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Amitav Radiance Apr 2015
Every action has its consequences
Bound to a fate of its own
We choose an action by choice
Informed or under compulsions
Wound in a complex circle
Once we knock the door with uncertainty
Fate is there watching over us
Given the task to execute the action
Awaiting the consequences as remuneration
mark john junor Jul 2014
consequence has no face
but he has a voice
speaks so loudly in the lives of the unwary
i can hear him now talking like misery in the
background of her eyes
her loves are empty
her love will only last till the sun has ground down
the lion of your beautiful moments
look at his once proud mane matted with
the dusts of your life of compromise
its consequences handiwork illustrated in sorrowful colors
a lover of the feelin fleeting and vain
a stealer of the better things
a child of her consequences
bitter is her joys
in her sour smiles
EFFECTS OF CHILD ABUSE ON PERFORMANCE OF PRIMARY SCHOOL IN KAPYEMIT WARD, TURBO CONSTITUENCY, UASIN-GISHU COUNTY.





BY
ERICK NYAKUNDI
KIS/03013/14




A RESEARCH PROJECTSUBMITED TO THE SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY IN THE PARTIAL FULFILMENT FOR THE AWARD OF THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF SOCIOLOGY



MAY, 2014

DECLARATION

I, the undersigned, declare that this project is my original work and that it has not been presented in any other university or institution for academic credit.

Signature...............................................­..... Date...................................
ERICK NYAKUNDI
KIS/03013/14






SUPERVISOR
This project has been submitted for examination with my approval as university supervisor
DR. W. O. ABUYA
Signature..................................................­.. Date....................................




DEDICATION
I dedicate this work to my Dad, Mom, my sister Lydia and my lovely brother Dun who contributed in one way or another to make this project to be successful.


















ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I would like to thank all individuals who contributed and sacrificed their time towards completion of this project.
To my supervisor, for the guidance and support in the development of this research project, His advice and criticism made this project what it is.
Thanks to colleagues and friends for their suggestions, advice and encouragement. To all of you may God bless you abundantly for your tireless effort.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Contents Page
DECLARATION i
DEDICATION ii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT iii
TABLE OF CONTENTS iv
LIST OF TABLES vii
LIST OF FIGURE viii
ABSTRACT ix
CHAPTER ONE 10
STUDY OVERVIEW AND STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM 10
1.1 Background of the Study 10
1.2 Research Questions 13
1.3 Research Objectives 13
1.4 Justification of the Study 13
1.5 Significance of the Study 14
1.6 Scope of the Study 15
1.6.1Assumptions of the Study 16
CHAPTER TWO 17
LITERATURE REVIEW 17
2.1 Introduction 17
2.2 Common Forms of Child Abuse 17
2.2.1 Child ****** Abuse 17
2.2.2 Physiological or Emotional Abuse 17
2.2.3 Physical Abuse 18
2.2.4 Child Neglect or Abandonment 18
2.2.4.1 Physical Neglect 19
2.2.4.2 Educational Neglect 19
2.2.4.3 Medical Neglect 19
2.2.5 Child Fatalities 20
2.3 How Child Abuse Affects Academic Performance 20
2.3.1 Child Abuse and Academic Performance 20
2.3.2 Child Abuse and School Image 23
2.3.3 Child Abuse and Dropout Rate 25
2.4 Strategies that Schools can Employ to Curb Child Abuse 26
2.4.1 Role of Public Regulation 26
2.4.1.1 Nurturing and Attachment 27
2.4.1.2 Social Connections 27
2.5 Theoretical Framework 27
2.5.1 Learning Theory 28
2.5.1.1 Relationship with the Study 28
2.5.2 Family Dysfunction Theory 29
2.5.2.1 Relationship with the Study 29
CHAPTER THREE 30
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY 30
3.0 Introduction 30
3.1 Site Description 30
3.2 Research Design 30
3.3.1 Target Population 30
3.3.2 Sample Size and Sampling Procedure 31
3.4 Description of Research Instruments 32
3.4.1 Research Instrument 32
3.4.1.1 Questionnaire 32
3.5 Data Collection Procedure 32
3.5.1 Validity and Reliability of Research Instruments 33
3.5.1.1 Reliability of Research Instruments 33
3.5.1.2 Validity 33
3.6 Data Analysis and Presentation 33
CHAPTER FOUR 35
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS 35
4.0 Introduction 35
4.1 Background Information 35
4.1.1 Age of the Respondents 35
4.1.2 *** of the Respondents 35
4.1.3 Education Level of the Respondents 36
4.1.4 Marital Status 36
4.2 Specific Information 37
4.2.1 Effects of Child Abuse on Academic Performance 37
4.2.2 How Child Abuse Affects Dropout Rate of Students in School 38
4.2.3 Proposed Strategies that Schools can Employ to Curb Child Abuse 41
CHAPTER FIVE 43
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 43
5.0 Introduction 43
5.1 Summary of the findings 43
5.2 Discussion of the Findings 44
5.3 Conclusion 45
5.4 Recommendations 46
REFERENCES 47

LIST OF TABLES & FIGURES
Table 3.1 Target population 32
Table 3.1 Sample size 33
Table 4.1 Age of the Respondents 36
Table 4.2 *** of the Respondents 37
Table 4.3 Education Level of the Respondents 37
Table 4.4 Marital Status 38
Table 4.5 Effects of Child Abuse on Academic Performance 38
Table 4.6 How Child Abuse Affects Dropout Rate of Students in School 40
Figure 4.1 Views of the Pupils on Abuse 41
Table 4.7 Proposed Strategies that Schools can Employ to Curb Child Abuse 42





















ABSTRACT
Child abuse is the physical, ****** or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children. The consequences of child maltreatment can be profound and may endure long after the abuse or neglect occurs. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of child abuse on school performance in Primary Schools in Kapyemit ward, Uasin-Gishu County. The objectives of the study were: To assess the impacts of child abuse on academic performance; to determine the effects of child abuse on schools image, to identify the impacts of child abuse on pupil drop out rate, to investigate the effects of child abuse on pupil transition rate. The study employed a survey study design. The study targeted 160 respondents which includes; 5 Head Teachers, 40 Teachers, 70 Pupils and 35 parents of which a sample size of 48 was obtained from using 30%. Purposive sampling technique was used in selecting the head teachers while simple random sampling technique will be used to select the teachers, Pupils and parents who formed the respondents of the study. Questionnaires and interview schedules were used as data collection instruments. Data was analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively and presented in form of tables, percentages and frequency. The study helped in the understanding of the effects of child abuse on the school performance, the realization of the roles parents and teachers play in the curbing of child abuse among pupils and raising awareness on the same.

CHAPTER ONE
STUDY OVERVIEW AND STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.1 Background of the Study
Child abuse is the physical, ****** or emotional maltreatment or neglect of a child or children. The consequences of child maltreatment can be profound and may endure long after the abuse or neglect occurs. The effects can appear in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood, and may affect various aspects of an individual's development (e.g., physical, cognitive, psychological, and behavioral). These effects range in consequence from minor physical injuries, low self-esteem, attention disorders, and poor peer relations to severe brain damage, extremely violent behavior, and death. In extreme cases, child abuse affects the performance of schools in the affected region (Daniel, 1978).
Performance refers to how students deal with their academic studies and how they cope with or accomplish different tasks given to them by their teachers. Performance is also the ability of a school to portray a good image which can influence the public (Decastro, 1978). There are several factors that influence the performance of a school at large, however, there is a critical factor that most researchers have avoided to discuss, and child abuse has been a crucial factor that has contributed to children’s dismal performance. Apart from children’s personal intelligence, child abuse is among then key factors contributing to poor performance of learners. Child abuse can lead to school dropping, emotional trauma or can even be fatal, hence destructing or even terminating the educational ambitions of a child. (Harris, 2005)
Worldwide, according to World Health Organization (WHO, 2000) approximately 40 million children are subjected to child abuse each year. According to Human Rights Watch (2001) about 30% of all severely disabled children relegated to special homes in the Ukraine died before they reached 18 years of age. UNICEF estimates that two million children died as a result of armed conflict during a recent 10-year period and that another six million were injured or disabled. In Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, over 6.5 million children annually are exposed to unwanted ****** materials over the internet; over 1.7 million of these report distress over exposure to these materials. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department for Children and Families (DCF) define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Child abuse can occur in a child's home, or in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. Each year, approximately one million children around the world are introduced into commercial ****** exploitation despite this problem; these developed countries have put measures to curb the vice. Rehabilitation schools have been formed and introduction of counseling centers as well. Despite the prevalence of child abuse in this developed nations they narrowly affect the academic performance since there are organizations put in place to curb the situation e.g. child associations, guidance and counseling institutions, and school based counseling programs (Giles, 2001)
Concern for victims of child abuse in Africa expressed by the African network of the International Society for The Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) which gave five main presentations of child abuse: child labor, street wandering, ****** abuse, child battering and abandonment (Elma, 1977). Child labor according to the international labor organization (ILO), about 10 million children less than 15years in Africa are in formal employment, working long hours with poor pay and are exposed to substantial health hazards. Wandering of children refers to children, usually unkempt and with delinquent propensities, living rough in town. The reasons for children taking to the street remain poorly understood particularly in relation to factors in the child rather than parental hostility and economic (Dubowitz, 2002)
****** abuse is another. For example, arranged under-age marriages are common in some parts of the continent and doubt was often expressed as to whether a young girl fully gave consent to being betrothed (Galdsone, 1965). Prevalence rates in Africa are very difficult to ascertain because of the fear of disclosure by victims and lack of proper documentation. Most of the girls by reasons of shame fear or surprisingly respect for their usually older perpetrators. Physical battering is also eminent. Physical abuse of children is widely claimed to berate in the third world; however, there are anecdotes from east Africa skeletal frame or localized body areas of all first attendees aged 0-12 years at this hospital during the four-year period 1 January 1987 to 31 December 1990 (Garbarino, 1975). Sixty-nine of these reports reveals evidence of multiple bone fractures wither without evidence of rib or skull fracture. Abandonment of children to roam around the streets in what we call street children is also eminent in Africa, though valid and adequate information on abandonment are difficult to obtain due mainly to failure of offending parents to show up out of guilt, shame, judicial repercussions or a combination of these. However, some euro-American missionaries identified inter alia breech birth. (Erickson, 2003)
Child protection measures in Kenya are currently not implemented effectively and fully (Galdstone, 1965). Compliance with such legislation would increase if the magnitude of the problem and better knowledge about the factors that put children at risk was available. Additionally, involving stakeholders, especially agencies charged with protection, as well as involving affected children, will highlight the issues and thereby promote adherence to protection policies. Kenyan children, child activists and children organizations are pinning their hopes on the implementation of the Children’s Act to improve the lot of the nation’s youth. The Act, which came into effect on 1 March 2002, puts in place full safeguards for the rights of the child. Its passage was a giant stride in harmonizing the national laws with international agreements which Kenya has signed such as the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 2002)
There is hope that the new legislation will dramatically change the inattention, neglect and abuse towards child rights. The Act outlaws any form discrimination of children, and forbids Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child prostitution, and child labor, among other forms of abuse. The Children’s Act has immensely improved the lives of many Kenyan children plagued with high illiteracy levels, frequent **** cases and child labor since it guarantees children the right to health and medical care, provision of which is the responsibility of the parents, the extended family and the government (Erickson, 2005).
Cases of child abuse in Uasin-Gishu region have been so eminent in the recent years ((Kenya Media Report, 2004). In the year 2010 and the year 2011, there was a program started to rehabilitate this behavior. This problem is clearly evident when you first arrive in Eldoret town, it is among the towns in the country with the highest number of abandoned children who keep on moving from one Centre to another seeking help from passersby. Parents have developed behaviors of abandoning their children and deliberately sending them to the town so that they can benefit from their borrowing. So to say this has led to child labor in this region. High profile cases of school dropouts have been recorded regarding the environs of this region. Young school children from different locations in Eldoret converge in town to persuade people to offer them financial assistance. Some attend school in numbered days and decide to spend some good number of days out of school.
The communities and societies around tend to assume this situation and term it as norm. A few who might seem concerned lack cooperation from the rest. This has adversely affected the performance of most of schools, hence leading to poor living standards of the people and a poisoned future of a young citizen. The problem has affected learners in regions like many areas in Uasin-Gishu County. It has really affected child development and affected their attendance and performance in school. Little intervention measures has been taken to advocate the holistic development of the children. It was to this reason that the researcher conducted the research in the named above region
1.2 Research Questions
The study was guided by the following questions;
1) What is the effect of child abuse on the academic performance of students in Kapyemit Ward?  
2) What are some of the proposed strategies that schools can employ to curb child abuse?
1.3 Research Objectives
The study was guided by the following research objectives;
1) To identify the effect of child abuse on the academic performance of students in Kapyemit Ward.
2) To identify proposed strategies that can be employed to help curb child abuse.
1.4 Justification of the Study
It is becoming increasingly difficult to separate child abuse prevention into separate categories. For instance, strategies on the societal level include increasing the “value” of children, increasing the economic self-sufficiency of families, discouraging corporal punishment and other forms of violence, making health care more accessible and affordable, expanding and improving coordination of social services, improving the identification and treatment of psychological problems and alcohol and drug abuse, providing more affordable child care and preventing the birth of unwanted children.
Very little analysis has been done to estimate the total cost of preventing child abuse and neglect or the long-term social costs of not preventing it. There is now a move to situate child abuse and neglect within the continuum of intervention which addresses multiple aspects of family behaviors. The efficacy of tackling portions of the problem of child abuse apart from broader societal needs is not known. And, perhaps prevention can only come in tandem with efforts to reduce poverty, improve health care and make children’s issues a national priority. However, despite these constraints, evaluations of prevention programs can be improved by coming to terms with definitions of key varia
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.
Lawrence Hall Feb 2019
The cultural filters are all in place
And truth, some say, is past its sell-by date
Weak hymns embalmed by hippies, and lost in space
Where time is always 1968

A poison-green tattoo on a fleshy back
No incense, but the Purell’s pretty strong
A ten-year-old gobbles his comfort snack
During Communion and a three-chord song

