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CGW Jul 2015
Falling, falling, falling!
Speed begins to pickup.
Falling, falling, falling!!
Hot and sticky.
Falling, falling, falling!!!
Hard to breath, lungs are being crushed.
Falling, falling, falling!!!!
On fire blazing into ash.
Falling, falling, falling!!!!!
Limbs one by one are being torn off.
Falling, falling, falling!!!!!!
Blood rapidly splatters the empty universe.
Falling, falling, falling!!!!!!!
The hallow screams can not be heard.
Falling, falling, falling!!!!!!!!
Faster and faster and faster!!!!!!!!!
Falling and falling and falling!!!!!!!!!!
Transforming into light!!!!!!!!!!!!
Floating, floating, floating, floating, floating, floating, floating, floating, floating, floating, floating, floating.
Regan Troop Jan 2012
This ship is sinking
but we're floating in life savers
floating in the arms of sirens
This ship is sinking
but we're floating towards the land
floating in the arms of sirens

We knew it from the start
but just didn't have the heart
to make them walk the plank
after drawing a blank
when we asked them why

{Chorus}
This ship is sinking
but we're floating in life savers
floating in the arms of sirens
This ship is sinking
but we're floating towards the land
floating in the arms of sirens

Feeling the tentacles on my leg
they wrap around, pull and drown
all the hope I had sunk
to the deepest blue's ground

And all the shimmering light
at the water's surface
never looked so white
never felt so bright

{Chorus}
This ship is sinking
but we're floating in life savers
floating in the arms of sirens
This ship is sinking
but we're floating towards the land
floating in the arms of sirens
mark jarrad Sep 2013
A summers day ...we're floating and bloating ..you and i
we're bloating and a floating and waving as we cry ...
we're crying as we're floating and a cloud is passing by
I ask it "are you gloating ? " at my bloating friend and i ?

"Dear sir" replied the cloud that was a floating up on high
I see so many bloaters and so many as they try..
to understand the nature of a floater floating by ?
Is such a wonderous thing and now.. i bid you sir "goodbye" !

A moonlit night we're floating and bloating you and i
We pass the moon the stars all swoon.."good evening" as we cry..
And as we float the endless sky..and never knowing why ?
we're floating and a bloating ...floating you and i
Test Ting Won To Tree
By
Charles Fleischer







Rifleman decal water is to Tiny basket liners as Strained yo-yo string is to?
Dark wool glowing is to Oldest lost oddity as First genetic engine is to?
Black quail taint is to Nut curdled paint as Hemp biscuit dominoes are to?
Steam traced paper is to Lemon ash vapor as Digital ****** wig is to?
Eccentric brine mimes are to Electric silk slacks as Spark formed lava is to?
Sunchoked black hornets are to as Rescued orphan doves as Retold cat jokes are to?
Hand traced videos are to Braided rubber spines as Opal rain dancers are to?
Halogen anchor gong is to Annoying bread portraits as Soft bracelet lockers are to?
Old troll bios are to Select cherub echoes as Broken matchstick parasols are to?
Dome nine chariots are to Frayed lunar remnants as Fuming honey flasks are to?
Bluing assault operas is to Beading fluted flowers as Magnetic lawn tweezers are to?
Converted flea sponges are to Floating dog murals as Frozen Archie comics are to?
Molded road pads are to Crusty gumdrop thread as Straw ribbed pelicans are to?
Inflatable diamond vowel is to Single gender raffle as Groovy desert coffee is to?
Temporary solution radiation is to Idiotic witness mumble as Motorized marshmallow kit is to?
Panoramic utopian paranoia is to Aggravated **** silhouettes as Unhinged gun sellers are to?
Homesick ghost pajamas is to Virtuous fly fungus as Royal sandpaper gloves are to?
Gangster hayride tickets are to Deer milk Oreos as Turnip fairy maps are to?
Glue gun **** is to Nocturnal cabin mice as Cab fare corn is to?
Speckled fish nickels are to Under water bric-a-brac as Epic snakeskin paisley is to?
******* bungalow pranks are to Drowsy vapid oafs as Quantized cavern fish are to?
Raunchy snail kimono is to Coiled time dice as Smeared equator malt is to?
Metallic centaur franchise is to Transparent cheese chess as Spotted glacial remnants is to?
Sky fused pong is to Rustic mothers brattle as Granulated canister ointment is to?
Overgrown maze mule is to Mated smugglers hugging as Floating thesaurus exam is to?
Sliding coed sprinkler is to Soapy whitefish rebate as Precious lamb diaper is to?
Mushy acorn luster is to Lilac protein rings as Slapstick wrestler dialect is to?
Freaky plankton bells is to Rolling horse divorce as Morphing morphine lips are to?
Sticky razor sparkle is to Emerald muscle spasm as Glaring cat cipher is to?
Peppy unisex mustache is to Pelican fighter syndrome as Clumping night grumble is to?
Scanning paired pearls are to Ruby rubbed roaches as Satanic sailor flotsam  are to?
Glowing asteroid solder is to Ideal shark data as Failed frail doilies are to?
Numb nuts boredom is to Fantastic icy phantoms as Sporadic silk creations is to?
Crooks crow chow is to Loading spackled bonder as Gargled snowdrop blasters are to?
Outdid myself today is to Outside myself again as Outlived myself controls is to?
Venting shuttlecock upset is to Texting badminton kitten as Settler tested motels are to?
Prepare paired vents is to Prefer paid events as Pretender predicts fiction is to
Crunchy mental fender is to Catching mentor menace as Poorly seasoned lettuce is to?
Outside sidewalk inside is to Seaside outcast input as Sideways landslide victory is to?  
Compile fake password is to Compost world poo as Compose village anthem is to?
Crooked crotch blunder is to Loud crowd thunder as Divine vine finder is to?
Chucks’ wooden truck is to Bucks good luck as Sticky ducks tucked is to?  
Overhaul underway overseas is to Overturned downsized pickup as Underground onramp overloaded is to?
I’ll bite there is to Aisle byte their as Isle bight there is to?
Gnat gnawed wrist is to ***** show beans as See through putty is to?
Flapping floppy guppies are to Buzzing zipped dozers as Muddy ****** strippers are to?
Dark diagonal dialogue is to Diabolical dihedral die as Interesting circadian exposition is to?
Experimental flossing expectations are to Waxed dental traps as Permanent impermanence resolution is to?  
Outran ringside intrigue is to Sidetracked onboard boatload as Loaded firearm topside is to?
Phony ****** phone is to Chewy ego honey as Yogi Mama’s dada is to?
Nimble teardrop squiggle is to Humble cage curtains as Loyal truckstop morals are to?
Torching curled elastic is to Sonic neighbor clamor as Golden droplet integers are to?
Duplex pupil scanners are to Nacreous cloud clocks as Shrouded flute shops are to?
Lawn rocket tendrils are to Finding surreal borders as Sheep monarchs children is to?
Gloating ungloved squires are to Busting double doubters as Pushing woeful doctors are to?
Tricking snowbelt firedogs is to Panmixing blackened haywires as Unclothed shameful leaders are to?
Malicious ranch ritual is to Internal puppet bubble as Ornate underworld masquerade is to?
Rustic debonair Eskimos are to Mindless sassy elves as Gorgeous somber acrobats are to?
Learned earthy pimps are to Fearless sneaky Queens as Somber gentle vagrants are to?
Shocking horse wear is to Glossy sled fluid as Damaged chipmunk tongue is to?
Traditional agony chart is to Damp voodoo motel as Backwoods museum quote is to?
Magical cat cabin is to Dapper porpoise humor as Malicious graveyard foam is to?
Therapeutic gazelle cushion is to Stored alibi equipment as Stunning tempo light is to?
Fantastic rascal art is to Wasted prune dust as Jupiter’s ****** law is to?
Little nut razor is to Gigantic hyena shield as Hourglass pillow fever is to?
Coiled rain clouds are to Dizzy tycoon clowns as Lime eating cowards are to?
Possessive epicurean demonstrators are to Faded eavesdropping giants as Determined swanky drunks are to?
Aquatic preview pocket is to Soggy judicial topiary as Finicky hamster fabric is to?
Enlarged fruit cuff is to Obedient mumbling orchestra as Dark tenant tariff is to?
Recycled flash thermometer is to Botched temptation probe as Pet glider grid is to?
Seriously shy idols are to Costly driving perfumes as Ferryboat chapel wine is to?
Winged jalopy details are to Faithful spectral fathers as Sprinkled mint rainbows are to?
Spelling unneeded words is to Sprouting donut ***** as Blaming mellow mallrats are to?
Eroding loom keepsake is to Magnificent accordion canoe as ***** bongo fumes are to?
Souring violet ink is to Juvenile insult park as Periodic ferret envy is to?
Obedient boyfriend aroma is to Sanitized fat lozenges as Dramatic jailer garb is to?
Mysterious patrol group is to Dynamic maiden discharge as Captured hurricane ratio is to?
Lackadaisical bigot bingo is to Oblong care merchant as Expensive swamp shampoo is to?
Petite orifice worship is to Atomic barge pet as Plucked hair exhibit is to?
Elite officer wallop is to Automatic yard rake as Healing ****** glitter is to?
Needless swan costume is to Giant jungle goat as Organic picnic napkin is to?
Leaky jet steam is to Innovative fascist whistle as Enchanting idol evidence is to?
Plastic mascara seduction is to Greasy thermal ointment as Attractive muskrat crease is to?
Lucky camel pills are to White coral Torah as Eternal stage clutter is to?
Roasted oat **** is to Sloppy *** glue as Nylon table debt is to?
Steep nook catastrophe is to Empty dome damage as Pulsing breeze powder is to?
Empty sack power is to Hitched buck stroke as Red claw warning is to?
Ultra brief slogan is to Yummy lab mutant as Pathetic ball armor is to?
Nauseating fish splatter is to Obstinate ****** twitch as Strained ***** coffee is to?
Mezzanine intermission fossil is to Proven **** apathy as Golden duck shroud is to?
Civil tutors torment is to Thor’s posted theory as Yellow melon rain is to?
Immense olive raft is to Exploding kangaroo buffet as Ethereal witness index is to?  
Marching dark speeders are to Searing scribble fighters as **** tripping sinners are to?
Seeping viral angst is to Aged hermit tea as Murky bowl nibble is to?
Condensed blister guzzle is to Pink dorsal pie as Lavish speckled runt is to?
Needy insult poet is to Sedated acorn trader as Dry honey zoo is to?
Veiled trust flicker is to Deranged poser fashion as Flat sizzle tangent is to?
Purified diet spray is to Nebulous wishing target as Thrilling screen dope is to?
Majestic ribbon astronomy is to Bizarre formation sector as Rebel bell gimmick is to?
Sealed dart whisper is to Green silk draft as Cold vacuum varnish is to?
Clumsy raven power is to Insect island circus as Minted mink drapes are to?
Curved map ruler is to Tiny lethal radio as Blue fused metal is to?
Inverted laser invasion is to Damp sheep dump as Puffy gown smoke is to?
Saucy Channel blazer is to Leather goat filament as Starched locomotive hat is to?
Broken jumper leads are to Disgraced mini exorcists as Designer shamrock caulk is to?
Tweaked poachers smokes are to Assorted sulfur pathways as Collected bedlamp trickle is to?
******* bungalow pranks are to Drowsy vapid oafs as Quantized cavern fish are to?
Crawling battle worms are to Vibrating metal pedals as Mentholated matrix wax is to?
Missing meshed rafts are to Liquid rock pipes as Crinkled bean bikinis are to?
Tithing **** joggers are to Perforated buck fronds as Leather zither picks are to?
Fearing truthful cowards is to Rambling preachers mumble as Gazebo ambulance gasoline is to?
Shelving elder’s whiskers is to Poaching goalies pesto as Radical tricycle angst is to?
Mucky gunboat polymer is to Primeval maypole flameout as Cathedral greenhouse intercom is to?
Diaphanous safety prize is to Unleashed saucer lion as Dorky blonde ropewalker is to?
Tapered spring meter is to Silver silo mythology as Misguided judges medallions are to?
Alligator x-ray money is to Cherry unicorn water as Coyote cactus toy is to?
Cowardly dorm scrooge is to Atomized pewter script as Flattened spore smoothies are to?
Trash can yodel is to Flashing wired spam as Exploding chocolate pudding is to?
Sonar blasted bushings are to Threading ruined wheels as Forty shifting boxes are to?
Tiny balloon rebellion is to Softened square cleanser as Iconic soul sucker is to?
Harmony night light is to Spanish nitrogen desire as Squirrel cavern iodine is to?

Lazy winter secret is to Slow airport widget as Silly mustard binder is to?
Elephants raising raisins are to Microscopic lamb planet as Purple hay puppets are to?
Caribou venom vaccine is to Electronic lemonade choir as Demonic princess massage is to?
Beet coated bridge is to Fattened needle point as Mylar monkey spine is to?
Ashy ink dust is to Youngest rabbi planet as Orange cartoon geometry is to?
Cold green chalk is to Cobalt ladder farce as ***** river filters are to?
Sublime sheep master is to Sleeping past rapture as Subliminal bliss jelly is to?
Ocean crust slippers are to Twigged germ radar as Popping sharpie scope is to?
Zen wrapped beep is to Oak foamed code as Wicked flashing sizzle is to?
Dew eyed sleigh is to Say I do as Act as me is to?
Humpback on hammock is to Ham hocking hummer as Hunchback with knapsack is to?
Corned flag jelly is to Draped wing chewers as Tripping swan acid is to?
Futuristic Rembrandt chant is to Almond likened meadows as Asian timber blue is to?
Nap in sack is to Flap on Jack as Ducks dig crack is to?
Flowing flavored lava is to Gleaming optic layers as Enhanced goose gibberish is to?      
Flag tied pajamas are to Saline checker choir as Speed reading quotas is to?
Whipped spam spasms are to Misted shaman scripture as Testing pitched bells is to?
Cave aged eggs are to Crowded tiger cages as ****** wagon pegs are to?
Pigeon towed car is to a Man toad art as Wolf whisker wish is to?
Second hand clothes are to Minute hand gestures as Final hour prayer is to?
Slick wicked shavers are to Tricky watch boxes as Sprouting pine tattoos are to?
Waxed stick ravens are to Match stick foxes as Narrowed thermal towers are to?
Ice cave rice is to Laced face lice as Gourmet pet **** is to?
Diamond lane anniversary is to Space age appropriate as Time travel agency is to?
Lime bark violin is to Lemon twig guitar as Lunar sky waffles are to?
Fake rat **** is to Smart cake batter as Rugged fur tax is to?
Tarred raft fluff is to Flaked rafter dust as Lined liquor flask is to?
Flakes will fall is to Take Bills call as Broken maze compass is to?
First faked voter is to Entombed cartoon honey as Smallest aching smurf is to?
Fancy bared ******* are to Flaky fairy treats as Kings amp filter is to?
Bone window folio is to Whittled fake pillow as Little fitted jackets are to?
Nine nuts brittle is to Ate pear pie as Six packed poppers are to?
Incandescent playground pencil is to Elastic hand worm as Perfumed piano ink is to?
Opal shifting anode is to a Windup lion decoy as Pale paisley trolley is to?
Stacked black boxes are to Old packed tracks as a Throwing micron hammers is to?
Apricot bark furnace is to Merry Orchid Choir as an Ivory rinsing funnel is to?  
Narcotic honey nuts are to Slick flag toffees as Silk fig sugar is to?
Orange coin raisins are to Low note candies as Smelling balled roses is to?
Pocket packed monotints are to Tragic ladder hayracks as Ravishing speed traders are to?
Crayon spider resin is to Coral squirrel forceps as Wolf tumbled loaf is to?  
Silver wheat flies are to Width shifting wheels as Golden blister blankets are to?
Really tiny hippopotamus is to Masked fat podiatrist as a Sad sack psychiatrist is to?
Miniature Mesopotamian monuments are to Apple minted elephants as Raising wise ravens is to?
Lathered nymph nacre is to Sonic ion constellations as Concealed iron craft is to?  
Epic gene toy is to Ladies bubble sled as Jagged data bowl is to?
Bugged dagger bag is to Pop sliced meld as Atom bending moonlight to?  
Rural madam’s deed is to Dyed dew dipper as Eight sprayed dukes are to?
Jiffy grand puffer is to Floating altar myth as Vintage dark mirth is to?
Undercover overnight underwear is to Overpaid undertaker overdosing as Overheard understudy freebasing is to?

