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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.
Mak Jul 2014
The room was silent. The only sound to be heard was the slow, steady dripping from my mother’s IV.      

“What do you mean, you’re dying?”

Multiple Sclerosis was, in short, a ***** of a disease. Somewhere along the span of my mother's 35 short years on this planet, her immune system made a giant mistake. For uncertain reasons, her body began to attack nerve cells, severely affecting her brain's processing ability and mobility. The only medication that had ever subdued the symptoms was beginning to **** her.

“It isn’t an immediate thing, Makayla. I still have plenty of time.”

Turning away from my mother, I wiped tears from my eyes. There was no way in hell I was going to let my family see me cry. Absolutely no way. This was a joke. My mom was not going to die.

“Kayla, baby, talk to us. It’s okay.”

With a deep breath, I forced a smile, as I often did, and blinked away all traces of tears from my gray eyes. Turning around to meet my parents’ worried expressions, I simply nodded.

“How long?”

The question came out as more of a statement than a question. The morbid implication of those two short words spoke worlds louder than any words I could muster.

“5 years, at the absolute worst.”

At that, I stood, and left. I ran, and ran, and ran. I ran until my lungs hurt, and then kept running. But no matter where or how fast I went, I knew I could not escape the horrible reality of the matter.

The woman who gave me life was losing hers.

I was always the type of person who knew how to talk my way out of any situation.

And this time, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

There’s no sweet-talking death.

And with that, I began to accept her demise, and my defeat.

///

The first sip burned my esophagus, and I felt the blaze continue to my stomach, where it left a lasting warmth. I coughed a little, as the hazy feeling of drunkenness set in, setting my head spinning and my insides ablaze.

The past two months (52 days, 4 hours, and 30-something seconds) were a continuous downward spiral into a constant intoxicated state. Instead of addressing my feelings in the endless sea of counseling sessions and semi-sympathetic family therapy hours, I isolated myself. When my mother asked how I was, my reply remained the usual, “Doing great, mom.”

I was not, in fact, doing great. The alcohol wrapped itself into me, braided itself within my better sense, and I began to let myself fall apart. The wall I so often hid behind, the wall of perfection, of cool, was crumbling. Short, yet deep cuts lined my thighs, just high enough to be hidden by the hem of my shorts.

My mother had the opportunity to save her own life. Russian research had found a possible cure for the disease that had been plaguing her very existence. 3 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by a few months of intensive care, and she would be normal once again.

My mother denied the treatment.

“Too much money,” she said.

“Too inconvenient,” she said.

Compared to the life of my mother, no amount of money nor convenience mattered.

I was furious.

I was drunk.

///

My mind swam, speech slurred, fingers trembled.

My phone sat in front of me, propped up on a gray tissue box, which had been halfway expended due to that night’s waterworks. The Coca-Cola can which held my ***/coke concoction was long past empty. I was drunk, and screaming words like ‘sorry’ and ‘doesn’t deserve this’ into a pillow. I knew my mother deserved to live. Compared to me, she was a saint. I felt empty and pathetic. I deserved to die.

I convinced myself that maybe if I did something extreme, she would value her own life more than she did.

I held tightly onto the railing of my house’s only set of stairs, as I attempted to keep my balance. I walked drunkenly to the medicine cabinet, careful not to make noise and wake my parents. I grabbed as many pill bottles as I could carry.

Exactly 41 pills of assorted shapes, sizes, and colors sat in lines on my bed. Small to large, rainbow order. The comfort of organization wasn’t helping this time. I wanted to die.

Before starting my buffet of medication, my phone lit up. One new text.

“I know you were feeling upset earlier, and I just wanted to remind you that you are special. You matter.” I instantly felt even ******* for what I was about to do.

I laid down in bed, beginning to drown in my own tears, and let myself fall asleep.

Neither I nor my mother would be dying tonight.
Kara Rose Trojan Dec 2014
My Second Letter to Allen Ginsberg
Dear Allen,
Almost five years ago, I wrote you a letter, and in
That letter, I purged my drunkenly woeful cries
That seem so first-world now and naïve –
The things I grimed over with luxuries I didn’t
Realize that rubbed against my plump limbs
Like millions of felines poised at the
Tombs of pharaohs.

Oh, Allen, I’m so tired –
These politics, and poly ticks, so many ticks that
Annoy my tics. Allen! I smear your name so liberally
Against this paper like primer because the easiest way
To coerce someone into listening to you like
A mother
or predator
tugging or nibbling on your ear –
Swatches of velvet scalped from a ****’s coat
Are you and I talking to ourselves again?
Candid insanity : Smoky hesitance.

Dear Allen, I’m so tired –
Yes, I love wearing my ovaries on the outside like
Some Amazonian soapbox gem glistening from beneath
The iron boots of what the newspapers tell me while
I cough at them with the hurdled delicacies of alphabet soup.
Give vegetables a gender and call them onions, Allen.
Sullied scratch-hicks pinioned feet from slapping
Society’s last rung on the ladder.
Ignore the swerve of small-town eyes.
Scapulas, stirrups, pap smears, and cervical mucus – now do you know who we are?

That fingernail clipped too short, Allen. We’ve all got AIDs
And AIDs babies, haven’t you heard? Hemorrhaging from the political
****** and out – they haven’t reached the heart.  
Since when have old white men given a **** about some
13 year old’s birth control? I’m riding on the waves of the
Parachute game and I swear this abortion-issue is just a veil outside Tuskegee University
Being further shove over plaintive eyes, swollen and black.
Pay up and
shut up.

I still remember my first broken *****, Allen.
Can you tell me all about your first time?
The vasodilatation that made veins rub against skin,
Delirious brilliance : unfathomable electricity.
I made love during an LSD experience, Allen,
And I am not sorry. I see cosmic visions and
Manifest universal vibrations as if this entire world is
A dish reverberating with textiles and marbles, and
All are plundering the depths of the finished wine
Bottle roasting in the sink like Thanksgiving Turkey.
The patience is in the living. Time opens out to you.
The opening, between you and you, occupied,
zoned for an encounter,
given the histories of you and you—
And always, who is this you?
The start of you, each day,
a presence already—
Hey, you!

Ah, Allen, if you are not safe, then I am not safe.
And where is the safest place when that place
Must be someplace other than in the body?
Am I talking to myself again?
You are not sick, you are injured—
you ache for the rest of life.

Why is it that I have to explain to my students that
sometimes what I'm spouting is prescribed by a pedagogical pharmacy --
but all they want to know is "what do the symbols on the television mean?"
I am completely aghast against the ghosts of future goners --
I am legitimately licensed to speak, write, listen like some mothers --
I am constantly cajoling the complex creations blamed on burned-out educators --
I am following the flagrant, fired-up "*******"s tagging lockers --
Pay up and
shut up.

Yes, and it’s Hopeless. Allen.
Where did we get off leaping and bounding into
The dogpile for chump change jurisdiction, policing
The right and the left for inherent hypocrisies when
Poets are so frightful to turn that introspective judgment
Upon ourselves?
We didn’t see it coming and I heard the flies, Allen.
Mean crocodile tears. Flamingo mascara tracks
Up and down : up and down: bow – bow – bow – bow
Buoyant amongst the misguided ******* floating around
In the swirlpool of lackadaisical introspection.
What good is vague vocab within poetry?
Absolutely none.
Would you leave the porchlight on tonight?
Absolutely, baby.

Dear Allen, would you grow amongst the roots and dirt
At the knuckles of a slackjawed brush of Ever-Pondering Questions
Only to ask them time-and-time-and-time-and-time-again.
Or pinch your forehead with burrowed, furrowed concentration upon those
Feeble branches of progression towards something that recedes further
And further with as much promise as the loving hand
Attempts to guide a lover to the bed?

Allen, I wish to see this world feelingly through the vibrations of billions of bodies, rocking and sobbing, plotting and gnashing like the movement of a million snakes, like the curves collecting and riding the parachute-veil.

Ah, Allen! Say it ain’t so! Sanctified swerve town eyes.
And everything is melting while poets take the weather
Too personally
And all the Holden Caulfields of the world read all the
*******’s written on the walls and all the Invisible Men
Eat Yams and all the Zampanos are blind and blind
And blind and blind and blind and blind
Yet see as much as Gloucester, as much as Homer,
As much as Oedipus.

Oh, Allen, do you see this world feelingly
and wander around the desert?
Colored marbles vibrating on the curtailed parachute paradox.
Lamentation of a small town’s onion. Little do we know, Allen,
That what you cannot see, we cannot see, and we are bubbling
Over in the animal soup of the proud yet weary. I can see,
However, how the peeled back skulls of a million
Workboots and paystubs may never sully the burden
Of an existential angst in miniscule amounts.
Pay up and
shut up.  

My dearest Allen, there is always a question of how
The cigarettes became besmirched with wax to complement
What was once grass, and
What was once a garish night drenching doorknobs.
The night's yawn absorbs you as you lie down at the wrong angle
To the sun ready already to let go of your hand
As you stepped, quivering, on to
The shores of Lethe.
i just remembered when it all began to fall apart i was in mid-thirties weary of taking advantage of women i wanted to change grow become better person more compassionate find loving respectful relationship maybe marriage i knew i needed to step away stop

chicago 1985 Odysseus is a stranger to himself living someone else’s life does he really want what Mom Dad Chris want? is he lying to everyone else or himself? he snorts another line of ******* moves on to next girl in dizzy way he is having time of his life so much occasion to waste doors to open slam rooms to pass through “In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo, and time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions” thank you t.s. elliott his ****** liaisons carry on from several weeks to several months begin with him adoring some girl or she adoring him little fires that burn themselves out for his part infidelity is rarely in question instead typically he or she feels let down by some personal response or character trait and simply stops calling in actuality no girl ever bothers to stick around they follow his lead and evaporate his mind draws a blank he wonders what do girls want? Deep inside he knows nothing in life is greater than the love of a woman he would have liked all those girls to be just one girl but she is missing where is she? occasionally he will run into one of his ex-lovers on street she wears an expression that hints why didn’t you phone me back? why did you stop calling? he suspects she is playing victim in self-satisfying charade in fact Odysseus crosses into new territory it is difficult to go back he hones his edge no longer is he wonder-stuck child possessed by curiosity for girls he requires **** and kink longer buildups then urgent bursts of effort drawn out climaxes nameless girl wearing tight jeans cowboy boots braids whom he meets in drake hotel elevator pushes stop button she ***** him off he has **** *** with tan-skinned french-canadian female tourist in telephone booth on north avenue gorgeous longhaired creole girl from new orleans ***** him on fire escape stairs **** *** with skinny punk girl in dark alley dutch foreign exchange student gives him ******* between parked cars on clark street weird awkward *** with goth girl in graveyard ****** by older blond woman who positioning herself underneath table in ritzy restaurant he has *** with chatty college sorority girl in jet lavatory he goes down on nerd girl wearing thick glasses in criticism section of depaul’s library he gets ****** ****** by perfect stranger in lake michigan each evening before he goes out prowling he looks in mirror wonders what strange female he will have *** with tonight it always surprises him what a person might not admit to or accept but allow or give in to if the right moment or if the right person is there not that he is particularly the right person rather he stumbles onto an astonishing streak there is the paris/milantokyo fashion model with stylish french haircut who possesses astonishing beauty perfect ***** and haughty temper after night of too many ***** martinis and ******* she announces “you and your friends are going nowhere  you’re all second-rate artist losers! and your cousin and his group are obnoxious *******” she flips him the finger then shoves him he shoves back resulting in dual arrests and domestic violence charges there is the tall blond stripper who totally fulfills his ****** desires once she lets him insert garden hose up her **** laughs uproariously as stream of water shoots out on another occasion she requests he *** in her *** he begins to believe he will marry her she insists she is too low class for his family one night she drunkenly hurls champagne bottle gives him black eye drives away crashes her car there is blue-eyed sweetheart with divine ****** loving touch who after months of sleeping with Odysseus confesses she is ******* some other guy and swears she will be faithful in the future she begs for his forgiveness as he loses it pushes her out door throwing her clothes after her one girl lights candles gives him full body massage ******* another girl holds him tight cries pushes him away one girl writes confessions with permanent markers on walls of closet another girl slaps him yells why? why why why! one girl runs to toilet pukes passes out on floor another girl sits up all night talking teasing never relieving him another girl falls asleep snores while he is in conversation one girl makes fun of small left ******* later gossips to her girlfriends he meets girl who will do anything except allow him to enter her ****** he meets girl who is professional escort she offers to do him for free she has lots of toys videos he declines they mess around she gets him off with ******* he meets girl whose ***** hair grows to mid-thigh she incessantly calls for her dog Bertram! he meets girl who shivers moans furiously cries laughs when he climaxes he meets girl with self-inflicted scars on arms legs who only wants it up her **** he meets girl who likes gagging deep-******* him to skull-**** her harder the better he meets girl whose ******* are so fierce she loses complete control drenching him sheets with her fluids excrement he meets girl who wants ******* squeezed so tightly he fears he will draw blood he meets girl who likes to talk ***** slaps his face as he is reaching ****** he meets girl with gargantuan ***** ******* as large as thumb she gurgles hot breaths later tries to steal string of beads he meets girl who enjoys lactating on his thighs while she gives him head he meets girl who knows how to contract vaginal muscles so tightly all he does is sustain ******* inside her in order to reach ****** he meets girl who pees tiny squirts while he penetrates her **** she laughs wildly he meets girl with furry mound who requests he **** on her as she masturbates he declines she reproaches him accusing you’re not nearly as freethinking as you pretend to be in fact you’re full of ****! he meets girl who wants him to act out **** they struggle he meets girl who desires to be ******* whipped he is not into inflicting pain he meets large strong girl who forces him he never tells anyone about incident he becomes mindful many females are more depraved than him women remain puzzle to Odysseus he is repeatedly astounded shocked can never predict about girl what her ******* ****** will look like whether she has eager *** or what are her secret desires he is explorer women are vast mystery he wonders are females as sexually driven as males? are they as vulnerable? is their **** like tiny *****? he speculates if completely unknown attractive woman walks up to any average man grabs his crotch many possibly most men will willingly allow it are women that weak? more than anything what most excites Odysseus is female lust handjobs are test of adequacy distinguishing character having masturbated thousands of times he thrills in having girl do it he delights in watching her arousal just staring at his ******* is captivated by method of her fingers hands revitalized by degree of her determination throughout he needs to ****** her ******* ****** *** titillated as she licks lips after swallowing ***** he realizes if he were female he would be total nymphomaniac yet he finds it difficult to imagine desiring men are all so like him women are so strange fascinatingly different he craves their otherness Odysseus loves women more than they love themselves smell sight of them sends him into frenzy problem is he fears their power over him

