ignorance and you have to educate them.  You can’t be just one thing in America you have to know about all……people and things.  There will come a time in America when people will be more than just one race, we have and are mixing it up.  LEARN…we are all connected, we are all one, and we are all God!














  14

One other thing about my grandfather (Bud)…he had a scar over his right eye and I always asked him about it and he would say, “Go ask mama.”  But being a kid I would forget and then ask him again.  Well one day I remembered to ask Mama how he got the scar.  

MM: Who told you to ask me?

CC:  Papa……..

She started laughing and told me to sit down……

MM: One day papa came home and had decided he was going to beat me.  Someone had told him that I would take it because I should feel lucky he married an old woman.  So, he came in and hit me!  I had the broom in my hand (I had just finish sweeping) and I took that broom and started beating him with it until I broke the handle on his head.  But he kept coming and backed me up to the mantle where I had my teacups. (She collected cups and saucer) and I begin throwing them at him and when I realize I was breaking my cups…. I got mad and threw them harder and one hit him over the eye…. He stopped and went down…it was a bad cut.

cc:  What did you do?

MM:  I stepped over him and finishing cooking.  I knew he would live and I saw it didn’t hit him in the eye and it gave him something to remember this moment.  You have to leave a mark on people to remember you by….. hopefully it’s a positive mark but sometime it might have to be an ugly one.  People will treat you the way you let them and there will be time you have to show and leave them something to remember it by.  Don’t go through life getting beat up especially by yourself.

There were a few times I didn’t follow that bit of advice…...but understanding, the light came in time.


15
MM:  You have to open up and let people in --- because a lot of times you see yourself through them and don’t you want them and yourself to see the truth?  THE TRUE YOU!

Early mornings were wonderful for Ms. Minerva:

MM:  Morning is my time to talk to Me and God and get us together for the day.  Some folks don’t know that they are God….your positive energy creates your world and parts of the world of others.  When you create you must be honest, positive, loving……God!  So, my quiet times in the morning is finding honest, positive, loving, creative things and feeling…..finding God in me!!!!!!!!

(Song – Amazing Grace)


One night while watching TV; we watched a lot of TV…..watching TV and cooking…anyway, it was the Mitch Miller Singers and Leslie Uggams was singing:

MM:  That’s a cute little colored girl.
CC:  Mama, we’re not colored anymore, we’re Black.

There was silent and then a sigh….

CC:  What’s the matter mama?
MM:  I’ve been *****, colored and a few other names that I don’t want to talk about and now I’m Black……I wish they would make up their minds what I am!

Then she told me:

MM:  No matter who or what people think you are…You have to know yourself, people will always try to make you into what they want you to be but the final choice is yours. You Must Know Curtis.

Her helpful hints could and would come anytime, anywhere:
MM:  life is a lesson to learn…never, never stop learning!
16

Whenever I talk about Ms. Minerva I realize how much she means to me and how good it makes me feel because I see how good it makes others feel……people showing me…..Me and Ms. Minerva.

The day Ms. Minerva died I was in Shreveport/Bossier, LA in the Air Force, it was September 1976.  I was at work in the printing plant at Barksdale AFB.  My boss told me the commander wanted to see me, he was acting a little strange but at the time I didn’t think much of it.  Walking out to my car my best friend ran out after me and said he was going with me….”they call for me too.”  We got in the car laughing and talking about all the things they coul
it didn’t take a lot a look a few words a few more looks bam not that any girl stuck around and so it was on to the next nothing is precious everything is possible forget what you know leave the road behind invent dance new dance cough spit breathe dance verbs multiplying gazillions of verbs stars what is it about art in my mind i hear all these things i was going to express all these itches scratch pick scabs get drunk write poetry dance ******* in your mouth ******* in my mouth salty sea surfing waves Caravaggio Courbet Turner Goya Ad Reinhardt Rothko Rimbaud Johnny Unitas Walter Payton Annie Proulx Patty Berglund Hannah Wilke Kim Gordon dark clouds rainbows meteor showers lantern licorice amethyst bone

in the end it’s you and your maker ashes to ashes dust to dust Mom questions it’s 4:30 PM December in Chicago and pitch black i don’t understand it’s not supposed to be this dark this cold she imagines a past that never existed events never occurred

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

it will be daylight soon and i am unprepared so terribly unfit for a new dawn suddenly realize tomorrow is today

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

when people die in masses is it any less lonely more comforting than when you die individually or is dying solitary for everyone

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

redemption is a powerful force but what if existence actually does not present second chances and we must live with the consequence of our mistakes

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

if there is an afterlife do i have any say in it or are we all merely lost baggage tossed from airport to airport

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

what if travelers at airports were met with welcoming arms shared stories food instead of suspicion body scanners separation boarding seating procedures

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

i built a magnificent sandcastle with wide open rooms interesting views spacious bathrooms huge kitchen secret places winding stairways auspicious towers swinging rope bridges welcoming gates but the tide washed it all away

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

i cry yet know not why am i a ***** i must take the goose by the neck whatever that means

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

speaking personally i’m never interested in the last bite only the first bite the middle tastes rather bland all chewing gulping automatic consumption talking swallowing stifling gases

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

horses mate with donkeys then out comes mules yet mules cannot propagate nature is so strange mysterious what is it about the attraction between donkeys and horses

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

2 gorgeous petite charming sweet young girls are subletting my place in Tucson i imagine ménage à trios or relationship with either one of them then realized how improper my thoughts will i ever learn

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

Reiko likes hanging out naked if the door is locked and they’re in for the evening she strips Reiko is one of those women who look better without clothes the curls under her arms are growing in dark thick her bush is filling out even her **** is hidden by silky brown hairs he cannot stop checking her out she pretends not to be aware as she trims her toenails he leers **** your cooch looks tasty Odys i like that you can speak crude to me he murmurs you really like that she answers yes i really like that he sees himself in her he is deep in sleep wakes by her hand pulling his hand down to her ***** bone he stirs confused in half sleep as she continues tugging his hand Odysseus realizes what Reiko wants it is 3 AM he touches her there warm distended begins to massage wetness gushes moves down bed puts face there she presses pumping grinding whispering repeatedly i want to *** so bad his mouth tongue breath work her hands grip his head push unyielding muscles stiffen arch shudder continues licking until her body lies still crawls up kisses her forehead hair bodies spoon fall to sleep in the morning he comments you were a naughty little girl last night Reiko grins answers i had an orangutan attack he questions an orangutan attack she confesses yeah they both laugh he has never known a woman so fierce urgent to ****** Reiko has a man’s libido she reminds him of himself they mimic each other hearing Reiko speak Odysseus’s own words back at him and visa versa convey how demanding insecure insensitive each can be to other they do not simply speak but mimic each other Reiko ‘s voice drops to low pitch as she grabs his buns kids hey Reiko Lee what do you think about us wiping each other’s butts we could become more intimate with our bodies Odysseus raises his voice sounding feminine replies Schwartzpilgrim you’re gross take a hike it is hilarious yet intuitive therapy that maintains level playing field neither allows other to be too weak or dominant

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

it is Sunday snowing blizzard freezing cold outside Odysseus sits on floor watching Bear’s football game at Reiko’s she sits naked paging through Art Forum magazine across sofa from him he hears her crunching on bag of barbecue potato chips during half time he reaches touches her bush runs fingers through her ***** hairs twirling them in his fingers she spreads her legs wide open he smells her hair breath perspiration ****** *** feet feels both repelled and attracted he is lost in fascination gently tugs on her lips slides finger inside massages probes her opening she directs him to kneel stands above him her arms at waist her pelvic bone in his face she orders **** it **** it good he follows her instruction **** my ***** she commands as she holds his head in hands her long skinny body thrusts hips forward Reiko presses gently pumping then more furious rough into Odysseus’s face ooohhh i’m going to shoot a load baby swallow my *** she shoves ***** bone into his face bangs his nose hard yet he remains ******* her legs thighs stomach muscles tremble oh oooohhhhh ohh Odys did you see that i came just like a guy oh Odys i loved that he wipes mouth laughs

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

a person’s sexuality is always in question how one interprets his or her own ****** persona relative to another person’s personality response ratio how one’s power measures reacts to another’s vulnerabilities strengths Odysseus and Reiko fit well together switching roles in impulsive volley he loves her masculinity the unpredictable equation of their love he teases Reiko Lee i’m so attracted to the tomboy in you i want to **** you off and let you **** me come over here and stick that fat hard **** in my pink little **** hole all the frustration rage pain pent up inside you i want you to harness that hurt and slam it into me and shoot your load all over me **** me good Reiko Lee she looks at him strange says you’re a weird bird Schwartzpilgrim how weird do you think he asks her voice takes on a creepy overruling tone Odys, you want me to fist-******* he snaps shut up Reiko Lee get out of here she runs fingers through hair breathes out through nose taunts Odys let me ******* a ***** and ******* in the *** Odysseus’s voice grows loud Reiko Lee you’re crossing the line just because i mention some crazy thought doesn’t mean i’m actually into such weirdness don’t try to take what i say to some sound conclusion i enjoy experimenting but i’m one hundred percent male i like to test limits because i’m secure in my manhood spicing our *** life with ***** fantasies is one thing but don’t overstep i got the **** and you got the ***** let’s keep it that way don’t mess with me she replies ok ok Odys i didn’t mean to offend you

