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Hussein Dekmak Aug 2018
I closed my mouth,
and spoke to you in the language of the rain drops,
I whispered to you in the language of the flowers,
and chanted 'I love you' in the language of the melody birds.

I  closed my mouth,
and voiced my feelings to you in the language of the ocean's waves,
and delivered my message to you in the language of the Wind breeze,
I conveyed my feelings to you in the language of the twinkling stars,

I closed my mouth,
and spoke to you in the language of eye contact,
and expressed myself to you in the language of smiles,
I shouted to you in my sacred language of tears,

I closed my mouth,
and whispered to you in the language of heart,
and recited to you in all of nature's implicit language,
I spoke to you, softly, in God's silent language.



Hussein Dekmak

Copyright.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aaT3NfuM5Y
Nur Aishah Azman Jun 2014
CRUSH

Crush,
The term wouldn’t exist if it doesn’t hurt does it?
When does it start? This feeling,
It grows bigger and larger,
And suddenly I realise,
My heart is on the verge of exploding,
Bursting with emotions that I can’t help but feeling so.

The only thing that I have want to convey and send to you is
‘I like you’, ‘I like you a lot’,
My heart, it hurts,
Evan seeing you from afar, my heartbeat goes crazy,
It's hard to breath,
How do I stop this feeling?
I am tired, I am sad, I am happy, I am anxious,
Because the only thing I have been thinking of is you,
You! You! and only you,

But crush, oh crush,
In the end you’re just a crush,
Those words,
They were never conveyed,
And I silently keep this feeling to myself,
With the faint hope that you’ll return this feeling,
In this feeble heart of mine,
And again, it hurts.

-nuraishahazman-
RAJ NANDY Feb 2015
AN INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART IN VERSE  
By Raj Nandy : Part One

INTRODUCTION
Background :
The India subcontinent and her diverse physical features,
influenced her dynamic history, religion, and culture!
The fertile basin of the Sapta-Sindu Rivers* cradled one of
world’s most ancient civilization, (seven rivers)
Contemporary to the Sumerians and the Egyptians, popularly
known as the Indus Valley Civilization!
The Sindu (Indus), Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Bias, along
with the sacred river Saraswati, shaped India’s early History;
Where once flourished the urban settlements of Harappa and
Mohenjodaro, which lay buried for several centuries;
For our archaeologists and scholars to unravel their many
secrets and hidden mysteries!
Modern scholars refer to it as ‘Indus-Saraswati Civilization’;
By interpreting the text of the Rig Veda which mentions
eclipses, equinoxes, and other astronomical conjunctions,
They date the origin of the Vedas as earlier as 3000 BC;
Thereby lifting the fog which shrouds Ancient History! +
(+ Two broad schools of thoughts prevail; Max Mullar refers
to 1500 BC as the date for origin of the Vedas, but modern scientific findings point to a much earlier date for their Oral composition and
their long oral tradition!)

On the banks of the sacred Saraswati River the holy sages
did once meditate, *
When their third eye opened, as all earthly bonds they did
transcend !
From their lips flowed the sacred chants of the Vedas, as
they sang the creator Brahma’s unending praise!
These Vedic chants and incantations survived many
centuries of an oral tradition,
When Indian Art began to blossom into exotic flowers like
Brahma’s divine manifestations;
With all subsequent art forms following the model of
Brahma’s manifold creations!
The Vedas got written down during the later Vedic Age
with commentaries and interpolations,
And remain as India’s indigenous composition, forming a
part of her sacred religious tradition! *
(
Rig Veda the oldest, had hymns in praise of the creator;
Yajur Veda spelled the ritual procedures; Sama Veda sets
the hymns for melodious chanting, & is the source of seven
notes of music; Artha Veda had hymns for warding off evil
& hardship, giving us a glimpse of early Vedic life.)

IMPACT OF FOREIGN INVASIONS:
Through the winding Khyber Pass cutting through the rugged
Hindu Kush Range,
Came the Persians, Greeks, Muslims, the Moguls, and many
bounty hunters storming through north-western frontier gate;
Consisting of varied racial groups and cultures, they entered
India’s fertile alluvial plains!
Therefore, while tracing 5000 years of Art Story, one cannot
divorce Art from India’s exotic cultural history.
From the Cave Art of Bhimbetka, to the dancing girl of Harappa,
To the frescoes and the evocative figures of Ajanta and Ellora;
Many marvelous and exquisitely carved temples of the South,
And Muslim and Mogul architecture and frescoes along with
India’s rich Folk Art, enriched her artistic heritage no doubt!
Yet for a long time Indian Art had been the least known of
the Oriental Arts,
Perhaps because from Western point of view it was difficult
to understand the spirit behind Indian Art!
For Indian Art is at once aesthetic and sensual, also passionate,
symbolic, and spiritual !
It both celebrates and denies the individual’s love of life,
where free instinct with rigid reason combine !
These contradictory elements are found side by side due to
her culturally mixed conditions, as I had earlier mentioned!
Now, if we add to this the constant religious exaltation,
With the extensive use of symbolic presentation, from the
early days of Indian civilization;
We have the basic elements of an Art, which has gradually
aroused the interest of Western Civilization!

The further we get back in time, we only begin to find,
That religion, philosophy, art and architecture,
Had all merged into an unified whole to form India’s
composite culture!
But while moving forward in time, we once again find,
That art, architecture, music, poetry and dance, all begin to
gradually emerge, with their separate identities,
Where Indian Art is seen as a rich mosaic of cultural diversity!

(NOTES:-In the ancient days, the Saraswati River flowed from the Siwalik Range of Hills (foothills of the Himalayas) between Sutlej & the Yamuna rivers, through the present day Rann of Kutch into the Arabian Sea, when Rajasthan was a fertile place! Indus settlements like Kalibangan, Banawalli, Ganwaiwala, were situated on the banks of Sarsawati River, which was longer than the Indus & ran parallel, and is mentioned around50 times in the Rig Veda! Scientists say that due to tectonic plate movements, and climatic changes, Saraswati dried up around 1700BC ! The people settled there shifted east and the south, during the course of history! Some of those Indo-Aryan speaking people were already settled there, & others joined later. Max Muller’s theory of an Aryan Invasion which destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization during 1500BC, supported by Colonial Rulers, was subsequently proved wrong ! Indo-Aryans were a Language group of the Indo- European
Language Family, & not a racial group as mistaken by Max Mullar! Therefore Dr.Romila Thapar calls it a gradual migration, & not an invasion! The Vedas were indigenous composition of India. However, they got compiled & written down for the first time with commentaries, at a much later date! I have maintained this position since it has been proved by modern scholars scientifically!)

SYMBOLISM IN INDIAN ART
From the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic to the Cretan Bull
of Greece,
Symbols have conveyed ideas and messages, fulfilling
artistic needs.
The ‘Da Vinci Code’ speaks of Leonardo’s art works as
symbolic subterfuge with encrypted messages for a secret
society!
While Indian art is replete with many sacred symbols to
attract good fortune, for the benefit of the community!
The symbols of the Dot or ‘Bindu’, the Lotus, the Trident,
the Conch shell, the sign and chant of ‘OM’, are all sacred
and divine;
For at the root of Indian artistic symbolism lies the Indian
concept of Time!
The West tends to think of time as a dynamic process which
is forward moving and linear;
Commencing with the ‘Big Bang’, moving towards a ‘Big
Crunch’, when ‘there shall be no more time’, or a state of
total inertia !
Indian art and sculpture is influenced by the cyclic concept
of time unfolding a series of ages or ‘yugas’;
Where creation, destruction and recreation, becomes a
dynamic and an unending phenomena!
This has been artistically and symbolically expressed in the
figure of Shiva-Nataraja’s cosmic dance,
Which portrays the entire kinetic universe in a state of
eternal flux!
The hour-glass drum in Nataraja’s right hand symbolizes
all creation;
Fire in his left hand the cyclic time frame of destruction!
The raised third hand is in a gesture of infinite benediction;
And the fourth hand pointing to his upraised foot shows the
path of liberation!

It was easier to teach the vast untutored population through
symbols, images, and paintings in the form of Art;
For a picture is more effective than a thousand words!
The Dot or ‘bindu’ becomes the focus for meditation,
Where the mental energies are focused on a single point of
creation,
As seen in the cotemporary art works of SH Raza’s
artistic representations!
Yet the same dot when expanded as a circle becomes
wholeness and infinity;
The shape of celestial bodies of the cyclic universe in its
creativity!
The Lotus seen in many sculptures, on temple walls, and
majestic columns, denotes purity;
A symbol of non-attachment rising above the muddy waters,
retaining its pristine color and beauty!
The Lotus is a powerful and transformational symbol in
Buddhist Art,
Where pink lotus is for height of enlightenment, blue for
wisdom, white for spiritual perfection, and the red lotus
symbolizing the heart!
This Lotus symbol also finds a place in Mughal sculptural
carvings and miniatures;
The inverted lotus dome resting on its petals, forms the
crown of Taj Mahal’s white marble architecture!
The trident or ‘trishul’ symbolizes the three god-heads
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva;
As the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer, in that cyclic
chain which goes on forever!
The ***** stone of Shiva-lingam surrounded by the oval
female yoni symbolizes fertility and creation,
Usually found in the inner sanctuary of Hindu temples!
Finally, the symbol of ‘OM’ and its vibrating sound,
Echoes the primordial vibrations with which space and
time abounds!
All matter comes from energy vibrations manifesting
cosmic creation;
Also symbolized in Einstein’s famous matter-energy equation!
The Conch Shell a gift of the sea when blown, sounds the
ancient primordial vibration of ‘OM’!
It’s hallowed auspicious sound accompanies marriage
ceremonies and rituals whenever occasion demands;
And pacifies mother earth during Shiva-Nataraja’s sudden
seismic dance! (earthquakes)
Dear readers the symbols mentioned here are very few,
Mainly to curb the length, while I pay Indian Art my
artistic due!

A BRIEF COMPARISON OF ART:
Despite the many foreign influences which entered India
through the Khyber and Bholan pass,
India displayed marvelous adaptability and resilience, in
the development of her indigenous Art!
The aesthetic objectivity of Western Art was replaced by
the Indian vision of spiritual subjectivity,
For the transitory world around was only a ‘Maya’ or an
Illusion,- lacking material reality!
Therefore life-like representation was not always the aim
of Indian art,
But to lift that veil and reveal the life of the spirit, - was
the objective from the very start!
Egyptian funerary art was more occupied with after-life
and death;
While the Greeks portrayed youthful vigor and idealized
beauty, celebrating the joys of life instead!
The proud Roman Emperors to outshine their predecessors
erected even bigger statues, monuments, and columns
draped in glory;
Only in the long run to drain the Roman treasury, - a sad
downfall story!
Indian art gradually evolved over centuries with elements
both religious and secular,
As seen from the period of King Chandragupta Maurya,
Who defeated the Greek Seleucus, to carve out the first
united Indian Empire ! (app. 322 BC)

SECULAR AND SPIRITUAL FUSION IN ART:
Ancient Indian ‘stupas’
and temples were not like churches
or synagogues purely spiritual and religious,
But were cultural centers depicting secular images which
were also non-religious!
The Buddhist ‘stupa’ at Amravati (1stcentury BC), and the
gateways at Sanchi (1stcentury AD), display wealth of carvings
from the life of Buddha;
Also warriors on horseback, royal procession, trader’s caravans,
farmers with produce, - all secular by far!
Indian temples from the 8th Century AD onwards depicted
images of musicians, dancers, acrobats and romantic couples,
along with a variety of Deities;
But after 10th Century ****** themes began to make their mark
with depiction of sensuality!
Sensuality and ****** interaction in temples of Khajuraho and
Konarak has been displayed without inhibition;
As Tantric ideas on compatibility of human sexuality with
human spirituality, fused into artistic depictions!
Religion got based on a healthy and egalitarian acceptance
of all activities without ****** starvation;
For the emotional health and well-being of society, without
hypocritical denial or inhibition!
(’Stupas’= originated from ancient burial mounds, later became devotional Buddhist sites with holy relics, & external decorative gateways and carvings!)

KHJURAHO TEMPLE COMPLEX (950 - 1040 AD) :
Was built by the Chandela Rajputs in Central India,
When Khajuraho, the land of the moon gods, was the first
capital city of the Chandelas!
****** art covers ten percent of the temple sculptures,
Where both Hindu and Jain temples were built in the north-Indian
Nagara style of Architecture.
Out of the 85 temples only 22 have stood the vagaries of time,
Where a perfect fusion of aesthetic elegance and evocative
Kama-Sutra like ****** sculptural brilliance, - dazzle the eyes!

KONARAK SUN TEMPLE OF ORISSA - EAST COAST:
From the Khajuraho temple of love, we now move to the
Konark temple of *** in stones - as art!
Built around 1250 AD in the form of a temple mounted on
a huge cosmic chariot for the Sun God;
With twelve pairs of stone-carved wheels pulled by seven
galloping horses, symbolizing the passage of time under
the Solar God !
Seven horses for each day of the week, pulls the chariot
east wards towards dawn;
With twelve pairs of wheels representing the twelve calendar
months, as each cyclic day ushers in a new morn !
The friezes above and below the chariot wheels show military
processions, with elephants and hunting scenes;
Celebrating the victory of King Narasimhadeva-I over the
invading Muslims!
The ****** art and voluptuous carvings symbolizes aesthetic
bliss when uniting with the divine;
Following yogic postures and breathing techniques, which
Tantric Art alone defines!
(
Both Khjuraho & Konark temples were re-discovered by the
British, & are now World Heritage Sites!)

Artistic invention followed the model of cosmic creation;
Ancient Vedic tradition visualized the spirit of a joyous
self-offering with chants and incantations!
The world was understood to be a structured arrangement
of five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ethereal space;
Where each element brought forth a distinct art-expression
with artistic grace!
Element of Sculpture was earth, Painting the fluidity of water,
Dance was transformative fire, Music flowed through the air,
and Poetry vibrated in ethereal space!

CONCLUDING INTRODUCTION TO INDIAN ART:

Indian Art is like a prism with many dazzling facets,
I have only introduced the subject with its symbolism,
- without covering its complete assets!
After my Part Three on ‘Etruscan and Roman Art’,
Christian and Byzantine Art was to follow;
But following request from my few poet friends I have
postponed it for the morrow!
Traditional Indian Art survives through its sculptures,
architecture, paintings and folk art, ever evolving with
the passing of time and age;
Influenced by Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, Mogul, and many
indigenous art forms, enriching India’s cultural heritage!
While the art of our modern times constitutes a separate
Contemporary phase !
The juxtaposition of certain concepts and forms might
have appeared a bit intriguing,
But the spiritual content and symbolism in art answers
our basic artistic seeking!
The other aspects of Indian Art I plan to cover at a later
date,
Hope you liked my Introduction, being posted after
almost forty days!
ALL COPY RIGHTS ARE WITH RAJ NANDY
E-Mail: rajnandy21@yahoo.
    FEW COMMENTS BY POETS ON 'POETFREAK.COM' :-
I have a vicarious pleasure going through your historical journey of Indian art! Thanks for sharing this here! 2 Mar 2013 by Ramesh T A | Reply

The prism of Indian Art is indeed has myriads of facets and is an awesome mixture of many influences some of which you list here so clearly - a very understandable presentation of symbolism too - -thank you for your fine effort Raj. 2 Mar 2013 by Fay Slimm | Reply

Oh what an interesting read with immense information capturing every single detail. You painted this piece of art with utmost care. Truly, it's works Raj…tfs 2 Mar 2013 by John Thomas Tharayil | Reply

First, I have to say, the part about the lotus symbolism reminds me – My name ‘NILOTPAL’ can be split into ‘NIL’ meaning BLUE and ‘UTPAL’ meaning LOTUS. So my name represents wisdom (although it contradicts ME.. LOL). A lot of things were mentioned in the veda and other ancient Indian texts that were way ahead of the time Like the idea of ‘velocity of light’ got considerable mention in the rig veda-Sahan bhasya, ‘Elliptical order of planets, ‘Black holes’ , although these are the scientific aspects. The emphasis on contradictory elements or even the idea of opposites in Indian art is interesting because India developed the mathematical concept of ‘Zero’ and ‘infinity’. Hard to believe Rajasthan was a fertile place but now it possesses its own beauty. It was great to read about the Natraja, ‘OM’ and the trident(Trishul). Among symbolisms, Lord Ganseha is my favorite because a lot is portrayed in that one image like the MOOSHIK representing
When I composed the History of Western Art in Verse & posted the series on 'Poetfreak.com', few Indian poet friends requested me to compose on Indian Art separately. I am posting part one of my composition here for those who may like to know about Indian Art. Thanks & best wishes, -Raj
Umi Apr 2018
The desert,
A sea of sand, drought and dry air under a scorching, blazing Sun,
The wind may feel alike a cut, which burns through your senses,
Relentless, the heat takes over by day, yet by night it is cold enough to freeze you if you come unprepared. Such would be a foolish idea,
A dessert of thoughts, driving into my brain, leaving ideas uncovered
Leaving productivity hidden, under the sand of hatred and self doubt
Such places, landscapes, covered by firy silicate or ice are truly lethal,
Such state of mind, covered by uncertainty is truly lethal, for ones wonderful creativity, for art of all kind, conveyed or material, if you might wander through such a land without any guide to help out,
Worry not, for after every drought comes rain, blissful rain to fertilise the soil of thoughts which will blossom in wonderous ways, to shine,
After all, motion without movement cannot be possible so try to move
A wise friend once tought me, that if you give it enough time, even a nigh impossibility becomes a certainty, even a desert could be a forest
But until then, be patient my dear, even the most deserted place, carries some beauty in it, no ?

