Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Melissa Koe Nov 2014
The wind blew strongly. Out at sea, the fisherman’s small boat swayed in rhythm with the waves. He stood up and adjusted the sail, in case the wind blew it off. After so many years of earning a living as a fisherman, he has made peace with the sea – he no longer feels sea sick. Oh, but he feels a certain kind of sickness…… a different kind. His eyes filled with tears as he shifted his gaze from his worn out canvas sails to the horizon where the sun is just about to set. The sky above him is slightly orange – but is dulled by the gray of the storm clouds shifting in.

                He thanked the gods for the sky above and the sea below him, albeit the upcoming storm. He has recently lost his daughter, Fatema to the sea. His grief is still fresh, it still cuts deep. He lost his daughter to the tsunami that destroyed the fishing village. He has lost all his belongings – but nothing belonging to him will ever be as valuable as Fatema. Yes, grief makes him sick – and he has a good reason for that. When they found her, her body was trapped between five pieces of driftwood – it was a gruesome sight. How ironic is it? The arms of Neptune have always supported him throughout his life – making sure he earned a living and yet, the same menacing arms betrayed him and took Fatema away.

                For that, he was angry with the gods. How could they take away a life as easily as they gave it? He snapped out of his thoughts and raised the back of his hand to his eyes to wipe away the tears. His musings aren’t going to help. He has to begin sailing to find a shelter from the storm that is rolling in or else he won’t make it through the night. For the past week or so, he has been living in his small boat, making sure his stomach is full by fishing for small fish and crustaceans. He fixed his sail and began to sail in the direction of a small cove he is familiar with which will provide adequate shelter for tonight.

                As he sailed, he started to feel lonely. He reached his hand into his pocket and pulled out a locket with Fatema’s picture in it. He brought it to his face and gently kissed it, gripping it in his hand. As he sailed nearer the cove, moonlight began to illuminate the prow of his boat. When he is near enough to the shore, he skillfully measured the depth with sight alone, and lowered the anchor to make sure his boat remained in that position till dawn.
                As he descended from his boat, he waded through the water. Both of his arms are full of dried driftwood for him to start a fire tonight. He heard the distant sound of crickets and an owl. He walked toward the beach, heading towards a small cave and entered it. He checked the ground to make sure it was dry before he started a fire using the driftwood. The crackling of fire accompanied by the distant rumbling of thunder brought comfort to his ears. The flames that rose and vanished combined with the smell of the smoke left a silage – a lingering presence that soothed him. They reminded him of how he used to read stories of beasts and princesses alike to Fatema when she was a young girl until she fell asleep in his arms. Those days are long gone now. He stood up and headed back to his boat to set up the fishing nets for his meal later on tonight. He fixed the nets close to the shore before walking back to the cave to the warmth of the fire. He did not know what to do. He was supposed to sail back to the mainland by next week but the storm has been slowing him down. He listened to the rhythm of the waves crashing against his boat and drifted off to sleep……

                He opened his eyes. He did not hear any crackling from the fire nor feel the warmth from it. When he looked down, the fire has been extinguished. The moon was so high and bright now he only needed the fire for warmth. Just as he was about to stand up to fetch more wood from the boat, he heard a sound. Yes, there was a slight drizzle but it wasn’t the sound of rain hitting the sand. It was a soft, melodious voice which was….singing.
“May you sail fair to the far fields of fortune,
with diamonds and pearls at your head and your feet
and may you need never to banish misfortune,
may you find kindness in all that you meet.”

                It was the lullaby he sang to Fatema as a young girl. He began to feel excited and ignored the voice at the back of his head telling him he was insane. He looked out and saw her – Fatema, sitting on a rock. He called out to her and she looked back at him, saying something he has been yearning to hear from her – “Papa.” He was speechless and could not believe his eyes. She donned the black dress they found her in, but she barely had any scratches on her; she did not even look wounded. Instead of walking towards him, she flashed her sweetest smile and started walking towards the beach. She beckoned for him to follow her. He ran towards her, constantly calling out to her but she did not reply. She held out her hand for him to hold, and he did.

                One more step and she will reach the water now. “Fatema, what are you doing?” “Papa, just come along with me.” With those few words…..he felt like he was in a trance. There were so many questions running through the back of his mind but he ignored all of them. Was he hallucinating? He turned to his left as they waded nearer to the sea – the fishing net that he placed near his boat had a small crab in it. The moonlight that shone onto the sea reflected on her beautiful features – her curly, black hair and light brown eyes. With every step he took, he felt more nervous, confused, and excited at the same time.

                The water level is up to their chest now.  On the second day after Fatema died, when he was very much in pain, he made an analogy about grief by comparing it to the nearest thing to him. Grief is like the sea. It drowns you while everyone else is swimming. He felt more familiar towards it….. it did not seem as foreign to him anymore. If so, he is “literally” being consumed by grief as they waded deeper into the sea. He did not mind though – this is the story of a man who desperately wants his daughter back. He did not care if he was hallucinating or if she was a ghost. He does not know where she is taking him, but he wants to follow his daughter to who-knows-where; for to him, that is paradise, be it in the depths of the sea or the height of the skies.

                He can no longer see the moon.
An essay I wrote for English exam.
one hour write-up.
Poetry by MAN Mar 2014
A Beauty you are out and within
I have an insatiable desire to write poetry on your skin
Your body my canvas feel my gentle brush
Writing ******* with my ****** touch
Cinnamon lips I love your tone
Soft and silky to the bone
Finding words..be my guide
As we connect I come inside
Filling each other..there's no strain
Steady my thoughts I must maintain
Watching my penmanship using a steady stroke
I start hallucinating from my mental smoke
Sends me into a frenzied flow
I'll find my pace..go on a roll
My words soak in as you taste
My emotions invade your inner space
Down from your toes..Up to your eyes
Writing Haikus between your thighs
Poetry on your body every inch
You start writhing from my Scorpion pinch
Sinfully venomous my words forever sink
Into your skin my poetic tattoo ink
As you lay naked I visually feast
Every line of your body a masterpiece..
M.A.N 3-7-14 One of my favorites I really enjoyed writing this poem..^_*  ♏
right now
sacrifice is fueling opportunity
an opportunity to breathe
with an uninterrupted purpose
the corruption of our native soul
stop nourishing it
by constructing whiteness
sacrificing ethnicity
for the temporal indulgence
adrenaline *****
torturing
intensity of dissociation
hallucinating whiteness
the worst drug ever manufactured
forced upon our children
intricate delicate
vulnerable violence
tripping
stumbling
dissociating from an eternity
of survival of the most cooperative
deterring
forgetting
intoxicating
for a moment
momentum of ******
https://www.amazon.com/Escape-Liberty-Elan-Gregory-ebook/dp/B01MUCXUQ1/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1536442649&sr=8-1
For
              Carl Solomon

                   I

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
      madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the ***** streets at dawn
      looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
      connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
      ery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
      up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
      cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
      contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
      saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
      ment roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
      hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
      among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
      publishing obscene odes on the windows of the
      skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-
      ing their money in wastebaskets and listening
      to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their ***** beards returning through
      Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in
      Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their
      torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al-
      cohol and **** and endless *****,
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and
      lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of
      Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-
      tionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery
      dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,
      storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon
      blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree
      vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook-
      lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless
      ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine
      until the noise of wheels and children brought
      them down shuddering mouth-wracked and
      battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance
      in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's
      floated out and sat through the stale beer after
      noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack
      of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
      pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook-
      lyn Bridge,
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping
      down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills
      off Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts
      and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks
      and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days
      and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the
      Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a
      trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic
      City Hall,
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind-
      ings and migraines of China under junk-with-
      drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the
      railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
      leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
      through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-
      father night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep-
      athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in-
      stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis-
      ionary indian angels who were visionary indian
      angels,
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore
      gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla-
      homa on the impulse of winter midnight street
      light smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston
      seeking jazz or *** or soup, and followed the
      brilliant Spaniard to converse about America
      and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship
      to Africa,
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving
      behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees
      and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire
      place Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the
      F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist
      eyes **** in their dark skin passing out incom-
      prehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting
      the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union
      Square weeping and ******* while the sirens
      of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed
      down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also
      wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked
      and trembling before the machinery of other
      skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight
      in policecars for committing no crime but their
      own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were
      dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu-
      scripts,
who let themselves be ****** in the *** by saintly
      motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim,
      the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean
      love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose
      gardens and the grass of public parks and
      cemeteries scattering their ***** freely to
      whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up
      with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath
      when the blond & naked angel came to pierce
      them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate
      the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar
      the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb
      and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but
      sit on her *** and snip the intellectual golden
      threads of the craftsman's loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of
      beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can-
      dle and fell off the bed, and continued along
      the floor and down the hall and ended fainting
      on the wall with a vision of ultimate **** and
      come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling
      in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning
      but prepared to sweeten the ****** of the sun
      rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked
      in the lake,
who went out ******* through Colorado in myriad
      stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these
      poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver--joy
      to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls
      in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses'
      rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with
      gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet-
      ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station
      solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in
      dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and
      picked themselves up out of basements hung
      over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third
      Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy-
      ment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on
      the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the
      East River to open to a room full of steamheat
      and *****,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment
      cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime
      blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall
      be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested
      the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of
      Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their
      pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the
      bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in
      their lofts,
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned
      with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded
      by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty
      incantations which in the yellow morning were
      stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht
      & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable
      kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for
      an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot
      for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks
      fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess-
      fully, gave up and were forced to open antique
      stores where they thought they were growing
      old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits
      on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse
      & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments
      of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the
      fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis-
      ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the
      drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap-
      pened and walked away unknown and forgotten
      into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley
      ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of
      the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas-
      saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street,
      danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed
      phonograph records of nostalgic European
      1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and
      threw up groaning into the ****** toilet, moans
      in their ears and the blast of colossal steam
      whistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying
      to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude
      watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out
      if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had
      a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who
      came back to Denver & waited in vain, who
      watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
      Denver and finally went away to find out the
      Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying
      for each other's salvation and light and *******,
      until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for
      impossible criminals with golden heads and the
      charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet
      blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky
   &nb
Melina Gold Feb 2011
Warm dewy glowing
upon my childish face
swinging and napping
skipping
pace
pace
Joy still sparks
when I play hide and seek in the dark
I'm forever young
A child til I die
Maybe I'm hallucinating
Seeing through my intoxicated eyes
Ron Sanders Feb 15
(Glade, World, Master, Boy, Hero)

                                                 GLADE

There is a glacier.
Its blue tongue’s tip just tastes a frozen gorge.
There is a gorge, its walls shattered by cold; a once-green thing that, in dying, birthed a thousand aching fissures. It works its jagged way downhill, round ragged rifts and drifts until it comes upon a little frosted wood.
There is a wood, an island locked in ice.
Within this wood the gorge descends. It wanders and it wends; it brakes and all but ends outside a clearing wet with sun. And there, forking, its bent and broken arms embrace a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a glade.
And in this glade the black bears sleep, though salmon leap fat between falls. Here the field mouse draws no shadow, the eagle seeks no prey; they spend their while caressed by rays, and halcyon days are they. Here rabbit and fawn may linger, no longer need they flee. For in this timeless, taintless space, the Wild has ceased to be. (Outside the glade are shadow and prey, are ice and naked death. There blood may run freely. There the eagle, that thief, is a righteous savage, a noble fiend. But once in the glade he is dove, and has no taste for blood, running freely or otherwise).
And in this glade there nests a pool:  a dazzling, blue-and-silver jewel; profoundly deep, pristinely clear. All who sip find solace here, for this is the Eye of Being. They lap in peace, assuming blear, not knowing it is seeing. And ever thus this pool shall peer:  a silent seer, reflecting on—all that Is, and all Beyond.
(Outside the glade there lies a world where rivers ever run, where ghastly calves in random file revile a bitter sun. East, the day is born in mist. West she dies:  her rest, the deep. And North…North the Earth lies mute. Wind gnaws her hide, wind wracks her dreams. Wind screams like a flute in her white, white sleep).
But in the glade are tall, stately grasses, sunning raptly, spinning lore. Roots render the rhythms, blades bend without breeze, as signals ascend from the glade’s tender floor. (In this wise the glade weaves its word, airs its views. All the glade’s flora are bearers of news). They do not wither with fall, for in the glade there is no fall. They do not bind or wilt or brown—they gesture, spreading the mood, the mind; conveying, indeed, the very soul of the glade. As ever they have, as they shall evermore.
Bees do not hum here; they sing. They fatten the dream. Mellow and round are the timbres they sound, sweet is the music they bring. Birds do not sing here—they play. They carry the theme. Dulcet and warm are the strains they perform. Gifted musicians are they. (All in the glade are virtuosi. They were born to create. Melody, harmony, meter…are innate). Now the performance is lively and bright, now full, now almost still. For, though all in the glade may lean to the light, they must bend to the maestro’s feel.
And yet…there was a day, long ago in a dream, when this ongoing opus was torn. And on that day (so the lullaby goes) the wind brought a scream, and Dissonance was born.
There was a noise.
Moose tensed, their coffee eyes narrowed, their patient brows creased. Bees mauled the tempo, birds lost their place. The grass stood *****, all blades pointing east. There was a crash, and a shriek, and a naked, bleeding beast burst stinking through the fern, fell stumbling on its face.
Moose scattered:  unheard of. Sheep brawled, geese burst out of rhyme. The symphony, forever endeavored to soar sublime, fluttered, plunged, and, for all of a measure, ceased.
The pool was appalled…what manner brute—what kind of monster was this? Furless flank to forelimb, hide obscured by blood. As for its face…it had no face; only a look:  of shock frozen in time, of horror in amber. A deep welling rift ran temple to chin, halving the mask, caving it in. Such a grievous wound…the pool watched it stagger, on two legs and four, thrashing about till it came to a rise. There it labored for air, wiped the blood from its eyes, lashed at illusion, looked wildly round. Beholding the pool, the beast tumbled down.
And there this wretch plunged his thirst, drank his fill, fell back on his haunches.
The pool became still.
The two traded stares.
The glass read his features:  that durable eye pondered the wreckage and probed the debris. Revolted, the pool sought the succor of sky. But that thing remained—that face…in all creation…surely there could be…no other creature so ugly as he.
And he gazed in the glass.
Beneath the surface were…images…swimming in currents of shadow and light. He saw half-shapes and fragments…hideous men, exotic beasts…saw blue worlds of water, saw white worlds of ice…it was all so vague and unreal—yet somehow strangely familiar. Deeper he peered, but, as his mangled face neared, the sun smote the pool and the shapes disappeared. The brute pawed the ground and, dreaming he’d drowned, shook his head sharply and slowly looked round:
There were starlings at arm’s-length, transfixed with suspense, their tail feathers trembling, their dark eyes intense. Fantails and timber wolves, stepping in sync, paused for a sniff, stooped for a drink. Bees, pirouetting, threw light in his eyes. Seizing the moment, the pool pressed its hold.
And the glade revolved.
The freak watched it spin—saw the ferns’ greedy fingers reach round and close in, saw the tall grass rise high in an emerald sheen, swaying to rhythms from somewhere obscene. This place was madness; he struggled to stand, but, weak as he was, keeled over cold.
And the glade heaved a sigh, and the tall grass reclined, in curious patterns once rendered in whim. Far off in thunder the hard world replied, as iced pines exploded and screamed on the breeze. Down bore the sun, a chill just behind. The pool, grown blood-red, fended frost from its rim. Details dissolved in the oncoming tide. The pool dimmed to black. Night seeped through the trees.
Now flora found slumber while, pulsing below, the pool was infused with a soft ruby glow.
Soon birds bearing beech leaves, and needles of pine, laid down a spread and returned to the limb. But breath from the North blew their blanket aside. The wind grew in earnest, the air seemed to freeze.
And the wolf and the she-bear, of contrary mind, abhorring their task approached, looking grim. They sniffed him for measure, then, loathing his hide, growled their displeasure and dropped to their knees.
All night these glum attendants flanked his naked quaking form. The rising moon drew dreams in gray.
In time the man grew warm.

