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L Apr 2015
She is a sweeper
She swept everything
Under the brown fuzzy rug
In her living room.

Old magazines
books
newspapers
Old photographs
records
love letters.

She swept them all
Under the brown fuzzy rug
In her living room.

One day
It turned into a hill.
All the things she swept
under the brown fuzzy rug
in her living room
turned into a hill.

But she didn't mind.
She kept sweeping
old friendships
romantic relationships
truth
lies
feelings
regrets
mistakes
apologies
forg­iveness
into the hill
under the brown fuzzy rug
in her living room.

The next day
The hill turned into a mountain
She didn't mind
And kept sweeping
Until it exploded

Broken hardwood floor
Burnt brown fuzzy rug
Everything scattered
In her living room.

She stood there
In the middle of the aftermath
Thinking
“Do i throw these all away?"

But she's a sweeper.
So she cleaned the mess
Swept everything back again
Under a new brown fuzzy rug
Laying on her basement floor.
Ron Sanders Feb 2020
(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.
Russell Douglas Feb 2010
A Verse In Time: A Trickster’s Alchemical Approach to Memory in Three Waves

(Warning: The following collection contains depictions of three waves
of the psychedelic experience—particularly with God’s allies, Los Aliados, the mushrooms—and like the psychedelic experience each wave possesses its own waves within itself.  Ride with discretion.)

.

Wave I: The Allies’ Nursery Rhyme

The Allies
came to visit
and take me
on a trip.
No need for boat
or bus
or plane
or even rocket ship.
The galaxy, as they explained
resides inside your mind,
The portals to the universe
are windows you call eyes.
Instead of always looking out
you should try to look within.
The ending you have always feared
is exactly where you begin.

Yes, all the spans of time and space
exist in you behind your face
and yet you cannot understand
that nothing is a race.

Oh wait, please be careful with that mirror
when we are here and you draw nearer.
Don’t let the face of everyone replace your face with fear.
You are Horus, Mary, Jesus Christ, Cervantes, and Shakespeare,
and all the men from beast to mice, from oceans down to tears.

And so they pried behind my face
and pushed me on through outer space
and soon enough I understood
there never was a race.

It all exists right here, right now—
the past, the future, the grass, the cow,
the vast, the nature, the cash, the house,
the king and the savior
the beast and the mouse
are all your creation,
your relation,
your spouse,
your Path,
your Bible,
your ‘Gita,
your Tao.

It is all
of your moment,
It is all
of your now.

For you are the mystery
of that which you seek.
You invented the minutes, the hours, the weeks,
the deserts, the rivers, the valleys, and peaks,
your digits, extremities, elbows, and knees.
You created the cure, you invent the disease.
The labyrinth is you and
You defeat it with ease.
To master the Minotaur just follow the string
Discover the dinosaur, discover the king,
discover this grandiose song that you sing,
and uncover the truth of the message you bring
when you ring bells or

Stroke piano keys
and make the doctor sweat.
The pranksters shifting shapes again,
it’s time to make a bet.
With silly laws of threes and fives, this riddle I repeat, replies
that by the time the rhyme is over, the trickster will arrive.
Gliding up in cycles by, the prankster grins and winks his eye.
He fabricates a fluffy fix with fuzzy snow white lies
to bring the doctor to a six then down to four inside
and bring the tempest to a wave
on which the four can ride.

Do we glide?
Do we slide?
Do we fly really high?
Do we bobble and sink
with the rise of the tide?

I remember the brink
the cellular stride, the following leap,
the primitive mind
I remember the dirt, the water, the fire,
the wind and the ether,
the passion, desire.
I remember that art
can never expire.

Do we depart?
Do we retire?

The answer is yes,
The answer is no,
The answer’s the same wherever you go.
It’s never too fast,
it’s never too slow
and you are never the last to not really know.
For the sun always shines,
the moon always glows,
the old always die,
the young always grow,
The seeds that you plant
are the trees that you sow,
from the bees and the ants
to the bulls and
black holes.

It is all
in your stance.
It is all
in your
soul,

When you follow your dance
the bliss
takes control.
Take your place
in the play
and master
your role.
The Aum
is your home
it’s inside
of your dome,
Whatever
you wonder,
Wherever
you roam.

And so it flows behind my face
the universe of time and space
Now I understand that time
is invented as the race

Yes, you are Borges, and Buddha, and Krishna,
and Lorca, and Vishnu, Dickinson, Lennon,
Eliot, Gandhi, Marley, McKenna,
Campbell, Picasso, Alpha, Omega.
You are your enemy,
your stranger,
your neighbor.
You are the peasant,
the king,
and the savior,
the mandala man,
the cosmic *******.
You are the taste
You are the flavor
and you are
the wave
the unwavering
Creator

Even us
as they explained
merely extend from you
A mirror to the macrocosm
for you to gaze into.




So when you get lost
within your lies
and cannot find
your rhyme,
Gather inside with your
Allies
and master
the maze
of
time.


Wave II: Contemplating The Allies’ Advice

Thunderbolts of cackling giggles
shutter through your vitals, shaking shoulders
and squirting tears from squinting eyes.
Exciting when dimensions hidden creep into your line of vision,
morphing mapping iridescence with a fleeting fuzzy phosphorescent
undulating elfin presence following your every contemplation.

Concentrating on a caterpillar crawling up the wall
how curious, this furry beast has fingers not to fall.
He folds into his fuzzy form, a sleeping bag to keep him warm,
a little home as still as lead.  He hibernates and contemplates,
waits and waits and transmutates into a gilded butterfly
that flutters through my head.

Violet translucent landscapes bleed through grass and trees,
focus on a precise place of time and space and witness the birth of the human race.  Projections made in fuzzy fourth dimensions quickly fade
if your gaze should wander.  Positioned to ponder,
you plunge into prepubescent wonder as a shooting star splits the sky wide open revealing heaven and everything under the sun is tune and the sun is eclipsed by the moon.  And once again, the music comments chronologically on your moments, as if all these notes and lyrics were cataloged to sync with the scenes of your epic voyage.

Destroying contemplation again, the sea ***** the wind through the trees
and blows a blue marine breeze through your hair.
Do you dare take the time to recognize the punctuality of the gale?
Should your frail and fragile mind be dangled from a line
to flap and fluff and figure out the nature of the rhyme of our mother?
You are your brother, your keeper, and your lover.

All the lines align and oscillate in cadenced flow,
the more you see with your mind the more your mind will know.  
A ****** brain may strain and throw a fit
if faced with the tricky truth of the third eye
Surprise! Who knew that Jesus Christ could sprout from cow ****?
Can you believe it?  Wow, Bob, wow.
Where do you think we got: ******* and holy cow?
Heaven is the here and now
and every time you try to leave
you lose what you have found.

(* All words in italics come from    
   various songs, films, works of        
   literature, etc. and are not the words    
  of the author.)


Wave III: Los Aliados Wake

An apple carries a story deeper than the tree,
More nourishing than the luscious skin,
More central than the seed.
for the apple gave original sin
and knowledge from within
and fell upon the head, announcing gravity.
Have you ever heard the tale of Johnny Melon seed?
(The apple is global, so I wonder why,
what could be patriotic of pie?
Is it not just a strudel,
a pastry disguised?)

The colors we create
distort. manipulate.
The fools who follow fear
are doomed to find their fate
between their ears
where the colors seem
to blend and stream
and almost disappear.
To wonder why we’re here
all colors must appear
and merge into the blinding light
that obliterates our fear.

All your dreams, your fantasies, your symbols, and beliefs,
all a compass pointing you to endless mystery.
The treasure that you seek
resides inside the Self,
A jewel within the rock,
A book upon the shelf.


I bought the ticket,
I’m taking the ride.
I’m spiraling miles through the bowels of time.
I’m spinning and laughing
and losing my mind
and finding
it always returns
just in time.
It’s right where it left me,
so I’ll leave it behind
and return when
I’m ready
to relish the ride
with a bite
from the apple
of my
holy
third
eye.
Ashley May 2018
My knees are weak as I fall to the ground.
The stairs I lay on has yellow fuzzy carpet. Carpet that is full of crumbs, dust, and nail polish.
The yellow carpet was once white, but is now not, no one knows why only it knows.
My knees can’t stabilize as my brain can’t make a move.
Without a moving body I have no moving brain, but I can’t have a moving body without a brain.
All I can think of is the words you put in my head. I’m to scared of your movements and every word you say is like a million of needles pinching me to teach me a lesson.
I’ve become to weak that I don’t seem weak to myself. Because for as long as I can remember I’ve been like this, weak. That I forgot how it felt to try or work hard.
So once I lay on the yellow fuzzy carpet. Not worried someone will see my salty tears hit the stairs, or see me falling to the ground. All I care about it whether or not if you know your words hurt too much to explain.
Whether or not you choose to be this way.
Because I’m feeling the yellow fuzzy carpet beneath me, and I’ve been on this yellow fuzzy carpet stairway to many times before.
Is this okay? It's practically a draft and I only feel a need to write poetry when I am panicking or crying
it is funny, you will be dead some day.
By you the mouth hair eyes,and i mean
the unique and nervously obscene

need;it’s funny.  They will all be dead

knead of lustfulhunched deeplytoplay
lips and stare the gross fuzzy-pash
—dead—and the dark gold delicately smash….
grass,and the stars,of my shoulder in stead.

It is a funny,thing.  And you will be

and i and all the days and nights that matter
knocked by sun moon jabbed ****** with ecstasy
….tremble (not knowing how much better

than me will you like the rain’s face and

the rich improbable hands of the Wind)
Kate Lion Jan 2013
(i)

It’s wrong of me, I know
            To wait around for you to say extraordinary things, sweetheart.
                      
But there’s something so enticing about true love
                        Wrapped up in fancy scratch paper
                        With half the lines crossed out
                                                [Those are the best kind of things to say, you know
                                                            ­‘Cause it means I’ll spend hours smashing myself
                                                          ­  Between those lines
                                                           ­ Trying to fill in the blanks
                                                          ­  About who you love,
                                                           ­                         And why.
                                                … I miss knowing those things
                                                          ­                          Just a little.]    
            All tied together with the broken guitar strings
[Where now rest those hummingbird wings?]
You’d tune for me
                        Before anybody knew who you were
                                    And I was the only one who listened.

I miss the you I knew

            The one who told me I was beautiful,
                        All mismatched and clashed,
                        Because we were the brains of this outfit,
                      
And how were we to know that
                                    Dreams and reality
                                                Can’t ever
                                                Be worn together?
                        [At least, that’s what Mother would tell me
                                    When I asked to wear her fancy pearls to bed]

I remember the day before we were expected to grow up
            [The day before the sky turned inside out
            And suddenly
                        We were expected to know why it rained sometimes,
                        Were expected to expect pneumonia if we played in the puddles too long,
                                    Were expected to know black from white
To stay indoors and turn gray overnight.
Yes, the day before all of those expectations rose to meet us,]
We were expected to go to a gaudy dinner party
To boast about ourselves.
And everything we planned to become.
            But I hated heels, and you hated lies
            So I showed up in fuzzy bunny slippers with my hair done up nice, and you-
Well.
            You didn’t go.
                        There’s something about growing up you never took a liking to.

Everyone knew who you were by then.
And I sat alone as they talked about you
                        And all of the wonderful things you were becoming.
                        And I just nodded, picturing the boy I once knew
                                    Yes,
The boy that no one knew
                                    With dreams so big they encompassed the entire sidewalk in chalk
                                    Whenever we sat down to visualize the future
we never really thought would come
                      
                        There was never enough room for me to color mine
                        [So I simply signed my name
                                    All small
                                    In the corner
                                    Of that sidewalk gallery of hearts and hopes]
                        And that’s the way I wanted it
                        Because-
                        Well,­
I didn’t need a dream if I had you.


(ii)

It was too perfect, really.
Well, I was, I suppose.
Perfectly innocent.

I now see how illogical it is
To assume that a heart can simply be cut away from the chest,
And given.

For it is impossible to do so
[Truly]

No,
You got so much more than my heart, my love

From the ends of my eyelashes to my fingertips
All of me was yours

Yes,
From the frantic way my heart beat against my ribcage        
[Like a tiny hummingbird
            Wanting to burst free
To taste you with my entire soul
            Swallow you whole
            Not merely glean a teasing sample with my lips]

To the way it melted through my chest
And slid softly to my fingers
Resting in your palm
Yes,
When you placed your hand in mine
            I was clutching the reality I’d only ever dreamed of
            [My heart and I were a package deal- and you held both]
            Yes, it was the closest I’ve ever been to happiness

Oh, love…
I loved,
With every part of me,
I hope you know.

But I never considered that I did
Not really

Until that moment when you led me in my fuzzy bunny slippers to the chalky sidewalk
And silently erased my name from that corner
            Whispering you were sorry all the while.
            But we were all grown up now.