~ Umi
ottaross Aug 2013
Choosing a series a words for a ditty,
Those we first pluck a few at a time.
For readers it will, at first, seem so pretty
When they detect that rhythm and rhyme.

But soon, I suggest, it becomes such a chore,
When words strung together do pose
An oft-trodden pattern or insipid score
That bounces and sings as it goes.

The message conveyed in this rigid frame,
Is lesser I fear than than when we escape
From words chosen for just ending the same
Or some fortuitous fit to that shape.

So I tend to lean towards using blank form,
For verses I build by the letter,
And chose the words that I feel will conform
To that which my heart says are better.
Poking fun at myself, in critique of my oft-penned rhyming stuff. :)
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.
ryn Feb 2015
People cheat,
people lie

To get ahead
or
just to get by.

They do it out of deemed necessity
or
have made it a successful habit.

Some would feel bad,
but
some wouldn't lose sleep over it.

Some lie to protect...
Some lie to infect...

With little remorse
or
full blown guilt.

Either way
risking
all they've built.

A lie is an accessory
that most tend to abuse.
A convenient mask
for the ugly truth
that most would misuse.

Lies are...
The bane of relationships
Destroyer of trust...
Conveyed by irresponsible lips.

So have I ever lied?
Have I ever desecrated
honesty's pride?
Have I ever wielded it
to save others from harm?
Have I ever employed it
to boost my charm?

No I haven't,
now that's a lie...
Spouted that so easily,
I didn't even need to try...

Honestly,
YES I HAVE.
I am no exception...

I am no saint,
I'm only human
...
with an ill sense of direction.



I have lied...
How about you?

Search deep inside...
*You know you have too...
Dan Filcek Apr 2015
Electromagnetism and electrochemistry added to the expanse of erudition.
Central calculations comprised of charged consecration
Diamagnetism and also electrolysis
Took in little of the ritual pedagogy
Most influential of archaic scientists.

The base for the conceptualization of the dynamic sphere.
Introduced the physics of ensconced enthrallment
Affecting rays of light
To say nothing of the underlying relationships there
Two phenomena, both similarly discovered

Inventions: Electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and the laws of electrolysis.
the form of electromagnetic rotary devices
Foundation of electric motors
Truly technology was largely due to his effort
Electricity became practical for use

Scientific knowledge increased: investigating as an alchemist, discovered benzene.
Inventor of Clathrate hydrate of chlorine,
In its early form
the system of oxidation numbers, and the burner
Popularized terminology such as anode, cathode

Ultimately became the first and foremost, ultimate, and respected .
Chemistry Professor at the Institution
Position of a lifetime
He was an excellent experimentalist of conveyed ideas
Mathematical abilities in simple language  

His powers did also extend as far as trigonometry.
Took any but the simplest algebra
And worked around it
And also summarized it in sets of equations
The basis of modern theories
This year for Poetry Month, I decided to post a "found poem" every day. If writing a poem is like painting, a "found poem" is like sculpting. source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Faraday
Susan Hunt Jul 2012
CHAPTER ONE: THE DEMISE OF A YOUNG GIRL SEPTEMBER 1975


I had not seen my father in over two years when he showed up at my mom and step dad's condo. He had a slick knack of disappearing when laws were broken and he was wanted for questioning. He had an even better ability to re-enter when the heat was off.

My father owned three nightclubs in Oklahoma City. His first was the Silver Sword, and then he opened The Red Slipper. After he met his second wife, they together, opened the Jade Club.

All were successful, but the Red Slipper had a reputation. On a rare occasion, my dad would take me with him to open up the place. At first, it scared me. It was so dark in there. But as the lights came on behind the bar, I fell in love with the atmosphere.

Bobby Orr’s hockey stick hung on the wall, along with an endearing note from F. Lee Bailey. At six years old, all I knew was that they were the objects that made my dad beam.

I learned to play pool by standing on a phone book. I watched the colorful smacking ***** bounce around the most beautiful color of green I had ever seen. Chalking the stick was a chore, but after nearly poking my eye out once, I soon caught on.

It was a struggle to climb up on a barstool, but it was worth the effort. I sat at the bar and had lunch: popcorn, pretzels, peanuts and Pepsi.

As I grew older, I saw less and less of him, until he became a stranger, drifting in every once in awhile.  Every few weeks or so, I would come home from school, and see his car in the driveway.

This always shot fear and excitement through me. The air of unpredictability always made me want to ***. Unfortunately, most of the time, we were locked out of the house for a few hours, so I would have to *** in the back yard or at the neighbors. We waited on the stairs for the front door to open. And it always did, by my mom. She usually looked satisfied and serene but other times, I saw dread and sadness on her face.

Ever since I could remember, my dad had been a string of disappointments for me with a few indescribable moments of pure enjoyment mixed in between He could be kind, funny and like a real dad sometimes, that was the dad I missed. I tried to hold onto those experiences, even though he was such a mean ******* most of the time. But mostly, I just didn't know him.

Their divorce became final around the summer of 1972, but that didn't stop my mom from loving him. I don't know why, but she chased him frequently, going out to bars with her friends, trying to get a glimpse of him, and maybe more.

The last time I’d seen my father had not been pleasant. When I was thirteen, he broke down the door to our apartment and went straight to my mother’s bedroom. The noises were terrifying. The screaming, and punching sounds were followed by my mother’s whimpering, begging, groveling.

"How dare you do this to me, Patsy!? And behind my back! You could have at least told me!"

My dad had bailed himself out of jail that night. She promised him she would never seek alimony or child support again. Her lawyer was wrong. It wasn’t worth getting killed over.  

Shortly after, he had to leave the state. It had something to do with a low-level mob deal involving an insurance fraud. Too bad, it involved burning a building with someone in it. My dad became nothing but a memory, which faded away over time.

**

Alcohol and tobacco were constants in my family, so when my older brother, Tim, started smoking at ten years old, I don't remember much protest from anyone. I was seven and when my sister Abby, turned ten the next year, she also started smoking.  All the older kids were smoking cigarettes. I wanted to be cool, so I puked and coughed as I practiced. By the time I was ten, I too, was inhaling properly.  Around that time, I was introduced to *** by my sister's boyfriend. It did help my mood, somewhat, but it wasn't enough.

By 1974, I was using drugs from my sister’s boyfriend. John was a true drugstore cowboy. At first, he committed burglaries, which were easy at the time. There were no sophisticated electronics to stop someone from cutting a hole in the roof of a pharmacy. It took only minutes to pry open the safe that contained the narcotics. Then it took maybe another minute to fill a pillowcase full of every variety of amphetamines, barbiturates, valiums, etc.

It wasn’t long before I graduated to using morphine, ******* and then overdosed on Demerol. My stepfather sent me to a treatment facility in Tulsa Oklahoma, about one hundred miles away from Oklahoma City. The Dillon treatment center didn’t accept clients under age of sixteen but made an exception with me. I was a walking-talking disastrous miracle...or a miraculously saved disaster.

They figured that since I was fourteen, the sooner the better to start my road to recovery. Apparently, they didn’t condone sneaking *** and valiums in to the facility. I was kicked out of Dillon after about a month.

I came back home and laid low. I went back to Hefner Jr. High and enrolled back into the ninth grade. I quietly picked up where I left off, going back into business with John. My job was to sell the safe stuff; valiums, seconols, white bennies, ***, etc.


Summer came; I turned fifteen and had developed a tendency to over test my wares. I overdosed and nearly died in the hospital several times, which had led to my current predicament. Nobody knew what to do with me.

In August, I entered the tenth grade...for two weeks. I was expelled, (you guessed it) for dealing drugs. I was on homebound teaching twice a week with little supervision. My mother worked, my step-dad, **** ,worked, and I was home all day. However, I was not just sitting idly around. I was into enterprise.

**

In September, I overdosed again. I was quickly killing myself and my mother didn’t know what to do to stop it. That is why what happened was not my mother’s fault. But it wasn’t my fault either.

I never figured out how he knew where we lived. My mother moved over at least fourteen times in between the time I was six and twelve years old. Yet, here he was, at our front door, with his undeniable ‘ah shucks’ charm. His modesty was convincing. His timing was incredible. My mother stood frozen, her mouth agape. **** took the lead. He placed himself between my mother and father.

“You must be Gary Don, my name is ****; I’m Patsy’s husband." **** had never met my dad, but he'd heard enough about him to surmise who was standing at the door.

"Um, yeah, I'm Gary Don, it's nice to meet you ****", he said; as he offered a friendly hand shake to ****.

"I hope I'm not interrupting you, I was just in Duncan with my parents and they suggested I stop by and talk with you before heading back west. It's about Susie....

"Yes, Patsy said you called yesterday. We weren't expecting you this soon, but it's no problem. Why don't you come in and tell us what your plans are? Patsy, honey, would you mind putting on a *** of coffee?”

This unfroze my mother and she scurried to the kitchen. I was still in shock at seeing my dad’s face. I retreated to the staircase, but poked my head around and caught him glance at me. I flew up to the landing. I could easily escape up the rest of the stairs to my bedroom.
I was small enough to remain hidden on the landing, and heard the conversation between my mother, my dad and ****. **** was the classiest, most even-tempered adult I had ever encountered. I wished I could stop hurting him and my mother.  

My mother sat down two cups of coffee on the dining room table where my dad and **** sat. As she retreated a few steps back into the kitchen, **** politely probed my dad. My dad had the right answer for every question.

He swore he was a completely different person. He had changed. He had no hard feelings, instead he was back to help. He was remorseful for being an absent father and he wanted to make things right. He was back for a reason. He had heard that I was in trouble with drugs and school and he felt guilty for that. He had the answer to my problems. He was so convincing, so….humble, almost shy.

As I listened, I began freaking out with fear and excitement. I always wanted my dad. The last time I tried to live with him, it didn’t work out; he sent me back to my mother’s after a month. Now my dad wanted me! He wanted to save me, take care of me!

He lived by himself now. He was the manager of The Palace Restaurant/Hotel in the little town of Raton, New Mexico. It was a refurbished hotel, built over a century ago The ground floor was an elegant bar and restaurant. He was making very good money, he paid no rent and he had an extra room for me.

With a population of 6000, it was not a place to continue a lucrative drug business. Also, he would enroll me into the little high school and I could get my diploma. I could work in the restaurant in the evenings where he would keep his eye on me. Then, there was the horse. He would buy me a horse. And on and on and on.

The logic and sincerity of his argument was convincing. So there it was. An hour later, my bags were packed. I was going to live with my father in New Mexico.

That’s how in September 1975, my father whisked me away from my home in Oklahoma City, under the guise of saving me from my own demise. I was stolen and held captive in Raton, New Mexico for what seemed like forever.

My dog, Baron was coming with me, I refused to go anywhere without him. He was a tiny black and tan Dachshund. I got him free when I was fourteen, when I got back from Tulsa. To me, he was priceless. He was my best friend. He couldn’t have weighed more than ten pounds, but his heart was huge.

I talked to him about everything and he consoled me by nodding, and licking me on the cheek non-stop…or he would admonish me through his expressions and demeanor. I had lived with Dachshunds since I was seven, so understood their language pretty well. Baron understood humans better. We developed a rare communication that worked well for both of us.
Herman, our older dachshund had greeted my dad cordially. Baron couldn’t figure this out, he expressed his apprehension. He looked at me and conveyed,

“Well, if Herman isn’t worried, I guess it’ll be Okay, right? Right, Susan?”

I was sorry I didn’t have an honest answer. I did my best to settle him.

“Sure, this’ll be fun, a whole new adventure!”

As we drove West, toward the Texas panhandle, Baron kept the conversation going by his curious interest expressed by wide eyes and attentive ears. My dad amazed him with his knowledge of history, geography, geology, astronomy, world geo-politics, weather, music on the radio, literature, mechanics, religion and countless other topics. I knew he was faking his fascination with my dad. He knew he was doing me a favor.

There was not a dead moment in the air. An occasional “really?” expressed by me was enough to keep my dad’s mouth running. I was thankful for that. It kept my attention away from my jangle of emotions. As we drove through the night, I was conflicted, scared, excited, happy and worried. I didn’t know where I was going, or who was driving me there.

My dad’s jovial demeanor comforted me. He made The Palace sound like the perfect place for his little princess.

When we arrived, it was late, after 10pm., Baron was exhausted. I stood on the corner and looked up. I gulped. The three-story building was like an old gothic castle. It was a huge rectangle with the front corner cut back with a fifth wall about ten feet wide. This provided the entrance with two giant oak doors. Baron was less than enthused by its foreboding appearance. I had to agree.

Dad ignored my hesitation. “Come on, you’re going to love this place!”

He pulled open one of the oak doors, which had to weigh at least five hundred pounds. I was hesitant, but thirsty. Baron’s squirming had started to annoy me. I went forward filled with adrenalin.

The initial entrance was a small round foyer with a domed ceiling of cut glass. It was about six feet round. As I stared up at the beautiful little pieces of color, I heard my dad chuckle.

“See? I told you, there’s no place like this!”

Then I saw the true entry to the bar, a set of small bat winged doors that swung back and forth. He pulled one of the doors back, beckoning me forward. He looked down at me with a tender expression.

“Welcome home, honey, this is home now.”

As we entered the bar, I was dumbstruck. Baron was not. I stepped back in time, to 1896, into The Palace Hotel.

The bar took up half of the first floor of the hotel. It was the most captivating centerpiece of the establishment. The mirror behind the bar was the longest continuous piece of reflection glass in all the states, the brochure proclaimed. A brass foot rail extended the length of the long cherry oak bar A few feet behind was a waist high railing just like the saloons in old John Wayne movies.

The carpet was a deep royal red interlaced with black swirly patterns. Bright golden paper covered the walls. It was smooth and shiny with raised curly designs made out of felt or maybe even velour. God, I just wanted to reach over and run my fingers across it!  

The wall opposite the bar had windows that were quizzically narrow and impossibly tall. Lush maroon velvet drapes adorned them, parted in the center to provide a view of the quaint town just beyond the sidewalk.

I looked up at the ornate ceiling, which seemed a mile above me. It was covered with tiles of little angels that all looked the same, yet different. The angels danced across the entire ceiling until it curved and met the wall. I got dizzy looking at them.

“You can’t find ceiling tiles like that anywhere! My dad grinned. “They’re covered in pure gold leaf!”

I didn’t know what pure gold leaf was, but the word ‘gold’ impressed me very much.

He introduced me to the staff. I l blushed when he said; “This is Susie, my favorite little girl!” I had never heard that before. The whole crew greeted me warmly, all smiles and friendliness.  

I always paid attention when Baron got nervous but I chose to ignore him. I jostled him in my arms. My stern look at him stopped his squiggling, but his look back conveyed that I was clueless.

I, however thought, Okay, I have died and gone to Heaven! I was enchanted. My fascination with this magical setting made me feel happy; I was in the neatest place I had ever seen. I’m going to love it here!

On the first night, my dad led me around the ground floor. The restaurant was as elegant as the bar. To the rear of the restaurant, there was a large commercial kitchen. Off the rear of the kitchen, he showed, me a short hallway to the back exit. To the right, a huge staircase led to the two upper floors of dilapidated hotel rooms. A manager’s apartment had been converted from several hotel rooms connected together on the second floor, just above the entrance to the hotel.

We ended up back in the bar and sat at a table for two. Crystal, the head bartender stayed on for a little while longer after the rest of the staff were allowed to go home.

Sitting at the table, he ordered Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. I had never had Cream Sherry before, but it tasted like candy with nuts and I had no problem going through numerous rounds in a very short time. I was hungry but I was too nervous to eat.

Baron, however, was ravenous. My dad fed him little pieces filet mignon and French bread with real butter. He played cute for my dad, sitting up and begging. He jumped up, putting his paws on my dad’s leg, wagging his tail like crazy.

I was a little befuddled until I caught his sideways glance that said, “I do not like this guy, but I gotta eat, I’m starving. You’re the one falling into his into his trap, not me.”

Ouch. “Baron, sometimes I wish you would shut the hell up.”

After having his fill, he settled into a wary sleep on top of my feet. I never worried about losing Baron. Where I went, he went, period.