Our bishops quack and honk in flocks and herds -
We need a starets
                                           but all we get are words:


Intensify the Dallas Charter accountability focus accountability exclusively accountability collegial collective accountability responsibility address theme encounter dialectic collegiality variety universality unity flock dealing topic difficult reasons unexplored differences crisis difficult for bishops enable abusers gravely irreparably failures governance responsibility question engage conversation point brother problematic behavior cultivate culture correctio fraterna enables offending other recognize criticism opportunity to tasks related willingness personally mistakes to each other feeling maintain fraternal relationship cases we damaging weakness anecdotal parenthesis to his speech encounters course ministry recollection forgive counseling for healing discussing matter rationally headway realized psyche of the person measure semblance justice inability forgive his  apparently perplexing consternating remarked noting changed personality of person realize humility mistakes learn mistakes better question unanswered unaddressed mistakes allowed consequences mishandling cases gathering conferences participants and journalists effective concrete measures combat scourge scandal technical theological sense term list reflection points adjunct secretary special portfolio combatting meeting chief architects roadmap for our discussion very, very concrete understatement seriously utter understatement things discussed follow-up meeting continued model of reform the so-called intensify the Dallas Charter metropolitan model metropolitan investigating disciplining wayward ecclesiastical provinces briefing responded you have to read the footnote disgrace investigations systemic coverup dismissed briefing expressed hope report position power prominence leadership structure report findings influence broader jurisdictions Accountability focus accountability exclusively accountability collegial collective accountability responsibility address theme encounter dialectic collegiality variety universality unity flock dealing topic difficult reasons unexplored differences crisis difficult for bishops enable abusers gravely irreparably failures governance responsibility question engage conversation point brother problematic behavior cultivate culture correctio fraterna enables offending other recognize criticism opportunity to tasks related willingness personally mistakes to each other feeling maintain fraternal relationship cases we damaging weakness anecdotal parenthesis to his speech encounters course ministry recollection forgive counseling for healing discussing matter rationally headway realized psyche of the person measure semblance justice inability forgive his  apparently perplexing consternating remarked noting changed personality of person realize humility mistakes learn mistakes better question unanswered unaddressed mistakes allowed consequences mishandling cases gathering conferences participants and journalists effective concrete measures combat scourge scandal technical theological sense term list reflection points adjunct secretary special portfolio combatting meeting chief architects roadmap for our discussion very, very concrete understatement seriously utter understatement things discussed follow-up meeting continued model of reform the so-called Metropolitan model metropolitan investigating disciplining wayward ecclesiastical provinces briefing responded you have to read the footnote disgrace investigations systemic coverup dismissed briefing expressed hope report position power prominence leadership structure report findings influence broader jurisdictions accountable faithful promises episodes  accountability supportive talking collegiality obligation misbehavior failures circumstances reputation representative discreet inquiries interview expression concern geographically confronted reported matter subject investigating disciplining malfeasance proposal wrongdoing explained carefully considered matter alternatives remarks paragraph  rehearsed alternatives footnote 6 of text speeches delivered sessions briefing spoke involvement laity lay involvement transparency transparent offending other recognize criticism opportunity to tasks related willingness personally mistakes to each other feeling maintain fraternal relationship cases we damaging weakness anecdotal parenthesis to his speech encounters course ministry recollection forgive counseling for healing discussing matter rationally headway realized psyche of the person measure semblance justice inability forgive his  apparently perplexing consternating remarked noting changed personality of person realize humility mistakes learn mistakes better question unanswered unaddressed mistakes allowed consequences mishandling cases gathering conferences participants and journalists effective concrete measures combat scourge scandal technical theological sense term list reflection points adjunct secretary special portfolio combatting meeting chief architects roadmap for our discussion very, very concrete understatement seriously utter understatement things discussed follow-up meeting continued model of reform the so-called Metropolitan model metropolitan investigating disciplining wayward ecclesiastical provinces briefing responded you have to read the footnote disgrace investigations systemic coverup dismissed briefing expressed hope report position power prominence leadership structure report findings influence broader jurisdictions accountable faithful promises episodes  accountability supportive talking collegiality obligation misbehavior failures circumstances reputation representative discreet inquiries interview expression concern geographically confronted reported matter subject investigating disciplining malfeasance proposal wrongdoing explained carefully considered matter alternatives remarks paragraph  rehearsed alternatives footnote 6 of text speeches delivered sessions briefing spoke involvement laity lay involvement transparency transparent intensify the Dallas Charter…
Your ‘umble scrivener’s site is:
Reactionarydrivel.blogspot.com.
It’s not at all reactionary, tho’ it might be drivel.

Lawrence Hall’s vanity publications are available on amazon.com as Kindle and on bits of dead tree:  The Road to Magdalena, Paleo-Hippies at Work and Play, Lady with a Dead Turtle, Don’t Forget Your Shoes and Grapes, Coffee and a Dead Alligator to Go, and Dispatches from the Colonial Office.
Rockwood Dec 2017
running down the street
eyes glinting
illuminated by street lamps and stars
breathing hard

but consequences are temporary.

climbing shaky trees
ripping jeans
28 missed calls from my mother
but time with one another

because consequences are temporary.

gazing into black night skies
looking at your sea green eyes
the worst fall i've taken
so if i'm not mistaken,

maybe not all consequences
are temporary.

you make me do things
i know i should not do
and with the beat of thrill
i'll loose my rationale

because at least some consequences
are temporary.
Andre Baez Jun 2013
There's 6 million ways to die
6 billion ways of life
With trillions in spikes
The consequences of suffering is tight

The whole is different from the parts
So go and shoot the darts at arts
With the greater truth lost in faults
& lines of earthquakes made up of chalk

The black and white make a picture
With questions and answers
Signed, sealed, delivered, to manufacture
The guns, the pins, and then the triggers

Because the flicker of the red line
Attracts the dead signs in crime
But it's all put there by design &
As such is inclined to drink red wine

To drink away the influences
The static mother message
To save you from wreckage
But still you can't accept it

So you keep marching on
To the beats and the arms
Of the tons and the laws
Of the builders of structures hulls

But the ship of the manifest destiny
Is making these darker lovers weep
But not to sweep them off their feet
Because they still got tags to meet

So at that time it's ****** ******
By someone you've never heard of
Brothers and sisters dying is the motive
To make you strike allegiance and devotion

To the machine, you know what I mean?
That thing that clings to the righteous means
Of fighting the things that light their springs
On fire so their likeness is scorched and diseased

With no more jumping from danger
We all pledge allegiance to the stranger
Weak and meek boil over to anger
And the cycle repeats it's very nature

In other parts of the globe
Demonstrations as they poach
The thoughts that revoked
The morals that they approached

The oak of the one mind of life
Fires and rolling tires fill the night
Senseless mobs to LA riots, right?
The ship ends with ghost after fights

The consequences of suffering scenes
More terrible than any uttering dreams
The differences make the different mutter things
The majority stomps out the minorities and ruptures spleens

But maybe Cleopatra can get a handle
However at this time King Arthur is out of samples
The Great Alexander is even out of answers
And we can't count on Mayans with their calendars

So I say burn it all down
The future isn't known
They can try to keep you down
But they can't touch your soul

Melt all the luminescent gold
And use it to shower the poor
6 billion humans on the Globe
Like I said, the future isn't known

Because it's not televised,
But going against is ill advised,
So as one could surmise,
This is a butterfly,
Leaving a web of lies,
And finally making its long awaited flight...

The consequences of suffering:
The palm of the outstretched hand will strike.
Pieces of me
thrown away
like trash
Never consulted
Never asked
The direct result
of another’s conviction
or more commonly seen
consequences
from blind ambition

Paranoid
The fix is in
But no invitation
for me,
former me
or forever me
and all of my imitations
beset by my
limitations

Forwardly I lean
step in between
lines upon lines
hidden;
can’t be seen
Falling ill
Now trapped
by its machine
And from my vein;
My blood I spill

A still surface
with sticky sheen
amber tones
from which
I glean
a reason
Thrilled
What it might mean
A hunger
that
can not be filled

Nothing but lies
giving me chills
A shell
with values
not instilled
Instead
it’s dread
Their words
I’m fed
"Nutrients"
to fill my head

My outer skin
Its layer
thin
Not to attacks
No single act
or prayer
could patch
and fill it in
A hole
that’s black
is my first sin

A game
in which
no way to win
and no ending
once it
begins
With opened eyes
commence to see
The dorsal fins
surrounding me

Head starts
to spin
What could have been?
It doesn't matter
in the end
because
there's nothing
here for me
A demon-like reality

Where what you seek
Placed at your feet
The icing; sweet
Choices; not three
Have cake or eat
One choice not two
But want to eat
and have it too

All efforts
to retrieve the treat;
An outcome that
ends in defeat
A princess swept
off of her feat
But this feature
princess;
a creature
Spirit of
a soulless seeker

Deceitful speaker
Flames;
he’ll eat ya
Offers pain
Can’t heal;
life drained
Then reaching out
to use
life-line
but with each ring
hope further wanes

An answered call
done just in time
The chills
running all down my spine
Stand tall
just like Douglas-fir pine
With racing thoughts
filling my mind
I will be saved
Free from it all
God must exist
No time to stall
In battle
warriors
may fall
but no man's ever left behind

Only to find
With said spent dime
A dynamite kind of answer
-
A type
that might
cause strife
Can't plan for
Needed answer
Plight
like cancer
New chance to live
Worldly romancer
On planet Earth
A tiny dancer

A romantic thought
to think
fight fought
Instead a sinking ship
just dropped
This life?
If could
an ‘OUT’
would opt
No more
can take
Just make
it stop
Written: April 17, 2018

All rights reserved.
jake aller Aug 2019
I don't get it
I don’t Get It 
Mr. Speaker
I admit I don’t get it

How does prayer
Stop gun violence?
Prayer did not work in Texas.

26 people were murdered
 while praying.

God if he exists
Obviously does not care
About the poor people
Who died in his church
Because a mad man

Got a gun
And no they were not praying
To be delivered from death
No one deserves to die like this

So my prayer to you
Is simply this

Get off your rear end
Rally the country
And do something

About gun violence

That’s a prayer
I hope works

Dear Speaker Ryan
I want to tell you something

The dead don’t want your prayers
The dead don’t care that you pray for them
They are dead after all

And you and your so-called Christians
Are to blame
You refuse to do anything
Anything at all

to stop the carnage
In our streets

The U.S. is flooded with guns
And more are sold every day
Millions of people don’t have health coverage
Millions are barely surviving

And your answer
Our dear great compassionate Speaker
Your answer 
Is Prayer works
Government action does not
You act as if the gun violence
Plaguing our country

Was like the weather
Beyond our control
So here’s my prayer for you

And your colleagues
When you die
I pray that God
Will send you

And your friends
Straight to hell
Where Satan and his demons
Will use you for target practice

That’s my prayer to you
And as you know
Prayer works
 
Mr. President
You are wrong once again

You said that the tragic events 
in Texas
And Las Vegas were not “gun situations”

But rather were mental health problems
And that in Texas
if there had been no gun controls
Perhaps fewer people would have died

Mr. President

I know you a smart man

The smartest man in the world


According to you
So please contemplate this fact

According to the latest findings

It is a gun situation

In fact, the reason the U.S.

Has so many gun deaths 

Is because we have so many guns

45% of the worlds guns in fact
And 33 percent of the world’s shooters

Are Americans killing other Americans
And most of them 

the majority of them

Are White men killing other people
Not Islamic terrorists


Most are in fact

Self-proclaimed Christians
So Mr. President

When will you come to your senses
And do what 90 percent of the public wants


Enact nation wide effective gun controls?
And tell the NRA
 
they can take their blood money elsewhere

When Mr. President

When will you act

When will you take charge
And become a President of the people
Instead of the President of the NRA?
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Virginia Beach Massacre Never Again
Virgina Beach 

In a night of horrific scumbagery violence

Rarely seen in this jaded age of ours

Gone in one hour
In a spasm of horrific scumbagery violence
I
In just a few short minutes


Nothing more than that
 
In just a few moments

All 12 victims were murdered
By a disgruntled employee


Every one he knew was shot

And killed for no reason
Caused by the demons

His soul was so infected

Murderous demonic voices

All in his head

Screaming **** them all 
**** them all


Screaming none stop violence in his head

All the time
Causing him to start shooting 
everyone he saw


Regardless of who they were 
or where they were

Everyone must die 
screamed the demonic voices in his head
No one can be left alive


Everyone must die

Virtually all must die 
in his internal video game

Everyone must die


Regardless of who they were 
or where they were
Again just another day

Gone horribly wrong


All across America
In
every town

No where is safe anymore
Virgina Beach massacre

Virgina Beach massacre

Just another
Average night in America

An Active Shooter
scumbagery violence

Rarely seen

in this jaded wild world
Gone in one hour
In a spasm of horrific
scumbagery
In just a less than 30 short minutes

Nothing more than
In just a few short 30 moments

All the victims
were murdered while at their daily 
work
wrong place wrong time

act of a demotic deranged madman
voices screaming ****
The voices scream
death to all humans


All must be killed
The voices scream over and over
All must die now

Just another night in America
Land of the Brave
Home of the free
More Guns for Everyone in the World

The NRA has decided

That the best solution to global problem

Of rampant violence and crime everywhere
Is for the rest of the world


To become like the U.S.