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

often he personifies the lead and she interprets the willing or amendable he requests many ****** urges she for the most part eagerly fulfills yet knowing his desires run over the top he considerately concedes to her sensibility he asserts rule number 1 Reiko Lee please let me have my way with you ok please try to not refuse me she smiles consents ok Odys and i want the same from you he insists rule number 2 repeat after me i’m addicted to your ***** i’m codependent on your **** she repeats i’m addicted to your ***** Odys i’m codependent on your **** he challenges rule number 3 at least one ******* a day agreed? She answers yes Odys agreed later he thinks about their conversation approaches her Reiko Lee sometimes i need more than one ******* a day maybe one in the morning and one after you get home from work i need your adoring attention down there will you do that for me please she shoots sarcastic look at him what are you a cow that needs milking everyday all right Odys whatever you desire he gratefully acknowledges Reiko Lee you’re so good to me thank you next morning he says Reiko Lee when i think about you the first image that comes to mind is your eyes i love your eyes more than any other part of you she comments oh yeah more than my **** hole? he flinches surprised oh god i can’t believe you said that you are so outrageous Reiko Lee you have got the sexiest **** hole i’ve ever seen i love adore revere your hairy **** hole when are you going to let me get some of that she remarks we’ll see Schwartzpilgrim in due time the following morning he notices bathroom door is wide open peering inside he sees her sitting on toilet she looks up smiling as he nears he questions which are you doing peeing or ******* she answers why do you need to know he requests lift up and let me watch she raises her thighs knees legs curling toes on toilet seat her **** muscles pucker then a brown extent begins appearing from her hole her vaginal lips flare urethra presses as short spurt of ***** accompanies discharge the ***** length drops into bowl followed by smaller piece Odysseus perceives the action produced by her body as intimate natural expression occurring without contrivance manipulation he studies the form as if it were a sculptural object descended into water to bottom of bowl Reiko reaches for roll of toilet tissue he interrupts **** she answers let me wipe myself first it reeks in here you mean watching me taking a **** turns you on you are one sick monkey he says shut up and **** she follows his instruction after several minutes he pulls out of her mouth jerks off while she watches he shoots wildly on her chin neck chest she rubs his ***** on her ******* they both break out in laughter she says come on let’s take a shower together she begins speaking sentence he finishes it she says Odys i’m not comfortable with more than he breaks in one ******* a day i understand Reiko Lee she expresses thank you Odys one is enough agreed he replies ok ok

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

a week passes Saturday evening she comes from work to his place with stressed look on her face she falls back into wall on floor with her legs stretched out she asks got anything to eat he answers a couple of beers in the fridge her brow furrows as she speaks in low tone Odys i’m guessing there’s something seriously wrong with you he questions wrong with me huh what she comments your physique is weird your shoulder blades and rib cage stick out you’ve got a sunken sternum he answers yeah i know it’s not really a problem more like natural peculiarities she says yeah well you’ve got other peculiarities he asks oh yeah like what she remarks i’ve never known or heard of a man who gets hard as often as you it’s deviant you’ve got some kind of disorder you need to go see a doctor he admits i know i got a problem my libido is out of control it’ll calm down it’s been a long time since i felt so hot for someone do you really think it’s serious enough to go see a doctor she answers serious enough to insist you bone me once a day he laughs Reiko Lee you had me going she grins get over here you ***** ******* and **** me good Reiko’s favorite way to ****** is with her legs closed tight she lies beneath while his ******* presses in pumping her thighs buttocks squeeze stomach muscles tense whole body jerks spasms as she reaches ****** Odysseus’s favorite position is with Reiko on top he likes her rhythms and control

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

when Michael Vick was found guilty for dog fighting mauling cruel killing i wanted him dead dead dead but he is a brilliant quarterback and i was wrong who am i to understand another person’s background judge them maybe there is redemption

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

if another war comes it’s China we must fight to hate fear them run hide

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

it’s a long twisted road down a dark cold hole many are too damaged others work toward salvation yet some unscathed by all this filth

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

on the brighter side death gets a bad rap by mortals think positive perhaps death is graduation to whatever at worst death is release from life’s disappointments expectations responsibilities burdens betrayals pain horrors

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

i remember when Dad was dying all these new people who i still remember entered my life for a brief time it seems like the same thing is happening now

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache

Mom i’m right here behind you don’t be scared i’m watching out for you

these old bones rattle and shake tremble and quake quiver and ache
Lenore Lux Dec 2014
My ****
follows me everywhere!
Wiggle wiggle, poke poke, jiggle jiggle.
At the fridge in night I've a friend by my side.
By my backside.
On,
my backside.
Stuck with humidity to the toilet seat on a rainy day,
that's right!
The bathroom exists, and on a toilet do I sit.
At least four or five times daily.
Stuck to chair, playing with hair with one hand
and a controller in the other.
Pumping up and down and in circles as I
jump squat.
Jump squat!
To share if you dare put your palm down there to squeeze.
Grab slap, wibble wibble.
Margot Dylan Dec 2014
Dearest reader,


My name is Margot Dylan and I am no longer a ******.

I stared at Dianne staring at Frieda Bentley, as she dragged on a Camel Blue and as I dragged my pen across my notepad. I sketched her figure as she walked closer to Frieda, dropping her cigarette on the ground. Frieda smiled at Dianne, as she stepped and twisted her shoe on the smoldering carcass.

And they looked at each other. Not like how normal people look at each other. And Dianne smiled. A smile that was not like any smile Dylan ever gave me.

I felt a hand on my shoulder, with ******* slipping to my collarbone. The ******* tapping belonged to a girl. The girl's name was Thora, a brunette that smelled like bubblegum and 'don't go'. Thora had something in common with Dianne: They both recently came out as gay. Unlike me, both family reactions were fairly positive. In fact, so positive that-What are you drawing?

"Margot?"

I paused, looked at Thora, and looked back at Dianne or Dylan Dunham. "That girl," I pointed in their general direction, as Dianne kissed Frieda on the forehead. Thora followed my finger in time for the kiss on the lips, "the ironic one."

Thora Nelson, daughter of Cameron Nelson and the deceased Geraldine Nelson, looked at my chin and asked, "Who is she?"

Thora's cotton-candy-blues met my puddles of mud, as I looked away, putting my notepad in my backpack. Before I zipped, I grabbed the lime green marker sleeping next to my pack of index cards. My teeth squeezed the leaf colored cap off, as I pulled out the fetus, smelling the aroma of non-toxic afterbirth.

I asked if she wanted a tattoo and she shrugged, "Oh no, you mean I get to choose whether you touch me or not?"

Lightly pressing the fiber tip to her arm, I glanced up at her and shrugged a bony shoulder, "Her name is Dylan Dunham. Well, it's actually Dianne. It's complicated. I used to call her Dylan. She used to call me Margot."

"But your name still is Margot," Thora informed as her eyes followed the acid-green ink trail.

"Some people change, some people don't," I said, with the cap held between my teeth.

I painted her arm in lime hope, by the soda machines. My eyes focused on her pores that I imagined swallowed dirt and bacteria from the side of my palm. I could feel Thora disarm me with her eyes, after I had disarmed her with my words. Her heartbeat echoed inside my grasp.

"I didn't know I was dating Leonardo DaVinci," the words flowing from her mouth.

"I am gay and Italian, so it's not like I was doing a terrific job of hiding it from you," I muttered as I finished and held her pale forearm and bracelet cuffed hand a foot from her face, "Look: it's us underneath a tree."

Turning and wrinkling her nose, she adjusted, moving her head back and forth. " Oh wow. Wow, wow, wow. Meta. So meta. So abstract. Brilliant in its simplicity, deconstructing the concept of natural complexity-"

"Shut up-"

"The tree looks like an umbrella. And we look like we have canes-"

"Those are our fishing poles. In that world, we are fishermen. Fisherwomen. Fishergals-"

"And my **** is too big and your ***** are too small and our smiles aren't big enough-well, at least mine isn't, I can't speak on your behalf," she finished.

Grabbing her arm, I looked at my masterpiece, looked at her, looked at it again, and looked at her again as her smile grew with every glance. "Well, I can see how it'd be up to debate, and you're right: very, very meta. But you do have a big ****, and I'm not one to sacrifice accuracy. Speaking of accuracy: as I look at this green ****, I realized I hit the mark by dating you. Honestly, your **** may have its own zip code..And...I'd like to be in its area? Please stop me."

Her chin touched her knee, as she doubled over, laughing. I played with her hair, wrapping her bangs around my fingers. As my hands were enveloped by her dark hair, I found a scar on her crown. I imagined Thora's milky-white fingers scrubbing through shampooed locks, trembling across the zig and zag of removed glass.

I imagined Thora Nelson, of Cameron Nelson and the deceased Geraldine Nelson, hearing sirens instead of water hitting the tiles. Her slumping to the floor, as lather and water runs down her face, each tear a memory of being dragged out of a steel ribcage, onto broken glass jungle pavement. It was too easy yet too difficult to imagine her staring at the steaming showerhead. It was too easy yet too difficult to imagine her reaching towards a metallic carcass growing in flames.

Her hand grabbed my leg and I saw her for what might have been the first time.

"Hey you. Listen. Are you listening?"

I nodded.

"I'm in love with you, Margot Dylan. Like, really in love. To the point to where I feel like I'm in a Jennifer Aniston rom-com. It's disgusting."

I didn't know what happened between my exploration of her hair and her pale face studying mine, but, before I knew it, my blood shook and barbed wire nerves orbited around pieces of my body.

The ricochet of a soda can smacking the mouth of the machine sounded. Time was either too fast or too slow, as I looked at Thora's cheap mascara eyes and chapped, soft pink lips. She was the type of girl that could make someone happy not to believe in god.

"And I love you. To the point to where I'd refuse Hogwarts because of not being able see you during the school year."