Black grape crackle is to Red cactus ruffle as Installing padded pets are to?
Snide snobs sniffing are to Sneaky snails snoring as Snared snipes sneezing are to?
Exploring explosive exits is to Explaining expansive exports as Expecting expert exchange is to?
Shrewd logic ledger is to Puppets dropping cupcakes as Placated topaz octopi are to?
Door roof tools are to Cool wool boots as Wood cooked root is to?
Bright fight light is to Night flight fright as Mites bite site is to?
Floor flood fluid is to Wooden door Druid as Nasty **** broom is to?
Accurate police photography is to Intelligent microbe geography as Condensed aerosol biography is to?
Cowardly cowboy grime is to Corpulent corporate crime as Bosnian dwarf necromancer is to?
Jell-O clearing shaker is to Brillo cleaning shiner as Cheerios bowling shields are to?
Mumbled mindless hokey is to Fumbled found money as Humming kinder bunny is to?
Daisy’s clock setter is to Lilly’s boxer toxin as Poodles rose paddle is to?
Watch Bozo Copernicus is to Hire Clarabelle Newton as Find ***-wee Einstein is to?
Amethyst thistle whistles is to Lapis pistol whip as Diamond bomb scar is to?
Dandelion seahorse rescue is to Crabapple dogwood farm as Faux foxglove lover is to?    
Optical poppy stopper is to Polar halo lens as Day-Glo rainbow sticker is to?
Savanna leopard spotted is to Eskimo lassos kisses as Alligator lemonade standard is to?
Bill of Rights is to Will of left as Thrill of night is to?
Baptize floozies quickly is to Useless outsized nozzles as Puzzled wizard wanders is to?        
Chaps wearing chaps are to Chaps contesting contests as Consoling concealed consoles is to?
Quiet squirming squirrels are to Aeon beauty queens as Queasy greasy luaus is to?
Knew new gnu is to Sense scents cents as We’ll wheal wheel is to?
Blazing zingers ringing are to Wheezing singers flinging as Freezing finger number are to?
Lamb tomb jogger is to Dumb numb **** as Thumbed crumb bug is to?

Blue accordion casket is to Jaded scholar ***** as German mushroom circus is to?
President George Flintstone is to Funny Fred Washington as Abraham Jetson’s dog is to?
Google Desmond Tutu is to Kalamazoo Zoo Park as Zodiac actors Guru is to?
Swamp cradled whisperer is to Cherished drawbridge cello as Bludgeoned prankster outlaws are to?
Dukes pink mittens are to Smeared nest carava
Drew Vincent Jul 2017
How inviting is the face of death
when I'm

floating,

falling,

into the water,
staring up at the clouds and I see it.

I see him.
The Grim Reaper,
staring back at me from the clouds.
He looks at me and I know,

it's time.

Floating,

falling,

into the water,
all I can feel is the  
waves crashing into me.

Floating,

falling,

into the water,
all I can hear is the
sound of my own rasping breath.

Shallow breaths,
and deep water,
I'm

falling

or am I

floating

towards the reaper?

I can see him getting closer,
and closer.

Floating,

falling,


I feel at ease,
at peace.

Floating,

Falling,


I am not scared of him;
I am not scared of death.

Death is inviting me in,
and I am accepting his invitation.
Swimming alone is dangerous.
Phoebe Apr 2014
I used to think the best thing was floating,
Letting your head fall back as you're drifting,
Waving hand-shapes through the tranquil sea.

But then I noticed that without swimming,
Without the times when you find the strength to kick your legs,
And life's a long distance struggle against an unyielding tide,
You would never ever know,
The contentment of floating.

And I noticed that without storms,
Without the times when the waves roar endlessly,
And life's a crashing ocean in the sandy bay of your mind,
You would never ever know,
The contentment of floating.

Then I noticed that without diving,
Without the times when you explore the ocean floor,
And life's an appreciation of the new and the scary,
You would never ever know,
The contentment of floating.

I used to think the best thing was floating,
But I noticed that the journey there,
Is just as good.
M Apr 2013
I'm out here on a limb
D
A
  N
   G
     L
      I
      N
       G
Like a leaf on a tree in late autumn, yellow and spotted and dry, close to falling into the breeze that'll carry me away, far away from my home to the ground where I'll lay until the wind picks me back up only to place me somewhere new and foreign and unknown effortlessly.

I am out here on a limb.
You've already flown away and I see how you go with the wind and you flow with ease and it's all so simple for you; you let your troubles, and therefore yourself, "go with the flow" and now you're floating away into the horizon where people go once they've let go of the barriers and ties holding them back.

I am out here on a limb.
I'd like to follow and float and be free and land wherever the wind takes me, just like you bravely did. You let go and I haven't let go of my limb or you, though the wind is relentless so maybe it'll tear me away without my consent but right now you're floating away and I want to allow the wind to take me too but the uncertainty of whether we'll land somewhere close by is too immense to fathom, so I'll hold onto the limb and watch you float away and know that it's probably for the best that you're floating away
                                           from me.

Turns out I was your limb all along.
Watching you bud last spring, grow and form before my eyes in the summer, begin to wither by fall and float away in the icy-cold, biting winds of winter because I sent you there without knowing I even did so.

You went out on a limb.
You grew and us died and you left and I can't follow you this time because you're finally free and I can't hold onto you forever, not when the winds turn to warm breezes and you finally feel at ease floating away from me. The seasons came, we changed, you left, and I became a leaf on a tree refusing to leave because even if I did leave my own limb of comfort, the wind would keep us apart and it's for the better.

You were on a limb.
And now that you're floating away I can fully see just how lovely and peaceful you are,
because you are without
                                         me.
This started out as a metaphor for how someone was completely honest with me (leaving the limb) and how I am contemplating being fully honest or holding back (staying with the limb). I am for honesty through and through, though being honest opens up new doors for both of us. It'll cause questioning and a desire for unattainable circumstances. Being completely honest or not,, I am doing a service and a disservice. Both have consequences and I don't know which consequences I'm going to pick just yet.
Chanie Jun 2018
I feel like I been floating
Floating in life
Floating with every step I take
Floating into nothing
Just wasting space

My mind is floating
While my body functions

My thoughts are floating
Yet I can have a conversation

My body is present
Yet my soul is floating

How can I be one whole person?
Without pieces of me floating
I feel everything
Yet I feel nothing

I am emotionless
Yet my insides feel it all

I can breath
Yet I don't feel like I am

I can function
While I float away
Away from you
Away from everyone
Away from everything

Pull me back
Stop me
Stop me
Or
I will float away
All of me
Forever
No notes.
Hands Jan 2013
Spheres floating in the chilly dark,
white and fluffy,
vain and uncorrupted.
They act as the air
being both here and never
there;
they act as the heavens,
little shining points floating
in a sea of black.
Islands so pure
floating in a nightmare sea--
how I abhorr their isolation,
their pure and careless
floating
though I, too, am alone.
Adrift in a sea of
introspective mutterings and
the utterings of a mind entrapped,
I sail the dark and simpering seas
of the Universe.
My vessel is a snowflake,
a crystalline craft carrying me
through the synapses and
nervous connections
of the thinking brain.
How infinite is the mind,
how wondrous is the world,
an immensity unto itself and
yet so tiny and contained.
I have never seen the ruins of China,
the fallen columns of the Romans nor
the ancient halls of the Al-Hambra.
I shall never see the samurai in bloom,
arranging flowers and painting
pictures of naked women
haunting their snowflake mind.
I shall never construct the
anonymous clockwork of Archimedes
but rather be trapped in the mechanisms
of the modern machine.
Adrift,
my confusion,
my blind anger and hatred of fate and
the gravity that pulls the snowflake ever closer to the ground
is pure vanity and self illusion.
Do the archways of Troy or
the mathematics of India
make us any larger in size
when compared to the Universe?
How can a snowflake
measure infinity?
What Universes exist
within the frozen ice of a snowflake,
what wars and great romances have played out
within the crystals;
what gods have been erected,
what nations have coalesced from the ashes
within the molecules and atoms
crafted by the cold
and the senseless flow of water?
The myriad explorers,
philosophers,
inventors,
geniuses lost to the ages
have mapped out the physical
while still being blind to the
finite world around them.
They sailed the Universe's
inky oceans of unknown,
their mind's sails billowing white,
puffy and hopeful
as they drifted off the edge of the known.
How they wriggled and rolled
so miraculously through the dark,
snowflakes floating carelessly
creating the world out of necessity
and pure ingenuity.
What white specters might exist
in the libraries of old,
in the halls of Alexandria or
the melting *** of Baghdad?
Do they wish to leave me a message,
the snow that saunters down,
to build a city in my mind
and a home in my soul.
What thoughts were caught
by the ancient genius
floating carelessly
like snow falling
in the anonymous black
of night?
Like islands they stood
for the men sailing the unknown waters
to rest and read and
contemplate
for just a few moments longer.
Swallowed by the darkness,
layered on the ground,
the knowledge is lost
among the infinitely white expanse
and the all-consuming darkness
of the night.
I am lost
like a snowflake falling too fast
I am buried beneath
layers of snow.
Denise M Vazquez Feb 2012
hop skip and away
i'm flying today
feather in the air
i'm lighter, spark, fire
dare me to stay
but i just can't wait
i want to take to the skies
and see what i can find

hold on tight if you're in for the ride
want to see the whole world
see every fountain, river, mountain
lets explore open doors
step through find something new
no fear, any scrape or bruise
is an opportunity to grow
so
what do you say?
the only thing that could make this better
is if we're in this together
but i won't wait its now or never
you shouldn't have to think
so in a blink adios, te recordare!

so i take to the skies floating breeze
i want to be surprised at the colors
of the fish in the sea, and take a second
to see if there really is that many
or do i need to go fishing right now?
don't think i could stop if i tried
cause a fishy in the sea can
hook line and sinker this heart
if and when they're ready to sprout wings and
take to the skies floating breeze
sail overdrafts with me
jungles of Brazil to the city of Pair-ee

i've a heart meant for dancing,
beaches, culture, romancing
try anything once, most things twice
food, trees, and drinks are my vices
music is my ******* but it keeps me sane
so we just won't consider that a con
cause i'm pro-grammed hardwired
to move my feet to the beat of life
it may skip and shuffle sometimes
but thats the spice to the sugar
cause everything nice gave Jane a dull life

taking to the skies floating breeze
stop for a game of futbol no referees
play til sundown lay on the ground
catch my breath take a rest
open my eyes to watch the stars
turn the sky into my own lightshow
no cover charge
i want to see if they're in reach
so i take to the skies floating breeze
every different tree a different melody

now you're ready to explore with me?
consider yourself lucky i can recognize harmony
lets come together and find our rhythm
we make a beautiful song
Everything that once was so simple, now all seems so lost to me.
Lost to the world that fought me.
I feel my words blurring together with a broken jaw type of numbness.
It feels like my thoughts were beaten from my lips from the inside out.
I can still feel the burns of thoughts unsaid. I miss when times were tangible and things were nailed down.
But now my life feels like water.
Violent like the tides, dragging me out into a place where I don’t know how to swim.
It’s the words that I don’t know how to place that fill my lungs with every choking breath.
I’m in life too deep to get out now.
I’m imbedded, addicted.
Fastened to this current.
Like the van der waals force of my heart beating.
My lips tragically crave the taste of air and my heart painfully keeps the rhythm.
Step Step Step Step.
“Let’s go on,” my feet say in agreement with my heart.
The tears drag down and even they demand to be felt.
No parts of me want to go, but they all beat down on me demanding that I supply them with more energy to live.
I grow weak and hobble at my knees and wonder, “When will this addiction end?
When will I get some rest?” and just like that I’m gone.  
Not fighting the current, just floating.
Not swimming, just floating.
Not quite drowning,
but still,
only floating.
Floating heads
Means floating thoughts
But to many floating thoughts
Are to heavy to be floating
And heavy thoughts
Means a heavy head
It hits the ground
from where
it rised so many times before
maybe it can do it
once more
Just because pt.1 isn't enough :)
Morning run
sweating, alert body
looking at an empty day ahead

Shower
Water trickling, cleansing
quietness taking over

Happily floating
mind wandering
watching the rain outside

Feeling happiness
taking over
floating through my body

Reading, writing
empty mind
feeling at ease, floating
Shofi Ahmed Jul 2018
On the very edge the living earth
dared to replicate Queen Fathima
The Queen of Heaven’s footstep.
That way is blessed bedewed
is the destination de jour
graced by thousands of prophets of God!

In the name of Allah she descended
on the Night of Ascension.
From the Night of Measures unlike the rest
none can enumerate it yet an unnumbered zone
in the perfect geometrised transcended location.  

The earth steps in the gap making way for her:
The only asymmetric golden ratio
slips out to the symmetric prophet flock!
Sequenced in symmetric phi she moves on
in the veil, reveals her unique divine relation,
the front burner for sure is ever closer to God!

So pretty classy she is the paragon work of art
the sunrise amidst the eternal night.
Her beauty in her shadow is burning fire
she is 'Zahra' pure light the luminary dynamo
the only one woman had no shadow!

The great women flocked and mirrored the earth
treading across every atom on that angle
perfectly aligned down the Moon.
Until those beneath the skin atoms
bang, explode, on approaching the behemoth,
the vibration beneath Fathima’s foot!

The ocean billows up
feels life on the high
floating on the clouds.
Choreographed like a little dew
hanging low on the rose.
Just to drop down on that hot spot
like a cool honey drop.

Even the Moon on the horizon
fancies to sip from this drop.
Ah, the lunar punter is rowing down.
The sleeping beauty wakes up
eyes are on the moonlight silver dance.
Eying on every star in the night
the Moon is floating down.
The seven seas sing out in the dark
bubbling with exuberant fireflies
that would gleefully rock the moonlight boat
over to the cup of this pretty little drop.  