Where anyone can buy a gun

As an armed society is a polite society’

And so the President i
s about to announce

A global campaign against gun control restrictions


As these restrictions
are an undue burden

On the rights of the US arms manufactures
To sell their guns 
everywhere in the world


As everyone wants what we have to sell

The best weapons in the world
Instead of trying to limit the damage


That unrestricted gun sales

Have done to the U.S.
Our President, our great leader

Wants to sell more guns

Everywhere in the world

And there are eager buyers

Lining up around the world

Eager to buy the best guns

The world has ever seen

We want to export

The gun madness

That has infected our society


Leaving behind so many dead bodies
The dead were not consulted

For they remain dead


They do not vote
They have no voice
For the guns silenced them

For good
 just as the guns intended

Just doing their gun thing after all

Humanity has evolved
From stones to arrows
To guns
T o nuclear, biological weapons

And the U.S.
 While proclaiming itself
A champion of Human Rights

Remains nothing 
but a country 
Of gun runners
 Merchants of death
And destruction
NRA Please Stop Talking

Another day
Another mass shooting

Another incident
of domestic terrorism


another gun man
killing people
because just because
 he can
and he wants to **** people

The NRA 
And their stooges

Come out

Flood the airways
With their noxious
Poisonous weasel words


The NRA says
Mass shootings

Are like the weather

You can’t control them
You can’t predict them

And you can’t prevent them

Just have to accept

It is all god’s will

Guns don’t **** people
IF guns were outlawed

Only outlaws
 would have guns

Only solution 
Is more guns

For everyone

An armed society
they say 
Is a polite society


Support for gun control
I is
socialist/communist/fascist/anti-Am  erican/anti-Christian nonsense
The beginning of tyranny


If only the Jews had guns

The holocaust would not have happened

Jesus would want us all
 
to be armed 
with machine guns
To protect us against the evil doers

It is the Christian thing to do


To blow away evil doers
With heavy arms


In America
Land of the free

Home of the brave
We can’t do anything


At all
About the mass carnage

Unleashed by madmen with guns

Who walk among us

Searching for their next victims
Any restriction of the right


To bear arms

Is tyranny at its worst
The nanny state run amuck

Talking about gun control

After a tragic event
Is

just not the appropriate time

We only need prayers

and meaningless thoughts

Universal background checks

Too onerous
Registering guns

Too burdensome

Researching gun violence

waste of tax payer money
banning military style assault weapons
r

Restricts my right 
to blow 
away

Bambi the deer
with a M16

the NRA will keep talking

talking and talking

preventing anything

from being done

and we will have another

Mass shooting event

Before the day is out

So my plead

This day
To the NRA
A
and their stoogies

Talk is cheap

Your comments
Are not helping

If you can’t

Be a part of the solution
Just stop talking

Please stop talking


And let the rest
Of us  figure out

How to stop

The madness in the streets
And stop the carnage


So NRA

Please
 just
 stop
 talking
 Now

military assault weapons 
are locked up

yet in America

the land of the free

home of the brave
 
everyone and his cousin

must have their gun

guns for everyone

cries the NRA

that’s the solution

The president
a 
and his supporters

deny the obvious
guns **** people
That’s all they do


it is a gun thing

you would not understand
Guns just do
what guns gonna do
**** people

Mr. President

You can take your words

your empty platitudes
Your empty promises
Your prayers 

straight to hell

and back

where with any luck

Satan will use you

as target practice
Chief of Staff You are Absurd

the President’s chief of staff
said the other day

it was absurd

to suggest that the president’s words

had anything to do

with recent mass shootings

yet is it absurd

to see the lengths

to which the President’s supporters
will twist and turn

spinning awa
y
the inconvenient truth
President Trump 
is a racist bigot con man

who some how
 conned his way

to become President
he call immigrants criminals, vermin, animals

invaders infesting the country
the El Paseo shooter 

said that he went to the border

to shoot the invaders

and said
 that he was a big Trump fan
it is not absurd
 to connect these two huge dots
The President’s words
 
have real world consequences

Yes Mr. Trump is a racist pig
a
and his supporters
 are being absurd

to suggest otherwise

 
36
 Jake Aller


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Jake Aller
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https://theworldaccordingtocosmos.com

John (Jake) Cosmos Aller

Novelist, Poet, Foreign Service Officer 

Tel: 703-436-1402
Email: authorjakecosmosaller@gmail.com

John (“Jake” ) Cosmos Aller is a novelist, poet and former Foreign Service officer having served 27 years with the U.S. State Department in ten countries - Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada,  Korea, India, St Kitts, St Lucia,  St Vincent, Spain and Thailand. and traveled to 45 countries during his career.  Jake has been an aspiring novelist for several years and has completed two novels, (Giant **** Spiders, and the Great Divorce) and is pursuing publication.  He has been writing poetry all his life and has published his poetry in electronic poetry forums, including All Poetry, Moon Café and Duane’s Poetree. (under the name Jake Lee).  He is looking forward to transitioning to his third career – full-time novelist and poet after completing his second career as a Foreign Service officer, and his first career as an educator overseas for six years upon completion of his Peace Corps service in South Korea. 



He served in a wide variety of positions running from Consular management, Fraud investigation and managing the consular overseas computer support desk, to economic and political reporting positions, international labor diplomacy, commercial diplomacy - promoting American business overseas- international organization diplomacy serving as the deputy permanent representative to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, to management positions including program management, evaluation and contracting management, and environmental and science diplomacy including promoting renewable energy solutions.  He taught courses at the Foreign Service Institute and overseas in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Kathmandu on consular fraud and consular Systems issues.

Senior program evaluator overseeing the implementation of the Department's evaluation program enabling the Department to develop a robust program evaluation system.
Coordinated training program training over 200 people in three years
Launched community of practice (CoP) web page (word press) with over 300 participants, greatly expanding the ability of State program evaluators to conduct program evaluations.  
Conducted meta-evaluation of completed foreign assistance evaluations insuring that the Department’s evaluations provided critical program improvement data.

Deputy Political Economic chief, - Bridgetown, Barbados 

Served as the deputy political economic chief covering political, economic, labor , environment and science and commercial diplomacy efforts in the Eastern Caribbean. 
Received labor officer of the year award for work in setting up regional training programs in occupational safety issues, and meeting with labor leaders in all seven countries greatly expanding our labor diplomacy outreach; 
Initiated two American Chambers of Commerce organizations, 
Conducted fund raising in support of  Embassy’s July fourth celebrations, the first time held in multiple countries, raising $100,000 over a three year period; 
Conducted training programs in all seven countries demonstrating to hundreds of locals on how to access U.S. Government  export financing programs . 

CA/FPP Deputy Training Team Coordinator – Washington, DC,
Taught consular fraud prevention courses at the Foreign Service Institute, and in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, greatly increasing knowledge and skills in fraud detection. 
Launched Lexus Nexus public record database access for consular officers worldwide, therefore dramatically improving consular fraud prevention efforts, 
Initiated first interagency Fraud Working Group coordinating fraud efforts among Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Labor.  
Received Cash Award.
Deputy Consular Chief, - Mumbai, India
Oversaw American citizen services, immigration visas in fifth largest operation in the world and fraud prevention programs greatly improving management of each.  
Supervised and mentored 15 junior officers and 50 local staff resulting in each unit receiving group cash awards. 
Received two cash Meritorious Honor awards for my work helping American citizens facing crises including helping American citizens whose family members died in India, or were arrested. 
Organized task force that dealt with aftermath of worst earthquake in 50 years.  

Read more →
8 stories • 1 lists • 1 lists • 5 groups

My Poems (224)AutorankLinks
I don't get it
I don’t Get It
 

Mr. Speaker

I admit I don’t get it

How does praye

Stop gun violence?

Prayer did not work in Texas.

26 people were murdered
 while praying.
God if he exists

Obviously does not care

About the poor people

Who died in his church

Because a mad man

Got a gun
And no they were not praying

To be delivered from death

No one deserves to die like this

So my prayer to you

Is simply this
Get off your rear end

Rally the country
And do something


About gun violence
That’s a prayer
I hope works
© 2 hours ago, john Cosmos Aller      
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 Like (0)  0   

Dear Speaker Ryan

Dear Speaker Ryan
I want to tell you something

The dead don’t want your prayers

The dead don’t care that you pray for them

They are dead after all


And you and your so-called Christians

Are to blame

You refuse to do anything

Anything at all
to stop the carnage
In our streets

The U.S. is flooded with guns

And more are sold every day
Millions of people don’t have health coverage

Millions are barely surviving
And your answer


Our dear great compassionate Speaker
Your answer
 
Is Prayer works

Government action does not

You act as if the gun violence

Plaguing our country

Was like the weather

Beyond our control

So here’s my prayer for you

And your colleagues
When you die

I pray that God

Will send you
And your friends

Straight to hell
Where Satan and his demons

Will use you for target practice

That’s my prayer to you

And as you know
Prayer works
 
another gun poem © 2 hours ago, john Cosmos Aller      
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 Like (0)  0   

It’s a Gun Situation, Mr. President

Mr. President
You are wrong once again

You said that the tragic events 
in Texas
And Las Vegas were not “gun situations”

But rather were mental health problems
And that in Texas
if there had been no gun controls
Perhaps fewer people would have died

Mr. President

I know you a smart man

The smartest man in the world


According to you
So please contemplate this fact

According to the latest findings

It is a gun situation

In fact, the reason the U.S.

Has so many gun deaths 

Is because we have so many guns

45% of the worlds guns in fact
And 33 percent of the world’s shooters

Are Americans killing other Americans
And most of them 

the majority of them

Are White men killing other people
Not Islamic terrorists


Most are in fact

Self-proclaimed Christians
So Mr. President

When will you come to your senses
And do what 90 percent of the public wants


Enact nation wide effective gun controls?
And tell the NRA
 
they can take their blood money elsewhere

When Mr. President

When will you act

When will you take charge
And become a President of the people
Instead of the President of the NRA?
another gun poem © 2 hours ago, john Cosmos Aller      
 Like (0)  0   


← Previous1 2 345…75Next →
Virginia Beach Massacre Never Again
Virgina Beach 

In a night of horrific scumbagery violence

Rarely seen in this jaded age of ours

Gone in one hour
In a spasm of horrific scumbagery violence
I
In just a few short minutes


Nothing more than that
 
In just a few moments

All 12 victims were murdered
By a disgruntled employee


Every one he knew was shot

And killed for no reason
Caused by the demons

His soul was so infected

Murderous demonic voices

All in his head

Screaming **** them all 
**** them all


Screaming none stop violence in his head

All the time
Causing him to start shooting 
everyone he saw


Regardless of who they were 
or where they were

Everyone must die 
screamed the demonic voices in his head
No one can be left alive


Everyone must die

Virtually all must die 
in his internal video game

Everyone must die


Regardless of who they were 
or where they were
Again just another day

Gone horribly wrong


All across America
In
every town

No where is safe anymore
Virgina Beach massacre

Virgina Beach massacre

Just another
Average night in America

An Active Shooter
scumbagery violence

Rarely seen

in this jaded wild world
Gone in one hour
In a spasm of horrific
scumbagery
In just a less than 30 short minutes

Nothing more than
In just a few short 30 moments

All the victims

were murdered while at their daily 
work
wrong place wrong time
act of a demotic deranged madman

voices screaming ****
The voices scream
death to all humans


All must be killed
The voices scream over and over

All must die now

Just another night in America
Land of the Free

Home of the free
another gun poem © 2 hours ago, john Cosmos Aller      
 Like (0)  0   

More Guns for Everyone

More Guns for Everyone in the World

The NRA has decided

That the best solution to global problem

Of rampant violence and crime everywhere
Is for the rest of the world


To become like the U.S.

Where anyone can buy a gun

As an armed society is a polite society’

And so the President i
s about to announce

A global campaign against gun control restrictions


As these restrictions
are an undue burden

On the rights of the US arms manufactures
To sell their guns 
everywhere in the world


As everyone wants what we have to sell

The best weapons in the world
Instead of trying to limit the damage


That unrestricted gun sales

Have done to the U.S.
Our President, our great leader

Wants to sell more guns

Everywhere in the world

And there are eager buyers

Lining up around the world

Eager to buy the best guns

The world has ever seen

We want to export

The gun madness

That has infected our society


Leaving behind so many dead bodies
The dead were not consulted

For they remain dead


They do not vote
T
hey have no voice
For the guns silenced 
them
For good
 just as the guns intended


Just doing their gun thing after all
Humanity has evolved

From stones to arrows

To guns
T o nuclear, biological weapons

And the U.S.
 While proclaiming itself

A champion of Human Rights
Remains nothing 

but a country
 
Of gun runners
 Merchants of death

And destruction
another gun poem © 2 hours ago, john Cosmos Aller      
 Like (0)  0   

NRA Quit Talking

NRA Please Stop Talking

Another day
Another mass shooting

Another incident
of domestic terrorism


another gun man
killing people
because just because
 he can
and he wants to **** people

The NRA 
And their stooges

Come out

Flood the airways
With their noxious
Poisonous weasel words


The NRA says
Mass shootings

Are like the weather

You can’t control them
You can’t predict them

And you can’t prevent them

Just have to accept

It is all god’s will

Guns don’t **** people
IF guns were outlawed

Only outlaws
 would have guns

Only solution 
Is more guns

For everyone

An armed society
they say 
Is a polite society


Support for gun control
I is
socialist/communist/fascist/anti-Am  erican/anti-Christian nonsense
The beginning of tyranny


If only the Jews had guns

The holocaust would not have happened

Jesus would want us all
 
to be armed 
with machine guns
To protect us against the evil doers

It is the Christian thing to do


To blow away evil doers
With heavy arms


In America
Land of the free

Home of the brave
We can’t do anything


At all
About the mass carnage

Unleashed by madmen with guns

Who walk among us

Searching for their next victims
Any restriction of the right


To bear arms

Is tyranny at its worst
The nanny state run amuck

Talking about gun control

After a tragic event
Is

just not the appropriate time

We only need prayers

and meaningless thoughts

Universal background checks

Too onerous
Registering guns

Too burdensome

Researching gun violence

waste of tax payer money
banning military style assault weapons
r

Restricts my right 
to blow 
away

Bambi the deer
with a M16

the NRA will keep talking

talking and talking

preventing anything

from being done

and we will have another

Mass shooting event

Before the day is out

So my plead

This day
To the NRA
A
and their stoogies

Talk is cheap

Your comments
Are not helping

If you can’t

Be a part of the solution
Just stop talking

Please stop talking


And let the rest
Of us  figure out

How to stop

The madness in the streets
And stop the carnage


So NRA

Please
 just
 stop
 talking
 Now
another gun stop © 2 hours ago, john Cosmos Aller      
 Like (0)  0   