"How sweet, I know how badly you wanted to get into Ravenclaw," she smiled.

"Sacrifices must be made in the name of love, you know. And it ***** because you're not even my type," I admitted.

"Oh, how tragic. And what is your type, if I may ask?"

"You may, thank you. And the falling in love type," I'm an idiot.

"Could you be anymore cheesy?"

"Mozzarella."

She stopped and looked at me, "Hey, but really, I'm in love with you. It's real."

"I love you, too."

Her eyes were speckled,"You really love me, Margot Dylan? Because I'll believe you."

I leaned in, softly placed my hands on her cheeks, breathing the word, "Yes." I alternated between staring at her mouth and her eyes, as her lids began to drop.  My lips started to dab hers and soon grab, as if soft hooks grew out of and connected our flesh. I found the corner of her mouth, the summit of her cheek, and each crease in her lips. Nine or ninety seconds past before I stopped, pulled away, and looked into her eyes. "Hogwarts is overrated anyway," I lied. She laughed.

Her face was red, as she looked down while covering her face, "Don't look at me, I'm a dork. I'm being a loser. I'm infected."

"It's okay. You can be my infected dork and we can be losers together," my voice was a rasp.

"It really isn't. You see, my face always becomes extraordinarily red after I kiss or am kissed by someone, especially by someone beautiful. And it doesn't help that I've never been kissed by someone I love. And I've never kissed a girl before and I'm really glad you were the first, so there. Gah," her hands fenced her face,"I'm just going to hide behind these hands, don't mind me."

I was in love, "For how long?"

"Probably forever, I don't know. Or until the next installment of American Horror Story, I haven't made up my mind yet."

We heard Ms. Calloway scold Dianne about smoking on school grounds. I looked at Thora and the bell rang. Her hands slowly dropped, as everyone started to move in blurs. Bodies gaining more and more distance. Inches became miles. Feet grew into light-years, and, before I knew it, Thora kissed my cheek and said, "I hope I see you later, okay?"

My hand had something in it. My fingers unfurled and revealed high school origami. My name was on it, with a heart or a ****-I'm the artist in the relationship. I began pulling on *****, the tips of my fingers breaking the paper safe. So delicate must have been her mysterious movements.

I opened it.




A pebble flew from my hand and blipped off her bedroom window. Funny thing about bedroom windows, they look the same at 12:03 am. Or maybe they look a little different when the person you love is behind the glass, as you do an eighties-film-esque pebble throw. Before my next pebble hit the pane, her bedroom light came on.

Navy blue curtains disappeared to the sides as Thora came to the window and rubbed her eyes. A second later, she was gone as I imagined her sneaking past her father's bedroom, quietly down the stairs, and through the foyer. As I imagined this, I could hear the front door being unlocked and creaking open. I walked towards the porch and a yellow glow escaped with a silhouette living in it.

Thora's left hand is burnt, but I don't mind and I don't think I ever will. She held my hand as we walked through the threshold. At first I was nervous when I saw her father in the living room, but I instantly realized that he was passed out, as my eyes found empty beer cans sleeping beside him and around him.

"It's not like this every night," she whispered, "he just has trouble with certain months."

Thora tucks her toes when standing in place. When we were walking up stairs, I knew she would be embarrassed if I looked at her toes, so I kept my eyes on the second floor. I don't understand why she feels this way, though. She has very nice feet, and that's coming from someone who thinks feet are gross.

We walked past punched in doors adjacent to perfect picture frames. Her mother was a beautiful woman.

As we approached Thora's sticker-clad door, she turned to me and whispered, "You're about to enter the only place in the world I feel safe. So, please don't break my heart in it and please use a coaster."

My thumb kissed her smooth burn, as I took my first steps into her bedroom. The light-switch flicked and her room illuminated. There were movie posters hugging the walls, pinned to a bulletin board were pictures of lost people and found memories. She looked at me and whispered, "I don't know how to keep people."

We stood before the side of her bed and I looked at her smile, "You sure you want to do this?" Thora nodded and I reached towards her thighs to lift the bottom of her shirt. Lifting it over her head, I looked at her porcelain figure clad in black *******. I tossed the grey shirt onto her bed.

My eyes swam from her belly button to her *******. My fingers approached and stopped until she said it was okay. Tracing her curves, scars, and stretch marks, she pet my fingers. Thora glanced at my hands on her ******* and then at me, cooing, "I'm sorry."

My hands slid to her sides, "Sorry for what?"

She shrugged, "I don't know," her eyes spilling, "Sorry for this," she motioned at her torso as she stared at her bulletin board and then at me before looking away again, "I want to be perfect. I want to be perfect for you."

"Oh no, no, no," I asked for her hand and then placed it over my left breast, "Can't you feel how beautiful you are?"




Her arm was under my ******* and her hand was on my rib, occasionally running her fingertips across the bumps. She slept with her leg wrapped around mine, staying as close as she could to me. I looked at her, in her slumber, and left a faint, burgundy stain on her forehead. I reached towards our shins and pulled the black cover over our fused bodies.

I feel like I have been in a coma for seventeen years and I've just woken up. If I could, I'd stretch this moment over centuries and use it to smother wars. This relationship probably won't last past my senior year, but that's okay. It truly is.

In this moment, Thora Nelson is the love of my life, and, in ways I don't understand yet, that is the most beautiful thing in the world.



May the sun set in our eyes forever,


Margot Dylan
Jake muler Mar 2016
We can talk all we want. But til we do something about us being **** ******* by big brother. We're gonna keep getting **** plugged without the vasoline
ohNoe Aug 2014
You gave up on our forty more glory years,
  agonized over the decision.
You sent us to separate beds in tears,
  sentenced me to poet prison
    (locked in a spiral cycle
       of pain and broken and fatal fetal and bleeding blue eyes stunned open in vicious surprise
           unable to close or escape into comatose)

My actions
  or actually inactions
may have murdered my Miracle
  made You listen to a false Oracle

**** unable to dim or die
  is You being the only ultimate “Why”
that I was created in the first place
  and put in the exact time & space
    to toss pebbles at Yur window
      that exploded into our nova glow

Even as we cried together
  months after died “together”
(You saying Yur not better without me
   yet can't won't be with me)
I swear on the soul that thinks it knows You
  (far more than the mere heart which beats because of You)
that I still feel You having feelings for me
  (oooohhhhh, You Noe You still want me)

Please let yourself see
  all the positives in me
don't ignore Yur desire
  don't lose it in disaster

we are US
  we are Love & Lust
and every like & lick in between
  (I know You Noe what I mean)

the aliens followed us
  cuz they felt our forever fever
their lights in our Arizona skies
  were listening to the bazillion butterflies
burning churning turning in my soul
  fluttering my libido

they knew what You do....
  that I can't play guitar
  **** I can be Yur star
they wanted to watch me & You
  strobe along to our music
  probe the strong of our magic
    read my SJH poems
    and count all our ****

**** they would never understand
  the simple thrill
  overwhelming joy for this boy
    of holding Shannon's hand :)

You may have been able to give up,
  somehow You had had enough,
**** I believe You didn't want to give up,
  and I should have proved my stuff!!

My Love for You like no other ever before,
  My amazement for You that couldn't be more.
The breathlessness bearing witness
  to the simplest silliest move You might make
The blue-eye-blue-eye-soul-gaze-bliss
  wanting to be waiting on when You wake

You do Noe that Everything You do
  biking hiking cooking thinking walking the insane work world
just excites inspires my soul to say WOOHOO
  and then Kahley & Z-O-E show me You as Mother unfurled
    & hurled into too much to be true

There is not a Disney potion
  which could move my emotions
more than the nervous excitement
  coursing full force thru Clint
when there's just a hint of Shannon!

Do You not Noe that even Yur mundane daily details are moments for which I counted the minutes until we could share?
How do you not Noe that even Yur boring is beyond Rare?

My want that is need
  is so hard for You
    that my heart **** as it bleeds

had every substance and experience
  but never any highs
    like Yur eyes
      or between Yur thighs

You may say only friends forever
  and only see me whenever or whatever
You may be able to forget that we are dismembered
  but for me the regret screams as it sobs as it's remembered

Yet hope shall never breathe its final sigh,
  does not Noe how to bid itself goodbye.
    (it wasn't token lust,
       it shouldn't be broken lost)

are You aware how full We were of Wonderful?
can his caress express what was our experience
  (over and over until forever becums forever)
do his words worship your existence
  (friend lover mother mentor sometimes trembling leaf who Loves me and looks at me into me    
      thanking me for holding her as she squeezes the breath into me)
does he slip serenely yet excitedly into sleep each night with Yur heartbeat echoing his own
  (seemingly the only bass beat his song has ever known)
does he dream of You each and every somewhen,
  wake up wishing he was already with You once again?
is Yur daughter his 2nd favorite person in the world
  (oh Z-O-E i'm soooo sorry you had to cry one single solitary tear from knowing me)

does his mind spend all day scribbling away on the insides of his eyelids everything he thinks about you...

and do You realize it isn't only when i'm awake...there isn't a moment in which my subconscious exists when it isn't walking old town San Diego with You or grinning as Yur fire-spinning or Breaking Bad as it basks in bend Yur **** over bike basket banter or holding Yur hand in an ancient cemetery with wine & cheese & grapes & Breakfast Club surreality or walking whispering a Halloween Haunted House with ridiculously brave Z-O-E

somehow for You it was dating
  just some seven month fling
for me it was the penultimate relationship
  the reason i'd learned this whole breathing feeling thing
and 175 days after You designated the dumpster for me
  it continues to transform me
    because of You i remake me

So, Hey, Hi, Here i am,
  Wanna hear who how i am?
Or do You wanna hear what i remember
  as i wonder what You remember?