Poetry in motion is a sea on the ground
the same is known as the Moon in the sky!
The storylines jump ever more
on that way over the shady grove.
Painting the colour of the winds
the sky rains down on that spot
singing the sweetest title song.  

Never was a woman prophet of God
to the one primitive woman, the leading lady
'Sayeedatun Nessa' Queen Fathima
heaven is no secret, it is an open mirror!
For her heaven is made an open book
the first batch of houris came to be
tuning into mellifluous sounds of her toes.
The earth in its primitive water first moved on
bang, Big Bang, soon she drops in it her hair lock.
She's the hidden gem in the secret end of God!

For the planetary ebb and flow on the way heaven
the planet earth is the only stepping stone.
No matter how many times it tries on
there will still be an unturned stone.
Until the very one the original woman,
the Queen Fathima steps on.

Her presence connects the dots
the nadir and zenith perfectly line up
intersect into one grand perfect circle.
She will close it with the pi once for all
without a gap spilling new decimal.
Putting it all on the map ‘as above, so below’,
all in all, like it's in pure scientia scenario.

Heaven will open its grand door
where the queen will stand on.
No more reverse engineering physically
the original, Fathima will step on,
on the last turned stone.
From the one great woman
paradise starts from here on
from beneath the mother’s foot!
I know you wanted to go out today,
so I thought of some places to go.
We could go down to the cafe,
or go see a real good show.

The park is always a nice place,
with lots of open space.
We could visit the "red light district",
but that would end with you being ******.

Or we can hangout by the canal,
just you and me,
and all of my fury friends,
at the Floating Cattery.

It's where old friendships end,
it's where new ones begin.
It's the perfect place to meet,
and it's just down the street.

It's where you'll find the cutest fur-*****,
filled with joy and glee.
They'll never leave you disappointed,
you'll always leave happy.

So if you're feeling bad,
or if you're feeling sad,
or if you just want the day to waste away,
go down to the Floating Cattery.

I remember those days when,
I just couldn't get out of bed.
But when I was with my friends,
I never wanted the day to end.

So if you're in Amsterdam,
and you're looking for something to see,
be sure that you head down,
to the Floating Cattery.

You'll always be able to find me,
down at the Floating Cattery.
Copyright Barry Pietrantonio
st64 Mar 2013
Making love to you at dawn
Look how good we are together
Drifting and escaping the claws of time
Oh, floating on, floating on, floating on...our dawn drift.

Baking bread with you today
Oh, how swell we are together
Sifting and reaping rewards so fine
Oh, floating on, floating on, floating on...our dawn drift.



Somehow, together for so long......
Yet we're still in our dawn....
:-)



Star Toucher, 23 March 2013
Love alive from dawn to dusk AND...in-between :-p
Morgan Mercury Jul 2013
I found you in the cracks of winter. On our first date, we drank tea from cups bigger than our faces. You also told me you wrote poetry. I noticed how every time you would lick your lips before you would speak. The first time you read me a poem your window was open and it was raining. Your voice cracked and you cleared your throat six times. I was smitten. After our third date, I showed you my favorite place in the world. I took you to a bay on the outskirts of town. I told you the stories I carved into the sand a long time ago. I told you I came here every time the world kept turning but I felt as though I've fallen off, waiting for a guitar solo crash or a midnight knock on my window.

I wanted to tell you, you were my midnight knock. You let me hold your book of poems that night. There were bite marks in them from when you said you climbed up in trees back when you were as tall as the kitchen counter. We had conversations of Bon Iver and soccer as we laid on the sandy bay.

I realized that night I wanted to be there with you when the clock swallows up your time and watch indie movies on Netflix when there is nothing good on TV. I turned to look into space and swallowed all my feelings. I felt hollow when I looked at you and noticed your skin was old and tired. But you looked at me like you were young. You said I was the first to make you feel this way. I was smitten.

At first, I looked at you like a star but ended up seeing the whole solar system.
Shofi Ahmed Jul 2018
Dancing the billow in the sea
the cool one will show up
in no time with love.
Deep down from the deep
with the flute on the lips.

Listen to the flute!
The chorus clouds bang out
floating by the river blue,
they sing down the sky as they move.

The sun draws in
from the secret valley
ambling with the wonder light
as if it, the punter sun, in the sky
knew it, knows the flutist arty
rose from down the sea!

Every planet is a flying bee
twirling around the inner music
nothing ever stops in the solar disc.

The waning and waxing Moon
in silhouette and at half-light
swings over the sea full of life.

It all starts from the ground;
it was from our sea waterfront
Him the creative sweetheart in the midst
floated the leading light the bumblebee.
All the stars bubble in the galaxy
they know this ancient story!

Since then the brightest bulb
the sun in the solar ring  
leads the bunch’s mindful
butterfly dance on the way home.
Following the enduring haunting melody
of the pre-design command ‘qun’ be!
A poem from my upcoming book Qun: Love is Unconditional
forestfaith Jul 2018
People of cotton minds.
Implanted with chips of different sizes.
Shaken and stirred is what makes their thoughts...our thoughts??
Floating around in defiance of truth.
Floating around with uncouth language.

"I Don't Care"
That's what you write of fountain pens of sugar-coated darkness.

Floating around in an abstract, broken glass world. A world of a glass maze.
You think that by closing your eyes you can see better.
Open up.
At least then you can see the pain the world.
At least then you can see the problems of the human heart.
At least you can see the shattered glass on the floor.
At least you can learn how to love.

A loveless life is such a loss.
Such a misery of a life.
Without love. There is no life.

Floating around in fluff and wool.
Obliviously in destructive symphony.
Floating around once in a while.
To avoid the problems of the soul...
To avoid the problems of the heart, the world. . .
Willow-Anne Sep 2014
I'm surrounded by a sea of people
As far as the eye can see
All flowing in the same direction
And just floating along, is me

I've been wading in this water
Letting it carry me any way
Not caring about which direction
And never having any say

After wading all this time though
My legs started growing tired
So finally it was time to choose
Which direction I desired

But the problem with floating along
Was that I never became aware
I wasn't really a part of the waves
I was just sort of...there

What I wanted didn't matter
The waves still moved as one
Whether I moved with or against them
Didn't matter in the long run

Then I thought I better get out
And give myself some time to think
But I couldn't see the shore anymore
And with that, I started to sink

Now I'm surrounded by a sea of people
As far as the eye can see
All still flowing in the same direction
But drowning in it, is me
"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone." Robin Williams <3
Wow, I am so honored that this was chosen for daily poem and that I have received so many friendly comments.
Thank you all for your friendly words and messages, and for your love and support. You have no idea how much it means to me. <3
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Composed on 00:53, 21/09/2016 using Hello Poetry's 'Words' algorithm. We don't assume this means something.
Meghan Marie Feb 2011
I see you floating in the dark
Glowing in the blackness of my heart
And then you stare at me
Pupils are all I see
There you are floating in the dark

Kaleidoscope of colors in my head
Ooh, a neon Roy G. Biv
You permeate my corneas, how intriguing
The way you sit upon my nose is quite endearing

I see you floating in the dark
Glowing in the blackness of my heart
And then you stare at me
Pupils are all I see
There you are floating in the dark

When I tried you on you felt so sincere
Ooh, your purpose became quite clear
You were made for my face, like it was made for you
You’re the Shaggy to my ******-dooby-doo

I see you floating in the dark
Glowing in the blackness of my heart
And then you stare at me
Pupils are all I see
There you are floating in the dark
Written with Kayla McCormick, for our musical project; Peach Pommes
All is not what it seems
Because I was an atheist
Long before I realized I was God,
But that was much, much later
Then, at that time, I succumbed
To the lurid but exciting depths
Of freedom, the joy of love and danger
Of searching and of knowledge,
Embracing every moment;
I surrendered to ungovernable impulses
That invoked within my very existence

Still to realise the true extent of this
It's perhaps best to start before the beginning
Before the earth embalmed me
A time when Cyparisse had not
Yet set root in my belly
Nor made sap of my blood
A time when it was possible to speak
To Panza's donkey when I thought of Zanzibar
A time when the vagrancy of my soul
Had not yet embarked
On its erratic itinerary
Plunging me eventually
Into the bright light
Of tainted and squalid reality

Like oscillating libraries, noise oppressed,
Contradictions of dreams
Suddenly I took flight,
With violent wrenches of imagination
In Persia being worshipped
Beneath the moon by Gods;
Caressed by those impetuous charms
A dazzling vision
I thought of death the only sister of charity
Whose dark night has no malevolence;
Black and white, silences that migrated
In sonorous symbolism took control
Shimmering like a painting of a sorrow

Streaked with unashamed colours
A single tear from a promethean candle
I would move to lick the stain of destiny
That pillar inhaling its black perfumes
Like a communicant on his knees.
Exiled in reality, I saw what I had never saw
Or only thought I saw now condemned
To see what has never been seen

Words corralled themselves in my mind
Writhing maggots on a corpse
Wriggling for position waiting to be pronounced
How they flew, taking wings
Hovering for an instant above the page
Hunting out the detritus of man
To feast upon the putrid flesh of misery
I too went searching
For my ancient feast; for Zanzibar

However hideous pages
From the note book of the ******
Imprisoned the words, stampeded the search
Scattering it in many directions
Shattering blue-white eyes
A castrated country, century, impotent, impure
Like politics, the ******* that can be purchased by coin
Like so much bread in the market,
A thousand profanities became the popular song
But silence is the real language of the fool

For he alone bears witness to what he feels
Misfortunes not understood, weeping the popular ballad
Morality and law, parades of red robed Judges
Carcasses, a circus for carrion crows
Yet like a cannibal the dead were still buried in my belly
The gloss of reason hiding madness
Like so many veneered fronts in a proud precinct

Paraded in full view, silence is demanded and got
The words wither, fake time continues,
To count the unrelieved falsehood the chimera of life;
Reason did not imprison me
My life being not heavy enough
Was allowed to take flight
To float above the reasoned realm
Revelations of the truth realised only by detachment
Devoured my mind increased my errorless purpose
The search for Zanzibar

Accepted values; valued only;
Because of this acceptance
Are accepted as value
Thus accepted in silence
The fools resign themselves
To a false reality
One that nails them to a poisoned cross

In the gardens of the dead
Like rowed tulips that
Gardeners know how to match
I found myself, among those who had gone
Remembered yet forgotten
Whose edifice unlike their lives
Reached not upwards but down.
I smelt the scent of unknown things
The perfumes of eternity that histories bind;
Intensity, a murmur; gurgle, as in a child
Yet extreme its aberrations
Like celluloid hand that
Had never known toil
Or wiped sweat from a brow
Laughed yet grimaced
Its smile a crimson smear
The sorrow that it felt
A burnished hand upon its nakedness
To see its enshrouded presence in such a garden
One well stocked and growing
Caressed my being with its glee
To turn white feel the touch
Of its venomous fingers upon my flesh;
Its purpose, to prevent any search for Zanzibar

The stench of death
Then cast its' new
Yet antediluvian gaze
Upon its purpose
Odour of grave
Faraway nonexistent
Yet it is perfume to those
Who feast upon its scent
Moistures mingling with the air
Its common purpose
Floating like un-forgiveness
Its atmosphere ozone sans holes
Its meaning ever present
Its' outcome to halt
The search for Zanzibar

And so the stencils of oriental scribes
Like black shadows overpowered my reason
Floating high above, adrift on an expanse of darkness
However, presently that azure ink
Raised its curtain before my very eyes
Revealing the stage, the illuminated stage
On which I was to set my drama
Where the phantoms of my imagination
Would enact their mysterious mysteries;
A poetic alchemy

Then a golden spark of pure
Nocturnal light blinded me
In an instant I saw, observed
The sun drown in its deathly sea
Its healing wings spread
Fear would see it rise again
Still searching for that fatal flaw, happiness
How many lives do I need?
How many existences will it take?
Incarnations a hundred times
Searching for Zanzibar.
Awakening to continue to
Live the saddest of my dreams

Furtive footsteps through Cimmerian landscapes
Ah such enchantment, do you understand?
Ah such a charm, listen to its undying echo
Feel its charge, that siren call
Cosmic summons, the vagrancy of mind
That caresses the imagination
Whose tender touch can place you
At the apex of the universe
Can lead to Zanzibar.


And so the subtle and foolish tortures
Inflicted upon me by I, my quest began
One that would ascertain, take centre stage
Make an unheard appearance of a philosophy
That, I am everyone and everyone else is me
Eventually at some point
In time and space we are all one
All linked, for we are condemned
Yes condemned to live these lives
This is why the dead have dreams
Dreams about the tyrants and demons
Of other lives of who they were;
Who they have yet to become.
Nourished on half truths,
Forever pulling at the thread
The rotted rags of reason
Those tattered twines
Unravelling the stitching of reality
Of hallucinations, empty illusions
And tarnished dreams create a constant struggle


Therefore for every conscious thing
That happens in the world
There must be a responding reverberation
Within the human soul
Let us put a halt to the calls
For the death of imagination
And demands for imagination to be silent
Such absurdities
For imagination is the true door to reality
For only in imagination
Can there be a bearable act
Of self examination
It is memory that hurts
More than the imagination
Always prefer the imaginary to the real
Imagination is neither an exit
From our nightmares nor
An escape from reality
But the place we are all trying to get to,
Zanzibar its shared images
Its story, its own life a new reality.


Mysteriously in the midst of unknown
Mazagran landscapes I feel
The full impact of fleeting visions
Without the limitations of space or time
Feel the act of experiencing their reality
This requires no explanation, no proof
Either together or separate
Because simply they are,
Judgement, condemnation
Punishments are gone
There is no cleansing a world
Without consciousness
Landscape devoid of people
'La Lune' growling in the orchard of the sea
Calypso again one or ten
Eucharis, tempest or temptress
Take both the meaning and the experience
Taste the tear drops of the sun
Telemachus searching, searching
Zanzibar

The idol, tentacles undulating
Vibrations of collective knowledge
The blank face, featureless
Touching around the domain of Atlas
Speaking in a thousand different tongues
Moving but still, blocks my path
Disturbs the line of imagination
Makes reality quiver
Dream flowers sway in its cosmic wind.
Yet Alhazers' iridescent arch allows
The steerage of my passage
Without pious pilgrimages to empty silences that
Contain an eternity of tears
Who graciously offers coverage
For the echo of footsteps
Allowing the magic moments to come


Robbed of sunlight, artificial night shines
Its deception attempting to secure knowledge
Of a future unknown, winning only it's unattainably
Offering instead knowledge of the past
Master of silence, offers only knowledge
Of invaded consciousness
Bedlam of paradise where Eros and Pan
In congress sleep, close at Zanzibar.


Lifeless beauty that lives everlasting
Time that reason cannot change, only help.
O enchanted torture you have stolen
The taste from my mouth
Masked I against the spectre of reality
Proclaimed the age of 'hasashin'
The creator of recollections, maker of memories
Possessor of impulse giver of echo
That rings in the ear
Cloud cast its surroccoian shadow
Air tinged with the aftermath of fire
Floating in an Asian wind, so subtle
Like a breath suddenly the sound of song
Of dance rents the solitude
Silence is slashed like a canvass screen
Happiness pours forth unconfined
Unfettered, both faces of Kandinsky as one
I extinguish the light, turn to the wall
Gazing upon its Janis face
My eyes behold the giver of pleasure.