← Previous12 3 456…75Next →
guns **** People
Guns **** people
g
Guns do **** people
it is not mental illness

it is not video games
it is not a million other things

it is simply this
a gun is a weapon

a weapon designed to **** people

That is what guns do
guns don’t care

they do as they are told
If you pull the trigger
t
They will **** the victim

that is what guns do

that is why 
in a civilized society

military assault weapons 
are locked up

yet in America

the land of the free

home of the brave
 
everyone and his cousin

must have their gun

guns for everyone

cries the NRA

that’s the solution

The president
a 
and his supporters

deny the obvious
guns **** people
That’s all they do


it is a gun thing

you would not understand
Guns just do
what guns gonna do
**** people

Mr. President

You can take your words

your empty platitudes
Your empty promises
Your prayers 

straight to hell

and back

where with any luck

Satan will use you

as target practice
another gun poem © 2 hours ago, john Cosmos Aller      
 Like (0)  0   

Chief of Staff You are Absurd

the President’s chief of staff
said the other day

it was absurd

to suggest that the president’s words

had anything to do

with recent mass shootings

yet is it absurd

to see the lengths

to which the President’s supporters
will twist and turn

spinning awa
y
the inconvenient truth
President Trump 
is a racist bigot con man

who some how
 conned his way

to become President
he call immigrants criminals, vermin, animals

invaders infesting the country
the El Paseo shooter 

said that he went to the border

to shoot the invaders

and said
 that he was a big Trump fan
it is not absurd
 to connect these two huge dots
The President’s words
 
have real world consequences

Yes Mr. Trump is a racist pig
a
and his supporters
 are being absurd

to suggest otherwise
another gun poem © 2 hours ago, john Cosmos Aller      
 Like (1)  1   

Mr. President Words Matter

Mr. President Words Matter

Mr President

Words matter

your words matter

your words of hate

your words of division
your words 
calling fellow human beings 
****, vermin,

invaders, animals 
matter

they matter a lot

and is it little wonder

that people listen 

to the hate you sprew forth

and some deranged people

take action 
on your call 
for action
against the invaders 

on the border


they march to the border

to **** the invaders
your words matter

Mr. President


and your false words
of regret
fool no one

the damage has been done

the hate has been spread

just as you intended

and you 
have the gall 

to call yourself
A Christian
you are the anti-Christ

you are not a Christian

so please quite pretending

to be what you are not

please man up

accept your responsibility

set things right

apologize

the dead though

don’t need your prayers

they need action

they need leadership

and you are the president

so please start acting

like you give a ****

and if you do so

perhaps 
you will find

people will follow you
but please
 quite the words 
of hate


the words that hurt
and quit calling immigrants
 invaders 
and vermin
 

they are human beings

they are deserving of respect
this I ask of you 
In Jesus’s name
even though I am not a Christian
another day, another shooting

Another Day Another Shooting
another day in paradise
just another day in Americal
Land of the free
Home of the brave

and gunshots,
lots of gunshots
more guns for all
cries the NRA

yes another day
another gun battle
another white man
who just wants to ****

the President sends his condolences
Thanks the law enforcement 
for an incredible job well done
It was horrible

Hate has no place
in our country
and we will take of it 

and do what ever we can do
condolences 
nothing but false words
empty words 

lots of things to do
it is mental illness problem

but he fails to mention
the words gun at al
not at all
and tomorrow and tomorrow

but he at least finally 
said 
hate has no role in country
nothing but prime BS
in my humble opinion

he did not mention 
white supremacy
his rhetoric had nothing
nothing to do 
about this at all

and so tomorrow
I will turn on the TV
and we see
nothing at all

and the dead
will remain dead
the guns will fire again

nothing will be done
welcome to America
land of the free
home of the brave
poems about gun violence
Ellie Geneve Jan 2015
When you were interested in me,
I didn't know how to react
Was I gonna allow you to deeply see?
Or just pass through the facts?

I didn't know it then,
but both choices had their consequences.

I chose what I thought was the best for me,
but was it really?
Check the tag bookpoemchallenge for more info. The book I picked was 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins.
DJ Thomas May 2010
We each have a voice and life, it is how we use them not how we might!  

Stop glaciers melting
Huge population movements
Death of progeny


The small reductions in carbon emissions being targeted for 2020 or 2050 - are thought to little to late to slow global warming.  The melting polar ice and glaciers together with our changing weather patterns are now fact. The resulting loss of river systems and rising sea levels will mean the desertification or flooding of agricultural lands and famine, then the migration of populations - starting with the skilled and rich seeking safety, to escalate into the terror of armed bands
warring over water, food, women and land.

By 20 20
Lets hope for twenty twenty
A 20 20


There is now the thought that the huge physical change wrought by global warming can be charted by the escalation in earthquake and volcanic activity.  And that this may eventually trigger huge eruptions in the American and Asian continents,
destroying civilisations to create a planetary volcanic winter.

Again fire and cold
The cycle repeats itself
Destroying nature


Was there a civilisation in deep history before the flood, prior to and during the last ice-age?
This has been researched and written about in great detail during the last twenty years
and many now believe it already proven by scientific review of documents and
thousands of archaeological finds, also by scientists having used the exactness
in the astronomical alignments of ancient monuments
to recalculate there greater age.  

Dead sold souls herd us
Lost mindless finger puppets
Vapid witless words


Sadly, the majority put their reliance and faith in
the actions of lawyer-ed politicians, most of whom evidence
a fixation on their own welfare,  selfish self-glorification needs
and an unwillingness to rock-the-boat once in power*

Politicians thwart
Party politics deafen
Propaganda’s herd


Putting off all radical action required until after the next election.  
Many have gifted away the necessary legal control and power to take national radical action
to a political or trade grouping of nations - in effect retaining only national rights
to go to war, put up taxes, borrow and spend monies.

Please no rhetoric
Complete local transition
Forget politics


We each have a voice and life, it is how we use them not how we might!

Living we give voice
So one voice might yet be heard
All being, believe!


We are left holding our eco-inheritance and children’s future in the palm of our hand.
Please let our love and imagination drive us each forward to make change.


Biosphere a greenhouse 
Target the impossible
Please gift some life soon?


So, we each of us have hard personal choices to make, which will encompass both positive and negative
benefits in terms of our time, lifestyle, health and wealth.  I chose to base my choices solely on how it
might benefit the eco-system and the lives of our children.

My choices are grouped under five headings: transport, food, home, lifestyle and further action. They are:
-  

Transport: Rail; Bus; Coach; Bike;
(I pass woods in bud - a Red Kite hunting twisting, unhurried moments).  
To give up ownership of electric / motor vehicles
and to avoid air travel where possible.


Highly vaporous.
Emissions farting -
barrelling vipers
.

Food: To eat meat/fish only once a week at most;
(Slaughteramas greed - industrial carcase-ed meals. Sheep full of cancer)
To study fast methods of vegetarian cooking; buy local organic foodstuffs;
visit local farmers markets and farm shops; grow my own when possible
and help friends establish vegetable/herb gardens.
To not ever feed, cleave and eat!


Fat shopaholics,
a deadly consumerism.
Cancers meat to eat


Home:   A cottage sized for me, friends and neighbours,
overlooking a wooded valley and trout stream.
Like me a little untidy and basic
.

Crossing the shallows
trout fingerling feed at dawn
White dots steep hill path

Dusk - eight painted queue
river paired mare and foal
Foliage lined dark black


Well positioned to capture the morning sun, airy and light.  
Yet insulated to stay cool or warm. With easy access to mountain bike trails
and long distance bus routes, plus several end-of-line train stations
in energetic cycling distance over the mountains


A differing beat
Quickly fading doubled steps -
pulling separate


Life Style:* A thinking poet mountain biker, living organic
not part of the great noisious noxious ribbons of hurtling tired.

Pressured paced life -
impossible  commitments.
Organic living


Further Action: *I intend to give up meat not because of the terrible cruelty involved in ten billion or more animals
being slaughtered every year to feed the human race, but due to
: 1)  animal farming being a major factor in the burning of 50 million year old rainforests at a rate of one and half acres per second to generate huge volumes of greenhouse gases, destroying the richest habitats on Earth and a principal source of oxygen; and 2)  that these billions of farmed animals
are themselves a major source of greenhouse gases
.

Burning rainforests
Feeding to cleave open and eat
Subsistence farming


With ongoing intensive fishing, the world's fisheries already in crisis and climate change,
it could be that we will run out of wild-caught seafood much earlier than 2030!


Conserve energy -
and natural resources
Don’t waste foolishly


Each of us might have a different view of what globalisation is,
for some this word encapsulates the dangers of our global fast food culture, omnipresent brands,
popular culture, changing diets and the growing use of packaged processed foods
.

Freedom to act sought
Globalisation's curses
Octopus suckers!


For many it is the illegal international trade in endangered species of flora and fauna,  
second only in value to the $350 billion a year global drug trafficking trade that now services
perhaps more than 50 million regular users of ******, ******* and synthetic drugs
.

The label 'globalization' can cover the: spread and integration of different cultures;  
industry moving to low per capita income countries; sweatshops supplying this seasons branded goods
to retail outlets worldwide;  complex international interleaved financial trading instruments being developed
by banks and financial institutions to trade worldwide, create profits and pay huge bonuses, without risk to themselves
.

Globalisation -
orchestrated profiteers,
betting our losses


Many see globalisation as being the beneficial spread of free trade, liberty, democracy and capitalism,
involving the efficient allocation of resources and capital through the spread of technology.
Unelected international bodies and institutions such the World Bank actively promulgate globalisation,
a '‘world government’ promoting close economic ties between nations
.

Enculturation
Our sad indoctrination
Globalization
  

The anti-globalisation movements dislike the corporate and political nature of globalisation,
protesting the resultant harm done to the biosphere, a more rapid and extensive deterioration of the environment
and the unintended but very real consequences of globalisation: the erosion of traditional culture
resulting in social disintegration; a breakdown of democracy; the spread of new diseases;
changes in diet; increasing poverty.
.

I view globalisation and it's propagation as leading to the final destruction
of the world's cultures and civilisations by locked us into a
dogmatic world political doctrine secured through
trade and political alliances of states, institutions
and corporations that remain hell bent on
imposing this world governance. Such
that individual countries governments
cannot consider making substantive
radical change to avert the planet
being pushed into a natural cycle
that will end the human race
.

Caged in Fools World
The people hear heroic call  
Each one a hero
!

The peoples and cultures of the world need perhaps just one western country to
break the legal chains of globalisation and adopt a radical economic regeneration program
designed to make the total transition to a dynamic culture of localised
clean communities centred on the individual not competition*  

Only one tool
National taxation for -
economic change.


Here I begin discussing how global, regional and national economies might
be based on the growth of small organic local economies.
not the repeated foolishness involved in chasing lower cost base manufacture -
each time at great cost to the economy it has migrated from!
Then a further culture becoming totally reliant
on the transport of foodstuffs and goods -
I can here you saying
:

"Oh **** this guy is -
talking about change, changing -
the world we live in!"


Yes, I am and do we have a choice?  But such change will be organic and involve business
in the restructuring and regeneration of economies till we share green economies.  
In small part his is already happening slowly!


Unlock taxation,  
survivals powerful tool.  
Needed now for change!


This is why we need to consider doing something that many of today's
plutocrats, economists, bureaucrats and politicians, would dismiss out of hand or
discuss endlessly in terms of perfectly competitive markets, perverse economic incentives etc


Major solution
National taxation change
Human extinction



WORK in HAND

This haiku sequenced eco-haibun is an ongoing project being penned day-by-day by many that care and take action. Your reactions are all welcome, thank you


**Take back control now.  
Cease all squabbling, achieve act - decisively!

Globalisation's, global control cut away.
Diversity sought

Promote well being.  Act with imagination -
for ecology!

Creating employment -
with local utilities, local food and transport

Incentivise tax,  to create local benefits.
Gain prosperity

Income taxation -  value added tax, aged -
dangerous mistake

Local licensing.  Lead don't follow excuses.
Saviour taxation

Imaginative - energy, food and transport -
local licensing

An alternative - energetic strategy,
greening business

Organic foodstuffs - out compete processed food.
Life promoting health

Healthy government - a healthy population. 
Zero income tax!

Locally taxed - by distance it travelled -
and category

Products bar coded.  Point of agreed production -
and category

Local added tax, by distance it travelled -
and category

Local energy, initiatives supplant.  
Replacing at risk

User energy, capture and storage.  
Eco-dwelling plan

Local water works,  supplanting initiative.
Replace the at risk

User water need.  Capturing and storing half.
Securing supply

Communications, local initiatives.
Protecting our needs

Local healthy food, life saving initiative.
Planting guaranteed

Sort unemployment, local work available.
Agriculture base

Radical transport - initiatives needed.
Change made possible

Season’s colours blur - in ageing contemplation
chilling warm breezes

Ganges dried mud - dust
Armed hungry thirsty tide
Generations despair,  lost

Our politicians -
squabble condemn progeny.
Flee panic and die

HAIKU SEQUENCE FINISHED

HAIBUN PROSE BEING ADDED
Day by Day
This haiku sequenced eco-haibun needs prose and additional haiku added day by day.  Contributing comment and reactions considered for inclusion...

copyright©DJThomas@inbox.com 2010
Jack Jenkins Apr 2016
If only I had no consequences to my actions.
Stars that glisten in the sky's night light,
Reflecting your beauty that matches endless suns.
If I had no consequences to my actions, surely,
I would join our lips in a sinful embrace.
Could we have just this one night?
This one moment?

I strike thee heart, as you struck mine,
Entertaining the peripheral of untouched love.
Hand holds hand, finger against finger.
I wish it were so!

You are going, going away,
Unbeknownst to you,
My heart sojurns with you.
Even to the ends of the earth,
Beyond the rugged edge of it all,
I follow you to your tomb.

If only I had no consequences to my actions,
I would give my heart to you.
JayceeJellies Oct 2014
I'm walkin' around my neighborhood,
Looking at all the different colors,
It's just that kind of October,
Where everything is pretty,
And it can get kind of chilly,
But that's okay,
I'm wearing my sweater today,

And today,
Is the day that I'm gonna see you again..
And I'm nervous,
But I'll be alright,
I'm just feeling my heart race on the inside,
And regardless of the consequences,
I'll be with you tonight,
I'm seeing you tonight.
In this October chill,
We'll feel all the right feels.