[That was the day I stood with my arms outstretched
Mouth gaping open
To catch the rain
As the sky turned inside out
Because, well.
I needed new dreams if I didn’t have you]

Tears filled my eyes, then
For I felt my heart fall out of my chest
[Yes, I thought such a thing was impossible
But I’d also
(Naively)
Thought it impossible for you to ever leave]
To rest
Forever
In your hands
[A final parting gift]

What pain filled that void!
            [I would blame it on pneumonia,
                        -For I stood in the puddles forever that day
                        Making mouthfuls of promises to that empty rain-
                        But I think we both know better
                        Than to expect a little sickness to bring pain such as this]
For I was left with nothing
And you
            [You
With a tiny hummingbird you didn’t even know what to do with
                        As it lay
                        Barely breathing
                        Barely beating
                        But doing both for you]
You still had everything

From the tears that dripped from my lashes
To the tips of my fingers that brushed them away

To that empty ribcage
            [With the bones gaping open
            So barren, but for a couple feathers
            That blew about when you whispered
                        (Hanging on to a hollow kind of hope)
But fell to the bottom of my stomach once it was clear
That you were never coming back
With my little hummingbird]
And that flat thump in my chest
[From the pendulum I secured in its stead
                        Marking each moment I spent without a true heartbeat
No frenzy of feathers
No
Just a hollow, rhythmic stupor
That fell over my soul]
That reminded me
I had
Nothing to love anymore.


(iii)

            Who knows how long I stood
                        Letting the draft in through the spaces between my ribcage
                        So raw and gaping
                        My soul an empty ocean
                        Waiting
                        Wai­ting for any kind of tide to pull me in
                                                              ­            fill me up
                                                              ­            bring me out again
            I got so cold, love
            Waiting for the wind to wash up something on the brittle beaches of my bones
          
            It took forever, it seemed
            For me to swallow that mouthful of rain you left me with that day
                        [How I wish I’d known sooner that’s all it would take]
            But when I did
            It washed that pendulum straight out
                        [Oh, and how that mouthful wetted the lips of my helpless spirit
                                    Till it was chugging words I’d never been able to find
                                                And that’s why I write
                                                About you
                                                And our love
                                                That is long lost somewhere
Lost in a somewhere only you’ve ever been to]
            Into the hands of someone who thought he’d found my soul.

And how I wish he hadn’t found the counterfeit
For he shined it so pretty and neat-like
            [Oh, that it had been real]
And secured it around his neck
            I never knew I had anything worth showing off
            No
            But he made me feel that I had

Oh, but how it all was very broken
For I was very out of order, see
            Nothing to give him
            Not really
            Nothing but permission for his eyelashes to flicker at me
            For him to brush me with his lips and the tips of his fingers
                        I never backed away soon enough
                        Always left red with regrets
                        Horrific actions I’ll never forget
            [Oh, Always
                        Always
                        The­ swing of the pendulum in the back of my mind
                        Whispering we were on borrowed time
                        Because none of me was really mine
                                                But did I listen?]

He’d tell me I was lovely all the day.

So how picturesque to think of me
Standing on his porch one day
            In my fuzzy bunny slippers
            With mother’s pearls around my neck
            Expecting him to tell me once again.
But that’s when it ended
            Just like I’d wanted
            ‘Cause he claimed I was deranged for double-dipping
            Dragging dreams into the daytime
And I smiled
            ‘Cause I knew that he was wrong.
                        [Yep, you always loved my plaid pajama pants
All mud stained from puddle jumping
From the days we expected nothing but rain for us to catch]


(iv)

How horribly addictive true love is!
            Do you not agree?

For I think we both should like to be gone from each other
Forever, if we could both stand to be away that long

But as long as I live
            I shall never find someone so perfect as you
            And your eyes are the tide that draws me in time after time
            So why should I cast you out, my love?
            Tell me to go away, the way you’ve never said.
            Give me a reason to leave.
For I can’t find one at all,
Except that I love you too much to be logical
                                                     to own up to reality

--It is a sad thought
            To think you might’ve plucked the feathers from my hummingbird
            And threaded them through those broken guitar strings you tuned for me
            To make a wind chime for your porch
                        [You’re the only one who ever listened to me, anyway]
For,
            Did I not see those fancy colors hanging by your door yesterday,
            The same shade as my eyes?
I do not wish to make assumptions,
            Stop me if I’m wrong.

For,
I already know it was so wrong of me
            To think it should’ve gone differently yesterday
                        When I laced up a corset to fill that gap in my chest
                                    Donned a dress with my mother’s fancy pearls
                                    Slipped heels onto my feet
                                    And fixed my hair nice and pretty for you
Oh, love
            How quickly I found you’ve forgotten

Because when you saw me standing there on your doorstep
            All perfect
            And real
            And neat
You handed me a piece of paper
And asked about my aspirations

I could do nothing but glance at the sidewalk, surprised,
Finding nothing but gray pavement.
            For you, my love,
            Are living your dreams now
            No need to chalk them up and wish.

But my hopes haven’t changed, love
I’ve yet to live the only dream I ever wanted

And how I wished to dazzle you by saying extraordinary things
            All wrapped up in this fancy piece of scratch paper
            With half the lines crossed out
            But I don’t think you appreciate it like you used to

And how I wished to tell you that my dream could be found in the chalk dust
Still stuck to the bottoms of my fuzzy bunny slippers
I used to wear
With my mother’s fancy pearls
Until yesterday

When I tried to match everything up evenly
            And we stood on your porch
            With no one to hear us but the wind chime
                        [The feathers holding it together
                                    Just hanging on your every breath
                                                And swaying to a hollow sort of hope]
As you whispered.

You told me I was beautiful.

            And I went home and cried.
Toothache May 2018
Thick, warm, fuzzy air
Radiates against your skin, making you want to doze off
You sit on the front of a low red car that looks another era, leaning on the glossy hood.
I want to put your lips on mine
The world feels yellow, and orange.
It's as if clear smoke has filled the air
My eyes are dimmed through thick sunglasses, my body absorbing the warmth through jeans and a small black shirt
I'm in a lucid daze
Looking at you through a curtain of leather black hair, not bothered to move it from my face.
Your eyes the crisp refreshing blue in a world tinted amber
Like a fresh spray of water on my back
After hours of sunbathing
We sit there
We say nothing
We take in the sun
   We don't need anything else
173

A fuzzy fellow, without feet,
Yet doth exceeding run!
Of velvet, is his Countenance,
And his Complexion, dun!

Sometime, he dwelleth in the grass!
Sometime, upon a bough,
From which he doth descend in plush
Upon the Passer-by!

All this in summer.
But when winds alarm the Forest Folk,
He taketh Damask Residence—
And struts in sewing silk!

Then, finer than a Lady,
Emerges in the spring!
A Feather on each shoulder!
You’d scarce recognize him!

By Men, yclept Caterpillar!
By me! But who am I,
To tell the pretty secret
Of the Butterfly!
Poetria Oct 2016
Through insomniac nights
a fuzzy grey mouse and I
coexist under lamplight.

My sleeping routine,
it's far from a dream
but my buddy and me,
we feel free.

He stays in the shadows
Collecting little bites
of leftover dinner to eat.

He comes out at night
and scuttles in this light;
he's put his trust in me.

I honour my promises,
and mice have their rights
so I vow to tell nobody.

So when I can't sleep-
in secret we meet,
my fuzzy grey friend
and me.
P.S When I wrote this, HE SQUEAKED!
Sofia Von Jul 2014
Summer heat summer sweet
With a wealthy nature, rich pheromones erupt
Birds n tha bees escape the trees
Please don't plant your seeds
But throw the leaves
Up n up
To get down and drop
Where the dirt pops
Ken keseys ashes
Edible umbrellas turn rainy days on their head spinning pupils wide void of discontentment
Fairies fly off clouds and stars fall at day
Impossible, feelings are blown in and out of proportion to fit a screen thats too small
Tough love
Tough life
Slick surface don't let me fall off the boat as it rocks
Swisher wraps over the curves
Got me feelin lucky like a charm
Cheef all day got me smellin dank as a Rastafarian Only stoppin to sip my Captain Morgans moonshine
Till we hit the caribbean
Then Jack's got me headin for tides end
Early
Flush the bile outta your system
And spiral out of controls iron hand
**** responsibility, Apathy rules all.

Paper crane ******* get all superficial but yellow bones make my brain go fuzzy in smokey ***
In n out, fast n slow
Nicotine dominates
My senses are lost at Molly
That ***** finger ****** my life
Made me *** every time
This unhealthy relation in action doesn't phase me yet, I'm too young to think that far
I mean
What do you expect?
A Teens crowded perceptions can be judged like a bums intentions.
Peace my brotha
Dandy danny says theres a way out
-side with the rap culture
Shots of rebellion pour through the cracks we each fill
The glass
Is too cracked to be see-through

West coast vibes kick back lax attitude I carry on my shoulders
Forever green is my state
Wash that **** off your lawn crack *** haters I'll spray paint your ***
Equality's the goal
**** race
**** sexuality
I see soul
Open up
Show me your beat
I'll count bars as we spit elicited slurs drizzled to drops leaving the cops to stop us
Quit
Obeyin the brand
FUZZY  DARLING


Fuzzy Darling,

Indeed our best friend you are; n Zoish specially loves you

Freyu of Zoish's love for Fuzzy is jealous a wee bit;

So he teases Zoish, saying marry him you will, when you grow up

Amused he is about the kids if it happens; whether they will pups be or human?

Fuzzy, the kids have gone nuts over you and your cute lovable antics

Amuse them, you very much do, with your silly funny tactics

Your sense of smell, "wah wah ustaad", you know we are there from far away

Your wagging so inviting is; but your dangerous bark, a vagabond can shoo away

Without you Fuzzy, life so mundane would be, you are the reason we love to home rush

Cuddle you, tickle you, ****** you, even squeeze you whilst your fur we brush.

Love you we do, but know we, you love us a lot more; very high is the ratio n your score.

Armin Dutia Motashaw
Terry O'Leary Sep 2013
NOTE TO THE READER – Once Apun a Time

This yarn is a flossy fabric woven of several earlier warped works, lightly laced together, adorned with fur-ther braided tails of human frailty. The looms were loosed, purling frantically this febrile fable...

Some pearls may be found wanting – unwanted or unwonted – piled or hanging loose, dangling free within a fuzzy flight of fancy...

The threads of this untethered tissue may be fastened, or be forgotten, or else be stranded by the readers and left unravelling in the knotted corners of their minds...

'twill be perchance that some may  laugh or loll in loopy stitches, else be torn or ripped apart, while others might just simply say “ ’tis made of hole cloth”, “sew what” or “cant seam to get the needle point”...,

yes, a proper disentanglement may take you for a spin on twisted twines of any strings you feel might need attaching or detaching…

picking knits, some may think that
       such strange things ‘have Never happened in our Land’,
       such quaint things ‘could Never happen in our Land’’,
       such murky things ‘will Never happen in our Land’’…

and this may all be true, if credence be dis-carded…

such is that gooey gossamer which vails the human mind...

and thus was born the teasing title of this fabricated Fantasy...

                                NEVER LAND

An ancient man named Peter Pan, disguised but from the past,
with feathered cap and tunic wrap and sabre’s sailed his last.
Though fully grown, on dust he’s flown and perched upon a mast
atop the Walls around the sprawls, unvisited and vast -
and all the while with bitter smile he’s watching us aghast.

As day begins, a spindle spins, it weaves a wanton web;
like puckered prunes, like midday moons, like yesterday’s celebs,
we scrape and *****, we seldom hope - he watches while we ebb:

The ***** grinder preaches fine on Sunday afternoons -
he quotes from books but overlooks the Secrets Carved in Runes:
“You’ve tried and toyed, but can’t avoid or shun the pale monsoons,
it’s sink or swim as echoed dim in swinging door saloons”.
The laughingstocks are flinging rocks at ball-and-chained baboons.

While ghetto boys are looting toys preparing for their doom
and Mademoiselles are weaving shells on tapestries with looms,
Cathedral cats and rafter rats are peering in the room,
where ragged strangers stoop for change, for coppers in the gloom,
whose thoughts are more upon the doors of crypts in Christmas bloom,
and gold doubloons and silver spoons that tempt beyond the tomb.

Mid *** shots from vacant lots, that strike and ricochet
a painted girl with flaxen curl (named Wendy)’s on her way
to tantalise with half-clad thighs, to trick again today;
and indiscreet upon the street she gives her pride away
to any guy who’s passing by with time and cash to pay.
(In concert halls beyond the Walls, unjaded girls ballet,
with flowered thoughts of Camelot and dreams of cabarets.)

Though rip-off shops and crooked cops are paid not once but thrice,
the painted girl with flaxen curl is paring down her price
and loosely tempts cold hands unkempt to touch the merchandise.
A crazy guy cries “where am I”, a ****** titters twice,
and double quick a lunatic affects a fight with lice.

The alleyways within the maze are paved with rats and mice.
Evangelists with moneyed fists collect the sacrifice
from losers scorned and rubes reborn, and promise paradise,
while in the back they cook some crack, inhale, and roll the dice.

A *** called Boe has stubbed his toe, he’s stumbled in the gutter;
with broken neck, he looks a wreck, the sparrows all aflutter,
the passers-by, they close an eye, and turn their heads and mutter:
“Let’s pray for rains to wash the lanes, to clear away the clutter.”
A river slows neath mountain snows, and leaves begin to shudder.