I wasn’t aware when the bartender left. The bottle was on the table before I knew it; he kept my glass full. I was five feet tall and weighed 106 pounds. I had a lethal level of alcohol pulsing threw my entire body…and I had my daddy.

I was in a haze. Actually, it was more of a daze than a haze. My vision was
faa Jul 2018
Her lips constant at the utterance
Of sweet and serene words filled
With adoration, praising him,
He who made endless hearts
do cartwheels and somersaults
Of multiple, millions nigh and far
their hearts loving
As long as he’s living

Nonetheless, changing courses
Of history was what she excelled
One glance, one encounter turned

Her lips managing
to do none but stutter
To his shielded heart
no one managed to flutter

His deer like eyes observing
With admiration, eyes sparkling
every look, crook, nook
Of her smile that shook
The worlds and heavens
Devout in his heart and mind

His earth's plates shifting
His massive planets orbiting
He witnessed it all in one being

The gravity of the universe on her
Shoulders heavy from responsibility
The heavens challenging her capability
Her hardships conveyed as she blinked
their dilated orbs communicating
language barriers unstoppable
To what her eyes held

He understood his needs
To care, to cherish, to love,
Feeling his heart pumping blood
Faster, quicker than light
Travelling the dark domains
Undiscovered, just like her soul
That he felt the need to explore
As his heart finally fluttered
Susan Hunt Jul 2012
CHAPTER ONE: THE DEMISE OF A YOUNG GIRL SEPTEMBER 1975


I had not seen my father in over two years when he showed up at my mom and step dad's condo. He had a slick knack of disappearing when laws were broken and he was wanted for questioning. He had an even better ability to re-enter when the heat was off.

My father owned three nightclubs in Oklahoma City. His first was the Silver Sword, and then he opened The Red Slipper. After he met his second wife, they together, opened the Jade Club.

All were successful, but the Red Slipper had a reputation. On a rare occasion, my dad would take me with him to open up the place. At first, it scared me. It was so dark in there. But as the lights came on behind the bar, I fell in love with the atmosphere.

Bobby Orr’s hockey stick hung on the wall, along with an endearing note from F. Lee Bailey. At six years old, all I knew was that they were the objects that made my dad beam.

I learned to play pool by standing on a phone book. I watched the colorful smacking ***** bounce around the most beautiful color of green I had ever seen. Chalking the stick was a chore, but after nearly poking my eye out once, I soon caught on.

It was a struggle to climb up on a barstool, but it was worth the effort. I sat at the bar and had lunch: popcorn, pretzels, peanuts and Pepsi.

As I grew older, I saw less and less of him, until he became a stranger, drifting in every once in awhile.  Every few weeks or so, I would come home from school, and see his car in the driveway.

This always shot fear and excitement through me. The air of unpredictability always made me want to ***. Unfortunately, most of the time, we were locked out of the house for a few hours, so I would have to *** in the back yard or at the neighbors. We waited on the stairs for the front door to open. And it always did, by my mom. She usually looked satisfied and serene but other times, I saw dread and sadness on her face.

Ever since I could remember, my dad had been a string of disappointments for me with a few indescribable moments of pure enjoyment mixed in between He could be kind, funny and like a real dad sometimes, that was the dad I missed. I tried to hold onto those experiences, even though he was such a mean ******* most of the time. But mostly, I just didn't know him.

Their divorce became final around the summer of 1972, but that didn't stop my mom from loving him. I don't know why, but she chased him frequently, going out to bars with her friends, trying to get a glimpse of him, and maybe more.

The last time I’d seen my father had not been pleasant. When I was thirteen, he broke down the door to our apartment and went straight to my mother’s bedroom. The noises were terrifying. The screaming, and punching sounds were followed by my mother’s whimpering, begging, groveling.

"How dare you do this to me, Patsy!? And behind my back! You could have at least told me!"

My dad had bailed himself out of jail that night. She promised him she would never seek alimony or child support again. Her lawyer was wrong. It wasn’t worth getting killed over.  

Shortly after, he had to leave the state. It had something to do with a low-level mob deal involving an insurance fraud. Too bad, it involved burning a building with someone in it. My dad became nothing but a memory, which faded away over time.

**

Alcohol and tobacco were constants in my family, so when my older brother, Tim, started smoking at ten years old, I don't remember much protest from anyone. I was seven and when my sister Abby, turned ten the next year, she also started smoking.  All the older kids were smoking cigarettes. I wanted to be cool, so I puked and coughed as I practiced. By the time I was ten, I too, was inhaling properly.  Around that time, I was introduced to *** by my sister's boyfriend. It did help my mood, somewhat, but it wasn't enough.

By 1974, I was using drugs from my sister’s boyfriend. John was a true drugstore cowboy. At first, he committed burglaries, which were easy at the time. There were no sophisticated electronics to stop someone from cutting a hole in the roof of a pharmacy. It took only minutes to pry open the safe that contained the narcotics. Then it took maybe another minute to fill a pillowcase full of every variety of amphetamines, barbiturates, valiums, etc.

It wasn’t long before I graduated to using morphine, ******* and then overdosed on Demerol. My stepfather sent me to a treatment facility in Tulsa Oklahoma, about one hundred miles away from Oklahoma City. The Dillon treatment center didn’t accept clients under age of sixteen but made an exception with me. I was a walking-talking disastrous miracle...or a miraculously saved disaster.

They figured that since I was fourteen, the sooner the better to start my road to recovery. Apparently, they didn’t condone sneaking *** and valiums in to the facility. I was kicked out of Dillon after about a month.

I came back home and laid low. I went back to Hefner Jr. High and enrolled back into the ninth grade. I quietly picked up where I left off, going back into business with John. My job was to sell the safe stuff; valiums, seconols, white bennies, ***, etc.


Summer came; I turned fifteen and had developed a tendency to over test my wares. I overdosed and nearly died in the hospital several times, which had led to my current predicament. Nobody knew what to do with me.

In August, I entered the tenth grade...for two weeks. I was expelled, (you guessed it) for dealing drugs. I was on homebound teaching twice a week with little supervision. My mother worked, my step-dad, **** ,worked, and I was home all day. However, I was not just sitting idly around. I was into enterprise.

**

In September, I overdosed again. I was quickly killing myself and my mother didn’t know what to do to stop it. That is why what happened was not my mother’s fault. But it wasn’t my fault either.

I never figured out how he knew where we lived. My mother moved over at least fourteen times in between the time I was six and twelve years old. Yet, here he was, at our front door, with his undeniable ‘ah shucks’ charm. His modesty was convincing. His timing was incredible. My mother stood frozen, her mouth agape. **** took the lead. He placed himself between my mother and father.

“You must be Gary Don, my name is ****; I’m Patsy’s husband." **** had never met my dad, but he'd heard enough about him to surmise who was standing at the door.

"Um, yeah, I'm Gary Don, it's nice to meet you ****", he said; as he offered a friendly hand shake to ****.

"I hope I'm not interrupting you, I was just in Duncan with my parents and they suggested I stop by and talk with you before heading back west. It's about Susie....

"Yes, Patsy said you called yesterday. We weren't expecting you this soon, but it's no problem. Why don't you come in and tell us what your plans are? Patsy, honey, would you mind putting on a *** of coffee?”

This unfroze my mother and she scurried to the kitchen. I was still in shock at seeing my dad’s face. I retreated to the staircase, but poked my head around and caught him glance at me. I flew up to the landing. I could easily escape up the rest of the stairs to my bedroom.
I was small enough to remain hidden on the landing, and heard the conversation between my mother, my dad and ****. **** was the classiest, most even-tempered adult I had ever encountered. I wished I could stop hurting him and my mother.  

My mother sat down two cups of coffee on the dining room table where my dad and **** sat. As she retreated a few steps back into the kitchen, **** politely probed my dad. My dad had the right answer for every question.

He swore he was a completely different person. He had changed. He had no hard feelings, instead he was back to help. He was remorseful for being an absent father and he wanted to make things right. He was back for a reason. He had heard that I was in trouble with drugs and school and he felt guilty for that. He had the answer to my problems. He was so convincing, so….humble, almost shy.

As I listened, I began freaking out with fear and excitement. I always wanted my dad. The last time I tried to live with him, it didn’t work out; he sent me back to my mother’s after a month. Now my dad wanted me! He wanted to save me, take care of me!

He lived by himself now. He was the manager of The Palace Restaurant/Hotel in the little town of Raton, New Mexico. It was a refurbished hotel, built over a century ago The ground floor was an elegant bar and restaurant. He was making very good money, he paid no rent and he had an extra room for me.

With a population of 6000, it was not a place to continue a lucrative drug business. Also, he would enroll me into the little high school and I could get my diploma. I could work in the restaurant in the evenings where he would keep his eye on me. Then, there was the horse. He would buy me a horse. And on and on and on.

The logic and sincerity of his argument was convincing. So there it was. An hour later, my bags were packed. I was going to live with my father in New Mexico.

That’s how in September 1975, my father whisked me away from my home in Oklahoma City, under the guise of saving me from my own demise. I was stolen and held captive in Raton, New Mexico for what seemed like forever.

My dog, Baron was coming with me, I refused to go anywhere without him. He was a tiny black and tan Dachshund. I got him free when I was fourteen, when I got back from Tulsa. To me, he was priceless. He was my best friend. He couldn’t have weighed more than ten pounds, but his heart was huge.

I talked to him about everything and he consoled me by nodding, and licking me on the cheek non-stop…or he would admonish me through his expressions and demeanor. I had lived with Dachshunds since I was seven, so understood their language pretty well. Baron understood humans better. We developed a rare communication that worked well for both of us.
Herman, our older dachshund had greeted my dad cordially. Baron couldn’t figure this out, he expressed his apprehension. He looked at me and conveyed,

“Well, if Herman isn’t worried, I guess it’ll be Okay, right? Right, Susan?”

I was sorry I didn’t have an honest answer. I did my best to settle him.

“Sure, this’ll be fun, a whole new adventure!”

As we drove West, toward the Texas panhandle, Baron kept the conversation going by his curious interest expressed by wide eyes and attentive ears. My dad amazed him with his knowledge of history, geography, geology, astronomy, world geo-politics, weather, music on the radio, literature, mechanics, religion and countless other topics. I knew he was faking his fascination with my dad. He knew he was doing me a favor.

There was not a dead moment in the air. An occasional “really?” expressed by me was enough to keep my dad’s mouth running. I was thankful for that. It kept my attention away from my jangle of emotions. As we drove through the night, I was conflicted, scared, excited, happy and worried. I didn’t know where I was going, or who was driving me there.

My dad’s jovial demeanor comforted me. He made The Palace sound like the perfect place for his little princess.

When we arrived, it was late, after 10pm., Baron was exhausted. I stood on the corner and looked up. I gulped. The three-story building was like an old gothic castle. It was a huge rectangle with the front corner cut back with a fifth wall about ten feet wide. This provided the entrance with two giant oak doors. Baron was less than enthused by its foreboding appearance. I had to agree.

Dad ignored my hesitation. “Come on, you’re going to love this place!”

He pulled open one of the oak doors, which had to weigh at least five hundred pounds. I was hesitant, but thirsty. Baron’s squirming had started to annoy me. I went forward filled with adrenalin.

The initial entrance was a small round foyer with a domed ceiling of cut glass. It was about six feet round. As I stared up at the beautiful little pieces of color, I heard my dad chuckle.

“See? I told you, there’s no place like this!”

Then I saw the true entry to the bar, a set of small bat winged doors that swung back and forth. He pulled one of the doors back, beckoning me forward. He looked down at me with a tender expression.

“Welcome home, honey, this is home now.”

As we entered the bar, I was dumbstruck. Baron was not. I stepped back in time, to 1896, into The Palace Hotel.

The bar took up half of the first floor of the hotel. It was the most captivating centerpiece of the establishment. The mirror behind the bar was the longest continuous piece of reflection glass in all the states, the brochure proclaimed. A brass foot rail extended the length of the long cherry oak bar A few feet behind was a waist high railing just like the saloons in old John Wayne movies.

The carpet was a deep royal red interlaced with black swirly patterns. Bright golden paper covered the walls. It was smooth and shiny with raised curly designs made out of felt or maybe even velour. God, I just wanted to reach over and run my fingers across it!  

The wall opposite the bar had windows that were quizzically narrow and impossibly tall. Lush maroon velvet drapes adorned them, parted in the center to provide a view of the quaint town just beyond the sidewalk.

I looked up at the ornate ceiling, which seemed a mile above me. It was covered with tiles of little angels that all looked the same, yet different. The angels danced across the entire ceiling until it curved and met the wall. I got dizzy looking at them.

“You can’t find ceiling tiles like that anywhere! My dad grinned. “They’re covered in pure gold leaf!”

I didn’t know what pure gold leaf was, but the word ‘gold’ impressed me very much.

He introduced me to the staff. I l blushed when he said; “This is Susie, my favorite little girl!” I had never heard that before. The whole crew greeted me warmly, all smiles and friendliness.  

I always paid attention when Baron got nervous but I chose to ignore him. I jostled him in my arms. My stern look at him stopped his squiggling, but his look back conveyed that I was clueless.

I, however thought, Okay, I have died and gone to Heaven! I was enchanted. My fascination with this magical setting made me feel happy; I was in the neatest place I had ever seen. I’m going to love it here!

On the first night, my dad led me around the ground floor. The restaurant was as elegant as the bar. To the rear of the restaurant, there was a large commercial kitchen. Off the rear of the kitchen, he showed, me a short hallway to the back exit. To the right, a huge staircase led to the two upper floors of dilapidated hotel rooms. A manager’s apartment had been converted from several hotel rooms connected together on the second floor, just above the entrance to the hotel.

We ended up back in the bar and sat at a table for two. Crystal, the head bartender stayed on for a little while longer after the rest of the staff were allowed to go home.

Sitting at the table, he ordered Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. I had never had Cream Sherry before, but it tasted like candy with nuts and I had no problem going through numerous rounds in a very short time. I was hungry but I was too nervous to eat.

Baron, however, was ravenous. My dad fed him little pieces filet mignon and French bread with real butter. He played cute for my dad, sitting up and begging. He jumped up, putting his paws on my dad’s leg, wagging his tail like crazy.

I was a little befuddled until I caught his sideways glance that said, “I do not like this guy, but I gotta eat, I’m starving. You’re the one falling into his into his trap, not me.”

Ouch. “Baron, sometimes I wish you would shut the hell up.”

After having his fill, he settled into a wary sleep on top of my feet. I never worried about losing Baron. Where I went, he went, period.

I wasn’t aware when the bartender left. The bottle was on the table before I knew it; he kept my glass full. I was five feet tall and weighed 106 pounds. I had a lethal level of alcohol pulsing threw my entire body…and I had my daddy.

I was in a haze. Actually, it was more of a daze than a haze. My vision was
MARGA Mar 2019
some poetries
are not yet
conveyed into words;

they're still
felt by the heart,
and the mind
is still fathoming
those sentiments,
before finally
converting them
into words.
ㅡ take time to feel .
Laura Robin Nov 2012
She strides down the street,
Holds that cancer stick up to her mouth,
Takes a deep breath in,
Filling her lungs with lethal smoke,
Gradually rotting away her
Interior.

Her heart beats out of her chest.
[A heart divided between two hearts.]

He’s waiting at the street corner
Between the alley of lust and the
Path of ignorance.
She sees his silhouette in the
Distance, a dark apparition.
Her heart leaps out of her chest,
Towards him,
Reaching for him,
Propelling her to him.

She had absolutely no control over the matter.

The other man she loves is home
Alone, waiting for her too.
Moments ago, he
Held her in his arms,
Kissed her goodbye,
Told her to hurry back soon.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too” - the words
Suddenly conveyed
No meaning to her.
She told him she was
Running an errand, when,
In reality,
She was running away
From him.

[A heart divided between two hearts
Can never really be a heart.
]

His love suffocates her.
His love drowns her
In its constancy,
In its predictability.
With him, she feels like a
Bird with its wings ripped off.
Held captive, in a wire cage.

[A heart divided between two hearts
Can never beat the way it should.
]

How can a woman with two men
Who love her
Feel so
Staggeringly
Alone?
Who will love her until their
Disintegrating hearts turn into
Simply dust.

[A heart divided between two hearts
Can never really keep from rupturing,
Infecting the body with its own poisons.
]

So she lets her underground lover
Envelop her in his arms
And kiss her until both of their lips
Are numb,
Until they both want more.
Until they cannot restrain themselves.

His love releases her out of her
Cage, allows her to fly once again.
The passion of these moments
Will never be forgotten.
His love brings the roses back to
Her lifeless cheeks, brings life
Back to the void inside her.

And, his love allows her
To fly back home, once again,
Straight into the arms of the
Man who is her keeper.
Pierson Pflieger Apr 2012
A bright light annoys my eyes.    I can’t get away from it- I don’t like it.  
Tired and overwhelmed with obligations and requirements,
I’d rather not complete or even think of-
I’d rather they did not exist.  

What do they prove?  