I see little kids over across the street,
They kind of remind me of how we use to be,
When we were young,
And life goes on,
And even though it gets scary,
Growing up and all,
We have eachother through the fall.

And today,
Is the day that I'm gonna see you again..
And I'm nervous,
But I'll be alright,
I'm just feeling my heart race on the inside,
And regardless of the consequences,
I'll be with you tonight,
I'm seeing you tonight.
In this October chill,
We'll feel all the right feels.
Jordan Frances Jan 2014
Consequences are funny things
So why don't I laugh anymore?
The sun doesn't shine on me,
And your illness no longer affects my body
Or my soul.

We shared a bed
Flooded with feelings
You nearly drowned me in lust.
But drowning isn't so bad
Once you get used to it.

We worry about things
That we were never concerned with before.
The possibility of an unwanted love child
Creeps over us like sad shadow.
It is barely plausible at this point
And still, you worry.
I wish I was more distraught.

I cannot feel your distinct and lowly presence
Yet I still want you around.
I want you to make me feel alive
Even if I die in the process.
I'll do anything for a fix
Regardless of the residue it leaves behind.

Consequences are funny things
So why don't I laugh anymore?
The sun does not shine on me
For another reason:
My own illness has already ****** my body
And my soul.
Jonesy Jul 2016
Sometimes we reach our limits,
Sometimes we crack under pressure,
Sometimes we can't stay to bare the pain'
We lose the power to fight it.
Consequences of holding your thought on the inside.

In a house full of family, We don't belong
In a school full of friends we can't relate,
In a world full of people choose to be alone,
Consequences of being antisocial

                                                     ­                             Jonesy 2016 ©
Ayad Gharbawi Feb 2010
ANOTHER LETTER TO YOU AMERICANS: WHY DO YOU BLINDLY SUPPORT THE CANCEROUS, RACIST REGIME OF ISRAEL? AND DO YOU SIMPLY NOT SEE THE CONSEQUENCES?


Ayad Gharbawi

February 4, 2010 – Damascus, Syria


I am writing you from a Third World country. I am trying through my letters to connect with you Americans. I am trying to communicate with you so an understanding can arise between us.
I do not feel in any way optimistic. Why? Because you Americans live in plastic, fake, unreal ‘reality’ that your mass media feeds you that is fundamentally pro-Zionist and pro-Israel. It is precisely this blindness of your slavish poodle behaviour towards this Apartheid state that renders you so much hated by every nation and by every religion and by every race on earth.
It is no secret that US foreign policy in the Middle East is heavily influenced by Zionist lobbies. This is a fact that has acres of literature written upon it. What do the Zionists do whenever any human ‘dares’ to critique Israel? Well, of course, you declare him to be a ****, or a Self-Hating Jew or an Anti-Semite.
In other words: no human can ever critique Israel, and should he critique Israel, in any way, then that means he is a genocidal, mass murdering ****.
Did you see that typical Zionist, Dr. Dershowitz, who has recently labelled the author of the indictment of Israel’s atrocities in the Gaza War as an ‘anti-Semite? Well, Mr. Goldstone is, of course, a Jew himself.
That should point out to you all, the basic law: anyone who even thinks of daring to criticize Israel is a **** or an Anti-Semite.
Therefore, no respectable human can ever critique Israel.
And that means that: Anyone in the civilized, respectable West, who ‘dares’ to critique Israel in any way, shall be expelled from his/her job and shall be an outcast.
That is the Zionism in action in the West.
Fine. So, if no respectable, sane human can critique Israel, does that mean that Israel is the only nation on this planet that must be beyond any critique?
And if so, why are you, the people of the State of Israel, supposed to be beyond any critique?
Obviously, this Zionist twaddle is *******. The Zionists greatest fear is being compared to the Apartheid South African regime.
Why?
Precisely because Israel is an Apartheid state, where any non-Jew is an inferior-class.
Look at Israel.
Look at that cancer, all of you who love Israel. Look at all those American politicians who are paid by Israel to go and visit that land. Do they see the shanty towns where non-Jews live? Do they see the ghettoes where non-Jews live? No, of course not. This ‘tours’ show American tourists and politicians what a great land Israel is for the Jews, while they simply, forget to show these ‘visitors’ how the other half lives.
So what Israel look like?
Israel is a great land for the Jews. No one is going to deny that.
But what is Israel like for non-Jews?
Israel is a land where, because, you are not Jewish, the government, has the right to demolish your home and your land if they so wish and you can do nothing about that.
Israel is a land where they can expel and deport any non-Jew from your home at any time they like.
Israel is a land which has the right to expel any non-Jew from its soil.
Israel is a land that does not allow a non-Jew to marry a Jew.
So what kind of country do you Americans call that?
And then you Americans wonder why do these non-Jewish inhabitants hate poor, democratic Israel so much?
We, the non-Jewish inhabitants of Israel – we the Moslems, the Chaldeans, the Druze, the Armenians, the Russian Orthodox – hate Israel precisely because Israel, under its Zionist ideology, is simply determined to create a Goyim-free land that is only for the Jews. (‘Goyim’ = non Jew). So, we are all to be expelled or murdered in order to make the land of Israel only for the Jews?
Do you Americans think that the entire Goyim (non-Jewish people) are going to accept that?
Did the blacks accept the White Man rule in South Africa?
Did the Albanians accept Milosevic’s Serb-only Yugoslavia?
Israel is one of the few remaining countries where the Racist Supremacist ideology functions fully and is alive.
And yet, the West, cannot even dare, to speak the Truth that everyone knows about.
Israel is a state that was created by:
1. Ethnically cleansing as many Goyim as they can during 1947-48.
2. Israel is a nation that has a Constitution that is based on the sick fact that the land of Israel ‘must only be for the Jews’. Any non-Jews (or Goyims) must be removed.
Now everybody knows these facts, Jews, Zionists, Goyims and everyone else.
But what is so sickening, is why is Israel allowed to practice these Racist rules, whereby other leaders, and other nations were; punished for being racist – such as Milosevic’s drive to expel Albanians and Saddam Hussein’s efforts to expel Kurds?
Why are Zionists immune to any criticism?
Why is it that the Goyim world cannot critique Israel?
What are you Americans unable to realize what a cancer Israel really is?
fROM THE dESK OF THE pOET**

I'm embarrassed to admit this. The night before last I ate an excessive amount of Sour Chewy Sweettarts. If you've ever had them you know that just one or two have enough toxic chemical dust sprinkled on them to make your mouth numb for several minutes. Well I got into a rhythm of eating one, then adding one to it, then another for three, then four, then five, then  six all the way to seven at one time. In that experiment alone I consumed no fewer than 26 Sour Chewy Sweetarts and even that was after having warmed up with several single helpings.

Sour Chewy Sweettarts were at one time marketed under the name  "Shockers". Let me tell you they should have respected the truth in advertising inherent with that label. The intensity of tartness conferred from all these ***** Wonka treats was remarkable and very well could have been the most face-squinching sourness I've experienced in my fifty-plus years.

The unfortunate downswing of these hijinks is that I developed a chemical burn that spread across the entirety of my tongue all the back to and including the area where my uvula hangs.

It's my own stupid fault. I could feel the chemicals eating through too many layers of cells long before the administration of candy pellets had reached four, even five-count multiples. By the time I had the seven pack ****** down to gel the burning was so bad I had to squint my eyes. The question that found priority amongst all that came to me at that moment was "how long is my mouth going to be so alternately sensitive and numb that I won't be able to eat my beloved jalapenos and spicy vittles?" A couple of days later and that answer still has not been found, although progress has been made to the point where I have faith it WILL indeed heal...you know how paranoid I can think sometimes, surely my mouth will never heal from THIS god forsaken self-inflicted injury, after all, I deserve it, hence the term "SELF inflicted". It's nothing but payback being it's usual self. If I never get to taste the wondrous seasonings of a well-mixed chili recipe cooked to perfection by someone who really knows how to make chili...if I never sigh with uninhibited satisfaction after downing a swig of Dr. Pepper or Miller's High Life or Guinness Stout...if I never again will be able to tell the difference between prime Angus beef and succulent Maine Lobster it is for good reason that I've been deprived of these tender mercies. It's because I knew when to stop and I kept on eating, though tears had begun to form.

No, it's more than that. It's because Universal Forces were all the while begging me, whispering in  my ears, "Stop! Stop! Enough! No more!" What would have happened if Joseph had ignored the Lord on that cool December night? Gabriel let Mary in on what was going down, what do you think would have happened if she'd gotten jealous of Joseph and disregarded the angel because he didn't have quite as much clout as her husband's Messenger? What would have happened? Nobody knows. But I know what would have happened if I'd heeded the advice of the benevolent spiritual  beings who were trying to warn me to lay off of the Sour Chewy Sweettarts. I wouldn't be sitting here typing on the hp laptop about how I got the chemical burn from hell.

But it seems like valuable lessons may be learned at every turn. So it is that with almost every experience I am resigned to also look at this one as the hard earned silver lining. Just what exactly have I learned? Well, first of all I've learned that it would probably be a good idea in the future to regulate severely the amount of Sour Chewy Sweettarts (aka Shockers) I eat in one sitting. If I ever eat them again, If the emotional scars of the chemical burn will free me in my sweet tooth's cravings for Wonka Sugar to ever again opt for the sour stuff. I learned that eating Vlasic Kosher Dill Pickles with such a freshly de-sensitized/throbbing chemically-scorched tongue is a prospect that shares much in common with a full day of taste-testing ghost peppers. Only on a slightly smaller scale does the briny pickle juice pack it's own searing acidic punch.

Other lessons? Oh I'm sure I could fill a book with lessons this has taught me. Writing that book might be the most useful, benevolent gesture I ever offered my fellow man but I don't know if I can do it. But if I did, this would have to be the first couple of lines on the very fist page:

Make sure you're going to have a LOT of alone time the morning after.

But that's just plain good advice.
Something Simple Oct 2014
Her heart pounds, a thunder in he veins
Pulsing bright and red and deep within
Courage took farflung flight long ago
Before the journey was to be made

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


There was silence before this, quiet as a grave
And the streets were filled with happy feet
It slept alone then, on all it found to keep
No overlap or closeness to be feared.

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


And then life wasn't what she'd been promised
He threated a hell on earth should she think even of what she knew
Blows came when the words stopped coming
Maybe there wasn't anything in the big white clouds up there

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


So she left alone, running away from it all
Nowhere to go and none to care what happened out there
Feet chased a path along a clif's side
Found another path hidden inside

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Came upon the sleeping one
Belly deep in shining rings, golden plates, precious stones
All of the leavings of those that had gone before
It earned them all fairly

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Surely they wouldn't notice just one cup?
One cup for freedom, one cup for a new life
One for the time she spent running from no escape
So she took it and fled

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


A stirring spread thourgh that scaly pile
Orange orbs snapping open, knowing something was gone
That cup the mother'd drank from at the king's court
When magic was still thick and the world thought less of monsters

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Wings unfirled and death came that night on quiet wings
Fire broke the night, people died, fleeing anyway they could
Those earth riches where all that's left
Before men came and took what they thought they owned

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Day rose to a ruined place
Choacked grey black, shifting with winds
Villages left that day for the reasons where not known
But she knew and it did as well

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Journey came with baited breath
She knew it would come again with hot breath and burning eyes
Maybe there would be nothing left again
Death would come again

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Head raises, hissing scales of ash, long strong neck
Those eyes shine brighter now
Tips of wings touch staggered points of topside
Ready to reclaim a life

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Quick and slow she bends, quicker hands holding out
Uncurling fingers flex apart and the cup is placed
Once more in its rightful place
Them or her, chosen to make right

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Thin wings settle again to the strong sides
Ribs show their ridges against the jeweled belly
What's this human who would give back what it took?
Dangerous points part in black stone gums

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


You'd give thisss for them and what you ssstole?
Hissing air breath, a volcano's hiss
Wide eyes and hesitant hands reply
"Many more here that you don't deserve but they don't either."