How many of our memories mean as much to You as to me?? Hello Ladies on the bed together? or when i watched You shower? me not knowing the secrets to Yur frisbee throwing? our only time camping? creative counter cleaning? the every-single-time-spark of touching Yur skin? the way our ***  stroked squeezed rocked my **** and mind and soul and spirit and poet and left my lips on fire with spearmint-cool tingling? and did i mention being wet with electric sweat?

i seem to remember You saying i was **** (me?!?! - with or without a moustache) even as i was nervous & excited every time i realized You were looking my way, whether it was on a biplane or in a kayak beside an island or wishing i was saving You from a river monster or in a kayak beneath a full moon where You couldn't even notice that my pounding pulse was singing Yur name in a beautiful bass beat

i noe that You know Yur cool, **** i noe that You don't know HOW COOL...the coolest hot whose personality was music that instantly inserted itself into my internal playlist and cranked that ****** to a level that would deafen Spinal Tap!

do You know that You are style & passion
  and buffalo exchange fashion?
alien lights
  indian caves
    & ghost towns with donkeys?

You must realize somewhere deep inside on a primal level
  that once Yur eyes let me see inside You
i would need to be part of Yur life to be alive
  as US is the rainbow which gives color to each day's grey

even before kissing and everything on Our balcony
  in Our Sycamore Springs jacuzzi
You were the kiss I miss any split second my lips aren't melding melting into Yurs

You are dreams and fantasies and way too fantastic to be reality
You are The Happiness Joy that defines Happy for this poet boy

from the moment we met
  You are the 1st thing i think of when i awake
   the last thing in my mind as i slip into sleep
   the lead and supporting role in my subconscious when i'm unconscious
   and actually obviously the highlight to being alive each day

and it shall stay that way even from afar
  until just the other side of forever

there are as many Maybes
  as there are Somedays,
so as i strive not to mope
  (and just keep trying to be better)
i let thrive and nurture hope
  (and just keep trying to be better)

and preach to myself my mantra
and remind me of my motto
  don't give up
  don't ever give up
#love #loss #pain #hope
Ignatius Hosiana Jan 2017
There Was A Strange Lady with A Big ****
Who frequented the bushy path by my Hut!
I could tell from her ogles and giggles
that she knew I melted at her wiggles...
That antagonizing strange Lady with a Big ****.
CK Baker Jan 2017
Thank you ~
for a life not to trade
blessings, in spades
tight spaces
behind laundry doors
packed closets
and open drawers
gator tails, tarnished brass
cracks in kitchen sliding glass
wet towels, withering plants
foundation filled
with carpenter ants
buckets piled with
shoes and tags
village clothes
and saddlebags
peeling paint
and broken walls
****** seats
in bathroom stalls
clogged pantry
frigid rooms
table scribe
and carbon fumes
comfort capsules
empty tanks
broken limbs
from children’s pranks
**** finger
double tongue
long goodbyes
and sidewalk dung
cluster flies
chavie’ clique
accompanying
the hypocrite
cracked back
and hidden smiles
chalk on board
with mr miles
atomic wedgies
closing doors
wrotten eggs
and open sores
jaw jack
nasty folk
dinner calls
for pig in poke
penny pinchers
double dip
yellow mouth
and silver tip
brown nosers
thick red tape
paper cuts
and pimple nape
gallivants
so out of norm
the joy of life
in basic form
Bo Burnham Mar 2015
*****! *****! I **** *****!
***** get ****** when I **** *****!
No ifs, ands, and/or buts!
I **** *****! I **** *****!

Nice girls are nice, but no good for nut-*******.
They'll need a serene night to green-light a ****-*******,
but that'll be easy with ****** ol' ****-*******!
Boo to the nice girls! Praise be to ****-*******!

I have a list. A list? Yes, a list of all the ***** I've missed.
I've never ****** or ****** these ***** and thus my nuts are ******* ******.
So when I **** the lucky ****, my nut removes her from the list---
another dumb cumbucket struck from my nut-*******,
"**** it, ****!" ****-******* bucket list.

***** can be white, brown, pink, or almond.
They can be skinny with ******* or skinny with small ones.
***** can be perky, preppy, or posh,
with their brains and their clothes all shrunk from the wash.

But other ***** are pretty and funny and smart.
They can lift your thoughts from your **** to your heart.
They can talk about science, music, or art.
They can put you together or pull you apart.

But don't trust these *****! Don't! Don't you dare!
They'll force you to trust them and love them and care.
And then they'll be gone and then you'll be aware
of that hole in your heart that that dumb **** left there.
poem reading here--> www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGZ2VqcmZlI
I'm on a train.

One of those red ones with black trimmed windows you can imagine rolling through the suburbs on the way to NYC. Not a subway car but a classier vintage with proper rows of cushioned seats and a lever to pull if there is an emergency. There are sparse shrubberies on one side of the tracks and the ocean on the other. Young trees and bushes stroll by.  A little wind is pushing off the ocean, massaging the car ever so gently back and forth as we move along. A gentle click-clack is on the tips of our ears.

We got on together. I hadn't known you for very long but the connection was stronger than anything I had ever felt or have since. You practically sat on top of me for the first few miles. Couldn't keep your hands off me,  staring in my eyes like you were searching for something lost but you couldn't remember what. The edges of your lips turned upwards permanently as if you were always at the verge of a laugh. You interlaced my fingers with yours and held on like you would be ripped away if your grip loosened for even a second. Slender fingers holding so tightly that they were becoming red.

You were excited to to be riding with me, about where we were going and all the things we would do when we got there. I would see you peer out of the corner of your eye, then lean over to brush your soft cheek against my budding stubble. Kissing and gently biting my lips insatiably. The suns rays coming in at an angle and lighting up your perfect smile and dimple.

I had to remind you we were in public.

I was lost in your blonde curls and the incense of your neck. I had fallen incredibly hard and so fast that my face hurt from smiling and my heart beat with vibrations I had never known. Not even a whiff of anxiety or neurosis. Some of the best memories of my life, as fleeting as they turned out to be.

I yawned and you put your finger in my mouth. I bent over to tie my shoe and you would poke my **** and laugh with your own reflection in the window, like this was the first and best joke of all time. Maybe it was and maybe it is.

The waiter came and informed us that a thing called "the bar car" existed. We both jumped at the idea. I didn't exactly notice at the time, during our excitement, but that's when the train started going faster and everything out the windows began to blur.

The bar car was a wild ride and we took advantage of our lo'cal. All kinds of fine wine, liquors and illicit substances were available. We tried them all. You were beautiful, your laugh infecting everyone around you, I was charming and held a captive audience.   It was a dark, loud and glorious blur. We were the life of the party and it chugged on till dawn.

We woke up in our seats, disheveled and discombobulated. It was dark out already. Did we sleep through the entire day? The train was slowing down, maybe approaching a station. The party was amazing but we were certainly paying the price for the black out. You moved over to the seat across from me to have some more space and lay down. I saw myself in the reflection. My hat, charm and smile from the night before had vanished. I must have left them in the bar car the night before.
      You had changed, beauty uninterrupted but different somehow. I couldn't put my finger on it. Irritated maybe? I invited you to cuddle and battle the hangover together but you ignored me. Like you couldn't hear me or didn't want to. I decided to let you be.

I got up to use the bathroom and thought I would go look for my scattered belongings. Maybe I could find a scrap of leftover dignity while you rested. I inquired to the conductor who directed me to the bartender in the bar car. He hadn't changed a bit, somehow untouched and unaffected by last nights antics that had effected me so dramatically.  Same black suspenders and white pressed shirt with impeccably slicked hair. I asked him what happened and if I had an open tab. While slowly polishing a rocks glass he looked up and made eye contact for a split second before looking away.
He said:  "Oh the bar car takes its toll. In the end we all end up paying one way or another". I still don't know what he meant by that or if he knew.
      I asked him if he found my hat and he said he would check the camera. We walked in to a small back room, while he was reviewing the tape, over his shoulder I noticed a tragedy.

We were drunk. I was going on to a group of new friends on one side of the bar, they were hanging on my words and I was eagerly explaining whatever nonsense they were drooling over. You were in the corner wearing that red dress I love, with your hair up in a tight bun. A few curls had escaped and brushed your high cheekbones, a thin line of pearls dancing delicately across your perfectly symmetrical collar. You were stunning and inebriated, swaying with each bump and motion of the train. A man wearing my hat put his hand on your side to keep you from swaying over and then he left it there.
I took a sharp breath.

It looked like you put your hand on his hand to move it but then it stayed and you both swayed together. As the air left my lungs and the blood drained out of my face I watched your lips touch the strangers. A small piece of my soul slipped away forever. I couldn't watch any further. When I asked the bartender how long it went on he fidgeted for a moment and uncomfortably muttered "quite some time". I never found my hat or the other part of me that left that day.  

The train slowed. I walked to the back, as far away from you as I could get, in utter disbelief. How could you? I thought to myself.
I mourned the loss of the you as I knew you yesterday, quietly and to myself. A tear  escaped my eye and rolled down my now fully formed stubble as I fell in to a random seat in mild shock. There were a few passengers back there so I had to pull together relatively quickly. After gaining some composure I knew it was time to get off. I knew we could never get back to yesterday morning though I would have said or done anything to do so.

The train had stopped. I went back to my seat and you were sleeping. I took my coat and gathered my things. The conductor looked at me confused as to why I would leave something so magnificent, I assume he had no idea what had transpired.   