The jungle teems, a siren screams, the air is filled with ****.
The Reverent Priest and nuns unleash the Holy Shibboleth.
And Righteous Jane who is insane, as well as Sister Beth,
while telling tales to no avail of everlasting death,
at least imbrue Hagg Avenue with whisky on their breath.

The Reverent Priest combats the Beast, they’re kneeling down to prey,
to fight the truth with fang and tooth, to toil for yesterday,
to etch their mark within the dark, to paint their résumé
on shrouds and sheets which then completes the devil’s dossier.

Old Dan, he’s drunk and in a funk, all mired in the mud.
A Monk begins to wash Dan’s sins, and asks “How are you, Bud?”
“I’m feeling pain and crying rain and flailing in the flood
and no god’s there inclined to care I’m always coughing blood.”
The Monk, he turns, Dan’s words he spurns and lets the bible thud.

Well, Banjo Boy, he will annoy with jangled rhymes that fray:
“The clanging bells of carousels lead blind men’s minds astray
to rings of gold they’ll never hold in fingers made of clay.
But crest and crown will crumble down, when withered roots decay.”

A pregnant lass with eyes of glass has never learned to cope.
Once set adrift her fall was swift, she slid a slipp’ry ***** -
she casts the Curse, the Holy Verse, and shoots a shot of dope,
then stalks discreet Asylum Street her daily horoscope -
the stray was struck by random truck which was her only hope.

So Banjo Boy, with little joy, he strums her life entire:
“The wayward waif was never safe; her stars were dark and dire.
Born midst the rues and avenues where lack and want aspire
where no one heeds the childish needs that little ones require;
where faith survives in tempest lives, a swirl within the briar,
Infinity grinds as time unwinds, until the winds expire.
Her last caprice? The final peace that no one could deny her -
whipped by the flood, stray beads of blood cling, splattered on the spire;
though beads of sweat are cool and wet, cold clotted blood is dryer.”

Though broken there, she’s fled the snare with dying thoughts serene.
And now she’s dead, the rumours spread: her age? a sweet 16,
with child, *****, her soul dyed red, her body so unclean.
A place is sought where she can rot, avoiding churchyard scenes,
in limey pits, as well befits, behind forbidding screens;
and all the while a dirge is styled on tattered tambourines
which echo through the human zoo in valleys of the Queens.

Without rejoice, in hissing voice, near soil that’s seldom trod
“In pious role, God bless my soul”, was mouthed with mitred nod,
neath scarlet trim with black, and grim, behind a robed facade -
“She’ll burn in hell and sulphur smell”, spat Priest and man of god.

Well, angels sweet with cloven feet, they sing in girl’s attire,
but Banjo Boy, he’s playing coy while chanting in the choir:
“The clueless search within the church to find what they desire,
but near the nave or gravelled grave, there is no Rectifier.”
And when he’s through, without ado, he stacks some stones nearby her.

The eyes behind the head inclined reflect a universe
of shanty towns and kings in crowns and parties in a hearse,
of heaping mounds of coffee grounds and pennies in a purse,
of heart attacks in shoddy shacks, of motion in reverse,
of reasons why pale kids must die, quite trite and curtly terse,
of puppet people at the steeple, kneeling down averse,
of ****** tones and megaphones with empty words and worse,
of life’s begin’ in utter sin and other things perverse,
of lewd taboos and residues contained within the Curse,
while poets blind, in gallows’ rind, carve epitaphs in verse.

A sodden dreg with wooden leg is dancing for a dime
to sacred psalms and other balms, all ticking with the time.
He’s 22, he’s almost through, he’s melted in his prime,
his bane is firm, the canker worm dissolves his brain to slime.
With slanted scales and twisted jails, his life’s his only crime.

A beggar clump beside a dump has pencil box in hand.
With sightless eyes upon the skies he’s lying there unmanned,
with no relief and bitter grief too dark to understand.
The backyard blight is hid from sight, it’s covered up and bland,
and Robin Hood and Brother Hood lie buried in the sand.

While all night queens carve figurines in gelatine and jade,
behind a door and on the floor a deal is finally made;
the painted girl with flaxen curl has plied again her trade
and now the care within her stare has turned a darker shade.
Her lack of guile and parting smile are cutting like a blade.

Some boys with cheek play hide and seek within a house condemned,
their faces gaunt reflecting want that’s hard to comprehend.
With no excuse an old recluse is waiting to descend.
His eyes despair behind the stare, he’s never had a friend
to talk about his hidden doubt of how the world will end -
to die alone on empty throne and other Fates impend.

And soon the boys chase phantom joys and, presto when they’re gone,
the old recluse, with nimble noose and ****** features drawn,
no longer waits upon the Fates but yawns his final yawn
- like Tinker Bell, he spins a spell, in fairy dust chiffon -
with twisted brow, he’s tranquil now, he’s floating like a swan
and as he fades from life’s charades, the night awaits the dawn.

A boomerang with ebon fang is soaring through the air
to pierce and breach the heart of each and then is called despair.
And as it grows it will oppose and fester everywhere.
And yet the crop that’s at the top will still be unaware.

A lad is stopped by roving cops, who shoot in disregard.
His face is black, he’s on his back, a breeze is breathing hard,
he bleeds and dies, his mama cries, the screaming sky is scarred,
the sheriff and his squad at hand are laughing in the yard.

Now Railroad Bob’s done lost his job, he’s got no place for working,
His wife, she cries with desperate eyes, their baby’s head’s a’ jerking.
The union man don’t give a ****, Big Brother lies a’ lurking,
the boss’ in cabs are picking scabs, they count their money, smirking.

Bob walks the streets and begs for eats or little jobs for trying
“the answer’s no, you ought to know, no use for you applying,
and don’t be sad, it aint that bad, it’s soon your time for dying.”
The air is thick, his baby’s sick, the cries are multiplying.

Bob’s wife’s in town, she’s broken down, she’s ranting with a fury,
their baby coughs, the doctor scoffs, the snow flies all a’ flurry.
Hard work’s the sin that’s done them in, they skirmish, scrimp and scurry,
and midnight dreams abound with screams. Bob knows he needs to hurry.
It’s getting late, Bob’s tempting fate, his choices cruel and blurry;
he chooses gas, they breathe their last, there’s no more cause to worry.

Per protocols near ivied walls arrayed in sage festoons,
the Countess quips, while giving tips, to crimson caped buffoons:
“To rise from mass to upper class, like twirly bird tycoons,
you stretch the treat you always eat, with tiny tablespoons”

A learned leach begins to teach (with songs upon a liar):
“Within the thrall of Satan’s call to yield to dim desire
lie wicked lies that tantalize the flesh and blood Vampire;
abiding souls with self-control in everyday Hellfire
will rest assured, when once interred, in afterlife’s Empire”.
These words reweave the make believe, while slugs in salt expire,
baptised in tears and rampant fears, all mirrored in the mire.

It’s getting hot on private yachts, though far from desert plains -
“Well, come to think, we’ll have a drink”, Sir Captain Hook ordains.
Beyond the blame and pit of shame, outside the Walled domains,
they pet their pups and raise their cups, take sips of pale champagnes
to touch the tips of languid lips with pearls of purple rains.

Well, Gypsy Guy would rather die than hunker down in chains,
be ridden south with bit in mouth, or heed the hold of reins.
The ruling lot are in a spot, the boss man he complains:
“The gypsies’ soul, I can’t control, my patience wears and wanes;
they will not cede to common greed, which conquers far domains
and furtive spies and news that lies have barely baked their brains.
But in the court of last resort the final fix remains:
in boxcar bins with violins we’ll freight them out in trains
and in the bogs, they’ll die like dogs, and everybody gains
(should one ask why, a quick reply: ‘It’s that which God ordains!’)”

Arrayed in shawls with crystal *****, and gazing at the moons,
wiled women tease with melodies and spooky loony tunes
while making toasts to holey ghosts on rainy day lagoons:
“Well, here’s to you and others too, embedded in the dunes,
avoid the stares, avoid the snares, avoid the veiled typhoons
and fend your way as every day, ’gainst heavy heeled dragoons.”

The birds of pray are on their way, in every beak the Word
(of ptomaine tomes by gnarly gnomes) whose meaning is obscured;
they roost aloof on every roof, obscene but always herd,
to tell the tale of Jonah’s whale and other rhymes absurd
with shifty eyes, they’re giving whys for living life deferred.

While jackals lean, hyenas mean, and hungry crocodiles
feast in the lounge and never scrounge, lambs languish in the aisle.
The naive dare to say “Unfair, let’s try to reconcile.
We’ll all relax and weigh the facts, let justice spin the dial.”

With jaundiced monks and minds pre-shrunk, the jury is compiled.
The Rulers meet, First Ladies greet, the Kings appear in style.
Before the Court, their sins are short, they’re swept into a pile;
with diatribes and petty bribes, the jurors are beguiled.

The Herd entreats, the Shepherd bleats the verdict of the trial:
“You have no face. Stay in your place, stay in the Rank and File.
And wait instead, for when you’re dead, for riches after while”;
Aristocrats add caveats while sailing down the Nile:
“If Minds are mugged or simply drugged with philtres in a vial,
then few indeed will fail to feed the Pharaoh’s Crocodile.”
The wordsmiths spin, the bankers grin and politicians smile,
the riff and raff, they never laugh, they mark a martyred mile.

The rituals are finished, all, here comes the Reverent Priest.
He leads the crowds beneath the clouds, and there the flock is fleeced
(“the last are first, the rich are cursed” - the leached remain the least)
with crossing signs and ****** wines and consecrated yeast.
His step is gay without dismay before his evening feast;
he thanks the Lord for room and, bored, he nods to Eden East
but doesn’t sigh or wonder why the sins have not decreased.

The sinking sun’s at last undone, the sky glows faintly red.
A spider black hides in a crack and spins a silken thread
and babes will soon collapse and swoon, on curbs they call a bed;
with vacant eyes they'll fantasize and dream of gingerbread,
and so be freed, though still in need, from anguish of the dead.

Fat midnight bats feast, gnawing gnats, and flit away serene
while on the trails in distant dales the lonesome wolverine
sate appetites on foggy nights and days like crystalline.
A migrant feeds on gnats and weeds with fingers far from clean
and thereby’s blessed with barren breast (the easier to wean) -
her baby ***** an arid flux and fades away unseen.

The circus gongs excite the throngs in nighttime Never Land –
they swarm to see the destiny of Freaks at their command,
while Acrobats step pitapat across the shifting sands
and Lady Fat adores her cat and oozes charm unplanned.
The Dwarfs in suits, so small and cute when marching with the band,
ask crimson Clowns with painted frowns, to lend a mutant hand,
while Tamers’ whips with withered tips, throughout the winter land,
lure minds entranced through hoops enhanced with flames of fires fanned.
White Elephants in big-top tents sell black tusk contraband
to Sycophants in regiments who overflow the stands,
but No One sees anomalies, and No One understands.
At night’s demise, the dither dies, the lonely Crowd disbands,
down dead-end streets the Horde retreats, their threadbare rags in strands,
and Janes and Joes reweave their woes, for thoughts of change are banned.

The Monk of Mock has fled the flock caught knocking up a tween.
(She brought to light the special rite he sought to leave unseen.)
With profaned eyes they agonise, their souls no more serene
and at the shrine the flutes of wine are filled with kerosene
by men unkempt who once had dreamt but now can dream no more
except when bellowed bellies belch an ever growing roar,
which churns the seas and whips a breeze that mercy can’t ignore,
and in the night, though filled with fright, they try to end the War.

The slow and quick are hurling bricks and fight with clubs of rage
to break the chains and cleanse the stains of life within a cage,
but yield to stings of armoured things that crush in every age.

At crack of dawn, a broken pawn, in pools of blood and fire,
attends the wounds, in blood festooned (the waves flow nigh and nigher),
while ghetto towns are burning down (the flames grow high and higher);
and in their wake, a golden snake is rising from the pyre.
Her knees are bare, consumed in prayer, applauded by the Friar,
and soon it’s clear the end is near - while magpie birds conspire,
the lowly worm is made to squirm while dangling from a wire.

The line was crossed, the battle lost, the losers can’t deny,
the residues are far and few, though smoke pervades the sky.
The cool wind’s cruel, a cutting tool, the vanquished ask it “Why?”,
and bittersweet, from  Easy Street, the Pashas’ puffed reply:
“The rules are set, so don’t forget, the rabble will comply;
the grapes of wrath may make you laugh, the day you are to die.”

The down and out, they knock about beneath the barren skies
where homeward bound, without a sound, a ravaged raven flies.
Beyond the Walls, the morning calls the newborn sun to rise,
and Peter Pan, a broken man, inclines his head and cries...
Jamison Bell Aug 2016
There was once a fuzzy bunny.
And wow he liked to ****.
But just as life would have it.
He was **** outta luck.

So the fuzzy bunny away he did go.
To try and bust a nut.
He hopped down to the deli.
Where he hoped to find a ****.

Awkward was the fuzzy bunny.
For he wasn't well endowed.
He talked to many ladies.
Though none of them he plowed.

Then the fuzzy bunny he just went dark.
Depression took its toll.
He would snort pancake mix.
Smoking whatever he could roll.