Morning swept through the glade in one broad stroke of the master’s brush, dappling the foliage with amber and rose. The pool was roused by the sweet pass of light. He opened his eye and the glade came alive:  into the whirlpool of life a thousand colors swam, chasing the scattering eddies of night. The magic of morning began.
Bluebird and goldfinch descended in rings, primaries clashing with robin and jay. Dollops of sun, repelled by their wings, spattered anew on the palette of day. Banking as one, the hues struck away.
There was a crowd.
And in this crowd that oddity sat, its chin on its chest, its rear pointing west. Its forepaws lay leaning, upturned and at rest. ***** and blood messed its muzzle and breast. Passed overnight. Or perhaps only dozed…tendril by tendril, claw by claw, the crowd decompressed:  the ring slowly closed.
And the stranger cried out and shifted his seat. His eyes sought his feet—rounding the arches, and topping the toes, the tall grass was questing. The little brute froze.
And the fauna took pause, and the flora went slack. Leaves followed talons, stems followed claws. Hooves tromped on paws as the crowd drifted back.
Not a breath taken. Not a move made. Stillness, like fog, enveloped the glade.
Now the grass tugged his feet, now the sea of jade splayed—left hand and right, the slender shafts reared. Gaining momentum, blade followed blade. The green field was torn till a deep swath appeared. The swath hurtled west, reflecting the sun. A hundred yards distant it died. Once more the grass stood, its tips spreading wide. The swath, born again, repeated its run.
Plain was the message, and clearly conveyed. The newcomer gawked. Confusion ensued.
The tall blades were swayed by the pulse of the glade.
But the swath was not renewed.
Something tiny bounced by. He ventured a peek, barely rolling an eye.
A chocolate sparrow, with pinfeathers black, popped past an ankle and paused to look back. The bird cocked its head, rocked in place, hopped ahead. It fluttered. It freaked. It glared and stopped dead. Vexed to its limit, it burst into flight.
The sitting thing watched till it passed out of sight.
Now a breeze bent his back, picked him half off his stern. The wind, done its best, grew flustered at last. It trailed to the west, thrilling lilies it passed. It wound round the willows and didn’t return.
So the fauna repaired to the live oak’s shade.
A strange kind of stupor fell over the glade.
From deep in the wood came a shape through the trees—a pronghorn, perhaps, or an elk swift and sure. But up limped a moose, a flyport with fur, low in the belly and wide at the knees. Wizened he was, scarcely able to see. Neither vision, nor vigor, nor velvet had he. He hobbled abreast, then groveled or died, his nose facing west, his tail flung aside.
The brute merely glazed.
But the glade was unfazed.
Those long shafts reshuffled. A tense moment passed.
The ominous shadows of badgers were cast. Three left their holes, as if to attack. They pedaled like moles and the stranger jumped back. He stumbled, fell flailing, and, kicking his guide, threw out his arms and tumbled astride. First he stepped on his tail, then he stepped on his pride. The moose bellowed twice and shook side to side while the little pest clung to his high, homely hide.
And the old moose unbent to his knees by degrees. He reeled like a drunk down the path of the breeze. Together they lurched through a break in the trees. And all morning long, and on through the day, both beggar and bearer would buckle and sway. The moose lost his temper, but never his way.
And the wind blew the sun to its deep ruby rest; the scrub, in obeisance, inclined to the west. Their slow taffy shadow in slinking would seem to slip round the rocks like a snake in a dream.
And the sun became a beacon, and the underbrush a stream. The wide Earth took their weight in stride, and the wind named him Hero.

                                               WORLD

When the sun was low the old moose began to stumble, at last limping to a halt beside a swift river lined with stunted pines. He’d half-expected a somewhat graceful dismount, but Hero, dug in like a tick, wasn’t about to let go. The moose knelt until his joints objected, shimmied, bucked, and with a sudden whirl sent the little bother flying.
Hero scraped himself out of the dirt and looked up forlornly. The ancient moose, his good eye gone bad, glared a long minute before hobbling away, his bony **** rocking with dignity, his scraggly tail fighting off imaginary flies.
Hero managed a few steps and dropped, staring in disbelief as the moose disappeared between half-frozen pines. He remained on his knees for the longest time, his jaw hanging, waiting for the moose—waiting for anything to show. At last a ruckus to his left snapped him out of it. His head ratcheted around.
Fifteen feet off the bank, three screaming gulls were dancing on an immense stone outcropping, fighting over a rapids-tossed sockeye. Hero was instantly famished. He wobbled to his feet and stumbled twice wading out, only regaining his balance by leaning against the current while rapidly wheeling his arms. The shrieking gulls reluctantly backed off as he stepped in slow-motion through the rushing water. Hero lunged at the slapping fish, cracked an ankle on the rock, and hopped around howling with both hands holding his shin. One foot was as good as none in the surging water. He went right under. Before he knew it he was being swept downriver.
This was glacial meltwater, so cold he quickly lost all sensation. Hero swallowed a mouthful and surfaced fighting for life; too disoriented to combat the current, too numb to realize his waving arm was striking something solid. That solid something turned out to be a swirling clump of rotted birches tangled up in scrub. He embraced one of these trunks as the mass slammed against isolated rocks, kicked his feet wildly, and somehow hauled himself aboard. The raft ricocheted rock to rock until repeated impacts sent it spinning. Giddy from the whirling and soaking, he clung freezing to the trees, retching continuously while the river roared in his ears. Through spray and tears he made out only cartwheeling fragments of the world.
But then the river was widening, its fury dissipating. The raft was approaching the sea. Hero gasped as the seemingly boundless Pacific swallowed the broad red belly of the sun. And as he spun he was treated to a panoramic, breathtaking spectacle:  the great indigo ocean with its slow traffic of driftwood and ice—voiced-over by the dismal calls of foraging gulls, and broken rhythmically by intermittent glimpses of the river’s rocky banks growing farther and farther apart. Whirling as it went, the dying man’s soul was taken by the sea.

At the 59th Parallel in winter, the Pacific coast plays host to numberless floes and minor bergs orphaned from Alaskan coastal glaciers. Hero cruised into a watery gridlock on a boat of ice-glazed birches, one bit of flotsam among the rest.
The cold wouldn’t let him move, wouldn’t let him breathe, wouldn’t let him think. He lay supine, feet crossed and hands clasped, terrified that to budge was to roll. An ice patina grew over the tangled trees like a white fungus—this growth soon webbed his fingers and toes, speckled his chest and thighs, glazed his hair and face, danced and disintegrated with his breath’s tapering plumes.
Floes and frozen-over debris tended to group with passing collisions; Hero’s married birches bit by bit accrued a mostly-submerged tangle of trunks and branches, all becoming fast in a creeping ice cement. Night came on just as resolutely, until land was only a flat black memory. The raft moved silently over the deep, still accepting the occasional gentle impact. And the floes became thicker and wider in a freezing doldrums; soon the proximate sea was all a broken field of packed ice, bobbing infinitesimally with the planet’s pulse.
Long ghostly strands of fog came striding over the torn ice field. They leaned this way and that, their mourners’ skirts tearing and patching and leaning anew. The ghosts were there to seal it:  their locked fingers and gray diaphanous wings were quickly becoming a wholly opaque descending shroud, its boundaries lost in the soughing wind.
Collisions came less and less. Darkness and silence, breaching some previously impenetrable barrier, began to take up residence in Hero’s chilling marrow. From his very center broke a weak little cry of refusal, of denial, as mind mustered frame in one desperate bid for freedom. His skin, frozen to the raft, peeled right off, and at that his inner brave succumbed. Hero’s smashed head arched back. His face contorted frightfully while the little lamp fluttered and paled within.
A raucous chorus slowly worked its way through the mist. It emerged a few hundred yards off—a tiny, terrified barking, growing in clarity as it grew in volume and urgency. It was a sound beacon. Hero strained eagerly, and when for one excruciating minute the beacon was cut off by a large passing body, was certain death had claimed him. Then it was back, and his heartbeat was quickening. He caught a heaving sound…something was moving his way down a wide tributary between floes. Hero could hear a gasping and snorting, accompanied by a hard slapping and splashing. The sounds vanished. In a moment the raft was rocked from below.
A sputtering muzzle blew salt in his eyes. A cold slimy flipper flapped across his chest and slapped about his face. The fur seal barked directly in his ear. Whiskers raked his dead cheek. The seal barked again.
Back below the surface it slipped. Hero listened anxiously as the splashing sound retreated whence it came.
The seal swam off perhaps a hundred feet and began barking hysterically.
From much farther off came a profusion of answering barks.
The seal swam back to Hero’s raft, circling and calling, circling and calling, while the responders approached en masse.
Now a sallow beam could be seen cutting through the fog. Several more showed vaguely along a plane yawing with some huge, barely discernible object.
A herd of northern fur seals burst into sight, barking madly, beating through the ice. They converged on Hero’s raft, really bellowing now.
Those odd yellow beams came in pursuit, and soon were close enough to eerily illuminate a gigantic wooden vessel parting the ice. The seals barked ferociously. Whenever the vessel leaned away, those nearest Hero’s raft would absolutely howl.
The fog deepened, condensed, crystallized, and then the collective light of a dozen lanterns was playing over a low, listing nightmare. Hero could hear the shouts of many aggressive men, but the waterborne seals, rather than scatter, boarded the ice and redoubled their din, fighting their way onto his quickly mobbed raft.
The sealers hurled serrated spears even as they clambered down rope ladders. When these men reached the ice the seals snapped and gnashed madly, refusing to be dislodged. The sealers lost all composure with the thrill of the hunt:  wielding clubs, spears, and hatchets—sometimes using iron bludgeons or any old utensil handed down—they crushed skulls, dragged carcasses, hooked animals still spurting and bleating. Clinging though he was, Hero was flabbergasted by the way the slipping and scampering men went about their butchery, hacking and smashing more with passion than with precision. But not a single seal attempted to flee—throughout the carnage they barked all the louder, egging on their slayers, carcass by carcass drawing the impassioned sealers to Hero’s ice-locked raft.
It was all so hazy and macabre. Hero’s eyes rolled back, and the next thing he knew he was sitting hunched on the vessel’s sopping deck. Two men were rubbing his limbs while another poured warm water down his back. He looked around in shock. The very notion of a boat containing more than one or two individuals—a sort of floating tribe—was way beyond his ken; so to see it, to have it come looming out of nothingness, was an experience almost supernatural.
He remembered some of those fur-covered men force-feeding him mouthfuls of halibut and seal fat, and he recalled a small group standing around him, shouting words that made no sense at all. After that he had a very vivid memory of their angry little chief repeatedly punching him while hollering one angry little word over and over and over. Hero couldn’t make out his inquisitor’s face, for the large feather-lined hood quite engulfed the man’s head, yet he could see those quick eyes flash as they caught the oil lamps’ light. Finally this man stopped boxing Hero’s ear. He stared hard. In these remaining decades of the tenth century it was fully within his power to administer as he saw fit—he could have ordered Hero’s immediate execution and not a man of his crew would have objected. He hesitated only because there wasn’t a hint of resistance in his prisoner’s pinched and frightened eyes. He leaned forward, studying the wound that all but split Hero’s face in two before grunting, raising his right arm, and yanking down its seal hide sleeve. Attached to the stump of his forearm was a primitive prosthesis consisting of a thick oak cap strapped to the arm with lengths of gut, and, hammered squarely into the center of that cap, a broad, cruelly hooked blade chiseled from a narwhal’s tusk. He held this obscenity in front of Hero’s eyes, traced the face’s deep diagonal rift, and once more demanded his captive’s identity. Hero then vaguely remembered being dragged along a tilting deck and thrown into the ship’s tiny hold. He retained a strong mental image of landing in a place of musty odors and dank projections.
There came a soft scuffling in the darkness, and presently a blind and exceedingly old woman felt her way to his side, mumbling as she approached. Her speech was comprised not of words; it was rather a running gibberish of cooing vowels and clucking consonants. The old woman was as mad as her circumstances; sick with sea and solitude, bedeviled by age and confinement. She sat cross-legged, patting her withered palms up his arm until she came to his face. Her strange mumbling soliloquy rose and fell as her bony fingers daintily explored the newly opened wound. Hero let his head fall back in her lap. A pair of hands like emaciated tarantulas scurried through the filth and tiny bodies until they came upon an old otter’s pelt bag that held her secrets. The woman loosened the bag’s cord and extracted an assortment of herbs, sniffing each in succession. She then scooped a handful of blubber from a bowl made of a previous occupant’s skull, kneaded the selected herbs into the blubber, and commenced gently massaging the wound, clucking and cooing while the black rats watched and waited.
For nine interminable days Hero remained in that cold, stinking compartment, rocking back and forth between life and death. The old woman never gave up on him. She clung to him during his seizures, rubbed his limbs vigorously when his blood pressure fell. She gathered various accumulated skins and, using woven strands of her own long hair, sewed him a multilayered, body-length wraparound with arm sleeves and very deep pockets, working by touch with a needle formed of a cod’s rib. By this same method she was able to fashion a pair of heavily lined snug-fitting moccasins. The old woman made him eat; she masticated the cod and halibut their keepers pitched into the hold, then shoved the results down his throat with a long gnarly forefinger. She called into his screaming nightmares, talking him out of sleep and back into their foul little reality. Together they lowed in the dark, while the keel groaned along and the waves beat time.
At the end of those dark nine days his strength was restored, but not his mind. Once again he was taken on deck.
The vessel had reached a chain of remote wind-swept islands, rocky and treeless, naked except for patchy carpets of hardy grass. These islands stretched far to the west, shrouded in mist. The ship was making for the smallest; just a chip on the sea. When they reached depth for anchorage Hero was hustled into a rowboat and lowered over the side. He looked up, saw two men climbing down by rope. These men positioned themselves at the oars and slowly rowed toward the islet. Seated between them, Hero felt like a man being led to his execution. He snuck a peek. The rowers’ heads were lowered, their features completely obscured by the heavy feathered hoods; they had all the somberness of pallbearers. Not a word passed between them as they rigidly worked their oars:  the only sound was the dip-and-purl of wood in water. Hero looked away. Against his will, he found his eyes drawn to that rocky islet waiting in the fog.
Not a bird, not a sea lion, not a shrub. It was lonesome beyond imagination.
Upon landfall one of the men used a spear’s point to **** Hero ashore. While his companion steadied the boat, he removed a skin sack full of half-frozen halibut, followed by a few armloads of precious tinder. These articles he tossed at Hero’s feet. He resumed his place at the oars and, without looking back, used the blunt end of his spear to shove off.
Hero watched the boat moving away, watched the men climbing their ropes, watched the boat being hauled aboard. As the mysterious vessel receded he saw a number of those silent men standing at the stern, stolidly returning his stare. Their hooded forms grew smaller and smaller, finally becoming indistinct. The vessel was swallowed up in fog.
Hero looked around, at a desolate world of rock and drifting ice. In the sunless pools at his feet a few purplish, flaccid sea anemones were waving in a sickly phosphorescence; along the rocks ran a tattered quilt of wild grass and lichen. It was the end of the world. He began to pace in his anxiety, only to crumple bit by bit inside his furs. At last he just sat with his face in his arms and wept. When he could weep no more he raised his head and opened his red, swollen eyes.
There were gulls all around him, staring like statuary in a madman’s garden. Standing in their midst were auks and puffins and murres, absolutely spellbound, unable to lean away. The silence was broken only by a wild, fitfully pursing wind—a wind that seemed, eerily, on the verge of producing syllables. And on that wind a flock of terns was rising slowly, their beady eyes fixed on the lone sitting man. The terns watched as he trembled, and banked as he swooned.
Then, beating as one, they threw back their wings and blew into the sun.