I walked to the rear of the car and slid the door open slower than required. I stepped to the stairs and put one foot down on the step and the other on the ground. I stopped, rooted with my hand on the railing, lingering between two very different paths.
     I knew that it was time to get off, I knew this was the sensible thing to do, that I couldn't get past this offense regardless of how I had felt earlier the day before. The whistle screamed from the locomotive. The conductor looked at me and shook his head, I'm not sure if he was trying to tell me to stay or go but a decision had to be made.

The train lurched forward and I watched as the station slip away slowly. I sat in between the cars for a while and watched the ocean and birds. With a heavy heart and shoes I walked back to my seat. You were waiting. Crying. You knew. The bartender had told you. You didn't mean do do it, didn't realize what you were doing and thought it was me. He was wearing my hat and the whole world was blurry and dark.

I believed you. Self anguish mixed with alcohol was dripping from your pores. I knew you didn't mean it and were drunk, but could I ever forgive you or trust you again?

I loved you still.

I caught a glimpse of my reflection, a weaker version of myself looked back. As if an invisible chip in my teeth had developed and my shoulders lowered. The charming, confident man from the bar car the day before had been replaced. Something was off but not enough for anyone else to notice, just enough to know a change has happened.
       The train started to pick up speed again as we distanced ourselves from the station.  I second guessed my decision to stay but I didn't look back.

I found the man with my hat and punished him with a few blows in the dark. He knew he ****** up, apologized and took the beating like a man. I never got the hat back.

The engineer announced that we would be going through a tunnel soon and to turn on our lights and keep our hands in the windows.

It would be dark.  

We stayed away from the bar car for a while but the draw was irresistible. After a few hours we were there again but you never left my side.  Then you did. I was looking for you but you would disappear and not answer me when I called you name. The tunnel went deeper and darker and I didn't know where you were and I suspected you liked it that way. The train began to slow down again as we exited the tunnel.

I finally found you back at our seat, you had moved one row away from me. I asked you to come back, tried to hold your hands but you pulled away with vehemence. When I came back from the bathroom you had moved another row farther.
I knew I was losing you.
I begged you to return but you told me calmly that it was time for you to get off. At some point in the tunnel you had decided that you didn't want to go anymore . Your mind was made. You were going to catch another train at the next station.

When the train stopped I thought for sure you would reconsider but you didn't. Didn't even give it a thought. You just grabbed your coat and hat with one big bag under your arm. You kissed me on the cheek like a french stranger and were off. Going somewhere else on a different train. Just like that.

I rode the rails for quite some time by myself , many people getting on and getting off, passing me by. Every once in a while I would think I saw you at a station or in a **** though the window of another train. I often thought I could smell you but when I breathed deeper it was always gone. A ghost dancing on the edge of my senses.

A young girl in a headband got on the train. She was listening to headphones and dancing to herself as she bobbed along. She sat down in the seat next to me flashing a smile. She had a wedding ring on and I dismissed her immediately.  She didn't move from the seat or stop glancing my way. Eventually she confessed that she wanted to talk. I told her I wasn't interested but she persisted.  I hadn't talked to anyone on the train for quite some time and after some more mild persistence, I gave in.

We had a lot in common. We were both riding alone, desperately wanted attention and were thrilled to receive some.  After a few laughs she slid her hand in to mine and interlaced her fingers. I left it there. It was warm, comforting and wrong. She was married but I had been riding alone so long it felt good to have some company. She stayed and we talked. She was broken and I had a knack for fixing things. After a few hours of dramatic conversation I fell asleep with her head on my shoulder.

When I woke up  the train was flying up the track on the side of a mountain. Trees and rocks were a blur of green and grey. The engineer must be trying to make up for lost time I thought to myself.

The girl was asleep with her head on my lap. I looked down at her hand and the rings were gone. I woke her briefly to ask where they went. She said she didn't need them anymore and had thrown  them out the window.  She could of sold them, I said, but she said she just wanted them gone so she could be mine and fell back to sleep.  All of a sudden I couldn't breath. This train was roaring down the tracks, the once gentle click clack had become a loud hum. Suddenly too loud. This girl in my lap who had just gotten on the train wanted to stay. I considered her for a while as she looked up at me with big blue eyes, shining and wet, like a puppy in the shelter, terrified of rejection and desperate to be adopted.

At the peak of the mountain, just when the train began to even out, you waltzed back in to the car with a champagne flute in one hand and your bag in the other.

I don't know when or where you got back on, must have been a few stations ago when I stopped looking for you. Maybe you were wearing a disguise, who knows what you had been up to while you were gone. I'm not sure how long you were away but it was quite some time. That you had been through something was obvious, a new wrinkle had formed on your brow and you're once confident stride had changed to a cautious stroll. What actually happened out there I don't know.  I never asked and I don't want answers.

You looked at me and smiled. It was good to see that smile, like sun on my face on a brisk day.  You took a step toward me and then I looked down in my lap at the girl at the same time you did. I looked up. You and your smile were gone.

Everything I had begun to feel for this broken, head banded girl in my lap dried up like a puddle in  the dessert.  I quietly and gently nudged her awake and told her I had to use the bathroom. She put her head down on my coat and fell back into what ever trance she had been in, eyelids gently fluttering, eyes searching beneath them for what I would never give her.

I dashed up the isle and threw open the door, almost shattering the glass. The conductor glared at me and rolled his eyes as I barged past to the space between the cars.

There you were. Standing on the stairs with your head out the opening. The wind was blowing your perfectly formed curls around your head like a blonde explosion of familiarity. I yelled your name and you dove in to me. My senses erupted, my mind went numb as the train was nearing another station and I inhaled your essence greedily.

We moved to another car. I abandoned my coat with the married girl and never looked back. I hope she found what she was looking for. I  never could have been the answer she was so desperately seeking but I know I  helped steer her towards it.

You told me you had encountered some other people out there on the rails and they had reminded you of what we had when we first left the station. I never forgot.  

The train started to rock and get going again. We were back in the bar car and starting to brown out. We had to get off of this train right ******* now. In a desperate moment we looked at each other and put our hands, together, on the emergency brake cord. I looked in your eyes with your hand on top of mine. You kissed me while yanking down on the cord. Time slowed, the breaks squealed and everything exploded throwing luggage, people and the entire contents of the bar car in to a nondiscriminatory chaos . We got up off the ground, ran to the end of the car, dove off the side in to a soft patch of grass and rolled down a small incline. We watched as the conductor sifted through  the mess and interrogated the passengers, trying to ferret out the party responsible for pulling the brake. He spotted us off the side of the tracks and shook his fist while shouting every conceivable obscenity combination.

We laughed, held each other in the grass and kissed deeply.

We watched the train pick up speed and disappear in to the hills as relief spread over me.

You interlaced your fingers in to mine and we both looked out to where the tracks disappeared into the horizon, wondering how far of a walk it was to the next station.
Cné May 2017
Cné
In my most desperate need
seek out a bush by a tree
rewarded with a rash on my rear end
relieving, with a squat, by poison ivy

No thank you, I will take a chance
in hopes of saving my ***
and hold it until I just can't
and avoiding a nasty rash
even if it means ....
I will possibly *** my pants

Temporal Fugue
*** the least of your worries
as your bladder will expand
making you make decisions
not all that good, or planned

So make your place
and keep your wits
bear, what you can stand
drop your drawers and hold your ****
and ***, as god, demands
Yes, these are very important issue to discuss among friends! **** seriously, it's not funny. # sarcasm
Adilson Smith Nov 2017
I would say
I love you with all my heart.

But that's not quite right.

For I love you with far much more
Than just that one part.

For instance,
I love you with my lips:
They pucker lovingly like filled balloons
Rising skyward in a knot.

I love you also
With my eyes. Like a ruly clerk,
They sieve your frame with careful affection,
Vitalized by every detail.

My ears, too, are full of love.
I can feel them during the night;
Thumping with blood
As you rise and decline
Asleep in my nook.

There are many others.
My eyebrows, so enlivened,
Agitate my face
And my toes, so excited,
Tense in my shoes
As though afraid of getting wet.

Other parts aren’t so conspicuous.
My arms plot in the dark --
They long to swim around your waist
And link us back to breast.

And my fingers, naughty things,
Scheme to tease your dress
Above your pretty knees
And above your pretty chest.

Would you believe,
Even my ****'s involved!
Though he’s more obvious
With his *****, open smile
And cheeky morning breath.

But chief of all my loving parts
Is my un-run soul
Unkenneled, at last,
Sprinting furiously
Next to yours.
# love #silly

Note -- this is very much a rewrite of Watsky's splendid and original "love poem" (worth checking out on YouTube).
lol,
turkey on rye,
i got that chicken,
and i got the best part,
the chicken ****!!!!!,
oh yea im happy now!
David Walker Dec 2012
Origins
written and directed
by
David Walker

Inspired
by
the films of
Quentin Tarantino
David Lynch
&
Rob Zombie

There is method
To his madness

                                                        ­                                                                 ­                  January 2013              
                                              ­                                                                 ­                       first draft









1. EXT. Run down project apartment complex - 3:00 am

A dark, tall figure with long black hair and a trenchcoat opens the already cracked red door.

MAN:
I'm looking for love in all the wrong places.