Well things they just don't end well.
The fuzzy bunny took his life.
Things escalated quickly.
When fuzzy couldn't find a wife.
Dayna Halcomb Jan 2014
My mind has detached itself from my body.
My mind has detached itself from my body.
I’m going crazy and I can’t remember anything.
I’m going crazy and I can’t remember anything.
Crazy has my mind and my body detached from itself.
I’m going anything-I can’t remember.

Fuzzy, my brain tries to function.
Fuzzy, my brain tries to function.
Sentences are not forming correctly.
Sentences are not forming correctly.
My brain function tries to correctly.
Fuzzy sentences are not forming.

I can’t think at all anymore.
I can’t think at all anymore.
It’s getting worse every minute.
It’s getting worse every minute.
It’s all getting worse anymore.
I think, can’t at every minute.

I think my brain has detached itself.
It’s going crazy and are not forming correctly anymore.
Sentences can’t remember anything.
I’m fuzzy, my mind tries to function.
From getting worse every minute.
My body, I can’t at all.
tried out this form
lost in my mind Mar 2015
I don't know if I can feel love anymore.
I know that there's many people who care a lot about me,
but I don't know where the warm fuzzy feeling in my chest went.
I only feel pain.
I only feel my ghosts replace the air in my lungs with poison,
as they curl up inside me, so I can't breathe.

I don't know if I can feel relaxed anymore.
I know there are times where I'm not completely tense,
but I don't know how to relax my shoulders,
because they're always tensed up to protect me.
I only feel anxiety gripping me tighter everyday.
I only feel fuzzy, not in my heart, but in my head.

I don't know what happened to the good feelings,
because all I feel is pain.
Michael Stefan Mar 2020
My fingers
caress the fuzz
on your lower
back

My hands
grip the fuzz
at the base
of your neck

Our
arguments
in my mind
are growing fuzzy

The day
that you left
out the door
is oh so
fuzzy

My fingers
caress the fuzz
on my unshaven
cheeks

My hands
grip the fuzz
of my long hair
I'm such a freak

How the hell
I got here
I don't know
It's so fuzzy

See your picture
through empty bottles
on the nightstand
it's growing fuzzy
If there is one thing I'm good at, it's breakup songs.  Robert Frost once called Edwin Arlington Robinson's poetry as being "the essence of unhappiness itself".  I really hope that isn't a tag I earn on this site as being the dude that writes really sad break-up poems.  But here you go! Hope you like it!
EBTI Jan 2018
I am my mothers daughter
I am no daughter to my father
That ship sailed a long time ago
Driven by my sister that I have right now
She is her mothers mother
She is the soul of all the lovers
She told you, you're a getter
And im a filler, so fill them up with poetry
Get a hold of them, she got a hold of me
“Can you see something?” She asked
No it's all fuzzy
My mom told me, they tried to conceal me
Tried to take a breath but, it's all fuzzy
So she's a killer!
Tried to run but guess what? She's a fast runner.
Angie S Nov 2017
a fuzzy little peach
rolled from her terrace of the tall table
off into the depths of the air and onto the floor.
i scooped her into my hands and asked her,
'beautiful peach, how did you land here?'
with a sigh, she responded,
'dear human, there are few things i can do.
once i began to roll,
i could not stop myself.'
her skin clouded with signs of contusion
and her flesh softened with the force of her fall.

'beautiful peach,
there are few things i am able to do as well.'
i did all that i could for her in that moment--
brought the fuzzy little peach to my chest
and gently held her close to my heart.

'dear human,'
she whispered,
'though it is not much to you,
to me,
it means everything.'
my prompt for today was 'peaches'. it was a simple prompt, but i wanted to turn it into more than what it seemed. also, i practiced my alliteration skills!

here's a story about the little things
Diana Aug 2020
What makes you feel the most beautiful?
  ->doing whatever the fu€k I want
edit 1: I usually thought this way, but now I would say when I’m worshipping or praying
edit 2: I would add it is when I am completely vulnerable. It is a different kind of beauty. One that is emotionally strong
(usually a person will say when they look a certain way which is sad to an extent because it reflects the way in which they associate beauty immediately with an external reflection; however, most people think this way)

2. Who do you love the most in your life?

3. Who has shown you and made you feel the most loved?
—> I had a 11 year old ask me this once

4. What would you do during the summers as a kid?
—> it can reflect the socioeconomic background one comes from

5. Do you think you’re an aesthetically  beautiful person?
—> this is quite interesting, bc if a good looking person says yes, then they’re proud and stuck up; if they say no, then they’re obnoxiously oblivious and seeking attention; if a not so good looking person says yes, then they are praised for their confidence; if they say no, then they are pitied and encouraged, the best answer is to give an answer back: do you believe that everyone should feel aesthetically beautiful?

6. Do you have any siblings? If so, how many brothers and sisters, and are you the oldest or youngest?
—> learning about birthing order can be huge! Oldest tend to be protective, responsible, mature at a very young age, selfless, and carry more of a silent burden and stress, introduction to adulthood is rather quick. Middle child is often overlooked and will seek a sense of family/community elsewhere with friend groups and such; they feel like their thoughts/existence goes unseen by the ones that are supposed to care the most youngest tend to seek the approval of others especially of those older than them, outgoing, irresponsible, and babied. They can have a harder time managing task without it being done for them by others.

7. When we fall asleep, where do you think we go?

8. What is a thought that has kept you up at night?

9. What was the most humbling moment you’ve had in your life?

10. What is a piece of advice that you still hold today that transcends time?

11. What’s a favorite quote of yours?
-> the unexamined life is a life not worth living; don’t take yourself too seriously; come back home to yourself and choose to show up authentically; growth is a dance not a light switch; Harriet Tubman- I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed  a thousand more of only they knew they were slaves.

12. Who has impacted your life the most? How and why?

13. What is an overlooked or under appreciated strength that you have?
—> honesty, forgiveness

14. How do you give love? How do you receive it?
—> 5 love languages: words of affirmations, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, gifts

15. How do you communicate when in repairs after a rupture has occurred?
—> discuss as soon as possible, take a five minute break, wait a few days, words, touch, gifts, silence, etc. so you never repair after a disagreement?

16. Do you enjoy the late hours of the night or the early hours of the morning?

17. What’s your favorite type of weather?

18. Do you prefer exploring and staying in the gray, or the black and white?

19. Of you could study anything what would it be?

20. What are ways that you work on your emotional intelligence and character?

21. What type of communicator are you?
—> words, touch, actions, silent, loud, stoic, expressive, curt, bombastic, blunt, passive, etc.

22. Would you say you have a better face or body?

23. What is a moment where you felt a supernatural appreciation for the earth due to the view you saw?

24. How do you handle seasons? The ends and beginnings of them?
-> journal, reflect, avoid, acknowledge, cry, run backwards, move forwards, etc.

25. What book had a huge effect on you? What was it about the book?
-> all the bright places, Fahrenheit 451, the curse of the good girl, it ends with us, great gatsby, the voice of archer, etc.

26. What is the worst thing you can take from another person?
-> their time

27. What’s the greatest act of love (that you can do for another) ?
-> to die for another since the greatest fear is death

28. What is something that brings you peace that not many people do or notice?

29. What is the worst form of loneliness?
-> when you are uncomfortable with yourself

30. When do you feel the most vulnerable?
-> sleeping, expressing emotions, sick, crying, etc.

31. How do you handle seasons? The end and beginning of them?

32. Liquid or bar soap?

33. Have you ever closed your eyes, plugged your ears, and listen to the noise that comes when you let the water from a shower head pour over your skull

34. What is the most beautiful sound you have ever heard?

35. Do you think your parents are soulmates, or do you question their love for each other?  

36. What are important qualities to have in any relationship (platonic, romantic, etc.)?
-> trust, love, loyalty, respect, empathy, compassion, boundaries, autonomy, differences, effective communication, etc.

37. What are qualities that you look for in a romantic partner?
-> thoughtfulness, observant, confidence, wisdom, romantic, humorous, self-driven, self-discipline, humility, grace, etc.

38. How do you know that your (insert name/ relationship) loves you?

39. Would you rather be hated or alone?
-> interesting philosophical question in regards to being hated would mean that there is a recognition of your existence as opposed to being alone

40. How did you learn to ride the bike? Ice Scate? Snowboard?

41. When was the last time you felt rejected? By who? For what?

42. When was the last time you cried?

43. What has a kid said to you that has made you stop and reflect?

44. Which is a worse fear: the fear of dying or the fear of not being worthy of love
-> Jordan Peterson claims that the greatest fear that humans have is not death because then how would we explain suicide...the fear of death is a subcategory for the greatest fear which he believes to be the complexity issue (people **** themselves not because they want to die but because their life has become too complex for them to handle emotionally and/or physically)

45. What is the most destructive thing a person can do to themselves?
-> to deny themselves; to place the responsibilities of loving and accepting themselves onto others such as lovers or family members; to believe they are not worthy to be loved

46. What is something you want to experience/feel in a relationship
-> unconditional love; lol I have a while poke dedicated to experiences

47. Tell me about a dream that you have had multiple times

48. What do you like most about yourself?
-> my mind/thinking process; understanding, and open to conversation

49. Would you be friends with yourself

50. What is the worst thing you have done or said to another person? How old were you?

51. Why do you choose to wake up and participate in society?

52. What makes a woman or man their gender? Their body/attitude/characteristics?

53. Would you let your child date someone that has the character of you?

54. What makes you special? Since the beliefs you hold and the personality traits that you have aren’t exclusive to you?
-> it’s the combination and ratio that makes us unique

55. when was the last time anyone ever told you how important you are?

56. what are things you do when you need to feel nurtures?
->hot bath, foot rub, curling up in a comfy chair with a comforter and a good book, or making a *** of soup or a nourishing hot drink

57. what are ways that you neglect your physical and emotional well-being?

58. where in your life are you not protecting what is precious in you?

59. what adjectives describe your relationship with your mother? do you like the closeness or is it uncomfortable in some ways and hard to fully accept?

60. What do you do when you cry? do you try to stop it, cover your eyes, in the dark, into a pillow, silent, loud, sooth your body?

61. What was something that someone said to you that made you feel seen for the first time in a long time? what is something that touched you heart?
-> you are do brave, you have a courageous heart, you are a natural teacher and psychologist, you lean towards healing, you do not realize how much you impact other people's lives

62. what is a go to song that you could listen to at any moment in your life?

63. What do you do when you feel lonely?

64. What is something that puts a smile on your face?

65. What smell brings you joy?

66. would you rather get caught or catch your parents?

67. what is one of the biggest lies you have told yourself?
-> you are unworthy of love

68. what is a memory that reminds you of the beauty in life?

69. what is your favorite word to pronounce?
-> tantalizing, satiate, revere

70. what stereotype do you think people put you in when they see you?
-> pretty, (not super smart) blonde

71. what are things about you would shock other people?
-> first generation. youngest of five, 4.0 student, write poetry, love to read, not active on social media, don't like taking pictures, never been kissed, played the violin and cello, struggled with insecurity

72. tell me the accomplishments that you might be hesitant to share bluntly in fear that it comes off as being a show off?
-4.0 since sixth grade to nursing school in college, won a poetry competition in senior year of high school, got a full ride to UW Seattle and declined, won best dressed in high school, squatted 225lbs, muscular body, sang in a few songs (good at singing)

73. how do you interact with others when they are invading your personal space?
-> don't do anything, interrupt and tell them to move, slowly do something on your own without saying anything to them

74. what do you do and how do you feel when someone cries next to you?
-> hug/touch them, talk to them, remain silent, get stiff and uncomfortable, try to get them to stop crying, walk away

75. how do you regulate your emotions when they are out of homeostasis?
-> don't know how to, take deep breaths, walk away from the situation so the stimulus/source is not in front of me, cry

76. name as many emotions as you can
-> reflects their ability to accurately label their emotional experiences and can possibly be a marker/indicator for their emotional intelligence/maturity

77. how do you feel about death, do you talk about death, do you see others shut down or open up when you express this topic?
-> isn't it ironic how death is an inevitable event yet so many humans are uncomfortable with talking about it. I believe that it interrupts the natural grieving process. I talk about death with my dad and he is more open with talking to me about when he passes; my mom gets uncomfortable and gets upset and tries to switch the topic.

78. would you rather eat any form of noodles or burgers for the rest of your life?

79. when was the last time you sat in silence and was comfortable with it (excluding before you fall asleep)?

80. when was the last time you had a conversation with yourself about something deep? what was it about?

81. what is a revelation in your life that made you cry?
->only God can provide me with unconditional love; no one else can

82. what do you think is the root of all fears? what do you think can remove them?
->ignorance; distraction/knowledge -> unconditional love

83. What is the most unique response you’ve received when you’ve asked someone how they are doing?
-> still breathing

84. Do you think humans are easy to love?
-> I don’t think they are easy; it is complex just like they are

85. When was the last time you read a book? What was the title called? what was it about? Why did you read it?
-> the emotionally absent mother by Jasmin Lee Cori

86. If you’re comfortable with sharing, talk to me about the life of someone that has passed away? What were they like? How did they make you feel? Who were they to you? How did you cope when you realized they passed away?