I am comfortable and lazy.  
I would like to sleep, but the smallest agitations are an unbearable annoyance.  
Obnoxious voices speaking a tongue I don’t know, laughing at my condition-
I’d rather be asleep-
quiet and asleep.  

I want a cigarette.  I hate cigarettes.  
I don’t hate cigarettes; I rather like them, especially with coffee,
but I hate how they manipulate me.  
I want one, but I’d rather sleep.  
I wish I could smoke in bed.  
I should have showered before bed.

Self-confidence comes and goes.  
Sometimes I don’t care what people think; other times it’s all I think about.  
It’s judgmental; it’s worry of acceptance, worry of not belonging, worry of standing out.  
People- including me- want to be individuals, but are not brave enough.  
Society does not accept true individuals, it kills them.  
How can I be unique or allow true self to be and true identity to exist when there is fear?

When I see her, I wonder what might have been.  
There was a connection, or maybe just an attraction.  
We lead different lives.  
She is pure and good in the church sense; I am pure and good in my own way.  
But, these two lifestyles could never intertwine.  
I must admire what she is from a far.  
I should not dwell on it too much because it is unfair to the present.  
We always want to know.  
We want to know the future, but I will get there at my own pace.

Lying in bed, I don’t remember most days.  
I only remember lying in bed the prior night, trying to remember the previous day.  
Sometimes I hate my body- not enough muscle, skinny legs, blah hair.  
Against society's standards I am mediocre.  
They know what a man should look like; I am not him.  
We are all not the portrayed he or she.  
Those people only exist on screens.  

This is the last place I want to be.  
Stuck in a class I couldn’t give a **** about,
listening to a Professor I can’t understand drone on and on in his sing-song,
marbled-mouth accent.  
Occasionally trying my patience with a drawn out, “You noh wah I main?”  
No.
I don’t know what you mean.  
I can’t understand what’s coming out of your mouth.

Apparently, the only way to be a good teacher is to jump through hoops and
dance for the cloudy heads of a department.  
If I play their games, I will have blisters on my lips from having to kiss too much ***.  
I do not need to be validated, approved, passed, accepted, or liked by them to be a good teacher.  
I know I will be a good teacher- they have no influence on that.  
They only have the ability to stall me and help steal my money.

The worst is when the pain sinks into your eyes, dull and deep.  
The pressure tunnels around your temples and tries to bore a whole through your forehead.  
Six Advil cover up the pain- only for an hour.  
Everything within your skull pushes out like a balloon on the brink of bursting.

The worst is the restless anxiety experienced lying in bed right before sleep.  
It is the empty churning of stomach, half shots of adrenaline that tickle your veins,
while the mind races like prey trying to evade predatory jaws.  
Your heart flits, skips, and stops,
as your mind obsesses about the seemingly infinite list of things you have to get done.  
That only adds to the stress- since you’re not sleeping, something could be accomplished.  
The worry heightens, the obsession increases until- sleep.

An instant of eye contact can be rare and intriguing.  
Instants too small to have time, can convey so much.  
Eye line meets eyes, eyes lock- message of vast information conveyed.  
A minute moment, an insignificant second, so monumental.  
This blip exchange ignites an internal fire of emotion or ruins your day.  
The messages that can be exchanged in the smallest,
feasible time frame are vastly unique to each experience.  
Polar and extreme: Love me - I nothing you.  
Eye contact conveys an incredible amount of information, but perhaps to be keen to it-
is to be vulnerable.  

What if it were acceptable to give into every desire or want?  
What would the world be?  
Would it be that much different or would the internal, human morale still enforce invisible boundaries?  
What would we do?  
Would the private become public?  
Would others see our lowest animal drive?  
Humans are the only being capable of acting above or below their nature.  
Rough.
Raw.  
Human animals.

It is ironic when something is built up to high expectations, but turns out anticlimactic.  
Was that it?  
That is what we waited for?  
When something does not meet expectations, it creates hollowness, an emptiness, or unfilled hole.
  
What do you do?  
What can you do?  
You can learn from it or you can let it bring you down.  
It is better to look for the positives
than dwell on and become disheartened by the negatives.  
Learn and Grow.

I am a poor student.  
I have been loaned money I will never be able to pay back.  
I am paying for a degree, to get a job that will never return the favor.  
I am strangling myself financially for a “higher education”, but am I getting it?  
Perhaps it is not the institution’s fault; perhaps, it’s my own?  

so much depends
upon

a green dollar
bill

glazed with American
greed

beside the fabricated
dream

I am poor and will be poor, but I will be happy.  
Everything costs.  Everything has a price.  Life is expensive.  
How can I save?  What can I afford to put away?  
When forty dollars in your bank account is a pleasant surprise-
surprises are cheap.
This is a piece I wrote for a class while in school.  The goal of the assignment was to capture "agitated consciousness" (write the moment you wake up, experience high or low emotions, right before falling asleep).  First thought, best thought.  I recently found this and have only made minor changes.  It is not my favorite piece I have ever written, but there are moments I enjoy.  If you have never tried to write like this, I would encourage it.  It's challenging, fun, frustrating, and revealing.  Thanks for reading.
Umi May 2018
Beyond the boundaries of our restricted life,
Lies a world of pure fantasy, majestic and venurable in size,
You don't have to die in a dream, were the words pushed into me,
Because I was weak, such was a limited set of mind, bound to earth,
"Oh heavens, oh earth" I said, " take me in, let me enjoy the beauty and joy of what's beyond my fragile body once more, just for this moment, I would like to lose myself in the melody of life and death"
The boundary of day and night, determined by the worlds spin gifts us fascinating sunrises, and a starlit nightsky filled with great glory,
Seen and unseen, fantasy and reality all kept from interfering with one another by complex mechanisms and borders, orderly stuctured!
The boundary to another's heart however is crossed by emotions,
Emotions which are to be kind, pure and sweet, ah, phantoms!
Phantoms of the past conveyed by memories long gone corrupt judgement; when I knew the meaning of eternity you were no longer there, such the serenity of silence rules over this deserted border.
The border of conciousness.

~ Umi
PoserPersona Jan 2019
Lips curling towards blue hues
bestow scintillant cut pearls
which bite cardiac tissues
like fur companions nip hands

The physical sensation
lacks pleasure in a vacuum
yet the conveyed affections
grip the fabrics of being

How those star gazers lift, too,
and cradle a future, thus
beckoning mine towards you
with no ending in sight.
As with the setting sun,
night begins when she’s away
Joel M Frye Mar 2016
The angels that you can and cannot see
float in and out of life so gracefully;
enfold in winged embraces one by one,
celestial comforters when day is done.
Some angels take the shapes of passers-by
so you might see the Spirit in their eyes.
A smile that lifts the day from the mundane;
a kind hand up, a loving act conveyed.
The unseen angels hover in the realm
where power manifested overwhelms
our common senses. There behind the scenes
they battle fears and reinforce our dreams.
Take counsel from a humbled man, once proud;
they only enter lives when they're allowed.
Umi Mar 2018
Complete, four wings stretched for you as an obsticle, big and ominous, they block the light of the sun as it crosses your way,
He will promise you that over walls you will go if you obey him,
Paying from the rule and standing proud with spiteful intent,
Or maybe he will make you believe to be able to shoot over the sky,
What a trecious act of misleading lies, leading to greater falsities,
The cards of fate are already dealt, do not sell your soul, do not lose,
Filth comes in many classes and ranks which cannot be conveyed,
Evil knows tricks into your heart which cannot be explained at all,
His footsteps will leave their mark on you once purgatory is served,
Burning up and feeling priceless now would simply be foolish, dull
Waiting for the cracks of a shady eternity once he breaks his promise,
Beware, the sweetest words might be a game of seduction for you,
Clouded, lost, uncertain of its outcome, struggling for the light inside,
Make another move, you won't be able to turn back, broken light finds no place in this realm of unending decisions to be made today,
You will see it is true, but then it will be far too late for realisation,
Each soul has it's given date, now as beneath the soil do you want to be laid with your records flawed, at last it comes to heaven or hell,
Will you decide now or will you delay, my precious treasure,
He will promise you wealth from amongst the heavens, to lead to poverty from the deepest hell, a cricle you won't escape from,
His promises are transient lies, all he wants is your soul which dies
Do not listen, turn away, do not become a silly devils prey

~ Umi
Mateuš Conrad Feb 2016
the day near finished and
the night aglet as if day;
what came first -
cliff richard's devil woman
(chicken) or the eagles'
witchy woman (egg)?
cockerel via ****** already took
the opera seat, and the soprano
slit open the larynx of the castrato...
just so the chandelier and windows
shattered in practice...
if your poetry isn't musical, not rhyming,
just write about music,
that's what bukowski conveyed...
make poetry an interest in music,
don't make it this trollop-cod-whipped-****
self-interest... if you can't sing because
an elephant stomped on your ear
or you never had enough money to buy a saxophone,
don't make complex musicology of symphonies
cute with "adoration" using the rhyming technique,
forget it, it's not cute, it's damnable...
true virtue isn't afraid of critique...
write about what you love so i can look it up
and share it, don't write self-love walking sticks
of decrepit fidelity of marathon runners
that wheeze out after the 100th meter in
goldfish dollops of addictive lungs gulping for
breath... no technique in poetry will ever be music
in terms of actual music...
ever heard tenacious d's one note song?
most poetry sounds like that:
sound
around
            orange peel
            foot massage that turned into zest of extra
sound
around
            a tambourine tabernacle
            with st. thomas ******* a rib cage
kangaroo pouch
****'s ouch
                             five multipliers mono
*******
softy
                     doughnut
                                               peach;
'***** where's the cream?!'
'oh boy it's coming, coming with the flying scotsman's
                                steam;
                         ­                      choo choo!'
puff up you puffing puffin *******!
well, i was always going to be an extension of her
doing the triceps choo choo dangle motion;
morph into a church bell uvula
morph into a church bell uvula...
of a-ding-along-for-a-ding-**** of st. ursula's
interpretation of english police officers
deviation from the standard:
                       'allo 'allo 'allo.... n'est-ce pas pas ce comme ce?
Umi Sep 2018
For countless years I looked up to the moon,
But it was always out of my reach, forever behind the sky above me,
So I conveyed my wods in song, so my wishes might be reflected,
Reflected by it's pure light, which when it touches my skin feels cold and lonely at the same time, but also very welcoming and gentle,
My hopes and dreams went unheard by the time of new moon,
They fell on their way into the ocean and spilled into it,
A dying world full of sorrow, for how damaged it already became,
Like the ocean very deep inside, it will not end, not my body living in constant darkness concealed by my mind from the light I adored,
I would rather be swept away, be forgotten by anyone but the sea,
In the waving melody of the nights wind, my breath flows uninterrupted, I lose a part of myself once more, little by little,
Oh life! Why aren't you replacing me, what is the reason for this ?
After this confession of nihilism, shining beyond the scene,
The moon is rising.

~ Umi
YoungSymba Jun 2015
These shadows shelter you tonight.
Right here you'll feel the tunes of the keys speak.
These melodic keys convey words I've conserved so open up your heart's ears and hear what I've been meaning to tell you.

Traces of your scents remain even if you exit into the warmth of light.
These keys continuously play in the dark.
Words I've never said conveyed in a pulse about my chest are now transmitted into these keys.

Pretty much,I don't know about the C-4 note but I'll continue to play with these keys just so you see meaning in what I wrote. Perhaps this isn't a poem,call it a "see-for-note"
Some random **** I wrote when I had the thought of Christian Grey's room with Ana in it,then I thought of this female in the dark and me playing a piano without really knowing how to play it,I play this beautiful song that conveys what I feel for this girl I barely know
Umi May 2018
A journey followed by a road, reaching to the distant sky,
Feelings which cannot be conveyed in words, but actions, disappear in the sea of truths and lies, under the drifting clouds of the night,
A red thread, connecting us without having the answer to where it actually leads, meaningless questions remain floating in thin air,
Ages fade but my infinite lifespan, allows me to shine for you forever,
My heart reflects your tears, which before moistened the earth below us, making me overflow with emotions I couldn't even understand,
Space and time, are for me an obsticle, which I must overcome,
So my gaze, even though is fraught with sin, lead you to happiness.
Spread like moondust across a damaged surface, you departed into the unknown of the night, disappearing within layers of darkness,
Yet, I am not sad for even if you may not be with me from now on,
Always cheering for me to move forward, it would be a shame to give up now, even if we had our troubles, fights and sometimes disagreed.
And if we can never return to the past, let's enjoy the allure moonlight
Together we laughed and cried, yet this dream ended today,
What's left are the memories and the feelings I have felt.

~ Umi
Umi May 2018
Only in the best season,
The forgotten gateway opens up a field of bell flowers in two colours,
White, the colour of light and love, as pure as it sounds like,
Golden, alike the majestic rising sun in the early morning,
They never cross the road, but are seperated by it, I wonder why...
Perhaps it is the harmony, created by the untouched nature,
Or is it the order they chose to grow in, while the warm weather can be felt through body and soul, through emotions and the mind,
Only the chirping of the locusts, hopping from bell to bellflower,
The road is frankly short, leading to a near forest, yet the sensation, brought to the optic nerve and to the nose through the sweet smell,
This is what makes it something which cannot be truly conveyed in words, because, the untouched nature is art in its very own way,
Until the greed of humanity destroys its gift with their toxity,
What remains are the memories of harmony and grace.

~ Umi
Ma Cherie Apr 2017
Scars conveyed on thin skin,
from cuts made down soooo deep,
an memories will change us, true,
if we let them flow an seep,

Don't hide out alone with pain,
or let it come around an creep,
things will be different,
a promise I can keep,

So stay positive.

Ma Cherie © 2017
Frame of mind
Indian Phoenix Oct 2012
I hated Dawkins a little less when his words came from your mouth.

Your unabashed sincerity endeared me to you from the moment you showed me your vintage Atari. I don't recall if that was before or after you bragged about your Star Trek DVDs. Not that it matters, but I hope you've found a place to store all of those wires protruding out of your gadgets like Medusa's head of snakes.

My family liked you, especially my mother. It was probably your staunch advocacy of 4th amendment rights.

Remember those nights we sat in bed and traded secrets on small scraps of paper? We were lovers  for... five weeks by then? It struck me by the third slip that it didn't matter what it would say--I knew I'd still love you anyway. But I knew that from the moment you removed my knee-high boots and kissed my feet when I rode up on my Harley. You unstrapped my helmet and poured me wine. Though we promised to never tell anyone, I just wanted to say: I still smile when I think of your 15-year-old self trying to pick up a ******* on a desolate dusty road. Do you still have those hastily-written pieces of paper? They're yours to keep; I hope they're safe.

Nothing of my new world reminds me of you. There's no Jeopardy to watch, no NPR to hear in your white Saturn, and no desert mountains to hike. Not in India. Maybe it's because nothing is similar that my memories of us stay so firmly imprinted in my mind. Similarities would only erode my recollections. Maybe that's why I almost forgot about the chai tea I'd serve you in bed, coupled with almonds and apricots on the saucer.

But you, you're a walking encyclopedia of my home town. You knew every cactus-lined freeway, the name of the state attorney general, and the best place to grab a Four Peaks beer. Because of this, I could never extricate my love of home and my love for you. To me, you'll always be home.

For better or for worse, I remember it all. Including the soft piano rift of the chess game we'd play on your XBox. I'm guessing you'd beat me, should we play again today. I still have the wooden chess set I got you for your birthday... but we both know I can't give it to you. I'm sorry.

I never believed in saving people before I met you. Before, damaged was a weakness; now I think you just needed a polish. I never told you, but I read your psych evaluation--I found it when I was cleaning your room (with your permission, I add). The therapist was right: you're not aloof, just too smart for the room. I thank God that you never bought that container of nitric oxide.

I know we said we'd marry if I ever came back home. A no-frills city hall marriage suited us just fine. I have no doubt we would have had a simple, sweet life. You would've relented to letting me get a dog to keep your arrogant cat company. Our biggest fight would be over which castle door the RPG character should open, and you would've helped me improve my golf swing on the inexpensive dilapidated course near my old junior high school.

But likewise... our biggest adventure would've been only a roadtrip to the neighboring county. And I wanted to explore. I needed to explore. You, who never wanted to stray outside of a 100-mile radius could never satiate that curiosity. But I know we could have made it work. I know we would've been happy.

Sometimes I wish we could be the best of friends. I know we can't; not when I started dating my now-husband so close after we ended things in tear-stained emails when I went overseas. He swore off her; I swore off you. That's the way things go, I guess, when you get older.

I know it might seem like I've moved on and forgotten you.

Moved on, yes. Forgotten? Never.

It probably wouldn't be the same if we met again. I have too much love for you that could never be conveyed. My love for you has changed; it's not romantic. But it's still this throbbing appreciation for everything you are. I couldn't bear guarded chit chat. Not with you.