it’s been 25 years since those days i live alone for many years in tucson arizona have not been with a woman for long long time last relationship 2001 with crack ***** i hang my head cry wish for love wonder do i deserve to be loved pray to be forgiven
Mitchell Duran Feb 2013
Goodbye Prague, to a city I never thought I'd know.
Goodbye Prague, to a heaven that is lined with shattered beer bottles and stamped out cigarettes the junkies and the hobo's here still manage to get a  few puffs out of.
Goodbye Prague, to a hell that was once hovering with the feelings of control, manipulation, and more control, but now is twirling top speed to a land unknown.
Goodbye Prague, you seductive ***** with your cheap liquor, beer, and cigarettes, smelling of aged mahogany mixed finely with an acidic burst of fresh *****.
Goodbye Prague, I do not know when I will see you again, but I hope that I do and that I never grow so old that I forget you.
Goodbye to your abstract animals smeared black, screaming in the exploding summer sun. Goodbye to freshly cut pigs heads and cow flesh, hanging in your storefront window, tempting every passerby like the *****'s of Amsterdam.
Goodbye to every cobblestone that shines after a fresh rain or snow, slippery to the newcomer, an annoyance to the amateur, thoughtless to the old timer.
Goodbye to the potraviny's stocked with two crown marked up ***** and space vegetables shaped and colored in a one and only kind of vernacular; without you, I would have half-drunkenly stumbled home towards dreams of menial headaches and shadowy beer or perhaps to The Oak to drink alone.
I scream so long through faint puffs of carbon nicotine clouds made illuminated by the icy orange street lamps 800 years old glow!
I scream so long to late metro's and early trams!
I scream so long to the roaring rocks who reflect the faces of aging clocks!
So long to passed out bums and unforgiving metro officers. So long to dollar fifty beers and the fear of getting deported. So long with counting silver crown to make even, seeing my math prowess has lessened. So long embedded needles and bottle caps deep within the snowy cobble. So long listless wanders all their money thrown away until the month of May comes to knock on their door. So long alleyway romance 100 crown notes and old men in their rickety fishermen boats. So long sad masked faces who in their forward march sit stunned seeing fortune picks only some. So long through the grey mist stabbed with neon signs that attract the youth and the mad. So long to the feeling everything I had to say was the wrong thing. So long to feelings of foreign familiarity whose ball and chain were slowly starting to rust away. So long in song to the player's of Riegrovy hill whose voices I just couldn't stand. So long I've come to understand everyone's got a choice to live or wish they did. So long to the wide swept hills of Petrin, where angel's of lore go to rest atop dusted fresh snow, among the dotted new born vine. So long to the sound of wet metal against metal, a scream of order carried on the blue man's shoulder. So long to a city whose architecture reminds me of old men's faces and whose color reminds me of elderly women's dresses. So long to smoking in front of children without a second thought for their health. So long to racism that is wicked, but grunted genially - the executioner smiles at the accused - the gravedigger's weep for the dead - the ant makes a break for a hill not his. So long forlorn love whose only remedy for a cure is the beer sitting in front of you. So long to wondering what's going on in the world, when all I want and got is what's right in front of me.
Farewell Prague, you shadowed street walker, a cloak of stars around you, finding all that owe you  your due.
Farewell Prague, you in the morning eyes half mast, snow crunching underneath stony white.
Farewell Prague, miss-handler of crooked time pieces stating the obvious, ignoring to blame bluntly on youthful alcohol abuse.
Farewell Prague, you took me up the hill and through the woods where ravens, black as gutter ice, crackled down at me like showers of New Year's fireworks.
Farewell Prague, you gave me peace where I once thought I was unable to have.
Farewell Prague, you befriended me, then ordered me a shot that made me cough, then ordered me a beer so we could sit and truly feel what it is to sit and wallow in our time here.
Farewell Prague, you entranced me with view after view to a city to stubborn to die.
Farewell Prague, I leave you like you would leave me.
Farewell Prague, to your fat snow flakes that drop into wide eyed children mouths, tasting of iron whiskey rye, though they do not flinch at the taste.
Farewell Prague, I leave you with a hush of a whimper, bitter as the cold, and indifferent as the server's over at Cafe Lourve.
Farewell Prague, with a thousand miles of graveyards, where ghosts barely have the strength to weep.
Farewell Prague, I admit I never knew how to love until I came to visit you.
Farewell Prague, as I stare out your cracked and smoky tram windows, my thoughts not my own, shop windows and naked, screaming men, their cigarettes bouncing in between their lips like a jack of spades on smack, where at last we see that life is only a worth a **** if lived.
Farewell Prague, I see the cards there on the table and you're winking at me while I stand at the backdoor, and what's more, there's a secret you've got to give that I refuse believe.
Farewell Prague, to your open sore catastrophe of society, KFC on every block, and Starbuck's on every other, and on the other other are the lined' wino's shaking open handed and spread for a case of cardboard vino.
Farewell Prague, to the nasty smoker's in trams that just stopped caring.
Farewell Prague, to a city rhythm generated by an ignorant originality and uniqueness, where the same has no name and the the plain jabber on about their jobs in their pretty blue jeans.
Farewell Prague, because to say goodbye would mean we don't have that friendly tone.
Farewell Prague, I see to sacrifice oneself for the comfort of the elder or the opposite fills me with agitated obligation stationed in a vessel older than I've ever lived - yet I know it, for it is me.
Farewell Prague, you are a lost lullaby caught in the wind of an elastic multi-colored pin-wheel, shining riches of the rainbow into the eyes of children, who all whistle when they snore.
Farewell Prague, a button upon the Earth, like every man.
Farewell Prague, a love song sung in the depths of a damp grey hall, rivers all around, so the sounds too much to drink were outlandish in high emotion, juvenile commotion.
Farewell Prague, we were young - not caring about the future, but of course, with worry in our hearts for worry is a sign of human being human; yet, still, we asked nothing of one another and you gave and I gave and you took and I took and we walked underneath one another's blanket's until we were no longer cold and the winter showed to be just an annoying individual at the party.
Farewell Prague, to your lack of complications, making simplicities acceptable again.
Farewell Prague, to the snow that never stops falling, all while slumbering within dream until the seam is ripped so the old can die.
Farewell Prague, I've shined every marble staircase and washed every tram window; you owe me nothing because I like you.
Farewell Prague, to the long nights bleeding away at the table alone, the lady fast asleep, lit by the dim orange glow of the twisted streetlights below.
Farewell Prague, to the long nights forgetting pains of existence and accepting every solution to ward of resistance.
Farewell Prague, our long talks and hovering walks, always forcing me to balk.
Farewell Prague, at last you got the praise you have always deserved.
Farewell Prague, to hot humid nights filled with *** and butter in the summer and cold bitten cold of ***** and juice a la winter.
Farewell Prague, to bad service but good drink and food.
Farewell Prague, you curious tale the bravest man would waver to say.
Farewell Prague, to bridges galore and more dead leaves then wrinkles on my crooked face.
Farewell Prague, at night the sheen of liquor wears off only if you let it be so.
Farewell Prague, to all the those lonely mornings bent head into book on the way to work.
Farewell Prague, how long till you grow to be young again?
Farewell Prague, how long till I admit my defeat to you?
Farewell Prague, how long until I accept I'm the last fool in this world?
Goodbye Prague, the last soldier is standing, but the war is not yet won.
Goodbye Prague, to your hazy stars glimmering and shining for an indebted audience.
Goodbye Prague, the sun breaking through ink spilled colored clouds, the birds chirping, the dogs barking, and us wondering where we started.
Goodbye Prague, your churches are empty so the sins of man run rampant and at last the prayers of men go unanswered; we now abandoned to fend for ourselves.
Goodbye Prague, the puncturing purity of your ways make me giggle in delight as I listen to the cool piano man play; his eyes on the horizon shattering like toppled china.
Goodbye Prague, at last there is a time where we both get what we want.
Goodbye Prague, the verandas are chilled with the dew of winter and the snow glitters like bitter diamonds as the fool tips his hat to shy away the sunlight.
Goodbye Prague, every rain drop that fell upon me was a gift you can never take away.
Goodbye Prague, the fool adheres to agnostic rules but the cruel here see no reason to sue.
Goodbye Prague, I think therefore the dust of escape reflects the waves of the river Vlatva.
Goodbye Prague, to your lack of vowels.
Goodbye Prague, when the night wavers hear the Beherovka weep into its own glass, love leaving her forever making no note to Kissy.
Goodbye Prague, tram driver's unforgiving in their merciless need for schedule.
Goodbye Prague, the last homage to the war standing like a shining diamond neath chipped and shattered rubble.
Goodbye Prague, a listless memory mentioned only in drifting dream.
Goodbye Prague, every loving glance smelling of freshly poured beer over newly fallen snow.
Goodbye Prague, to your hardness, your beauty, and your madness.
Goodbye Prague, your days wet with rain, stricken by sunlight, reflecting white emerald into the window panes of passing trains.
Goodbye Prague, at last you got what you deserved.
Goodbye Prague, now I can weep and say I have trampled upon your cheek and slunk through your veins and trudged through your blood and skipped through your hair and saw every line - both sought after and nought - you have acquired through time.
Goodbye Prague, there is no reason to get excited, you are free.
Goodbye Prague, I see the silhouette of the trees that line your hills and I am forsaken to see the leaves turning from jovial yellow greens to disregarded and disparaged furnaces of dim fire reds and browns.
Goodbye Prague, the people within you deserved all of the credit.
Good Prague, the people outside of you deserve what ever they believe they do.
Goodbye Prague, you family to families with common sense and love rampaging through your barley stained veins.
Goodbye Prague, perhaps there is nothing under your rubble, maybe already all is lost for everyone, everywhere, but maybe, you living the simpler life, can show all that life can be so.
Goodbye Prague, you gave me letters, words, lines, commas, apostrophes, and dashes, paragraphs, pages, and eventually, a story; I leave you marked.
Goodbye Prague, an old friend whose hand I shook but knew would one day turn my back on.
Goodbye Prague, the bite of your cold generosity and your bustling love leaves man with nothing but to bike back with no chance of triumph.
Goodbye Prague, street cleaners clean up your wear and tear from the mothers and fathers that bore you, some 800 years ago; ageless, you loom longer than they would like.
Goodbye Prague, battling sleep as the ***** raps for more and more, none that the man has.
Goodbye Prague, the night is curling in as the wave crashes to the short and I am the lost sun looking for a place to rise, trying to get to the sky.
Poetria Jul 2015
Her eyes so bright;
Do you ever wonder where the sun goes at night?

The rain, dancing on the pavement
in no specific arrangement.

Luminous flames eat away at sharp skewers,
Her eyes silver-grey, clashing with the tables of steel.

Barbecue roasting, impaled through the middle
The pain paled in comparison to watching you smile.

A toast to me, myself and I, a glass of sweet solitude.
I watch tall wine glasses clang drunkenly together, alone.

A pin drops in the distance; no silence to accompany it.
Unnoticed it goes, by the arrogant lords and goddesses.

Pick a flower, compliment her hair; devil may care.
She's walking away, I tell her 'Ma'am, have a nice day'

Left alone to stumble back home,
sipping champagne royally; Mockery.

Spilling champagne and it swirls down the drain
I tilt my head back, laughing carelessly all the way.
Jimmy King Jun 2014
If we were the kind of friends who unironically
raised our glasses in toasts,
I would give one to the generation too comforted by the ease
of a honeybee in the plaintively nonexistent mind
of a tulip

To the generation, or at least its subset
that wrongly feels representative, who stumble drunkenly
or maybe just tiredly out of tents
to **** in the view of their friends, who are still at the fire
because the tent was too cold

To those who did raise their glasses in a toast
on New Year’s Eve at what felt, with the ball drop
not screening in luddite protest, enough like midnight.
Beginning with “dear friends” and a couple laughs;
concluding with “now let’s get ****** up” and
a couple more

To those who proceeded
as directed, clinking their shot-glasses
and swigging them back. If only because
they were not tulips.
Ryan Bowdish Sep 2013
School was always humuorous to a degree in my opinion because of the underlying idea
that the more damaged you were, the cooler you were in the eyes of the rest of the school.
I have heard numerous conversations that began with something along the lines of, "Oh, you
think YOU got it bad, well my dad blah blah and my best friend blah blah and my life is hell."

I decided to get a little personal and share with you guys something I have never actually
told anyone in entirety yet. I am pretty sure the whole story is still only here in my brain.
I will, out of respect for these people, change their names.

It's October 31, 2012. It's about noon, and all of us sixteen to twenty-two year olds are just waking up.
Brianne woke up probably a few hours ago already to tend to her son, Aaron. He is adorable, one
and a half, blond hair, blue eyes. I have been living here for nearly two months. I am supporting her,
Aaron, and myself with food stamps. I get two hundred dollars a month to basically smoke **** and drink
on the government's budget. Trust me, I'm not proud of it either, and if I could I would pay it back.
Since Brianne is a single mother and an adopted child, she has a single-digit monthly rent (I was *******
baffled to hear this) and receives support from her foster parents. Basically, if I want to stay here forever
with absolutely no consequences save to miss out on a life of my own, I can.

Brandon is putting on clown make-up so he can troll the streets as a juggalo. I find this amusing as I always
liked to mess around with ICP fans, but he's a really cool kid so I let it go and I even help him perfect it.
I notice he has a bottle of Stolichnaya in his backpack and it's practically full. That, to me, is temptation.
I ask if he would mind me taking a few drinks here and there from the bottle and he says it's fine, so I proceed
to get a nice one p.m. buzz. It was always my favorite drunk, very light, and airy, almost like you're still asleep.
Something bogs you down, but it doesn't bother you, somehow it makes you lighter.

For the rest of the day, we hook up with a few friends, go out and trick or treat in the pouring rain, get soaked
and wait for two hours under an overpass while Brianne goes and gets her car. From there, we proceed home.

At this point, everyone is over at Breanne's and we're all making dinner and drinking beer and having a good time
(Aaron is with the grandparents tonight). I guess I started getting angry about the recent events (for about a month,
everyone in our group with the exception of Brandon have been slowly losing items...but they're obviously being stolen.
At a point, a few of us did some research and determined the only person who could possibly have stolen
a good deal of these things has to be Brandon) and I decided I was tired of sitting on the news waiting for no one to make
a move after a solid two weeks of being certain that we had our guy. So I called him out... and proceeded
to begin burning bridges slowly and very surely for the next few days. I am pretty sure a fight would have broken out
if Bri hadn't taken me into her room to relax. When I finally do, it turns out I woke up the upstairs neighbor,
her baby, and everyone in the house has left save for my friend Jeff and his girlfriend Marissa. This concludes night one.