Then I found myself in an extraordinary place
Whose skies where made of crystal glass
Water of the enchanted land was blue-grey
Bridges zig-zagged its shimmering domes
I stared as masts and parapets came to life
Its people, musicians sporting
Tangerine and white livery danced
The air filled with the sound of their music
Then as if from nowhere a light hit my eyes
Blinking, this apparition was gone
Can I not always believe what I see
Just because I see what I believe
The inhabitants at once became spectres
Engulfed in thick clouds of smoke and sulphur
Erinyies roamed, inflicting madness
A circus of the macabre sped past
Its symbols of death fluttering frantically
Around this false and fragile world
Suggested children, like creatures in an imagination
Were made ready for their rebirth
By the touch of the poets pen
A thousand Cheribino

In another, swirling sonorous scenes
Stormed the citadels of my mind
Marched through my imagination
Mab engulfed the long closed
Cemeteries of my thought allowing me
To see the dreams of others
Like precious pearls prised from their shells
Their visualisation so intense
Joy overcame me at once
Then a swarm of kisses descended upon me
Like a regiment of famished men
Feasting for the first time
I freely gave myself as the main course
In the most beautiful of banquets
In another, yielding to these seductions
I was enraptured by portraits of beautiful young men
Which appeared to be on the point of speaking
They were most mysterious their intrinsic
Charm so beautiful, stimulated desire
Whose assuagement was so pleasurable
That it might be called pure ecstasy
A perfect pleasure which had never before existed
Entirely individual and new

Thus upon the horizons of my mind
Had been shed a mysterious light
In which I now saw everything bathed
I was summoned by the Prince
Knowing dreams have no limits
I obeyed his call
For a long time failing to set
Foot on the shores of reality
Drinking from the wells of magic
While angels danced on grassy slopes
Disturbed by flames
The stars shot out their fragrance

Sweet smelling; blue abyss
On I went to the court, the court of the Prince of
Poets, a visitor to life
There I spat out the bit of liberty
Embraced the Prince
Courtesans mocked me, ridiculed
Laughed and taunted me
Their jibes merely part of
Their own deluded reality, not of mine
They did not serve my purpose
Dressed as they were
In meaningless words
Clothed in phrases of falsehood
They tried to make me compromise
There was fire burning in my eyes
Vivid dreams were eating up my mind
They wouldn't let me be
There were dead men lying
By the sides of the road
With daylight in their eyes
I saw villages under the sea
I stood at Galactic central point
Watched the earth burn
They did not know
The way to Zanzibar
Could the Prince show me?

However each morning I awoke
I found myself in a purgatorial fog
I roamed lost the alternative harbour
For my soul still distant
The Prince, I discovered, existed
In a twilight world of mysterious ailments
He denied his feelings
Such denial only immersed him
In maintaining the world of external restraints
It created emptiness, a vacancy
Filled by material concerns
I pleaded with him
The emerald gene came down
Soon the leaves of grass
Whispered another order of existence
Strangeness of sensation
Intoxication of vision
Unhinged for mortals
And as the sound increased one cannot
Describe what else it is that has been
I viewed a world transparent
Devoid of illumination within which
Was never a sea or land
Then the prophets were ******
For they were all liars
And I saw the most beautiful flower
Unfolding out of its own roots
For such a flower cannot
Unfold other than it does
I stood on the threshold of Orcus
I met Abbas Effendi the Gene without a name
Bab, Upanishads spilled music in my ears
Called to me in the most spectacular of colours
It was wonderful for the colours
Were like my dreams, red, black and green
I witnessed the three, sometimes as one
Other times as two, again and again
The self eternal and inseparable sons
Of Shakyamuni caressed me with their thoughts
Their music and colour moved about me
In ecstatic rhythm like the peaceful
Waves of the ocean as upon a shore
I read the sentences of silence
Breathed the perfume of never fading flowers
Walked in cherry blossom snow
Heard Hafiz reciting in the night
I saw for the first time
The unfinished likeness of others.

Then one day the Prince
With a sweeping theatrical and
So to speak, allegorical flourish bowed
Called me an exiled angel
Said the time had come to travel
To leave the images of naked heels
Imprinted in the clay
We wondered
Then as if by magic, suddenly the shadows
Of houses, halls, and a church
Emerged like enchanted islands in a fairy tale
The spiritualised forms of civilisation
I was approached by a graceful youth
Draped in cobweb lawn
He was pale, delicately beautiful
Spanish looking, but his name was Alexis Sonyeuse
Whose family it was said was
Related to the French Emperor Napoleon
It was also rumoured that he had
Had a tempestuous affair with the Bishop of Monaco
And once slept with his half brother Julian Apollinaire
When he spoke he was at once original
Delicious, moving, droll and discreetly melancholy
Listening to him was like breathing
The perfume of wondrous flowers
But the scent of datura hung about him
Paralleling his every movement
  Another youth, Edmond also greeted me
He was a young man with aristocratic features
A complexion pink, like a girls
And a bearing at once charmingly gracious
And audaciously insolent
His shirt was strange, the lining
A peculiarly orange colour
A flame coloured taffeta
Like the petticoats of a *****



They looked at me
Furtive glances emanated from their eyes
Training a profound stare upon my person
The two youths took me to 18 Avenue de Friedland
There two boy servants
Adoum and Outhman greeted us
Spinario's lay about its confines
Frezans caressing them
As they touched their feet
A hundred echansons moved
With dazzling delicacy dispensing dreams
In drops from crystalline cups
Here I witnessed the tragic faces of the population
Urnings, cleaning in the midst of anarchist trials
The room a fiery red, stained with light
The caress of forgotten thought
Like the thickness of a sorrow
Musicians playing on broken strings
Crimson ******, who defied the King of Naples
We moved past wretches
Like Virgil, but Danteian
Saw the usurers heard the rustling
Of lute strings the clinking of grey paper
Observed in this Minatare's lair
The purchase of a twelve penny dagger
Liberty of speech meeting its great reckoning
In a little room, Ingram the poltergeist
Of misfortune was there
Dead Scythian, who ever loved you
Loved you as you might, loved you at first sight.

This was a new and exciting world
Whose environs were populated
By the most mysterious and colourful of people
I was introduced by the two youths
To a suicidal young painter who
Was rebelling against his class
He was a somewhat forced intellectual
With an over quixotic passion for equality
Still he was warm, kind and impulsive
Poetry, he made it known
Had opened his mind to the invisible
Beside him was a painting
Exemplifying a new kind of observation
In a style absolutely faultless
Each structure clear, each brush stroke
Falling exactly into place
Inscribed in the top left
Corner were the words
"Quod me nutrit me destruit"
An introduction to himself of a tall youth
Whose eyes possessed a constant
Vagrancy of desire
Who seemed at once, for one so
Mitchell Duran Nov 2013
It was 98'.
No, it was 99'.
That was the year.
Yeah, that was the year.

I had just landed abroad and knew no one.
Well, I was there with my girlfriend, Page.

I knew her.

We had to get out of the states.
There was nothing for us there.
We were drowning in that nothingness - that lacking future.

Cookie cutters everywhere.

Everything I saw was like an outline of something that had already happened.
I couldn't sleep.
I couldn't ****.
I could barely call my parents to let them know what I was doing.

Nothing really.

Floating downward like a leaf broken from its stem.
I was scared.
I'll admit it.
I was terrified of the next four years.
Twenty-five seemed so far away and so close, all at the same time.

We had a found an apartment to live in while in the U.S.
We were lucky because people we met later on said it was hell trying to find a place after arriving.
I was never too good at that stuff anyway.
I always felt like people were trying to cheat me or something.

It was small.
You would have said you loved it, but secretly hated it.
One could barely stand in the shower.
Want to spread your arms wide?

Forget about it.

There was a balcony though and you could watch the street traffic from above.
People look so small when your high up.
Down the street, there was a large theatre where they filmed movies.
I rarely saw them shooting, but I could tell it was a good place to.
It was beautiful at night when the lampposts would flicker on, orange spilling on the street.
Everything was damp in the Fall when we first arrived.

"What do you want to do today?" I asked her. She was laying face down on the bed.
Whenever she was hungover, she would do that.
All the covers and pillows over her face, blocking out the world and its light.
I did the same thing, so I couldn't really say much.
We were hungover a lot those first couple months.
Then came the jobs and everything changed...mostly.

She moaned something that I couldn't understand.
I was standing by the window, staring at the pigeons and crows perched on the roof across from us.
They had made a little nest under one of the shingles.
Clever little ******'s.

"Look at those things," I said.
The coffee I was drinking was bitter and made from crystals.
It gave me a headache, but it was cheap and we were broke.
I stepped back to get a better look at their nest and knocked an empty beer bottle around.

She moaned again and rose up from bed, kind of like a stretching kitten or a cat.
Her back was arched like a crescent moon and she stunk of ***** and Sprite.
The blankets were twisted and crumpled and she was tangled in them like a fly in a spiders web.
I went into the kitchen and poured out my coffee, thinking of what to do with the day.

"Breakfast?" she asked me from bed.
My back was to her, but I knew she wanted me to make it.
I put the electric stove on and opened the refrigerator.

"No eggs," I said back to her, "I'll be right back."

She moaned and slithered back into bed.
I threw my jacket and slippers on and made my way downstairs.

"Dobry den," I said to the cashier.
He was a tiny vietnamese man with a extremely high pitched voice.
I struggled to stifle a laugh every time I came in.

"Dobry den," he said back, sounding like air escaping from a balloon.

"Dear God," I thought, "How does his voice box do it?"

I went straight to the eggs, pretending to cough.
All around me were packaged sweets and rotten vegetables and fruit.
There were half loaves of brown, stale bread wrapped lazily in thin plastic.
Canned beans, noodle packets, and cardboard infused orange juice lined the shelves.
Where were the ******* eggs?
We needed milk too.
Trying to drink that crystalized coffee without it was torture.
I don't even know how I did it earlier.
"I must be getting used to the taste..." I thought.

I opened the single refrigerator they had in the place.
It was stocked with loosely packaged cheese, milk, beer, and soda.
There they were, those ******* eggs, right next to the yogurt.
I looked at the expiration date of a small carton of chocolate milk and winced.
"Someone could die here if they weren't careful," I whispered to myself.

"Everyding O.K.?" I heard the cashier squeak behind me.
I turned and nodded and showed him the eggs.
He was suspicious I was stealing something.
It was ironic.
I put the eggs on the counter and handed over what the cash register told me.

"There you go," I said and handed him the 58 crown in exact change.

"Děkuji," he peeped.

His voice sounded like a stuffed animal.
I nodded, smiled, and quickly got the hell out of there.

"You know the guy that works at the shop across the street?" I asked the body still in bed.
Well, she was up now, back up against the wall with her laptop on her lap.
"You mean the guy that has the voice of a little girl?"
"Exactly. I was just in there - getting these eggs - and I nearly laughed in his face."
"That's mean," she frowned, staring at her laptop.
Many of our conversations were with some kind of electronic device in between us.
We needed to work on that.
"I didn't laugh at him directly."
She smiled and nodded and moved down the bed a little more.
Only her head was resting on the pillow.
I cracked two eggs and let them sizzle there in the butter and the salt.

"So, what do you want to do today?" I asked Page, "It's not too cold out. We could go on a walk."
"Where?"
"I don't know. Over the bridge and maybe down by the water."
"It's going to be so cold," she shivered.
"I was just out there in slippers and a t-shirt and I was fine."
"That's because you're so big. I'm tiny. I don't get as much blood flow."

I flipped the two eggs and looked down at them.
Golden and burnt slightly around the edges.
******* perfect.
Now, just gotta wait a little on the other side and make sure to not let the yolk harden.
I hated that more than anything in the world.
Well, that and hearing **** poor excuses like it being too cold.
It was nice out.
She'd be fine.

"Come on," I sighed. I did that a lot. "It'll be fun."
She looked up at me from her computer with a dead look in her eye.
"What?" I asked her.
"You're such a...nerd," she said.
"No I'm not."
"You're so weird. Some of the things you say sometimes..."
"Like what?"
"Let's go on a walk."
She exaggerated the word walk.
I laughed and knew I was being a little too excited about a walk.
"Yeah. So? What are you doing? You're just laying there doing nothing."
"It's my day off," she scoffed, jokingly.

We were unemployed.
Everyday was a day off.
This was not something to bring up.
It was touchy subject.
One had to go about it...delicately.

"We need to find jobs," I stated, "And we can probably ask around or look for signs in windows."

"Oh JESUS," she gagged, coughing and diving back under the covers.

"I'm just thinking ahead so we can stay here. There's got to be something out there we can do."

"Like what?" she asked, her voice muffled by blankets.

"I don't know...something," I mumbled, trailing off as I flipped one of the eggs, "Perfect."

After breakfast, Page finally got out of bed and took a shower.
I tried to sneak in there with her, but, like I said before, one could barely fit themselves in there.
We compromised to have *** on the bed, though I did miss doing it in the shower.
As Page got dressed, I watched her slip those thin black stockings on, half reading a magazine.
I had gotten a subscription to The Review because I was trying to become a writer.
I thought, maybe if I read the stuff getting published - even the bad **** - it'll help.
Later, I realized, this was a terrible idea, but I enjoyed the magazine all the same.
Page finished getting dressed.
I jumped into whatever clothes were on the floor and didn't stink.
Then, we were out the door on Anna Letenske street, looking at the tram, downhill.


"I can see my breath," Page said, "It's cold..."

"Alright," I said as both of us ran across the street, "It's a little cold."

"But it's ok because I'm glad were out of the house."

"If we would have festered there any longer, we would have stayed in there all day."

"And missed this beautiful day," she said mocking me, putting both of her arms in the air.

The sky was gray and overcast and a single black crow flew over us, roof to roof.
No one was out, really.
It was Sunday and no one ever really came out on Sundays.
From the few czech friends I had, they explained to me this was the day to get drunk and cook.

"Far different then what people think in the States to do," I remember telling him.
"What do you do, my friend?" he had asked. He always called me my friend.
It was a nice thing to do since we had only known each other a couple weeks.
"Well," I explained to him, "Some people go to church to pray to God."
He laughed when I said this and said, "HA! God? How many people believe in God there?"
I had heard through the news and some Wikipedia research Prague was mostly atheist.
"A good amount, I'm pretty sure."
"That's silly," he scoffed, "Silly is word, right?"
"Yep. A word as any other."
"I like that word. What else do they do on Sunday?"
"A lot of people watch football. Not like soccer but with..."
"I know what you talk about," he said, cutting me off, "With the ball shaped like egg?"
I nodded, "Yes, the one with the egg shaped ball. It's popular in the Fall on Sundays."
"And what is Fall?" he asked.
You can see our relationship was really based on questions and answers.
He was a good guy, though I could never pronounce his name right.
There was a specific z in there somewhere where one had to dig their tongue under their teeth.
Lots of breath and vibration that Americans were never asked or trained to do.
Every czech I met said our language was a high contradiction.
Extremely complex in grammar and spelling, but spoken with such sloth.
I don't know if they used the word sloth.
I just like the word.