There was a blaze.
Behind that blaze a pair of black, bug-like eyes met his and immediately withdrew. A man wrapped in caribou hides stood abruptly, drawing angry swarms of sparks.
The Aleut peered queerly into the icy Pacific, his craggy profile merging seamlessly with a jumble of rocks showing just beyond his shoulder. The man was very tall, closer to seven feet than to six, and thin almost to emaciation.
He was also a mute. Soon enough he would display a talent for communication through gutturals, but now his body language spoke louder than words. It told the shivering stranger that he was not only disliked—he was feared.
The islander removed the hides he’d piled on the sleeping man. He produced a bone awl and strategically pierced a caribou hide, draped the hide over the old woman’s handiwork, and ran a cord of tightly woven tendons crosswise through his made holes, knotting it at the bottom to create a kind of cloak. He then killed the fire, heaped wood, fish, and remaining hides into Hero’s arms, and led him to a tiny cove where his long skin canoe lay in the grass. This was not the one-man kayak used by his people for centuries, but an actual canoe modeled on the graceful vessels he’d observed under the control of northern coastal tribesmen. After dragging it into the water he perched Hero in the fore, placed the cargo in the middle, and stepped into the rear like a gaunt furry spider. The Aleut dug out a paddle and began pulling with smooth strokes of surprising muscularity, his black eyes trained on his quiet companion’s back.
So began their long island-hopping journey. They stepped the chain one stone at a time, living off the sea. But much as the islander disliked Hero’s vapid company, it was not in his nature to proceed expeditiously; his people, remote as they were, had learned to count not in days but in generations. Given this, the Aleut took his time. He showed Hero how to build shelters of skin and gut; during bad weather the two would sit on an island in utter silence while rain hammered on their stretched seal-intestine window. And one very clear night he pointed out constellations while attempting to demonstrate, using broad gestures, just how the brighter heavenly bodies were in perfect alignment with the Aleutians. Hero followed his guide’s gestures as a pet follows its master’s movements and, like a pet, soon became bored. The Aleut did not grow flustered. He grew ever more wary:  behind that granite, weather-beaten exterior squirmed a very primitive imagination. Superstitious as he was, the Aleut was almost certain Hero could read his mind. So one time, and one time only, he threw a searing look at the back of Hero’s bowed and listing head. After a long minute of vigorous thought-projection he shifted his gaze aside. The brute appeared to feel this shift, and gently turned his head. And both saw the ocean break rhythm, and watched as otters and sea lions surfaced, noted their progress, and slipped without tremor beneath the waves.
In spring the fogs lifted. The grimness gave way to serenity, a generous sun buttered the dappled sea. On the islands grass grew lushly. Wildflowers leapt on the color-starved eye.
And one day the islander’s nape itched. He turned to see a flock of arctic terns casually tracking them under a gorgeous, white-plumed sky. As the day progressed the terns came drifting high overhead, slowly but surely taking the lead.
The Aleut squinted against the sun. He’d never known these birds to pursue a westerly migratory pattern—the terns were distributing themselves into a rough wedge shape, much like geese on the wing.
For a while he let the flock be his guide. Then, to test his stars, he cunningly steered his canoe north. At once the wedge disintegrated. Not until he’d lowered his eyes and pulled purposefully to the west did the disrupted pattern reassert itself. He peered up timidly. The wedge was now in the shape of a perfect arrowhead.
Just so were the fates of mariners and aviators inextricably entwined. At night, once the Aleut had landed his canoe on the nearest pearl, the terns would light in a quiet circle and remain until sunrise. As the Aleut and Hero took to sea, the flock would quickly form that same authoritative pattern.
In time the Aleut paddled his companion clear to the westernmost islands of the Aleutian chain. His people had dwelt, even here, a thousand years and more, but no contemporary islander knew for certain what lay beyond. Legend told of an enormous land mass forever gripped by cold, where a cruel people waylaid innocent seafarers for barbaric sacrificial rites.
So here the islander paused. But even as he vacillated he noticed the terns were veering south.
If the Aleut had been able to curse aloud he would have been vociferous. He was being compelled to follow an even less desirable course—that of the unknown open ocean. Now he looked upon his passenger’s hunched back not with fear but with loathing. He took a deep breath, rolled his shoulders, and defiantly continued west. The wedge broke up immediately. The terns dive-bombed the canoe, whirled around the windmilling Aleut, tore skyward and hovered determinedly. Something huge broke surface behind them, but the Aleut was way too frayed to turn. He dropped his head, a beaten man, and began paddling south. Little by little the birds returned to formation.
The tiny canoe had no business going up against the mighty Pacific. It would soon have been swallowed and smashed, had not the terns veered in close formation whenever the distant sea appeared too rough. Once he’d lost his bearings the Aleut religiously followed their serpentine course.
The days began to warm.
Now the sea’s bounty all but leapt in the canoe.
It seemed the Aleut was forever catching the finest currents, practically sliding down a corridor entirely free of peril. In this manner he was able to safely navigate waters no such craft had mastered before.
They were proceeding south by southwest, awed children of a plenteous, generous sea. The going became easier by the day, the ocean heavier with cod.
Nights the Aleut drifted comfortably, but a lifetime of wariness made him wake off and on. He’d slowly rise to find Hero sitting quietly under the stars, and soon he’d see, pallid in moonlight, a large body neatly pleating the ocean’s surface. The shape would precede them a while, only to vanish without a ripple.
All this strangeness kept the Aleut’s heart in a whirl, though he took pains to maintain his poise.
To allay his fear he kept a flat black stone planted squarely between them. It was his oldest treasure; an oddity he’d taken off the body of a mauled Tlingit woman when he was a child. Who she was, and how she’d come by the stone, were mysteries far beyond him, for no such piece had ever been known to Aleut or Inuk.
The stone was smooth and had been worked perfectly round. Bright yellow specks were scattered about its dull black face.
Long ago someone had etched a quaint and clumsy rune on that flat black surface—it was the crude, universal symbol for sun:  a broad circle surrounded by several rays. When the stone was rubbed against a pelt it possessed the curious property of growing quite warm and bright in the rune’s grooves, while the surface remained cool and dull.
This stone, both friend and overlord, had always “spoken to him”. It caused him to become restless when it was time to move on, and allowed him to relax when a destination had been reached. In this way he’d come to the familiar islet and discovered the unconscious little man. Just so:  the stone, he was sure, was responsible for making him “feel bad” as he watched the stranger shiver, and “feel better” once he’d built him a life-saving fire from the small pile of tinder he’d found nearby.
By now, however, the Aleut was wholly disenchanted with his stone, and deeply regretted having done its mysterious bidding. Never before had he been so long from sight of land, and never before had he felt so very, very small. The unimagined immensity of the Pacific was really starting to get to him when, after all their while at sea, a gray, seductive haze broke the horizon. They had reached another chain of islands, an Asian chain, the dark and smoky Kurils. Here a cold current kept the climate cool and foggy, and the chill, along with the prevalence of otter and seal, made him feel almost at home.
But this place gave him the creeps; he was a stranger, a trespasser somewhere sacred. There was a looming quality to the island mountains that made him extraordinarily aware of his transience, his pettiness, his puniness. He grew more and more cautious, sure their progress was being monitored—he could have sworn he saw wraiths in the trees, and wolves padding warily in the brush. The big islands looked on breathlessly. All along the rocky cliffs, thousands of auks and puffins followed the canoe in dead silence, their heads turning simultaneously, their countless tiny eyes peering redly through the fog. As the weeks passed, the Aleut’s anxiety was manifested in tics and sighs, and he’d cringe each time the crimson sun sank behind those black volcanic summits. In his imagination the mountains would rise right out of the sea, as though to pluck him. But the islands, in all their dignity, would always refuse to acknowledge so meek a stranger, and return their eyes to sea. The Aleut would hang his head, and timidly paddle by.
Then for days and days he pulled his weary canoe west—through a strait parting two mighty islands not part of the chain, and thence across a sea that was a warm, enticing bath. Spring had come to the East Asian coastal waters, and the Ainu, alone and in groups, were venturing deeper in search of increasing bounty. The Aleut, absorbed in his thoughts of sweet climate and bitter fate, was unaware they’d been spotted.
This first meeting between strangers of different worlds was a brief and awkward one. A lone Ainu fisherman, seeing the Aleut come paddling out of the unknown, dropped his net and turned to stone. The Aleut, for his part, instinctively froze with his body turned half-away to make the leanest target possible. Their stares locked. Never had the Aleut seen a face so heavily bearded, and never hair so fair. The Ainu began banging on his bronze catch pail. Other fishers soon appeared from the north and south, effectively cutting off the canoe. The Aleut caressed his stone and looked to the sky. The wedge had vanished. He put down his head and paddled for all he was worth.
With the word out, uncountable fishing craft appeared out of the blue and broke into hot pursuit, their pilots determined to force the canoe ashore.
Suddenly they were in sight of land, and the sea was absolutely riddled with watercraft. A train of small boats cast off from the mainland, even as a posse of two-man coracle-like tubs began to surround the battered skin canoe, their inhabitants calling back and forth in astonishment at the sight of these dark, savage newcomers. But the pursuing little coastal men, banging excitedly on the sides of their boats, were not Ainu. They had very straight black hair, prominent cheekbones, and strangely slanted eyes. And their speech, oddly marvelous as it was, was a rapid series of coos, chirps, and barks. Their boats formed a tight semi-circle around the canoe, forcing the Aleut to approach the mainland. The little men banged their boats maniacally, with more joining in as the canoe neared shore.
A bit farther south was a natural harbor swarming with fishing vessels of every description. As the canoe was forced into this harbor, people along the rocky coast began banging whatever they could get their hands on, until the air was filled with their lunatic percussion.
Tiny brown men came running along a soft yellow cliff overlooking the harbor, gesturing wildly. The canoe was squeezed between a chain of tubs and the shore, and, as it slowed, the tempo and ferocity of the banging decreased accordingly. When the canoe came to a halt the banging and shouting stopped. Hero creaked to his feet. The first North American to set foot on Asian soil stepped out shakily.
There followed the profoundest silence imaginable.
A second later it was as if a dam had burst.
Hundreds of hysterical, yammering voices erupted from hundreds of hysterical, clinging men and women. Hero was spun around, jostled about, handed along. He stared into their astounded, pinched little faces, and the sun, pulsing between their heads as he was turned, repeatedly stabbed his eyes. There came an excited outburst and frantic splashing which could only have been the Aleut’s violent demise, and then Hero was somehow limping alongside a primitive fishing village, blindly following a narrow dirt path that hugged the yellow cliff’s base. The warm spring sun caught the dust as he shambled. He rounded a bend and stopped.
Half a dozen children stood in his way, too fascinated to run. A chatter and scuffle rose behind him. He looked back to see that he was now in the midst of a small crowd of these children, and that more were running up with cries of amazement.
A stone struck his shoulder. As Hero turned another glanced off his chest.
A moment later he was being pelted from all sides, and the giggles and gasps had become something wildly unreal. He dropped to his knees in a hail of hurled rocks, covered his head with his arms, and slithered up the path on his belly.
A new voice broke in; an older, authoritative voice.
The children scampered off squealing.
Hero, shaken to his feet, found himself face to face with a diminutive, shouting, incomprehensible old man. The old man threw his arm around Hero’s waist and, jabbering all the while, led him to a secondary path cut into the cliff’s face. This path sloped gently upward over the waves. Together they picked their way to a place maybe halfway up, where the cliff’s face was honeycombed with natural alcoves and dug-out caves. Most of these spaces were used as one-man shelters; a few, cut deeper in the earth, as family hives. Strange gabbing people slid out of these holes like worms, reaching, but the little old man, who was evidently a little old man of some stature, embraced his find possessively and shouted them back inside.
The path narrowed as they climbed.
At its summit spread the upscale end of the neighborhood. Hero was led to a hovel nestled amid dozens of similar hovels, all scattered around a dainty stream wending between patches of stunted vegetation.
The old man’s place was basically a one-room hut fashioned of earth and salvaged boat hulls, with a slender side-yard surrounded by dry, dusty hedges. But inside it was clean and tidy, with rice paper partitioning and, built into the far earthen wall, a miniature stone fireplace. The old man sat his guest in the exact center of the room. There he fed him scraps from his bowl, using long sticks to pluck out bits of fish and clumps of tiny, starchy white pellets.
He studied the brute closely, watched him chew, walked round and round him. He poked here. He pinched there.
And that night he lit a fire on his crushed-shell hearth.
Hero curled up on a mat where the gossip of flames could reach him. Nearby, at his delicate wicker table, the old man sat in semi-darkness, illuminated only from the waist down.
But his eyes were alive. They spat and darted as they reflected the fire’s light, and, when at last they’d begun to sputter, his scratchy little voice came pattering out of the dark, muttering something vile and oddly modulated, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a gathering snarl.
Hero feigned slumber, unable to ignore those paired ominous flashes. Still, the room was cozy, and the fire warm, and the play of light and shadow kicked sleep in his eyes.

In the morning he woke in the old man’s side-yard, his head pounding, a rusty iron clamp securely fastened around his neck. This clamp was attached to the outermost link of a crude three-foot chain, and the link at the other end to a long stake driven into eight inches of solid rock. The chain and stake, like the clamp, were hammered of local iron. The clamp was too tight for comfortable swallowing, the chain too short to make standing possible. Hero could, however, spread out on his chest and stretch an arm to a low row of hedges. By parting the tangled undergrowth he had a limited view of the fishing village below, and of the harbor beyond. As the days passed he was able to tweak himself a view-space discernible only from his peculiar vantage. He accomplished this by gently breaking small branches strategically, then guiding their interrupted growth with the utmost tenderness. It was his secret garden.
He had no memory—none whatsoever—of being staked here. Obviously the old man hadn’t set this up overnight. Hero’s mind prodded timidly…how many others had been chained to this spot, and why?
But over the subsequent weeks and months he went beyond caring. Each day was the same:  just after dawn the old man would storm into the tiny side-yard swinging his reed whip wildly. The lashings were savage and unremitting. The old man, except for his eyes, would be mute. Only his whip need speak. And the snap of his reed had but one message:  when you see this whip you go down, and you go down immediately.
The naked savage, scarred head to foot, learned to go prostrate on the moment. Even so, the old man couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge in the occasional good old, all-out thrashing. And after each session he would toss the prisoner a vile mess of dead fish and rotting leftovers.
Hero lived like this for many months, lost in a confused world of pain and anticipation. Perversely, he came to look forward to the bite of that whip, for, whether he flogged him in passion or just for sport, the old man was always sure to make it personal. It seemed their relationship might go on forever.
But one day there was a great commotion in the sleepy little fishing village. Hero parted the leaves and beheld a small train of oblong coaches at rest near the harbor. Large oxen yoked in pairs lolled between the carriages, immune to the clamor around them. There were dark shaggy horses and colorfully dressed Bactrian camels. The horses and camels were tethered in the rear, but were occasionally paraded around the carriages by little men wielding long painted bamboo poles. The whole affair was exotic and mesmerizing, eccentric and profane. Hero watched all day in amazement, infected by the hubbub, though he was totally mystified by the crowd’s fascination on the carriages’ far side.
And late that afternoon he saw the old man come walking out of that crowd, talking heatedly with another man. The stranger was shorter and broader than the old man, with long stringy hair and long stringy mustaches. He saw them climbing the path, saw them crawl inside a hole lashing furiously. They were lost from view for a minute, then popped up big as life. Hero glowed and curled up eagerly as they approached.
The old man and stranger came into the narrow side-yard still arguing. The old man grabbed Hero by the hair and twisted until he was facing the newcomer.
The stranger had oily, porous skin, and a round but grave countenance. His highly slanted eyes were bright and restless. He studied Hero’s mutilated face with keen interest before borrowing the old man’s reed. When Hero scraped at his feet he grunted and returned the reed.
The stranger pulled out something shiny and hefted it in his hand. He then raised his other hand while considering Hero, as though weighing him too. The old man’s eyes glinted, and for an instant his expression became grotesquely servile. The stranger and old man, facing, nodded curtly in unison. The stranger dropped the shiny thing onto the old man’s itching palm. The old man whipped Hero frantically before taking a small ax to the chain. A few hard blows split a link, the broken link was bent back by the tool’s shaft, and the prisoner was at last released.
The old man handed the stranger a short hempen rope. The stranger bowed deeply. He then tied an end of the rope through one of the remaining links and began dragging Hero along. Hero’s hands sought the old man, who kicked and cursed him all the way to the path. The three stumbled single-file to the bottom. The old man waved his arms and shouted hysterically, trotting behind until he ran out of breath. But he got in a final kick and, before he came to a gasping halt, managed to lash Hero once for old time’s sake, and to spit on him twice for luck.

There were five carriages; a long one in the center hitched to four oxen, and two smaller coaches in the front and rear with a pair of oxen on each. The carriages were old and battered, built of splitting wood slats and rusted iron braces. Various hides, spare wheels, and a hundred odds and ends were tied to the sides and roofs. Hero’s new master, using him as a ram, shoved him through the crowd to the long carriage. He hauled him up the single wood step and watched the crowd’s reaction. Children hid behind mothers, mothers hissed and jeered, men spat in that smashed, disgusting face.
Satisfied, Hero’s master twisted the rope tighter and dragged him through the hide flap that served as the carriage’s rear wall.
A strange ruckus began at their entrance.
Inside the carriage were bulky shapes and quirky movements, yet the immediate and overwhelming impression was one of unbelievable stench. Hero, instantly covered with flies, was kicked and shoved down a foot-wide aisle. The carriage’s walls were riddled with black flecks of old dried blood, the floor coated with standing *****, a variety of small carcasses, and some clinging, indefinable slime. But the living contents of this hell were so horrifying, and so unexpected, that Hero at once dropped to his knees. Observing this, master grabbed a whip off the wall and lashed him along the floor.
A number of bamboo cages lined either side of the carriage, each four feet high, four feet wide, and three feet deep. In the first cage to their left, a quadruple amputee dangled in a leather harness in a cloud of flies, jealously gnawing a chicken carcass balanced on his belly. The second cage held a man who had been burned over ninety per cent of his body, and the third a middle-aged woman with no eyes or tongue, her head shaved. The next cage housed a fully grown black leopard, its bright eyes fixed on the horrified newcomer. Then an empty cage, and finally a cage containing a demented man whose long yellow nails were busily raking a face deeply scarred and bleeding.
The first cage against the opposite wall held two girls rolling in their own excrement. Siamese twins unable to part, they had developed a unique method of locomotion, and now executed a three-quarters cartwheel in Hero’s direction, their mangled, severely bitten hands attempting to reach him through the bars. In the cage next to theirs a naked dwarf glowered menacingly, his eyes following coldly as Hero’s master shoved him down the narrow aisle, occasionally pausing to lash a cage. The hissing and howling increased as each prisoner beheld the new neighbor.
The third cage held an intensely sick adult Bornean sun bear, so confined it was entirely unable to move. Its hide was a patchwork of scraggly fur and grayish skin, glistening with odd eruptions. It rolled its sunken eyes in Hero’s direction, its muzzle twitching feebly.
The next cage contained a man who was frightfully diseased. Broad fungal patches covered his face and limbs, terminating in waxy folds that dangled like a rooster’s wattles. Welling sores spotted his chest and back. His eyes were bugged and sallow; his lower lip drooped below his chin. He barked wetly at Hero’s passing legs.
The second-to-last cage housed a rare, completely hairless Chinese albino, and the last cage a very tall, skeletal woman. The albino snapped at Hero while repeatedly banging his head against the cage. The woman hissed and coiled like a snake, her spine arching amazingly.
Master hauled Hero to the empty cage on his left, swung its door open with his foot, and forced him to his knees by pushing down with all his weight. He kicked and punched until Hero had been squeezed inside, then shut and secured the wide bamboo door.
Master inched his way back down the carriage, hammering the **** of his whip on each cage as he passed. There was a glimpse of daylight as he lifted the flap.
Once he’d departed, the carriage grew eerily silent.
Hero cautiously turned his head. Less than a foot away, the black leopard was frozen in place, one paw waving hypnotically in his face. The beast’s fangs were bared, its ears straight back, its eyes glistening. Hero turned ever so slowly, until he was looking into the eyes of the demented man in the final cage. The man cocked his head quizzically. A second later he was screaming his lungs out in a bizarre downward spiral.
At once the carriage erupted. The freaks shrieked and scrabbled, the leopard spun in place. Directly across the aisle, the albino hurled himself against the bars of his cage. He batted his face with his fists, threw back his head, and just howled and howled and howled. The snake woman curled even tighter, her long scrawny legs entwined behind her head.
Hero sat with breath held, absolutely silent, absolutely motionless. He very, very slowly closed his eyes.

Later that night the flap was flung high. The menagerie came alive as master, weirdly illuminated by moonlight, slowly made his way down the aisle carrying a skin sack oozing blood. He stopped at each cage to toss in a dying chicken and a handful of smelt.
When he reached Hero’s cage he looked down thoughtfully.
He extracted a quivering chicken and held it above the cage so that blood dripped on the brute’s deeply pleated forehead. Hero lowered his eyes. Master’s face darkened. He smashed the bird against the cage, over and over, a vein throbbing in his temple. Finally he hissed and displayed the limp chicken high over the albino’s head. The albino yelped and kicked, thrusting his hand up between the bars and jerking it back to lick away the blood rolling down his forearm.
Master eyed Hero coldly before pointedly dropping the chicken into the albino’s searching hands.
Master hissed again. He slowly made his way out.
Soon there was a commotion outside. The carriage rocked a bit before settling. Hero, turning in his cage to peek through a rift in the wood, saw horses being urged forward. He could hear men shouting. The carriage rocked again. He looked up and saw the gibbous moon suspended in mist. For just a second something wedge-shaped cut across its soft white face.
But then the oxen were grunting, the wheels had been freed, and the horses drawn abreast. Master’s lash spat left and right, and the show proceeded…west.