87. Who are addicts? What do you need to do to be one? Do you think everyone is an addict to some extent? Why do you think people become addicts?
-> whenever faced with such questions it is imperative that we must ask ourselves the question of why! Yes, I believe all of us are addicts to dopamine; our brain is wired that way. But when we think of addicts, we forgot to ask the question of why they are addicts. Life became too difficult to manage and the body found a way to stimulate the mind in such a manner that it either numbed the pain or provide sensation to a chronic state of numbness

88. Other than the lips, where do you like to be kissed the most?
-> forehead, cheek, behind the ear, neck, top of head, hand, nose, shoulder, chest, back, collarbone

89. What type of kiss do you enjoy the most?
-> slow, fast, French, peck, open mouthed, short, long, sloppy, hungry, passionate, affectionate, sweet, etc.

90. it is easy to agree with the statement that dehumanization is not okay, but is it more gray than we think? is there a degree of dehumanization that is okay or needed? if so, what is that degree? also, do you think we commit acts of dehumanization regularly? if so, when and what are these instances?
-> i believe that as humans we have a tendency of wanting to see our light and ignore the aspects of ourselves that are casted in that shadow. to have a light is to also have a shadow; i believe that we dehumanize almost every time we meet someone by limiting their mystery to small snipits of who they really are; also, sometimes it is very difficult to handle and hold such emotional space that our minds need to shut off and dehumanize for our own sake of well-being

91. are soul mates meant to be with each other?
-> A soulmate is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity. This may involve similarity, love, romance, platonic relationships, comfort, intimacy, sexuality, ****** activity, spirituality, compatibility and trust

92. what are ways that you can take a break from reality?
-> sleep, reading, gaming, showering

93. do you have people in your life where their presence is enough? no conversation is necessary, just each other's presence is comforting enough.
->celesa, kristina, michelle, marta,

94. what is a memory you like to relive time to time?
->dancing with celesa at the bistro to adore you; trinity; late night phone calls with close friends

95. how would you describe your relationship using 5 adjectives or phrases with your best friend, sibling (if you have one), and care giver?
-> "If you love yourself, you love others. If you hate yourself, you hate others. Because in relationship with others … the other is nothing but a mirror." - Anonymous

96. how would you describe yourself using 10 adjectives?
-“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best." I like this quote because it acknowledges the negatives of who we all are. we aren't all only happy, funny, bubbly, hard-working, etc. we are also grumpy, boring, rude, and lazy. we are a combination of every adjective out there; it just depends on how aware we are of our expressions of these adjectives. So, notice the kind of adjective the person uses when they respond and also note the context and circumstance of your relation to them.

97. do you prefer a hot drink on a cold day or a cold drink on a hot day?

98. if you could be famous would you? famous for writing, acting, food, music, sport, YouTube etc.
-> for me personally it depends on the exposure i get. if i get a lot of focus on myself then no (music, acting, etc.) but if my work gets more focus than i do and i can still live a "normal" life then yes (writing, food, etc).

99. which musicians or artists do you think deserve more recognition?
-> emotional oranges, Justice Der, cigarettes after ***, the 1975, pink sweat$, A. Chal

100. what is one of the most thought-provoking questions or statements you have ever heard?
-> "not all of us can afford to be romantic" - Pride and Prejudice;
"when will it be enough; how much more do you need to finally be happy"- My dad; "do you believe that everyone deserves to look and find themselves to be aesthetically beautiful" -My brother

101. Favorite piece of clothing?
-> yuriy’s wedding: the dress I had, red socks, fuzzy sweater

102. What’s your full name?

103. What’s the weirdest saying an old person has said?
-> don’t go spending your money in a wooden nickel

104. What age would you consider a person to be old?

105. Do you believe that life requires s purpose?

106. What is your purpose?

107. What is one of your biggest fears that you believed in (as a child, adult, etc)?
-> that I was unlovable at some point in my life

108. When you are in an emotional emergency, do you have someone you can call? If so, who is it and why?
-> I don’t really...I try to stick through it...weird since I have had people tell me that I could call them but I still don’t feel comfortable to talk to them...

109. Do you have relationships where you felt valued, a sense of belonging, calm, accepted?

110. What is your earliest memory of feeling left out?
-> the social pain overlap theory (SPOT) describes the overlap between the pain of being physically hurt and the pain of being left out. In our bodies, there is literally no distinction between the two.

111. If you could only have one for the rest of your life, would you choose to keep limes or lemons?

112. Have you ever experienced the relational paradox? If so, with whom?
->  when you’re convinced that your friends won’t tolerate who you really are so you decided the best way to be excepted is to leave a part of yourself out of those relationships; By hiding yourself you may preserve the friendship but at the cost of feeling that you don’t legitimately belong but if your friends can see who you truly are they would cut you loose

113. Have you ever done a relational mindfulness exercise?
-> set a timer for 10 minutes, and then stare into each other’s eyes silently. It should sync your cardiac systems as well as your respiratory systems. Hold each other’s pulses to identify; I find it weird how we get stared at lovingly when we are babies and then that goes away as well get older...

114. What is a secret that you have kept from your partner, family, or closest friends that you believe if they found out they would reject you?

115. Do you have a person in your life that can be categorized as “the one that got away”? Someone you either dated or never dated?

116. Is there someone in your life that you don’t see anymore that you would like to have a conversation with? Dead and/or alive.

117. Sunset or sunrise?

118. Do you want children? What is your opinion on men who don’t want children; what is your opinion on women who don’t want children?

119. Have you ever felt forced to do something that you didn’t want to do or say? Like give a handshake, hug, take a picture, have a conversation, give a number, compliment someone, disclose personal information, go on a date, say I love you?
-> there’s a difference between not wanting to do something and feeling forced to do something, and I find it interesting that we all do things that we feel are forced upon us when no one is directly stating that we have to do it; it’s like an invisible force

120. what is something that another person did that made you uncomfortable but you never addressed it?
-> sing terribly while they are genuinely trying, get physically close to me, compliment me in a creepy way, talk in a movie theater

121. What is a pet peeve of yours?
-> leaving garbage on a table after you eat (not cleaning up after yourself), having poor etiquette with servers or cashiers, saying “mom” instead of “my mom” if I don’t share the same mother as them (missing the possessive pronoun before a parent).

122. Who is someone that you find attractive that is the same *** as you?
-> Arbby, Irina, Jessica, Sara, Valentina

123. What is the most sweet/****** compliment you have given to someone?

124. What is the biggest plot twist you have ever seen in a movie or book?

125. When did you  feel the most loved (in your entire life, this week, by me)?

126. what is something I have said that you have always remembered?

127. Blue or red Gatorade?

128. Star gazing or sunset picnic?

129. What is something that is underrated?
-> our bodies (specifically our our hands, eyes), stars, cologne/perfume

130. have you ever tried to impress the other? If so, for what reason and when?

131. Which do you prefer: breakfast, lunch, or dinner for the rest of your life?

132. Are you missing someone right now? Do you think they miss you?

133. What was the happiest meme out you have had this year?
-> dancing with Celesa at trinity, at the apartment, after hours at the bistro, French dip at lost like with Celesa, holding Lorenzo, seeing a birth and colostrum, making my first song and listening to it for the first time, board game with Hayden, D.E.A. Hat guy, Fourth of July with kristina -> ride back with questions, eagles falls, yuriy’s wedding and gelato boy, euphoria makeup with Bella, painting with Michelle at green lake, reading books

134. where were you born?

135. how many states/countries have you visited?

136. what color would you use to describe your life

137. would you say it is better or worse to listen to sad music when you are sad?

138. what is the #1 factor that predestines people for failed relationships?
-> no examples of healthy relationships

139. what is the weirdest ice cream flavor you have ever tried?
->black licorice, peppercorn/caramel/goat cheese

140. What’s the most exciting dream you have ever had?

141. What’s the most peaceful dream you have ever had?

142. What’s the most terrifying dream you have ever had?

143. Who is the most misunderstood person you know?
-> Mark; he wasn’t well liked, but I remember thinking that the was just misunderstood...

144. Who in your life are you misunderstood by?
-> my mom

145. Do you prefer handshakes or hugs?

146. Do you prefer movie nights or dinner dates?

147. When was the last time you read a paper book for pleasure?

148. What is a comment that someone said to you that you were honestly shocked by? Like, you couldn’t believe it came from their mouth?
-> when I was in sixth grade and my friend’s mom said, “aren’t you jealous of [her daughter/my best friend’s name] ****”?; “do you even know what wings are”?

149. As a kid in elementary school, where did you play during recess? Tetherball, four-square, hopscotch, jump rope, soccer, basketball, slide, monkey bars, swings, sandpit, etc?

150. What otter pop flavor was your favorite?
-> the pink one

151. When you brush your teeth, are you messy or clean? Meaning, does the toothpaste get outside of your mouth at all?

152. What do you remember about elementary school in terms of field trips, punishments, recess, fun run, day of activities, lunch food, movie nights, fundraisers, assemblies, and reading points?

153. what do you remember about middle school in terms of the change from elementary school with no recess, classes, $ex ed, lockers, assemblies, P.E., lunch food?

154. what do you remember about high school in terms of the change from middle school, classes, assemblies, P.E., sports, lunch food, standard tests, dances, friends from your first year to your last year?

155. what do you think is a poet's aphrodisiac in the form of a person?
->intelligence, originality, mystery, intriguing personality

156. what is a bad habit that you know you should quit ( can be a substance, activity, or person)?

157. How often would you say you reflect on your life? with the mundane activities and the more impacting activities?

158. what's a song that you are replaying right now?
-> redbone x childish gambino by Jospeh Solomon

159. what is the most random food combo that you really enjoy?
->mashed potatoes/gravy with corn; hot dog with jelly

160. who is a person in your life that was the most mysterious to you?

161. would you say that you were shown healthy relationships throughout your childhood? in particular, your parents' relationship?

162. would you say that your family made you feel seen, heard, and understood? if not, would you say that you subconsciously expect this in your adult relationships? what have you done to unlearn this mentality?

163. would you say that you are always the one doing the caretaking in your relationships?

164. do you have a hard time listening to others?

165. do you act differently with men than with women?

166. do you get hurt easily and withdraw when there is conflict; what are you like during conflict?

167. what are you like when you don't get your way (aggressive, sad, quiet, loud, irritated, calm, unbothered, indifferent, annoyed, happy, frustrated)?

168. what are the molds for your ideas about how relationships are supposed to work?

169. what do you believe you're entitled to within a relationship (any/ friend/ romantic/ family)?

170. what was your closest experience with death?

171. do you prefer cauliflower or broccoli?

172.  what's the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

173. what are your favorite tv shows or movies?
-> bridgerton, pride and prejudice, law abiding citizen,

174. what is the most controversial thing you have ever done?

175. what is the most controversial thing another person has done?

176. what is your superpower?
->there is no one on this planet that is quite like me

177. what do you believe is the purpose of a romantic relationship? Marriage?

178. do you think love is needed to marry someone? would you find yourself ever in a situation where you would marry someone that you did not love?

179. what is your weirdest talent? hobby? experience?

180. do you bring your phone with you when you go to the bathroom? if so, when was the last time that you went without your phone?

181. what is something that most people have done but will not admit to?
->eat a ******, smelling their **** out of curiosity, ma$turbate, blame a **** on someone else, etc.

182. do you believe that there should be aspects of yourself that no one else on this earth except yourself should ever know?

183. what's the weirdest conversation you've ever had with someone?

184. How old were you when you had your first kiss? Describe the situation? Who made the first move?

185. What is the spiciest thing you have ever eaten?

186. what is the most bitter thing you have ever eaten?
-> unripe pear!!

187. what is the most spontaneous thing you've ever done and/or said?
->eagles falls with kristina, lorenzo's birthday with selesa

188. how would you want a girl/boy to shoot their shot at you?

189. if you could be someone else for a day (someone you have met and know) who would it be?

190. if someone wasn't interested in you, how would you want them to rejected?

191. do you prefer buttered popcorn or the sweet kettle popcorn?

192. what is the rudest thing you've wanted to say but stopped yourself from saying?

193. what is the most genuine, heart-felt compliment you have received from someone?
-> you are courageous/brave; you are a natural psychologist and healer; you're my best friend, I can tell you anything

194. what is an experience you look forward to in life?
-> walking down the aisle and maintaining eye contact with my man the entire time until I have to hug my dad goodbye; my wedding night; going on vacations with just my husband; going to Jamaica; holding my baby in my arms for the first time; watching my husband play with our children on a beach as I sit under the shade; trying fruity cocktails on my 21st; going on my first date; my first kiss; moving into my house

195. what is a moment that you tend to relive in your mind?

196. what is something that you have learned to accept in life as you have gotten older?

197. who was your first crush? how old were you? what about them made you like them?
->ruslan at church; I was maybe four; he was really sweet to me and I thought he was cute; at yuriy's wedding, I saw him and told him about it which made him get really excited

198. what is something that you hate to eat? you've tried it and you know that you will try to avoid it at all costs.
->parsley, celery, beets, ginger

199. at what age would you say you lost your child-like innocence?

200. your turn. create a question!

201. how old were you when you found out that santa wasn't real? how did you handle it?

202. what is something that people hate, but still choose to participate in?
->beauty standards

203. what super power would you wish to have?
->time control

204. if you had the chance to have the superpower of mind control, would you accept it?