I later learned that Brandon was not actually the person who was stealing from us (unless of course
he just happened to not get caught when we found out who had done most of it) and I feel bad for bringing the whole
thing up because I would have liked to stay in touch with him. We got along swimmingly and he actually did have
a lot of interesting things to talk about. Smart, nice, hilarious... Well, maybe he'll turn up one day.

The next morning, I woke up to find the house empty save for Jeff and Marissa in the next room, but where I am,
it simply appears empty. I don't know what happened but I intuit that I have been sleeping all night without
my girlfriend. This upsets me and I begin to weep like a confused child, which is exactly what you do when you're
helpless and too drunk in the brain to figure out how to pull yourself out of a helpless situation (trust me,
I own the handbook). Marissa walks in and begins to explain to me that I had scared her too much and she slept
on the couch and that she had left to go pick up her son. So I realize I need to calm down, but I can feel
Jeff is not happy with me in the slightest, considering he will not come and talk to me (this is extremely painful
because he is probably one of the best friends I have ever had, with a mind that vastly exceeds that of everyone
I have met save one other, and he's a different story). They leave and I decide to stay in the house all day.

This is a very bad idea. I stay home, watch re-runs of a show I have seen billions of times, and considering
that Brandon and I are no longer on good terms, like a complete *******, I drink the rest of his *****.

In walks Bri, it's around 7. She's not happy. She proceeds to tell me that the night before I asked out a friend of mine
and she said yes. And I was a bit shocked because I couldn't remember it at first. Then it all hit me.

A few days before, Aaron called me "dad." Now remember, this is not my child. I am dark, dark, dark, and she had this kid
about two years after we had any past relationship. I am extremely worried in my mind and I realize I am headed toward nothing.
That I am stagnant and can not even afford to go back to school. This scares me, so I drunkenly asked out Tanya.

Tanya...we had been friends for about five years, and I had tried to get with her so many **** times... she was like
one of those girls you see and you're instantly reminded of an anime character. Tall, thin, beautiful hips, perfect
proportions, lovely hair, eyes, voice, and a personality I can liken to a Disney princess/black metal lumberjack.
The kind of girl who has a tough exterior, but inside, she just wants someone to tell her everything is going to be ok.

After about two hours of pleading with Bri to let me stay, I finally send Tanya a message, and we hang out for the next
two days, whence I whisper in her ear that everything is going to be okay and we proceed to have quite passionate ***
for those nights, where I discovered the secret to making a woman ****** with my tongue (tip: if the underside of your
tongue isn't completely torn apart, you're doing something wrong). But alas, I could not stay.

This is the part I dreaded, because I know I have to go back to Jeff's house and ask him if I can stay there for a while.
And I got the answer I expected.

The words he used...

"I'm *******...extremely ******* at you, and disappointed." It was like a father saying it to you. And him and I
have a very interesting friendship built on such an extreme understanding that I knew exactly how badly I had been spiraling.
I began to leave and he gave me a slice of pizza, with that slight smile that told me "just go find yourself, we'll be fine."

I hobbled off into the night drunk, with one piece of pizza and all my food at Bri's, which could have lasted me another few days,
easing the transition into homeless. And it could have prevented a horrible occurance that took place the following afternoon. I
was crying, because I knew I was dying, but I didn't want to ask either of my parents for help, because this was the first time
I was out on my own and I was far too proud to give up and let the world make me its victim. So I walked...

Sixteen ******* miles...

To the next town. Took me all night because I was dodging traffic, easing into trees, avoiding on and off ramps, trying to stay
away from any police that may exist on the road. When I finally arrived in the next town (where I knew I may have one contact)
I decided to sleep until the morning came so I could have the energy to find my next venture.

It was five thirty am. I had 3 hours until sun-up, I had just walked enough to be burning, and there was plenty of whiskey in my veins.
I had left my sleeping bag with Tanya hours earlier, wishing in the park that I had not been so naiive as to think I would be allowed
back in the house. So I pulled out a pile of ***** clothes and put them over me like blankets, in some random corner of the local
park, under some bushes, hidden from cold and sight, with great hope...

Fifteen minutes pass. My eyes shoot open. I am freezing. The sweat has dried and frozen to my body. This is hell.

I grab my things and with the worst effort I can ever remember myself mustering, I drag myself to the toilet.
When I open it, the first thing I check for is cleanliness. It's spotless. I am so relieved. I sit in the corner of the room,
which my knees to my chest, head in my hands, wrapped in a leather jacket I had gotten from Jeff (ha, he really is my
guardian angel, though he would laugh to hear it).

I catch winks, occasionally looking up to check if the sun is rising. When it finally is, I get up, change my clothes (I had
ONE clean set of clothing and it had been rotting with the rest in the backpack) and immediately head to a thrift store where
a family friend is working.

On my way there, I notice in a little parking lot near the store a sight I had never actually come across but I always thought
would be the most amazing luck, and it was timed in such a spot in my life that it was the ultimate miracle...and a curse in
disguise.

In front of my eyes (this miracle appeared in my path as I was walking looking down, so it startled me) was the worst possible thing
for me: A half finished fifth of Smirnoff, and a half smoked pack of Marlboro 100 Reds. I open the pack and sure enough, the celophane
protected every cigarette inside from any water damage. I am ecstatic. This is not only amazing, but highly unlikely.

So I down the bottle in one go and take the rest of the smokes with me.

When I arrive at the thrift shop, it turns out I am there on a day when my potential savior is not working, so I get her number from the clerk
and head over to a payphone and realize... I have no money. So I decide to go on a quest for dropped pocket change.

Before I even leave the parking lot, I see a young man, no older than 23, sitting on a nice red classic-style Corvette and he's
reading William S. Burroughs. So naturally, I decide to strike up a conversation with the young man. Turns out he's the nicest guy
and his name is Jordan. So him and I got together and decided to go out for a game of disc golf (some may not know what this is;
Imagine frisbee but with a golf theme, so you need to get from a tee pad into a basket. Really fun, centering, and extremely popular
with potheads, Californians, beer-drinkers, and hippies) and before we go, he asks if I would like to snag a few beers first.

I tell him a piece of my story and he can tell I am down on my luck and broke so he decides to help me out. He buys us both some beer
and we proceed to disk.

Turns out he's an ex-****** and has been through quite a bit of hell himself, so we find that we're in a good position to help each
other make some better decisions in life. After the game, we go over to a payphone and he gives me money to call my friend.

Buzz (this the only name I am not changing because her name is ******* badass) answers the phone and unfortunately informs me that
though she would take me in any day of the year, she just moved in to a house with one older lady she takes care of, and its a single
bedroom apartment, so there is just no way it can work.

So I go back to his car and tell him the news, and he says he thinks he may be able to put me up for a few days until I can sort
everything out. We go back out to the store and grab ourselves a fifth of *****.

We end up in the park playing music, talking, performing standup for one another, and I begin to realize I am drinking too fast,
so I try to ease back a little. He was playing a version of a Radiohead song I had never heard before

"Everyone this way. Okay, get your hands against the wall. Spread your legs. Don't move."
The doors clanking, some ******* won't shut up in the next cell over.
More slamming of doors, someone rubbing my body all over trying to find my knives, no doubt.
And my AK 47 I conceal, and my ****, and my ... oh ****, I really did have **** on me.

"Move forward. Turn around. Alright, go to bed."

----------------------------------------------------------­---------------------

"Get up. Come on, slowly... There you go. There's a few more coming in so we got to get you to another cell."

Clank, clank...

"Pick a bed."

----------------------------------------------------------­---------------------

Something is wrong. This bed is not covered. There is no comfort. It's just a mat. And I have no pillow. This is not a house
of any sort, my bag isnt what I am sleeping on. Something is very wrong here.

I am in jail. Oh of course.

I know the answer before I hear it, but I ask anyway: "What are my charges, ma'am?"

"Drunk in public."

-------------------------------------------------------­------------------------

I'm about thirty miles or so North of inner Seattle. Not a bad place to be. I'm working for a Safeway. It's somewhere around
the first of June. I receive word that Bri has been on ******. And I may have left at a crucial time in her life thinking
only of myself, but I needed to go somewhere I could be productive. Yet my decision left her in a position where she turned
to hard drugs...

I can't help but feel I am to blame. I am listening to the dull, stupid words of my ex boss, Rod, who is telling me
that even though I may feel like I need to help her, there is nothing I can do for her, so I should bury myself in my work
instead. He tells me this in about six hundred different ways before I leave the room after twenty minutes. Well great.
I may have no focus here at work today, but at least I killed almost a half hour of the day just listening to someone
*******.

I am at a loss of what to do here, but I eventually get a hold of her, and after a long time not talking, we come to
somewhat of a closure, and she is beginning to sober up herself. I realize we were both in incredibly hard times, and I still
wish with all my heart there could have been some way I could have helped her raise that boy and stayed and been her
love, and at the same time, still go to college, and progress and get a good job...but I was in a small Northern California
town. There was nothing left, all the old shops were out of business. It was time for me to move on then, and we have
all seen better days for it. She looks incredible these days by the way. She lost an insane amount of weight, and I know
a lot of it had to do with the drugs, but if she truly is sober like she says she is, she'll be getting much better.

A few weeks ago 3 people I used to know and hang out with died in the span of a week. It was a terrible tragedy, and I have been
thinking back on all the names of people I used to love very, very much before they got lost in some way.

There's Lorne Holly, who killed himself after a few weeks of detoxing from crank.

Layla Harmon, who died in a car crash, blunt head trauma, with a drunk driver (I have a tattoo for this, I will never drive drunk).

Heavy Eagle, who killed himself after years of drug problems.

Chaz Lipman, who died in a car crash as well.

Ren Rain, who I am still not sure about...

And of course, Tray Beraldi, who was my closest friend's cousin... I wish I were there to mourne with him...

Last night I got a text from my best friend, who said he couldn't sleep and he barely eats anything anymore, and he feels like his throat
is going to explode, and he cant swallow and his neck is killing him constantly. He has been this way for a year, and he is talking constantly
about getting a gun and blowing his head off. And no one believes him because he constantly talks about it because he is in so much pain.
No doctor can diagnose him so far, he has no idea what's wrong with him, he's been tested all over the place, he has no hope, he's barely
cligning and he doesn't know how much longer he can hold on.

All I really want to say is

Lord? What I have done? I don't pray, I never pray, I don't even know who I would pray to. But WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO DO?!

I bring myself across hell and I pull myself from the worst depression I h
This is autobiographical...so be prepared for somewhat of a story.
Damian Dec 2012
A falling feather on the breeze,
lilting like the Seraphim
songs of Mephistopheles,
lured her drunkenly to him.

Lilting like the Seraphim,
she drank his iridescence. He
lured her drunkenly to him,
enraptured in naivety.

She drank his iridescence. He
befouled her virtue, was the air.
Enraptured in naivety
no more, would Eden hear her prayer?

Befouled; her virtue was the air
he stole away, a hunched-up thief.
No more would Eden hear her prayer -
the echoes howling his motif.

He stole away, a hunched-up thief,
a fallen feather on the breeze;
the echoes howling his motif -
songs of Mephistopheles.