                                              MA­STER

She was very round and very small, with very short, very shaggy black hair. Her arms bore the scars of numerous bites from beast and man, and around her neck ran long wheals from a particularly savage owner. Hero, having spent the better part of the morning watching master storm in and out of a strange screaming house, now watched him drag the little round woman through the dirt. For a while he listened to the song of his master’s lash, waiting for the woman to break. But there was never a whimper.
It had been a difficult transaction for master, and an altogether difficult morning. For hours he’d paced up and down the main carriage, alternately murmuring affectionately into, and lashing at, each cage he visited. The sun bear, long dead and stuffed, had been taken outside for barter. It had soon been returned.
Master had lingered over Hero’s cage for a good while, staring critically. He’d begun shouting, and three of his men had burst in through the flap, unlatched the demented man’s cage, and dragged him out by the feet for trade, master personally stomping on his torn and groping hands.
And now master was kicking and shoving the little woman down the aisle as his men restrained her by the hair and throat. Upon master’s command these men stripped her naked and commenced pinching and slapping while making threatening faces and mocking noises. The freaks sat right up in their cages.
The woman looked as though she’d fainted:  her arms were lax, her eyes rolled up. Her whole face seemed to purse, and her body, head to toe, began to run blue. Her fingers quivered, arched, and clawed—the woman was self-asphyxiating. Master fairly leaped with delight while the cages rocked around him. He had the men slap her awake. Once she was fully conscious they stuffed her into the demented man’s old cage next to Hero’s.
Master then looked in eagerly, one to the other, his hands balled into fists. The woman buried her odd round face in her forearms as she squeezed herself into her cage’s deepest corner. Hero gazed indifferently and went back to his peephole.
Master exploded. He smacked and kicked the cages over and over, swore up and down, ran the shaft of his whip back and forth against the heavy bamboo bars. Eventually he calmed somewhat. He stared coldly at Hero, made a ***** smile, and spat right in his eyes. A tense minute passed. Master slowly made his way outside.
Hero automatically relaxed. Across the aisle the albino ****** his face between his cage’s bars to sniff the newcomer. The leopard, bobbing rhythmically, emitted a high-pitched squeal that gradually descended to a steadily throbbing growl.
Hero looked the stranger over. Once she’d lowered her hands he saw that her eyes were crossed, her jaw slack, her face as round as the full moon. He looked closer. There were scars all over her throat and arms:  plainly, the small round woman had been treated very badly. Hero instinctively slid a foot between the bars; the woman cried out and scrunched even deeper. Across the aisle the albino quickly extended an arm. Without knowing why, Hero turned on him. The albino flinched, his eyes tearing into Hero’s. A second later he was stamping his feet and grinning wildly. Hero went back to his peephole.
Next morning master and two of his men dismantled the bamboo walls separating Hero’s and the woman’s cages. They bound the frames with broad leather bands, making a single cage of the two.
A common door was fashioned and secured. Master used his broad blade to shear away Hero’s rags. The men hunched around the long cage expectantly.
The naked couple backed away. Master was instantly exasperated—he shouted, lashed furiously, stamped and screamed, jabbed a broken shaft between the bars with malevolent intent, whirled and hurled the shaft at nothing. The carriage’s inmates went out of their minds. At master’s bellowed command a man scurried outside, returning with a long rope of woven leather strands. Master opened the cage and, applying all his weight, pinned Hero and his new mate in an awkward embrace while his men tied them together.
Again master and his men bent over the long cage to watch.
When Hero realized his predicament he made a desperate attempt to reach his peephole.
The men, misreading his struggles, babbled and cheered, but master threw up his hands. He then, through gesture, ordered his men to drape a number of hides over the long cage. Once these hides were in place he very quietly bent to one knee and placed an ear against the cage. After a while he cursed and rose to his feet. He shook the cage and stormed out, whipping and kicking the howling inmates.
In the semi-darkness the man and woman quit fighting their bonds.
A muffled patter began on the hide-covered roof.
Rain, as always, had a calming effect on the carriage’s occupants, causing the freaks and beasts to slip, one by one, into lethargy or slumber. Under such a spell, the attainment of master’s goal was inevitable.
It was a coupling both innocent and vile, without passion or celebration. Occasionally the freaks would surface, register their excitement by shrieking, shaking their cages, or otherwise clamoring…but very quickly the air would stifle them, weighing their heads and confusing their impulses. The atmosphere grew heavier by the minute. And, when night rolled over the carriages, the rain came down in sheets.

Leaning ******* the woman’s cage, master slipped his gnarly hand between the bars and slowly rubbed her belly in a counter-clockwise motion, his sinister features soft in the candle’s light. And he told, in nonsensical cooing whispers, of a lovingly secure and impossibly prosperous future.
How large and promising that belly had become! And how wise was he, the cunning and aggressive master, in his far-reaching business decisions. He turned his affection to the motionless gaping brute; stroked the battlefield of its face, tossed in another lizard. Master rubbed his palms together. From now on it was extra lizards daily, for both the woman and her mate. He remarked, with only passing interest, his star player’s continuing indifference. They didn’t know each other, didn’t need each other.
There’d been months of shows on the road now, broken only recently by this sensible rejoining of the mates at conception.
Hero’s horrible disfigurement was unquestionably top draw; he was a guaranteed crowd pleaser at every stop. So now master looked him straight in the eyes and smiled. He held the reeking candle high. The carriage was absolutely silent. Master smiled again, rose to his feet, tiptoed away.
Hero watched him retreat until the flap had fallen. He returned to his peephole, saw master round the rear of the carriage and slowly crunch by. For a time he could see nothing but the half-shapes of junipers bathed in starlight. There was a tentative movement to his right and a large shape came to obstruct his view.
The horse stood for a minute in profile. It slowly brought its head to rest against the carriage, applying its eye to the peephole. Hero froze. The two remained fixed, eyeball to eyeball, while a breeze played odd tunes on the outer wall’s hanging paraphernalia. The horse’s big dark eye rolled nervously. A long moment passed. Slowly the horse backed off. It stood uncertainly for a while, staring at the peephole. Then it quietly moved away.

Master kicked the cages one by one, left hand and right, as he slowly made his way down the aisle. Into each cage he delivered a personalized warning in passing—a growl, a hiss, a bark—but he was quickly losing control. Animal electricity hopscotched the carriage, cage to cage, ceiling to floor, front to rear and back again. Master froze. Much more of this excitement, he feared, could seriously agitate the woman—with grave consequences for master.
She was splayed on her back, in labor’s throes, her ankles and wrists bound to the long cage. Hero had been removed to give her room, and now sat hunched atop the snake woman’s cage, two men holding him by the throat and legs.
Master gnashed and snarled, listening to the woman scream, watching her stupid round head bounce up and down and back and forth. He knew it! He’d been suckered, hoodwinked, scammed—ripped off like a common rube. The woman was too ******* to handle even something as natural as childbirth. Still…it was too late to second-guess himself—all these months he’d been patient—he’d been supportive and vigilant and now he would not be denied. He flogged one of the men to alleviate his tension.
The blue lady was very slowly, very dramatically arching her spine. Master wiped the sweat from his eyes. When the bars were pleating her big round belly, her shoulders began drumming on the straw-strewn floor.
Master screamed one very colorful expletive.
A razor silence came over the carriage. Not a body moved or breathed.
At last two men tiptoed around their purpling master and leaned into the cage. One obediently ****** a foot between the bars. He pushed ******* her right knee while using a hand to grip the left knee, spreading her legs wide. The other man drew a broad leather strap between her teeth. After lifting the woman’s head he pulled the strap behind her neck, knotted it to make a gag, and yanked a skin sack over her face. He looked up anxiously. Master licked his lips and nodded. The man made a fist and frantically punched the woman’s face until her muffled screams ceased. She moaned gently throughout her contractions.
Master genuflected, brought a spitting candle in tight, and took a deep breath. As he raised his hand the candle’s light bounced off his knife’s chipped and scored eleven-inch blade. Master swore and reached down carefully. He flicked his wrist twice and the menagerie went mad.

The child was a tremendous disappointment.
Master had eagerly anticipated an infant ******* and deformed; something embracing the best qualities of its parents. He had even designed a special cage that could be expanded by degrees as the spawn developed. There also remained the tantalizing option of a family display, though such an undertaking would require the eventual construction of a structure even larger than the cage its parents now shared. Master anguished over the logistics, knowing it would break his heart to have to cut one of his jewels’ throats just to make room for a growing child. Nights he would slowly pace the carriage with all the possessiveness of a jealous suitor, one hand maneuvering a sputtering candle, the other tenderly rapping his whip’s **** against each visited cage.
But the boy was a flawless specimen; a beautiful, undemanding baby. From the moment master angrily tossed the placenta he felt cheated, even betrayed. He grimaced as it peaceably took to its mother’s breast, despite the surrounding horrors. Master hated it, immediately and entirely. The ****** thing was so docile it was almost charming. He drew his knife and was just reaching down, when an overwhelming sense of dread shook him like a rat in the jaws of a mastiff. Sweat poured down his squat, pig-tailed nape. He knew he would live to regret it, but decided to not cut the child’s throat right away. It was the oddest feeling. His knife hand had trembled for the first time in his life, and he had found himself momentarily contemplating right and wrong at the outset of a perfectly simple and commonplace procedure. That was it, then. His business instincts were letting him know there was a good, albeit unknowable, reason to let the sweet baby live. Master left the carriage anxiously, muttering in his ambivalence.
The boy grew to embody his worst expectations. Not only was it a poorly oriented child, clinging to its father rather than its master almost from the moment of weaning, but it soon proved a lousy draw with the patrons. Those who paid to view the child dangling in its special cage inevitably departed unsatisfied, some vocalizing, strangely, an acute sense of shame. So once again master entered the carriage with his knife hand steady, and once again he exited trembling, his heart in his throat and his soul in a whirl. He whipped the dwarf savagely before leaving. What place conscience in the mind of a businessman?
Soon as the boy could walk, master put him to work fetching and feeding. But the brat was slothful in his chores, preferring to hang around his family’s cage while staring wistfully at his father. For their part, the parents were wholly disinterested. Master would fume while Hero gazed for hours out his peephole—even as the mother lolled, perpetually ill. Sometimes that accursed woman’s condition riled poor master to no end. She could teeter at death’s door for months at a time, her body changing hues to the fascination of customers, only to bounce back with a hardiness that was of interest to no one. But at the peak of her performances the blue lady could really hold a crowd. Master produced an entire outdoors extravaganza around her:  within concentric rings of raging torches his men would slowly strip her naked before wild audiences, then allow the dwarf and albino to take her while the leopard strained against a gaily festooned chain. Master circulated his crew through the crowds to encourage his patrons’ cult-like behavior of breath-holding and fainting. No getting around it:  the customers were crazy about her—village to village, master’s Bactrian vanguard’s colorful robes shouted her approaching fame. And Hero’s popularity continued to soar. Many were the nights when master, pacing the perimeter, wondered just what devilry could have produced the lovely boy.
Overall, Hero remained his master’s favorite conceit and hottest property. Part of the little brute’s appeal was, of course, his exoticness. And certainly the ugliness arising from his deformity was compelling…but there was a detachedness about him that fascinated every soul with a fistful of copper cash coins. Whether they ****** him, cudgeled him, or spat in his face, he remained unflappable, staring only at the aching sky. Though many would leave uneasy, master noted with deep satisfaction that they almost invariably returned.
The boy soon evinced an amazing affinity for animals. No matter how agitated an ox or horse became, the child could pacify it with one hand on a lowered brow. This was a source of endless fascination for the crew. Wagers were made. The boy was pitted against oxen whipped to a frenzy. But they would not harm him; they would rather go prostrate and take the lash. Master tried to work this knack into a viable act, but his patrons just weren’t buying. They wanted freaks.
When the lad was a mere five years old, master had him trained in the peripheral art of the pickpocket. The boy worked well alone, and had all the makings of a fine little flimflam artist. Master sighed, his chronic nightmares a thing of the past. As ever, his business instincts were guiding him well.
Then late one afternoon he found the boy squatting outside his parents’ cage. The boy had done the unthinkable:  he had deposited his day’s pickings at the feet of his father instead of bringing the ***** to master. Master flew into a rage and raised his whip to give the little traitor the lashing he deserved. But before he could deliver a single stroke his other hand shot to his chest and he staggered back against the albino’s cage. He blinked down at the boy, who regarded him steadily while scooping the plunder into a little pile.
From that day on the boy placed whatever he could get his hands on at his father’s feet. As time passed he became ever more adroit at thievery, growing into a youngster both admired and despised by master and his crew; admired because theft was a cinch for him, despised because they were all that much lighter in their possessions.
Now, for eleven long years the strange little train had bounced along, sometimes camping outside villages for months, occasionally pausing on connecting roads. The show traversed the heart of Manchuria, skirted the Gobi in the north, and so eventually crossed almost the entire width of Mongolia before proceeding north to the confluence of the rivers Yenisey and Ob’. Much silver and copper had come to master’s coffer, much fame to his name, but he now sat looking over a vast, unmapped Siberian wilderness. The mostly nomadic characters they’d been encountering spoke in tongues unfamiliar even to his personal valet-translator-accountant, and the tone of these nomads had been unmistakably hostile.
Master huddled surlily under a canopy of sopping hides. Night was falling hard during a merciless rain, the wind was picking up, and his supplies coach was bogged in a growing sea of mud. At that moment he accepted the whole end-of-the-line concept, and knew he wasn’t going anywhere but back. And when he got back he was going to shine! He jumped from the coach.
The earth took his weight for a heartbeat—and he was up to his chin in muck, splashing about on his hands and knees, sliding forward on his palms and toes. He did a belly flop into a rain-filled depression and churned to his feet with the devil in his eyes. Wallowing in mud and bile, master stomped to the supplies coach and kicked wildly at the stuck rear wheels.
Somewhere between kicks he lost it completely.
Master broke for his whip. One minute he was blindly lashing his men, the next he’d succumbed to a mindless ferocity. He thrashed about like a berserker; whipping the beasts, the coach, the very night. His men were scarcely able to move in all that mud, but their dread of his savagery kept them hopping. They gathered as one and shoved the coach recklessly; slipping, splashing, shouting. A minute later, three lay splayed underfoot, but the mired wheel had been freed.
Throughout all this the oxen had swayed nervously, while the horses softly tramped their hooves in place. Master had his men turn the oxen about until the rickety train was pointing dead east. He checked the hitches and personally applied the lash. The oxen didn’t budge. Master swore and wiped the rain from his eyes. He had the horses hitched ahead of the oxen, but they were even less obliging. Master flew into a spectacular rage. His men, fearing for their lives, ran liberally with the lash.
The swaying of oxen picked up until the entire train of carriages was rocking. Yet the oxen could not, would not be compelled, under any amount of prodding, to take an eastward step. Master looked around in exasperation.
The night had gone insane.
Horses were fighting hitches, oxen walking on fire.
Master cursed the rain and mud and lashed all the harder. His men, seeking to please, whipped maniacally until the horses and both lead oxen broke their hitches and bolted west. The men immediately embraced the rear oxen, but the hitches shattered and the beasts stormed off. The remaining horses blew it, kicking at everything and nothing.
Inside the long carriage all was chaos. The albino was neighing and screaming, the aged leopard spinning in its cage. Hero stared out his peephole, amazed at the blur of figures stumbling by in the rain.
A pair of clopping blows rattled the opposite wall. Three slats cracked. A tremendous impact, and a huge section collapsed. A thrashing, hysterical mare burst through the breach in a veil of rain.
The horse went mad, killing the albino and snake woman in a flurry of hooves. She fell ******* the near wall, crushing the cages. The leopard shot into the air like a rocket, slashed at the mare’s throat and vanished in the rain. The horse reared above the family cage. She was just coming down in a wheeling storm of hooves when something made her freeze. Her stare locked with Hero’s, and a second later her eyes were rolling in their sockets. The mare kicked crazily and came down ******* her left flank, smashing the long cage’s side. She whirled upright and leaped outside.
For a tense minute the family sat in the rubble, rain bombarding their eyes. Nothing in their years of captivity had prepared them for such a situation. But by the end of that minute the son had taken full command. He rolled onto his back, braced himself, and kicked his parents across the aisle, through the remnants of the opposing cage, and out of the carriage. They all fell about in the mud and rain. To the west, the mare stared back strangely as she splashed into the night. The boy wedged himself between his parents, threw his arms around them, and pushed with all his might. Their bodies found a common center of gravity. Fumbling drunkenly, the family staggered through the rain in the wake of the mare.