205. how would you decorate your ideal house?
-> different vibes for different rooms; monochromatic black room with lava lamps, white room with dark brown wood accents and lots of plants, pastel light pink with neon glass decorations

206. who is a person that had made you cry?

207. what is one of the most scariest thoughts you have had run through your mind?

208. what is one of the most sad thoughts you have had run through your mind?

209. do you believe you should have to pay to live on a planet you were born on?

210. what is a candy that you hate?

211. what is a song that you try to avoid because it is too personal?
-> apple bottom jeans

212. would you say that you are alive or merely living?

213. what is something that someone said to you that you have never forgotten?
-> you have a lot of knowledge, but you lack experience

214. what is an example of a person that you thought was good but turned out to be a genuinely bitter, horrible person?

215. When was the last time you felt truly understood by somebody? Who was it? What did they understand?

216. Can you think of someone in your life who understands you better than anyone else?

217. Is your relationship with yourself healthy or unhealthy?

218. Growing up, the relationships I primarily saw were healthy or unhealthy?

219. Do you attach guilt with growth?

220. Have you spent too much time today comparing yourself?

221. When did you feel the most trapped?

222.who do you feel most yourself around? Why?

223. what parts of yourself do you need to break up with?

224. what is your favorite conspiracy that you believe in right now?

225. do you prefer to work with people are are the same or opposite gender as you?

226. what was the most intense experience of $exual tension that you have had?

227. what activity do you do that makes you feel most at home/ yourself?

228. what was the most painful truth you have ever been told?

229. who is someone you will never forget even though you have only had one encounter with them?

230. when was the last time you felt adrenaline pumping through your veins due to excitement?

231. what about you feels easiest to love (physical and character)?

232. what about you feels hardest to love (physical and character)?

233. What kind of love feels more familiar to you -> peaceful or chaotic love?

234. to what extent to you feel your appearance is the most important aspect of who you are?

235. do you think being attractive is a privilege? are you nicer or meaner to people you find attractive?

236. what was the hardest thing that you forgave someone for?

237. how would you define forgiveness?

238. who have you farted the loudest or most often?

239. what is an embarrassing story of when you really needed to **** in class but struggled to hold it in?

240. what is something that made you blush really hard?

241. if you had the opportunity to be famous, would you choose to be?

242. what is the longest you have not dated someone (or was flirting or thinking with someone)? In other words, what is the longest you have been alone?

243. what separates us from God?
-> ignorance (spiritual) and death (physical) - Jordan Peterson

244. what is a message that everyone deserves to hear in life?
-> "you deserve someone who's going to work hard to find ways to care for you." You are worthy of unconditional love.

245. what is a difficulty in your life right now?

246. what is something you've always wanted to try but haven't yet?
->fall in love, go on a trip by myself, go to Europe with Itzhel, drink a mimosa at brunch in a sunny place

247. what are qualities that you really admire in people?
-> attentiveness, observant, thoughtful, thought-provoking, mysterious, charming, honest transparency, vulnerability, calm curiosity, humble confidence

248. what is one of the most important connections you can have in life?
->your relationship with yourself

249. what memory comes to mind when you think about the ocean/beach?

250. what memory comes to mind when you think about carnivals?

251. what memory comes to mind when you think about water balloon fights or snowball fights?

252. Do you think your parents have thought about killing themselves?

253. Do you think your best friend has thought about killing themselves?

254. How often do you think people have thought about harming or killing themselves.

255. Do you believe in the concept of marriage?

256. what is the worst advice you have ever received?

257. was there ever a time where you were vulnerable and regretted it? if you are comfortable with it, what was the situation?

258. if you could go to any concert, who would you go see?
-> chase atlantic, post malone, cigarettes after ***, ariana grande, the 1975

259. why do you think people protect their pain? what does that look like - to protect one's own pain?

260. what is an acoustic version of a song that sounds better than the studio version?
-> like a rockstar & what u call that & cassie - chase atlantic

261. what is an experience that you wish to never experience again?

262. how do you feel about silence? is its presence comforting?

263. have you taken any drugs? if so and you feel comfortable sharing, what are they?

264. what is advice you would give to your 15yo self and your 40yo self? (a much younger and older version of yourself?)
-> younger self: you are worthy to love; you are worth getting to know and understand; you will one day believe that you are enough and choose healing with a life filled with authenticity that will get challenged; you'll be more unconventional; your way of thinking will not be like most that are around you - this is okay and expected
older self: I hope you are happy and live a life that you chose and not one that you compromised on for the sake of other's happiness and comfortability; I hope you live authentically and continued the process of living actualized as Maslow would saw; I hope you married your best friend that is your match in his own unique way; i hope your communication is better and that your relationships are healthy and boundary enforced

265. if you knew you were going to interview God for thirty minutes and could ask him only one question, what would it be?
-> who am I?

266. what would you do if knew you could not fail?

267. how are you, really?

268. how would you behave if you were the best at what you do in the world?

269. are you finding your dream job or are you creating it?

270. if there was a solution to your anxiety, what would it look like?

271. why are you worth knowing?
-> well, you're sitting in this seat listening to me

272. when was the last time you did something for the first time?

273. how do you treat people who can do nothing for you?

274. do you stack the plates and clean up your table when at a restaurant?
->analyze SES and their behavior to working class

275. what or who lights you up?

276. what would your perfect day look like?

277. what is an underappreciated fruit and vegetable?

278. what is something that guys/girls are insecure of that guys/girls do not really care about?

279. tell me about a time where you threw up in public?

280. tell me something illegal that your family did?

281. what is a word that would always make you laugh whenever you heard or said it when you were a kid?

282. what is the first cuss word you started using often in your vocabulary?

283. if you could be one animal, what would it be?

284. what insect were you the most fascinated by as a kid?
->ladybugs, dragonflies

285. if you could blow one thing, what would it be?
->paint, slaughterhouse, firework stand

286. what emotions would you associate to every color in the rainbow including pink, brown, black, and white? If that is too much, if you could choose one color, what emotion would you assign to it?

287. what is the saddest thing that a person has ever said to you about themselves or their life?

288. if you could be any pair of shoes, what would it be?
->professional rock climber, work boot

289. would you consider yourself to be an addict?
-> I think we are all on a continuum and are all wired to be addicted to dopamine and love we just go about it different ways.

290. if you could have any dog in the world, what would it be and why?

291. if you had to describe love and what it feels like to a young person, what would you say? OR
if a kid asked you what love feels like, how would you answer them?
-> able to feel no judgment and feel free to be who you are without the fear of rejection

292. how would you define healing?

293. how would you know that you are healing or healed?

294. where in your life have you compromised and lived for someone else?

295. what is a thought or idea that scares you?

296. why do you think people protect their pain?

297. how would you like to be cared for when you are experiencing an emotional crisis?

298. what is something that you were told when you were a kid that you have never forgotten because it provoked you so much?

299. who is a friend in your life that you know you should stop the friendship with but you struggle to?

300. what is a motto that you would tell your kids that you have lived by?
->be the man/woman that you would want your daughter/son to marry one day

301. when was the last time anyone ever told you how important you are?

302. Who have you spoken the most genuine I love you to?

303. What social situation are you the most anxious of?

304. What is something that people would never think or associate with you that you’ve thought or done?
-> I love to binge on romance novels, I played the violin and cello, I’ve never been kissed/had a bf, I have a song on all platforms, I’ve had a 4.0 most of my life, I tend to write ****** poems, I was in a drill team for five years, I wasn’t born in America, I love country music

305. What is something you’d like to say to someone who has already passed away?
-> Robertson: I hope you’re proud of me in the way that I am; thank you for supporting me in more ways than one

306. What is something you’d like to say to someone who hurt you badly?
-> i deserved better than your projected insecurities, but I was too naïve to understand any better

307. If you were forced to only listen to three songs on replay during the deed for the rest of your life, what would it be?

308. Like all of us, we are replete with contradictions -> we are walking contradictions. What are yours?
-> a desire for intimacy and a fear of touch/commitment; a desire to be known and a fear of vulnerability

309. Do you think you ever turned a teacher on?

310. What is the greatest lesson that the other person has taught you?

311. if people could not take pictures, do you think they would still drive to the tulip festivals?

312. why do you think we met?

313. which is the hardest for you to say
(1) I love you
(2) I was wrong; I'm sorry
(3) Worcestershire sauce
(4) I need help
(5) I appreciate you

314. what is one of your favorite lines in a song?
-> hoodie on low cuz I stay focused yeah, hard to stay low when everybody notice
-> heart on your sleeve like you've never been loved; I don't feed her fears I feed her habits; type to make you f*ck 'till you finish
->said you needed this heart then you got it turns out that it wasn't what you wanted

315. Are you struggling with your mental health right now?

316. Are you afraid to admit the things that go on in your head?

317. Have you ever met a person that made you so nervous that you avoided them at all costs due to the way that they look?

318. Who is the most selfish person you know?

319. Who is the most selfless person you know?

320. How many Costco hotdogs could you eat in 45 minutes for a hotdog eating competition?

321. What do you put on your Costco hotdog?

322. What’s your favorite cereal brand?

323. Stargazing or sunset?

324. What is an underrated aspect of life that is mundane to most?
-> breathing, eyesight, touch

325. If you could only keep two out of the five senses, which ones would you choose? What if you could only keep one?
-> taste, touch, smell, eyesight, hearing

326. Would you consider yourself to be more black and white or gray in terms of your thinking?

327. What was your favorite kind of candy cane: the peppermint, chocolate, or fruity ones?

328. What’s an American tradition that you do not follow?
-> I'm not a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies, PB cups, peppermint candy canes

329. what do you love most about your family?

330. what is something you would like to change about your family?

331. what is a fashion trend that you think is overrated?

332. what is an aspect about people that you have only encountered a few times in your life?
->humble/ confident authenticity, thoughtfulness

333. what do you think is the ugliest trait one can have?

334. which is worse to be super insecure or to have an inflated ego?

335. would you call yourself a good person? how do you define good?

336. what is something that fascinates you that you think about time to time?
-> reality doesn't really exist; it's our perception of the stimuli in our life that we come to understand as our own reality which is only one side of the narrative. Also, people have conversations that are quite incompatible in the sense that their definitions of words and their life experiences impact how each person enters the conversation. It is like there are two conversations that are being shared and understood in the same space.

337. what is a job that you think is much more difficult to do/live with?
-> acting: how do you separate and keep hold of your authentic self and the characters you play if you can play them really well. Does life become your stage?

338. what is a movie or song that is about to release that you look forward to seeing/listening?

339. how do you feel about your inevitable mortality?

340. what do you think about graves? how do you think society has shaped or challenged your opinion of them?

341. what is a reason for why you cried?

342. when was the last time you laughed so hard you couldn't breath?
-> talking to Bella's family and Devin jumping into the conversation with his friend that his lactose intolerant when we were talking about birth control

343. what is the best vacation that you have had? what made it so special?

345. what is the greatest lesson a friend has taught you?

346. what is the greatest lesson a parent or adult has taught you?

347. what is the weirdest thing you have done with someone in public?

348. have you ever looked at someone while they're doing something like driving, laughing or eating and just smile because they mean so much to you? If so, who?

349. what do you think is the most influential relationship that you have that impacts all other ones that you have?
-> yourself or with your parent(s)/caregiver(s)
-> "never forget that the relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for the relationship you have with everyone else. If you want to work on your relationships, start working on yourself"

350. what was a phase of your life that you would go back to if you have the chance. why?

351. what is a warning that you wish you got before knowing me?

352. what is a question that you have wanted to ask someone but got too nervous to announce?

353. talk about a time where you needed toilet paper but it wasn't there. what did you do? were you in public or at home?

354. what is an instrument that you think is harder than it actually is?
-> the drums!! that is multiple rhythms to keep up with...

355. describe a time where you thought you were going to cry but tried really hard to keep your composure?

356. when you would cry as a kid, what would your parent(s) say? other adults? if they shamed or shut you down immediately, do you still do this to yourself today?

357. what is the craziest drug you have ever taken?

358. what is something you would miss if your home burned down?

359. if you could move anywhere, where would it be? would it be in the city or country?

360. what is knowledge that you wished you knew when you were younger?

361. what is the most expensive item you have bought that you regretted?

362. if you could hug anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?

363. what is the most messed up thing you have seen another person do to another?

364. what do you tend to think about during the time where you are laying in bed and trying to fall asleep? where does your mind tend to go to?

365. what is an event in the future that you are looking forward to?

366. Is a hotdog a sandwich?

367. If you were diagnosed with Alzheimer's and you could remember only one memory, what would it be?

368. What aspect/version of yourself are you the most ashamed of?

369. What aspect/version of yourself are you the most proud of?

370. Is there someone in your life that you hide aspects of yourself from? Do you believe that if they knew all of you unfiltered that they wouldn’t accept you? is this true love?