Footnote: Passages from folk lore:
Hindu - the peacock is said to have angels' feathers, a devil's voice
and the walk of a thief
Chinese - a girl who looks at a peacock could become pregnant
Islamic: the peafowl carried Satan into the Garden of Eden after consuming him
I met him on the Amtrak line to Central Jersey. His name was Walker, and his surname Norris. I thought there was a certain charm to that. He was a Texas man, and he fell right into my image of what a Texas man should look like. Walker was tall, about 6’4”, with wide shoulders and blue eyes. He had semi-long hair, tied into a weak ponytail that hung down from the wide brim hat he wore on his head. As for the hat, you could tell it had seen better days, and the brim was starting to droop slightly from excessive wear. Walker had on a childish smile that he seemed to wear perpetually, as if he were entirely unmoved by the negative experiences of his own life. I have often thought back to this smile, and wondered if I would trade places with him, knowing that I could be so unaffected by my suffering. I always end up choosing despair, though, because I am a writer, and so despair to me is but a reservoir of creativity. Still, there is a certain romance to the way Walker braved the world’s slings and arrows, almost oblivious to the cruel intentions with which they were sent at him.
“I never think people are out to get me.” I remember him saying, in the thick, rich, southern drawl with which he spoke, “Some people just get confused sometimes. Ma’ momma always used to tell me, ‘There ain’t nothing wrong with trustin’ everyone, but soon as you don’t trust someone trustworthy, then you’ve got another problem on your hands.’”—He was full of little gems like that.
As it turns out, Walker had traveled all the way from his hometown in Texas, in pursuit of his runaway girlfriend, who in a fit of frenzy, had run off with his car…and his heart. The town that he lived in was a small rinky-**** miner’s village that had been abandoned for years and had recently begun to repopulate. It had no train station and no bus stop, and so when Walker’s girlfriend decided to leave with his car, he was left struggling for transportation. This did not phase Walker however, who set out to look for his runaway lover in the only place he thought she might go to—her mother’s house.
So Walker started walking, and with only a few prized possessions, he set out for the East Coast, where he knew his girlfriend’s family lived. On his back, Walker carried a canvas bag with a few clothes, some soap, water and his knife in it. In his pocket, he carried $300, or everything he had that Lisa (his girlfriend) hadn’t stolen. The first leg of Walker’s odyssey he described as “the easy part.” He set out on U.S. 87, the highway closest to his village, and started walking, looking for a ride. He walked about 40 or 50 miles south, without crossing a single car, and stopping only once to get some water. It was hot and dry, and the Texas sun beat down on Walker’s pale white skin, but he kept walking, without once complaining. After hours of trekking on U.S. 87, Walker reached the passage to Interstate 20, where he was picked up by a man in a rust-red pickup truck. The man was headed towards Dallas, and agreed o take Walker that far, an offer that Walker graciously accepted.
“We rode for **** near five and a half hours on the highway to Dallas,” Walker would later tell me. “We didn’t stop for food, or drink or nuthin’. At one point the driver had to stop for a pisscall, that is, to use the bathroom, or at least that’s why I reckon we stopped; he didn’t speak but maybe three words the whole ride. He just stopped at this roadside gas station, went in for a few minutes and then back into the car and back on the road we went again. Real funny character the driver was, big bearded fellow with a mean look on his brow, but I never would have made it to Dallas if not for him, so I guess he can’t have been all that mean, huh?”
Walker finally arrived in Dallas as the nighttime reached the peak of its darkness. The driver of the pickup truck dropped him off without a word, at a corner bus stop in the middle of the city. Walker had no place to stay, nobody to call, and worst of all, no idea where he was at all. He walked from the corner bus stop to a run-down inn on the side of the road, and got himself a room for the night for $5. The beds were hard and the sheets were *****, and the room itself had no bathroom, but it served its purpose and it kept Walker out of the streets for the night.
The next morning, Texas Walker Norris woke up to a growl. It was his stomach, and suddenly, Walker remembered that he hadn’t eaten in almost two days. He checked out of the inn he had slept in, and stepped into the streets of Dallas, wearing the same clothes as he wore the day before, and carrying the same canvas bag with the soap and the knife in it. After about an hour or so of walking around the city, Walker came up to a small ***** restaurant that served food within his price range. He ordered Chicken Fried Steak with a side of home fries, and devoured them in seconds flat. After that, Walker took a stroll around the city, so as to take in the sights before he left. Eventually, he found his way to the city bus station, where he boarded a Greyhound bus to Tallahassee. It took him 26 hours to get there, and at the end of everything he vowed to never take a bus like that again.
“See I’m from Texas, and in Texas, everything is real big and free and stuff. So I ain’t used to being cooped up in nothin’ for a stended period of time. I tell you, I came off that bus shaking, sweating, you name it. The poor woman sitting next to me thought I was gunna have a heart attack.” Walker laughed.
When Walker laughed, you understood why Texans are so proud of where they live. His was a low, rumbling bellow that built up into a thunderous, booming laugh, finally fizzling into the raspy chuckle of a man who had spent his whole life smoking, yet in perfect health. When Walker laughed, you felt something inside you shake and vibrate, both in fear and utter admiration of the giant Texan man in front of you. If men were measured by their laughs, Walker would certainly be hailed as king amongst men; but he wasn’t. No, he was just another man, a lowly man with a perpetual childish grin, despite the godliness of his bellowing laughter.
“When I finally got to Tallahassee I didn’t know what to do. I sure as hell didn’t have my wits about me, so I just stumbled all around the city like a chick without its head on. I swear, people must a thought I was a madman with the way I was walkin’, all wide-eyed and frazzled and stuff. One guy even tried to mug me, ‘till he saw I didn’t have no money on me. Well that and I got my knife out of my bag right on time.” Another laugh. “You know I knew one thing though, which was I needed to find a place to stay the night.”
So Walker found himself a little pub in Tallahassee, where he ordered one beer and a shot of tequila. To go with that, he got himself a burger, which he remembered as being one of the better burgers he’d ever had. Of course, this could have just been due to the fact that he hadn’t eaten a real meal in so long. At some point during this meal, Walker turned to the bartender, an Irish man with short red hair and muttonchops, and asked him if he knew where someone could find a place to spend the night in town.
“Well there are a few hotels in the downtown area but ah wouldn’t recommend stayin’ in them. That is unless ye got enough money to jus’ throw away like that, which ah know ye don’t because ah jus’ saw ye take yer money out to pay for the burger. That an’ the beer an’ shot. Anyway, ye could always stay in one of the cheap motels or inns in Tallahassee. That’ll only cost ye a few dollars for the night, but ye might end up with bug bites or worse. Frankly, I don’t see many an option for ye, less you wanna stay here for the night, which’ll only cost ye’, oh, about nine-dollars-whattaya-say?”
Walker was stunned by the quickness of the Irishman’s speech. He had never heard such a quick tongue in Texas, and everyone knew Texas was auction-ville. He didn’t know whether to trust the Irishman or not, but he didn’t have the energy or patience to do otherwise, and so Walker Norris paid nine dollars to spend the night in the back room of a Tallahassee pub.
As it turns out, the Irishman’s name was Jeremy O’Neill, and he had just come to America about a year and a half ago. He had left his hometown in Dublin, where he owned a bar very similar to the one he owned now, in search of a girl he had met that said she lived in Florida. As it turns out, Florida was a great deal larger than Jeremy had expected, and so he spent the better part of that first year working odd jobs and drinking his pay away. He had worked in over 25 different cities in Florida, and on well over 55 different jobs, before giving up his search and moving to Tallahassee. Jeremy wrote home to his brother, who had been manning his bar in Dublin the whole time Jeremy was away, and asked for some money to help start himself off. His brother sent him the money, and after working a while longer as a painter for a local construction company, he raised enough money to buy a small run down bar in central Tallahassee, the bar he now ran and operated. Unfortunately, the purchase had left him in terrible debt, and so Jeremy had set up a bed in the back room, where he often housed overly drunk customers for a price. This way, he could make back the money to pay for the rest of the bar.
Walker sympathized with the Irishman’s story. In Jeremy, he saw a bit of himself; the tired, broken traveler, in search of a runaway love. Jeremy’s story depressed Walker though, who was truly convinced his own would end differently. He knew, he felt, that he would find Lisa in the end.
Walker hardly slept that night, despite having paid nine dollars for a comfortable bed. Instead, he got drunk with Jeremy, as the two of them downed a bottle of whisky together, while sitting on the floor of the pub, talking. They talked about love, and life, and the existence of God. They discussed their childhoods and their respective journeys away from their homes. They laughed as they spoke of the women they loved and they cried as they listened to each other’s stories. By the time Walker had sobered up, it was already morning, and time for a brand new start. Jeremy gave Walker a free bottle of whiskey, which after serious protest, Walker put in his bag, next to his knife and the soap. In exchange, Walker tried to give Jeremy some money, but Jeremy stubbornly refused, like any Irishman would, instead telling Walker to go **** himself, and to send him a postcard when he got to New York. Walker thanked Jeremy for his hospitality, and left the bar, wishing deeply that he had slept, but not regretting a minute of the night.
Little time was spent in Tallahassee that day. As soon as Walker got out on the streets, he asked around to find out where the closest highway was. A kind old woman with a cane and bonnet told him where to go, and Walker made it out to the city limits in no time. He didn’t even stop to look around a single time.
Once at the city limits, Walker went into a small roadside gas station, where he had a microwavable burrito and a large 50-cent slushy for breakfast. He stocked up on chips and peanuts, knowing full well that this may have been his last meal that day, and set out once again, after filling up his water supply. Walker had no idea where to go from Tallahassee, but he knew that if he wanted to reach his girlfriend’s mother’s house, he had to go north. So Walker started walking north, on a road the gas station attendant called FL-61, or Thomasville Road. He walked for something like seven or eight miles, before a group of college kids driving a camper pulled up next to him. They were students at the University of Georgia and were heading back to Athens from a road trip they had taken to New Orleans. The students offered to take Walker that far, and Walker, knowing only that this took him north, agreed.
The students drove a large camper with a mini-bar built into it, which they had made themselves, and stacked with beer and water. They had been down in New Orleans for the Mardi Gras season, and were now returning, thought the party had hardly stopped for them. As they told Walker, they picked a new designated driver every day, and he was appointed the job of driving until he got bored, while all the others downed their beers in the back of the camper. Because their system relied on the driver’s patience, they had almost doubled the time they should have made on their trip, often stopping at roadside motels so that the driver could get his drink on too. These were their “pit-stops”, where they often made the decision to either eat or court some of the local girls drunkenly.
This leg of the trip Walker seemed to glaze over quickly. He didn’t talk much about the ride, the conversation, or the people, but from what I gathered, from his smile and the way his eyes wandered, I could tell it was a fun one. Basically, the college kids, of which I figure there were about five or six, got Walker drunk and drove him all the way to Athens, Georgia, where they took him to their campus and introduced him to all of their friends. The leader of the group, a tall, athletic boy with long brown hair and dimples, let him sleep in his dorm for the night, and set him up with a ride to the train station the next morning. There, Walker bought himself a ticket to Atlanta, and said his goodbyes. Apparently, the whole group of students followed him to the station, where they gave him some food and said goodbye to him. One student gave Walker his parent’s number, telling him to call them when he got to Atlanta, if he needed a place to sleep. Then, from one minute to the next, Walker was on the train and gone.
When Walker got to Atlanta, he did not call his friend’s family right away. Instead, he went to the first place he saw with food, which happened to be a small, rundown place that sold corndogs and coke for a dollar per item. Walker bought himself three corndogs and a coke, and strolled over to a nearby park, where, he sat down on a bench and ate. As Walker sat, dipping his corndogs into a paper plate covered in ketchup, an old woman took the seat directly next to him, and started writing in a paper notepad. He looked over at her, and tried to see what she was writing, but she covered up her pad and his efforts were wasted. Still, Walker kept trying, and eventually the woman got annoyed and mentioned it.
“Sir, I don’t mind if you are curious, but it is terribly, terribly rude to read over another person’s shoulder as they write.” The woman’s voice was rough and beautiful, changed by time, but bettered, like fine wine.
“I’m sorry ma’am, it’s just that I’ve been on the road for a while now, and I reckon I haven’t really read anything in, ****, probably longer than that. See I’m lookin’ to find my girlfriend up north, on account of she took my car and ran away from home and all.”
“Well that is certainly a shame, but I don’t see why that should rid you of your manners.” The woman scolded Walker.
“Yes ma’am, I’m sorry. What I meant to convey was that, I mean, I kind of just forgot I guess. I haven’t had too much time to exercise my manners and all, but I know my mother would have educated me better, so I apologize but I just wanted to read something, because I think that’s something important, you know? I’ll stop though, because I don’t want to annoy you, so sorry.”
The woman seemed amused by Walker, much as a parent finds amusement in the cuteness of another’s children. His childish, simple smile bore through her like a sword, and suddenly, her own smile softened, and she opened up to him.
“Oh, don’t be silly. All you had to do was ask, and not be so unnervingly discreet about it.” She replied, as she handed her pad over to Walker, so that he could read it. “I’m a poet, see, or rather, I like to write poetry, on my own time. It relaxes me, and makes me feel good about myself. Take a look.”
Walker took the pad from the woman’s hands. They were pale and wrinkly, but were held steady as a rock, almost as if the age displayed had not affected them at all. He opened the pad to a random page, and started reading one of the woman’s poems. I asked Walker to recite it for me, but he said he couldn’t remember it. He did, however, say that it was one of the most beautiful things he had ever read, a lyrical, flowing, ode to t
A Short Story 2008
Red Nov 2013
it just gets really hard
you know?

i'm a ***** college student
and a hopeless romantic

they tend to bob and weave too much

i want you to pull my hair
BUT i want you to kiss me softly
i want to drunkenly make out with you
text me back first though i'm too scared

it all doesn't help
when my intoxicated alter ego is a temptress
and i turn into bashful the dwarf in real life

it makes things really quite hard
Yenson Sep 2018
I last saw her in Santiago
******* drunkenly in a Sub urban taverna
parading conceited pride in a twisted union
with that *******  heinous maniacal harlequin
each in vainglorious throes of their imagined septic mindfuck
Debauch celebration of collaboration of succubus and incubus

Some days she is saying Haloa in Hawaii
adorned as Sainti Maria the ***** now as Madonna
spewing words like a dove acting like a Nun in a Convent
the fiendess with two faces hiding her ****** like the ace in lace
the malignant serpent crawling in the duality of her neurosis

I last saw her in Santiago
In a sanctity of the poisoned insecures with exiguous minds
consumed with flaming fears she begs acceptance for inclusion
******* for percieved reflected glory from her fathers' jailers
The subjugated souls of chai wallah lives on in grandchildren

So when Santi Maria flirts from honey to beehive
Ready to ***** and part thighs and brain for minor pointing gun
Feel sorry for a damaged child devoid of a prime core never made
only obeisance to past rulers whose discarded cast-offs she wears
Her poems  enchants but its virulent tools she takes in her body

I last saw her in Santiago
A slaved two-faced pretender who sings like a nightingale
In sub urban dives she postrates to friendly pats and gropes
Melting creeps and hot tigers begging subs for a heady drink
Brilliant yet blindsided to **** on knees as her children will too



Copyright@LaurenceA20thSept2018Allrightsreserved.
He belches verses of prayer
from the acidity of his gut,
staggering upright
on two toddler feet,
he trails drunkenly
to the fridge,
scarce with only a few dented beers,
a bucketful of ice to feed him,
till the next scroungers pay-check is due.

Cracking open a frozen one,
it hisses a warrior's cry,
loud in the stillness
then dies swiftly,
as he raises the carcass to his split lip
swilling alcoholic entrails
round him gums.

Wincing slightly,
the beer half-empty in his hand,
he twitches a pink eye
in pain
as something rolls
around his jaw,
the made-of-man pinball stage
has begun a game
without him.


Gathering his saliva
into a hard bullet,
he spits the foreign object
onto splintered floorboards,
where his last tooth lands,
a final casualty
of his handsome youth.
Jedd Ong Sep 2013
Out in the willow
a caged bird
sings

wound up slowly
by metallic
strings

drunkenly stumbling and
twirling about

hopping clumsily
on a branch.

Out in the willow
a caged bird
sings

chirping mechanically
about nonsensical things

drunkenly stumbling
and twirling about

perched precariously
on a lance.

Out in the willow
a caged bird
cries

spiraling towards
an untimely demise

drunkenly stumbling and
twirling about

groggily swelling, his breast
full of doubt

out in the willow
a caged bird
Falls.
When I first met you, I didn't think much.
We didn't talk much.
Just friends of friends.

Nothing special.

One year later, I met you again.
Just a simple hello.
A simple good bye.

Nothing special.

Another year goes by.
We meet for the third time.
This past summer was different however
Because we did not know what would transgress in the months to come.

Nothing special.

At the beginning of that summer, he had crushed me.
Broken up with me over the phone.
A year and a half of love. Gone.
My best friend. Gone. Forgotten.

Nothing special.

At the end of that summer, she crushed you.
Broken up with through a text.
Three years of love. Gone.
You went to her house in a rage.

Nothing special.

You begged her to take you back.
You cried.
Not that you told anyone else that.
You only told me.
And if I told anyone you would deny it.

Nothing special.

A month goes by,
You act like you don't care.
You hide behind your blind rage.
You told her to never talk to you again.
She didn't. You thought you had moved on.

Nothing special.

I thought I had moved on too.
But at a party, I drunkenly slapped your best friend.
He promised he would make me his,
But like the rest he let me go.
I wasn't worth the trouble.
The usual.

Nothing special.

But then you swooped in with your big arms and big heart.
You told me to forget about it to not stress.
Stress free livin'.
All good in the hood.
That's what we drunkenly told one another.

Nothing special.

Then we went up to your room.
Don’t think *****.
We talked until the sun rose in the sky.
About anything and everything.
Our first real talk and we couldn't shut up.
It was simple, easy.
Magical.