The boy was the natural leader.
Master’s innocent-looking little ex-student could quickly assess and exploit almost any situation. He did the foraging and the figuring, slept with one eye open and one fist ready. He got what he wanted by charm or by stealth, slipping off at nightfall, returning at daybreak with small slaughtered animals and chunks of dark peasant bread. He also pilfered any bauble or oddity he could get his paws on, to be placed reverently at his father’s mangled feet. Breadwinner and watchdog, he faithfully held the family together; a nuclear son. He sewed hardy feather-lined cloaks of reindeer hide, and turned a cache of marmot pelts into a kind of side-slung backpack. He was doting nurse during his mother’s episodes, and unbending apportioner of calories in lean times. Dauntless when it meant crossing mighty rivers, relentless when it came to finding mountain passes. But the endless marching, the unreliable diet, and the countless predators made the three wanderers lean, haggard moving targets. There were times when the little lamp of family was all but extinguished, and long stands in places that seemed absolutely impassable. Still, the boy would work things out. He would stoop to any level to feed Hero, and for a stranger to threaten his father was to summon a psychotic, unyielding monster. He was both spear and shield.
The toughest job of all was maintaining a tight unit, meaning he was forced to become a hard-nosed ******* whenever his father was ready to wander off, which always seemed to be whenever the mother was hurting most. She’d become a tremendous impediment to Hero’s compulsion, and therefore her son’s chief nemesis. It wasn’t a big-picture concern anyway; the writing was on the wall. The blue lady’s attacks were increasing spectacularly on the steppe; her world had always been an enclosure of some kind, and the great horizon was proving just too much. Perhaps these intense affairs served as links to Hero’s suppressed memories, for at the onset of each attack he’d turn and hike, and then only exhaustion could curb him. The boy would press his mother on, dragging, shoving, and smacking—he could be mean when necessary, and though circumstances had made him the nucleus, their worlds unquestionably revolved around Hero. Where he sat, they sat. When he rose, they did the same. In this manner they marched for years across the vast steppes, single-file—father, mother, and son, respectively—unmolested, lacking possessions, always following the sun. Long before they could be measured they had drifted into obscurity.
The woman’s end came quickly and dramatically, in a rocky little depression on a half-frozen field. One moment she was responsive to her son’s prompts, the next she was flat on her back, her eyelids fluttering. That night she leapt from fever to chill, from alertness to stupor. The boy, squatting beside their campfire, watched her face and hands run cadaver-blue to fish belly-pale and back again. While he was staring her eyes popped open and her hands came scrabbling. He sweated through the clawing embrace until he could bear it no longer. He oozed out and ran down to fetch his father.
When they got back Hero watched incuriously for a while. His mate’s face was scrunched up and her skin the color of sapphires. She wasn’t breathing.
His gaze became glassy, his eyes returned to the night. As he rose the boy immediately grabbed an arm. Neither moved for minutes. When the boy at last relinquished, his father casually stumbled off.
Strange things were going on in Hero’s world. Some days he would notice how animals regarded him oddly, in a manner that seemed almost personal. He found, for instance, that particular creatures were recognizable even over great distances. A number of times he would sit with one in a stare-down, waiting patiently, until the animal’s natural disposition caused it to bolt. Though the meaning of these encounters was way over his head, he would watch, and he would listen.
In time he noticed an increasing skittishness in some of these familiar creatures. Something had them spooked. He then observed a number of lean gray wolves moving in and out of the picture with an air of complete indifference:  these wolves weren’t hunting; they were loitering—lounging in the grass, lackadaisically padding to the rear, filing by slowly in the distance. Once in a while a lounger would raise its head, yawn cavernously, and drop back out of sight. So unobtrusive was their behavior that even Hero’s ever-vigilant son began to take them for granted. They paused where the family paused, and halted whenever the woman broke down. Perfectly camouflaged by the gray boulders and dire sky, they were completely forgotten in the drama of her passing.
There were other, far subtler events existing for Hero’s senses alone. He could perceive patterns in everything around him; in the manner vegetation gave way wherever his heart was leading, in the way so many animals appeared to be not merely mirroring, but making his course. And wind, rain, running water:  these phenomena had voices. Yet not for everybody. No one—not his mate, not his son, not another soul on the planet could hear this call, for they were all of a sort. They were static, they were temporal. Hero couldn’t have cared less about the lives of his family, or about the mundane goings-on in the encampments and small tribes they skirted. Such beings lived in a world that was defined by the moment. They shouted, they banged, they clamored.
But west—west was music.
For his boy, once again watching Hero shamble off, the moment of truth had arrived. He looked back down, at his mother’s death mask being remade by the dying light of their campfire. As the flames dwindled he could have sworn he saw shadows creep into the wells of her eyes, while others, crawling up around her jawline, drew her bluing lips like purse strings. He hopped to his feet and ran for another handful of tinder. When their little fire provided enough light he dropped to his knees and looked again.
She was sinking right before his eyes, every aspect of her expression in collapse. The boy watched clinically, fascinated. As the flames began to sputter he thought he could see large purple bruises spreading across her cheeks like the seeping limbs of overflowing pools. He bent closer.
From deep in the night came the longest, the leanest, the saddest wail he’d ever heard. He turned to see the starlit ghost of his father, facing away, staring at a low barren hill. Uncountable stars embroidered the spot. The boy made out a low shape moving along the hilltop, cutting off patches of stars as it passed.
The wolf howled again; a mournful, spiraling cry to nowhere and nothing. Hero’s head notched upward. He began to hike.
Halfway to his feet the boy stopped dead.
It took a minute to sense why he’d frozen in place, and a good while longer for his heart to quit pounding. He was aware of a nervous padding, and, once his vision had adjusted, of a lazy stream of eyes gleaming in the dying campfire’s light. The eyes bobbed around him, glared momentarily, returned to the ground.
A massive gasp, and his mother was tearing at his wrist. He watched her hyperventilating, saw her bulbous yellow eyes sinking in a wide violet pool. With a sizzle and pop the last tongue of flame was taken by the night.
Then her clammy hands were all over him, pulling and demanding, caressing and beseeching. He had to pry them off like leeches, had to place them clasped on her shuddering arched belly.
A silky snarl rose almost in his ear.
With a little squeal he sprang to his feet, even as something nearby jumped back in response.
The boy stood absolutely still while the panting thing padded nearer. They stood very close, smelling each other. He instinctively extended a hand, palm forward. But it was no good; his arm was shaking out of control. The snarl rose again, not so tentatively this time. His mother’s nails tore at his ankle.
The boy gently stepped away, only to find himself surrounded by the shifting silhouettes of half a dozen gray wolves. They approached in a calculated manner:  two from the left, one from the right, another from behind. He was being goaded away from his mother; he could hear her fists beating the ground, and a few seconds later the sounds of a nauseating assault and ravaging.
He shakily raised his other hand. Now both arms were extended, and their message was clearly one of defense rather than control. Two snapping wolves stepped aside, leaving him a gateway into the night. A cold wet nose bumped his wrist.
Screaming like a woman, he took off after his father just as fast as his feet would carry him.

                                                  BOY

Alon­g the great Kazakh Steppe a man could wander a lifetime and never meet another of his kind—especially if his kind happened to be Alaskan Inuk, and if he happened to be the teenaged patriarch of a two-man family going nowhere.
Here history is mostly mute.
Upon this continent-spanning steppe, unnamed communities were scattered and rebuilt, lives blown about by the wind. The only centers of humanity a traveler might encounter, far removed from the Silk Road at the very crack of the new millennium, were temporary encampments of civilization at its rudest—shifting holes of cutthroat commerce existing solely for the barter of silk and spices and hapless souls. Life here was revered far less than merchandise, and the longest-lived men were those who kept their distance.
Hero and his boy hiked over permafrost and tundra for years; their meandering course a drunken mapmaker’s scrawl. Chronological entries along this imaginary line would reveal that they’d stopped, sometimes for months at a time, when the father had grown too weak and disoriented to continue. Hero’s internal compass was long-sprung, and his weight had fallen considerably. He’d sit on his lonesome, scarecrow-scrawny, wistfully scrolling a 360-horizon while his boy scouted and scavenged. Then, for no apparent reason, he’d just up-and hike—sometimes northwest, sometimes along a tangential plane that always threatened to spiral. It was brutal:  winters were frigid, summers, by odd contrast, running steamy to baking. Season by season these marches lost their tenaciousness, and eventually their heart. Hero’s obsession was becoming his demise.
Now, to a hypothetical observer, the ratty pair of woolly camels materializing out of the rising August heat might have been mirages.
These beasts were novelties here, and pioneers, for they were way beyond their normal stomping grounds. They’d tramped for months with a mind-numbing monotonousness, a thousand miles and more; round the Urals to the south, and through the hard territory braced by the Volga and Voronezh, avoiding anything that even smelled of men. They’d been wild camels; ugly, ill-tempered, and unpredictable, until the boy tamed them by touch…but this new pattern was a literal change of pace…for weeks the frail little man and his dark teenaged son rose and fell with the animals’ rhythm, lulled by it, sick of it, dreaming of lands far removed from hoarfrost and peat moss. In this manner they were borne clear to present-day Belarus, whereupon the camels’ stupefying march began to quicken. Mile by mile they put on steam, until one day they reached a broad area distinguishable from its bracing terrain only by its many deep surface cracks. Here the camels’ behavior became erratic; they crouched at an angle while tramping, their long necks oscillating, their noses bobbing along the ground. Eventually they came upon a dingy pool nestled in a pebbly depression. The local brush surrounding this pool was situated like iron filings about a lodestone. The boy hauled back his camel’s neck and laid a hand on its brow. The brute slowed to a halt. The other camel imitated its partner, move for move. Simultaneously the animals dropped to their knees.
The boy jumped off, catching Hero as he fell. The camels stood watching stupidly as son maneuvered father, but after a while grew nervous and began tramping their hooves in time. They slowly stepped to the pool’s rim and knelt woozily, their noses poised just above the surface. Their whiskers danced on the pool’s face, their lids became heavy, their hindquarters quivered as they drank. Their nostrils, having fluttered in unison, remained agape. They appeared to be asleep.
The boy began filling skins.
The water was quite warm; he slurped a palmful and almost immediately felt intoxicated.
He flicked it off his fingers; the water was bad.
Three heads were now mirrored in the pool; the camels’ at ten o’clock and two o’clock, the boy’s at six. He watched their reflections continue to ripple, long after the pool had become still. His face, melting and firming, rapidly fluctuated between extremes of age, and between his own recognizable features and those of some…monstrosity. The effect was hypnotic. He felt his joints stiffen; his eyes became weak, his thoughts muddled…his face was irresistibly drawn to the pool’s surface, and for a moment he was in real peril of drowning. He ****** his head aside and creaked to his feet.
Where the camels had knelt were only the prints of their bellies and knees. In the distance they could be seen galloping all-out for the horizon, right back the way they’d come. The boy watched until they were swallowed by their dust, and when he turned around his father was long gone.
Now he knew it was all just a matter of time.
And sure enough, after eleven more days of feebly staggering along, Hero completely ran out of gas. The boy bundled him up in a shawl, like an old woman.
Sitting there, cradling an unresponsive man weighing less than eighty pounds, he couldn’t help but let his morbid fantasies run wild. He was now old enough to realize his father had at some time suffered severe head trauma, and honest enough to accept that the man was rapidly approaching a vegetative state. This understanding accompanied him like a shadow, and that night he questioned, for the very first time, his own convoluted rationale.
He was just beginning to sense that his will was not his own.
He built a semi-permanent camp west of the Desna and foraged in a tight spiral, always returning in a straight line. Some days he came back feeling uneasy, sensing another presence. Then it was every other day. It bugged him to no end. At last, when it became every day, he hauled his father to his feet and began a resolute march to the west.
Again he became anxious, and after only a dozen yards.
He turned slowly while hunching, certain something bulky had just dropped out of sight. Nothing looked suspicious, everything looked suspicious. He walked Hero some more, occasionally peering back over his shoulder. There was…something.
He whirled:  only masses of rock and high brush. Yet, when he really strained his eyes, he was sure, pretty sure, that he could make out a large crouching body continuous with the rocks. Heart in his throat, he began a slow steady creep, only to pause, positive the bulge, whatever it was, had shifted in response. The boy very gradually raised his arm until it was level with his eyes, faced the palm outward, and extended the arm parallel with the ground. He could almost feel some kind of current passing between his itching palm and…nothing. He walked over to Hero, stopped again. There’d been the subtlest sense of traction. The boy propped up his father in a cloud of flies and waited.
In a minute the bulge drew *****.
Out of the brush strolled a furry gray wild ***, her back inclined from countless weary miles; stretching her neck, pausing to nibble, taking her sweet time. Grungy as she was, she fit right in.
At the boy’s first casual step she immediately hit the dirt and remained flat on her belly, one big dark eye staring between her hooves. Another step, and her **** bunched up. The closer he got, the higher her rear end rose. When he was almost at arm’s length she sprang back and danced away, seeming to bound with delight. But not to the east, as she’d come.
To the northwest.
She backpedaled while the boy came on whistling and cooing, matching him step for step. But the moment he threw up his arms in resignation she spun round as though cued, dropped on her belly, and peered over her shoulder.
The boy was first to blink. This time he approached fractionally, keeping movements to a minimum. She rose just as carefully, sauntering northwest in reverse, and at the first sign of hesitation turned, dropped, and cautiously gazed back. The boy glared at that huge mocking **** and broke into a sprint. She easily danced out of reach, plopped down, and continued to stare.
He began hurling stones, with venom and with accuracy, until she’d scurried into the brush.
But on the way back to his father he could feel her tagging along.
Twenty feet behind she halted, looking bemused.
The boy nodded ironically. He walked Hero over, murmuring baby talk all the way, and firmly placed a palm on the animal’s muzzle once her breath grazed his fingers. She stroked his hand up and down with her whiskers, gave a kind of curtsy, and waited on her knees while he helped his father mount.
At Hero’s touch a shudder ran down her body. She stood up straight. Her eyes became set, her back absolutely stiff. She put down her head and began the long trek northwest, never once breaking stride.
It was an amazing march, an impossible feat. For a little over three days and almost four hundred miles she progressed like an automaton, driving herself without rest, without food or water.
After trotting alongside for an hour the boy climbed on and force-fed his father berries and smoked meat, his dark eyes constantly searching the countryside. Occasionally he’d see a run of red foxes to their left, watching intently, padding cautiously. Sooner or later they’d vanish, only to be replaced by a train of feline or equine pursuers. Packs approached and receded while, high overhead, flocks formed triangular patterns that continually broke up and reformed. There was a peculiar rhythmic quality to this ebb and flow that lulled his senses further. The boy shook his head to clear it, but his exhaustion was deeper than he’d supposed—even the brush appeared to be leaning northwest.
That first day he grew numb with the pace, and that night the relentless pounding of her hooves drew him into a miserable slumber. He wrapped his arms around his sleeping father and lay half atop. When he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer he tore strips from his skins, then looped his tied wrists round her neck, his ankles round her belly.
On the second day she was breathing hard, but her back was still high and she showed no signs of faltering. Her eyes remained focused on the ground dead ahead. She always sensed the best routes; finding mountain passes, fording wetlands.
But by the third day they could feel her ribs quaking against their legs. Her breath exploded as she marched, blood frothed and caked about her nostrils. Still she pushed herself on, her pace so steady it was almost metronomic.
On the fourth day her legs were gone. She veered and stumbled, shuddering every few paces. The boy hopped off for the umpteenth time and tried to bring her to graze, but she wouldn’t be turned. He ran behind her as she staggered along, unwilling, or unable, to rest.
At last a foreleg gave and she went down hard. Sobbing and snorting, she plowed her muzzle back and forth in the soil, the useless leg repeatedly pounding the ground. After a minute she raised her head and brayed at the sky, her neck muscles taut, her head slowly swinging side to side. Her cry went on and on.
With a tremendous effort she pushed herself upright and butted the boy aside. Every part of her body was shaking. From her depths a low moan grew to a steady bray, and finally to a wild, pulsing howl. She came to a rise, but was too weak to climb without sliding. Stamping in frustration, she managed a few feet, reared feebly, slid some more. The boy got behind her and applied his back; it took all he had to assist her almost to the top. With a desperate lunge she crashed on her belly.
Amazingly, she dragged herself on, her howl now a scream, her head whipping left and right. When she could pull herself no farther she ****** forth her neck to its very limit and, with a shudder that ran from the tip of her nose to the tuft on her tail, shoved her muzzle straight into the dirt and died.
The boy hauled off his father and fell back. The animal’s eyes were fixed upwards, seeming, even in death, to be straining for a glimpse of what lay just beyond the rise. The boy half-dragged Hero the last few yards. They collapsed at the top, and together looked over the cold Baltic Sea.