371. Do you know how to swim? If so, how and where did you learn to?

372. What is a song that makes you cry/emotional? W

373. What song reminds you of another other person?

374. What is the name of a song you will not listen to again because it is too painful?

375. Who has emotionally hurt you the most in your life?

376. When was the last time someone told you that they loved you? How did it make you feel?

377. What did you dream of last night? If you do not remember any dream, then what was your most recent dream?

378. If you had to either eat and **** out of your mouth or *** which one would it be?

379. What's something a stranger said to you that you remember to this day?
-> I think that your body is perfect

380. What is a lesson that the earth has taught you?

381. What is a lesson that your body has taught you?
Feel encouraged to add on in the comments.
Alan S Bailey Feb 2019
To the tune of Five For Fighting's "100 Years to Live"

From "Frogs For Fighting"
Kermit Sings:

I'm just a simple green Muppet,
Good old friends with Scooter and Fuzzy,
And I'm small and skinny,
A quiet frog that's on the roam.

Animal's clearing out the whole fridge,
There's a Muppet chef inside the kitchen,
Making gibberish sounds,
Boiling a goose or baking rolls.

Piggy I'm alright with you,
No other Muppet pig will do,
MRS. PIGGY-there's never a wish better than this,
When you've got a hundred Muppet Tears TO GIVE...

I'm searching stars at the moment,
Still the frog-I'm just in love with a pig,
Dream of a connection,
A constellation for a sign,

Count goes "AH AH AH" when counting,
Cookie Monster's nomming on the cookies,
Snuffleupagus sounds like he just might have a cold...

But Piggy I'm alright with you,
You've got much might-no one can kick **** quite like you...

But piggy I'm OK with you,
MRS. PIGGY-there's never a wish better than this,
When you've got a hundred Muppet Tears TO GIVE...

Through a small Muppet's eyes
Can tell you no lies,
Bunson's Lab-a surprise,
Madness, havoc explode,
Beaker's running to hide,
We're moving on...

I'm feeling light at the moment,
Small as can be-the sky-all I view,
And I'm just reeling,
High up in the clouds-a message in blue,  
...Mrs. Piggy I'm alright with you,
You're black belt in Karate and Kung Fu,
Super Grover's on his way,
Every Muppet has their dog day...

Wooohooo-oohoohoo
Wooohooo-oohoohoo
Wooohooo-oohoohoo-ooh­oohoo

Piggy I'm alright with you,
There's no other Muppet pig like you,
MRS. PIGGY, there's never a wish-better than this...

When you've got a hundred Muppet Tears TO GIVE...
Sang to the tune of 100 Years to Live by Five For Fighting.

Frog's For Fighting, 100 Muppet Tears To Give.


"Well, no KIDDING Mrs. PIGGING!"
Brianne Habit May 2014
Five separate entities
Whose lives seem to intertwine with stunning similarities

A brown thin thorn
As sharp as a knife
That hurt everything its comes into contact with
But seems to beg for forgiveness from its victims

A rose with petals so bright
Shining their color into the world
That screams for attention
Yet seems to hide from plain sight

A long thin stem
As weak as a piece of paper
That somehow holds up the great rose
But seems to strengthen with each wind blow

A bright green fuzzy leaf
Feeble and soft
That cries for attention from the rose
Yet seems to fade into the background

A single flower root
Dark Brown and thin as a piece of string
That reaches into the earth grasping for a stronghold
Yet seems to fail in comparison to the large, strong roots

A yellow and black bumblebee buzzing along
Happy-go-lucky and unaware of the looming storm
That longs to pollenate the rose
Yet seems to die more with each passing moment

Five separate entities
Whose lives seem to intertwine with stunning similarities
Yet grave differences
Martin Narrod Apr 2014
I used to think that all of them were just bodies. She-figures, they came and went, facilitating infinite happiness and following with hellacious heartbreak, aorta explosions galore. They pass. I stay. She goes. I remain. We all take a trip, but she falls asleep while I follow the road, I sing the song, make the lyrics up as the 101 heads West, and I careen against the Pacific. I see silvery-white plumes of whale breaths spouting, they break the rocks of my rock and roll. When the levee breaks, we'll have no place to go- I'm going back to Chicago.

California. Line 5. Verse 1. She is born in Arkansas, in Denver, in New York City, in the back of a taxi cab, her parents waiting for a table at Earth Cafe, 1989. There are concerts, balconies, elevator shafts, and on benches. The gain rises, the volume up and up and up, I offer her a cigarette, I ask her if she likes my dress, I show up with two palms full of a flame, and I say hello. Browsing in high-definition, the water is warm, my feet are planted and I have everywhere to go. Classical emporium of light fill me with ease, greatness, and belief. She asks me if I'm gay. Every great confusion can be proven to be fortuitous with enough time on hand. I kiss in cars, in bathrooms, and barrooms, in hallways, on staircases, on beds, church steps, and legs. I touched a leg, ran my fingers through her hair, my thumbs curved to the height of two ears alongside a size B head. I love art *****. i burn candles, and I swirl the wax around until the walls wear masks of white. I check-in to a hotel. I stop to buy wild flowers on the side of the road, or to climb down a ravine, we open a page into an enormous patch of strawberries, wind-surfers, and the golden Palo Alto beaches. I am in Bronzeville, on my way to Bridgeport, I am riding the train, browsing magazines, and singing new songs in my head. My lips are wet with excitement and the musings of the Modern Art Museum and the gift of a first kiss; behind the statue on Balcony 2, near the drinking fountain, the Eames couch, and two lips meeting anew. Bravery in twos.

Chapter 1, Verse 2. The chorus is large and exciting. New plastic shining coats. Smocks patterned with the Random House children's stories that we played with as children. We didn't wear gloves, or hats, or pants, or our hearts on our sleeves. I was up to my knees in hormones and very persuasive. My fifth birthday was at the Nature Center, you chased me into the boys' bathroom and kissed me with your wet and four year old lips in the second stall from the door. I eased up maybe 2% since then. The speakers are a little bit fuzzy, it's like listening to the spit of someone's tongue cascade the roof of their mouth while they pronounce the British consonants of the 90s. Said and done and saving space.

I am saving up for Grace. A crush in the mid 2000s, black hair, long legs, and the only brunette for a decade before or after. We played doctor, with the electric scalpel we turned our noses red with Christmas time South American powders. A safe word for an enemy, the sun for an enemy too. You bolted out and took my early Jimi Hendrix Best Of compact disc case too. While we're at it, you took my Michael Jackson cassettes as well. I go mid-range, think Kiri Te Kanawa in the whispers of E.T.'s Elliot. Stuffed-animal closet party for seven minutes in heaven. Your family came with butlers while mine came with over-educated storage. A blue borage sky in the intestines of life, a splinter in the shanty-town of invincible daily struggles- both of us were born again in O'Hare Airport's Parking Level D. Too many nonsensical arguments in two-tone grayscale ripping open the packaging of a course about trysting in your twenties.

Your stomach's history is overpowering. It is temperamental, mettled by spirits and sleepless nights, borborygmus, wambles, and shades of nervousness you were never comfortable speaking openly about. The history of your ****** was privatized, in options and unedited films shot over and over candidly by a mini DV desk camera, nine months to read you wrong to weep in strong wintry walks back and forth from The Buckingham to the Dwight Lofts, Room 408 without a view. All of your secrets in a little miniature of a notebook, bright cerise red. You captured teardrops in medicinal jars meant for syringes. You tied strings to your fingers, named your field mouse Ginger, and introduced your mother as Lady Darling. Captain with stingray skin, the hide of Ferris Bueller with the coattails of James Bond, dusted with daisy pollen, and clearly weakness. You ate me like bitter herbs on Thursdays, and like every other woman I've ever met, on Tuesdays you always kept me waiting.

I have wings for everything. Yellow wings for a woman in a yellow dress, Red, White, and Green wings for Bernice from Mexico City, Purple wings for  Mrs. Doolittle the doctor who worked at Taco Bell, the Jamaican priestess who was traveling through Venice Italy- we smoked hash with the grandchild of James Joyce on the Northern pier against the aurulent statues of Apollo and Zeus, Cupids' collection of malevolent tricks, SleepingB Beauty's rebuttal in fending off GHB attackers, my two dear friends who were kidnapped in clothes, abandoned in the ****, and only remember eating chocolate donuts with sprinkles and the bruises and dirt on the insides of their thighs. Nothing clever. Nothing extraordinary. Everything sentimental, built to withstand soot, sourness, and early female bravado.

You know how to play the piano so you've said, but i only have the CD you gave me to prove it. I do have evidence of your addiction to men and *******. I have your collection of dresses with tags still on them (but every woman has some of those), there is the post office box in Kauai, the Halloween card from last November and the two videos I have stored on an external drive in a nightstand adjacent to the foot of my bed. You sleep atrociously, talk too quickly, and **** like your father abandoned you when you were five. Your talent for taking photographs is like your skill-set for playing the piano, but I don't have the CD to prove it. You don't believe in social media, social consistency, friendships, or hephalumps and woozels- with the exception of the classes we shared together in college, I've never seen you outside of the most glamorous of fashion. You hate flats, hats, and white wine, and for as sad as you can seem to be at times, I've only had you cry on me once. While we were on the phone, three days after your mother hung herself. That's when I last left California, and I haven't been back yet.

I love a Kristine, but once a Britni, a Brandi, a Joni, a Tina, Kristina, Kirsten, Kristen, and a Katherine and Kathryn too. I know rock stars who are my dearest friends, enemies who I share excellent taste in music with, and parents who've always had my back but show it in lashings of the tongue and of the belt. It's been two years and three states since I was two sizes smaller than I am now. I've never considered the possibility that I was the main character and not the supporting actor, but due to recent developments in antipathy and aesthete, reevaluation, and retrospective nostalgia. All of this is about to change.

I am me still evolving without my usually stolid and grim ****** features. i bare brevity to situations existing that would **** most or in the least paralyze a great many. There is one for every hour of every day, and one for every minute in every hour, second in every minute, and more than the minutes in every day. No one has a second chance, shares a different time, or works off a different clock. I have been called the master of the analog, king of the codependent, and rook to queenside knight. I share a parabola for every encounter, experience, and endeavor. I am three minutes from being a cadaver, one drink away from a drunk, and one thought away from being completely alone. I think upright, i sleep horizontally, and I love infinitely. I am the only finite constant i have ever known. I am the main character, the script, satire, sarcasm, and soundtrack are mine.

"I don’t care if you believe it. That’s the kind of house I live in. And I hope we never leave it.”
There's A Wocket In My Pocket by Dr. Seuss
Roberta Day Feb 2015
Warm laundry gives me the
fuzzies, makes my hands grasp
   majestic purple soaps
to cleanse away the ***** wails
compacted under fingernails
A selection of smell good things
lotions accompanied by fuzzy things
to rub away and radiate the aura
of calm, balance, and tranquility
Lavender is condusive to many
different uses, inhaling the graces
of herbal essence, soothing said coolings
inducing mood peelings of layers of grime
a skin liberative—figuratively speaking
Flowers of passion brew thoughts into actions
silent buds permeating scents
   so invigoratingly innocent
sophia Jun 2017
it wasn’t chaotic.
it was calm and serene,
like the ocean.
the soft pitter patter
of the rain on the roof,
and the cool air it brought.
it was a sip
of freshly brewed coffee,
natural with no additives,
whatsoever.
the gut feeling
of knowing where home was.
and that is how
you came into my life.


the star that shines the brightest
amongst the pitch black sky.
it’s the white cloud that outshines
all the gray and gloomy ones.
the perfect fit of the last piece
to the unfinished puzzle.
it's the warm, fuzzy feeling
of getting into bed
early on a Friday night.
and that is how it was
when I started loving you.


it’s like a deeply cut wound,
one that’s inundating
with crimson colored blood,
having a tinge of maroon.
it induces pain
with every inbreathe
and exhalation.
it manages to have
the appearance of a scar,
yet it still feels so fresh
like a bruise.
and that is how it felt
when you left.


it was filled with haze
and suffocation.
the uncontrollable fast paced beat
of your heart.
Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile,
one that is hardly understood
by majority of the world.
a bite of dark chocolate,
bitter and sweet.
and this is my survival.
stuck in the third season,
but i'll make it to the fourth
The yellow aura
spiraled my night elf hunter avatar
as the DUN-DUMM
of false accommplishment
incited my addiction to
instant gratification.

I had just Leveled up.

The quest giver
gave me a choice

****** boots
Or
a less ****** Dagger

I took the ****** boots
because
**** the system
they looked cooler.

I was going to stomp cave spiders anyway,
what's the point of relinquishing
looking **** fine.
for an extra Attack Point?

****** Boots.

****** boots ALL Day long.

A naked human avatar
dances
facing a naked gnome
Named: "Buzz Lightyear"
He is Also dancing,
at crotch height.

This is Typical starting zone
foolery

I stayed up
watching Toonami all night
Naruto, Bleech, Inuyasha.
I could tell the sun came up
not because there was a window in my Kitchen,
there wasn't.

Tom and Jerry came on.
everyone knows
when Tom and Jerry came on
you were no longer pulling an
"all nighter."
You're pulling a
"Drink enough Soda
to get through the rest
of the day-er"

My entire diet
these past two days
has consisted of Gushers & Vault
because
Clearly Coca-Cola is superior
to Pepsi.

Therefore, Vault
was superior to Mountain Dew.
Which is the typical choice drink
of my internet brethren.

I don't know why I dyed my hair black nobody online could see it
But it made me feel
more
like my Night Elf Avatar

I wanted long white hair
I realized that's impossible
in 6th grade
So I Bought & Settled for Black
At least I could be like
"L" from death note,
Long sleeve white shirt, jeans
with no shoes.