                                                        ­                                                                 ­                                       CUT TO:
INT. Apartment 3

A typical roach infested apartment with a kitchen built into the living room. 3 GIRLS are on the kitchen floor. GIRL # 1 one has black hair with big lips and a curvy frame and she is wearing a pair of Tripp pants and a black bra barely covering her ample *****. She has a flesh colored rubber hose tied to her left arm. GIRL # 2 has dyed rainbow colored hair, a nice smile, and a skinny frame. She is wearing a pair of tore blue jeans with smiley faces and cute in jokes written on them, also not wearing a shirt with a lacy blue bra on. She has a spoon with water and black tar ****** inside it which she is heating up with a silver Zippo with the word "Skittles" engraved into it. GIRL # 3 Has long naturally red hair, glasses and an extremely voluptuous figure. She is wearing tight black pants and a black shirt with thin sleeves. She is inspecting a covered syringe with an unsure look in her eyes.

GIRL # 2:
So, do you wanna do it or not Jane?

Snatches the syringe out of JANE's hand.

JANE:
I'm not sure. How long have you been doing this ****?

Girl #2 takes the orange cap off the syringe revealing a small needle.

GIRL #2:
Since after I graduated. About 3 years. Liz you ready?

LIZ:
As ready as I am for dat sweet tang!

Girl #2 giggles. She sticks the needle into Liz's arm, blood mixes with the brown fluid inside, and she pushes the plunger down. Liz leans back into Girl #2's arms and Girl #2 gives her a kiss.

LIZ:
I love you, Julia.

JULIA:
Well, I love you too.

JANE:
You guys are so gay!

(OS):
Save that **** for the ******* customers!

                                                     ­                                                                 ­                                       CUT TO:
Other side of room. A greasy looking MAN with short faded black hair and a scar going from the corner of his mouth to the right ear is sitting in a beat up recliner cleaning his Uberti 1873 Cattleman revolver while smoking a fat blunt and watching some kind of high budget **** with Sasha Grey in it.

JULIA:
Sorry, Mike. It didn't stop you from leaving me and Liz unsatisfied and bored, did it?

LIZ and JULIA laugh. JANE has a nervous look in her eyes.

MIKE:
Very ******* funny you wore out trick! Am I gonna have to smack the sass out yo mouth?

MIKE gets up, puts out his blunt and walks over to the GIRLS gun in hand.

MIKE:
Or am I gonna have to give your little friend a scar like mine.

LIZ:
Mike don't!

MIKE SLAPS JULIA with the side of his UNLOADED revolver and grabs JANE by her hair.

MIKE:
Who the **** are you, anyways *****?

JANE:
(stuttering)
I was walking down the street earlier today and I ran into Julia and Liz. They went to school with my sister I think. Let me go!

MIKE:
So you're a young'n. Well you have some nice big *******!

MIKE RIPS off her shirt exposing her *******. He begins to squeeze the right one. JANE SLAPS MIKE HARD!

MIKE:
*****!

MIKE lets go of her hair. Jane runs to the other room grabbing her shirt. LIZ stumbles towards him and PUNCHES him in the nose.

MIKE:
That's it! You little *** dumpsters are dead!

MIKE picks up the REVOLVER, runs to the chair where the bullets are and tries to reload. JULIA wakes from her daze. We see him load 3 rounds. All of a sudden the DOOR gets broken down and the dark clad FIGURE from the scene before pulls out a BERETTA M9 with a silencer attachment. MIKE FIRES 2 shots at him haphazardly missing both. The MAN LAUGHS and FIRES one shot that MIKE's crotch catches.

                                                       ­                                                                 ­                                       CUT TO:
2. INT. Next door in Apartment 2.

A MAN and WOMAN in their early 40's are smoking a joint and seem disturbed by the gunfire.

MAN:
(coughing)
What the hell was that?

WOMAN:
Sounded like gunshots. Do you think we should call the cops?

MAN:
**** no! There is a pound of chronic in the bedroom closet! Just pray whoever it is doesn't come over here!

WOMAN:
Okay. Are you gonna pass that?

                                                          ­                                                                 ­                                     CUT TO:
3. INT. Apartment 3.

The smoke has cleared. MIKE is begging for death and BLEEDING out everywhere, JULIA is in a daze, dumbfounded by what she just witnessed, LIZ is cowering in fear, crying, and JANE just came out of the bedroom with her TORN SHIRT on and a terrified "Oh my God" expression. The unknown assailant has a devilish grin upon his face.

MIKE:
Godfuck! **** me you sunuvabitch! Godda--

The MAN obliges. He fires a single shot into his RIGHT EYE.

MAN:
Well, looks like I got here in the nick of time!

JULIA:
(blankly)
W-Who the **** are you?

MAN:
That is of little importance right now. Who are you foxy ladies?

JULIA:
M-My name's Julia. That girl over there (points to Liz) is Liz, and the ginger is Jane.

MAN:
What pretty names! Well, I have a question. Will you three lovely young ladies gather round that despicable looking chair and listen to what I have to say, or are you going to run? Keep in mind I have rope in my trenchcoat and the fact I mean you no harm. I am just a lonely man with a story to tell, and the way I see it, what with that bruise on your sweet face, you kinda owe me.

JULIA:
I think we can stay. I just wanna know your name.

MAN:
Ahh, but I am a man of many names. My christian name is Derek. You don't need the last for now.

DEREK walks to the chair and sits down. He waves the GIRLS over.

DEREK:
C'mon I just want to tell my tale. Look, I will put the gun under the chair as a sign of good faith that neither you girls or I will start shooting the place up again. Are we square ladies?

JULIA:
What do ya say guys?

They gather in the kitchen.

LIZ:
This guy has a ***** loose.

JULIA:
Yes, but he saved us from our ****. We should humor him.

JANE:
I think he is hot!

LIZ and JULIA just stare at JANE.

JANE:
Sorry, but he is.

JULIA:
So it's agreed. We will listen to his story, silently pray he doesn't **** us and leave afterwards.

The GIRLS walk to the chair. DEREK has lit the blunt.

DEREK:
Ahh, so you have decided to join me. Good. Do you guys wanna hit this?

LIZ and JULIA shake their heads no.

JANE:
I will.

DEREK:
Great. Now, where do I begin. I suppose everybody's roots stem from childhood, so lets go back, oh say, 20 years ago.

                                                           ­       FADE TO BLACK        
Against black, TITLE CARD

October 15th 1995.

                                                          ­                       CUT TO      
4. EXT. Suburbia circa 1995.

There are three boys between the ages of 6 and 9 playing in front of a grey HOUSE with a white MINIVAN in the driveway. Little DEREK is a scrawny 6 year old boy with short brown hair and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure in his hands. The 2 other BOYS ages 7 and 9 are picking on him and trying to take away DONATELLO.

DEREK:
Leave me alone or I will whoop your ****.

BOY #1:
Whatever! You are scrawny and lame. Give us your Ninja Turtle now or we will beat you up!

BOY #2 picks up a STICK and starts hitting DEREK with it.

BOY #2:
What are you going to do? Get your daddy? Oh, wait...that's right, you don't have one!

The 2 BULLIES start laughing. A look of hatred fills young DEREK's eyes. He catches the STICK and slaps BOY #2 in the face with it. He then tackles him and starts beating him mercilessly. BOY #1 runs towards the PORCH and knocks on the DOOR. DEREK'S MOM answers. She is in her mid 30's with brown hair and casual clothing on, smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of "coffee."

BOY #2:
Derek's beating up Josh again!

DEREK'S MOM:
Well, good for him! Bet that little pecker snot deserved it too. Now, Brad...why don't you take you and your friend on home before I tell your dad you play with Barbies.

LATE 20'S DEREK:
(OS)
My mother was a sweet ol' broad!

BRAD:
(sighs)
Okay, Ms. Walters, but you do know you are going to have to pull him offa Josh right?

DEREK'S MOM:
(sighs like Brad)
I suppose.

DEREK'S MOM and BRAD walk to the front yard and GASP when they notice that DEREK has knocked out 2 of JOSH'S baby teeth, both in the front and broke his nose, which is bleeding profusely.

DEREK'S MOM:
Derek Charles Walters! Get the **** up offa him!

DEREK:
(crying)
He hit me with a stick!

DEREK'S MOM:
Well, now I'm about to!

She picks up the STICK and beats his *** with it several times.

DEREK:
******* *****!

DEREK'S MOM, infuriated throws the stick down and SLAPS him across the face. DEREK runs away.
He runs to a wooded area in the back yard as far as his legs can take him.

LATE 20'S DEREK:
(OS)
Do not weep, for on that day, I met God and Satan incarnate and it turns out they existed singularly in my head.
                                                           ­                                                                 ­                          CUT TO:

5. JANE:
Like a conscience?

DEREK:
Much more. These guys are in the room right now and only I can see him. Satan led me to you guys tonight! Who knows what kind of CRAZY hijinks are in store!

JULIA:
That's it I'm outta here! C'mon gu--

DEREK fires of his M9 1 time.

DEREK:
Now, listen to me you dykey, ****** *****. I have 3 more rounds in this ******* and one
of them is reserved for you if you don't sit your tight *** back down.

JULIA sits back down scared to death. DEREK regains his composure and is "all smiles" again.

DEREK:
Phew! I don't want to hurt anybody. I just want someone pretty to listen to my ******* story. ****, if you want, I will ask you guys about yourself later on, but for now I'm going to introduce you to my best friends.

JANE:
Who are they again?

DEREK:
Ah, you were trying to pay attention. I will remember that. They go by many names. One can be called "God", "Heroic Harry", "The White Knight", whatever you envision as good, this **** is it. He is the reason you guys are still alive.

LIZ:
And the other?

DEREK:
Ahh, him. He can go by "Satan", "The ******", "The Angel of Death." He's the reason ol' crusty here no longer bothers you.

LIZ:
So you're basically ape ****, right?