At water’s edge a haggard fisherman sat on his boat’s ravaged deck, blindly staring out to sea. His was a queer vessel; a family structure built more like an aft-cabined barge than like seacraft typical of that period. The fisherman’s boat, like his mind, had been abused beyond repair.
He’d lost much in his life. Time had taken his dreams, pox his face, hardship his back and shoulders. And, more recently, a brawling band of drunken Baltic pirates had ***** his wife and daughter before butchering them along with his two fine sons, while he sat helplessly bound to the mast. Finally, to further their delight, they’d set the boat aflame and sent it crackling against the sun; knowing he could hear their hoots and howls, knowing he would drift undead, accompanied only by this last unspeakable memory.
But a squall, without prelude, had doused the flames and blown his home ashore.
There he’d remained for a full long day, staring at nothing, his shattered life caught on the rocks. On the second day he’d worked himself free and commenced staggering about in his memories, gathering shards. It was a pathetic claim. He made a pile of all the old bedding and linen and usable cords, and set about sewing a sort of mementos sail. All that third day he had sewn, and on the fourth he had hoisted this sail and been moved to see it billowing in a northwest-blowing breeze. Again he just sat and gaped. And later that day he’d become aware of a commotion taking place on the long grade leading down to the water, where a writhing mass of seagulls was proceeding like a tremendous slow-motion snowball. He’d never seen anything like it. It wasn’t uncommon to find gulls in a group of many dozens or more, but there must have been two, maybe three thousand of the birds now swarming toward his boat. They were making an incredible racket. In the midst of this cloud could be seen a couple of slowly walking figures; as they neared he made out a small man accompanying a boy in his late teens, both dressed in odd skins. When they reached the rocks his eyes were drawn to the small man’s face. It was a foreign face, brutish and dark, with a deep cleft running from above the right temple to the jaw’s left side. Whatever instrument had felled this man had been devastating—everything in its path was smashed, and with permanence. The forehead was caved in. There was no bridge to the nose, the left cheek was completely collapsed, one side of the mouth was a mangled mess. The jaw itself had set improperly, so that it jutted to the side. The general impression, especially from a distance, was of some unforgettable circus freak’s countenance puckering at an angle. It was a face right out of a nightmare. But there was nothing frightening about the eyes. They were the eyes of a child.
Maybe half the gulls hopped screaming on the rocks. The rest circled overhead.
The boy considered the fisherman curiously before placing a foot on the charred deck. His gaze went around the boat, lingered on the makeshift sail, returned to the slumped figure. He passed a hand before the eyes. No response. He then leaned in close and placed his fingers on the man’s forehead. Immediately that bleak expression became fluid, brimming over with horror and heartbreak. Tears rolled down the fisherman’s cheeks as he gasped, shuddered, and backed up the scorched mast to his feet. Thus propped, he squinted at his visitors and was overcome by a wave of homesickness so strong he had to turn away. The feeling bewildered him, for this vessel, and this sea, were all the home he’d ever known. He clung to the mast while the boy helped his father board. Once he’d collected himself, the fisherman tore a heavy crossbeam from the toasted cabin. He and the boy used this as a lever, and together they shoved the boat off the rocks. The wind picked up nicely, and the little craft was swept across the water.
Exploding off the rocks, the gulls shot after the boat as if it were brimming with fish, the loudest and orneriest vying for favored positions directly overhead. The melee attracted additional gulls—they came shrieking in their hundreds from all sides, banking and calling in the oddest manner, until the mass grew so thick as to cast a permanent shadow on the boat. All day long the clamor continued, and all that night. The fisherman rolled with the rudder, listlessly, allowing the sea to control him. Eventually he let go, that the wind might bear them where it would. His sail ballooned but held firm, and the boat fairly zipped across a sea somehow smooth as glass, broken only by the vacillating ripples of bottleneck dolphins and migrating humpback whales. The three tiny sailors sat hunched together, motionless, all throughout the next day, until the black coast of Sweden loomed in the twilight.
As the boat neared land the cloud of gulls broke up, shot to shore, and landed in groups of a thousand and more; a dizzying, wildly uproarious reception committee.
The dung-covered boat slammed into the rocks, shattering the fisherman’s trance. He intuitively walked his **** up the mast and, swaying there, watched the boy draw his father over the side and lead him to a clearing at wood’s edge. There in the dusk he made out what appeared to be a hefty spotted runaway heifer hitched to a rickety wood wagon. He saw the cow gallop up to meet them, saw the boy look around warily, saw him help the little man into the wagon and climb in beside him. The animal immediately began picking through the woods, the large brass bell round her neck clanging forlornly.
The clarity of that bell made him realize just how quiet it had become. He craned his neck:  there wasn’t a gull in sight. He fell back against the shot mast and slid onto his tailbone with a clacking of teeth. His eyes were misting up. In the gathering dark a few sail fragments flew past and were ****** into the woods. The boat rocked and relaxed. After that there was only the sound of the receding bell’s sad, monotonous song being batted about by the wind.

The little cow strode through moonlit woods until she came to a path formed by the rutting of wheels over many years. She followed this broken, serpentine track throughout the night, and by morning was passing farms and, occasionally, crossing broader paths that might realistically be defined as roads. All day long she bore down that ragged track, until she came in late afternoon to a clearing near a village. Here many such tracks converged. And here the boy slipped away while she grazed.
Sometime after dark he returned with a load of straw, a couple of pilfered blankets, and a fat iron kettle. Crammed in this kettle were salt, tubers, cheese, a few loaves of rye, legumes, and a plump foot of lamb sausage. Most of this ***** he’d brought in tied to the bowed back of a huge, puffing, highly amenable black pig which, thus laden, now followed the boy’s every step like a fresh convert tracing the heels of the messiah. The boy built a fire under the stars, filled the kettle with creek water, and commenced simmering their dinner. While waiting, he couldn’t help but note an odd feature of the local flora:  plants, especially trees, all seemed inclined to a northwesterly disposition, though no amount of wind could account for it. He shooed the pig. But rather than run along, it backpedaled in a nervous circle, round and round in reverse, until it lost its balance and fell on its ****. There it remained, a yard behind the wagon. The boy fed his father and lined the wagon with straw. They settled in for the night. The boy must have nodded, might have dreamt, but while he was drifting he became aware of a stirring in the woods. He sat up, saw the pig’s eyes gleaming inches from his nose. And there were a number of animals, some wild, some strayed from farmsteads, arranged in a broad circle around the wagon, their eyes glinting with moonlight. Not a rustle, not a peep, was lifted from the woods.
In the morning he woke to find the pig still staring. The fidgeting heifer, impatient to roll, began her long day’s march while Hero and his boy were yet stretching and scratching, and the ******* pig, galloping heavily, fell in close behind. Each new day this routine was repeated. They banged past farms and small communities until the ruts intersected a broad rocky road wending halfway across the kingdom. The cow addressed this road with vigor. They picked up followers—a goat here, a couple of sheep there—which hurried after the wagon as best they could. The cow stomped on with resolve, mile after mile, day after day, her bell keeping steady time. That bell’s peal attracted foals, lambs, and kids into the wagon’s narrowing wake. Hares hopped between hooves and wheels, boars and blue foxes fell in and withdrew. White falcons, normally solo fliers, whirled into wedge shapes high overhead.
At night the entire train would camp on the road while the boy raided proximate farmsteads, always returning fully laden. And as soon as the fire died the colony grew, creature by creature, and the moment the sun broke the horizon the heifer came to life and moved on, but each day a bit more resolutely, as though straining to meet a deadline. The march took on a sense of real urgency. The cow pressed on with attitude, the clang of her bell more strident with each passing mile. Soon her followers numbered in the hundreds, as animals deserted their farms or crept out of the woods to tag along. Tillers and traders stood dumbfounded, amazed by the bizarre flow.
Once they’d crossed into Norway the frothing cow veered hard to the west. The pace really picked up; no longer were Hero and his boy afforded the luxury of a night’s sleep in one spot. Days blurred into a single variegated flow as the bashed and lopsided wagon continued building its entourage; the riders were surrounded dawn to dusk by a confused and confusing scurry. Word of the flow’s weirdness preceded it clear to the Norwegian coast, so that now plowmen and merchants, wearily gathering their goggling families, found themselves lined in anticipation along the king’s highway. Horsemen went pounding to and fro with news of the procession’s progress and particulars, children ran through the streets banging pots in imitation of the cow’s approaching bell. Livestock wheeled and stamped, fowl leaped and crashed.
The slobbering cow broke into a run.
Bystanders trotted behind, calling back and forth excitedly, while the wagon’s permanent following squealed and squawked between their heels. The cow made a hard turn onto a widening swath in the brush. This swath, seeming to strain against the soil, ran straight down to the crest of a low hill overlooking the Atlantic. On either side a crowd had been studying the phenomenon for some time, but now all eyes swung to the dark and disfigured man and his son, clinging to the disintegrating wagon behind the careening spotted cow.
The trailing people traded views as they ran. Most—at the very outset of the new millennium, with Christianity burgeoning throughout Europe—leaned to the miraculous. Others, just as superstitious but prone to a darker point of view, threw looks of horror at the deformed little man. Yet they ran no less eagerly.
The galloping crowd made for the seaside, where only one local event of any moment was brewing:  on the coast a Greenlander Viking was preparing his longship for the rough voyage home. Impetuous son of the great island’s first permanent European settler, he’d just been baptized in Olaf’s court, and was now eager to sail—but not as a warrior—as a missionary. While his spirit remained in a tug-o’-war between his father Erik’s will and that of gods old and new, his duty was clearly to his king. And Olaf had charged him with the Christianization of pagan Greenland.
Something on the wind now made this destined man turn his head. From behind the gentle hill to his rear came a kind of thunder. Heads popped up, followed by a confused explosion of voices, and seconds later a frantic bug-eyed heifer burst into view, dragging the wheel-less skeleton of a shattered wooden wagon. On the wagon’s splayed frame a man and teenaged boy clung for their lives as the spewing animal made a beeline for his ship.
The new missionary, still egocentric enough to assume his Maker might actually toss him a personal, surreptitiously rolled up his eyes. The sky yawned at his arrogance. At his side a smallish cowled man rose irritably, but the missionary sat him right back down. He then snorted, squared his shoulders, and signaled his men to halt their preparations.
Knowing it was expected, he gathered his hard Nordic pride and coolly made his way into the crowd.

The priest clung to port, gagging above the waves.
After a completely uneventful minute he leaned back and stared through tearing eyes at the distant backdrop of gathering mists. Weeks now…a man of his constitution had no business at sea.
Along, too, were a quirky little man and his fiercely devoted son.
Through his pantomime, the boy had been so persistent in begging their passage that refusal, under the circumstances, would have been unbecoming not only a man of God but a man of the world.
So there it was:  a priest who couldn’t hold his lunch, a witless eyesore who couldn’t sit still, and a surly teenaged protector who snarled at the first hard look. This crossing just had to be some kind of divine test—of mortal patience as well as moral values. Norsemen weren’t made for babysitting.
The mists condensed.
And the shifting shape became a hard familiar coast.
And the longship was mooring, and the crew were jostling and clambering, and the big missionary had booted off the haunted little freak and his hypersensitive son, and was condescendingly half-escorting, half-carrying, the green priest ashore.
And they were home.

Priest in tow, Leif quickly took up the Christianization of Greenland’s Western Settlement, as per Olaf’s command. The mangled little man and his son followed him around like dogs, slept outside his door and annoyed his visitors, ultimately proving far easier to adopt than to shake. Barely tolerable shadows…still, the lad was simply amazing with livestock…and though the youth’s useless father seemed time and again to be just begging for a whooping, his son’s presence bore some ineffable quality that always curbed the missionary’s hand. Several times he’d witnessed the father approached by settlers bent on abuse. Each time the boy had stepped in, and each time the troublemakers were mysteriously repelled. The missionary of course didn’t attribute any kind of celestial intervention to these episodes, and certainly the popular notion of devilry was a natural reaction to the pair’s outrageous exoticness, but…in the son’s company, and even under the sharp eyes of his fellow Norsemen, Leif more than once found himself oddly moved to protect the father. And so the deformed man and his boy day by day blent in—as village idiot and mystic guide. And when in time a ****** brought tales of an unvisited land to the west, it was only natural for the restless Greenlander to buy that ******’s boat and, before stalwart comrades, weary family, and whimsical God Almighty, reluctantly accept the eccentric father and son as sort of seagoing mascots.
Hero was from then on irrepressible. During preparations he would pipe and stammer in his half-mute way, brimming with a confounding anxiety that kept him underfoot and at odds with all. On frigid nights he perched on the westernmost rocks, moaning to the horizon in the strangest fashion while his son stood guard. He positively spooked the locals; they’d gossip, nervously and with bile, of an answering wind that came wailing off the sea like a banshee in labor. The whole island wanted rid of him. And when his champing beneficiary, still clinging to the notion of Christian charity, bundled him aboard with his son and a crew of thirty-five, not a single settler was sorry to see him go.
Almost from the moment they cast off everything went wrong, as all attempts to control the longship were met with some kind of unknowable countermanding force. Vikings were not renowned for passive resistance—they fought, squaresail and steering oar, leaning oarsman to oarsman, until the ship rocked on the waves like a bucking bronco. An erratic weather system pursued them, worsening dramatically at each minute variation in heading. The Norsemen doubled down, and when the clouds finally burst wide, the cowling sea went mad. Dervishes whirled about the hull, crisscrossing winds bedeviled the sail. Patches of kelp belonging to much warmer waters came heaving alongside, fouling the work of the oars, while far to the west a humongous fog bank formed, eradicating the navigable field. The lightning-streaked horizon was a throbbing gray slit.
The longship became locked in a slow westerly current.
Fatigued crewmen complained of headaches and hallucinations, and of a nasty, slightly metallic tang to the air. There were numerous walrus sightings; bobbing flippers and snouts amid drifting ice chunks that came prowling the North Sea like a circling pack of famished white wolves.
Worst of all was the boy’s father—instantly agitated by everything and nothing, prey to some primitive impulse that caused him to periodically incline his head, shudder to his feet, and loop his arms as though embracing the sky. Leif would watch him scrabbling at the prow like a cat at a tree, furs snapping in the wind. He’d watch the boy re-seat him for the hundredth time, and for the hundredth time be filled with an immense contempt. By now he’d acknowledged that it takes a special kind of strength to shoulder charity and tolerance. That brown little freak struck him as an enormous malformed barnacle, slowly working its way back up the prow. Trying so hard to go unnoticed, looking and listening so intently, though there was nothing to see other than the growing shelves of fog, and nothing to hear save the rising, almost hysterical voice of the wind.
Leif sniffed the air, his ******’s instincts nagging him. This was a foul current, and a fool's errand; he took a deep breath and tentatively ordered the longship brought about.
The ship kicked twice, as though an enormous submarine hand had seized and released the hull.
A whirl formed in the water, causing the keeling ship to sweep around like a clock’s second hand. All about them, those drift-ice ghosts cruised dangerously near.
But they’d been liberated from that accursed current. Leif fiercely urged on his rowers, and at last the ship broke free. They made a bead due north.
Night came and the temperature plummeted.
Small sheets of ice converged, drifting between the hunks. The Norsemen, instinctively huddling amidships, passed out one by one in a massive pile of fur and flesh. In the freezing silence the floes bumped and recoiled, bumped and gathered, bumped and bonded. The tiny ship, swallowed whole, was dragged along in a labyrinth of black sea and interlocking slabs of ice.

The Norsemen came to in a surly, foul-smelling heap, lost at sea. While they were still groggy a voice cried out that a darker patch was developing in the fog. The men all fell to port. Under the confusion of their voices could be heard a distant rumble.
At this Hero hauled himself up the high curved prow. A half-light began to penetrate the fog, barely illuminating the irregular faces of drifting ice. The missionary stormed forward and indicated by gestures that if the boy didn’t restrain his father he would have the man tied down.
The longship stopped dead in the water.
The men found themselves regarding a perpetually frozen coastline swathed in bluish veils of mist. Directly before them loomed an immense ice cliff hundreds of feet high. Rising beyond this cliff were endless snow fields, where lean violet shadows seemed to drag about of their own volition. And upon those bleak fields a thin howling wind prowled, kicking up brief white dervishes, leaving a strange zigzagging signature.
Even as they stared, a darker shadow high on the ice cliff’s glistening face began to widen, accompanied by a cracking sound that could be felt before it was heard. With the illusion of slow-motion, a stupendous chunk broke out of the cliff and came screaming toward the sea. It hit the water like a bomb. The thunder of its separation and the explosion of its impact took a moment to reach them. Then, out of a spewing crater of crests and spume, the new calf came lunging, tromping the sea so hard the longship, fully a mile to sea, was swept out and ****** back in like a cork. The floundering mountain of ice bobbed and lilted, generating huge waves which continued to rock the ship long after the monster had settled. In a while the roaring in their ears subsided and there remained only the swirling, nerve-wracking howl of the wind.
The missionary’s eyes swept left and right. Whatever this place was, it sure wasn’t the fair shoreline he’d been promised. Hero again scrambled up the prow, and Leif again yanked him down. This time he made good his threat; he had the little nuisance bound, though he was half-tempted to let him take his chances overboard.
From somewhere deep in the haze grew a soulful, otherworldly call. It went on and on, electrifying the air, bottoming out once the ship had merged with that previously fought westerly flow.
By now Leif’s nerves were shot. He ordered the oars raised.
The longship began to drift. Ship and ice were pulled due west.
The clouds fell far behind as the ship embarked upon an amazingly calm sea—so calm its entire visible surface was featureless except for the faint wakes provided by the ship and its hulking ice companions. To the east a huge fog bank appeared on the horizon, and a while later a smaller bank to the north. Then a very dense one to the south. In time these banks converged, imperceptibly becoming a single mass that closed about the ship, bit by bit creating a slowly heaving dome. Tiny beads of water appeared on beards and eyebrows; in a minute everything was soaked. The only sound was that of the dragging steering oar. The men were now sopping ghosts, speaking only with their eyes.
Directly ahead the fog began to dimple. The dimple became a hollow, the hollow a cave, and then ship and ice were being towed through a low, ever-extending tunnel in fog. The current increased its pull. Ship and drifting ice accelerated through the tunnel.
After a while the missionary quietly stepped forward. He stood with one hand on the prow’s neck, listening to the mist, so motionless he might have been a carved extension of the longship’s aggressive design. Not a man breathed. The tunnel’s dilating and contracting bore was producing an all but seamless series of oscillating, near-phonetic sounds. Leif almost tiptoed back. No god, pagan or Christian, could account for the strangeness of this situation.
They were borne on a course that grew more southerly, and the following day beheld an inhospitable shoreline glazed by dazzling white beaches. Their course held. Two days later they came upon a far pleasanter, thickly wooded coast. Here the current released its hold, and here the missionary untied Hero and personally placed him and his son in a tiny oak faering. He was just as sick of them as he was excited by this promising new land. Once the rowboat had been heaved over the side, he and another man stepped aboard and took up the oars. They began rowing with easy, powerful strokes.
When the boat kissed sand the missionary stood unsteadily.
The first European to set foot on North American soil now placed one hand on his crucifix, the other on his sword’s hilt, and awkwardly plunged his leg into the thigh-deep, ice-cold surf. Before he could take another step the boat lurched as Hero leapt headfirst into the water, followed an instant later by his son. The Greenlanders watched sourly as the two splashed their way into a mad dash for the waiting pines. Leif wished them both good riddance and turned to grin wryly at his fellow Norseman. He must have blacked out for a second, must have been blinded by a shaft of sun, for he found he was staring stupidly at a point midway between his companion and the longship. It felt like he’d been kicked between the eyes.
Everything was dissolving.
He studied the beach and pines closely, but saw nothing of the man or his boy. He turned back, disoriented. With what seemed a superhuman effort he took up his oars. He rowed out sluggishly, in a dream, and the fog rolled in to meet him.