As we waited for the tram, I noticed the burnt orange and red blood leaves on the ground.
"Where had they come from?" I wondered. There were no trees on the street.
Must be from the park down the block, the one with the big church and the square.
There were lines of trees there used as leaning posts for the bums and junkies as they waited.
What they were waiting for, I never knew.
They just looked to be waiting for something.
I kicked a leaf into the street from the small island platform for the tram.
It swept up into the air a couple inches, and then instantly, was swept away by a passing car.
I watched as it wavered in the air, settling down the block in the middle of the road.

"Where's this trammm," Page complained.
Whenever it was cold out, her complaining level multiplied by a million.
"Should be coming soon. Check the schedule."
"Too cold," she said, "Need to keep my hands in my pockets."
I shook my head and looked at the schedule. It said it would be there at 11:35.
"11:35," I told her, still looking at the schedule. There was a strange cross over the day of Sunday.
"You mad?"
"No," I said turning to her, "I just want to have a nice day and its hard when you're upset."
"I'm not upset," she said, her teeth chattering behind her lips.
"Complaining I mean. We can go back home if it's really too cold. It's right there."
"No," she looked down, "Let's go out for a bit. I just don't know how long I'll last."
"Ok," I shrugged.
I looked up the street and saw our tram coming; number 11.
"There it is," I said.
"Thank God," Page exhaled, "I feel like I'm about to die."

Even the tram was sparse with people.
An empty handle of cheap liquor rattled in the back somewhere.
I heard it rock back and forth against the legs of a metal seat.
"Someone had a night last night," I thought, "Hope that's not mine."
We had gone to some dark bar with a lot of stairs going down - all I really recall.
Beer was so **** cheap there and there was always so much of it, one got very drunk easily.
I couldn't even really remember who we met or why we went there.
When everything's a blur in the morning you have two choices:
Feel guilty about how much you drank, lie around, and do nothing or,
Leave it be, try not to think about it, and try and find your passport and cell phone.

We made our transfer at the 22 and rode downhill.
Page looked like she was going to be sick.
Her sunglasses were solid black and I couldn't see her eyes, but her face was flushed and green.
"You alright?" I asked her.
"I'm fine," she said, "Just need to get off of this tram. Feel like I'm going to be sick."
"You look it."
"Really?" she asked.
"Yeah, a little bit."
"Let's get off at the park with the fountain. I don't want to puke here."
"Ok," I said, smiling, "We'll get off after this stop."

We sat down on one of the benches that circled around the fountain.
It was empty and Page was confused why.
"Maybe to save money?" I suggested.
"What? It's just water."
"Well, you gotta' pump the water up there and then filter it back out. Costs money."
"Costs crown," she corrected me.
"Same thing," I said, putting my arm around her, "There's no one here today."
"I know why," she stated, flatly.
"Why?"
"Because it's collllllllld and it's Sunday and only foreigner's would go out on a day like this."
I scanned the park and noticed that most of the faces there were probably not Czech.
"****," I muttered, "You may be right."
"I know I am," she said, wiggling her chin down into her jacket, "We're...crzzzy."
"We're what?" I asked. I couldn't hear her through her jacket.
She just shook her head back and forth and looked forward, not wanting to move from the warmth.
Dogs were scattered around the brown green grass with their owners.
Some were playing catch with sticks or *****, but others were just following behind their owner's.
I watched as one took a crap in the center of the walkway near the street.
Its owner was typing something on their phone, ignoring what was happening in front of him.
After the dog finished, the owner looked down at the crap, looked around, then slunk off.

"Did you see that?" I asked Page, pointing to where the owner had left the mess.
"Yeah," she nodded, "So gross. That would never fly in the states."
"You'd get shoulder tackled by some park security guard and thrown in jail."
"And be given a fat ticket," she said, coughing a little, "Let's get out of here."
"Yeah," I agreed, "And watch for any **** on the way out of here."

We made our way out of the park and down the street where the 22 continues on to the center.
"Let's not go into the center. Let's walk along the water's edge and maybe up to the bridge."
"Ok," I said, "That's a good idea." I didn't want to get stuck in that mass of tourists.
I could tell Page didn't either. I think she was afraid she might puke on a huddle of them.
We turned down a side street before the large grocery store and avoided a herd of people.
The cobble stones were wet and slick, glistening from a small sliver of sunlight through the clouds.
Page walked ahead.
Sometimes, when we walked downtown in the older parts of Prague, we would walk alone.
Not because we were fighting or anything like that; it was all very natural.
I would walk ahead because I saw something and she would either come with or not.
She would do the same and we both knew that we wouldn't go too far without the other.
I think we both knew that we would be back after seeing what we had wanted to see.
One could call it trust - one could call it a lot of things - but this was not really spoken about.
We knew we would be back after some time and had seen what we had wanted to.
Thinking about this, I watched her look up at the peeling paint of the old buildings.
Her thick black hair waved back and forth behind her plum colored pea coat.
Page would usually bring a camera and take pictures of these things, but she had forgotten it.
I wished she hadn't.
It was turning out to be such a beautiful day.

We made it to the Vlatva river and leaned over the railing, looking down at the water.
Floating there were empty beer bottles and plastic soda jugs.
The water was brown, murky, and looked like someone had dumped a large bag of dirt in there.
There was nothing very romantic about it, which one would think if you saw it in a picture.
"The water looks disgusting," Page said.
"That it does, but look at the bridge. It looks pretty good right
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.
All is not what it seems
Because I was an atheist
Long before I realized I was God,
But that was much, much later
Then, at that time, I succumbed
To the lurid but exciting depths
Of freedom, the joy of love and danger
Of searching and of knowledge,
Embracing every moment;
I surrendered to ungovernable impulses
That invoked within my very existence

Still to realise the true extent of this
It's perhaps best to start before the beginning
Before the earth embalmed me
A time when Cyparisse had not
Yet set root in my belly
Nor made sap of my blood
A time when it was possible to speak
To Panza's donkey when I thought of Zanzibar
A time when the vagrancy of my soul
Had not yet embarked
On its erratic itinerary
Plunging me eventually
Into the bright light
Of tainted and squalid reality

Like oscillating libraries, noise oppressed,
Contradictions of dreams
Suddenly I took flight,
With violent wrenches of imagination
In Persia being worshipped
Beneath the moon by Gods;
Caressed by those impetuous charms
A dazzling vision
I thought of death the only sister of charity
Whose dark night has no malevolence;
Black and white, silences that migrated
In sonorous symbolism took control
Shimmering like a painting of a sorrow

Streaked with unashamed colours
A single tear from a promethean candle
I would move to lick the stain of destiny
That pillar inhaling its black perfumes
Like a communicant on his knees.
Exiled in reality, I saw what I had never saw
Or only thought I saw now condemned
To see what has never been seen

Words corralled themselves in my mind
Writhing maggots on a corpse
Wriggling for position waiting to be pronounced
How they flew, taking wings
Hovering for an instant above the page
Hunting out the detritus of man
To feast upon the putrid flesh of misery
I too went searching
For my ancient feast; for Zanzibar

However hideous pages
From the note book of the ******
Imprisoned the words, stampeded the search
Scattering it in many directions
Shattering blue-white eyes
A castrated country, century, impotent, impure
Like politics, the ******* that can be purchased by coin
Like so much bread in the market,
A thousand profanities became the popular song
But silence is the real language of the fool

For he alone bears witness to what he feels
Misfortunes not understood, weeping the popular ballad
Morality and law, parades of red robed Judges
Carcasses, a circus for carrion crows
Yet like a cannibal the dead were still buried in my belly
The gloss of reason hiding madness
Like so many veneered fronts in a proud precinct

Paraded in full view, silence is demanded and got
The words wither, fake time continues,
To count the unrelieved falsehood the chimera of life;
Reason did not imprison me
My life being not heavy enough
Was allowed to take flight
To float above the reasoned realm
Revelations of the truth realised only by detachment
Devoured my mind increased my errorless purpose
The search for Zanzibar

Accepted values; valued only;
Because of this acceptance
Are accepted as value
Thus accepted in silence
The fools resign themselves
To a false reality
One that nails them to a poisoned cross

In the gardens of the dead
Like rowed tulips that
Gardeners know how to match
I found myself, among those who had gone
Remembered yet forgotten
Whose edifice unlike their lives
Reached not upwards but down.
I smelt the scent of unknown things
The perfumes of eternity that histories bind;
Intensity, a murmur; gurgle, as in a child
Yet extreme its aberrations
Like celluloid hand that
Had never known toil
Or wiped sweat from a brow
Laughed yet grimaced
Its smile a crimson smear
The sorrow that it felt
A burnished hand upon its nakedness
To see its enshrouded presence in such a garden
One well stocked and growing
Caressed my being with its glee
To turn white feel the touch
Of its venomous fingers upon my flesh;
Its purpose, to prevent any search for Zanzibar

The stench of death
Then cast its' new
Yet antediluvian gaze
Upon its purpose
Odour of grave
Faraway nonexistent
Yet it is perfume to those
Who feast upon its scent
Moistures mingling with the air
Its common purpose
Floating like un-forgiveness
Its atmosphere ozone sans holes
Its meaning ever present
Its' outcome to halt
The search for Zanzibar

And so the stencils of oriental scribes
Like black shadows overpowered my reason
Floating high above, adrift on an expanse of darkness
However, presently that azure ink
Raised its curtain before my very eyes
Revealing the stage, the illuminated stage
On which I was to set my drama
Where the phantoms of my imagination
Would enact their mysterious mysteries;
A poetic alchemy

Then a golden spark of pure
Nocturnal light blinded me
In an instant I saw, observed
The sun drown in its deathly sea
Its healing wings spread
Fear would see it rise again
Still searching for that fatal flaw, happiness
How many lives do I need?
How many existences will it take?
Incarnations a hundred times
Searching for Zanzibar.
Awakening to continue to
Live the saddest of my dreams

Furtive footsteps through Cimmerian landscapes
Ah such enchantment, do you understand?
Ah such a charm, listen to its undying echo
Feel its charge, that siren call
Cosmic summons, the vagrancy of mind
That caresses the imagination
Whose tender touch can place you
At the apex of the universe
Can lead to Zanzibar.


And so the subtle and foolish tortures
Inflicted upon me by I, my quest began
One that would ascertain, take centre stage
Make an unheard appearance of a philosophy
That, I am everyone and everyone else is me
Eventually at some point
In time and space we are all one
All linked, for we are condemned
Yes condemned to live these lives
This is why the dead have dreams
Dreams about the tyrants and demons
Of other lives of who they were;
Who they have yet to become.
Nourished on half truths,
Forever pulling at the thread
The rotted rags of reason
Those tattered twines
Unravelling the stitching of reality
Of hallucinations, empty illusions
And tarnished dreams create a constant struggle


Therefore for every conscious thing
That happens in the world
There must be a responding reverberation
Within the human soul
Let us put a halt to the calls
For the death of imagination
And demands for imagination to be silent
Such absurdities
For imagination is the true door to reality
For only in imagination
Can there be a bearable act
Of self examination
It is memory that hurts
More than the imagination
Always prefer the imaginary to the real
Imagination is neither an exit
From our nightmares nor
An escape from reality
But the place we are all trying to get to,
Zanzibar its shared images
Its story, its own life a new reality.


Mysteriously in the midst of unknown
Mazagran landscapes I feel
The full impact of fleeting visions
Without the limitations of space or time
Feel the act of experiencing their reality
This requires no explanation, no proof
Either together or separate
Because simply they are,
Judgement, condemnation
Punishments are gone
There is no cleansing a world
Without consciousness
Landscape devoid of people
'La Lune' growling in the orchard of the sea
Calypso again one or ten
Eucharis, tempest or temptress
Take both the meaning and the experience
Taste the tear drops of the sun
Telemachus searching, searching
Zanzibar

The idol, tentacles undulating
Vibrations of collective knowledge
The blank face, featureless
Touching around the domain of Atlas
Speaking in a thousand different tongues
Moving but still, blocks my path
Disturbs the line of imagination
Makes reality quiver
Dream flowers sway in its cosmic wind.
Yet Alhazers' iridescent arch allows
The steerage of my passage
Without pious pilgrimages to empty silences that
Contain an eternity of tears
Who graciously offers coverage
For the echo of footsteps
Allowing the magic moments to come


Robbed of sunlight, artificial night shines
Its deception attempting to secure knowledge
Of a future unknown, winning only it's unattainably
Offering instead knowledge of the past
Master of silence, offers only knowledge
Of invaded consciousness
Bedlam of paradise where Eros and Pan
In congress sleep, close at Zanzibar.


Lifeless beauty that lives everlasting
Time that reason cannot change, only help.
O enchanted torture you have stolen
The taste from my mouth
Masked I against the spectre of reality
Proclaimed the age of 'hasashin'
The creator of recollections, maker of memories
Possessor of impulse giver of echo
That rings in the ear
Cloud cast its surroccoian shadow
Air tinged with the aftermath of fire
Floating in an Asian wind, so subtle
Like a breath suddenly the sound of song
Of dance rents the solitude
Silence is slashed like a canvass screen
Happiness pours forth unconfined
Unfettered, both faces of Kandinsky as one
I extinguish the light, turn to the wall
Gazing upon its Janis face
My eyes behold the giver of pleasure.

Then I found myself in an extraordinary place
Whose skies where made of crystal glass
Water of the enchanted land was blue-grey
Bridges zig-zagged its shimmering domes
I stared as masts and parapets came to life
Its people, musicians sporting
Tangerine and white livery danced
The air filled with the sound of their music
Then as if from nowhere a light hit my eyes
Blinking, this apparition was gone
Can I not always believe what I see
Just because I see what I believe
The inhabitants at once became spectres
Engulfed in thick clouds of smoke and sulphur
Erinyies roamed, inflicting madness
A circus of the macabre sped past
Its symbols of death fluttering frantically
Around this false and fragile world
Suggested children, like creatures in an imagination
Were made ready for their rebirth
By the touch of the poets pen
A thousand Cheribino

In another, swirling sonorous scenes
Stormed the citadels of my mind
Marched through my imagination
Mab engulfed the long closed
Cemeteries of my thought allowing me
To see the dreams of others
Like precious pearls prised from their shells
Their visualisation so intense
Joy overcame me at once
Then a swarm of kisses descended upon me
Like a regiment of famished men
Feasting for the first time
I freely gave myself as the main course
In the most beautiful of banquets
In another, yielding to these seductions
I was enraptured by portraits of beautiful young men
Which appeared to be on the point of speaking
They were most mysterious their intrinsic
Charm so beautiful, stimulated desire
Whose assuagement was so pleasurable
That it might be called pure ecstasy
A perfect pleasure which had never before existed
Entirely individual and new

Thus upon the horizons of my mind
Had been shed a mysterious light
In which I now saw everything bathed
I was summoned by the Prince
Knowing dreams have no limits
I obeyed his call
For a long time failing to set
Foot on the shores of reality
Drinking from the wells of magic
While angels danced on grassy slopes
Disturbed by flames
The stars shot out their fragrance

Sweet smelling; blue abyss
On I went to the court, the court of the Prince of
Poets, a visitor to life
There I spat out the bit of liberty
Embraced the Prince
Courtesans mocked me, ridiculed
Laughed and taunted me
Their jibes merely part of
Their own deluded reality, not of mine
They did not serve my purpose
Dressed as they were
In meaningless words
Clothed in phrases of falsehood
They tried to make me compromise
There was fire burning in my eyes
Vivid dreams were eating up my mind
They wouldn't let me be
There were dead men lying
By the sides of the road
With daylight in their eyes
I saw villages under the sea
I stood at Galactic central point
Watched the earth burn
They did not know
The way to Zanzibar
Could the Prince show me?