And I hope you are happy. Have you realized your worth yet, or are you still wasting your time with broken high school grads who listen to Ke$ha? I can't tell you who to love... but I hope she's an astrophysicist, someone who loves Carl Sagan even half as much as you. I want her to read Noam Chomsky to you late at night, and wake you in the mornings with a glass of milk and cookies. She'll prefer simple mashed potatoes to dim sum, and have a weakness for microbreweries. She'd be gorgeous in that bookish sort of way. Yes. That's the girl for you.

....I'm sorry it's not me, my dear atheist.
B FUR Apr 2014
Take a look
At this decade's eternal light.
Youth, beauty, happiness.
In theory.
Is that how it was for our parents?

Top tags on this website
#depression #suicide #heartbreak
Are grandma's photo albums fairytales
Or has something changed

Without shame
Unmarked blame
Just a change

Perseverance died
At the doorstep of sarcastic self-deprecation,
Cool-to-be-lame facades,
Glorified depression, growing vines on glowing laptop walls
With a generation, fetal position, ripped jeans and eyeliner, inside

Self proclaimed ****
If you say it first
Those twisted lips of others
Won't press on such a fresh wound

And here we lose the metaphor

Cut yourself
So everyone else
Is picking at scabs

No one would hurt another
Who hurts themselves
Unless they're an ***
So the words are silenced
Are you stronger? Happier? Healthier?

And so we can always be safe
In our self loathing
Until puppy eyes and perfect pictures
Leave us hungry
Hurt by the people who don't mind being *****
Gaining assets, stealing rights from under
Our droopy dismal noses snapshot
Caption: **** up, let down, repeat. Hate me.
-politicians and companies will bash your head on rock bottom
Looking up in disbelief at chemical burns from Big Mac's
We'll look back down to pout about our pain.

The only way to save ourselves?
Perseverance
Positivity
Hope
Though I conveyed none of those emotions in this poem.
**** me.
I'm a hypocrite. But my point still stands.
Perhaps even stronger.
This is extremely negative and scattered, but I spent so long writing it I'm going to post it anyway. I can't believe what a hypocrite I am. I hope I make sense to at least one person. This also seems so mean when reading it but wow it's not supposed to be. I need to shut up and stop being so insecure about my writing and terrified of offending people. PHEW. WHY AM I RANTING SO MUCH I MIGHT JUST WRITE A MINI NOVEL. HERE. IN THE NOTES SECTION. This poem made me see how extreme my hypocrisy is when it comes to self insulting and just generally bringing myself down. I'm going start improving as of NOW! So yes, this poem is negative and scattered, yes I fear I haven't gotten across my thoughts at all, but I worked on this poem for a good while. I've gotten a **** load out of writing it and look I'm in all this reflection and self improvement because of, perhaps, a sub par poem. And I feel ******* fantastic. I feel so fine about myself right now I'm on the verge of talking about my much deeper insecurities in this little ******* note that's now longer than the actual thing I'm posting. Hahahaa I have 4 followers (hi Daniel) this is essentially a diary entry, but I don't care if 10,000 people see this!
I'm scared of disgusting people. Of course in a physical way with my appearance, but I'm mostly scared of a disgust different from that. I'm afraid of disgusting people with my confidence. I fear that if I'm laughing loudly, speaking my mind, or doing weird **** in public then people will think I'm confident. And they'll look at me with disgust because they can clearly see there's nothing for me to be confident about. They'll see me as a freak saying stupid and embarrassing things but my confidence blinds me and so I make a fool of myself while being silently pitied. And so for a long time I put myself down, to assure others I KNOW, I'M NOT BLIND, I SEE I'M A ******* IDIOT and I tried to portray as little confidence as possible because it felt better to act knowledgable about my flaws than act confident about, well, just existing. So I suppose a lot of this poem is about my old attitude, but I see that attitude in so many people I know and in this trendy teenage "alternative" media crap. Perhaps I'm putting my own thoughts behind the stuff I see, I don't know. I FEEL CONFIDENT IN THE VIBE I'M GETTING SO YEAH MAYBE I THINK I DO KNOW. YEAH. I have 3% battery. It's 2 32 am. This was an absurd adventure into my stream of consciousness, if anyone took the ride with me, I hope this brings some reflection for you as well :)
Nylee Feb 2019
I have to lift my thumb
type another word
Use my finger to erase
All my mistakes
A second well spent
A tool better grant
All becoming part of my rant
Simply said
but cannot be conveyed


An uninspiring living being
Nothing is happening
Only two pages of
Not any more in sequence
My identity missing
other time spent grieving
My dreams all lost
I am left alone

A dream of many gifts
What way it went
an unambitious woman
came back
Unwilling
to every thing
Moving the muscle
Even an inch

The same words
dance again
Creativity gone stale
every trial
So daunted by
Ever lack of effort
No improvement
what count to keep
losing the grip

An another day
Come and go by
twenties to thirties
queen of laziness
Unsteady not focused
pretty same letter
I am not getting any better
opportunities run away now
As I step towards the goal

So taken aback
Relenting to every decided fate
a piece of cake
Rock solid one at that
bundling and fumbling
No excuses to my thing
like a diamond never found
never cut or polished
laying just like carbon.
But when their flight had taken them past the trench and the set
stakes, and many had fallen by the hands of the Danaans, the Trojans
made a halt on reaching their chariots, routed and pale with fear.
Jove now woke on the crests of Ida, where he was lying with
golden-throned Juno by his side, and starting to his feet he saw the
Trojans and Achaeans, the one thrown into confusion, and the others
driving them pell-mell before them with King Neptune in their midst.
He saw Hector lying on the ground with his comrades gathered round
him, gasping for breath, wandering in mind and vomiting blood, for
it was not the feeblest of the Achaeans who struck him.
  The sire of gods and men had pity on him, and looked fiercely on
Juno. “I see, Juno,” said he, “you mischief—making trickster, that
your cunning has stayed Hector from fighting and has caused the rout
of his host. I am in half a mind to thrash you, in which case you will
be the first to reap the fruits of your scurvy knavery. Do you not
remember how once upon a time I had you hanged? I fastened two
anvils on to your feet, and bound your hands in a chain of gold
which none might break, and you hung in mid-air among the clouds.
All the gods in Olympus were in a fury, but they could not reach you
to set you free; when I caught any one of them I gripped him and
hurled him from the heavenly threshold till he came fainting down to
earth; yet even this did not relieve my mind from the incessant
anxiety which I felt about noble Hercules whom you and Boreas had
spitefully conveyed beyond the seas to Cos, after suborning the
tempests; but I rescued him, and notwithstanding all his mighty
labours I brought him back again to Argos. I would remind you of
this that you may learn to leave off being so deceitful, and
discover how much you are likely to gain by the embraces out of
which you have come here to trick me.”
  Juno trembled as he spoke, and said, “May heaven above and earth
below be my witnesses, with the waters of the river Styx—and this
is the most solemn oath that a blessed god can take—nay, I swear also
by your own almighty head and by our bridal bed—things over which I
could never possibly perjure myself—that Neptune is not punishing
Hector and the Trojans and helping the Achaeans through any doing of
mine; it is all of his own mere motion because he was sorry to see the
Achaeans hard pressed at their ships: if I were advising him, I should
tell him to do as you bid him.”
  The sire of gods and men smiled and answered, “If you, Juno, were
always to support me when we sit in council of the gods, Neptune, like
it or no, would soon come round to your and my way of thinking. If,
then, you are speaking the truth and mean what you say, go among the
rank and file of the gods, and tell Iris and Apollo lord of the bow,
that I want them—Iris, that she may go to the Achaean host and tell
Neptune to leave off fighting and go home, and Apollo, that he may
send Hector again into battle and give him fresh strength; he will
thus forget his present sufferings, and drive the Achaeans back in
confusion till they fall among the ships of Achilles son of Peleus.
Achilles will then send his comrade Patroclus into battle, and
Hector will **** him in front of Ilius after he has slain many
warriors, and among them my own noble son Sarpedon. Achilles will ****
Hector to avenge Patroclus, and from that time I will bring it about
that the Achaeans shall persistently drive the Trojans back till
they fulfil the counsels of Minerva and take Ilius. But I will not
stay my anger, nor permit any god to help the Danaans till I have
accomplished the desire of the son of Peleus, according to the promise
I made by bowing my head on the day when Thetis touched my knees and
besought me to give him honour.”
  Juno heeded his words and went from the heights of Ida to great
Olympus. Swift as the thought of one whose fancy carries him over vast
continents, and he says to himself, “Now I will be here, or there,”
and he would have all manner of things—even so swiftly did Juno
wing her way till she came to high Olympus and went in among the
gods who were gathered in the house of Jove. When they saw her they
all of them came up to her, and held out their cups to her by way of
greeting. She let the others be, but took the cup offered her by
lovely Themis, who was first to come running up to her. “Juno,” said
she, “why are you here? And you seem troubled—has your husband the
son of Saturn been frightening you?”
  And Juno answered, “Themis, do not ask me about it. You know what
a proud and cruel disposition my husband has. Lead the gods to
table, where you and all the immortals can hear the wicked designs
which he has avowed. Many a one, mortal and immortal, will be
angered by them, however peaceably he may be feasting now.”
  On this Juno sat down, and the gods were troubled throughout the
house of Jove. Laughter sat on her lips but her brow was furrowed with
care, and she spoke up in a rage. “Fools that we are,” she cried,
“to be thus madly angry with Jove; we keep on wanting to go up to
him and stay him by force or by persuasion, but he sits aloof and
cares for nobody, for he knows that he is much stronger than any other
of the immortals. Make the best, therefore, of whatever ills he may
choose to send each one of you; Mars, I take it, has had a taste of
them already, for his son Ascalaphus has fallen in battle—the man
whom of all others he loved most dearly and whose father he owns
himself to be.”
  When he heard this Mars smote his two sturdy thighs with the flat of
his hands, and said in anger, “Do not blame me, you gods that dwell in
heaven, if I go to the ships of the Achaeans and avenge the death of
my son, even though it end in my being struck by Jove’s lightning
and lying in blood and dust among the corpses.”
  As he spoke he gave orders to yoke his horses Panic and Rout,
while he put on his armour. On this, Jove would have been roused to
still more fierce and implacable enmity against the other immortals,
had not Minerva, ararmed for the safety of the gods, sprung from her
seat and hurried outside. She tore the helmet from his head and the
shield from his shoulders, and she took the bronze spear from his
strong hand and set it on one side; then she said to Mars, “Madman,
you are undone; you have ears that hear not, or you have lost all
judgement and understanding; have you not heard what Juno has said
on coming straight from the presence of Olympian Jove? Do you wish
to go through all kinds of suffering before you are brought back
sick and sorry to Olympus, after having caused infinite mischief to
all us others? Jove would instantly leave the Trojans and Achaeans
to themselves; he would come to Olympus to punish us, and would grip
us up one after another, guilty or not guilty. Therefore lay aside
your anger for the death of your son; better men than he have either
been killed already or will fall hereafter, and one cannot protect
every one’s whole family.”
  With these words she took Mars back to his seat. Meanwhile Juno
called Apollo outside, with Iris the messenger of the gods. “Jove,”
she said to them, “desires you to go to him at once on Mt. Ida; when
you have seen him you are to do as he may then bid you.”
  Thereon Juno left them and resumed her seat inside, while Iris and
Apollo made all haste on their way. When they reached
many-fountained Ida, mother of wild beasts, they found Jove seated
on topmost Gargarus with a fragrant cloud encircling his head as
with a diadem. They stood before his presence, and he was pleased with
them for having been so quick in obeying the orders his wife had given
them.
  He spoke to Iris first. “Go,” said he, “fleet Iris, tell King
Neptune what I now bid you—and tell him true. Bid him leave off
fighting, and either join the company of the gods, or go down into the
sea. If he takes no heed and disobeys me, let him consider well
whether he is strong enough to hold his own against me if I attack
him. I am older and much stronger than he is; yet he is not afraid
to set himself up as on a level with myself, of whom all the other
gods stand in awe.”
  Iris, fleet as the wind, obeyed him, and as the cold hail or
snowflakes that fly from out the clouds before the blast of Boreas,
even so did she wing her way till she came close up to the great
shaker of the earth. Then she said, “I have come, O dark-haired king
that holds the world in his embrace, to bring you a message from Jove.
He bids you leave off fighting, and either join the company of the
gods or go down into the sea; if, however, you take no heed and
disobey him, he says he will come down here and fight you. He would
have you keep out of his reach, for he is older and much stronger than
you are, and yet you are not afraid to set yourself up as on a level
with himself, of whom all the other gods stand in awe.”
  Neptune was very angry and said, “Great heavens! strong as Jove
may be, he has said more than he can do if he has threatened
violence against me, who am of like honour with himself. We were three
brothers whom Rhea bore to Saturn—Jove, myself, and Hades who rules
the world below. Heaven and earth were divided into three parts, and
each of us was to have an equal share. When we cast lots, it fell to
me to have my dwelling in the sea for evermore; Hades took the
darkness of the realms under the earth, while air and sky and clouds
were the portion that fell to Jove; but earth and great Olympus are
the common property of all. Therefore I will not walk as Jove would
have me. For all his strength, let him keep to his own third share and
be contented without threatening to lay hands upon me as though I were
nobody. Let him keep his bragging talk for his own sons and daughters,
who must perforce obey him.
  Iris fleet as the wind then answered, “Am I really, Neptune, to take
this daring and unyielding message to Jove, or will you reconsider
your answer? Sensible people are open to argument, and you know that
the Erinyes always range themselves on the side of the older person.”
  Neptune answered, “Goddess Iris, your words have been spoken in
season. It is well when a messenger shows so much discretion.
Nevertheless it cuts me to the very heart that any one should rebuke
so angrily another who is his own peer, and of like empire with
himself. Now, however, I will give way in spite of my displeasure;
furthermore let me tell you, and I mean what I say—if contrary to the
desire of myself, Minerva driver of the spoil, Juno, Mercury, and King
Vulcan, Jove spares steep Ilius, and will not let the Achaeans have
the great triumph of sacking it, let him understand that he will incur
our implacable resentment.”
  Neptune now left the field to go down under the sea, and sorely
did the Achaeans miss him. Then Jove said to Apollo, “Go, dear
Phoebus, to Hector, for Neptune who holds the earth in his embrace has
now gone down under the sea to avoid the severity of my displeasure.
Had he not done so those gods who are below with Saturn would have
come to hear of the fight between us. It is better for both of us that
he should have curbed his anger and kept out of my reach, for I should
have had much trouble with him. Take, then, your tasselled aegis,
and shake it furiously, so as to set the Achaean heroes in a panic;
take, moreover, brave Hector, O Far-Darter, into your own care, and
rouse him to deeds of daring, till the Achaeans are sent flying back
to their ships and to the Hellespont. From that point I will think
it well over, how the Achaeans may have a respite from their
troubles.”
  Apollo obeyed his father’s saying, and left the crests of Ida,
flying like a falcon, bane of doves and swiftest of all birds. He
found Hector no longer lying upon the ground, but sitting up, for he
had just come to himself again. He knew those who were about him,
and the sweat and hard breathing had left him from the moment when the
will of aegis-bearing Jove had revived him. Apollo stood beside him
and said, “Hector, son of Priam, why are you so faint, and why are you
here away from the others? Has any mishap befallen you?”
  Hector in a weak voice answered, “And which, kind sir, of the gods
are you, who now ask me thus? Do you not know that Ajax struck me on
the chest with a stone as I was killing his comrades at the ships of
the Achaeans, and compelled me to leave off fighting? I made sure that
this very day I should breathe my last and go down into the house of
Hades.”
  Then King Apollo said to him, “Take heart; the son of Saturn has
sent you a mighty helper from Ida to stand by you and defend you, even
me, Phoebus Apollo of the golden sword, who have been guardian
hitherto not only of yourself but of your city. Now, therefore,
order your horsemen to drive their chariots to the ships in great
multitudes. I will go before your horses to smooth the way for them,
and will turn the Achaeans in flight.”
  As he spoke he infused great strength into the shepherd of his
people. And as a horse, stabled and full-fed, breaks loose and gallops
gloriously over the plain to the place where he is wont to take his
bath in the river—he tosses his head, and his mane streams over his
shoulders as in all the pride of his strength he flies full speed to
the pastures where the mares are feeding—even so Hector, when he
heard what the god said, urged his horsemen on, and sped forward as
fast as his limbs could take him. As country peasants set their hounds
on to a homed stag or wild goat—he has taken shelter under rock or
thicket, and they cannot find him, but, lo, a bearded lion whom
their shouts have roused stands in their path, and they are in no
further humour for the chase—even so the Achaeans were still charging
on in a body, using their swords and spears pointed at both ends,
but when they saw Hector going about among his men they were afraid,
and their hearts fell down into their feet.
  Then spoke Thoas son of Andraemon, leader of the Aetolians, a man
who could throw a good throw, and who was staunch also in close fight,
while few could surpass him in debate when opinions were divided. He
then with all sincerity and goodwill addressed them thus: “What, in
heaven’s name, do I now see? Is it not Hector come to life again?
Every one made sure he had been killed by Ajax son of Telamon, but
it seems that one of the gods has again rescued him. He has killed
many of us Danaans already, and I take it will yet do so, for the hand
of Jove must be with him or he would never dare show himself so
masterful in the forefront of the battle. Now, therefore, let us all
do as I say; let us order the main body of our forces to fall back
upon the ships, but let those of us who profess to be the flower of
the army stand firm, and see whether we cannot hold Hector back at the
point of our spears as soon as he comes near us; I conceive that he
will then think better of it before he tries to charge into the
press of the Danaans.”
  Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. Those who
were about Ajax and King Idomeneus, the followers moreover of
Teucer, Meriones, and Meges peer of Mars called all their best men
about them and sustained the fight against Hector and the Trojans, but
the main body fell back upon the ships of the Achaeans.
  The Trojans pressed forward in a dense body, with Hector striding on
at their head. Before him went Phoebus Apollo shrouded in cloud
about his shoulders. He bore aloft the terrible aegis with its
shaggy fringe, which Vulcan the smith had given Jove to strike
terror into the hearts of men. With this in his hand he led on the
Trojans.
  The Argives held together and stood their ground. The cry of
battle rose high from either side, and the arrows flew from the
bowstrings. Many a spear sped from strong hands and fastened in the
bodies of many a valiant warrior, while others fell to earth midway,
before they could taste of man’s fair flesh and glut themselves with
blood. So long as Phoebus Apollo held his aegis quietly and without
shaking it, the weapons on either side took effect and the people
fell, but when he shook it straight in the face of the Danaans and
raised
Umi Apr 2018
Words, conveyed by song,
A white witchery of chering emotions, sadness, may anger or grief, flowing alike a river through ones body once it's been sensed, heard,
Overcoming even time and space, giving the gentle look on your face some sweetness which I cannot describe, drawn in the landscape of my heart, a bittersweet melody unfolds, a flower blooming by night,
"Bury the earths ground in your petals, oh widely blossoming flower"
I thought whilst a breeze rushed through the leafs of nearby trees, making a pleasant noise, yet I cannot be in ease, after all I'm inhuman,
As time ticks on, the orchestra of mother nature develops in a stream of lingering sadness, with a magical touch one that embraces me instantly, locking me into a trance, of pleasure yet also great pain,
Was it my means or my purpose, was it my belief in good and evil ?
With no further hesitation, I swallowed all those meaningless questions and move my gaze up to the clouds in the heavens above,
Human or not, I remain without use for this world, what I realised is,
That I am, Nihilistic