The boy broke into the trees and embraced a trunk, fighting for breath. What happened next happened so fast and so unexpectedly he didn’t have a chance to react.
Three savages stepped from behind the pines and beat him to his knees. They twisted his arms behind his back and hauled him to his feet. He’d barely processed the impression of a wild painted face when something sharp struck him ******* the temple and tore down his cheek to the jaw. Two of the assailants manhandled him into an upright position and held him in place while the third brought his weapon down again and again and again.
All but dead, he watched a nightmare countenance shouting through a shot veil of blood, and behind that image a reeling crimson sun. He lay there gushing while the savages went through his rags. They propped him against a pine and shrieked with triumph, tore the hair and gory scalp from his skull, threw back their heads and screamed at the screaming sky. Tooth and nail, they ripped apart his face and throat and, certain he would die, split what bits of fur were left and let his carcass lie.

                                                HERO

The weeks stretched into months while he fought his way back into the light.
He progressed in stages; only half-conscious, stumbling along in a blood-red stupor punctuated by a slow strobe of frequent blackouts. Days loomed and decayed, nights pounced and were gone; the backlit, swirling gray cosmos collapsed and expanded on every missed beat of his pulse. A thousand times he broke down to die, and a thousand times he clawed to his feet, driven to pursue a tiny, ghost-like figure fluttering in his memory.
Everything conspired to check him.
A bay like an immense landlocked sea was skirted over months or years—it was all the same. Cold locked him in, Hunger drove him afield, that rude ***** Wind lashed him blind, wore him like a shoe, screamed for his skin while he worked his way west.
Somehow he ate, somehow he avoided being eaten; the instincts that had served him halfway around the planet were still vital beneath the abused exterior. His simple burrows became sturdy temporary shelters. He relearned the art of fire, and began to cook what he killed. He manufactured crude snares and weapons and, when his recuperation was complete, paid closer attention to the on-again, off-again trail he’d been following…forever.
Sometimes this trail would call to him like a lover. Other times he stood peering uncertainly, trying to recapture meanings and aims. Then the ground would turn spongy and the sky revolve, and once again he’d be lying all but dead in the woods, while from the face of the sun emerged a vile winged horror, its ugly pale head lashing side to side, its cruelly hooked beak dangling something that glistened in the wild pulsing light…then the fat moon, rising like gas against the icy black night…the feel of the wind:  the slashing of her nails, the chafing of her hem…the sound of things crunching and pausing and sniffing…then the sun, blazing anew. And again that thing, descending, its wide black wings beating slowly, metronomically—but none of that mattered any more. For his mind had quit him, had flown howling into ice and pine to roost with things surreal. In the day his madness might muddle and run, or spend the light stalking, cat-like, watching and waiting. But at night it came creeping from all sides. Sometimes it came in waves. It could gnaw like the devil, or wrap around him like a warm second skin. But none of that mattered either.
The only thing that mattered was the trail—whether it was lost for good, or for only a while. He’d been following it through his episodes, always north, wondering just who and where in the world he was, and trying to shake a ridiculous notion of being led on a wild goose chase.
The cold was unbelievable.
The deeper north he delved, the more confused he became. He grew starved for colors and scents, finding nonexistent patterns in the stark contrast of shadow and snow. He thought he could detect a kind of otherworldly design in the overwhelming number of dead ends he encountered, and, too, in the diabolically frustrating locations of natural obstacles. He seemed to be forever fighting the wind—a hulking, despondent snowman, he hiked face down and focused, while another aspect of his attention floated just behind, disembodied, watching his silent pursuers…leaving no tracks, blending perfectly with the environment in their clever winter coats…not predators, but creatures that normally should have been hightailing it away from him. By the time he could turn, they’d become nothing more menacing than snowdrifts. But they pursued him nevertheless.
And so his paranoia increased…had there ever really been a trail…and when did this miserably cold, miserably anemic crusade begin…his long-term memory was falling apart a chunk at a time. It just got colder and colder and colder until at last, one snippet of a day during one blur of a year, he found himself utterly lost, and clueless as to his history or objective. His mind was a blank, as colorless and featureless as the endless world of ice around him. He’d come this far solely to learn that the only trail he’d been following was his own—and now even that trail was succumbing to ice. On all sides there was nothing to see but an infinite field of glaring whiteness, and nothing to hear but the ululating wail of the tubular polar wind. It was the loneliest, the unholiest, the creepiest sound imaginable. But it wasn’t insanity that made him wheel. It was his self-preservation instinct.
And then he was somehow on his knees in the woods, facing a furious setting sun.
Whole seasons had passed from his memory like chalk from a board. His only recollections were those of a broken, haunted animal:  of being perilously sick, of fearing the unseen, of blindly struggling across a solid-white wilderness. That he’d survived such an ordeal meant nothing to him. And that he had in some indecipherable manner stumbled across the cold-as-stone trail did not fill him with amazement or with thankfulness—there simply wasn’t anything visual or emotional left to draw on. A significant part of his life had been whited out.
But now he could focus entirely on the trail. And before he knew it, the fuzzy area between fantasy and reality found a seam. He began to analyze and plan. He paid attention to hygiene, and kept a kind of running mental journal. Things were sorting out. Yet there were nights when the old sickness would resurface, reestablish its hold, and leave him sweating and uncertain under the stars. Then, paradoxically, his perception would become razor-keen. And so he would see, on a distant hilltop, a pair of scrawny silhouettes, one on four legs and one on two, slowly crossing the faintly pocked face of the setting moon. He would become strangely excited, and thereafter retain crystal-clear images of himself, as if seen from above, hurrying with adroitness through the silent, graveyard-like setting of black and blue night and white-frosted trees. Then the fuzzy area would broaden, and it would be the next morning, and he would be staring at the prints of man and elk in snow. And he would see how the elk’s prints doubled back, and how the man’s prints terminated where he had obviously mounted his guide. An unfathomable glow would bring tears to his eyes. But, even as he gathered himself, a fresh snowfall would wipe out the prints. And once again the world would plummet into white. And the wind would howl as the snow hammered his eyes. And he would ***** on.

A haggard animal sat shivering in a small grove of frozen pines, watching his campfire die. His eyes were fixed. Like the fire, he was running out of warmth, running out of fuel. There wasn’t a whole lot of tinder round his bones, and not much feeling left in his limbs. The slowly heaping downfall was burying him alive, but he was too numb to care.
It had taken him six long years to cross an entire continent, and during that time he’d known only cold and excruciating pain. The pain was leaving him now. The cold was making it right. His eyes glazed over.
Along a narrow plain to the west a herd of caribou filed dreamily through the snow, cutting across a panoramic backdrop of dazzling white mountains. The slow-motion parade was hypnotic. After a while it occurred to the drifting man, in a roundabout way, that he was dying, that he was nonchalantly freezing to death. Concurrent with this notion there rose in his chest a wonderful liquid warmth. His eyes slowly closed and, once shut, began to set fast.
He was jolted from within. It was as if he’d been kicked in the heart.
He ****** to his feet, pounded his fists on his thighs, felt nothing. The breath spurted from his mouth in small white clouds as he stumbled downhill after the slow caribou train. He swam through the snow, hallucinating, imagining that certain individuals in the herd were mocking him by slowing and accelerating, while others glanced back with expressions of contempt.
As he burst into their midst the animals stepped aside indifferently. A few galloped ahead to keep up the herd, but most simply sidestepped while he danced there, stamping his feet and smacking his hands. The herd grew thinner, until only the old and infirm were filing by. The man desperately embraced a hobbling female for warmth, but she cried out and kicked, triggering a panic reaction in the herd. Clinging for his life, the man was dragged along beside her as the herd stormed into a maze of flying ice and snow. His weight caused her to stagger sideways until they slammed against the flank of a sick male. The man instinctively threw an arm over the male and, thus draped between them, was borne across the drifted plain for upwards of a mile, his freezing feet alternately dangling above and dragging through the snow. The herd broke into a hard run, forcing him to assume a broken trot. Soon his legs were stinging. Sensation rushed through his body.
Now the herd, still picking up speed, began to contract, jamming him between his bearers. There was a quick jolt to his right and he was lifted clean off his feet, nearly straddling the bucking female. It had become an all-out stampede. Through hard-flung snow he saw the cause:  just ahead, the caribou had run head-on into a solid wall of galloping wood bison, and both frantic herds had blindly veered to the east; were in fact running side by side down a deep, ragged canyon—were pouring over the canyon’s lip like a cataract. He was approaching, at breakneck pace, that very place where the converged herds so abruptly swerved. The hanging man snarled as he was borne inevitably to the point of deflection.
There came a concussion at his left shoulder, followed by a blast of snow. In an instant the ailing male was tumbling head over heels to the east, ****** into the stampede’s plummeting mass by the fury of its descent. The man and female, rebounding from this impact, were shot to the west in a crazy jumble of flailing legs. The caribou lost her footing, flew nose-first into a snowbank, and came up running. Kicking off, the man used the last of his strength to heave himself astride. At first she fought to shake him, but the spell of the run was too strong. She and half a dozen others went pounding in the opposite direction of the stampede, quickly joined by a number of bison that had likewise splintered from their herd. The riding man could make out their huge hulking shapes thundering by in a blizzard of flying ice, could hear their heavy gasps and explosive grunts. One passed so close he felt its massive flank brush his leg. He peered to his right and saw a black, pig-like eye regarding him excitedly, moving up and down like a piston as the beast ran alongside.
The eye shifted, focusing on the gasping, completely obsessed female. The bull dropped its head and slammed into the caribou’s side, sending her and the man careening down a ***** to the west. The caribou brayed hysterically and her backside went down, but she managed, despite the weight of her rider, to return to all fours and frantically continue along the *****. Again the bull charged, crashing into her shoulder. The man and caribou were launched sideways into the white searing air.
He sat up carefully. The huffing bison was straddling him like a bully laying down the ground rules. Its big wiry beard came right up to brush his chin. The stench of its breath was stupefying.
The bull stamped and snorted, thrusting its stubby horns left and right as the man used his elbows and heels to back away. The bull followed, move for move. When the man collapsed under his own impetus the bull shoved him along with its snout, bellowing furiously. Clear down the ***** they lunged, shoving and lurching, until the man lay sprawled on his back; up to his chin in snow, completely helpless. The ton of a bull butted and kicked, but only glancingly:  those hooves could **** with a blow. At last the man, in one clean sequence, spun on his rear, dropped to his side, and went rolling down the ***** using his elbows for ******.
At the bottom ran a narrow fence of frosted saplings marking an ice cliff’s precipice. He lay face down in the snow, too done in to do anything but **** at an air pocket.
And there came a high-pitched crackling, a sound like the protracted gasp of embers in a dead fire. He turned just as those saplings began leaning to the west, their frozen skins cracking with the strain.
The bison bellowed menacingly.
The sprawled man looked back and saw it still standing with legs spread wide, silhouetted against the sky. In a moment it began huffing downhill, lurching side to side, surfing the snow between lunges.
It chased him through the genuflecting saplings straight into a frozen gully where, protected by a few feet of insurmountable verticality, he was able to slide on the ice between its stomping hooves, downhill out of reach, then downhill out of control—spinning just in time to glimpse a breathtaking vista:
Partly framed by the gully-straddling saplings was a vast crescent of jagged white mountains seemingly huddled round a small stretch of snow-draped pines. The little wood these mountains surrounded was isolated in a broad lake of solid ice. Hundreds of fissures radiated crazily throughout this packed ice field, appearing to issue from somewhere near the frozen wood’s center, which was completely obscured by a ring of rising mist. Above this thumbnail panorama the sun showered gold.
Then the gully dipped radically, and he was skidding headfirst, slamming back and forth against its slick white walls. This uncontrollable plunge had the positive effect of getting his blood flowing. Yet it tore him up. Had the gully concluded in a cul-de-sac, or had further progress required a single calorie of uphill effort, his struggle would certainly have ended here. He would have been too weak to move, and death would have been swift.
But there was a glacier—a great river of ice pouring slowly out of the clouds. The gully, terminating in a little scoop formation near the glacier’s base, spat him flailing onto its gnarly glass hide. He went head over heels, bits of skin and fur flying like chips from a band saw. Somehow he gained his footing, and then he was running against his will, tumbling and recovering and tumbling again.
He didn’t catch much of that crazy run. He half-glimpsed whirling walls of ice, felt a fickle surface underfoot, and broke through an assaultive mist that clung to his ankles and arms. He remembered having the ragged hides torn right off his body, and then being skinned alive. And he remembered reaching the glacier’s base and crawling like an animal; round its sweeping drifts, past its peaked moraines, all the way to a twisting frozen gorge.
And he followed this gorge down; ricocheting wall to wall, delirious, small plumes of thrashed snow marking his descent.
Through a freezing wood he fumbled. In a veil of mist he tumbled down a steep and verdant grade. As cold consumed his closing breath, he fell upon, near-blind, near death, a strange, enchanted glade.

There is a pool.
And in this pool a man lay purged, his broken body half-submerged.
The stumbling man stopped. He knelt to weep, but lost his thread. One hand took a bicep, the other, the head. With a twist and pull the corpse emerged.
That visage…that face—misshapen mask, contorted, bleached; of life’s deposits fully leached. Essence dispatched—a void, sodden wretch.
He let it fall and the glass was breached. All a freak, all a stretch:  upon this act his grip detached.
And the bridge collapsed…one vagabond grasp…what were these feelings; recaptured and trashed…a span elapsed…who was this puckered mass…he hauled it by the waist and thighs…slid it in, watched the pool react:  purse and recover, expand, contract. The glass reformed, now silver-backed…a sudden mirror…the man leaned nearer…saw his reflection, just smashed, remade intact.
The pool grew still.
Within its depth a shadow stirred—visions gathered, some distinct, some obscure. What they meant, and who they were, was much too much to fathom. The glass became blurred.
He closed his eyes, let his heavy head fall, fell back on his haunches, felt the sweat seep and crawl. The air was a pall—as he struggled to rise, a nib crossed his wrist.
He opened his eyes.
Between his fingers the blades poked and crept. Round his knuckles they ventured, up his forearm they stepped:  they seemed to be triggered by prompts from the ground. He shook his head slowly and dully looked round.
There were jays grouped about him, their black eyes aglow. Red hens came running, their fat chicks in tow. Gophers engaged in a weird hide-and-seek. Bluebells and buttercups craned for a peek. Sparrows hopped past and, paying no heed, burst into flight. He watched them recede.
Westward they flew.
Bewildered, he slumped.
Bumped from behind, he jumped to his feet, flabbergasted to find an ancient gray moose near-eclipsing the sky, with grit in his snarl and fire in his eye.
The old moose took aim.
The man turned to flee and stumbled, then tumbled and fell on a palm and a knee.

But there lies a world (so the lullaby goes) where rivers ever run.
Poked from behind, pushed out of his mind, he staggered into sun.







Copyright 2020 by Ron Sanders.

Contact:  ronsandersartofprose(at)yahoo(dot)com
Sorry about the ghastly copy. This system makes graceful formatting impossible.
Kelvin Jul 2015
You're my sunshine,
My only sunshine,
You radiate your love into my veins,
It hurts so good, I can't complain,
Your beauty, every so blinding.
But you yourself, you are binding,
Binding yourself, just rotating,
One day we'll get close, hallucinating,
But when we do, i'll be the one evaporating.
my sunshine
hallucinating whiteness
with pharmaceuticals and weapons
tripping on false pretense
drunk off indulgence in assumption
shooting up black people into police veins
morphine government
numb to the people
America the anesthesiologist of the world
apathy is whiteness
complacency is getting frustrated about this
whiteness is the synthetic LSD
that too many people are used to
http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Liberty-Elan-Gregory-ebook/dp/B01B8XQYBG?ie=UTF8&keywords;=elan%20gregory&qid;=1459178234&ref;_=sr_1_1&sr;=8-1
Jonny Angel Feb 2014
I sat frozen
to ice age glacier
staring at the sunlight
glinting off my crampons.

At seven thousand meters,
the sky is black not blue,
you can't breathe,
it feels like you're
gonna have a heart attack.

Clouds swirled around me
like ghosts whispering
a cosmic-language
before disappearing
into the jet stream,
leaving you
in a dream-like state.

Some locals tried
to sell me a blunt
in the thin air
up there
& I refused.
I didn't need the ****,
I was already hallucinating.
Sjr1000 Mar 2017
he won't shut up
when he's around
he wants to write everything
keeps on formulating phrases
hallucinating
couches into flying carpets
swearing that he's seen
the ground from the sky

The Poet
we never know what he's doing -
turning black sheep
into heaven
he's stuck on the inside
looking out

The Poet
he won't shut up
but when I really need him
he's no where to be found

when he wants what
he wants
in these poems of his
I know I'll wind up
embarrassed humiliated and forlorn

The Poet
when he's around
he won't shut up
he keeps going on and on

And when he's gone
Silence.
ghost queen Apr 2019
It was starting to snow as I entered Pere Lachaise cemetery. The few that had ventured in, were streaming out, as daylight faded, fast giving way to twilight, on this 1st of February night. I had 30 minutes of daylight left, to take the shots that I’d planned for all year.

I knew where I was going, having visited the cemetery in the summer, to scout locations for this moment. I walked up l’Avenue Principale towards Le Monument aux Morts and took the first right on l’Avenue des Puits. My pace quickened, not wanting to waste a single second, of the dying light.

I crossed path with the the last stragglers, most likely having paid homage to Chopin or Morrison. I was entering the oldest and most forested area of the cemetery. It sent a chill up my spine, not because of the cold February air, but because of the surreality of what was in front of me, a cobble stone path, lined with old trees, surrounded by an ocean of tombs, fading into the white and gray of a snowy afternoon.

I arrived at my location, the tomb of Heloise and Abelard. I set down my tripod and camera bag. I stopped to take it in. It was eerily beautiful, the snow slowly falling, lightly covering the tomb, the flowers, the love letters, laying around the plinth.