Something special.

As the hangover kicked in,
You kissed my forehead.
You called me beautiful.
Called me wonderful.

Something special.

As I drove away from you and back to reality,
I didn't want it to be over.
I texted you.
You replied.
We began our journey.

Something special.

Staying up until the sun came up.
Sometimes 3am. Sometimes 6.
We talked and texted about everything.
20 questions was our game.
But 20 turned into infinity.
And infinity was nice.

Something special.

You visited me.
I visited you.
An hour away was nothing.
It only made the time with you more special.
You told me kissing me felt like you were in another place.

Something special.

But infinity had to end eventually.
You saw her again.
One smile, one laugh, one I miss you.
Like a puppy you went running at her first call.
You broke up with me over the phone.

Nothing special.

You said you were sorry.
Called yourself an *******, a ****, every name in the book.
You said you liked me but you liked her more.
You were in love with her.
You said you did it wrong but it was the right thing to do.

Nothing special.

Now I sit back and think.
Did it mean anything?
The kisses, the cuddles, the talking 'til dawn.
Did you ever care in the first place?
Do you even think about it?

Nothing special.

Unlikely.
You have her.
She has you.
At least I assume.

Nothing special.

But I have me, myself, and I.
And unlike you I know what I want.
I want someone who wants me.
Who doesn't second guess his feelings for me.

Something special.
Waking up with sweat
stained sheets wrapped
around me and you are
nowhere to be seen as
you believe being mean
is keeping the lads keen.
Your leather jacket is
still here hanging on the
hook by the front door
and he wonders why
she didn’t want more.
He loved her laugh last
night as they drunkenly
tried to walk right home
after finishing a few gin
and tonics between them
that made his head spin
and her think that she
would forever win at sin.
Her long blonde hair
had flown out behind her
and it reminded him of
fresh sunflowers because
that was the colour of her
beauty and he prayed the
rest of the night would not
be another careless blur.
The radiance within her
shone so bright that he
didn’t even turn on the
kitchen light as he let
them both inside as the
liquor made their shyness
want to shrivel up and hide.
But in the next morning,
there was no hungover girl
mumbling sleepily and
yawning because instead
there was only her leather
jacket and the faint smell
of sweet perfume left on
his pillow as he tried to
visualize that beautifully
bright sunny yellow that
made his throat dry and
gave him a sickening urge
to cry because he didn’t
want this feeling to die.
He wondered if she would
call because it really hadn’t
taken him long to fall for her
long limbs and the way she
had dark humour that stung
him like a cheap rumour and
so he slept on the sofa that
day with the aching bones
of a man who lives alone
but with a leather jacket
wrapped around his arm
because he wanted to see
her again and see if she
maybe felt the same but
he knew deep down it
was a Friday night love
and the weekend would
soon fade away because
she was never destined to
stay yet he hung her jacket
in the closet for years to
come and tried again to
find the perfect one but
he’d let her slip between
his fingers yet the smell
of her sweet perfume still
lingered for Friday nights
to come and he missed the
colour of the sun that shone
in her hair and the bright
eyes that that craved fear.
She’d been his Friday night
coffee and cream that would
never return no matter how
much he stroked the seams
of her faded leather jacket.
Sunflower girl was now
gone with the wind and
soon he could no longer
recall her voice and the
paleness of her soft skin.
It was like she had never
met him in the first place
but oh god how he loved
her beautiful hair and knew
she had once been there in
his arms even if it had only
been for one Friday night.
eileen mcgreevy Dec 2009
Again the time has come for all to gather round the fire,
"That time again", we say, while we assess the money drained,
The looks of disappointment from the ***** with stupid attire,
And truth will leak from drink fuelled mouths, with need to be restrained.


Your mum is singing drunkenly, while flirting with the vicar,
And dad is out the back sneaking a joint with cousin victor,
The dog is ******* aunt Jemima's artificial leg,
And someone just had a turkey ****,the kind that makes you sicker.

The christmas lights have fused again, so grandad's on the roof,
Sheer will power keeps him up there,and of course, martini vermouth,
Grandma's lost her teeth,and someone screams near the eggnog,
They're sent flying across the room and land in the fire on a log,

You feel your patience slipping as the pandamoniem mounts,
With thankless moans of "Oh well, its the ****** thought that counts",
And not forgetting Glenn, invited by your mum, but why?
So you and he can marry, and honeymoon in Hawaii.

With no idea that Glenn is gay, i guess the joke's on her,
I mean, what straight guy wears his y fronts entirely made from fur??
The night draws to a close,as bitter, crying family leave,
And relief is all too short, as there's still new years eve!!!
Helen Feb 2012
Fall surrendered, snow fell, and Ruth’s mother bought a blanket for her daughter’s seventeenth Christmas. It wasn’t a very expensive or spectacular blanket; it was extraordinary only in the fact that it hadn’t been picked mindlessly from a Christmas list but had instead been chosen lovingly and thoughtfully. She knew her daughter was forever chilly and would love the blanket’s fleece side, and she laughed to see that it had snaps just like the blanket she herself had spent her evenings cocooned in when she was Ruth’s age. So she wrapped the blanket more beautifully than the other gifts and set it gently under the tree.

The sun stretched, adults yawned, and Ruth opened her mother’s gift on Christmas morning. At the sight of the blanket, her grandmother’s eyes welled with memories of Ruth’s mother, looking almost identical to how Ruth looked now, wrapped up in her own blanket with the snaps. Ruth admired the gentle color of the blanket’s slick side and stroked the fleece side against her check before setting it on top of the rest of her gifts. She thanked her mother enthusiastically (she’d always been acutely aware of her reaction to gifts in front of their givers) and laughed good-naturedly at her grandmother’s hovering tears before hugging them down her face.

Naked trees shivered, frost iced the landscape, and at her mother’s suggestion Ruth spent the winter with the blanket layered beneath her covers. She nestled beneath it every night, but felt guilty when she couldn’t love it any more than anything else she had in her room, and she never snapped it around herself as her mother had done. She’d tried to wear it like that the day she was given the blanket, but it had made her feel uncomfortable and constrained. So instead she slept with the blanket spread flat beneath her sheets through that winter and into the spring.

Spring sprung, flowers bloomed and Ruth bounced for a moment on her toes before diving headfirst into his eyes. The weeks passed for her not in hours and days but in giggles and kisses, and she was surprised when her usually analytical, suspicious mind released her heart and allowed it to love recklessly and entirely. Making her bed one giddy morning, Ruth stroked the soft, fleece side of her blanket and then the slick, smooth side, and she thought of sweet picnics and stargazing from quiet hilltops. She folded the blanket and kept it in her car in preparation for any such spontaneity.

The moon beamed loudly, prom streamers fluttered, and Ruth danced with him wildly. Her classmates all felt just as immortal, and everyone laughed and spun and anticipated together. When they finally left the dance, Ruth’s body was still coursing with the night’s excitement, intoxicated with young love and the bright eternity that stretched before her. He brought her to a small hilltop where she spread the slick side of the blanket against the grass, and the two lay trembling there beneath the stars. Finally, he wrapped his mouth and his heart and his body around hers, and her innocence leaked slowly onto the fleece.

The moon slid drunkenly behind the hills, birds began to wake, and Ruth flew home on her own audacity, leading the dawn behind her. In the dim light, she noticed the garbage can her father had brought to the curb the night before, and she decided to spare her mother the pain of discovering the once soft fleece now stained with rebellion. Quietly, she lifted the lid and dropped the blanket inside. Its snaps scraped loudly against the can for an instant, but then the morning quickly swallowed the noise. By the time the lid banged back down, Ruth was rushing back to the house, her blanket already forgotten.
A Cerulean precipice grows  
wrinkles. Blouses scatter into oblivion.
Rusty chain, in the room with no time.
Tea-kettles antagonize moonlit lovers.
Shotglasses chase, through ghastly cornstalks.
Cascading lights speak incantation.
Flash dance to late night serenades.
Phoenix plumes in Sunday hats.
Laying poolside, argyle splashes.
A magnetic lioness creeps.
Daring glances spread gossamer lies.
Alabaster halls consume infant minds, while
Dusty caps unlock elusive touches.
Black widows drink white wine.
Anise waters drown lycra mermaids.
I lost the final version of this poem so I know it ends abruptly and is disjointed.  I am trying to round it off but I figured I would post it anyway.
Bill Schaller Jul 2011
Birds chirp, the winds blow,
And as the sun sets, we give the day a bow.
Clean Colorado accommodates commoners from Lincoln's Land.
We've ditched the silt and the sand;
Stranded in a glimpse of a possible past, here I stand.

Elated by elevation, tranced by trepidation,
the group's gaze encounters a misty haze,
Followed by copious amounts of precipitation.
Pick up the pace; though we won't win the race
To the dry car and a full case.

Hell is the home of a heathen's heart;
Heaven holds promise a bright new start.
Existence on earth extends only for so long;
For now we're here, soon to be gone.

Early mornings shed light on a promising day;
Late nights cast spells we drunkenly obey
Perched in a chair by a growing fire,
the consuming flames ascend higher and higher.
Ignited embers blown astray,
Trails of smoke follow its prey.

Back on the highway.
Homeward bound, the only sounds
Are the stories and gestures that say
Not what we lost, but what we found.
On the cold solstice
the velvet magnet
of Luna's magic
pulls

quietly urges

whispering
gentle spells
into dreamy ears

compelling
her lover
to rise
quixotically
coaxing
him from
the warm sleep
of winters
first night slumber

she summons
a willing lover
inviting him
to follow
her stark
alluring light
illuminating
the lonely blackness
of a bleak universe

her
seductive powers
transcends distances of
a thousand solstices

her
resounding light
a sure mark
braces any weakness
emboldens desire
guiding the bidden
to unforeseen
destinations

standing
in your presence
my face is flush
reflected by your
resplendent light

my heart
broiled
by your
vexing
radiance

the roiling tide
of a midnight reverie
ebbs
as my
earthen shadow
begins to pass
over your
indelible
whiteness

I witness
my dark countenance
eclipse your light

defiling you
fearing
to forever
mark your
effervescent silver
with the baseness of me

without shame
your smile
allays my fear

you understand
you anticipated
the expression
of my
coy reticence

a sweet chant
sings
unencumbered
reveries
gently
reassures
you've danced
through many
moonlit nights
with eager lovers
only to return again
in virginal whiteness
across the
endless cycles
of time

released
relieved
abandoning
all restraint
now
I
summon you

my blackness
your whiteness
breeds a
sensuous
orange
sweeter
then an
open mango

she rules the sky
a celestial monarch
forcing Mars into
a sheepish retreat
commanding
mighty Orion
to sheave his sword
while
Venus
seethes
with envy

my form
begins to swallow
your lines
and
soft curves

my blackness
disappears
into
inviting cracks

falling into
dark creases
the soft billows
sweet mounds
voluptuous craters
gay playgrounds
for my mouth
mysterious hillocks
eagerly explored
with hands and
limbered fingers

a quixotic Eros
the scent of spice
swells in my head

everything
enveloped
like a
holy ghost
playfully gaming
hide and seek
radiantly moving
through
darkened canopies
of a lush forest

nostrils fill
with
tang of spice
a scent
of Caribe

face buried
in thick tresses
of maddening blackness

becoming unhinged
by eyes speaking
a thousand languages
as lips whisper
joyous whimpers

a silent kiss
of an orange lit night
writhing bodies
splayed together

ravenous tendrils
shape sloping
cloud pillows

quivering lips
unveil smiles of
alabaster pearls

mocha darkness
sambas through
the night

she exhales
her lovers name

Luna bathes
her cinnamon curves
in delicious
mango light
offers generous
dollops
of ******

peeking
baying
drifting
I cast off
onto a sea
of lucid dreams

drinking from
a dark aureole
as the tresses
of her
sweetened nest
moistened my member
in a sacred communion
to a hungry lovers mouth

her dancers legs
slim, supple
unbounded
and open
sweet to taste
smooth
so soft
to touch

the fullness
of our rumba
se los tango
con cha cha cha

light steps
close caress
kinetic commotion
wild laughter
fills the sails
of bold schooners

Luna's smile
commands
the seas
to heave

un poco loco
ola de feliz
los hablamos
un contrara
la estas
la esta

the lavender sky
of the mornings
twilight
inspire
Meadowlarks
to herald
the emerging day

still
drunkenly swigging
loves nectar
sleep creeps closer

confessing
small regrets
she fell
victim
to passion again

Luna
comes back
to her lover
pets his chest
with delicate fingers

in a voice
as light as air
she sings
a poem
into his ear
of passionate nights
beauteous art
longing to express
heartfelt truths

The mango consumed
Luna's whiteness returns

my shadow recedes
into inconsequential
nothingness

naked
I stood
sadly witnessing
the dark horizon
overtaking
my fleeing lover
swallowing her
in tiny bits
as morning drops
a final veil
over the face
of a now
vanished love

Music Selection
Grant Green, Moon River

jbm
Oakland
1/19/11
Ben Brinkburn Jan 2013
‘They’re my babies
everyone of ‘em’ she grins
Barb is happy she’s released another character
into the world
Tommy Tickeroo the Angry Alarm Clock
and a publisher is interested
and I’m happy for her and
a bit drunk
more than a bit actually been in the Beehive
since it opened at 11 in the morning
and I’m flicking through the artwork
and Barb is drunk too and trying not to flick
*** ash on her brother’s sketches
of a red ******* alarm clock with googly eyes
and a little moustache
and I wonder about myself
and the book that’s proving a ****** to write
and the cliché of putting those authorly trials
into a poem
I am going to stumble home and write
a poem about a dragonfly instead
darting around on gossamer wings
or a pome as Barb calls it
let’s all write pomes together then have a sing and a dance
‘I’m genuinely pleased for you’ l lie and she grins
and puts her head on my shoulder
and I drunkenly go for the *****
down and out and ****** like a **** for The Art
in the middle of the afternoon
in Nowhere Town.
For all those who have sat around in the pub  thinking about writing but finding something else to do, namely drinking.  What a happy club we are :)
blankpoems Oct 2014
fast forward three years
you're living on the coast binding books and your hips together
and i'm still in the small town that turned me into a sinkhole
you got out though, huh? you got out just fine, you have always been stronger than me
you have always been able to get well and get up without anyone bringing you bouquets of hands

you sit down to explain to her that love has made you reckless, that too many people
have been easygoing with your heart; let it cross the streets alone.
drunkenly leaving it in cabs in other countries
so for a while there you weren't sure who to give it to

my dear, I know now that you were never a hotel I could check in and check out of
you were in the best way possible, the mental hospital,
the time I woke up with nobody but the voices in my head (they were all yours)
(I couldn't leave until I got better)

you tell her you fell in love with a girl who never burned your letters,
who showed love in all the wrong ways, never picked up the phone, "honey", you'd say,
"she was nothing like you" ... "kept her hair light to contradict the dark inside of her,
didn't trust anyone to blindfold her and walk her down the street"
you try to tell her my name, but you can't
you can't remember what they call me, call me, call me,
I never picked up the phone

fast forward three years
you're living on the coast making love and mixed drinks a little too strong
and i'm buried near the sinkhole in town, next to the dog my dad kicked a little too hard
out the door of the house he lived in with my mother
i've got your name tattooed on my neck
Michael W Noland Sep 2012
Strumming the untuned strings, he stares drunkenly into the setting sun of yesteryears songs, sung of lost dreams and the birthed ambitions of the dark, dark days to be.