However each morning I awoke
I found myself in a purgatorial fog
I roamed lost the alternative harbour
For my soul still distant
The Prince, I discovered, existed
In a twilight world of mysterious ailments
He denied his feelings
Such denial only immersed him
In maintaining the world of external restraints
It created emptiness, a vacancy
Filled by material concerns
I pleaded with him
The emerald gene came down
Soon the leaves of grass
Whispered another order of existence
Strangeness of sensation
Intoxication of vision
Unhinged for mortals
And as the sound increased one cannot
Describe what else it is that has been
I viewed a world transparent
Devoid of illumination within which
Was never a sea or land
Then the prophets were ******
For they were all liars
And I saw the most beautiful flower
Unfolding out of its own roots
For such a flower cannot
Unfold other than it does
I stood on the threshold of Orcus
I met Abbas Effendi the Gene without a name
Bab, Upanishads spilled music in my ears
Called to me in the most spectacular of colours
It was wonderful for the colours
Were like my dreams, red, black and green
I witnessed the three, sometimes as one
Other times as two, again and again
The self eternal and inseparable sons
Of Shakyamuni caressed me with their thoughts
Their music and colour moved about me
In ecstatic rhythm like the peaceful
Waves of the ocean as upon a shore
I read the sentences of silence
Breathed the perfume of never fading flowers
Walked in cherry blossom snow
Heard Hafiz reciting in the night
I saw for the first time
The unfinished likeness of others.

Then one day the Prince
With a sweeping theatrical and
So to speak, allegorical flourish bowed
Called me an exiled angel
Said the time had come to travel
To leave the images of naked heels
Imprinted in the clay
We wondered
Then as if by magic, suddenly the shadows
Of houses, halls, and a church
Emerged like enchanted islands in a fairy tale
The spiritualised forms of civilisation
I was approached by a graceful youth
Draped in cobweb lawn
He was pale, delicately beautiful
Spanish looking, but his name was Alexis Sonyeuse
Whose family it was said was
Related to the French Emperor Napoleon
It was also rumoured that he had
Had a tempestuous affair with the Bishop of Monaco
And once slept with his half brother Julian Apollinaire
When he spoke he was at once original
Delicious, moving, droll and discreetly melancholy
Listening to him was like breathing
The perfume of wondrous flowers
But the scent of datura hung about him
Paralleling his every movement
  Another youth, Edmond also greeted me
He was a young man with aristocratic features
A complexion pink, like a girls
And a bearing at once charmingly gracious
And audaciously insolent
His shirt was strange, the lining
A peculiarly orange colour
A flame coloured taffeta
Like the petticoats of a *****



They looked at me
Furtive glances emanated from their eyes
Training a profound stare upon my person
The two youths took me to 18 Avenue de Friedland
There two boy servants
Adoum and Outhman greeted us
Spinario's lay about its confines
Frezans caressing them
As they touched their feet
A hundred echansons moved
With dazzling delicacy dispensing dreams
In drops from crystalline cups
Here I witnessed the tragic faces of the population
Urnings, cleaning in the midst of anarchist trials
The room a fiery red, stained with light
The caress of forgotten thought
Like the thickness of a sorrow
Musicians playing on broken strings
Crimson ******, who defied the King of Naples
We moved past wretches
Like Virgil, but Danteian
Saw the usurers heard the rustling
Of lute strings the clinking of grey paper
Observed in this Minatare's lair
The purchase of a twelve penny dagger
Liberty of speech meeting its great reckoning
In a little room, Ingram the poltergeist
Of misfortune was there
Dead Scythian, who ever loved you
Loved you as you might, loved you at first sight.

This was a new and exciting world
Whose environs were populated
By the most mysterious and colourful of people
I was introduced by the two youths
To a suicidal young painter who
Was rebelling against his class
He was a somewhat forced intellectual
With an over quixotic passion for equality
Still he was warm, kind and impulsive
Poetry, he made it known
Had opened his mind to the invisible
Beside him was a painting
Exemplifying a new kind of observation
In a style absolutely faultless
Each structure clear, each brush stroke
Falling exactly into place
Inscribed in the top left
Corner were the words
"Quod me nutrit me destruit"
An introduction to himself of a tall youth
Whose eyes possessed a constant
Vagrancy of desire
Who seemed at once, for one so
Poetic T Apr 2015
I am a paper boat floating down a
Stream, imagination made me from
Yesterdays sport page, read now
Turned in to this boat floating down
This stream.

Calm waters as I float as I pass a fisherman
On the shore, a hat over his eyes as he
Is sleeping not much biting as no fish
In this river that I can see.

I pass a pub only slightly damp as the
Stones thrown by those drinking at the
Shore, I hear a pint to sinks the boat,
But to tipsy are they to throw straight
Lucky for me.

I float bobbing up an down, a fold slips
And up a sail shoots me forward at speed.
But the faster I go the more splashing on
Me. I get wetter down the stream and
I start to unfold more, till there is no boat
Just soggy news paper floating down the
Stream.

It was fun being a boat, as I wash up on
The side of the river, I was once part of a
Tree then a news paper, I became a boat
With imagination, what will I be used for,
Or we I decompose be one with the
Earth I will have to wait and see.
All is not what it seems
Because I was an atheist
Long before I realized I was God,
But that was much, much later
Then, at that time, I succumbed
To the lurid but exciting depths
Of freedom, the joy of love and danger
Of searching and of knowledge,
Embracing every moment;
I surrendered to ungovernable impulses
That invoked within my very existence

Still to realise the true extent of this
It's perhaps best to start before the beginning
Before the earth embalmed me
A time when Cyparisse had not
Yet set root in my belly
Nor made sap of my blood
A time when it was possible to speak
To Panza's donkey when I thought of Zanzibar
A time when the vagrancy of my soul
Had not yet embarked
On its erratic itinerary
Plunging me eventually
Into the bright light
Of tainted and squalid reality

Like oscillating libraries, noise oppressed,
Contradictions of dreams
Suddenly I took flight,
With violent wrenches of imagination
In Persia being worshipped
Beneath the moon by Gods;
Caressed by those impetuous charms
A dazzling vision
I thought of death the only sister of charity
Whose dark night has no malevolence;
Black and white, silences that migrated
In sonorous symbolism took control
Shimmering like a painting of a sorrow

Streaked with unashamed colours
A single tear from a promethean candle
I would move to lick the stain of destiny
That pillar inhaling its black perfumes
Like a communicant on his knees.
Exiled in reality, I saw what I had never saw
Or only thought I saw now condemned
To see what has never been seen

Words corralled themselves in my mind
Writhing maggots on a corpse
Wriggling for position waiting to be pronounced
How they flew, taking wings
Hovering for an instant above the page
Hunting out the detritus of man
To feast upon the putrid flesh of misery
I too went searching
For my ancient feast; for Zanzibar

However hideous pages
From the note book of the ******
Imprisoned the words, stampeded the search
Scattering it in many directions
Shattering blue-white eyes
A castrated country, century, impotent, impure
Like politics, the ******* that can be purchased by coin
Like so much bread in the market,
A thousand profanities became the popular song
But silence is the real language of the fool

For he alone bears witness to what he feels
Misfortunes not understood, weeping the popular ballad
Morality and law, parades of red robed Judges
Carcasses, a circus for carrion crows
Yet like a cannibal the dead were still buried in my belly
The gloss of reason hiding madness
Like so many veneered fronts in a proud precinct

Paraded in full view, silence is demanded and got
The words wither, fake time continues,
To count the unrelieved falsehood the chimera of life;
Reason did not imprison me
My life being not heavy enough
Was allowed to take flight
To float above the reasoned realm
Revelations of the truth realised only by detachment
Devoured my mind increased my errorless purpose
The search for Zanzibar

Accepted values; valued only;
Because of this acceptance
Are accepted as value
Thus accepted in silence
The fools resign themselves
To a false reality
One that nails them to a poisoned cross

In the gardens of the dead
Like rowed tulips that
Gardeners know how to match
I found myself, among those who had gone
Remembered yet forgotten
Whose edifice unlike their lives
Reached not upwards but down.
I smelt the scent of unknown things
The perfumes of eternity that histories bind;
Intensity, a murmur; gurgle, as in a child
Yet extreme its aberrations
Like celluloid hand that
Had never known toil
Or wiped sweat from a brow
Laughed yet grimaced
Its smile a crimson smear
The sorrow that it felt
A burnished hand upon its nakedness
To see its enshrouded presence in such a garden
One well stocked and growing
Caressed my being with its glee
To turn white feel the touch
Of its venomous fingers upon my flesh;
Its purpose, to prevent any search for Zanzibar

The stench of death
Then cast its' new
Yet antediluvian gaze
Upon its purpose
Odour of grave
Faraway nonexistent
Yet it is perfume to those
Who feast upon its scent
Moistures mingling with the air
Its common purpose
Floating like un-forgiveness
Its atmosphere ozone sans holes
Its meaning ever present
Its' outcome to halt
The search for Zanzibar

And so the stencils of oriental scribes
Like black shadows overpowered my reason
Floating high above, adrift on an expanse of darkness
However, presently that azure ink
Raised its curtain before my very eyes
Revealing the stage, the illuminated stage
On which I was to set my drama
Where the phantoms of my imagination
Would enact their mysterious mysteries;
A poetic alchemy

Then a golden spark of pure
Nocturnal light blinded me
In an instant I saw, observed
The sun drown in its deathly sea
Its healing wings spread
Fear would see it rise again
Still searching for that fatal flaw, happiness
How many lives do I need?
How many existences will it take?
Incarnations a hundred times
Searching for Zanzibar.
Awakening to continue to
Live the saddest of my dreams

Furtive footsteps through Cimmerian landscapes
Ah such enchantment, do you understand?
Ah such a charm, listen to its undying echo
Feel its charge, that siren call
Cosmic summons, the vagrancy of mind
That caresses the imagination
Whose tender touch can place you
At the apex of the universe
Can lead to Zanzibar.


And so the subtle and foolish tortures
Inflicted upon me by I, my quest began
One that would ascertain, take centre stage
Make an unheard appearance of a philosophy
That, I am everyone and everyone else is me
Eventually at some point
In time and space we are all one
All linked, for we are condemned
Yes condemned to live these lives
This is why the dead have dreams
Dreams about the tyrants and demons
Of other lives of who they were;
Who they have yet to become.
Nourished on half truths,
Forever pulling at the thread
The rotted rags of reason
Those tattered twines
Unravelling the stitching of reality
Of hallucinations, empty illusions
And tarnished dreams create a constant struggle


Therefore for every conscious thing
That happens in the world
There must be a responding reverberation
Within the human soul
Let us put a halt to the calls
For the death of imagination
And demands for imagination to be silent
Such absurdities
For imagination is the true door to reality
For only in imagination
Can there be a bearable act
Of self examination
It is memory that hurts
More than the imagination
Always prefer the imaginary to the real
Imagination is neither an exit
From our nightmares nor
An escape from reality
But the place we are all trying to get to,
Zanzibar its shared images
Its story, its own life a new reality.


Mysteriously in the midst of unknown
Mazagran landscapes I feel
The full impact of fleeting visions
Without the limitations of space or time
Feel the act of experiencing their reality
This requires no explanation, no proof
Either together or separate
Because simply they are,
Judgement, condemnation
Punishments are gone
There is no cleansing a world
Without consciousness
Landscape devoid of people
'La Lune' growling in the orchard of the sea
Calypso again one or ten
Eucharis, tempest or temptress
Take both the meaning and the experience
Taste the tear drops of the sun
Telemachus searching, searching
Zanzibar

The idol, tentacles undulating
Vibrations of collective knowledge
The blank face, featureless
Touching around the domain of Atlas
Speaking in a thousand different tongues
Moving but still, blocks my path
Disturbs the line of imagination
Makes reality quiver
Dream flowers sway in its cosmic wind.
Yet Alhazers' iridescent arch allows
The steerage of my passage
Without pious pilgrimages to empty silences that
Contain an eternity of tears
Who graciously offers coverage
For the echo of footsteps
Allowing the magic moments to come


Robbed of sunlight, artificial night shines
Its deception attempting to secure knowledge
Of a future unknown, winning only it's unattainably
Offering instead knowledge of the past
Master of silence, offers only knowledge
Of invaded consciousness
Bedlam of paradise where Eros and Pan
In congress sleep, close at Zanzibar.


Lifeless beauty that lives everlasting
Time that reason cannot change, only help.
O enchanted torture you have stolen
The taste from my mouth
Masked I against the spectre of reality
Proclaimed the age of 'hasashin'
The creator of recollections, maker of memories
Possessor of impulse giver of echo
That rings in the ear
Cloud cast its surroccoian shadow
Air tinged with the aftermath of fire
Floating in an Asian wind, so subtle
Like a breath suddenly the sound of song
Of dance rents the solitude
Silence is slashed like a canvass screen
Happiness pours forth unconfined
Unfettered, both faces of Kandinsky as one
I extinguish the light, turn to the wall
Gazing upon its Janis face
My eyes behold the giver of pleasure.

Then I found myself in an extraordinary place
Whose skies where made of crystal glass
Water of the enchanted land was blue-grey
Bridges zig-zagged its shimmering domes
I stared as masts and parapets came to life
Its people, musicians sporting
Tangerine and white livery danced
The air filled with the sound of their music
Then as if from nowhere a light hit my eyes
Blinking, this apparition was gone
Can I not always believe what I see
Just because I see what I believe
The inhabitants at once became spectres
Engulfed in thick clouds of smoke and sulphur
Erinyies roamed, inflicting madness
A circus of the macabre sped past
Its symbols of death fluttering frantically
Around this false and fragile world
Suggested children, like creatures in an imagination
Were made ready for their rebirth
By the touch of the poets pen
A thousand Cheribino

In another, swirling sonorous scenes
Stormed the citadels of my mind
Marched through my imagination
Mab engulfed the long closed
Cemeteries of my thought allowing me
To see the dreams of others
Like precious pearls prised from their shells
Their visualisation so intense
Joy overcame me at once
Then a swarm of kisses descended upon me
Like a regiment of famished men
Feasting for the first time
I freely gave myself as the main course
In the most beautiful of banquets
In another, yielding to these seductions
I was enraptured by portraits of beautiful young men
Which appeared to be on the point of speaking
They were most mysterious their intrinsic
Charm so beautiful, stimulated desire
Whose assuagement was so pleasurable
That it might be called pure ecstasy
A perfect pleasure which had never before existed
Entirely individual and new

Thus upon the horizons of my mind
Had been shed a mysterious light
In which I now saw everything bathed
I was summoned by the Prince
Knowing dreams have no limits
I obeyed his call
For a long time failing to set
Foot on the shores of reality
Drinking from the wells of magic
While angels danced on grassy slopes
Disturbed by flames
The stars shot out their fragrance

Sweet smelling; blue abyss
On I went to the court, the court of the Prince of
Poets, a visitor to life
There I spat out the bit of liberty
Embraced the Prince
Courtesans mocked me, ridiculed
Laughed and taunted me
Their jibes merely part of
Their own deluded reality, not of mine
They did not serve my purpose
Dressed as they were
In meaningless words
Clothed in phrases of falsehood
They tried to make me compromise
There was fire burning in my eyes
Vivid dreams were eating up my mind
They wouldn't let me be
There were dead men lying
By the sides of the road
With daylight in their eyes
I saw villages under the sea
I stood at Galactic central point
Watched the earth burn
They did not know
The way to Zanzibar
Could the Prince show me?