~ Umi
ryn Feb 2015
.
**Crushes and••
infatuations•••
Are but tricks••
played by••••
the heart.••••
Promises•••
of love••••
That could••
tear you apart.••
Though you•••••
look to•••••••••••
The light of day.••••••
Listen carefully••••••••
To what I'm about to say.•••
I may be the one••••••••••
Who'd grace your thoughts••••
all day and night.•••••••••••••
But I implore you•••••••••••••••
to look past tomorrow••••••••••••••
Into the future that's out of sight.•••••••
You are ready to carve••••••••••••••••
Ever so recklessly,••••••••••••••••••
In your heart and thoughts•••••••
And in the words•••••••••
of your poetry.••••••••
But know that•••••••
These sweet nothings•
you chose to lay,•••••
Right now are•••••••
mere words••••••••••
With the intention•••••••
to sway.••••••••••••••••••
I feel the urge•••••••••••••••
To painfully declare.••••••••••
I feel the need••••••••••••••
To tell you what••••••••••
I've longed to bare.••••
That I'm not•••••••••••••
remotely interested,•••••••••
Nor am I taken in.•••••••••••
For your words•••••••••••••
have gone around••••••••••
I know where•••••••••
they've been...••••••
Should've revised••
your material•••••
Before trying•••••
on another...•••••
Because you••••
had conveyed••
the same•••••
to my sister!
Oh snap!

Best viewed on Apple iOS.
ryn Feb 2016
Lady night offers her generosity
as the stars twinkle in syncopation for me.
Shadow-clad silhouettes...
Their gaits mysterious.
The night lights trail into the depths of my eyes.
Burning away the seconds, so effortless.

The quietness...
Willing forth dishevelled reflections...
Of unkempt emotions.
Allowing a barrage...
Of thoughts and notions that span
over night and day.

So that they could...
Be conveyed through paper and screen.
So that I could...
Share with you what I intimately mean.
The unforgiving onslaught of ideas and feelings
I bravely conjured...
But too afraid to say.
Stephen E Yocum Jun 2018
My life is sometimes only that green
that everybody see's during the day,
and at night when you awake
with your window open wide
and perceive the fresh scent
of a brand new beginning,
with the joy it transfers to us all,
conveyed within the air we breath,
that comes only in nature we see.
Today composed by my 11 year
old grandson Cooper. A Poet in
the making. All his thoughts and words.
Dedication

Inscribed to a dear Child:
in memory of golden summer hours
and whispers of a summer sea.

Girt with a boyish garb for boyish task,
   Eager she wields her *****; yet loves as well
Rest on a friendly knee, intent to ask
   The tale he loves to tell.

Rude spirits of the seething outer strife,
   Unmeet to read her pure and simple spright,
Deem, if you list, such hours a waste of life,
   Empty of all delight!

Chat on, sweet Maid, and rescue from annoy
   Hearts that by wiser talk are unbeguiled.
Ah, happy he who owns that tenderest joy,
   The heart-love of a child!

Away, fond thoughts, and vex my soul no more!
   Work claims my wakeful nights, my busy days--
Albeit bright memories of that sunlit shore
   Yet haunt my dreaming gaze!

PREFACE

If--and the thing is wildly possible--the charge of writing nonsense were ever brought against the author of this brief but instructive poem, it would be based, I feel convinced, on the line (in p.18)

"Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes."

In view of this painful possibility, I will not (as I might) appeal indignantly to my other writings as a proof that I am incapable of such a deed: I will not (as I might) point to the strong moral purpose of this poem itself, to the arithmetical principles so cautiously inculcated in it, or to its noble teachings in Natural History--I will take the more prosaic course of simply explaining how it happened.

The Bellman, who was almost morbidly sensitive about appearances, used to have the bowsprit unshipped once or twice a week to be revarnished, and it more than once happened, when the time came for replacing it, that no one on board could remember which end of the ship it belonged to. They knew it was not of the slightest use to appeal to the Bellman about it--he would only refer to his Naval Code, and read out in pathetic tones Admiralty Instructions which none of them had ever been able to understand--so it generally ended in its being fastened on, anyhow, across the rudder. The helmsman* used to stand by with tears in his eyes; he knew it was all wrong, but alas! Rule 42 of the Code, "No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm," had been completed by the Bellman himself with the words "and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one." So remon{-} strance was impossible, and no steering could be done till the next varnishing day. During these bewildering intervals the ship usually sailed backwards.

As this poem is to some extent connected with the lay of the Jabberwock, let me take this opportunity of answering a question that has often been asked me, how to pronounce "slithy toves." The "i" in "slithy" is long, as in "writhe"; and "toves" is pronounced so as to rhyme with "groves." Again, the first "o" in "borogoves" is pronounced like the "o" in "borrow." I have heard people try to give it the sound of the"o" in "worry." Such is Human Perversity. This also seems a fitting occasion to notice the other hard works in that poem. Humpty-Dumpty's theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a port{-} manteau, seems to me the right explanation for all.

For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious." Make up your mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which you will say first. Now open your mouth and speak. If your thoughts incline ever so little towards "fuming," you will say "fuming-furious;" if they turn, by even a hair's breadth, towards "furious," you will say "furious-fuming;" but if you have that rarest of gifts, a perfectly balanced mind, you will say "frumious."

Supposing that, when Pistol uttered the well-known
words--

     "Under which king, Bezonian? Speak or die!"

Justice Shallow had felt certain that it was either William or Richard, but had not been able to settle which, so that he could not possibly say either name before the other, can it be doubted that, rather than die, he would have gasped out "Rilchiam!"

CONTENTS

Fit the First. The Landing
Fit the Second. The Bellman's Speech
Fit the Third. The Baker's Tale
Fit the Fourth. The Hunting
Fit the Fifth. The ******'s Lesson
Fit the Sixth. The Barrister's Dream
Fit the Seventh. The Banker's Fate
Fit the Eighth. The Vanishing

Fit the First.

THE LANDING

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
    As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
    By a finger entwined in his hair.

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
    That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
    What I tell you three times is true."

  The crew was complete: it included a Boots--
  A maker of Bonnets and Hoods--
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes--
  And a Broker, to value their goods.

A Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense,
  Might perhaps have won more than his share--
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
  Had the whole of their cash in his care.

There was also a ******, that paced on the deck,
  Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,
  Though none of the sailors knew how.

There was one who was famed for the number of things
  He forgot when he entered the ship:
His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,
  And the clothes he had bought for the trip.

He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
  With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
  They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
  He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pair of boots--but the worst of it was,
  He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to "Hi!" or to any loud cry,
  Such as "Fry me!" or "Fritter my wig!"
To "What-you-may-call-um!" or "What-was-his-name!"
  But especially "Thing-um-a-jig!"

While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,
  He had different names from these:
His intimate friends called him "Candle-ends,"
  And his enemies "Toasted-cheese."

"His form in ungainly--his intellect small--"
  (So the Bellman would often remark)
"But his courage is perfect! And that, after all,
  Is the thing that one needs with a Snark."

He would joke with hy{ae}nas, returning their stare
  With an impudent wag of the head:
And he once went a walk, paw-in-paw, with a bear,
  "Just to keep up its spirits," he said.

He came as a Baker: but owned, when too late--
  And it drove the poor Bellman half-mad--
He could only bake Bridecake--for which, I may state,
  No materials were to be had.

The last of the crew needs especial remark,
  Though he looked an incredible dunce:
He had just one idea--but, that one being "Snark,"
  The good Bellman engaged him at once.

He came as a Butcher: but gravely declared,
  When the ship had been sailing a week,
He could only **** Beavers. The Bellman looked scared,
  And was almost too frightened to speak:

But at length he explained, in a tremulous tone,
  There was only one ****** on board;
And that was a tame one he had of his own,
  Whose death would be deeply deplored.

The ******, who happened to hear the remark,
  Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
  Could atone for that dismal surprise!

It strongly advised that the Butcher should be
  Conveyed in a separate ship:
But the Bellman declared that would never agree
  With the plans he had made for the trip:

Navigation was always a difficult art,
  Though with only one ship and one bell:
And he feared he must really decline, for his part,
  Undertaking another as well.

The ******'s best course was, no doubt, to procure
  A second-hand dagger-proof coat--
So the Baker advised it-- and next, to insure
  Its life in some Office of note:

This the Banker suggested, and offered for hire
  (On moderate terms), or for sale,
Two excellent Policies, one Against Fire,
  And one Against Damage From Hail.

Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
  Whenever the Butcher was by,
The ****** kept looking the opposite way,
  And appeared unaccountably shy.

II.--THE BELLMAN'S SPEECH.

Fit the Second.

THE BELLMAN'S SPEECH.

The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies--
  Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
  The moment one looked in his face!

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
  Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
  A map they could all understand.

"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
  Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
   "They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
  But we've got our brave Captain to thank
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best--
  A perfect and absolute blank!"

This was charming, no doubt; but they shortly found out
  That the Captain they trusted so well
Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
  And that was to tingle his bell.

He was thoughtful and grave--but the orders he gave
  Were enough to bewilder a crew.
When he cried "Steer to starboard, but keep her head larboard!"
  What on earth was the helmsman to do?

Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:
  A thing, as the Bellman remarked,
That frequently happens in tropical climes,
  When a vessel is, so to speak, "snarked."

But the principal failing occurred in the sailing,
   And the Bellman, perplexed and distressed,
Said he had hoped, at least, when the wind blew due East,
  That the ship would not travel due West!

But the danger was past--they had landed at last,
  With their boxes, portmanteaus, and bags:
Yet at first sight the crew were not pleased with the view,
  Which consisted to chasms and crags.

The Bellman perceived that their spirits were low,
  And repeated in musical tone
Some jokes he had kept for a season of woe--
  But the crew would do nothing but groan.

He served out some grog with a liberal hand,
  And bade them sit down on the beach:
And they could not but own that their Captain looked grand,
  As he stood and delivered his speech.

"Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears!"
  (They were all of them fond of quotations:
So they drank to his health, and they gave him three cheers,
  While he served out additional rations).

"We have sailed many months, we have sailed many weeks,
   (Four weeks to the month you may mark),
But never as yet ('tis your Captain who speaks)
  Have we caught the least glimpse of a Snark!

"We have sailed many weeks, we have sailed many days,
  (Seven days to the week I allow),
But a Snark, on the which we might lovingly gaze,
  We have never beheld till now!

"Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
  The five unmistakable marks
By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
  The warranted genuine Snarks.

"Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
  Which is meagre and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
  With a flavour of Will-o-the-wisp.

"Its habit of getting up late you'll agree
  That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o'clock tea,
  And dines on the following day.

"The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
  Should you happen to venture on one,
It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
  And it always looks grave at a pun.

"The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
  Which is constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes--
  A sentiment open to doubt.

"The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
  To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
  From those that have whiskers, and scratch.

"For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
  Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
Some are Boojums--" The Bellman broke off in alarm,
  For the Baker had fainted away.

FIT III.--THE BAKER'S TALE.

Fit the Third.

THE BAKER'S TALE.

They roused him with muffins--they roused him with ice--
  They roused him with mustard and cress--
They roused him with jam and judicious advice--
  They set him conundrums to guess.

When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
  His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried "Silence! Not even a shriek!"
  And excitedly tingled his bell.

There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
  Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called "**!" told his story of woe
  In an antediluvian tone.

"My father and mother were honest, though poor--"
  "Skip all that!" cried the Bellman in haste.
"If it once becomes dark, there's no chance of a Snark--
  We have hardly a minute to waste!"

"I skip forty years," said the Baker, in tears,
  "And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
  To help you in hunting the Snark.

"A dear uncle of mine (after whom I was named)
  Remarked, when I bade him farewell--"
"Oh, skip your dear uncle!" the Bellman exclaimed,
  As he angrily tingled his bell.

"He remarked to me then," said that mildest of men,
  " 'If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
Fetch it home by all means--you may serve it with greens,
  And it's handy for striking a light.

" 'You may seek it with thimbles--and seek it with care;
  You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
  You may charm it with smiles and soap--' "

("That's exactly the method," the Bellman bold
  In a hasty parenthesis cried,
"That's exactly the way I have always been told
  That the capture of Snarks should be tried!")

" 'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
  If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
  And never be met with again!'

"It is this, it is this that oppresses my soul,
  When I think of my uncle's last words:
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
  Brimming over with quivering curds!

"It is this, it is this--" "We have had that before!"
  The Bellman indignantly said.
And the Baker replied "Let me say it once more.
  It is this, it is this that I dread!

"I engage with the Snark--every night after dark--
  In a dreamy delirious fight:
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
  And I use it for striking a light:

"But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day,
  In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away--
  And the notion I cannot endure!"

FIT IV.--THE HUNTING.

Fit the fourth.

THE HUNTING.

The Bellman looked uffish, and wrinkled his brow.
  "If only you'd spoken before!
It's excessively awkward to mention it now,
  With the Snark, so to speak, at the door!

"We should all of us grieve, as you well may believe,
  If you never were met with again--
But surely, my man, when the voyage began,
  You might have suggested it then?

"It's excessively awkward to mention it now--
  As I think I've already remarked."
And the man they called "Hi!" replied, with a sigh,
  "I informed you the day we embar
Stephen E Yocum Nov 2013
We had come to see him, the aging Tenor sing.
He was as good as he had always been.
But half way through, a woman appeared,
Moving gracefully in bare feet upon the stage.
Entering the ring of bright spot light near him.
Long blond hair, falling loose around her neck,
Held back both sides by Turtle Shell combs,
Reflecting the light.
Adorned in but a simple, low cut black dress,
Her with a face beautiful as a new spring day.

Held in her left hand an ebony hued violin,
Touched fondly, like a well accustomed old friend.
Her right hand holding a bow, ready and waiting.

The Tenor’s and her eyes met and conveyed a message
Only they understood.  Then starting slow and low,
The full Orchestra commenced. The woman in black
Brought instrument up to her chin, lovingly resting
her face upon it, as if comforted by it's touch to skin.

The fetching violinist, like a graceful reed,
In summer breeze, began to gently sway,
Laid Bow to strings and a transcended beauty,
The voice of both her Instrument and from within she,
Emerged through her fingers, completely filling the hall.
With eyes closed, the slight movements of expression
On her face registering the feelings the musical notes made,
As if those gestures too, guided the bow's musical cords.
Slender precise fingers lovingly caressing the strings.
For nearly a minute, she and her violin played alone.
Her actions of body, hands and head in concert,
To her music, unavoidably hypnotic it could be said.
The Tenor started to sing, and yet my eyes stayed
Locked on her, as if no one else in the room was there.
The blond woman in the black dress owned the stage.