Happily,  he tears up in the fortunate tragedies, of the reclamation in his dreams, as he seethes out the damnation of his steeds, galloping gallantly through his being.

All seeing, in the finite fleeting when he sings, of strummed dreams to the rhythms of heart beats lost, embossed on the epitaphs of kings.

Sad songs of dreams once had.
Be glad for that, which does not **** you, only to bestow upon you, the gratitude of the weirding ways, in passionate display for us all to play nice.

Shake these dice and jump aboard this bus of wandering poetry, from the porches of poets singing to the sun.

From the morning Moet, to the afternoon beer run.

we sing of dreams

of better things

we blaspheme

and spin the scenes

of our murdered dreams

and just clean the guilt away

I am so awesome as to be devoid of fault.

I am a god that cracks the asphalt.

I am the angel signing the clause, of deserved harm.

I am the indentured servant sounding the alarm, with the charm of a Trojan horse, forced to adhere to the most righteous path.

The first

The last

Laugh of inevitability

Honing in on the ability to capture the longevity of dream warriors, in the lock of predators, in the employ of a senator, from the center of the heart, to impart on you the fear from thieves caught in the plight of those fraught with the graces of an exterminator, exterminating the pro-creators of your world. Soldiers unraveled in the lavished gavels of real criminals drowning in their own subliminal theories of the self imposed heresies of intention.

Free will

A fragile blessing

I cracked, all so long ago, as i gently bestow my  belligerence upon your innocence and **** it all away.

I'm the ******* son

Strumming for the only one.

Once.

Before the lore of the storm.

Born of the swoon of a gun.

More than one.

Once.

As the day faded into night, his strumming turned plucking, as he slightly eased from reprise to silence, in the whisper of nights words, easing him into the blur, of sleep.
Light drunkenly reels into shadow;
Blurs, slurs uneasily;
Slides off the eyeballs:
The segments shatter.

Tree-branches cut arc-light in ragged
Fluttering wet strips.
The cup of the sky-sign is filled too full;
It slushes wine over.

The street-lamps dance a tarentella
And zigzag down the street:
They lift and fly away
In a wind of lights.
A L Davies Nov 2012
(in the dream it is late March)
there's a light rain in Montréal & the sky
is a gorgeous, early-morning variety of slate grey. imagine the lid
of an old metal garbage-can.
everything is dismal, perfect. and quiet; even the people leaving the bars are silent.
dismally, perfectly, silent.

ghosts of old cats—belonging maybe to ghosts of old ladies who lived, say, just off St. Lau, back
in the eighties—ramble downhill, in the direction of rue St. Catherine (Saint Cat! O patron of felinity!) ,
between the legs of those spilling out from the trendy & ****** clubs.
some of the ghosts wander out into the street, flash thru car tires that would've (& have) (at one time)
smashed them to pulpy carpet on the asphalt.
(who goes to pick them up then? when the tires have had their way with them over & over?
when they are just hair & porridge by a sewage grate?)

after a greasy smoked-meat-on-rye or a nightcap at somebody's place, just off the drag,
i'm in a sodden, but warm overcoat, hands curled in the bottoms of it's pockets; mis-shapen mass
of hair plastered to my scalp; walking en bas de la montagne just past the McGill Medical Centre.
—this late, the busses back downtown are never on time.
(driver's probably having a few smokes before he starts that long tour down. full up of drunk kids,
taking one another back to their dorms, etc.)
(and what does he have, to look forward to at shift's end?
        i. a cranky wife—past her prime?
        ii. a buncha dogs—yapping for attention?
        iii. some ******* kid—who's disrespectful & won't shut up or turn his stupid ******* punk-rock down?

—it's enough to make me patiently wait.  i'll wait forever, as long as that isn't me.)

...'spose I'LL have a cigarette too. waiting
in the bus shelter on Ave. Des Pins looking down over the
football fields of the McGill Athletics Dept.
still lit up. no sun yet but
now at 4 AM a dull inch or two of lightened grey out there on the horizon.. dawn will come,

though i'd rather not face the day. all the mornings are so hard after nights like this.
bound to be hungover &
spend the day hiccuping in bed texting some girl; maybe get up
in the late afternoon t'fix coffee, toast & eggs.
sit on the balcony,
make my little guitar sigh,
and try to feel normal until i [have to] puke.

"—and who was that girl i spoke to for so long at St. Sulpice last night? how many gin-tonics did she let me buy myself, nattering on?.. probably too drunk to even get her number."
"—maybe Sean or Dylan will know if she came thru with anyone we knew.."

the bus is finally here. twenty-and-three minutes late. the back of it probably smells of
stale smoke, dim sun, and sweaty, rain-soaked cloth, absorbed from jackets into the seats—the eau du jour.
it's always a bump 'n **** ride down the hill; bound to,
with the other handful of dumb & silent riders, drunkenly sway,
(or is it a natural compensation of the body, to groove along with the curves and stops?)
back & forth like carcasses of half-dozen slaughtered pigs
swinging on their hooks in back of a meat wagon..
(i'll end up getting on, but only for three blocks. i'll ******* walk the rest of the way home,
after that comparison. to hell with the rain.)

SIX MINUTES LATER:
(Avenue Des Pins still—4 blocks closer to downtown)

directly in line now with McGill campus via McTavish; this way i can
cruise down thru the silence of the main drag having a couple smokes drinking beer
(copped a 40 at a Dep before i left St. Lau—frosty under my arm enshrouded by brown paper.)
& be left to my own thoughts for fifteen minutes 'til i get to Sherbrooke
—i adore that fifteen-minute stretch down thru the jumble of
student associations, clubs, faculty offices, administration buildings, resources centres & the like;
all contained in the same red bricked, white trimmed victorian monster, multiplied threescore
on either side of the lane; all built in the early nineteen-hundreds, all acquired by the university in one of several expansion initiatives in a decade i won't bother to guess at, it doesn't matter. you don't care..

midway down the hill i stop and go sit on the verandah of one of the buildings,
the graduate studies in math offices —
cccrack that forty.
sit there with the sun JUST barely splitting the seam of the horizon feelin'
like the lyrics from a Sun Kil Moon song. nothing more or less.  
"off to a good start," says i.
MORE TO COME.. tired as **** right now but wanted to get this up here. get off my back. love A L .
Ellyn k Thaiden Jul 2014
I've never known how to properly end a conversation with you, whether it be a phone call or a kiss good bye. Fingers fumble and awkward "I love you"'s and "good bye"'s drunkenly find their way out of my sober mouth. I never know how to say "fare well".

My theory is that I never want to say good bye in the first place. I'd rather be with you. Though you might be busy talking to someone else or in another room, I want to always be close to you. Saying "good bye" doesn't feel good at all. It feels like I'm going far away and I'm leaving a piece of me behind. I know I might sound clingy and suffocating, but I have adapted a terrible habit of needing someone around to keep me sane. I use to love to be alone, but now I go crazy with thoughts stampeding through my head. I hate to say good bye.

But I love to say "hello". Our "hello"'s are the best. We meet with kisses and hugs and sometimes chocolates. We meet with wide grins and bright eyes that catch the light just right at six in the evening. Our "hello"'s are heart warming and relieving.

The "hello"'s almost make the "good bye"'s worth it.

Almost.
Aaron LaLux Jul 2016
America’s Son


Dear America,
what have you become,
so busy worried about where you’re going,
that you’ve forgotten where you’re from,

I am your begotten son,

and I love you,

I love you,
more than these wonderful words can say,
I love you but I don’t know what to do,
because I fear that you’ve gone astray,

like an abusive drunken Trump father,
or a used up distracted Hilary mother,

you seem so drunkenly enraged by greed,
engaged in a lustful want that you falsely believe is a need,

Oh say can you see,
by the dawn’s early light,
we bomb people we’ve never even seen before,
something must be wrong because nothing feels right,

why,
why am I scared of you,

maybe it’s your violent tendencies,
maybe it’s your egotistical ways,
maybe it’s how you’ve created all these enemies,
and now these enemies won’t just leave us alone and go away,

Oh say,
can you see,
by the dawn’s early light,
you are my parents and I look up to you,
I love to see the Statue of Liberty’s guiding light,

but honestly,
at this point I don’t know what to do,
I am your son,
and even after all you’ve put me through I still love you,

but I am absolutely terrified at what you’ve become,
what we’ve all become,
and even when I run far away to try and escape,
I realize we are family so no matter how far I run,

I am still an American,
because I am America’s Son,

come,
back home,
back to the times of apple pies peace and butterflies,
before,
the drones,
and satellites appeared ominously like shooting stars in the summer skies,

come,
inside,
let’s talk about life over home cooked pie,

like why have we had to capitalize off destruction,
why do we still have war what is it’s real function,
why destroy when we can construct a constant connection,
a solid foundation with good intentions and clear instructions,

so we can finally heal and move forward as a family that properly functions,

be a good husband,
be a good wife,
be a good person,
have a good life,

look,
it’s not that complicated,
see all us children would forgive all your mistakes,
if only you’d just admit that you made them,

he served two tours in Iraq gave his all and lost his life,
and all he got in return is the grave you gave him,

God please save him,

he was a good kid,
even though he killed,
he did it because his Uncle Sam told him to,
please don’t place him beneath us in Hell,

Uncle Sam didn’t know any better either,
and it seems his parents had raised him quite well,
but Uncle Sam’s not his brother’s keeper,
I am and I know my brothers well,
and when any of us lose any of our lives,
we only pray we leave with a story to tell,

because maybe we believe,
that when we leave this life we lead,
at least we leave the world a little bit better,
from sea to shining sea,

at least,
a little bit,
better…

Whatever,
what more do you want me to say,
I love you I am your son,
but I’m scared and that feeling won’t go away,

Oh say,
can you see,
by the dawn’s early light,
I write by the light of the bright stars,
and through these words I’ve earned my stripes,

and honestly America,
as much as I distrust and despise you I still put no one above you,
even though I’m ashamed of you for invading our privacy like an enema,
I don’t even trust you anymore and I used to only trust you,
you’re like a blemish on otherwise perfect skin like eczema,
I’m embarrassed of the ways in which you’ve behaved and all you’ve put us through,

but I am still your begotten son,

and I still love you…

Oh say can you see,
by the dawn’s early light…

∆ Aaron La Lux ∆

Volume 1 of my new trilogy about Hollywood is now available worldwide.
I’ve decided to donate ALL of the profits of this new trilogy to three charities.
Volume 1 profits will go to a charity that prevents ****** abuse and assault on children.
Please support my new book and by doing so you’ll not only be helping prevent ****** assault, but you’ll also be helping set an important precedent in making a statement to other artist,
saying that we all need to start giving back and helping each other more than we have.
PLUS you’ll also be getting an epic book of poetry from an epic best selling poet.
Let’s make charity cool and change the perception of coolness for the better.
Who cares what car you drive or what clothes you wear anymore?
What now matters is what you’re doing to help those with less.
We all live in this world we together and we can all give more.

It took me six months and thousands of dollars to create this trilogy in it’s entirety,
and all I am asking is for is a few dollars and a few minutes of your time.
We made the last book I published #1 and we can do it again.
Purchase a copy for less than it cost for a cup of coffee,
and WRITE AN HONEST REVIEW about the book.
If you really don’t have 3 dollars to spend,
at least repost this message,
or respond to this message,
or something,
anything.


Here is the link for purchasing/reviewing the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01I4621OE
God Bless America
Sad Girl Sep 2013
I can’t wait until you realize
that nobody is ever going to love you
like I did and you have to cry over me
like I have over you for the past 8 years of my life.
I can’t wait to bring my significant other around you
while you pretend to ignore us as we kiss
and fool around under blankets.
I can’t wait to bring them to your house
and **** while you’re in the same room trying to sleep,
pretending to sleep, wishing you were dead.
I can’t wait until you lose your mind
and everyone looks at you like you’re crazy
as you explain how you love me and
you can’t do anything about it
even though I've told you that it’s never going to happen
because you aren't good enough.
I can’t wait to always look past you
as you do everything in your power to try and make me happy,
hook me up with your friends
and give me everything, but receive nothing.
I can’t wait until you beg me and I can be selfish
and make sure you’re giving me what I want,
neglecting your own needs, before I push you away
using “I’m tired” as an excuse.
I can’t wait until you are hurting yourself over me
and I have to tell you to stop, as if I give a ****,
while I continuously put you through pain.
I can’t wait until you drunkenly admit all of your feelings
and apologize for the mistakes of the past.
Even then, I’ll probably still love you, but I won’t give in.
You will never have me;
because the last time I lent you my heart, you ran with it.
I don’t think I’ll ever get it back.
And with no heart, I cannot forgive,
I can never be whole again.
I can’t wait for another chance in another life to break you, like you've broken me.