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Slow shifting seething motion
Tail like rope unwinding from the center
Weak legs bend and don't break
Eggshells lay safe in the last grey curl

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


Small bones, little skull and empty eyes
Young mother happy once then
Men broke the home with sharp points
Young mother no longer

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


She sees broken bones, human heads burned
Nothing could bring the hatchling back, piece the pierced back
It had stayed to die in silence no reason left
No food to be found, no water to drink

Feet crushed the ashes spilled
When they fell in a spiral across the village
They left the buildings empty since
Fire takes all


The girl leaves and goes
A secret to keep for the old mother
Until the body lies forgotten and the earth takes back
No one to touch the shining seas
Danielle Shorr Oct 2014
I will regret this in the morning
but I will do it anyway
my impulsivity often overpowers my conscience
yet I am almost always fully aware
of the decisions I make
and their consequences
I am not exactly mentally stable
but I am sane enough
to know right from wrong
yesterday from today
love from lust
although sometimes I mix them up
I have a tendency to lunge at any pair of arms that open for me
my mind and body often disagree
my body saying yes to eager hands
my mind saying no
constantly looking towards my heart
thinking how stupid one must be
to fall repeatedly
get hurt every single time
and still manage to do the same
over
and over
again
I wonder
how many times I will have to hit the ground
in order to learn to stop falling face first?
I often say things
that should be left unsaid
I often do things
that should not be done
sleep in beds unfamiliar
make believe love to strangers
get to know people who will not remember me tomorrow
I am gone as quickly as the hangover
I can be washed off the tongue
just as quickly as the liquor
I often believe I am capable of inciting change
I kiss temporary lips with permanence
hoping that I can train them to stay
I love temporary people with permanence
hoping that I can train them not to leave
and when they do
I claim to have seen it coming
I am incapable of forgetting
a scrapbook memory of skin and heartbeat
of touch and moments
I know not to look directly into eyes
for they can be blinding
and I still
do it anyway
I know of the risks that shouldn't be taken
well aware of their consequences
and I still
take them anyway
you could say
it is my own fault
for the way that things continue to turn out
but I can make no promise of apology
instead
I will live momentarily
**** up intentionally
love recklessly
fall unguarded
break enough times to learn how to put myself back together
crash into concrete enough times to learn how to shift a crooked smile
into something worth seeing
I have been told that a life lived in fear
is hardly a life lived at all
so I intend to live every second
like it is the last one I will have
I will write each night as it happens
narrate my own stories
and hope they turn out okay
I will regret this in the morning
but I will do it anyway.
The consequences are different this time around
You let it go last time but now
I let you down
I said I was sorry
But you wouldn't forgive me
You want me out of your head so bad
I make you shout
I didn't mean to hurt you
But i guess it's over now

I had a dream last night
About you and me
It wasn't a dream come true
Like I thought it would be

The consequences are not the same anymore
Things are different now
I was hanging on my a thin little thread
You let me go because I did what I did
You said what you said
We said goodbye
All i had left to do
Was sit down and cry
A poem i wrote in seventh grade
PrttyBrd Jan 2015
In time, the heart bleeds
Choking, drowning on its own
Regurgitation
1615
Senryu
Sayer Apr 2014
meanings have no meaning
souls that never really crossed paths
crushed beneath large trucks
what is this world we live in
life is a wall made up of consequences
and I can't even do it

and the stomach twists and turns
the worst case scenario rakes and rips me apart
until I ***** blood and waterfalls
can't clean it up

what is the meaning
what is a life
no one's talking about it
that life's a wall made up of consequences for my
and your actions
remains of the day try to smile
at the sun because the sun is up and up is good
and I can't settle myself in for a goodnight's sleep anymore
because I'm not young anymore and it's time
to grow up and be a man and be a man and grow up
and never again will I (have I never ) wanted to wander into
death's black shadow over the
reaper reaping ***** souls

(I love you all)
the grand piano's
broken because someone
went in there (restrain myself)
comments are the life and what is life
anyway
and the words and the songs sweep me over and send me flying over the ocean
because that's where I can take it (I'll never do it again I promise)
and truth is I'm afraid of being a little too much
but in the end I'll just be too little
(eye contact)
and then this happens and my god
I wanted it a little while ago and I
could feel the sun inside of my chest
burning and there was hope
for the first time
but then it hit me
crashed into me
when everyone's lying down to **** in and wait for the end
to come and swoop them up
so we never remember their thoughts and memories
that it doesn't even matter
if I can't do anything to anyone
(too much, too little)
somewhere in the middle is where I want to be
(can't you all see?)
I've arrived at the point of no return (again)
only to be here again
stop worrying
life is life
body
falling apart
everyone's falling apart
and as I think of souls that never passed that will
say they did it, they really did it
they really cared (like I do(n't))
my god, we try to look up

*and You were coming down, I think
You were coming down to save us all
You were coming down the save us all
You were coming down to save us all
but you couldn't withstand the Fall
Salute
A Thomas Hawkins Jan 2011
Who am I to say
what it is that you should do
the only things I know
are those I get from you
The consequences are not mine
the costs would all be yours
Think twice before you burn that bridge
thrice before you close that door
Be careful if you listen
for the truth may set you free
you may just find yourself once more
the one you used to be
But freedom has a price
that is only paid in change
and it may just happen all at once
before terms can be arranged.
So if you want to know what I think
it's best to be quite sure
'cause if all I do is awaken you
can you accept what went before?

Corey Oct 2017
.1. Life is going to throw the most unexpected curveballs at you and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. You can accept that you’ll never overcome them, or you can learn how to take them and run. You won’t start out hitting home runs off of them, but maybe just bunt a couple and go from there.
2. Life is far too short for what if’s. It’s too short to care about how others think of you. Too short to worry about making everybody happy and way too short to give the wrong people your precious time. And for Gods sake, if you love somebody, tell them! If they already know, tell them often.
3. You have no idea when you might lose somebody you care about. Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t realize how much you cared until they’re gone. Death comes at unexpected times and in unforgiving ways. However, it opens your eyes to so many things about life that you may know, but you don’t live by. Don’t let it go by the first time. Take those lessons and embrace them and live differently.
4. Alcohol is a beautiful poison. Don’t abuse it, enjoy it. If you need six, seven, eight drinks to feel something then you aren’t drinking correctly. Drink less often, have stronger drinks, and don’t drink to blackout.
5. You can do anything for ten seconds. You can do anything for a minute. You can do anything for an hour. You can do anything for a day. You can do anything for a month. You can do anything for a year. You might have to take it a month, a day, an hour, or a minute at a time; but you can do it. Sometimes you need to prove to yourself that you can do something small for a month so that you can do the big thing you need to do for three months.
6. Nothing comes easily forever. You can do something your entire life; something that you don’t need to practice, train, or work too hard for not matter what. Eventually, there will be something harder than you’ve ever done before, and it will not come easily. Don’t be discouraged. What others worked for years to do, you could do in days with little effort. Even like this you will have weaknesses. Work them, even if you don’t need to. That way the day that something is too difficult, it won’t take as much work to get. If you wait, the work will be too much.
7. Nobody cares if you’re sad or having a bad day. They will always expect 100% from you in every regard. You should always be happy. Always be social. Always perform correctly. As impossible as it sounds, the people expecting 100% are satisfied with you faking it.
8. If somebody doesn’t like you; hold your head up high, be polite, engage them in meaningful conversation, and treat them with the utmost respect. Either their minds will change or they’ll be so confused they won’t know what to do. Accept that it will be awkward.
9. Love is funny. Love is sad. Love is perfect. Love is so many things. But it should not be abusive. Abuse comes in way more forms than one. Be on the look out for it. Even the smallest abusive actions have their consequences. Typically they simply build and build.
10. Supportive friends are the friends you want to keep around. The ones that come to your events and cheer you on. The ones that make sure you’re doing okay periodically. The ones that ask you what’s wrong before you even know yourself that something is. Low maintenance friends aren’t bad friends.
11. To do anything other than your passion is absurd. Find it, study it, dive deep into it as best you can. Live for it. And do it for the rest of your life. Hobbies are important. Do those as well, but even those should be filled with passion. It is the one true ineffable feeling.
12. Say yes to opportunities small and large. Anything that puts you outside of your comfort zone, that gives you anxiety just thinking about, is well worth doing. If you don’t do it, you may just regret it for a very long time. Say no only to distractions that prevent you from doing what needs to be done.
13. You cannot re-write the past. No matter how many times you remember something you’ve messed up, you cannot fix it. You also cannot take back spoken words. Be careful what you say at all times. It is far better to wait and think about a response rather than saying what comes to mind first. And do not speak poorly of others behind their backs. It only ends in pain.
14. Make friends wherever you go. Especially if you are uncomfortable with doing so. Talk to strangers on vacations, in the grocery store, and especially at you school or work. One day they might be looking for somebody specific to fill a role that you are perfect for. A simple hello today could be your dream job in the future.
15. Be explorative. How can you have opinions on things you like and dislike if you don’t try everything out in front of you. How can you be cultured if you don’t take the time to learn all cultures. How can you be artistic if you haven’t seen anything worth making into art.
16. The world is changing and you need to change with it. Gender doesn’t mean what it used to mean, and people’s names are changing left and right. Please keep up. It’s offensive to call someone by an old name they had or by the wrong pronoun.
17. It is okay to be deeply sentimental. To hold onto objects that remind you of someone or something. But don’t get wrapped up in these things. Not all of them are important to keep; like messages from four years ago to a person you no longer talk to, or a broken bracelet you used to wear that will never get fixed. Only keep the important things. But do know that what is important to you may not be important to others and visa versa.
18. There is no singular word for all emotions. Though you can find them in other languages; like the French term L’Apple du vide, translated, “the call of the void,” which described the split second phenomenon of wanting to jump off a cliff or pull the steering wheel and crash. You can find these examples, but it’s worth it to sit with a blank page and try and write about what you are feeling in your own words. You learn a lot about yourself and the world.
19. Nature is your best friend. When you’re in a bad mood, go for a walk in the woods. When you’re in the car, roll down the windows and feel the air on your skin. Grow plants that help either yourself, or other animals. Help the bees and the butterflies.
20. Time is scarce when you need it the most. Do not procrastinate anything. Manage your time wisely. Something could be completed in hours; other things need months. This is the idea of hourly time vs. calendar time. But both need to be done spread out, and not all at once.
21. You learn a lot as you grow. When I was eight, I learned that Santa wasn’t real. When I was twelve, I learned how easy it is to break hearts. When I was fifteen, I learned what loss is. When I was eighteen, I learned the difference between love and lust. When I was twenty, I learned what fear is, and since then I have learned how fragile life is. Everything I’ve learned has been preparing me for my future. Eight prepared me for fifteen which prepared me for twenty. Twelve prepared me for eighteen which has prepared me for the present. Every event is a lesson worth learning whether you want it or not. It prepares you for an unknown future. It may take years for the lesson to reveal itself, but it is worth the struggle. Everybody learns something everyday but it is imperative that you remember these things, or at least remember the lesson learned so that in the future you won’t make the same mistake, won’t be in the same type of pain for as long, and won’t have to be taught a second time.
Unedited
Terry O'Leary Feb 2014
The Tale below was carved one night
Upon the Stone, by candlelight
...most won’t believe, but some just might
.........most won’t believe, but some just might



                         Preface

Well James made Beth his lovely bride
(And angels smiled, though teary eyed)
...their bodies bound, their spirits tied
.........their bodies bound, their spirits tied

Upon her hand, a shimmer shone,
As bright as blood, a ruby Stone
...and brighter still, as love had grown
.........and brighter still, as love had grown

Soon James was sent to man a sail
So Beth removed her wedding veil
...her eyes were moist, her face was pale
.........her eyes were moist, her face was pale

“Well, I’ll be here when you return”
Said Beth to James, who kissed in turn
...a kiss that made her body burn
.........a kiss that made her body burn



                         BETH’S TALE

1.              The Dream

One night, within a dream deformed,
The cawing of a Crow informed
“...the Ship was struck where winter stormed
.........the Ship was struck where winter stormed

Midst winds and waves the thunder boomed
The Ship of Death was surely doomed
...the sea engulfed, the surf entombed
.........the sea engulfed, the surf entombed

Your James… deceived by Davy Jones!
With spirit freed, his flesh and bones
...now rest amongst the ashen Stones
.........now rest amongst the ashen Stones”



2.               The Quest

Awoken by the ebon Wight
And beckoned by the baneful bight
...I left before the morning light
.........I left before the morning light

Throughout the realm I rode a roan
Until, in time, I reached the Stone
...where shades in dreams of darkness groan
.........where shades in dreams of darkness groan

While skipping up and down the sky
A missing moonbeam mocked my eye
...enough to make a Swallow cry
.........enough to make a Swallow cry

For someone stole a star or two
And something else that fate withdrew -
...my jewel of joy, my James Bijou  
.........my jewel of joy, my James Bijou

The shadows of the evening swelled
Where demons of the dusk had dwelled
...and in the far, a vesper knelled
.........and in the far, a vesper knelled

The Stone, beneath the sky, stood cold -
Between the runes, a vapour strolled
...a cloak of fleecy fog consoled
.........a cloak of fleecy fog consoled

A Raven on a branch, enthroned,
Her wings waved once, a wail intoned
...beyond the bay, a banshee moaned
.........beyond the bay, a banshee moaned

I lay beside the Stone, his bride
I lay beside the Stone and cried
...but were it I, instead, that died
.........but were it I, instead, that died

The rainbow of the moon fell dim
A midnight Swan soon ceased to swim
...as if to hide all hint of him
.........as if to hide all hint of him

Between the willows in the swale
Bewailed a Bird, a Nightingale
...which left me faint, my body frail
.........which left me faint, my body frail



3.              Contact

I felt him breathe within a breeze  
Responding to my anguished pleas
...and leaves blew by abandoned trees
.........and leaves blew by abandoned trees

“Eternal love, my darling Beth”
Enshrined within a final breath
...re-echoed from the Ship of Death
.........re-echoed from the Ship of Death

The Stone lit up a ruby sheen
And clouds were kindled crystalline
...with consequences, unforeseen
.........with consequences, unforeseen

Above, a wretched Raven soared
To where the Ship of Death’d been moored
...below, the icy ocean roared
.........below, the icy ocean roared



4.               Release

I’m joined with James beneath the Stone,
Though to the Ship my spirit’s flown,
...for nevermore to be alone
.........for nevermore to be alone



                         Epilogue
That night the wayward winds were weird
The Ship of Death had disappeared
...coyotes called and mortals feared
.........coyotes called and mortals feared

At dusk, the craven shadows crawled
At dawn, the winds of mourning called
...upon the Stone two names were scrawled
.........upon the Stone two names were scrawled

The Raven sits, with wings outspread,
Atop the Stone which shades the dead
...it sometimes shimmers ruby red
.........it sometimes shimmers ruby red



                         Epitaph
Between the sounds, where silence seeps,
Their love lives on and never sleeps
...and yet, the weeping willow weeps
.........and yet, the weeping willow weeps
Rain, rain come today and wash this horrible pain away.
Hope drowned out by the screaming in my head
Faded blue eyes in a room painted red.
The taste of guilt and shame sharp upon my tongue,
Suffering still for a choice made when I was young.
Rain, rain come today and wash all the horror away.
Integrity: adherene to moral principles, honesty..and the quality or condition of being whole..undivided.

Cheating:  to deprive someone of something valuable by use of deceit.