However each morning I awoke
I found myself in a purgatorial fog
I roamed lost the alternative harbour
For my soul still distant
The Prince, I discovered, existed
In a twilight world of mysterious ailments
He denied his feelings
Such denial only immersed him
In maintaining the world of external restraints
It created emptiness, a vacancy
Filled by material concerns
I pleaded with him
The emerald gene came down
Soon the leaves of grass
Whispered another order of existence
Strangeness of sensation
Intoxication of vision
Unhinged for mortals
And as the sound increased one cannot
Describe what else it is that has been
I viewed a world transparent
Devoid of illumination within which
Was never a sea or land
Then the prophets were ******
For they were all liars
And I saw the most beautiful flower
Unfolding out of its own roots
For such a flower cannot
Unfold other than it does
I stood on the threshold of Orcus
I met Abbas Effendi the Gene without a name
Bab, Upanishads spilled music in my ears
Called to me in the most spectacular of colours
It was wonderful for the colours
Were like my dreams, red, black and green
I witnessed the three, sometimes as one
Other times as two, again and again
The self eternal and inseparable sons
Of Shakyamuni caressed me with their thoughts
Their music and colour moved about me
In ecstatic rhythm like the peaceful
Waves of the ocean as upon a shore
I read the sentences of silence
Breathed the perfume of never fading flowers
Walked in cherry blossom snow
Heard Hafiz reciting in the night
I saw for the first time
The unfinished likeness of others.

Then one day the Prince
With a sweeping theatrical and
So to speak, allegorical flourish bowed
Called me an exiled angel
Said the time had come to travel
To leave the images of naked heels
Imprinted in the clay
We wondered
Then as if by magic, suddenly the shadows
Of houses, halls, and a church
Emerged like enchanted islands in a fairy tale
The spiritualised forms of civilisation
I was approached by a graceful youth
Draped in cobweb lawn
He was pale, delicately beautiful
Spanish looking, but his name was Alexis Sonyeuse
Whose family it was said was
Related to the French Emperor Napoleon
It was also rumoured that he had
Had a tempestuous affair with the Bishop of Monaco
And once slept with his half brother Julian Apollinaire
When he spoke he was at once original
Delicious, moving, droll and discreetly melancholy
Listening to him was like breathing
The perfume of wondrous flowers
But the scent of datura hung about him
Paralleling his every movement
  Another youth, Edmond also greeted me
He was a young man with aristocratic features
A complexion pink, like a girls
And a bearing at once charmingly gracious
And audaciously insolent
His shirt was strange, the lining
A peculiarly orange colour
A flame coloured taffeta
Like the petticoats of a *****



They looked at me
Furtive glances emanated from their eyes
Training a profound stare upon my person
The two youths took me to 18 Avenue de Friedland
There two boy servants
Adoum and Outhman greeted us
Spinario's lay about its confines
Frezans caressing them
As they touched their feet
A hundred echansons moved
With dazzling delicacy dispensing dreams
In drops from crystalline cups
Here I witnessed the tragic faces of the population
Urnings, cleaning in the midst of anarchist trials
The room a fiery red, stained with light
The caress of forgotten thought
Like the thickness of a sorrow
Musicians playing on broken strings
Crimson ******, who defied the King of Naples
We moved past wretches
Like Virgil, but Danteian
Saw the usurers heard the rustling
Of lute strings the clinking of grey paper
Observed in this Minatare's lair
The purchase of a twelve penny dagger
Liberty of speech meeting its great reckoning
In a little room, Ingram the poltergeist
Of misfortune was there
Dead Scythian, who ever loved you
Loved you as you might, loved you at first sight.

This was a new and exciting world
Whose environs were populated
By the most mysterious and colourful of people
I was introduced by the two youths
To a suicidal young painter who
Was rebelling against his class
He was a somewhat forced intellectual
With an over quixotic passion for equality
Still he was warm, kind and impulsive
Poetry, he made it known
Had opened his mind to the invisible
Beside him was a painting
Exemplifying a new kind of observation
In a style absolutely faultless
Each structure clear, each brush stroke
Falling exactly into place
Inscribed in the top left
Corner were the words
"Quod me nutrit me destruit"
An introduction to himself of a tall youth
Whose eyes possessed a constant
Vagrancy of desire
Who seemed at once, for one so
Pagan Paul Jan 2019
.
Jerrica had found Lost.
The treasure buried above ground.
The memory foam with dementia.
The quill with no nib …
she thought about feather pens.
Catching herself from falling
the swoon had caught her cold.
This **** ****** sword
was proving to be elusive
and now she was under sustained attack.
From a personal fetish.
It just wouldn't leave her alone,
creeping into her mind unbidden.
She needed to scratch an itch,
if only she knew what that itch was.

Trolls are magickally bound to their bridge.
Leaving it is usually fatal.
But Gyb had bones to gnaw,
and once he had his teeth employed
his mind was a captive onlooker.
A crazy plan formed in his head,
possibly avoiding the brain.
He took mud and formed a figure,
then some of his hair clippings
moulded into the head.
Then he took a leap of disbelief!
He looked into the river and … Click!
Snapped his fingers and fixed the image.
He cut it out of the meniscus
and attached it to the doll familiar.

“Did Achilles have damp ankles
or was he well heeled?”
Morfine had asked Choklut.
“Neither. He was the one who sneezed
and opened the Fête of the Suitors”.
“No. I think he was called Telemarketing,
he sneezed and they drew the tombola raffle”.
“Wasn't there a Goddess involved as well?”.
“Um … Yes, maybe the Goddess of Tissues?”.
“Snivel? No, she is more tears than snot.
I think its the one who turned her husband
into a swan, and made him ****** her handmaiden”.
“Oooo Nasty!”
“No, Nasty fell in love with his own profile,
and called things off with his nymph,
the reverberations can still be heard today”.
There was a brief pause … then,
“What are we doing Choklut?
We found a magickal sword and …
talking of which, where is it?”.
“I don't know. You had it last”.
Just then a serving girl gave them a note.
It said. Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Eggs …
“Not that side you dyk” she said.
Morfine turned the note over and read.
“Quick, no time to lose.
Someone saw the sword in the river.
We have to get to stanza 8
before it goes over the waterfall!”.
“Oh” said Choklut “I've never seen a stanza belly flop”.

It was true.
Contrary to the laws of physics.
Kelm saw the sword floating down river.
It looked like any other sword.
So he let it be, dismissed it.
He couldn't swim anyway.
He mused on the irony of that.
Nobody learnt to swim and yet drowning
was an undignified death for a barbarian.
If he could swim
he could find the fishes hiding places.

Jerrica had also been musing.
With a Poet.
That was during the last 3 stanza's.
But now …
she saw a sword floating in the river.
Something didn't quite fit.
Something was not in the right place.
She placed the Poet back in her breast pocket.
'If only he wasn't just 4 inches high' she thought
'he is rather handsome and intelligent'.
Bingo! She had it. But she didn't want it.
Armydiseases Principle of Liquid Dispersement!
It states!
Introduce a solid object into a body of liquid,
then the corresponding volume of liquid is dispersed
back to the nearest solid.
So, right now there is a very small flood
in the shape of a very small sword
ravishing the local area.
She decided, quite rightly as it turns out,
that she was feeding herself a red herring.

Slim stood on the bridge
staring at the churning water below.
How did it happen?
A stanza all of his own,
ruined by the intrusion of morons.
“Morfine and Choklut” he bellowed
“I'm going to eviscerate you”.
The wind carried a few of the words away,
but that was the gist of it.
“Hello” a voice said.
Slim had an accident, and jumped out of his skin.
And plunged into the cold water.
A strong arm pulled him out,
and he was face to face with a troll.
“My name is Gyb. I hate Morf Chok also”.
Nothing had prepared Slim for meeting a troll.
Not even the etti-queue-etti lessons at school.
'Would you care for afternoon tea?'
seemed rather inappropriate.
Gyb broke the awkward silence.
“Look! Sword floating”.
Slim didn't look.
Convinced the troll would eat him.
Thats their way. Distract and devour.
But he couldn't help it, he snuck a look.
And the sword slid on by gently bobbing,
tiny little runes glinting in the sun.

For its part the sword was serenity itself.
Chilled out to the max.
Resting on the water. Relaxing and reclining.
Life was good for the sword.
It had just passed a boy fishing,
poking his rod down a fish hole.
It had passed a young woman,
who looked confused and flustered.
It slid under a stone bridge.
A troll with a doll,
and a man with questionable odour.
And then he heard the roaring.
He sent out his senses,
no mean feat for a sword,
and 'felt' its surroundings.
Its image eye caught sight of the future.
It was an effing great waterfall.
And the future was the way he was heading.
For now.

Narrative Interlude

At this point in the story the author, Pagan Paul, is compelled
to inform the reader/listener of a complaint received
from Messrs Morfine and Choklut.
The substance of which amounts to the following:
That the said author is willfully under using their talent
as supporting cast and denying them access to many stanza's.
Furthermore they are threatening to expose the authors
'irregularities' in his relationship with Princess (name redacted).
The author, Pagan Paul, responds thus:
I should like to remind Messrs Morfine and Choklut
that, with astroke of my quill, I can eradicate them.
Drop them from the story all together.
And with reference to Princess (name redacted) -
'Its my Poem and I'll irregularit if I want to'.
Dear reader/listener prepare yourself for stanza 9.
It has a waterfall in it.
Maybe Morfine and Choklut will appear, maybe not.
They are the ones over a barrel.


Minutes after the sword floated by
something else caught her eye.
To boys on a barrel, in the water.
Boys barreling along or a barrel buoying along?
Choklut noticed her by the bank.
'funny place to have a cash machine' he thought.
Doing his best to impress and look brave.
Morfine waved and nearly fell off.
Suddenly the barrel lid opened
and Slim poked his head out like a tortoise.
“What the …?” said Choklut.
“Just repaying a debt boys” he said.
“But you owe us nothing” Morfine replied.
“Oh but I do” snarled Slim
“I owe you one times intrusion into your own stanza”.
He ducked back inside, and slammed the lid.
“Of all the fatherless ...”
“I blame the author” said Choklut.
“Yeah well, he is the one who's gonna be sorry,
we've just muscled in on stanza 8,
and relegated that waterfall to stanza 9” Morfine chimed.
“Morfine. Morfine! I hear the waterfall coming”.
“No! Not now. He has to leave it until 9 now,
we are about to cross the finish line on 8”.
The waterfall loomed.

Actually the waterfall knew nothing of weaving.
It just stayed where it was, pouring.
Spectacular, it was a very pretty waterfall.
It must be. It attracted tourists.
And it had fun!
It loved watching detritus tumble,
teeter on the brink. And fall.
Especially tourists.
It was over 300 paces high,
less than 40 paces wide,
its descent magnificent liquid ballet,
sparkling droplets shining like jewels,
forever transcending light refraction,
and plunging, plunging, plunging,
into a gorgeous azure puddle.
About ankle deep.



© Pagan Paul (17/01/19)
.
3rd poem in my Strange World collection.

Part 3 out soon :)
.
your little voice
                    Over the wires came leaping
and i felt suddenly
dizzy
     With the jostling and shouting of merry flowers
wee skipping high-heeled flames
courtesied before my eyes
                             or twinkling over to my side
Looked up
with impertinently exquisite faces
floating hands were laid upon me
I was whirled and tossed into delicious dancing
up
Up
with the pale important
                          stars and the Humorous
                                                  moon
dear girl
How i was crazy how i cried when i heard
                                            over time
and tide and death
leaping
Sweetly
          your voice
Shofi Ahmed Oct 2018
Jumping in the blue
water lilies reflection
in the pond up in the sky.
Lo, the punter sun peeps into
the rose dew down on earth.
Floating just on a navel-high!