I have no idea how long that piece of music lasted,
I could not attest to what contribution the Tenor made.
Fully my attention and eventually my heart belonged
To that lovely, evocative young woman in the backless,
Little black dress.

It’s true that I may never see or hear her play again,
I know not, even her name.
And yet, I’m sure that I will never forget those
Few minutes mesmerized by her magical spell.
Hopelessly caught in her enchanting web.

With me sitting, third row, isle seat left,
Worshiping as I did, at her so pretty,
Slightly ***** naked feet, the striking
Blond woman in the black dress.
How often do we have these all too brief encounters, mostly
from a distance, on a train, the street, in a store, or a concert.
Captivated by someone we will most likely never see again.
Enchanted for but a moment?  And yet unable to forget.
For me it was this past week at a concert.
Amitav Radiance May 2015
The cosmic secret
Revealed to the seeker
Aware of every particle
Everything becomes tangible
For the soul
Reality is conveyed
Through the simplest life forms
Look closer
Listen carefully to the silence
Clandestine meetings
With the Oneness
Not fragmented anymore
Everything is part of a whole
gurthbruins Nov 2015
She looks upon his lips, and they are pale;
She takes him by the hand, and that is cold;
She whispers in his ears a heavy tale,
As if they heard the woeful words she told;
She lifts the coffer-lids that close his eyes,
Where lo, two lamps burnt out in darkness lies:

Two glasses where herself herself beheld
A thousand times, and now no more reflect;
Their virtue lost wherein they late excelled,
And every beauty robbed of his effect.
“Wonder of time,” quoth she “this is my spite,
That thou being dead, the day should yet be light.

“Since thou art dead, lo, here I prophesy
Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend.
It shall be waited on with jealousy,
Find sweet beginning but unsavoury end;
Ne’er settled equally, but high or low,
That all love’s pleasure shall not match his woe.

“It shall be fickle, false, and full of fraud;
Bud and be blasted in a breathing while,
The bottom poison, and the top o’erstrawed
With sweets that shall the truest sight beguile.
The strongest body shall it make most weak;
Strike the wise dumb, and teach the fool to speak.

“It shall be sparing, and too full of riot,
Teaching decrepit age to tread the measures.
The staring ruffian shall it keep in quiet;
Pluck down the rich, enrich the poor with treasures.
It shall be raging mad, and silly-mild,
Make the young old, the old become a child.

“It shall suspect where is no cause of fear;
It shall not fear where it should most mistrust.
It shall be merciful, and too severe,
And most deceiving when it seems most just.
Perverse it shall be where it shows most toward,
Put fear to valour, courage to the coward.

“It shall be cause of war and dire events,
And set dissension ‘twixt the son and sire;
Subject and servile to all discontents,
As dry combustious matter is to fire.
Sith in his prime death doth my love destroy,
They that love best their loves shall not enjoy.”

By this, the boy that by her side lay killed
Was melted like a vapour from her sight,
And in his blood that on the ground lay spilled
A purple flower sprung up, chequered with white,
Resembling well his pale cheeks, and the blood
Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood.

She bows her head the new-sprung flower to smell,
Comparing it to her Adonis’ breath;
And says within her ***** it shall dwell,
Since he himself is reft from her by death.
She crops the stalk, and in the breach appears
Green-dropping sap, which she compares to tears.

“Poor flower,” quoth she “this was thy father’s guise,
—Sweet issue of a more sweet-smelling sire—
For every little grief to wet his eyes.
To grow unto himself was his desire,
And so ’tis thine; but know, it is as good
To wither in my breast as in his blood.

“Here was thy father’s bed, here in my breast;
Thou art the next of blood, and ’tis thy right.
Lo, in this hollow cradle take thy rest;
My throbbing heart shall rock thee day and night.
There shall not be one minute in an hour
Wherein I will not kiss my sweet love’s flower.”

Thus weary of the world, away she hies,
And yokes her silver doves, by whose swift aid
Their mistress, mounted, through the empty skies
In her light chariot quickly is conveyed,
Holding their course to Paphos, where their queen
Means to immure herself, and not be seen.

William Shakespeare
The Key To Success
A leaf has many veins connected by the midrib, similar to the Corolla in flowers connected by the sepal,

A stem has many leaves, connected through it, even the roots in this design- fibrous or tap are in their own way special,

Many stalks form a branch, many branches form a tree but all connect at the base, the trunk,

This happens in every tree, but to rebirth has to separate some chunk,

The message being conveyed by nature is unity is the key to success in this world where every person is a different type of petal,

Land Of The Ganga
In this Garth,  trees are never watered by a soul, but the river Ganges herself,

The trees even after sinking inwards into the ground, continue to bloom in themselves,

Filled with myriad species of undreamt trees and the rarest of all florets in the daintiest of bowers

The most prodigious banyan tree with about three hundred aerial roots is the main

attracter

A tree that stores water is one of the hundred phenomena in the Botanical Garden in the land of the Ganga itself
vircapio gale Jul 2012
exude the moment;
you are a transformative fulcrum

of intersubject's rent and awe:
anthropomythic ecolaw

the dream cascades into words,
birds fly little crisps of meaning
into morning light. last night's
snow leaves a crystalline spark
of you subdued, become a finer point
of tantric sight, gazing rose-blue pulsar
lashing through a cosmic garden,
delicious fruit of spacious letting be.
i'm grasping for that pleasure,
vermillion moan of lifestring vibrance,
but the wind carries on outside,
swirling pieces of the mind in
flux of upturned joy~
our heartbreeze summoned,
now whispersssoulsounds to come
and earthly darkness grips the future frost,
thaw, break and steam as it wills;
the churning ground sings to us
of bear-sleep and jackal-howl,
of seasons transpiring,
one lost sled of memories
leaves us empty, pressing crystal sky:
my aching ideality trounced in bliss-meanders
!stunning revelation! you! You! yOu!
bringing all to be a second time,
as it was.. in me.. now new,
sweet novelty of union,
this gathering of nervure self,
gliding insights, sudden soundsss.

like a node of forest-echo swirls
it dazzles: unseen colors for my inner eye;
ancient tones of fog ripple
off something you are,
creaking center easing of my sidling,
spirit drop and wavelet growth:
as if you were a branching greenery
of my own once lost other-self,
last gasping there as what i pictured 'you'~
swayingss.. sun-spikes speaking,
sky-gaze and soaking barky iris sssuck,
moulding into me the wisdom of our past leavings,
those raspy kites of sap-filled yearnings
shadow sunshower evening.
i would be a tree with you and
let you pierce our foundations
with roots of gaiasight slipping though
our primal urgings, concrete deference
under sun arch, spin of moon. let
ignorant insistence on fetishized divides~
slipping past my grounded darkness
still unknown, remain
my underself unleashed
my silent trunk-swilling soothed,
stable chaos-other, self regiven,
life renewed in leaf,
the touch of you imbued.

the whole vision lost
but for that glimmer~
it finds me writhing unknown spirals:
ringing wonderment in a seed,
or dormant sporocarpic lineage of life,
the vast hyphae-humming cups of death-born
nethergenesis of cycled hyle me.
a womb that never knew of pain
or being evertorn in dessicated spectre-sea.

the burning desert-storms helixify our rain,
a heaving hiss-like suncry
from that dark, sandy baobabic throat.
the earth consumes in shifts,
and blossoms toward the alterbliss of you, too,
an expanse of solar flare
its beautific reach engulfing terribly,
nepho-logos spanning all the air.

ssssunlit boughs of winds' remembrance
grow soft across this window,
then shift with forest breath,
their snowlace puffed before
an azure true expanse,
the burdened greens stirring a needlish depth
of metawinter, all-too-human
starfields constellate in hiding
far behind my starshine there a curtain blue,
whose prismatic humor lights more
than scenic treescape, frigid dust.
hair, nose, glass enframed by sapless wood
of window cut to square my void revision of the world.

the colors whirl into mindflow,
inter-material upsurge-undulate,
abyssal cauldron seething passions stilled by
comic symbols of a secular mystic;
dancing eddies convey my sense of sight
just thought, then lost into a wider dance
of tensions eased and drawn,
of geometric visions seemly here and gone,
inner, outer: conveyed by stroke of
spinal eidos, its rhythm set
before my time, its tone the vital,
draping earthverse
recited in my veins, the sinews of my
life in other lives,
the song of us expressive in my gaze~
one blink()a single point of beauty
fades into another haze,
lighted icedrift iridescing evanesce.
anthropos (religion, Gnosticism) Man. (From Ancient Greek) [cf. Anthropogenesis, (an thro po jen’ e sis) n. Study of the development and origin of man]

myth·os/'miTHos/ Noun: A myth or mythology. (in literature) A traditional or recurrent narrative theme or plot structure.

*derew(o)- Indo-European root meaning "tree" or "wood"

Tantra, "weave, loom, warp"; or "principle, system, doctrine", from the two root words tanoti "stretch, extend, expand", and trayati "liberation"

Sporocarp (in fungi, known as fruiting body or fruit body): a multicellular structure in certain algae, lichens, and fungi on which spore-producing structures are borne.

Hypha · (plural hyphae). (mycology) Any of the long, threadlike filaments that form the mycelium of a fungus. The hyphae are used for reproduction and nutrient gathering.

hyle, In philosophy, refers to matter or stuff [fr. Gk "ulh" (üleh, where the ü is as in German or "lune"]

baobab, A short tree with an enormously thick trunk and large edible fruit. Other common names include boab, boaboa, bottle tree, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree.

ne·phol·o·gy. n. The branch of meteorology that deals with clouds. [Greek nephos, cloud; see nebh- in Indo-European roots + -logy.]

logos, multivalent term fr. the Gk verb legein (soft g - modern greek lego ) "to say, speak" and also "to gather and lay down" ;  traditionally meaning "word, thought, principle, or speech"; also ratio (latin for reason), pre-linguistic language (phil.), the principle governing the cosmos, the source of this principle, or human reasoning about the cosmos. origin of  "(o)-logy." the active, material, rational principle of the cosmos; nous.  logos is marked by two main distinctions - the first dealing with human reason (the rationality in the human mind which seeks to attain universal understanding and harmony), the second with universal intelligence (the universal ruling force governing and revealing through the cosmos to humankind)

eidos, a term used by Plato for the abstract forms or ideas. fr. the Indo-European root *weid-, "see" is determinative of a substance; it is the key aspect expressed in the thing's definition as the essence or whatness of the thing. also (anthropology) the distinctive expression of the cognitive or intellectual character of a culture or a social group.
“Nullus enim locus sine genio est.”

  Servius.

“La musique,” says Marmontel, in those “Contes
Moraux” which in all our translations we have insisted upon
calling “Moral Tales,” as if in mockery of their
spirit—”la musique est le seul des talens qui
jouisse de lui-meme: tous les autres veulent des
temoins.” He here confounds the pleasure derivable from
sweet sounds with the capacity for creating them. No more
than any other talent, is that for music susceptible
of complete enjoyment where there is no second party to
appreciate its exercise; and it is only in common with other
talents that it produces effects which may be fully
enjoyed in solitude. The idea which the raconteur has
either failed to entertain clearly, or has sacrificed in its
expression to his national love of point, is
doubtless the very tenable one that the higher order of
music is the most thoroughly estimated when we are
exclusively alone. The proposition in this form will be
admitted at once by those who love the lyre for its own sake
and for its spiritual uses. But there is one pleasure still
within the reach of fallen mortality, and perhaps only one,
which owes even more than does music to the accessory
sentiment of seclusion. I mean the happiness experienced in
the contemplation of natural scenery. In truth, the man who
would behold aright the glory of God upon earth must in
solitude behold that glory. To me at least the presence, not
of human life only, but of life, in any other form than that
of the green things which grow upon the soil and are
voiceless, is a stain upon the landscape, is at war with the
genius of the scene. I love, indeed, to regard the dark
valleys, and the gray rocks, and the waters that silently
smile, and the forests that sigh in uneasy slumbers, and the
proud watchful mountains that look down upon all,—I
love to regard these as themselves but the colossal members
of one vast animate and sentient whole—a whole whose
form (that of the sphere) is the most perfect and most
inclusive of all; whose path is among associate planets;
whose meek handmaiden is the moon; whose mediate sovereign
is the sun; whose life is eternity; whose thought is that of
a god; whose enjoyment is knowledge; whose destinies are
lost in immensity; whose cognizance of ourselves is akin
with our own cognizance of the animalculae which
infest the brain, a being which we in consequence regard as
purely inanimate and material, much in the same manner as
these animalculae must thus regard us.

Our telescopes and our mathematical investigations assure us
on every hand, notwithstanding the cant of the more ignorant
of the priesthood, that space, and therefore that bulk, is
an important consideration in the eyes of the Almighty. The
cycles in which the stars move are those best adapted for
the evolution, without collision, of the greatest possible
number of bodies. The forms of those bodies are accurately
such as within a given surface to include the greatest
possible amount of matter; while the surfaces themselves are
so disposed as to accommodate a denser population than could
be accommodated on the same surfaces otherwise arranged. Nor
is it any argument against bulk being an object with God
that space itself is infinite; for there may be an infinity
of matter to fill it; and since we see clearly that the
endowment of matter with vitality is a principle—
indeed, as far as our judgments extend, the leading
principle in the operations of Deity, it is scarcely logical
to imagine it confined to the regions of the minute, where
we daily trace it, and not extending to those of the august.
As we find cycle within cycle without end, yet all revolving
around one far-distant centre which is the Godhead, may we
not analogically suppose, in the same manner, life within
life, the less within the greater, and all within the Spirit
Divine? In short, we are madly erring through self-esteem in
believing man, in either his temporal or future destinies,
to be of more moment in the universe than that vast “clod of
the valley” which he tills and contemns, and to which he
denies a soul, for no more profound reason than that he does
not behold it in operation.

These fancies, and such as these, have always given to my
meditations among the mountains and the forests, by the
rivers and the ocean, a tinge of what the every-day world
would not fail to term the fantastic. My wanderings amid
such scenes have been many and far-searching, and often
solitary; and the interest with which I have strayed through
many a dim deep valley, or gazed into the reflected heaven
of many a bright lake, has been an interest greatly deepened
by the thought that I have strayed and gazed alone.
What flippant Frenchman was it who said, in allusion to the
well known work of Zimmermann, that “la solitude est une
belle chose; mais il faut quelqu’un pour vous dire que la
solitude est une belle chose”? The epigram cannot be
gainsaid; but the necessity is a thing that does not exist.

It was during one of my lonely journeyings, amid a far
distant region of mountain locked within mountain, and sad
rivers and melancholy tarns writhing or sleeping within all,
that I chanced upon a certain rivulet and island. I came
upon them suddenly in the leafy June, and threw myself upon
the turf beneath the branches of an unknown odorous shrub,
that I might doze as I contemplated the scene. I felt that
thus only should I look upon it, such was the character of
phantasm which it wore.

On all sides, save to the west where the sun was about
sinking, arose the verdant walls of the forest. The little
river which turned sharply in its course, and was thus
immediately lost to sight, seemed to have no exit from its
prison, but to be absorbed by the deep green foliage of the
trees to the east; while in the opposite quarter (so it
appeared to me as I lay at length and glanced upward) there
poured down noiselessly and continuously into the valley a
rich golden and crimson waterfall from the sunset fountains
of the sky.

About midway in the short vista which my dreamy vision took
in, one small circular island, profusely verdured, reposed
upon the ***** of the stream.

So blended bank and shadow there, That each seemed pendulous
in air—

so mirror-like was the glassy water, that it was scarcely
possible to say at what point upon the ***** of the emerald
turf its crystal dominion began. My position enabled me to
include in a single view both the eastern and western
extremities of the islet, and I observed a singularly-marked
difference in their aspects. The latter was all one radiant
harem of garden beauties. It glowed and blushed beneath the
eye of the slant sunlight, and fairly laughed with flowers.
The grass was short, springy, sweet-scented, and Asphodel-
interspersed. The trees were lithe, mirthful, *****, bright,
slender, and graceful, of eastern figure and foliage, with
bark smooth, glossy, and parti-colored. There seemed a deep
sense of life and joy about all, and although no airs blew
from out the heavens, yet everything had motion through the
gentle sweepings to and fro of innumerable butterflies, that
might have been mistaken for tulips with wings.

The other or eastern end of the isle was whelmed in the
blackest shade. A sombre, yet beautiful and peaceful gloom,
here pervaded all things. The trees were dark in color and
mournful in form and attitude— wreathing themselves
into sad, solemn, and spectral shapes, that conveyed ideas
of mortal sorrow and untimely death. The grass wore the deep
tint of the cypress, and the heads of its blades hung
droopingly, and hither and thither among it were many small
unsightly hillocks, low and narrow, and not very long, that
had the aspect of graves, but were not, although over and
all about them the rue and the rosemary clambered. The
shades of the trees fell heavily upon the water, and seemed
to bury itself therein, impregnating the depths of the
element with darkness. I fancied that each shadow, as the
sun descended lower and lower, separated itself sullenly
from the trunk that gave it birth, and thus became absorbed
by the stream, while other shadows issued momently from the
trees, taking the place of their predecessors thus entombed.