DEREK:
Pretty much! Now where was I? Ah...yes

                                                       ­                                                                 ­                                    CUT TO:

6. INT. Small wooded area behind the house --- Early evening.

DEREK has made himself a nice little HANGOUT in the woods! there is a trunk with tons of comics in it, an arsenal of sharpened sticks and rocks, Batman action figures, and a Game Boy Color. He is drawing a picture at the moment.

LATE 20'S DEREK:
(OS)
There I was in my element. ****** at my mother, then all of a sudden, a deep, angelic voice rang out.

VOICE #1:
(OS...of course)
You don't have to hate her, you know. She loves you.

LATE 20'S DEREK:
(OS)
And then another, this voice sounding more playful and mischievous then the other.

VOICE #2:
(OS)
But, for how long? Do you think she meant to have you?

DEREK:
Where are you guys?

LATE 20'S DEREK:
(OS)
And then they appeared.

A 13 YEAR OLD BOY with BROWN hair and a FLANNEL overshirt over a Nirvana T-SHIRT with baggy torn blue JEANS with stains on them appears.

BOY #1:
Don't hate your mom.

VOICE #2:
(OS)
But, watch her close.

DEREK turns his head. We see another BOY roughly the same age with slightly long BLACK hair and a TRENCHCOAT over a Nine Inch Nails T-SHIRT with tight black CHICK PANTS with a CHAIN leading from his pocket to his BELT. He has a lip piercing and he is smoking a cigarette.

DEREK:
Who are you guys?

BOY #1:
Just think of us as older brothers your mom can't see.

DEREK:
Wow! I should introduce you guys to my friends!

BOY #2:
No!

DEREK:
Why not?

BOY #2:
You are the only person that can see us. Don't go telling anyone and don't talk to us in front of anyone. People will think you are nuts!

BOY #1:
Think of us as two ghosts that give you advice. Don't listen to him though, he'll get you in trouble.

BOY #2:
Shut up! Or I will kick your *** again.

BOY #1:
Not in front of him. He doesn't need to see that ****. Not now

DEREK:
What are your names?

BOY #1:
That's up to you.

DEREK:
I'll call you Joe, and him Jerry.

JOE:
Works for me, for now. Call us whatever you feel like calling us whenever you like. If you wanna call me ******* and him poophead, go right ahead.

DEREK:
Okay, but for now you guys are Joe and Jerry.

JOE:
We are going to leave now. We will show up when we think the time is right. Sometimes you will see us others you won't, but we are always with you.

JERRY:
Even when you ****.

                                                          ­                                                                 ­                     CUT TO:
7. INT. Apartment 3.

LATE 20'S DEREK:
And then I went back home and they disappeared. I reconciled with my mom and for the next few weeks I didn't see them. Brad started hanging out with me again and school was good. The years go by and still no sight of them. 4 years pass by. It's 1999 and my tastes changed. Instead of Ninja Turtles and Batman it was KISS and Freddy Krueger. By this point me and Josh had made up and Brad was in middle school. And so we go to where me and the voices meet again.

8. INT. Taft Elementary
A class of roughly 25 children in your average 5th grade home room with a stout middle aged gentleman teaching. JOSH and DEREK are in the back row sitting side by side.

TEACHER:
...And that's how the metric system works.

JOSH:
(to Derek)
Dude, did you check out RAW last night? The Undertaker crucified Stone Cold!

DEREK:
**** I missed it. I was doing homework.

JOSH:
(loud)
****!!

TEACHER:
What did you say Mr. Jarvis?

JOSH:
Sorry Mr. Cannib. I forgot to do my homework.

MR. CANNIB:
Josh, Derek, outside!

LATE 20'S DEREK:
(OS)
The old man had taken kids out of the classroom before and they always came back with tears in their eyes. As we walked outside I heard a familiar voice.

JERRY:
(OS)
If he touches either of you, kick him in the nuts!

MR. CANNIB:
I told you boys too many times! None of this **** in my classroom! Josh get over here you little *****!

OL' TEACH GRABS JOSH by the NECK.

DEREK:
Hey ******* keep your hands to yourself!

CANNIB begins to throttle JOSH. DEREK pushes him off of JOSH and KICKS the TEACHER in the nuts with FURY about 3 times and jumps on top of him while JOSH watches holding his neck.

JERRY:
(OS) While we see Derek's mouth moving

Look here, *******. You think you can be called a teacher for drinking on a farm, ******* cattle and beating children so you can have Summer vacation every year? *******, you spiteful sad man.

DEREK SPITS in the *******'S face and begins to PUNCH him when JOSH pulls him off.

JOSH:
Dude, the door outta here is right there. Lets go to our lockers, get our **** and get outta here.

DEREK:
(Breathing heavily)
Did I just do that? What the ****? Let's get out of here...now!

                                                    ­                                                                 ­                                           CUT TO:
9. EXT. Taft Elementary
A bunch of playground equipment next to an alley with a fenced in field. JOSH and DEREK are walking down the alley. It is sunny outside but about to rain.

DEREK:
That wasn't me that did that.

JOSH:
If it wasn't you who was it?

DEREK:
It w...

JOSH:
(Interrupting)
It reall
Athina Mitchell Nov 2015
A handful of leaves
Smells just like Autumn.
The bits make me sneeze.
Cheew! Gaia's bottom!
Either peace or happiness,
let it enfold you

when I was a young man
I felt these things were
dumb, unsophisticated.
I had bad blood, a twisted
mind, a precarious
upbringing.

I was hard as granite, I
leered at the
sun.
I trusted no man and
especially no
woman.

I was living a hell in
small rooms, I broke
things, smashed things,
walked through glass,
cursed.
I challenged everything,
was continually being
evicted, jailed, in and
out of fights, in and out
of my mind.
women were something
to ***** and rail
at, I had no male
friends,

I changed jobs and
cities, I hated holidays,
babies, history,
newspapers, museums,
grandmothers,
marriage, movies,
spiders, garbagemen,
english accents,spain,
france,italy,walnuts and
the color
orange.
algebra angred me,
opera sickened me,
charlie chaplin was a
fake
and flowers were for
pansies.

peace and happiness to me
were signs of
inferiority,
tenants of the weak
and
addled
mind.

but as I went on with
my alley fights,
my suicidal years,
my passage through
any number of
women-it gradually
began to occur to
me
that I wasn't different

from the
others, I was the same,

they were all fulsome
with hatred,
glossed over with petty
grievances,
the men I fought in
alleys had hearts of stone.
everybody was nudging,
inching, cheating for
some insignificant
advantage,
the lie was the
weapon and the
plot was
empty,
darkness was the
dictator.

cautiously, I allowed
myself to feel good
at times.
I found moments of
peace in cheap
rooms
just staring at the
knobs of some
dresser
or listening to the
rain in the
dark.
the less I needed
the better I
felt.

maybe the other life had worn me
down.
I no longer found
glamour
in topping somebody
in conversation.
or in mounting the
body of some poor
drunken female
whose life had
slipped away into
sorrow.

I could never accept
life as it was,
i could never gobble
down all its
poisons
but there were parts,
tenuous magic parts
open for the
asking.

I re formulated
I don't know when,
date, time, all
that
but the change
occurred.
something in me
relaxed, smoothed
out.
i no longer had to
prove that I was a
man,

I didn't have to prove
anything.

I began to see things:
coffee cups lined up
behind a counter in a
cafe.
or a dog walking along
a sidewalk.
or the way the mouse
on my dresser top
stopped there
with its body,
its ears,
its nose,
it was fixed,
a bit of life
caught within itself
and its eyes looked
at me
and they were
beautiful.
then- it was
gone.

I began to feel good,
I began to feel good
in the worst situations
and there were plenty
of those.
like say, the boss
behind his desk,
he is going to have
to fire me.

I've missed too many
days.
he is dressed in a
suit, necktie, glasses,
he says, 'I am going
to have to let you go'

'it's all right' I tell
him.

He must do what he
must do, he has a
wife, a house, children,
expenses, most probably
a girlfriend.

I am sorry for him
he is caught.

I walk onto the blazing
sunshine.
the whole day is
mine
temporarily,
anyhow.

(the whole world is at the
throat of the world,
everybody feels angry,
short-changed, cheated,
everybody is despondent,
disillusioned)

I welcomed shots of
peace, tattered shards of
happiness.

I embraced that stuff
like the hottest number,
like high heels, *******,
singing,the
works.

(don't get me wrong,
there is such a thing as cockeyed optimism
that overlooks all
basic problems just for
the sake of
itself-
this is a shield and a
sickness.)

The knife got near my
throat again,
I almost turned on the
gas
again
but when the good
moments arrived
again
I didn't fight them off
like an alley
adversary.
I let them take me,
I luxuriated in them,
I made them welcome
home.
I even looked into
the mirror
once having thought
myself to be
ugly,
I now liked what
I saw, almost
handsome, yes,
a bit ripped and
ragged,
scares, lumps,
odd turns,
but all in all,
not too bad,
almost handsome,
better at least than
some of those movie
star faces
like the cheeks of
a baby's
****.

and finally I discovered
real feelings of
others,
unheralded,
like lately,
like this morning,
as I was leaving,
for the track,
i saw my wife in bed,
just the
shape of
her head there
(not forgetting
centuries of the living
and the dead and
the dying,
the pyramids,
Mozart dead
but his music still
there in the
room, weeds growing,
the earth turning,
the tote board waiting for
me)
I saw the shape of my
wife's head,
she so still,
I ached for her life,
just being there
under the
covers.