         Most, if not all of us, need, and very much desire physical intimacy (yes, sx).  Can I say sx  on here? ...I'm not sure. Sx is like the greatest thing ever invented. It's right up there with eating and sleeping.  Everybody likes it..everybody wants it. But when someone is in an exclusive relationship with another, married or not, you don't get to have sx with whoever you want anymore. True, everyone makes mistakes sometimes, no one is perfect, and at times we are weak, for one reason or another. But an honorable man or woman...a person with integrity and inner discipline...recovers..and learns from the mistake...and doesn't repeat it.  That is not what cheaters do.  Cheaters are habitual. That means repeat offenders.  Cheaters talk about things like honor and will power and integrity, but they don't practice it in the place it counts the most, with their beloved.  With cheaters, it isn't about a "mistake".... a one time thing they feel horrible about afterward and promise themselves never to repeat.  Cheaters simply don't care. It's not that they don't care about the girlfriend/boyfriend, or fiance or spouse that they have made a promise of committment to. They do care...they just care more about themselves. It is the promise of faithfulness itself that is meaningless to them...it is simply empty of any real sincerity.  But the problem is that the promise is accepted by the loved one as sincere.  That promise is relied upon and as important as though it were tangible.  So irrespective of how much the cheater spits upon the promise everytime he or she cheats...that promise is HOLY.  Yes, that's right..HOLY.  What does that mean...holy?  Like church holy..or holy water holy?  How is a promise holy?  Well, really one could argue that any promise is holy, but how much more so when a person believes and loves and trusts another...putting all of their faith and future hope on a promise of real love and commitment.  That trust and love make the promise holy.  It is not the hollow promise itself, but that loving reliance upon the promise that creates the holiness...the pure beauty of love... and the faith that it is returned exclusively to the beloved.

          The true sadness is that the beloved will eventually find out about the cheater and then the house of cards will come tumbling down.  Not only is the relationship destroyed, but the trust, faith, and love is destroyed as well, and it may be difficult to ever trust again, in any relationship.  Such immense pain can be caused.  It is amazing that cheaters don't seem to care or think about the consequences of these indiscretions.  Do any of them think ahead of time about the people and/or god forbid, children that will be left lying in the wake of their utterly selfish acts?  The people that will be left trying to pick of the pieces of their hearts, and try to rationalize whether anything that they had believed in was actually real.

          The question is, what and who does the cheater value?? What does the cheater respect?  Do they even value their own selves?  Does a person who thinks nothing of cheating on a regular basis, or every chance they get on their loved one value and respect anything?  Clearly there is no respect for the promise made. There is no respect for the one whom the cheater purports to love.  There is no respect for the man or woman the cheater is doing the cheating with...because clearly that person is just being used to fulfill a carnal desire..and arguably the cheater doesn't even respect him or herself, because a person with an inner moral compass respects him or herself enough not to do things that will cause pain to others, especially those who love him or her.

          So maybe the cheater does not have any real understanding of what is holy..the meaning of a promise...an understanding of integrity...of sacrifice...of the pure beauty of love.  If a man or a woman is in a relationship and can't keep their **** legs closed...then that person has no business being in a relationship.  Its just that simple.  You can't have your cake and eat it too, and then want to eat someone else's cake as well.  If you are so selfish and deceitful that you can't be honest and faithful to the one you profess to love...then do that person a favor and either agree with them to have an open relationship, or let them go.  Because the act of cheating is entirely selfish in every way.  Cheaters want the security and benefits of an ongoing relationship with their significant other, and they want to mess around on the side as well because then they have the best of both worlds.

          But you don't have to go to church or believe in any particular religion to know that cheating is wrong.  It is a hurtful despicable act made even more vicious because it is intentional and hurts the person who loves the perpetrator.  How many crimes are like that?  ....the most heinous.

          So, if you are a cheater..don't ever talk about honor and integrity and code of conduct.  You have no right to utter those words.  Because when you live by  principles of ethical behavior, you don't pick and choose when to apply those principles.  You don't decide that they apply in some areas of your life, on some days, but not on others.  Think before you act..think about who will suffer from your actions...think about the destruction you will cause...do not believe that you can get away with it forever, because eventually the law of the universe will catch up to you.  There is retribution for every act in which we inflict pain on another...for every time we make a promise and then break it..whether anyone ever knows about it or not...just some food for thought
Timothy Stout Nov 2014
I rise along with the sun
A new day
A new start
The mistakes and success' of yesterday are long since gone
It's a new day
Some I want to end just as they begin
others to last forever

No matter my mood
My strength
My Fatigue
It's a new day
It's a new start
Choices are made
To show love
To show hate
To work strong
Or fall to FATE
These choices all must face
Ones that lead to good
Others--- not so much

As the sun descends
The day comes to an end
We face the consequences of our daily wake
Hearts broken
Hearts mended
New friends
New enemies
But here we enter the forgiveness of the night
A new day
A new start.
Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t just been the backseat of your car,
Intoxicated. My first drunk hook up. My first. Period.
I picture myself being champagne on Valentine’s Day.
I picture myself being you, nervous in the car, holding Starbucks
because you know I love coffee. Sometimes, I picture myself as her,
calling you a stalker and ignoring your calls,
but then I see myself. I call you beautiful,
turn you into poetry, laugh at your bad jokes,
I see myself as I become your drunk Wednesday night
when you’re sad. I see myself as I say no,
I become a “this is not a good idea”
and you a “we’ll deal with the consequences in the morning.”
We laugh because this hurts too much.
You take her out for dinner and I burrow money
for Plan B because you forgot you don’t like condoms
and clearly have no idea how children are made.
I have already named him. He has your curls and
my anxiety. He is smart. Except, I never wanted kids and
you would be a great father. Instead, you tell her
the beach reminds you of her and I cry in a McDonald’s
bathroom with my friend as relief floods through me that
the test comes negative. I stop talking to you,
move forward, meet someone new and before long
see myself becoming you. Because isn’t that the cycle?
Bad men turn good women into bad women who turn
good men into bad men. I’ll set him free so he can hurt
someone like me, and I drink red wine as I read her
poems about him and me.
Graff1980 Mar 2015
When you don’t have to see
When it’s just a tv screen
Muted voices scream
But you can’t hear a thing

When you’re not on the ground
To feel the fear or hear the sounds
Then it’s easier to look away
It gets easier to stand and say
That waging war is okay

But when it’s your blood
Or the blood of those you love
When the price you pay is personal
Then the decisions are made more carefully

Too bad politicians and rich men
Don’t have to send their sons and daughters
Off to war to face an almost certain slaughter

Maybe if the generals and congressmen
The admirals and the president
Had to stand in the thick of it
I might trust their judgment
Senteno Oracle Of The Shadows: So Aziel what's your plan with Frank?
Aziel: Well he is going to help me destroy the Order Of The Silver Knights and in return I shall help him get the Witch who cursed the Forest Of Whispers.
Senteno Oracle Of The Shadows: Well I'll give you some valuable information who your looking for is Bethilda N. Lement. She is a very powerful Witch who with her Elemental Plowness is able to obtain what she wants.
Aziel: Well well ...so the Old Hag still holds the grip over the Forest doesn't she
Senteno Oracle Of The Shadows: Indeed she isn't someone to take lightly now she is well rounded and knows how to fight. She controls The Tavern Of Doom Dragons. In her possession are 3 fully grown Dragons. Blair the Oldest Dragon Claire The Mother Dragon and Aurora the youngest one of them three.
Blair the Black Dragon Claire The White Dragon and Aurora the Stone/Lighting Dragon. Many have meet their doom entering in her territory Cyclop Human and Vampire Alike.
Aziel: I don't have anything to fear.

~Meanwhile...~

Bethilda Lement: Adreanna I want you to learn more about my Dragons start training with Aurora but be cautious she may be only three years old but she is powerful and robust. Lement screeches then Aurora hovers over the Mountain Of Shen* where the Tavern Of Doom Dragons is located. Adrianna Develve places a strong spell in the Dragon Aurora she finally succumbs to her authority.
Adrianna and Aurora go take down the Golem Of Steel  in the Hidden Ruins Of Odom.* The Golem stands 15 ft high weighs 2,500 pounds. Holding a crest of an almost impenetrable diamond in the middle of his chest. Emanating from the Crystal comes all his power and it's his only weak spot. Then Aurora and Adrianna make an impressionable entrance to the ruins and attack the Golem head on. Golem Of Steel: Here stands the infamous Adrianna Develve...well isn't  this a surprise.  I see that you have grown some and are able to maintain your powers well to face me. I know what you want you want the Crystal in my chest...that will be over my dead body. Audon's Crystal* is powerful enough to consume 1000 Well Trained Witches therefore young Witch you don't scare me. Now as for that Dragon well ... perhaps you stand a chance after all.  Adrianna Develve: I usually don't pick fights with powerful DemiGods like yourself but I  am in desperate need for your Crystal. Therefore, you will hand it over or I'll take it by force.  Golem Of Steel:  Good Luck.
Aurora shields herself with Stone Armor and goes head on collision with the Golem. He dodges the attack and  counterattacks with a strong fist to the  Dragons body and knocks Aurora down cracking part of her Stone Armor. The young female Dragon counterattacks with a powerful lighting blast hitting The Steel Golem in the right shoulder injuring him. Develve attacks with a powerful mind blast knocking down the Golem Of Steel on it's back. The Golem Of Steel bleeds blue blood out of his shoulder blade and runs full force towards Adrianna Develve.  She  dashes the attack and counterattacks  with a Shadow Ball attack hitting him in the chest and expanding all over its body. It's a possession Ninjutsu technique making him practically paralyzed for about 2 minutes till he breaks free from the technique but sustains a considerable amount of damage. Adrianna Develve seeing that the Golem Of Steel is showing a sign of weakness she takes advantage to try to inflict him with a spear of lighting into the chest impairing him and he bleeds out the mouth but as the last resolution The Golem Of Steel punches the Audon Crystal shattering it into 5 individual pieces him losing his life in the process however what he didn't know is that Adrianna Develve collected all the pieces however there was a violent explosion at the site shattering huge boulders of steel and inflicting Aurora gravely. Adrianna Develve  hurries and performs a powerful healing spell leaving her drained of all power. Adrianna Develve hurries to get out of the ruins because they are crumbling down. She manages to recover Aurora briefly from there they fly to The Tavern Of Doom Dragons Of Doom Dragons right when she pulls in with Aurora who is injured from the boulders hitting her body and face at high velocity even the Rock Armor was perforated. The Dragon lands barely with Adrianna Develve who gets the Wrath of Granny Bethilda N. Lement. Aurora breathing heavily and bleeding out the mouth slipping in and out of consciousness ...Adrianna Develve barely getting off the Dragon.
Bethilda Lement: What the hell  happened to Aurora she is in really bad shape. Adrianna your completely drained I see you did good by healing her however, she must rest for about 3-4 days now and fully recover from that gruesome fight with that **** Golem Of Steel. Adrianna are you Ok darling? Go get some rest I see you used the forbidden technique of Soul Healing Transfer. Well now you'll live 12 years less thanks to your little sharede. Develve I am thankful that you saved my Dragon from dying but hell consequences are quite dire.
Develve: Here Granny Lement I got Audon's Diamond however it's shattered in 5 separate pieces.
Bethilda N. Lement:  Let me guess the Golem Of Steel did not want this to fall under the wrong hands for it is a powerful relic. Smart move buying time however, useless due to the fact that we got the diamond under our possession. Adrianna we are going to search the Master Forger Of Relics* who can aid us recover this valuable relic to it's original state. It's said that he resides in one of the headquarters of the Order however, he has worked with Witches, Pagans and Nacromancers before so am sure that as long as we provide the right monetary value to repair the relic he'll work for us.
Develve: Why don't we just kidnap him and make him do the work or he pays with his life?
Lement:  Good objective it may have to work that way for us.
Develve: Im aware that the Cyclop population in the Village Of Chalekathan are not taking your threats seriously well ElderLord Gromm has not paid his fee from allowing them to live and not be consumed by the curse itself.
Lement: By killing him we can set an example of what can happen to them if they don't cooperate with our cause.
Develve: It dangerous though he is a strong Leader with lots of powerful influences. Plus he is a highly skilled Witch Doctor/Shaman able to manipulate the forces of nature. Known to use 3 Godly Deities Aikune Chalekathan & Eion. Aikune the cherubim of the Northern Side Of Heaven. Chalekathan the Spirit God embodiment of The Forest Of Whispers and last but not least Eion the mythical creature with an Eagle face 6 wings and the body of a Lion. Embuted with heavenly essence making him a very formidable foe.
Develve:  We will take care of our responsibilities soon but our primary mission is to talk Ayeiton Balderoux III* the Master Forger Of Relics.
: Whoa had no idea he was The Kings kin.
Lement: Indeed he is now go and lay your head and recover some energy because we need to practice your magical plowness.
Adrianna heads towards the Guest Room.

~Meanwhile in The Forest Of Whispers~
Frank Deltoro gets introduced to Gromm ElderLord Of Chalekathan by Jhino.  He also introduces Navarro Castleworth who is pleased to meet the famous Elder.
Gromm: Hello young man I am the protector of this village which has sustained numerous attacks by Lement's Dragons. Develve also partook enthusiastically with her Grandmother in attacking innocent hard working Cyclops. Making them slaves of the Curse which drives them mad and homicidal attacking friends brothers and family so we had to do the inevitable put them down.
Nevertheless, I pray to Deynave Dion High Saint/Priestess Queen Of All Shamanism to protect the lost souls of them Cyclops who fought the curse till the very end but unfortunately lost the fight and in turn lost their lives.
Frank: My condolences to your friends ElderLord Gromm.Am sure they in a better place now at least not suffering. However, I have a personal matter to score with Lement. She kidnapped and murdered my only daughter 10 years ago she was a...his voice gets trembly and he lightly clears his throat..at the same time a solid solo tear drops from his only Eye symbolizing a Fathers great pain and suffering from such an atrocious act." Gromm regains his composure. I got a personal score to settle with Mrs.Lement due to the fact that she took a piece of my heart and soul she killed my daughter. Develve played her part in the kidnapping of my baby girl 10 years ago she would be 18 years old today if Shaila Dair Sultran were alive...her appointed time to be brutally killed by my hand is coming...Bethilda N. Lement has been suppressing her powers for the last 300 years I believe she has some sort of powerful anti-chi barrier put up extending tremendous lengths so even if she is active in The Forest Of Whispers we wouldn't know how to tell due to this **** barrier.
Frank: So your bloodline comes from the Ancient times from the powerful Cyclop Of Royal Priests/Witch Doctors family Sultran.
"A gentle wind blows and Aziel telepathically communicates with Frank.  Aziel: Frank, be careful where you thread I been informed that Lement's Grand-Daughter Adrianna Develve recently gathered Audon's Crystal a powerful diamond known to give its user Bending Steel abilities and higher sustainability. Adrianna Develve has plans to use the Crystal to fully cover the Forest Of Whispers covering every inch of Forest with the Curse which drives all living creatures with a conscious mad totally subseptable to their influence.
However, to you those must be terrible news so my question is...you been in Chalekathan Village for 1 hr and a half you have 5.3 hrs till daylight removing the Darkness powers you currently control.
Frank: I am aware of this Aziel don't worry I'll take care of business.
Aziel: Keep an eye out Navarro I don't  trust him I don't know what intentions he has...plus he is part  of that shady Tower Of Frejoird but perhaps you can use his hatred towards the Order Of The Silver Knights. He can maybe be a reliable source. Be careful Frank.