The broad daylight pictures
the heavenly blue smile
painting on its highwater mark.
Million and one primula flower
kissing this elfin column.
Not up in the wild blue yonder
nor down on the ground.
Just on a navel high!
like know just time mind feel life world say people things lost we're does love think there's away long way thought night got words want better day human left right remember man dark end reality memory experience going make really eyes place 'cause good death tell great feeling soul home high consciousness live pain thoughts fear understand fall thing city sky believe god meaning thinking lose change oh felt hard ask heart times years shall need past light living existence choice use dreams power days cause poetry talking state we'll alive knowledge **** true moment little hope old wrong mental stars wave ago gone broken look brain dream far given truth feels head you'll best sensation baby try leave forget young sleep face stop escape blue dare drug lives wish doesn't drugs work earth new acid game nature bad sublime gods break beautiful ah writing hold born trying coming friends hold writing ah space daze burn body reason rain real moments wonder music memories exist psyche control waiting dawn future act philosophy word choose emotion lies deep one's difference self score truly perception actually finally what's story sure spent play happy greatest help start used lie took listen touch run belief fool glass hurt we've gaze goes cold set seek they're yes information anymore longing lonely qualia social land water afraid kind getting came dead hit present keeps gotta pleasure reflection free rave line held pray path sense art black half-light wake question quiet remain longer pill stay course open ego matter places worth lack horizon saw dusk beauty hand makes energy looking gonna data told seeking die **** seen subtle bit caught venturous means freedom yeah divine eternity empathy later rise perfect minds edge comprehend spiritual write couldn't evil care ashes summer knew turn content context accept existential white red sound chance who's consider hide judgement friend 'til realize dimension cast gave tripping praise health la enjoy search universe winter broke empyrean gain family personal spirit flowing wanted point poem lying wander loved wind knowing sleeping rest stuff doubt flow began embrace months knows discovery society hate aeon darkness chemical surely searching meant oneself infinite share forgotten fell late person religious conscious *** you've teenage blame eye instead different clear bring follow known decide forth strange cool stand we'd miss psychedelic passion today wasn't language catch purpose patterns tonight subject madness temporal ready simple sanity asked entheon absurdia entactus psychedelics metaphysics humans particle unto skies inside arms drink smoke bass youth breath listening close depths intangible expression mortal nostalgia practice return loose maybe dancing shadows king war answers morning silent dust ****** party generation near judge define asleep quite machine lines moving learn hath fate ate crowd standing haze guess brought certain fair read ways hours irish scared fine reckon possible ain't year psychedelion ******* apotheon substance isn't study bliss selfish ends warm dopamine explain fix addiction culture respect wisdom calm hurricane problem contradiction heaven forlorn vain gold sweet hidden effort fast she's breaking changed engine faith dance maze alas girl sigma watch grand heavy justice wait tried doors appear phenomena definitions somebody ignore feelings process sonder cybran soft depression chasing taken throw answer action relief having wandering compounds quantum necessary effects empathion ethos begin everybody rising clouds emotions indigo falls ecstasy fresh american walking glow outside speak force grow physical says view voice happiness shame sought age understanding lay individual billion explore crave pretty lights comprehension tears big sands crime waves taught forever venture adolescence welcome humanity comes zero storm wise claim swear sounds pass **** met he's internet mr table company repetition heard playing ***** mirror lets awake sorry doing dreaming states pondering ridiculous simply greater heal hear natural mydriasis mydriatic substances fades asking measure worse scoreboard destroy erase blood leaves worlds abandoned skin twisted walk grace smile fading illuminate hearts bed food ignorance admit drunk spring exile apart killed talk master meet waking chose neon adventure join **** mist aren't breathe psi laughing feet river trance wonderful floor hair desire breeze birth desert fade looked urban continue nation probably second belong willing alike criminals progress cyberspace sole survive names pills fears beginning digital you'd sadness easily depressed perceive surreality poets merely remains sober closer prose fact growing died save insanity defined session soon realm empyreal taste suicide science skins quality peace raise ashamed azure quit yearn piece notions absurd noble liberty entheogenesis reckoning feedback particles object reconcile baseline chain sardonic false weather hallowed intoxication wasted ******'s here's express cover green witness anger treat sacred pure cure ethics code objects level happen room addict smell fun climb pupils mere ok quest roam park meaningless form hour reasoning cyclone laugh nostalgic inspiration takes attention drop written sigh hole statement sand keeping thunderous sight despite grasp lived called drinking west heads spoke daylight staring song calls hell shivering kept recognize granted weekend problems decided aware happened hacker forgive sea key single moral sway definition caused connection channel difficult media strife dangerous ones cleanse imagine running utter ground spend vibrancy trees changes rhythm everyday group deal foolish hurts anxiety painting proud brother crazy amazed value temporality decision journey spinning making ha acknowledge learned scars apotheosis sort serotonin poet safe experienced potential lucky sunyata condition poor witnessed history doth barely pretend taking hero superposition plus suffering prefer offer won't medium empathos essence events reflect apotheotelos actual determine house issues worked begging virtuality swore gleaming sly gentleman wicked abyss feed lands tea moon miracle honest streetlights tale lust nights early chained allow placed life's actions emotional plant plan drizzle speaks spin hypocrite conviction watching rules jump application chains forged angel fail reflections lot illuminating flag grip fly sick wonderfully create freeman shine job supposed eggs draw pupil dripping tremble mescaline singularity subjective darkens alpha needed atlas orange discover rabbit warp joint wonderland perfection ponder souls silence ahead roll magic ease bag sorrow escapism sake chest magnitude chaser cloud infinity replaced revelation survived vs carry yearning school slip games begins curiosity heavens powerful typhoon furious theory hypothesis apathy serenity mind's marks window humankind cybernetic fraternity liberate cut movement excuse stopped thunder tire apparent mastery occurs motion paper masses throes falling race hanging bear follows sardonicism endless burning idea ideas burden court ya verse consume kick method stood temporary flash realized eat kindness occur advice shades properties shores hang shining ink rolling minutes street deem tools autumn empatheon entheos reach echoes remix diamonds gets worthy identity thoroughly stuck happens recall conclusion choices fiend dealing finding gun son stimulant experiencing depth twice starshine whilst chosen thereof hooked confused enables painful desires serotonergic teleology prey loop wishing relation neural animal hallelujah ultimately projection communication actuality significant experiences remind transcendention notion proposition works illusion puppet offers chalk series occasion calling degrees ended sin figure slick ending ash sentence glance rend november eve drum rainy destruction romantic drawn shadow observe ghosts bodies wandered atmosphere box familiar children honor road serve beliefs strong avoid lessons returns poison relax exhale whispered intention liquid stare dope needs ****** smoking club relative glitter reached fractured stones junkiedom aspect ketamine heavenly scares domain excess robes vast euphoria grass thrall elation buzz renew dr waste let's morality wanna bottle immortal owe intuitive wouldn't teachings transcendent nocturnal education eternal divinity drive aligned illegal lamplight sell sail insomnia curious beatific seeing insane continuum kiss beta void soar roar fog basis **** town cost regrets appropriate brave threat using emptiness fountain short stole shield riot shade ghost numbness stained steam dreampt october ion derived hazy money message sing quote metaphysical scene swept plain colors nirvana alright unlike dear low teens nonetheless pick considering teenagers beneath door electronic kids build pulse teaching kid mistake teach tear contextual political civilization vision dissociation completely tells normal nevermind raised brings laughed melody spot streets holding coffee praying violence appreciate vengeance law trust exploits slowly trouble mirror's refrain compassion eats recognition discovered blaze otherworldly pieces darkest angst brothers sit win buckfast vicious binge breaks undead forgot demands able notice lucid dimensions evolution sunrise plans philosopher killing produce working cloth produced painter gazing favourite track bunch haul arrives started chemistry prevent awaits definitive strive versus rule dread bare slow stayed onward altered helps lifestyle losing followed woke fight event innocence charade child ventures higher y'all acceptance pay any-more bay vicissitudes codex cannabis pleasures planes doses awareness steal beat zero-summing narcotic lest strength matters reading easy sons drift solstice half formed normality weren't hungry hopes declare research tales envelope regret tired breed release honestly haven't it'll blow entheogenic stories amidst insofar technology direct binary pushing gotten patience danger symbiosis dilation gleam untitled risk remembering aeons contemplate suppose allows goal certainly virtues well-being popular regard result tornado mescalito usually distant creating skyglow behold manifest psychedelia representation endeavour excitation transcendental resonance odd growth hedonism possibly focus proper assert formation described interpretations reflective determination rational consuming cherish expressed pathos psychoactive eventually significance dissociative strings author experiential specific oxytocin loves glimpse frames loneliness elements created 'pataphysics craft betrayal typical built wall wonders concerning critique signifiers books failing assume effect 'auld subject-object lethe scorn wants shroud understands enhanced ascend tides finality collapse lake reclamation beach proclamation justify junkies hood teen streetlight caressing lips other's comprised harvest midnight blink aching lesson responsible native fortune mistakes nurture grown healthy test mock especially badly boring walked gorgeous innocent villain giveth benediction stone rictus nightmare skystruck insignificance struck **** nothing's thrown unspoken den shatter loss subjugated angels myth fallen demon temples reborn irrelevant thousand clothed plains whispering insert telling everybody's ultimate expand immortality small rapture bound dry comedown starlight whispers contained watched attack mechanism questions palindrome perpetual surreal theme perspective bane heathen basking singular physics sighs rhyme deity sincerely goodbye fit asunder naught comfort adrift -the radiance plunge rock planet twine applause current enhancement zen profit terrible ill weary leaving fierce alchemy luck speed opportunity men arose prophecy steadfast captured sage demand weird estates gathered distance all's foretold sold wrath kinda relentless advance coil anybody columbine ocean drown spoken ancient eden wet blessed crimson concepts yesterday evening deeply whisper flicker enter book apathetic streetlamps trespass spun turned clean underworld disguise viewed despair tunes melancholy reverence unsaid noise o' groups turning swallow dropped lead confident veracious offend talked switch teenager shouldn't paying allure variable humane inspiring ex 11 matrix flickers offering receive signal news chant exhaustion access background commence summer's arcadia deja vu complex realization vivid stick sublimeoblivious deliverance belonging creed symbionts pendent sane smiling rumination plane glint resembles conversation web corporeal solace theft burned they'll sensations shivers satisfied enslaved mire comfortable shattered arch medina's fragmented plead achieve woman stage swaying dismiss entire numb lord type chapter infamous conquest aspects proving leads bloom floating precipitation artificial renewal spill beating midst petrol mad hands exploit movements examine women sublimation occurred eternally notes dizziness perceptive guys haunts spark poems poetic pull remained gazed vagabond presented blanket cried stranger glad lucidity turns sum details pour valuable exceed represent surprise continuity occasionally relinquish gravity likes weeks wrought gathering entirely reaper rays aging root laid balance four-twenty provide double-edged ceased exploration mates world's walls alteration faces breach million grey tidal unknown price absolute garden haunting train jungle aloud allowed habits closed syntax difficulty alter scratch glimmering drifting quenched explained forfeit in-between clearly ideals ubiquitous chemicals happening abandon supreme drifted soothing reveal alcohol stimulants psychonautes indescribable conscience closest dying andor travel gentle foodstuffs tree worried demons pair recognise inability ensure including hey graciously prove logic rhetoric 15 galaxy lately hearth ethereality forsake wanting steps memorable 'round player moves del you- encourage finished suspect frequently intoxicants acts aer veil qualities animals remembered karma kissed burying shooting bold scattered input howling design forsaken banish seraphim wide cola united democracy meandering -one zed's hot commit self-sufficiency thought's psychosis flows unreality immersion aesthetics realms struggle wisely immanence absolutely member add writings coin avoidance naturally boys inseparable standard convinced concerns passed prudence quick external suffer choosing produces letter proclaimed myths pains shroom bright absurdity awhile prospect sad distribution recreation responsibly ghb adrenergic minor neurotransmission cyclica lonesome foolishness cometh 5-ht2a beings golden pitch cathinone suggest conclude cognitive motions ethical condensate precious abuse compound underlying adult bask push damage attachment originally determinative heaviness concept facts today's regress detract step ugly absence cosmic note imagination psychedelos noumena noumenon reader haunt determining error questioning habit measured limitations manifestation learning arcadian joke hallucinogens material diethylamide mysterious exists 'twas response proportionate quantized nervous anyways identify qualify device analysis moderate moderation alterations accompanying totality fascinated gradually 'the represented brief juxtaposition played t'was resides tribe stead vote period liminality delete recurring mirror-neurons alexithymia craic ar positive drank maelstrom pharmahuasca wondered reflecting lovely facebook typing quale implicit dispute occurring fallacy treasure exactly reduction distinction discussion man's construct couple contain lovers failed confidence writer's integrity worst psychiatrist sesh rare chronology scale drug's definitely title sesh-heads who'd asks unable tomorrow plucked picture alphabet named coherence task pretends inevitable contemporary trips graces wrote entertain vice elicit psychoactives feens conform deface replace grin h-bomb atomic bleeding 20 bloodless unequalibrium following quench hunger bent euphoric display interstellar vertigo influence waited sunlight explored paradise soaring faded sitting unafraid aqua tinted source itches optional differently stem rich greed forbidden negative privacy react earned ails charity gift couch courage endlessly fascinating boyfriend phrase movies hopelessly loud admission inherent hypocrites intoned devil laconic sinful vein surrounded movie contempla
Composed on 01:33, 27/02/2017 using Hello Poetry's 'Words' algorithm. We still don't assume this means something.
Sarah Spang Aug 2015
Sometimes beneath close eyelids
I quest to bring you back
As if you were driftwood floating
Downstream on your back.
I dip my hands beneath the veil
And dry away the death
And from my parting, weeping lips
I give you back your breath-
Just like the rising sunset burning
In the summer sky
Paints and saints the mountaintops
And casts their colors bright.



Unrhymed Notes:

Sometimes I dream I can bring you back
Just as simply as dipping my hands into the water
To retrieve a floating piece of driftwood;
Dry the death from your skin
And breath life back into you
The way the sunrise reanimates
The Dark Mountains
Each and every day.

I see your Ocean eyes open
Embrace you like I'm trying to
Fold you into my skin
Where I can keep you always
And feel your summer peach warm flesh
Tangible against my permafrost fingers.

If the dead could talk
Nothing profound would leave your lips
They'd only quirk into a Cheshire smile
And you'd tell me to let go
Relinquish
Move along and stop standing still
Life is for the Living
Death is for the dead
And dreams are for the foolish.


"You *******."
susan Sep 2014
a black feather circles with the wind,
it's beautiful, that black against the blue,
so gentle, so free
floating, floating, floating
until it comes to rest at my feet
i nudge it, curious, amused
it's still now
no life
but still beautiful
so i put it in a hat
a big, black hat with a green ribbon and now a black feather
and i strut
and then i am floating, floating, floating
with a feather in my hat
and i am gentle, and i am free
and i am beautiful
so beautiful
There you are, floating man.
pale face against my window.
Are you standing on my bed or hanging from my ceiling?
You are facing my window, but are you peering out?
Your eyes seem closed.
My eyes are barely open.

You are wearing a red stripped shirt that pops off your pale skin.
Your wrinkles are deep. Everything about you is deep.
You seem like you are dead or dying.

It is the morning, and here you are.
just floating over my bed.
I don't know you, who are you?…

An illusion?
A dream?
A ghost?

I fall back asleep and dream about you.
I told myself you were nice and I happened upon a rare moment...
You didn't know I had woke.
You didn't know that I saw you hanging there.
You were just passing by and decided to bask in the morning rays of sun that burst through my window.
Unbeknownst to you, I was watching...


I was scared to open my eyes.
Are you still there?

Why the hell am I so calm?!?
I wake to find you feet from me and I decide to write a poem…
A crazy dream I had
JLB Apr 2014
I  find myself diving inside of you where the weird dream shamans draw sketches of naked humans.
And you’re a human, and we're both naked. You’re purple, you’re just the perfect shade. I place my flag inside, to abscond us away inside of a womb where our world will open to portals to all of our favorite places. A floating haven, of cashmere. Gestating where the climate is warm and damp, and coloring me dark with wine—sweet wine of lovers, penal, forgotten, and fermented anew in maternal rite, because…
This swarming melodic nectar that swims through my nostrils and rolls in my eyes cannot be drank casually. It’s the elixir of love. I love you,
And in you, I find that I love myself.

What’s more, the shamanists exclaim, “She wants to give you all of herself.” Yes, they’re right. Even what I do not love so much, I want you to have, if you’ll take it, because I have to live with it, and if you live with me, you’ll have to live with it too. And then, when you crack open your sternum to let the things in, the scribes of my life’s doing, of ancient passion proclaim! They burn their papyrus scrolls soaked in the blood that I drew from my veins to pass unto yours— and you swallow them whole like divine burritos. And then we are ready for the world to fall suddenly, if it felt so inclined. Now that our chests are pressed together, and our tongues are fused tight.  We are the daughters of the prima mother. We are the goddesses of our dreams.
Annie Quill May 2014
Floating clouds in the sky,
Floating Clouds Mountain high,
Floating clouds morphing why?
Morphing clouds flying high.
Shofi Ahmed Nov 2017
Sometimes the day smiles
shows me its colour.
No, then the wild blue yonder
doesn’t look to be far
I feel like I got the wings to fly.

But who would sway away
when the rose under the nose
floating on a sea of colour?

The luminary punter too
drops down from the sky.
Paints the broad daylight
as it sails down on its silky way.

Ah, the southern breeze
bends with the rose of the day
peeps in the colour before my eyes.
I could only see missing my butterfly.

— The End —