I kissed her in the
forehead,
got down the stairway,
got outside,
got into my marvelous
car,
fixed the seatbelt,
backed out the
drive.
feeling warm to
the fingertips,
down to my
foot on the gas
pedal,
I entered the world
once
more,
drove down the
hill
past the houses
full and empty
of
people,
I saw the mailman,
honked,
he waved
back
at me.
collin Jul 2015
it doesn't mean i don't appreciate a nice ****
and you have a nice **** that i appreciate
very much
Larry McDonough Jan 2013
I am numb
Numb am i
Numb we are all
Numb nuns
Numb nuts
**** nuts
*******
****
****
****
**** my ****
**** my ****
Until it is numb
Crumbs
****
Drum
Hum
Numb
Stuck in gum
Or ***
Or drool, ****, wine and glue
Like me stuck to you
*******
**** me
I’ll watch
And use both hands
To tell the time
A crime
Committed
Omitted from books
Like cooks and crooks
****
Numb
I am numb
None
Nom nom nom
Numb
Succumb to my ***
On a street corner
Begging for change
It can’t stay the same
Someone might notice
Notice Otis?
They’re *******
**** *******
They must be numb
We’re all numb
Numb nuns
With guns
And **** puns
To **** tons
Ones and sons
Under one sun
A numb sun
Like god
God is numb
Dumb founded and *** pounded
Until it is numb
No feeling
No ceiling
Just sky
High
****, smack, *****, and ***
Up my nose
**** my nose
With a hose
Like one ***** hoes
No one knows
They’re all dumb
Numb…
Cunning Linguist Nov 2013
Hella business
Got hella *******
Poppin double bottles
With a couple of mistresses
Stellar mistreatment
Here's the key
Lock em in the cellar
Forever their memory lies
But a troubling mystery

Hysteria erupting
Like waves gushing
From the tip of my *****
My genius is better
I'm the King here's my scepter
Now watch the teeth
You worthless Queen
Or I'll stifle them screams

I **** ******* on trampolines
Motion sickness?
Overdose on Dramamine

Slave to the magnitude
Of my impressive **** munching
Exploring deplorable nether-regions galore;
Can't touch me you got nothing
Broke *******
Grind your brain like morning coffee beans

Shame is a word just outside the boundaries
of my fabulous vocabulary

Oh, am I contrite?
How trifling
Check my charm I'm enlightening
Enigmatic and igniting sporadically like lightning
Magically radical voyaging down
                                                           down
                                                  down the rabbit's hole
Inciting excited riots to light fires spark fuses and chew on live wires
You do not frighten me.
Delivering excruciating asphyxiation to every pwn'd n00b
Is my modus operandi
And this is my magnum opus

I have Tourette's

Conceive these merriments of abhorrent mental abortions
Precisely concise and incisive concocting incoherent comatose monstrosities to flatten your lifelines
Conduct these ensembles of debauchery and narcotics -
I'm fascinating;
Crippling your mind like a lobotomy and tripping the light fantastic through bombarding planes of consciousness
I'm on acid thraxXx'd the **** OUT and faded
Levitating fading and oscillating in time while inflating my ego

But lets be realistic
the caliber of my linguistics is intrinsically aesthetic
but none too altruistic
Untrue!
Be reasonable lest I demand be-headings on grounds of treason
Its not hard for me -
It's profound, the sound of suffering;
I'll swallow your soul
'Tis the season!

Inference for instance -
****-hand upturned to oceans of incessant peasants
Pestering to ****** and fluster your festering ****-hole
Exact my revenge; begin phase mayhem
initiating total brain annihilation
interring bodies posthaste with skilled persistence
And sporting in poor taste
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

You who peers through eye of the pyramid-
Would you be so kind as to interpret my footprint at face-value?
Do you take me for a fool yet seek prophets reaping profits?
Listen to them sleep, baaah-ing away like flocks of little sheep
My hearts not on my sleeve but I have a trick or two up there;

Now bow before my marvelous flow
As I behold my throne whilst throwing bows and exposing hoes.
MeanAileen Mar 2017
YOU
YOU hurt me in ways
like no one else before,
cutting me deep-
right down to the core.

YOU beat me up
without lifting a hand,
reminding me exactly
where I stand.

YOU love to **** with me
building my hopes-
making me the ****
of all of your jokes.

YOU shove your money
and life in my face,
finding it funny
that my life's a disgrace.

YOU give me your love
just to rip it away-
an unworthy pawn
in the game you play.

YOU think that I'm ugly
I'm well aware,
to all the others
I just don't compare.

YOU treat me like I'm
a worthless ****,
barely good enough
for you to ****.

YOU boldly look me
straight in the eyes
and feed me so many
******* lies.

But please don't stop,
I love it this way!
Choking on every
cruel word you say....

For I am too spineless
to ever stand tall,
and I'd rather feel pain
then nothing at all.
I'm a sucker for punishment, I guess....
T'was the night before Christmas, And at the back of the bar

Sat a man all alone, Lighting up a cigar

The waitress ran over and waving her hand

You can't do that here, Smoking is banned.

If you must smoke that thing, you can go to the street

And stay away from the building, by at least fifty feet

The man took a puff and with a voice like a croak

He said, "You're kidding, right miss? You're making a joke"

I'm sorry, but sir..I'm afraid that it's true

But the law is the law, and it's not only for you

That we must say **** out, please extinguish your smoke

So our place can be filled with other fine folk

For ninety two years I have walked on this earth,

I have broken no laws and you know what it's worth?

Bupkiss, no nada it's not worth a thing

Would that law still apply if I was a King?

I've been coming in here for 60 odd years

And I think I've consumed a truckload of beers

I've smoked in this corner on many a night

Now you say **** out, I don't think that's right.

I fought for this country at the end of the war

I came home with a war wound, and you know dear...what's more

I came to this bar to have drinks with my friends

Who all weren't so lucky and met terrible ends

They died on the beach, heart as big as a house

Taking on the unknown for their country, their spouse

They battled for honor, the right to be free

And they all weren't as lucky, to come home like me.

I was here in the sixities when Camelot died

I was here with my son, and we both sat and cried

It was that night in November, I remember it well

That my son said he'd joined up and was heading to hell

He had joined the marines and was all set to fight

For freedom and honor and he knew it was right

Because I'd gone before and stood with others like him

And I said just be safe, and come home son...my Jim

In the years he was gone, I came down here to think

Of why he was there and I shared smokes and drinks

With friends, all now gone from this world of distrust

Now they all lie beneath us, decomposed back to dust.

My son made it back and we came right down here

To spend time with our friends, both from far and from near.

The years passed us by and my grandson joined too

And we sat and we prayed in this bar, for we knew

He was fighting for freedom and the rights we hold dear

Like having some fun, over smokes and some beer.

He never came home from his war, don't you see

That's why we're sitting alone here, just you and me

Tonight is the night that his letter arrived

Saying "We regret to inform you...that no one survived"

So, each Christmas Eve I come back to this bar

To savor my memories and to drink from this jar

And I finish each year thinking of what now is gone,

Of my battle scarred boy and his now deceased son

Now, you come and tell me that I must go outside

To continue my smoking and so I'll abide

'cause for 92 years that I've been on this earth

I've broken no laws and you know what that's worth

Then the waitress reached back and she pulled out a match

From a box on the bar with a rusty old catch

She said Sir, I am sorry I didn't mean to offend

For this one night each year, the law I can bend

So please light one for me on this Christmas Eve Night

And Thank you from all who continue the fight.

Merry Christmas and HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019
A Christmas Eve Poem that was posted earlier, I have not added much, but, I think it is fitting to read so those of you who haven't seen my older works, and The Street Poems, may get a chance.
bre Apr 2015
I was only 9 years old.
I pray to Shrek every night, thanking him for the life I’ve been given. “Shrek is love” I say, “Shrek is life."
My dad hears me and calls me a ******. I knew he was just jealous of my devotion
to Shrek. I called him a ****.
He hits me and sends me to sleep. I'm crying now and my face hurts.
I lay in bed, really cold. I feel something warm...
It's Shrek! I was so happy.
He whispers in my ear "This is my swamp."
He grabs me with his ogre hands, and puts me on my hands and knees. I'm ready.
I spread my *** cheeks for Shrek.
He penetrates my *******. It hurts so much,
but I do it for Shrek. I can feel my **** tearing and eyes watering.
I want to please Shrek. He roars a mighty roar as he fills my ****
with his love. My dad walks in.
Shrek looks him straight in the eye and says, "It's all ogre now."
Shrek leaves through my window.
Shrek is love. Shrek is life.
Becca Lansman May 2017
Give it back.
I did not build myself from paper mache only to wooed by a man undeserving of everything that makes me powerful.
I know I should not cry.
God—I know I should not ******* cry.
You are undeserving of the ocean that swells inside me— I will not spill for you.
I will not let you lick up the salt.
You have taken enough. Built this storm inside my chest only for it wrap itself around my lungs.
To the **** boy that stole my heart and threw it in the garbage as if it was leftovers: I am still searching through plastic bottles and used tissues.  
Trying to dust myself off
but i am still  the **** of your sick joke. The ***** newspaper. Yesterdays comic.
“Just another *** that wants your ****.” They scoff. As if I am nothing more than a carcass.

Burn me to ashes. Dust to dust.

Hollow me out. Chop off my *******. **** everything beautiful out of me until I am a shell of a woman. Sticking pins and needles in myself to keep from falling apart.
Wipe your feet on me. Twirl my hair in your fingers. Grab my ***. Anything. This is your world. Choke the feminist right out of me.

I’ll scream your name.

To the **** boy that stole my heart: I hope you fall in love with a powerful woman.  A woman who demands the respect I never could.

— The End —