*k.d.
she jumped off a cliff at night and fell into some insight
longing for the wind to carry her towards her inner vision
her darkest demons came to display their fearsome faces
yet despite their frightening efforts they could not dissuade her
she approached her sparkling soul with many expectations
her hopes, desires and dreams she swore she would not forsake them
many tired eyes and hands reached out in vain persuasion
trying to break through the light she had rightfully cultivated
words and forms took on different bodies and danced before her
with her diamond sword she cut off their heads and tore their bodies into pieces
no more could they taunt her with their mellifluous and insidious voices
her mission was to resurrect eden from within this grave of poison
her body's wisdom told her that she was ready
to give birth to a sacred garden
that would become a sanctuary and place of peace for all of Maya’s children


never underestimate the power of the dragon’s tear
it holds the key to harnessing your fear
breathe in this fire and release the siren’s laughter
her necklace is dark and covered with the blackest diamonds
as cumbersome and wicked as her cunning daughters
drunkenly they stumble through the streets of cobblestone
only stopping to spit upon or kick the remains of fallen bones 
how does evil find its way in this world of light and shadow
how does any soul conquer thirst, hunger and desire
first they fight and then they die until all are left asunder
villages are burned and pillaged and all the treasures plundered
are you ever really who or what you think you are
for when all is said and done what is left to be discovered


looking inside I see the light that causes blindness 
in the eyes of old men and women
like fiery emeralds they flash and shine 
but can only reflect back the mind’s madness
dreaming perpetuates the illusion of permanence 
causing them to deny their decline into violence 
walk steadily with rhythmic and righteous cadence 


dance fearlessly upon the spines of enemies 
laugh for they know they cannot evade this
if you learn to jump from cliff to cliff with strength and grace
you shall escape this miserable fate and relate only to your destiny
to be captivated by the sight of the mind’s trickery 
is to sleep restlessly in an eternity of longing
but to recognize your soul and merge with it beyond control
is to paddle your ship upon the surging waves of wonder
until you eventually discover you have again crossed the whole ocean
B E Ragland Feb 2019
We, the invisible reasons for your problems, blind ourselves to the
dismal inevitability that we will
suffocate because you refuse to stop
the pillaging of the future for the sake of your own ******* lineage being able to further itself and potentially give you a chance to again close your mind and scream as loud as you can when confronted with your own toxicity

We, the ones who humbly take the bludgeoning from your self-proclaimed pious hand, know these chains are only on your bleeding wrists and ankles.

We, the silent and the broken, know Santa Muerta by the nicknames she had in college and all accompanying wildness she brought in her wake.
We still will stroke your hair while you
throw your tantrums and wail about what is and isn't fair on your deathbeds.

We will burn the mattress and all while cheering you on on your flight into the night sky you ignored for a lifetime.

We, the servants of streaming digits and stewards of bottled stardust, will create stories about how it wasn't your fault and how you shouldn't be hated for bringing the world crashing into the excrement of wasted potential so our children know there was a choice to be made.

We, the overly polite pariahs pry laughs and love and lust and learning from looming catastrophe like Burroughs writing Naked Lunch with a glassy eyed stare that burned holes in the veil hiding the tide of partially coagulated blood and ******* that YOUR world preached as milk and honey.

We, the proof in the moldy pudding still finding time to rot, will burn tobacco fields in your honor just to dance while getting drunk on the breaths you'll never waste.

We, the lovers of questions and haters of creeds, let tears stream in the hope that they are not considered part of our body's 75 percent while fantasizing about your ghosts seeing them and the dehydration they may be in spite of and quiet your tired old yelling and shaking of fists at the clouds when overcome by the slight sadness that whispers "its too late" lovingly into your ear.

We, the lovers, the thieves, the reviled, the *******, the witches, the junkies, the ******, the reptiles and worms under the rocks society deems unusable and misshapen, will be the ones lifting the crowns off your corpses and throwing them high as graduates do when full of a hope only ever dashed by themselves.

We, the drooling monsters you vehemently deny anything besides the cramped closets or the space between bed and floor in childhood bedrooms, will be the Valkyries to descend onto the blood-choked battlefield you set aside for your souls to suffer on and offer you respite in the form of soggy bread and wildflower honey while  ravens and jackdaws bicker over the eyes and fingers of those that once showed us how to ride a bike or drunkenly beat us beneath our favorite trees or touched us in dark rooms in ways that would chase Love away from the shadow of our hearts until we finally climbed high enough to see it all as someone screaming of war and bravery while running from the sound of steel biting steal because their protectors talked so highly of honor and duty that it seemed as if it were God and Adam touching fingertips on the arched ceilings of youth. that, then was painted on the crumbling walls of abandoned houses they would secretly indulge on the forbidden fruit soaking pages of a faded **** magazines or up skirts of blushing  girls who put on their mother's prudishness until fingers pushed past
cotton and virtue alike to the warm center they both melted in.

We, the unsung and numb, walk in spirals while the complexity you rebuked as devil-born becomes the sigils of yet-to-be kingdoms bringing about golden age after golden age in the distant mists rolling over hills and valleys of memories of moments yet to coalesce into rigid experience.

We, the eyes weeping blood atop crumbling pyramids, have seen the walls you want to build in futures dissolved in the winds blowing dust over the dream-roads we skip down and how it resembles the one you built to keep your heart from breaking from the pressing mass of what you can't file away as noise or heresy or communist propaganda;
We drew throbbing ***** and dripping ***** on all the blueprints we came across and tucked them back into the secret compartments of wardrobes and roll-tops passed down through generations.

We, the keepers of the singing stones you traded for cheap concrete, will embrace the tiny souls you neglected out of ignorance to the existential snake oil pitch you broke every tooth biting down on all because the salesman reminded you of your drunk father or mother imposing their wills like you make shadow puppets dance on peeling wallpaper in the silence that ensued after they had passed out on creaky couches reeking of Lucky Strikes and spilled ***** while the shine of the staticky T.V. set covered them like the blanket no one ever put over their slumbering forms because of those infinite lists of excuses used to skirt the skirmishes of showing any kind compassion even if they alone were sole witness to it.

We, the pieces of self the deathbed "you" sent hurtling backwards through time to shine lights on the siege seething at the gates of what you stand for, are only holding those lanterns to show you that fleeing is futile and your death is just a hallway with a door that leads to the knowledge that life is not a cell to watch time morph into tally lines scratched into cold stone as if they were epitaphs for the seconds bet and lost at the roulette table crafted from any slave ship the ocean never swallowed.

We, the flames mimicking those dancing girls you longed to have squeal under the idea of your thrusting masculinity amidst the graffiti on the bathroom stalls in seedy dive-bars or the paupers playing prince you follow giggling with hope in hand like a bouquet of baby's breath and daisies for that one day they would stop and turn and smile so handsomely that your knees would shatter against one another and wedding chapels would bend down to tie tin cans to bumpers of beat up Buicks and Oldsmobiles your fathers give dowry and the crowd could watch "just married" poorly written in shaving cream on the back window grow small until it disappeared over the horizon.

We, the dreamers, are tired of sleeping and are in need of a old tree to swing from, to bury our dreams like beloved pets under, and watch as it lets its leaves fall to the hungry earth that is more patient then anyone closed eyed and humming ancient syllables beneath crooked branches could ever be.

All the trees you climbed and kicked and fell in love under have died from too many hearts around intials being carved into them or were used to make fascist pamphlets you yourself passed out at churchs mistaking the mask with bone structure or the river for the people it swept to sea.

We are laughing;
like a loving mother at her clumsiness on display in her cackling child and not like the crowds gazing at the sideshow stage as the curtains pull back and stage lights illuminating John Merrick's flesh and the intricate dissonance it lent to minds.
Minds that afforded only sips of bliss as monotonous stints on factory floors but were preached about like they were some heaven-sent golden cobblestones laid lovingly all the way
to the beach where Heimdall will one day sound his horn, one foot feeling the grit of the edge of the world and the other washed clean for the grave we will all step in.

So, all these words, all these images, all of it is intended to be a moon so all the stagnate tide pools that have forgotten their origin and the freedom they used to give form to lesser forms they forage forgetfulness from.

We, the ones beneath you on the climb to the summit of our collective potential, beg you to think of something beside yourself when taking a ****.

It is not just ******* in the wind if there isnt wind and we are right below you and dying of thirst.

It is not an inalienable right if someone else is deprived of the same.

It is not Heaven's gate if the brilliant gild has a melting point or if it remains latched to any soul's approach.

It is not "liberal *******" or a myth if whole flocks of birds fall from the sky or schools of fish wash up on beaches while people snap photographs for their feed.

It is not "god" if love dispels it like smoke hanging in the kitchens your great grandmother sat in and told you about a witch shapeshifting into dogs without heads to scare drunks stumbling home because she was a ******* racist.

It is not just food if someone's organs fail from starvation that even the worms and flies are free from.

You wave your banners and let your war-horns echo and you wear your ignorance as armor.

We, the eaters of life and death, will chisel a name into stone and pick your bones clean if you think we should march to the sounds of drums and trumpets just because you were stupid enough to think it was anything other than your masters convincing you to whip yourselves ****** because "at least God hath been kind enough to give you a purpose" or "he works in mysterious ways".

**** that.

Look at what it has brought out of the swirling sea of " all that could be" while you write the same song about how shiny and numerous the scales of the prize are.

We are not responsible for pillaging God's bounty.

We are the bounty and our emptiness and lack of foresight are in jeweled bowls at your feet, but in your hubris you believe it to be the slaves that come to wash the dirt from between your toes.

We are Death and She is the wet-nurse that will give us intimacy to fertilize our hearts by refusing us her breast but turning our heads to your silhouettes shambling off the edge of existence far off in the distance only a decade or less could be confused for.

[AS ONE VOICE WE SING/SANG/HOWL:
Lux amor potentia restituant propositum dei in terris.]

As if it were as easy as holding the hand of a dying tyrant afraid they cannot the luminous terminus while wearing your father's face as a mask to trick radiant angels or the contortions of gods reeking of struck matches by those trembling and their swirling black hearts closed to the breeze carrying leaves celebrating their liberation and caressing a cheek they were too ashamed to kiss when opportunity was their ally.

We shouldn't hate these piles of skulls all parroting the same axioms to those who only show up to add another or leave an empty bottle turned into a candle holder, wax dripped down the neck and froze before any trace of tallow could finally unite with the dirt it longs to become one with;
icicles hanging from the eaves of abandoned asylums.

This place was supposed to be alot of things but that is what lead THEM to drown in the sound of buzzing bees, birdsong, and abundance in all directions.

I suggest we stop trying to squeeze it into a shoebox we scribbled Promised Land on and just let it be the open armed paradise it inherently is.
Let it be the heart and home as well as the hostile territory because it is only ever that and what we wont find in any Oracle's Prophecy.

I'll end my rambling with a question and it's answer.

How do you turn a police station into a hospital and a schoolhouse?

Burn it to the ******* ground.
Michael DeVoe Dec 2012
In every moon there is a man
And in every man there is a heart inside of which lives a woman
Who doesn't clean
Who doesn't cook
Who doesn't serve him
Only lives within the walls of his heart
And within every woman living in a man's heart
There is a desire to be free
It is not odd to imagine her leaving
Merely odd to see her go
Riding on the back of an elephant
In high heels
With a bottle of Chateau de Michelle
And weilding the sword of a swallowing minstrel
Drunkenly yelling songs of a time in which she never lived
And that will never leave a man
Whether the next woman comes in riding a golden chariot pulled by blazing reindeer
Or mounted on a shark wearing a cocktail dress
And while he laments her going
She regrets her ever having left
So she turns around
Looks into the vast nothing behind her
Trampled under the weight of the elephant
Cut down by her drunken fit of rage
Burned and eaten by the coming and going of others
And she sees
That beyond the husk of the home she once knew
Lay merely arteries and valves
And no soft place to lay her head
So she dismounts her companion
Lays down her sword
Crashes the bottle upon the rocks
Tears the heels from her shoes
And limps into the desert
Looking for that which she had already found
While he lie
Filling the emptiness of his ravaged heart
With the tender touch of fleeting acrobats
This and other poems by me are available on Amazon
Where She Left Me - Michael DeVoe
http://goo.gl/5x3Tae
Emma Henderson Oct 2014
We
We came,
like young infants
stumbling head-long into hedonistic existence
Feeling air beneath our feet in the ****-smelling rooms,
hiding behind cushions and blankets and exchanging knowing looks
on starry nights.

We ran,
down green hills on hot, sunny days
and burned our hands on shed roofs
and the ends of rolled cigarettes.

We drank,
berry cider in the dark,
dancing drunkenly outside bars,
sharing secrets behind closed doors
and open whiskey bottles.

We needed,
no one but each other
and each other's mothers -
Some opening their arms to us
to swaddle us like newborns,
Others dismissing us with a wave of a hand

We spent,
the last year of our school lives
immersed in each other,
some more than others.

We cried,
like shell-shocked soldiers
behind locked bedroom doors
and into smashed-up mobile phones.

We returned,
to those dark evenings,
to drink ***** on hilltops and smoke endlessly,
laughing at everything ******.

We were glowing stars.

We loved,
and those immature jokes hit our shields
and not our bones.

And now our lives have changed
and all those heady evenings spent
hiding beer from Bulgarians
are behind us all.

We are alone,
in this world.
Some moreso than others,
But we are alive.

We are still us.
Keith Frantz Apr 2019
The big, lonely bed, stationary in all its essence, longed for her return. It resented the man now, biting and clawing at his skin. Although he had done nothing intentional or malicious to the bed, the bed held the man accountable and punished him for it.

The bed was nothing without the man's mistress. She had lain on the bed, dressed it with color and sweetness and light. She adorned the bed with her body, her being.
At times, the mistress and the big, lonely bed seemed to meld, to become one. And this had filled the bed with life. The big, lonely bed was not lonely yet.

The man never offered any of this to the big, lonely bed. He would come home late and drunkenly pass out on the bed. He would eat his meals on the bed and pay all his attention to the TV. His crumbs would find the recesses of the bed's matting and he rarely changed the bedding. Sometimes, he would ******* on the bed without a care.

It wasn't clear if the mistress missed the bed as much as the bed missed her. Or if the mistress even missed the bed at all. The bed never spoke of it, as inanimate objects are forbidden from such things. The big, lonely bed considered greatly her long absence now but couldn't quite fittingly express its pain.

The man began enduring several sleepless nights on the bed. He was too determined to admit why. Denial was his restful tool. But the bed did wake him. The big, lonely bed scratched at his comfort. Scratched at the man's contentment and resolve. The bed kept the man awake with pain and desire and awareness. The bed was not going to let the man just “use” it. There is a price to pay for sleep and the big, lonely bed was determined to extact it.

The man tossed and turned these early, restless nights. Embattled by the bed's desperate curse, the man continues to lose precious, precious sleep. He was too self-absorbed to know he was under siege by the big, lonely bed. He tried applying pharmaceutical methods and concocted psychosomatic cures for his lack of sleep. The man began to consider himself an insomniac and openly complained to his friends about it.

The big, lonely bed's desire for the return of the man's mistress reached new levels of retribution as the bed started to manipulate its springs and padding to muddle its very own comfort and purpose. Now the man could only list one way or the other on the bed. He thought about his lost love. And his lost sleep…

The man was also losing to the big, lonely bed. He longed for the slumber he so desperately needed. Without restful peace, he began to teeter near ledges, dangerous and desolate ledges. There he quietly mumbled her name. The man sobbed as he whispered the horrors he had played victim to by the very mistress the bed adored.