This idea having once seized upon my fancy greatly excited
it, and I lost myself forthwith in reverie. “If ever island
were enchanted,” said I to myself, “this is it. This is the
haunt of the few gentle Fays who remain from the wreck of
the race. Are these green tombs theirs?—or do they
yield up their sweet lives as mankind yield up their own? In
dying, do they not rather waste away mournfully, rendering
unto God little by little their existence, as these trees
render up shadow after shadow, exhausting their substance
unto dissolution? What the wasting tree is to the water that
imbibes its shade, growing thus blacker by what it preys
upon, may not the life of the Fay be to the death which
engulfs it?”

As I thus mused, with half-shut eyes, while the sun sank
rapidly to rest, and eddying currents careered round and
round the island, bearing upon their ***** large dazzling
white flakes of the bark of the sycamore, flakes which, in
their multiform positions upon the water, a quick
imagination might have converted into anything it pleased;
while I thus mused, it appeared to me that the form of one
of those very Fays about whom I had been pondering, made its
way slowly into the darkness from out the light at the
western end of the island. She stood ***** in a singularly
fragile canoe, and urged it with the mere phantom of an oar.
While within the influence of the lingering sunbeams, her
attitude seemed indicative of joy, but sorrow deformed it as
she passed within the shade. Slowly she glided along, and at
length rounded the islet and re-entered the region of light.
“The revolution which has just been made by the Fay,”
continued I musingly, “is the cycle of the brief year of her
life. She has floated through her winter and through her
summer. She is a year nearer unto death: for I did not fail
to see that as she came into the shade, her shadow fell from
her, and was swallowed up in the dark water, making its
blackness more black.”

And again the boat appeared and the Fay, but about the
attitude of the latter there was more of care and
uncertainty and less of elastic joy. She floated again from
out the light and into the gloom (which deepened momently),
and again her shadow fell from her into the ebony water, and
became absorbed into its blackness. And again and again she
made the circuit of the island (while the sun rushed down to
his slumbers), and at each issuing into the light there was
more sorrow about her person, while it grew feebler and far
fainter and more indistinct, and at each passage into the
gloom there fell from her a darker shade, which became
whelmed in a shadow more black. But at length, when the sun
had utterly departed, the Fay, now the mere ghost of her
former self, went disconsolately with her boat into the
region of the ebony flood, and that she issued thence at all
I cannot say, for darkness fell over all things, and I
beheld her magical figure no more.
The Angel ended, and in Adam’s ear
So charming left his voice, that he a while
Thought him still speaking, still stood fixed to hear;
Then, as new waked, thus gratefully replied.
What thanks sufficient, or what recompence
Equal, have I to render thee, divine
Historian, who thus largely hast allayed
The thirst I had of knowledge, and vouchsafed
This friendly condescension to relate
Things, else by me unsearchable; now heard
With wonder, but delight, and, as is due,
With glory attributed to the high
Creator!  Something yet of doubt remains,
Which only thy solution can resolve.
When I behold this goodly frame, this world,
Of Heaven and Earth consisting; and compute
Their magnitudes; this Earth, a spot, a grain,
An atom, with the firmament compared
And all her numbered stars, that seem to roll
Spaces incomprehensible, (for such
Their distance argues, and their swift return
Diurnal,) merely to officiate light
Round this opacous Earth, this punctual spot,
One day and night; in all her vast survey
Useless besides; reasoning I oft admire,
How Nature wise and frugal could commit
Such disproportions, with superfluous hand
So many nobler bodies to create,
Greater so manifold, to this one use,
For aught appears, and on their orbs impose
Such restless revolution day by day
Repeated; while the sedentary Earth,
That better might with far less compass move,
Served by more noble than herself, attains
Her end without least motion, and receives,
As tribute, such a sumless journey brought
Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light;
Speed, to describe whose swiftness number fails.
So spake our sire, and by his countenance seemed
Entering on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,
With lowliness majestick from her seat,
And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prospered, bud and bloom,
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,
And, touched by her fair tendance, gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high: such pleasure she reserved,
Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relater she preferred
Before the Angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses: from his lip
Not words alone pleased her.  O! when meet now
Such pairs, in love and mutual honour joined?
With Goddess-like demeanour forth she went,
Not unattended; for on her, as Queen,
A pomp of winning Graces waited still,
And from about her shot darts of desire
Into all eyes, to wish her still in sight.
And Raphael now, to Adam’s doubt proposed,
Benevolent and facile thus replied.
To ask or search, I blame thee not; for Heaven
Is as the book of God before thee set,
Wherein to read his wonderous works, and learn
His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years:
This to attain, whether Heaven move or Earth,
Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest
From Man or Angel the great Architect
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge
His secrets to be scanned by them who ought
Rather admire; or, if they list to try
Conjecture, he his fabrick of the Heavens
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide
Hereafter; when they come to model Heaven
And calculate the stars, how they will wield
The mighty frame; how build, unbuild, contrive
To save appearances; how gird the sphere
With centrick and eccentrick scribbled o’er,
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb:
Already by thy reasoning this I guess,
Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest
That bodies bright and greater should not serve
The less not bright, nor Heaven such journeys run,
Earth sitting still, when she alone receives
The benefit:  Consider first, that great
Or bright infers not excellence: the Earth
Though, in comparison of Heaven, so small,
Nor glistering, may of solid good contain
More plenty than the sun that barren shines;
Whose virtue on itself works no effect,
But in the fruitful Earth; there first received,
His beams, unactive else, their vigour find.
Yet not to Earth are those bright luminaries
Officious; but to thee, Earth’s habitant.
And for the Heaven’s wide circuit, let it speak
The Maker’s high magnificence, who built
So spacious, and his line stretched out so far;
That Man may know he dwells not in his own;
An edifice too large for him to fill,
Lodged in a small partition; and the rest
Ordained for uses to his Lord best known.
The swiftness of those circles attribute,
Though numberless, to his Omnipotence,
That to corporeal substances could add
Speed almost spiritual:  Me thou thinkest not slow,
Who since the morning-hour set out from Heaven
Where God resides, and ere mid-day arrived
In Eden; distance inexpressible
By numbers that have name.  But this I urge,
Admitting motion in the Heavens, to show
Invalid that which thee to doubt it moved;
Not that I so affirm, though so it seem
To thee who hast thy dwelling here on Earth.
God, to remove his ways from human sense,
Placed Heaven from Earth so far, that earthly sight,
If it presume, might err in things too high,
And no advantage gain.  What if the sun
Be center to the world; and other stars,
By his attractive virtue and their own
Incited, dance about him various rounds?
Their wandering course now high, now low, then hid,
Progressive, retrograde, or standing still,
In six thou seest; and what if seventh to these
The planet earth, so stedfast though she seem,
Insensibly three different motions move?
Which else to several spheres thou must ascribe,
Moved contrary with thwart obliquities;
Or save the sun his labour, and that swift
Nocturnal and diurnal rhomb supposed,
Invisible else above all stars, the wheel
Of day and night; which needs not thy belief,
If earth, industrious of herself, fetch day
Travelling east, and with her part averse
From the sun’s beam meet night, her other part
Still luminous by his ray.  What if that light,
Sent from her through the wide transpicuous air,
To the terrestrial moon be as a star,
Enlightening her by day, as she by night
This earth? reciprocal, if land be there,
Fields and inhabitants:  Her spots thou seest
As clouds, and clouds may rain, and rain produce
Fruits in her softened soil for some to eat
Allotted there; and other suns perhaps,
With their attendant moons, thou wilt descry,
Communicating male and female light;
Which two great sexes animate the world,
Stored in each orb perhaps with some that live.
For such vast room in Nature unpossessed
By living soul, desart and desolate,
Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute
Each orb a glimpse of light, conveyed so far
Down to this habitable, which returns
Light back to them, is obvious to dispute.
But whether thus these things, or whether not;
But whether the sun, predominant in Heaven,
Rise on the earth; or earth rise on the sun;
He from the east his flaming road begin;
Or she from west her silent course advance,
With inoffensive pace that spinning sleeps
On her soft axle, while she paces even,
And bears thee soft with the smooth hair along;
Sollicit not thy thoughts with matters hid;
Leave them to God above; him serve, and fear!
Of other creatures, as him pleases best,
Wherever placed, let him dispose; joy thou
In what he gives to thee, this Paradise
And thy fair Eve; Heaven is for thee too high
To know what passes there; be lowly wise:
Think only what concerns thee, and thy being;
Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there
Live, in what state, condition, or degree;
Contented that thus far hath been revealed
Not of Earth only, but of highest Heaven.
To whom thus Adam, cleared of doubt, replied.
How fully hast thou satisfied me, pure
Intelligence of Heaven, Angel serene!
And, freed from intricacies, taught to live
The easiest way; nor with perplexing thoughts
To interrupt the sweet of life, from which
God hath bid dwell far off all anxious cares,
And not ****** us; unless we ourselves
Seek them with wandering thoughts, and notions vain.
But apt the mind or fancy is to rove
Unchecked, and of her roving is no end;
Till warned, or by experience taught, she learn,
That, not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and subtle; but, to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom:  What is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence:
And renders us, in things that most concern,
Unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek.
Therefore from this high pitch let us descend
A lower flight, and speak of things at hand
Useful; whence, haply, mention may arise
Of something not unseasonable to ask,
By sufferance, and thy wonted favour, deigned.
Thee I have heard relating what was done
Ere my remembrance: now, hear me relate
My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard;
And day is not yet spent; till then thou seest
How subtly to detain thee I devise;
Inviting thee to hear while I relate;
Fond! were it not in hope of thy reply:
For, while I sit with thee, I seem in Heaven;
And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear
Than fruits of palm-tree pleasantest to thirst
And hunger both, from labour, at the hour
Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill,
Though pleasant; but thy words, with grace divine
Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety.
To whom thus Raphael answered heavenly meek.
Nor are thy lips ungraceful, Sire of men,
Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee
Abundantly his gifts hath also poured
Inward and outward both, his image fair:
Speaking, or mute, all comeliness and grace
Attends thee; and each word, each motion, forms;
Nor less think we in Heaven of thee on Earth
Than of our fellow-servant, and inquire
Gladly into the ways of God with Man:
For God, we see, hath honoured thee, and set
On Man his equal love:  Say therefore on;
For I that day was absent, as befel,
Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure,
Far on excursion toward the gates of Hell;
Squared in full legion (such command we had)
To see that none thence issued forth a spy,
Or enemy, while God was in his work;
Lest he, incensed at such eruption bold,
Destruction with creation might have mixed.
Not that they durst without his leave attempt;
But us he sends upon his high behests
For state, as Sovran King; and to inure
Our prompt obedience.  Fast we found, fast shut,
The dismal gates, and barricadoed strong;
But long ere our approaching heard within
Noise, other than the sound of dance or song,
Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage.
Glad we returned up to the coasts of light
Ere sabbath-evening: so we had in charge.
But thy relation now; for I attend,
Pleased with thy words no less than thou with mine.
So spake the Godlike Power, and thus our Sire.
For Man to tell how human life began
Is hard; for who himself beginning knew
Desire with thee still longer to converse
Induced me.  As new waked from soundest sleep,
Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid,
In balmy sweat; which with his beams the sun
Soon dried, and on the reeking moisture fed.
Straight toward Heaven my wondering eyes I turned,
And gazed a while the ample sky; till, raised
By quick instinctive motion, up I sprung,
As thitherward endeavouring, and upright
Stood on my feet: about me round I saw
Hill, dale, and shady woods, and sunny plains,
And liquid lapse of murmuring streams; by these,
Creatures that lived and moved, and walked, or flew;
Birds on the branches warbling; all things smiled;
With fragrance and with joy my heart o’erflowed.
Myself I then perused, and limb by limb
Surveyed, and sometimes went, and sometimes ran
With supple joints, as lively vigour led:
But who I was, or where, or from what cause,
Knew not; to speak I tried, and forthwith spake;
My tongue obeyed, and readily could name
Whate’er I saw.  Thou Sun, said I, fair light,
And thou enlightened Earth, so fresh and gay,
Ye Hills, and Dales, ye Rivers, Woods, and Plains,
And ye that live and move, fair Creatures, tell,
Tell, if ye saw, how I came thus, how here?—
Not of myself;—by some great Maker then,
In goodness and in power pre-eminent:
Tell me, how may I know him, how adore,
From whom I have that thus I move and live,
And feel that I am happier than I know.—
While thus I called, and strayed I knew not whither,
From where I first drew air, and first beheld
This happy light; when, answer none returned,
On a green shady bank, profuse of flowers,
Pensive I sat me down:  There gentle sleep
First found me, and with soft oppression seised
My droused sense, untroubled, though I thought
I then was passing to my former state
Insensible, and forthwith to dissolve:
When suddenly stood at my head a dream,
Whose inward apparition gently moved
My fancy to believe I yet had being,
And lived:  One came, methought, of shape divine,
And said, ‘Thy mansion wants thee, Adam; rise,
‘First Man, of men innumerable ordained
‘First Father! called by thee, I come thy guide
‘To the garden of bliss, thy seat prepared.’
So saying, by the hand he took me raised,
And over fields and waters, as in air
Smooth-sliding without step, last led me up
A woody mountain; whose high top was plain,
A circuit wide, enclosed, with goodliest trees
Planted, with walks, and bowers; that what I saw
Of Earth before scarce pleasant seemed.  Each tree,
Loaden with fairest fruit that hung to the eye
Tempting, stirred in me sudden appetite
To pluck and eat; whereat I waked, and found
Before mine eyes all real, as the dream
Had lively shadowed:  Here had new begun
My wandering, had not he, who was my guide
Up hither, from among the trees appeared,
Presence Divine.  Rejoicing, but with awe,
In adoration at his feet I fell
Submiss:  He reared me, and ‘Whom thou soughtest I am,’
Said mildly, ‘Author of all this thou seest
‘Above, or round about thee, or beneath.
‘This Paradise I give thee, count it thine
‘To till and keep, and of the fruit to eat:
‘Of every tree that in the garden grows
‘Eat freely with glad heart; fear here no dearth:
‘But of the tree whose operation brings
‘Knowledge of good and ill, which I have set
‘The pledge of thy obedience and thy faith,
‘Amid the garden by the tree of life,
‘Remember what I warn thee, shun to taste,
‘And shun the bitter consequence: for know,
‘The day thou eatest thereof, my sole command
‘Transgressed, inevitably thou shalt die,
‘From that day mortal; and this happy state
‘Shalt lose, expelled from hence into a world
‘Of woe and sorrow.’  Sternly he pronounced
The rigid interdiction, which resounds
Yet dreadful in mine ear, though in my choice
Not to incur; but soon his clear aspect
Returned, and gracious purpose thus renewed.
‘Not only these fair bounds, but all the Earth
‘To thee and to thy race I give; as lords
‘Possess it, and all things that therein live,
‘Or live in sea, or air; beast, fish, and fowl.
‘In sign whereof, each bird and beast behold
‘After their kinds; I bring them to receive
‘From thee their names, and pay thee fealty
‘With low subjection; understand the same
‘Of fish within their watery residence,
‘Not hither summoned, since they cannot change
‘Their element, to draw the thinner air.’
As thus he spake, each bird and beast behold
Approaching two and two; these cowering low
With blandishment; each bird stooped on his wing.
I named them, as they passed, and understood
Their nature, with such knowledge God endued
My sudden apprehension:  But in these
I found not what methought I wanted still;
And to the heavenly Vision thus presumed.
O, by what name, for thou above all these,
Above mankind, or aught than mankind higher,
Surpassest far my naming; how may I
Adore thee, Author of this universe,
And all this good to man? for whose well being
So amply, and with hands so liberal,
Thou hast provided all things:  But with me
I see not who partakes.  In solitude
What happiness, who can enjoy alone,
Or, all enjoying, what contentment f
Olivia Kent Dec 2014
Sat on the sidewalk.
A sandwich board conveyed a message,
it was penned in his blood.
The darkest dog's sat between his legs.
Crouching reluctantly at his sad master's side.
So many people passed him by.
Not one single soul  ever met his eye.

And so she came,
parked herself on the pavement,
his pavement.
She smiled at him,
stroked his dog,
whose hue instantly became amended.
His  darkest dog wore a coat of gold,
donated by affection.
She wanted not a lover,  
and he was grateful for a friend.
Nobody ever gave him the time of day.
She made him sparkle,
by sharing hers.
Fresh hot coffee flowed from his mug.
Well a heat protected paper cup.
She gave him chocolate and a hot sausage roll.
The woman with the caring streak and that Godforsaken ***.
Her actions made him whole.
(c) Livvi
Trying to convince myself I still want to be a nurse!

— The End —