I could also be
any other black-haired charecter
From any other angsty Anime
Because of course I loved angsty Anime
Because I held my cell phone like "L"
From Death Note.

I always dreamed
of this singing venus fly trap.

A Fuzzy Memory with a lost Origin
I realized seven years later
the Singing venus flytrap in my head
was AUDREY 2
from Little Shop Of Horrors.

Netflix reunited us in College
Audrey 2 finally Serenaded Me.
I listened with Voyeuristic Intentions
As memory saprilings grew
into the full songs
relieving the void in my soul
Lingering for a Man to be attacked
by a singing venus fly trap
in his own kitchen.

But only once,
Because I firmly beleived
movies should only be seen once
until I stopped
dyeing my hair black.
Despite watching Space jam
more times than any kid born in 1995 Should have
but still
all the kids born in 1995
watched space jam
more than any of them should have
because they were born in 1995.

Apparently
when I first saw little shop of horrors
it aired just before osmosis jones.

I love osmosis jones
almost as much as I love
Buzz lightyear, of Star Command

Buzz lightyears robot companion XR
reminded me of Cyberchase
and to this day Cyberchase
is the best show to watch
when you have no idea
who Gilbert Godfrey is.

Zoombinis is better
than oregon trail.
and also better
than Tom and Jerry.
but not better
than leveling my night elf Hunter.
Named:
"FEED ME A PIZZA!"

I think I spent more time
getting my Zoombinis
to look just right
then I Spent deciding
what outfit to wear

Routine
Black striped Hoodie
Unwashed and worn every day
Grey skulls all over it, because
of course it had grey skulls all over it.
Black pants.
Black socks
No actually, THESE black socks.
Okay, got gushers
and my Coca-Cola.

I now take as much time
to choose my outfit as
designing the perfect Zoombini.
however I have yet to replace
my legs
With
a skateboard.

I think that every grade before sixth grade is fourth grade
and 6th grade is basically 7th grade
which is to say my memory skips them both
to remember ending eighth grade

I miss being cool on the Internet
Whilst lame and forgotten in real life.

like black sock
wasn't quite as good
as that other Black sock.

I wanna go back.
To the seperation
Of who we pretend to be
Vs. who we actually are.
To be dramatic again.
incomparable.

An ideal self on the internet
Who is obviouslly not the real you
is decades more comforting
than Some Characatureized
Facebook Profile.

Today I was offered a choice

Work A minimum wage job
or
continue my useless college degree.

I decided to write a poem, because
**** the system.
If I am to Decide where to respawn from
Let it be poetry.

There is no spiraling Yellow aura
or DUN-DUMM

Sometimes there is snapping though.
Or a lost memory
of A singing venus Fly Trap.

I am a pretend person.
An avatar
just now, I have skin.
You can touch me
I breath without a Macro
or even pressing any keys.

I cannot bring myself to
Watch Space Jam again.
I can Identify Gilbert Godfrey's voice.
I will buy my children zoombinis
And it will collect dust
When all they want
Is to watch the fifth Toy Story movie
Way more than any kid born in 2020 should.
And all the kids born in 2020
Will Watch the fifth Toy Story Movie
Way more than they should
because they
will have been born
in 2020.

And I will rant
about the Missing LGM
and Warp Darkmatter
betraying Buzz Lightyear
By joining Evil Emperor Zurg
So Buzz was forced
to get three new Partners
Princess Mira Nova
Audrey 2
and Osmosis Jones.
because I will have Forgotten
Booster & XR.
Because Booster and XR
Never made a ******* Facebook Profile.

Nobody exists anymore.
We are all represented by our avatars
holding ourselfs up to the standards
of our photoshopped reflections

Being disappointed and overwhelmed

I Take pills to forget that I am
Acting Like myself
but can't find any evidence of Existing.
Besides these memories
of who i used to be.

I want my internet persona
to be nothing like me
So that I may focus on myself
in the real world coherently.

I want thick black lines
dividing mental Venn diagrams

I want Tom and Jerry
To signal me
That it is morning, again.
Mateuš Conrad Nov 2018
.like any western, but unlike every western... the true grit... one eyed... it's not called: i'm blinking... it's called... the blink. the English language can never have... what is it... gender neutrality? the words are already gender neutral! the words in the English are neither masculine, or feminine... it's ******* to ask for something that's already in place! you know what obstructs the gentrification of words in the English language? how the sun is not feminine and the moon is not masculine? the articles... the English orientated their language around a-the        slightly missing the -ism... the English didn't create their language with a gender orientation of nouns, but other European languages orientated their nouns around gender inclusiveness... but you can't just... change the ******* grammar... call a triangle a ******* rhombus on a whim that belongs in the asylum... blah blah do ****... is this how civilized language is supposed to disintegrate into?! this is not religion... you can't simply replace grammatical dogma with heretical "protestantism" to gain something counter to 1 + 1 = 2, or a + t + t + e + s +t = attest... yes, confirm... what with that the politicians are doing in Canada... post-nationalism? post-nationalism, ensured with a post-grammatical structure of what should be the post-nationalist playground of the use of language? the two... together?! so... no nationalism, and no grammar... seems about the right time to separate the state from the state... and call the following dynamic: juggle act: catch one if you can! how can you expect to change the grammatical sub-structure of English?! nouns are not gentrified in the equivalent ontology of other, European languages! how can you expect gender neutrality... when the nouns of said language... are already gender neutral!? and that's because English is particular in the definite (the) and the indefinite (a) article articulation... this is the crux... the pivot... as to why nouns are not associated with either femininity or masculinity... which is why i didn't learn French in high-school... i was taught French from the rubric of grammar... i was taught the rules, before i was being taught to speak, and break the rules of speaking English... who the **** requires to learn a language, having to learn the arithmetic of lettering in the encompassing genesis of staging a craft of the linguist with, said grammar?! language is not universal... noun is no surd... verb is no integer... je suis is no 1 + 1 = 2... but like i said before... you're talking about pandering to linguistic retards... they might not be mad enough to enjoy the rainbow plethora of pharmacology... but sure as ****... they're linguistic retards... sorry, the saddest truth is... somehow... the most fun to attest in concurrence; oh right... that western, true grit... well... whether you're John Wayne or Jeff Bridges... one eye still intact? it's not a blinking... it's called the blink... no, and it's not even a blink... see how English is fascinating when singularity and pluralism enters the arena of the direct / indirect articulation? and to think the English wanted to debate a non-existent gender association of nouns that the French, the Polaks can have... but you sorry *******... ain't getting it!

so...

    a juggling act...

(insert a snigger)

   lindsay shepherd's
video: exposing grad school
(my m. a. experience)

and...............

         bon jovi's
blaze of glory

       bon jovi! wooooooooooooo!

god, i'm so stereotypical.
i should have signed up
becoming a side-burner
for some ******* Kentucky
redneck.

p.s. is stereotypical
synonymous
with predictable?
that's actually a genuine question
of, rather than answering the question
itself, answering the per se
curiosity; savvy?

so what is it... Bub "the blue" Clí 'n' Son?
***** needin'
to ****?
watcha gonna do Bub?
               hold up the, "spanker"?!

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

and some days, in england, and it's june,
and 10pm feels like 7pm in some other season
and it reminds me of the white nights
of st. petersburg....
   insomnia and ******* a girl for seven hours...
oh the ******* bit was fun,
don't get me wrong,
   i had to wait 2 weeks before she let me
do it to her in the bath...
****** ready... she was on her period,
but misguided:
  last time i heard...
            ******* on a period eases
the period pains...
      eh... gritty flesh bits on the rubber...
problem? what problem?!

    no wonder then: i hate drinking buddies...
people dumb down upon ingesting
alcohol, i'm talking: 2D objects in 3D space
akin to fern bushes in the 1st tomb raider
(black holes - a paradox,
   a 2D object spinning really fast in
an infinite 3D space... copernican east?
copernican west? i hope the rabbi knows)...

days like this, oh all the days like this...
when you wake up,
jump out of bed... and dance naked in your
room listening to KULT's
          brooklyńska rada Żydów -
two music genres i never got into:
punk and rap...
   well... "mediocre" punk...
   californian, the offspring,
  the usual suspects of the ramones,
*** pistols, stiff little fingers, mainstream *******...
ska... now we're talking...
hip hop contra rap: now we're talking...

such a beautiful day...
    a chestnut mushroom cream sauce with
snippets of turkey, of course the fresh parsley...
bay leaf, one clove, two all-spice buds...

    and... i'm really tired of looking up
h'america's ***...
    i sometimes thank god that i'm not
english for the sole reason that i don't have
to mind the "special relationship",
like i'm being owed or owning someone
for the respects of sharing the same lingo...

you want the other "special relationship"?
it began with Casimir III...
east... well: central europe...
eastern europe without borders,
purely geographic: is situated somewhere
in russia...
          borders condense...
last time i visited the home away from home
i found new music...
pablopavo i ludziki...
             the polonaise and the jews...
how many terrorist attacks in poland
while the islamists were having a funfair
elsewhere? gullible schvabs and swedes...
  (swabians, that's a slang for the ol' deutsche
deutsche back east - kacap ('tss wet snare
on the c) for the russians)...
       0...
                  funny (even)...
the map of recent terrorist attacks...
     and... the map of the spread of the bubonic
plague... a certain region remains
immune...
       even i agreed with my uncle:
better the catholic ******* than islamic
propaganda... mind you...
        sh'ite islam: thumbs up!
always pay due dues to the underdogs...
and if islam truly was a religion
to gobble up all other religions...
      a schism over such a petty affair
including Ali - the son in law of Muhammad
and Muhammad breaking his promise...

    oy vey!
     how else was i going to get out of bed
to dance naked to anything
but the ska song: brooklyńska rada Żydów?
what other option?
      black ox orkestar's bukharian?
                                             oy vey!
funny story from amsterdam...
me and this egyptian were sharing a hostel
room with these two germans,
who wasted 'shrooms on sitting indoors
watching h'american dad...

   we took a different route...
   he smoked, i drank, he had a bottle of
***** with him,
architect, i can't remember his name,
a keen eye for grand doodles in a notebook...
but then i decided to take a ****
after a few beers while he put
headphones into my ears and played
me le trio joubran's - masar...
        i even managed to attract the attention
of a dutch girl who seemed...
rather gobsmacked...
   i literally went into the nod-state
associated with ****** junkies...
but with eyes closed and mouth agape...
feeding off the ****** of the void...
i.e. the ****** of the void?
    when you're not chained to thinking...
the self disintegrates,
              thinking disintegrates...
and with the music: the void became
pulverizing me with vibration after
vibration echoing a chanced comparison
to a heart-beat mingling with
the fuzzy rippling and vibrating effect of
   the eye-sight of some insect...

yes yes... blah blah...
    boasting... boasting my ***...
am i here to feel sorry for myself,
to drown in my take on some perfect love
i could offer?
      no really...
               i've always had the two best
companions to begin with...
my shadow and a blank piece of pixel
paper perfectly coupled to my idle /
itchy finger-tips...
   well, a third: ms. amber...
                         i learned over a year ago
that drinking with familiar people
****** me off... drinking with strangers?
oh sure, great time...
the best times when drinking in public
are with strangers...
"friends" (fwends) are just too nostalgic,
they want to remind you of something,
notably some micro-aggression nonsense
of a past grievance...
                   don't drink with "friends"...
every time i did: i would wake up
the next morning *******...
cursing them, putting on a mocking voice...

me me me... oh poow meeeeeeeeeeee...
   *******...
               so? i learned to adapt in
liking my own company...
it's not much, but sure as **** beats
listening to a bunch of drunken, nagging housewives;
i'm pretty sure a man should have been
in that slot of the space between my
3rd and 4th pint of guinness;
alas! not to be!
Christmas is traditions
some last and others die
some leave you feeling fuzzy
others leave you asking "Why?"
There's rules that must be followed
And most of them we know
About gifts and cards and Christmas trees
and then there's mistletoe....

We all know the tradition
We all know what it is
You meet under the berries
And then you both must kiss
But, there's etiquette surrounding
The dreaded mistletoe
And there are things you aren't aware of
And I thought you all should know....

Always kiss your Aunties
Do it quick and on the cheek
Their lips are full of slobber
and sometimes they just reek

Grandmas, get a quick kiss
And ignore the sounds they make
Don't hug Grannies too tightly
They are brittle and might break

Avoid the pervert Uncles
With hands and eyes that roam
They act one way at Christmas
And another way at home

The little kids, won't kiss you
So, it's fun to give them chase
Make sure there's lots of slobber
So, they can wipe it off their face

Make sure kissing Grandad
That he has got his teeth
That they're not somewhere  in a glass
or worse, smiling from a wreath

Always kiss your Mum though
Beware, Mums will always cry
and they will get you going too
No matter how hard you try

Kiss the one you came with
Let them know just how you feel
That your love for them's eternal
And your love for them is real

Kissing is tradition
and at Christmas can be great
But, don't kiss all the women
And forget about your date

The most important rule of all
If you don't want your bell rung
When kissing 'neath the mistletoe
DO NOT USE THE TONGUE

— The End —