The big, lonely bed listened as the man cried his tears of missed opportunities and sincere attempts with the mistress. She had treated him badly. The man's tears fell upon the bed. And the bed absorbed the man’s agony. The bed had been blinded by its own desire for her, never considering the man's love for her and his subsequent loss.

The man was broken now. Broken in his reckless actions and his desperate thoughts to relive and repair the relationship, to fix it. To fix everything, to fix himself. He was broken without sleep.

The big, lonely bed began to sympathize as the man counted the periodic struggles he weathered when confronted by his mistress's manic episodes. The man had indeed survived her bipolar tirades when she encouraged her fueled rage with doses of antidepressants mixed with long-poured ***** and tall glasses of Pinot Gris. The bed remembered these exhausting nights and recalled the punishment the man endured for simply loving her.

The bed did witness the man's suicidal flirtations and pathetic attempts to blame himself. To blame himself for all of it. If he could only share just one more night with her. One more night on his bed with her… in his bed. Talking and laughing. Loving and planning. He could fix this. With the help of his big, lonely bed, the man could fix it all.

The bed did take pity on him.
The big, lonely bed understood now. And welcomed the man that night, lonely no more.
April 18, 2019
Catrina Sparrow Mar 2013
i miss your lips
the way they'd smoothly dance
like a genie in a lamp
as you'd sing
and speak

how sweet your memory tastes
though the reality has long since faded

i cling to my effervescent exaggerations of our tangled past
replaying time to time
on the dream-screen of my mind
as i snack lightly on the salty remarks of my youth
and i laugh

it hurts
but it feels so healthy

you fade through the moon-mist
and dismiss your own existence
once again proclaiming that you are nothing
but an extension of it all
a fingerprint of the wilky-way
just a strand of DNA
swimming through the wake of infinite expansion

i miss it

the beer-breath incantions you'd softly slur after dark
the kisses you'd plant along my edges
like the vines that trace the hedges
in the front lawn of that dusty place we'd fake our love

nostalgia always begins so inviting
untill you're finally feeling sea-sick
from the over-ingestion of false sweets
and pure imagination

now we're so far gone
living in a different reality entirely
i don't think i'd even know your face if i saw it
i know you only by the way your shape fits in the frame
another handsome man
trapped forever in the reels of film of my mind

but i'll remember you
you're woven into the wood works
    
     drunkenly dancing through a serendipitous sea of names
     stands the lamen's term for your current shape
your birth-given name
credited with a handfull of scars
left behind by a man who forced me to grow
NeroameeAlucard Nov 2014
I Can barely put up with this ****** frustration
that can't be cured any longer, with furious *******
it's like every one but me across this great nation
has known the flesh of another, it's like mental castration
to not know the taste of a woman's flesh
To caress her body while fondling her ample *******
To drunkenly sup from her womanly cup
Am I going to die alone? is that my plan from above?

Now I know that my body is supposed to be sacred
But I can just barely, just barely take it
That primal instinct, that feeling deep in my bones
to finally live out the ****** desires of my own
The stigma that's with a guy who's the age of 18
"Ohh you're still a ******? get out there and drink lean!"
It Really *****.
NeroameeAlucard Oct 2014
I was once simply a tool
A device used only for death
Years and years of this
Caused rage to fill in my breast.

I lashed out at my tormentors
Slayed them, one by one
I finally had taken my revenge
until I hunted the last one.

A security drone, I had left alone
had fallen into the main reactor,
On the floor above there
I was feeling the effects after.

Another experiment warped me
back into the still undamaged past.
I woke up in 1932,
in a giant field of grass.

Born to be more
than what life made me.
Forced to be a entertainer,
longing to be free.

Singing and dancing
for the rich shogun.
Yet my spirit still intact
tho they thought they had won.

Singing the songs
of long dead men.
Hoping for a light,
a true sort of friend.

Lost in another time,
far from what was mine.
I stood up sharpened my weapon
s and decided to go for mine.

I walked to the nearest village
and asked what was going on.
The locals said they were having
a party for a rich shogun.

Interested, I walked inside to
see decorations so gaudy.
I looked around and saw a woman
with a wonderland of a body.

Minding my own business, j
ust sat singing a song.
About how hard life is
and all things that went wrong.

Geisha I was,
a slave to the rich.
Doing what I was told,
no better than a *****.

Sold I was at the of twelve,
to feed a family I once loved.
Well that turned to hatred,
and here I was shoved.

Sat in a corner,
doing my time.
Servitude ,
without committing a crime.

I couldn't hold it in,
I walked up to the stage
Picked up a guitar and played along,
she looked quite amazed.

I smiled at her,
and she smiled back
Then all of a sudden screams were heard, two geishas coming downstairs followed by a guy who was very fat.

Standing and bowing,
just playing my part.
As absolute terrier
struck deep in my heart.

" Master,
is there aught I can do.
Come and listen
I shall sing just for you."

Come to me he did,
his face flaming red.
Slapping me hard,
with nothing being said.

I took up my sword
and said leave the lady alone,
She walked out incensed,
I followed her up the road.

Fires burning bright,
like flames deep in hell.
I wanted to be free,
my soul I would even sell.

I could not not do this,
no not anymore.
Turning I said
" what the ******* following me for."

Shamed for my actions,
but too shy to say.
I turned beet red
and just walked away.

I said I've never met a woman
with that much backbone.
And quite frankly my dear,
you shouldn't be alone

They've sent men to **** you,
they should be here rather fast
I ducked rather quickly
to evade a Sharp axe.

Throwing a knife,
my aim good and true.
Right in the throat,
flying straight through.

Throwing another,
this one just as good.
Killing him dead ,
right where he stood.

" attack me will you,
you cowardly swine.
I will spit down your throat
and rip out your spine"

Kicking him once
I turned back around.
My feet hitting hard
on the dirt packed ground.

Kusarigama unleashed
several seconds later.
I cut several down
to the size of second graders.

I look back at you
and say I think that's all of these fools
****** knives handed back
i ask how'd you learn that at school?

"My real father was a ninja,
he taught me some stuff.
Being a girl,
you had to grow up tough."

When he died,
breaking my heart.
I was sold to this,
now playing my part.

But no one touches me,
unless I want them too.
Yet I am done with all this,
finished, I am through.

I will just survive,
living of the land.
No more to be owned
by any foul man."

I don't intend to own you
In fact I'm not from this time
I Am though not native here,
so I do require a guide.

Confused I must look,
when him I did face.
"So you're not from this time
or from this place?"

I started to laugh,
it's all I could do.
Did he expect me to
accept that as true?

I just kept walking,
My mind on every sound.
I guess it's alright,
I can lead him around.

"Fine I will help you,
Where you need to go?"
I can lead you East,
down to Tokyo."

What if I could prove
that I'm from a different time.
I took out a disc and showed her what will happen
to her life over the years and mine.

I said, we still have company, I take my sword out, Nevan was her name,
duck in about 5 seconds
if you don't want to meet a blade.

Duck I did,
as the blade went on by,
Snapping my wrist,
letting a knife fly.

" What the hell?
Could this night get any worst.
Am I to be forever hounded
and endlessly cured?"

Sitting on the ground,
counting up the dead.
Touching my cheek,
my hand turning red.

The blade must of nicked me,
I just watched the blood drip.
My life was unravelling,
I was losing my grip.

I grabbed the dear woman
and threw my shuriken at the attempted killer.
I knocked him off a cliff,
his body becoming chiller.

I took her to a cave and patched her lovely cheek,
I Sat beside her and started a fire.
I sat down with a drink
and contained my desire.

Shaken to the core,
by kindness so fair.
All I could do was sit
and just stare.

This strange man,
who was not even of my time.
Had me hoping and wishing,
I could claim him as mine.

But hope and wishes are
for the happy and the weak.
I am sure he would love
someone feminine and meek.

Shaking my foggy head,
I start to cook dinner.
Wishing still I was tall
and so much thinner.

I said what's your name fair maiden,
how'd you end up here
You look much too beautiful
To working as hard as you do my dear.

My name is Xero,
I'm from another time
And while I'm here I must change the future
Because right now I'm stuck in this time.

"My name is Aura,
a name my father did give.
I become a geisha
so my family could live.

Sold for money,
and trained to preform.
So the rich can mock
and look on with scorn.

To own one is grand,
to be one: living hell.
That is my story,
really not much to tell."

Ashamed of my past,
tho pure I still be.
Yet I had my doubts,
he would even believe me.

Your words are soft spoken,
and have a ring of truth
I was poked and prodded,
like an animal in a zoo.

I'm nothing more than
a human science project.
At least that's what I was told
before I broke their worthless necks.

Anyway it seems we both have pasts
we aren't proud of.
But to me you're beautiful,
like I'm a falcon and you're a small white dove.

Blushing so red,
I took him by the hand.
" You are more than what they made u,
ur a kind honest man.

Stand tall,
be proud of who you became.
And I swear to you,
I will try and do the same.

Life had beaten us,
trying to teach us to fear.
But to hell with all that,
we survived and still here."

I smiled for the first time
in several years
I said but **** it, I'll probably never get over all of these ****** Tears.

I look back at her and said Aura,
such a simple supple name.
I sighed longingly
and whispered the same.

I look into his eyes,
as my name whispered past his lips.
A electrical current
tingled at my finger tips.

Wanting to touch him,
but knowing I can't.
I started to hum
a lovely sad chant.

Looking in the fire,
watching the flames burn.
Just like inside me,
it did dance and churn.

I looked into those deep blue eyes
and saw all the pain.
I saw nothing but tears
flowing Down like rain.

I hugged her tightly and said
You'll never cry again
I know your future, you'll do wonderful I'm serious you'll be free but I'm here for you until then.

Free: it felt strange on my tongue,
could it truly be.
Was I actually allowed
to finally be me.

Did I want to be free?
a question inside my head.
Perhaps I wanted to be owned
by this man instead.

I felt connected to him,
deep in my soul.
A sense of belonging,
my heart all aglow.

I look at you and say
Aura why do you stare at me so longingly
I told you your future
You won't belong to anyone ever again and your wounds both physical and mental will be sutured.

"It is nothing really,
just shock is my guess.
We should probably eat,
and get some much needed rest."

Cooking a rabbit,
turning it to stew.
A longing for more,
but it could never come true.

Now standing by the fire,
my arms wrapped around my waist.
Longing for his lips
and just one simple taste.

My senses heightened,
I set myself behind her
My human side desperately
wanting to be inside her.

I kissed her neck lovingly
and massaged her shoulders
It would be weird,
making love beside boulders.

I leaned into his body,
loving how he did feel.
Turning around,
a loving kiss I did steal.

Wrapping my arms around his neck,
playing with the hair at his nape.
My body and lips silently begging,
for him me to take.

Biting his lip,
I shivered in delight.
This just felt to perfect
and so deliciously right.


touching and caressing her body
felt like a natural instinct.
I held her like a little girl holding her favorite dolly
firm, but gentle and sweet.

I kissed down her neck and nibbled at her flesh
I wanted her scent all over me.

Wrapping my arms around him,
I clung to him for life.
My life was a hard one,
but he ends all my strife.

Feelings I thought long dead,
begin to whisper in my ear.
Holding close this gorgeous man,
the man I hold so dear.

I lick and nibble his neck,
His flavor on my tongue.
He is the beautiful note,
that my lips has always sung.

She had the body of a goddess
i was simply a lonely priest
i whispered my intentions
to her with some degree of ease.

i slid her dress down
to reveal her supple *******
i gently held them softly
then proceeded to ****** and caress

I licked on her lips
i put my hands on her hips
i whispered may i pleasure you fair maiden
because your body is a wonderland,
and i intend to make several trips.

My soul sang with delight,
as his lips made their rounds.
Panting out my pleasure,
from my mouth wanton sounds.

The passion fire burns bright,
As I rocked up my hips.
Feeling every loving touch,
from his sweet finger tips.

His tongue drove me wild,
as he tasted from my flesh.
My heart melted from his love,
oh I was so truly blessed.

My hands ran up his back,
my nails raked back down.
Til I was holding his ***,
so nice and juicy round.

i slid my hand in between her thighs
and rubbed her soft sweet ****
i felt myself rise with excitement
and she was so wet she began to slip,

i slid her dress all the way off
naked she was in front of me completely bare
i was so shocked at her beauty
i could do naught but drunkenly stare.

i regained my composure, and began to kiss her body again.
i set  myself between her luscious thighs
so i could eat her womanly den.

she tasted like a well aged wine
her juices so warm and sweet
i knew another woman I’d never have to find
because this girl just couldn't be beat.

His fingers dipped inside,
stroking my melting heat.
slipping in so far,
it was so overwhelming sweet.

I ****** up my hips,
to greet his thirsty hand.
Howling to the world,
My love for this great man.

Rolling him over,
I sat upon his ****.
Sinking him even deeper,
As i began to rock.

I placed his hands upon my breast,
Ohhh how he made me shiver.
My core began to melt
and my legs, they did quiver.

i held her close to my body
her sweet ******* so tasty in my mouth
I told her she was being ever so naughty
her core was wet as a freshwater trout,

i bent her over
the campfire now slowly dying
i slid back inside her
now taking her from behind

He had my heart jumping,
my breathing began to hitch.
"oh come on baby **** me,
I been a naughty *****."

I looked over my shoulder,
as into to me he did pound.
He slapped my *** once,
than grabbed my globs so round.

Moaning into the star filled sky,
I tightened around his shaft.
He had me losing my mind,
He was master of this craft.

A *** god reborn,
my soul mate supreme.
Knowing just where to touch,
that makes me wanna scream.

I reach between my legs,
and grab his perfect *****.
As we both let out into the night,
our lustful mating calls.


I made sure to please my woman,
then laid down with her on top
her arching back against the moonlight
my god i felt myself about to pop.

I spread her legs wider
and looked her dead in the eyes.
I finally released inside her
I  fell down dazed and high from our burning desire

I laid back down tired as all ****
I literally just met this girl last night
and we’re making love like this?
i dont know whether its lust.

Or some form of quick
acting love .
all i know is i must make her mine
before i'm sent up above.

I felt him erupt inside,
his cream flowing in deep.
I came in a flood,
and the feeling was so sweet.

Rocking my hips against him,
as I milked his **** dry.
I lowered myself to his warm body,
my head upon his chest did lie.

How this love came about,
I could never hope to explain.
He is embedded deep in my heart,
and I will never ever be the same.

Drifting off to sleep,
with a smile upon my lips.
I nestled close as I could get,
with his shaft still between my hips.
Thank you to the lovely Natasha M L for being so awesome to work with! This is gonna be great!

— The End —