~Meanwhile in Aziel Castle~
Isis: Well...Aziel aren't  you such a concerned individual...I didn't  know you had a soft spot towards mere humans.
Aziel: I usually don't...but Frank is different from the rest. He is courageous trustworthy and he put his life at risk by helping me regain all my vampiric power. I am in much debt to him...am having second thoughts on your plans to **** him after he completes his assignments that we have agreed upon. If he makes it out alive after all this...he at least deserves a reward and to live.
Isis: Chuckles at Aziel Aziel looks at the Empress with great focus.
Isis: C'mon I'll just have some fun with Frank I wasn't planning to ****** him.
Aziel: I'll  think about it now leave me be I got couple of things I need to take care of.
Isis: Fine Darling I'll  leave you be. You know you are the handsomest of all the brothers you have.
Aziel: Well now Isis you flirting with me...I doubt you'll want my erected tool up your stash. Don't you remember am a Vampire?
Isis: I'm aware of that. Adventure sounds fun plus I never had *** with a hot vampire like yourself.
Isis: Well Doll that is going to be some other time I am working against the clock right now.
Isis: Fine you *****...I'll leave. However, keep in mind that Im watching you closely. Plus remember I still keep contact with DarkLord for soon your Father will be back in this plane of reality.
Aziel: So I have heard.
Isis: Well I have found some juicy
Information about Uriels wereabouts he is in a Modern Castle in America. Amelia St and Cross. Residency 106. He is a huge celebrity in Russia and Germany. Keeps his bloodlust at check with fresh blood always for him to self medicate. Looking only 19 years old he is quite the chick magnet though not my taste his Gothic Progressive Horror Rock made him quite famous. Got 5 albums however kept his personal life well hidden from his fans. Many fake and supportive accounts claiming to know the real Uriel Governale. Though no one truly knows he is a vampire for certain. I know because I searched the private records and found out that he belongs to a High Ranking Secret Society known as Maximillion Vampire Clan. Which performs innocent human babies to be given as a sacrifice towards Baphomet and Azmodeus* 2 Of the Demon Lords of Hell. Your brother belongs to this hidden organization that operates in the Shadows but their latest project is to revive your Father the Progenitor most infamous VampireLord of all time. Dracula! Humanity will cease to exist if he were to be revived. All they need is a vial of blood from all of the current 8 saints and they have their eye on Saint Lauren Glennwald from the Eastern Side of Germany from a small rural community town known as Hertzentmort. She currently 25 years old is on a mission to collect Papal papers for the Order for you know they are closely tied to the papalcy. However, she got body guards that are Elite Knights with very powerful Anti-Witch spells and very accurate at pinpointing weak points in any battle with powerful Witches. So going alone isn't very advisable.<br>
Aziel: I greatly appreciate your information I'll take a look on what my little brother is looking to do. I'll take care of him. Don't you worry I'll be seeing you later. <br>
Isis: Alright..."She steps towards Aziel and rubs his chest and says...my reward is waiting for me...and looks down his pants" <br>
Aziel:  Now your tempting me to destroy that *****... but here this is what you'll get "he shows her his ****"<br>
Isis: Mmmm I can't wait baby...well that's a massive apparatus you got in there just hiding.<br>
Aziel: Hahaha...right. Soon enough I'll be all yours to play with. No leave me.<br>
Isis transforms to a cloud of dark myst and leaves the premises of the Castle.<br>
<br>
~Meanwhile in Uriel's Castle~<br>
<br>
The Maximillion Vampire Club had a secret meeting in the Uriel's Castle. There where many prestigious and famous guests there and so was the Highest Ranking Vampire of the Club Maximillion Virgil Vann himself. Inside the Castle where also uninvited guests from The Order Of The Silver Knights pretending to be Vampires. His name Michael Neil Stalwart & his partner Aalyaah Black. Both of them infiltrated the party somehow the Order Of The Silver Knights caught wind of shady operations in the occult club and decided to check it out. Michael & Aalyaah belong to Stealth/Infiltration part of the Order known as The Dark Ones
. Even the last 5 remaining Dark Priests from the Cathedral Of Skylor* where 13 years ago Baphomet was revived and mortalized to walk upon humans granting favors for a price. Ultimately the price Demon Lords require of humans is their souls to consume them and become more powerful. This 5 Dark Priests where very important in the ceremony taking place because tonight at 3 a.m. they will unify their powers to revive Azmodeus. They were successful on bringing back Baphomet back to life so they are trying to revive another Demon Lord. In Baphomet's revival they used 666 unborn fetuses with 6 babies 3 male and 3 female all born under the sign of Capricorn and all must be 3 months premature. With this requirements met...Baphomet was revived to this plane of existence, however since he was violent and still hellbent from transitioning from the hellish plane to a mortal one he killed and consumed 3 Dark Priests in the process of fully coming to his senses and being able to recognize them and thank them for what they done. Baphomet promised that he would aid them 5 Dark Priests revive all 13 Demon Lords and in turn 2 Of the 5 remaining Dark Priests must sacrifice themselves to the Demon Lords for the strongest remaining 3 get a extraordinary reward.
MB Aug 2013
Authors: Two misunderstood teenagers

(a.l) Do you believe in soul mates?
    (m) I absolutely do; I believe I may have met mine just recently in fact. I believe that two souls are destined to eventually cross paths and feed off each other's mindsets.

(a.l) if I may ask, how do you know? And what makes you believe that everyone has a soul mate? And evolving around Plato's Symposium, how does the sun and the moon become into the soul mates topic? I'm just curious to why people fall in love with people who don't love them back but claim to be soul mates.
    (m) I've found that everyone's mind is compatible with another. I'm not the one to fall for "fake" mates of the soul. Simply, if two minds are exactly identical and feed off the energy of one another, I feel it may be destine to become soul mates. The sun and the moon are the reasons for all life imaginable, they feed off each other, so I view them as soul mates.

(a.l) How do you know if someone is your soul mate? And what about the topic of "opposites attract" if one has the same mind as another, wouldn't they clash or may they be more compatible?
   (m) Honestly this topic is utterly impossible to decipher to another unless they were upon the same theory. Opposites in things other than the soul attract, thus the two souls become one.

(a.l) Interesting, i'm intrigued by Plato's mind. Simply, because ive never seen a couple that was completely right for each other. What other theories do you believe in?
  (m) The Human Matrix! How we are all somehow connected by choices and accidental collisions. This is merely the mind of a philosophy student.

(a.l) Tell me more about this Human Matrix theory, does it have to do with fate or chance? How about consequences of the choices we make?
   (m) It's a theory of how the universal alignment is caused by simulations of human minds and creation.

(a.l) So the universe is just a part of our imagination, nothing is real?
   (m) Yes, the universe relies off of human invention, since not a single soul can truly determine the creation of it. The Multiverse theory expresses that it is all a figment of imagination; the start of time itself.

(a.l) That's fascinating, how everything and nothing is real, a paradox really! Why do people that talk about and what comes after it?
   (m) I believe we are all born only to eventually see our deaths, to meet death himself. People have a mindset that after death is oblivion. Simply out of comfort.

(a.l) But isn't death oblivion already? I mean we don't truly understand what happens after it, I usually think that maybe we aren't really dead or heaven/ reincarnation doesn't exist, but no one ever knows.
   (m) I feel that those who have been able to experience a death-relevant situation are the only few souls who may know the outcome of death itself.

(a.l) So what are your views on death, and the consequences? What are your beliefs that just how humans (some) know the outcomes of their choices but still do the wrong things. What is really right and wrong, why do people fall in love with the wrong people? I'm rambling, I just like your mind so much, and I feel like people like you have a cast mind instead of the normalcy of narrow minded people today.
  (m) Death is an outcome of the suffering one endures in living. I feel one must experience pain and happiness to only add up to the altercation of life itself and the battle of dying. All human consequences occur no matter the mind state of death, its inevitable.
  
(a.l) Does death always have to be a battle?
   (m) It's a battle of the complexity of life itself, and how it strives to conquer all living beings.

(a.l) That's a great theory! Your mind is simply flawless!
Lady Narnia May 2016
Oh, how dark our history is
You, my author of misery and pain
With fingers set to scribble my demise
This is our story, writ with chaotic pen

One that left calamity in its wake

You would always start the chapter
Every page inked with words of black
On the point of a pen, you'd viciously write
Using the sharp edge to stab into my being

Scripting, deeply, my eternal damnation

You erased my name and made me delusional
Always forcing me to your divine will
For the pen, always mightier than the sword
Was kept toward the edge of my neck

Swearing to strike at any given moment

Always determined, I'd end our sentences
Fighting to gain balance and bear the final period
Yet it was not without consequences
For you and I were wrought with scars

Etched into the bottom of our hearts, a burning black

If only these words painted a happy picture
But the thousand only paint a picture of pain
A dreary battle between two broken forces
On timeworn pages, brittle-ing on and on

Begging for the piece that holds our final chapter

And that chapter swiftly came for I was the ending
Leaving in the night, gone without a trace
With no words or ink left as a guiding clue
Carefully escaping from your paper prison

Free from the agony of the writer's press

On that day, I began my life again
Starting a happy story; free, original, and new
A home of letters filled with love, life, and joy
Where I'd never dare see you again, my dear, dear author

And never bleed black from your miserable weapon
Skai Sep 2014
I am told that I should love my body,
and I should not be ashamed.
BUT the white, conservative men tell me otherwise, making me feel nothing but shame.

When did it become okay for a male's education to be more important than a woman's rights?

When did it become okay to sexualize a woman just because her shirt does not cover her rear end?

This is apparent in the things my teachers have told me.
"Your shirt must be fingertip length when wearing yoga pants," she said.
"Why?"
"Because the males that sit in the class might be too destracted to listen to my lecture."

We are treated like *** toys.
Us girls are used for nothing more than a mans pleasure, so they imply.

This is MY body, and no one else's.
I may do what I please,
and no one should have a problem with it.

I refuse to be sexualized and treated like we are living in the 1920s.
But I must conform and live in fear of my consequences.

**** culture is real,
and school's are promoting it.
Josie Patterson Feb 2015
I’ve been conditioned
like freshly washed hair
for years
do not offend
unless the end of the sentence is “im sorry”
let the shoes and boots and heels of many make indents on you
like blueprints of demurity swaddled in insecurity
kept alive by the blurry ideas i once held about femininity
because i couldn't be a girl if the words that flew from my chords
were anything but rosy
ring around the Josie, pockets full of suppose he was to compliment your ****
when walking down a thorough-fair
busy people back and forth and grandmas with wrinkled sweaters
thank you
muttered from chapped lips and an even more chapped psyche
why must i keep my wits about to not risk making him angry
that was not complimentary but i am fearful he might spit my words back onto me
in the form of fists and slurs and honestly
im tired
of being the sidewalk beneath the feet of creeps
i am the sky and the trees and the moon
but i do not speak with the wisdom of travelling seeds
i speak with the warmth and subtlty of freshly microwaved milk
like soft silk i wish i could tatter
i wish venom soaked words could be spit in response to your “compliments”
but i would rather let you diminish me for the few moments it takes to objectify me
than to risk angering your inner beast and suffering the consequences of meninism or masculinism
whatever the word is this week
i will not be another number
ink soaked paper red with the monthly bloodshed of the sisters
every second is another unspeakable act
i see women
with tongues as round and large as planets
and tonsils the size of solar systems
birthing new galaxies in the words they speak
and shooting comets like fiery ***** of comebacks
when that slack-jawed fool sat and wished and drooled
into his monthly issue of mens rights magazine
she tore down the even minuscule belief he could have had that he had the right to comment on her body
in three seconds his pride, and entitlement
shifted into shame
and embarrassment
and i envy these women
because the only time i can take back my power
is when i am standing in front of a room
speaking rhymes and metaphors preaching independence and strength
to a group of people who now think i am a hero
i am not a hero
i put my shoes on one foot at a time
and i still manage to forget a couple days of birth control here and there
and i cant stand up for myself
in the moments after an attack i retreat into my latte and pray today will not be the day the male dominated society takes my power away
because i am small
and though i am growing every day
i still can only pray
that one way or another
i will be able to be as strong a woman as my sisters
my mother
and take back my power
and speak not with the beauty of a flower
but with the sharpness of a bumblebees sting
and one more thing
your compliments
are not complimentary
Mihlali Stwayi Apr 2014
Coming from unknown shores, arrived these Western boats,
with disastrous as well as deceitful tactics they took our gold,
jump to the modern era, they are the ones' promoting ***,
they bare minimum death rates due to *** and Aids,
while African's lives in bitter ruins as the notion of "safe ***" seems perplex.
*** promotion misconstrued as our kids continue ****** the old,
Such consequences were never told,
when they sold us back our own gold.
Systematical control is now the definer of societies
Africans not taught of Qamatha but tested on Socrates,
African souls enticed into materialism by paper and cheese,
while Western supremacists economically ****** African Identities.
African child, fight back please!
This poem aims to tell the untold truth about the legacy of colonialism and imperialism as well as the effects of modern day capitalism on the African child.
Katie Biesiada Apr 2014
Life makes me want to run away
And never turn back
And leave everything behind;
The pain, the hurt, the negativity.
Life forces me to grin and bare it
while I suffer through it all
And inside I'm falling to pieces.

Life makes me want to take your hand in mine
And ride off into the sunset
Without worry or doubt in our minds.
Life is hard and we all know it,
But it's worse when you're sick
Like me.

— The End —