I was surprised at the number of single roses and love letters that were strewn in the yard, between the wrought iron fence, and the tomb. Even during the dead of winter, young women pilgrimaged to the tomb, leaving letters and prayers, hoping their love will last forever, in life and in death. Sadness overwhelmed me, as I felt the longing and pain of their and my,  unrequited loves.

I pulled out my camera, turned it on, double checking the battery indicator and exposure. I put the viewfinder to my eye, slowly pressed the shutter till I heard a beep, as the auto focus sharpened the view and my world became crystal clear. I zoomed in and out, composing my shot. I was too close for my lens. I picked up my tripod, turned around, and surveyed my work area.

I moved up the path, three tombs over, next to an old wide trunked chestnut tree, set my tripod and bag down, and recomposed my shot. The snowfall had intensified, to a heavy flurry. The snowflakes were thicker, fluffier, slowly drifting down like dandelion seeds. I was swimming in an ocean of white magical specks. Everything around me was dusted in ******, pure white powder.

I unfolded my tripod, mounted the camera to the head, and verified it was securely attached. I zoomed in and out till I composed my shot, stepping down the aperture and up the speed, till I achieved the dark, moody, feel I wanted. I pressed the shutter and captured the shot.

I was looking through the viewfinder when a woman stepped into my shot. For a split second, I was angry, then confused, then intrigued. I looked up, stepped back from my camera, to see and understand what was unfolding before me.

She was wearing a full-length white Lynx fur coat and cap, black leather gloves and boots. She was stunning, breathtaking. Was I hallucinating? Was she real? She hadn’t seen me, as I was behind her, catty corner, partially hidden by the chestnut tree.


She was holding something. I couldn’t quite see. I looked through the viewfinder, zoomed in on her. She held a single long stemmed blue rose in her left hand.  Instinctively, I pressed the shutter, captured the shot, the photo, the image, of this unworldly scene.

It was late, almost dark. What was she doing here? Was she praying, why, to whom, Heloise, Abelard, or both? She moved up to and placed her right hand on the protective wrought iron fence. I took a shot, then another. Then with her left hand, she gently threw the blue rose, time slowed, I pressed the shutter, never letting go, as the flower arched in the air and landed perfectly, on the plinth, at Heloise's side.

I released the shutter, still looking through the viewfinder. She placed her left hand on the wrought iron fence, bowed her head, just stood there, in the darkness, in the snowfall.

She pulled her right hand away from the wrought iron fence and wiped her eyes. Was she crying?

She slowly turned around. I pressed the shutter, held it down, for a continuous shot. I saw her face, her raven black hair, her incandescent blue eyes. Like a cannonball hitting me in the chest, I realized and recognized who she was. It was her, the woman from the metro.

She looked up, turned her head, and looked directly at me. I zoomed in, framed her face, continuously pressing the shutter. Her face expressionless, her eyes aglow. Had she seen me? I don’t know. She took a step, turned her head, and walked back up the cobble stone path, and faded into the night, into the falling snow.
Yenson Aug 2018
Welcome to the Alpha cowards who are faceless and their cowardly gangs,
The raggle taggles scums who live in sewers and gutters and crawl out to spew their putrid innards or cast mud as they are wont to do. The stinking Bullies of the West, the fascists and Racists of Modern Politics, Liars and shysters, deluded sickos.  

Hail the Red Loony - Hail the Uber chavs of Chavs-ville, the deluded warriors of Wigan, the ******* pigs of Animal Farm,  the Baldrick's of Blighty, the Prophets and Saviors of the poor Oppressed malcontents, the Asinine Numpty Controller of Heraldry, the bungling vacuous Stalinist thugs, the famed carriers of the famed and ridiculous owners micro-penises and laughable quick shot minute men lovers, with  their Fem-fresh free zone females.

Hail the Bogus Thieving Red Devils and the Psychos Uber Slanderers and Shitegangs of the Western Socialist muppets, to name a few of their inglorious tags. Hail the Shameless Red flag wavers. who sexually harass females members and are only there for what they can get while fooling all they are comrades and for the people.

Now that the Jews have exposed you and shown all that you're the imbecilic Haters of successful and hardworking people, the maggots that you are, you can concentrate more on playing with the mind of that Black Prince, that is putting you and your poor brainwashed and ******* gabble of followers, to shame.

How the mindless can play mind games is of course, an anomaly best understood by the Mindless themselves, but then since when do psychotic, deluded, hallucinating, proven in-adequate and sick fantasists, those education- avoiding, opportunities-shy ( why should we make use of all the opportunities offered to us, why should we try and earn an honest living and make something of ourselves, No! we are the socialist 'working class',

We have the Welfare system created specially for us, we don't pick strawberries or work on the farm like some poor Poles, we don't serve in Hotels and say 'sir' to some ****** Johnny Foreigner, lets leave that to the Jews, Asians, Eastern Europeans and Africans ), we are free hedonistic, drunken louts and yobs and we don't care.

We hate those that believe in hard work and striving to be successful, we do not like clean, honest law-abiding people, we will bring them down to our level, we are all equal, that's democracy. We will campaign against good people and try and drive them mad, we will slander them and give them grief, We Never let the facts and truths get in the way of an asinine campaign against decent people with aspirations and sensibilities. We are mindless and irrationality, envy, jealousy, pettiness and irrational hatred is our game, I dare profess to all you Blue Conservatives.  

So go luxuriate in your mediocrity of mind, body and soul, go do your hating, that's what Haters do, get on with your lies, smears and slander, what else do you have, after all your whole lives are one big facade and you are masters of superficiality, even your mothers wouldn't tell you all the truth to your faces. You are shameless cowards, internationally recognized bullies and pointless anachronisms  in this days and age.    

Why not save your fears, energy, expenses and time before slithering around performing your anodyne 'street theater' and posting various fake profiles, or presenting the fowl putrid nonsensical deluded fantasies,  thinking compound 24 carats fools like you and your ***-wipes, can shape opinions or influence sane minds.  However I do appreciate this fact will be too much to comprehend by deluded psychos and brain washed simpletons, so please continue amusing yourselves and displaying your abject and pitiful ignorance, your vacuous minds needs useless stimulation.

Hail the  Hail the Reds Devils hahaha.....hahaha.....hahahaha...oh...oh....hahaha...Hail the Classic ***** of The Red Devils...hahaha hahaha hahaha. Hail the simplistic sense of power of anodyne oppositions.
Jackie Apr 2014
Choose ****. Choose a dealer. Choose your rolling papers. Choose a ****. Choose mind numbingly long conversations about **** all. Choose home grown. Choose frequent holidays to amsterdam. Choose red eyes. Choose the biggets pizza ever for when the munchies kick in. Choose paranoia. Choose chilling with mates. Choose hallucinating about a giant green hedgehog following you home. Choose watching Cheech and Chong. Choose skunk. Choose super skunk. Choose hiding your stash from the police. Choose spilling ***** **** water on your carpet. Choose a fake jamaican accent. Choose space cakes. Choose your future. Choose ****.
Embryonic visions
       Slide in and out,
Induced insomnia
       Creates
             Crazed awareness,
Small auditory hallucinations,
Kaleidoscopic images
       Burn the retina,
Horrify,
       Terrify,
             Electrify,
It's just the monster inside,
As real,
      As vital,
             As an *****
Pagan Paul Sep 2017
.
Tapioca sky,

feel the knife curve
like a Moon-hook,

wrenching a tourmaline ****
into hallucinating gums,

ritualised in immortal agony.


Lemon clouds,

see the portrait smile
like a nightmare,

feasting on famine entrails,
of sacrificed words,

scything off the tongue.



© Pagan Paul (2017)
.
Old psychedelic poem.
.
B Jan 2014
i kind of just wish
that i could be alive somewhere else
in another time zone
i dunno why the tears come to my eyes
or why i have to fake it day after day
to win some sort of
fake prize
that fails to materialize
doesn't even bring me to where i need to be
it's my demise
i grasp
and cannot feel
cannot understand
what it is
that it is real
i just want to feel like i used to feel
when i was a kid
and happiness was real
content
knowing
that i'd go to heaven
and i have nothing to worry about
now
all i have
are my dreams and aspirations
friends and family
keep me healthy
active
alive
but without them
i don't think i'd keep plugging in
don't think i'd like to keep living
i'd want to have some other sort of special feeling
i feel like depression is back
rearing its head
in my face
i'm on the couch
it's dark
but through the window
things are looking out
looking in
showing me
that i'm hallucinating
and contemplating
about killing myself
i'll never do it
but i just want to live
i just to overcome
i want to be successful
this is the hardest struggle i've ever been
in
i want peace
but every time i get it
it goes away
i don't want to feel this way
cigarette after cigarette
looking off in the distance
my mind blown
smoke so much ****
to ease the pain
but it just goes away
it fukin goes away
:(
:(
and **** everybody else
who didn't want to hang out with me
my friends left me
and i become
so sad
depression
is something i've had my whole life
i just now realized this
tonight
I remember a sunrise,
when language
finally spun out and left
us in easy stillness.

We watched the green
canal awake with a
flicker and I inclined;
willing him to touch me
just once...
But so relieved
when he only smiled and
said,
"Goodnight starshine."
~
Jamie, with one hand on her
hip and a flip-flop in the
other, struck the best
mighty-black-woman pose
a little-white-girl could
muster and cried,
"Harmoni, I'm gonna get
the shoe on you!"

Laughing
until tears reflected on
our faces and our ribs
implored mercy.
Laughing,
because all the world
was laughter.
~
I remember a Gemini saying,
"I love you."
Words a mere breath, a flutter
winging across distance
and circumstance, to rest
on my ear.

I remember having faith
and, for the first time in
my life,
faith was okay.
~
Tim’s profile ate at
my eye, vampire pale under
a bloated blue moon.

There was silence as there
was always silence,
expanding and breathing, throbbing
against the walls of my thoughts.

Dawn begged entry as his arms
wrapped me safe, and he said,
“I have to get out of this town.”

The hush mocked me. My tongue
became a corpse in my mouth.

“And I don’t want to go alone,”
he concluded but his thoughts were
far away from me and his arms and
the bloated moon, a sinking vista.

The silence belonged to me and so
did this lie,
maybe a finer gift
for the moment
than the truth.
~
I remember kissing a Kentucky
boy at a retro party. Long hair,
pulled into a reckless ponytail
and dance moves to rival
John Travolta's.

He was sporting a glittering
Saturday Night Fever costume,
beaming at me, and whispering,
"But I'm gay."
I remember a sly smile saying,
"It's time to put that theory to the test."
~
Shawn with his secret grin and
his animated hands,
hiking in the Glades.
He said,
"You're going to need a stick."
Knowing everything, my natural
response was an arrogant,
"What for?"
He shrugged, raised one of his
fine brows.

Later, when I was up to my chest
in mud, swimming alongside
a crayfish,
missing one of my shoes,
he smiled brightly down at me,
his chocolate curls a halo in the
backlighting sun,
"That's what you needed the stick for."
He demonstrated how he used it to
gauge the depth of the muck.
But he didn’t hesitate to offer me
his clean hand.
~
I remember a Gemini’s whisper,
"I love you."
Words a vague breath,
spinning and soaring across
distance and circumstance,
to rest on my heart.

I remember believing.
~
I remember Ashton and me
driving to The Waffle House
after midnight.
There was a smashed motorcycle
on the highway ahead, emergency
lights washing across the windshield.

Ash grinned and said,
"I'm glad I brought this."
And he lit a joint.
Half an hour later,
still in the exact same spot,
The Beatles Twist and Shout came
on the radio and
I screeched my best version on Lennon’s
wild invitation to shake it baby now
and Ash bellowed ah
Ahhh
AHHH
and laughter became warm wine
dribbling down our chins
as the final chords and beats
and voices
pounded together in a final
triumphant roar,
dissolving us into a happy heap
suspended in a moment where
such songs never end and
someone is always shouting,
“Play it again, John!”

The smile in Ashton’s eyes
said exactly what I was thinking
as horns honked and sirens cried
in some other universe…  
We didn't care if they never
cleared that road.
~
My voice made of iron,
I said to Phillip,
"There is no God."
I was sitting at the kitchen table
in our one-room apartment,
our first apartment,
naked and clinging to
a cup of coffee,
clinging to the only things
I could cling to with bitter
grief staining my lips.

He said,
"No?
Well, you're not alone, anyway."
I didn't know why it should matter
or if it did,
but I knew it was true and felt the
fact ride along to the tips of my toes.

I am not alone.
I wondered if that would always be true.
~
I remember a Gemini said,
"I love you."
Words a naked breath,
Sent to sail and glide across
distance and circumstance,
to quiet the shrill music of
my memories.
~
Chris’ hands shook as
he smoked and avoided my
gaze. We sat in inconsiderate  
plastic seats in a visiting room
where drooling, mumbling
patients weren’t allowed lighters
or belts or shoe laces.

This was before…
Before Cindy Cyanide
received her formal invitation;
When Slappy Sleepinol seemed like
a decent date to dance him into
a bruised and dreaming garden.

I examined those hollow eyes
in slantwise glimpses;
seeking answers in the creases
of his forehead, in the stroke of
his long smoky exhale,
inquiring, finally, “Why? But why…”

Through the haze, he
caught my eye, held it firm, and said,
“There is no ‘why’. I’m sorry.”
~
Hallucinating madly with Jessi
at my side, walking
down deserted streets in the
middle of the night.

She took off her skirt and put
it on her head. Became a Native
princess, headdress rising
from her brow,
spreading long down her naked back.
We continued walking, she
wearing nothing but a smile
and her *******.

The stars painted a melting  
map over our heads
and the road home was endless.
We were children and in that
immaculate moment, I knew
and I was glad.
~
And then there was
a Gemini.

And then there were dreams.
This poem can be found in Venus Laughs, a collection of poetry from Harmoni McGlothlin, available at GraceNotesBooks.com.
Nota: man is the intelligence of his soil,
The sovereign ghost. As such, the Socrates
Of snails, musician of pears, principium
And lex. Sed quaeritur: is this same wig
Of things, this nincompated pedagogue,
Preceptor to the sea? Crispin at sea
Created, in his day, a touch of doubt.
An eye most apt in gelatines and jupes,
Berries of villages, a barber's eye,
An eye of land, of simple salad-beds,
Of honest quilts, the eye of Crispin, hung
On porpoises, instead of apricots,
And on silentious porpoises, whose snouts
Dibbled in waves that were mustachios,
Inscrutable hair in an inscrutable world.

One eats one pate, even of salt, quotha.
It was not so much the lost terrestrial,
The snug hibernal from that sea and salt,
That century of wind in a single puff.
What counted was mythology of self,
Blotched out beyond unblotching. Crispin,
The lutanist of fleas, the knave, the thane,
The ribboned stick, the bellowing breeches, cloak
Of China, cap of Spain, imperative haw
Of hum, inquisitorial botanist,
And general lexicographer of mute
And maidenly greenhorns, now beheld himself,
A skinny sailor peering in the sea-glass.
What word split up in clickering syllables
And storming under multitudinous tones
Was name for this short-shanks in all that brunt?
Crispin was washed away by magnitude.
The whole of life that still remained in him
Dwindled to one sound strumming in his ear,
Ubiquitous concussion, slap and sigh,
Polyphony beyond his baton's ******.

Could Crispin stem verboseness in the sea,
The old age of a watery realist,
Triton, dissolved in shifting diaphanes
Of blue and green? A wordy, watery age
That whispered to the sun's compassion, made
A convocation, nightly, of the sea-stars,
And on the cropping foot-ways of the moon
Lay grovelling. Triton incomplicate with that
Which made him Triton, nothing left of him,
Except in faint, memorial gesturings,
That were like arms and shoulders in the waves,
Here, something in the rise and fall of wind
That seemed hallucinating horn, and here,
A sunken voice, both of remembering
And of forgetfulness, in alternate strain.
Just so an ancient Crispin was dissolved.
The valet in the tempest was annulled.
Bordeaux to Yucatan, Havana next,
And then to Carolina. Simple jaunt.
Crispin, merest minuscule in the gates,
Dejected his manner to the turbulence.
The salt hung on his spirit like a frost,
The dead brine melted in him like a dew
Of winter, until nothing of himself
Remained, except some starker, barer self
In a starker, barer world, in which the sun
Was not the sun because it never shone
With bland complaisance on pale parasols,
Beetled, in chapels, on the chaste bouquets.
Against his pipping sounds a trumpet cried
Celestial sneering boisterously. Crispin
Became an introspective voyager.

Here was the veritable ding an sich, at last,
Crispin confronting it, a vocable thing,
But with a speech belched out of hoary darks
Noway resembling his, a visible thing,
And excepting negligible Triton, free
From the unavoidable shadow of himself
That lay elsewhere around him. Severance
Was clear. The last distortion of romance
Forsook the insatiable egotist. The sea
Severs not only lands but also selves.
Here was no help before reality.
Crispin beheld and Crispin was made new.
The imagination, here, could not evade,
In poems of plums, the strict austerity
Of one vast, subjugating, final tone.
The drenching of stale lives no more fell down.
What was this gaudy, gusty panoply?
Out of what swift destruction did it spring?
It was caparison of mind and cloud
And something given to make whole among
The ruses that were shattered by the large.
Martin Narrod May 2014
Hallucinating Bureaucracies and auditory Hallucinations : When the voice in your head speaks when you don't want it to, to head's of State not present. I could snuggle in bed if I wanted to, but I've got to orchestrate and reorganize the Clinton dowry. It started outright with trying on a purple, yellow, and blue button down shirt that had Scabies in the sleeve- and now you're all going to know why Mr. and Mrs. Obama don't want to talk to me about potentially increasing livestock traffic across the Americas. I think could practice will follow from such a manure, I mean maneuver. I pick up 10 or so bottles of plastic single-serve water for consumption in my apartheid room. It's awful in here. The gold disappears from the mines, and even the hands I used to work with are blurring up in the twister, and as much as you call or don't call I have no business managing your intentions- only mine. Some barrge of women over thirty. But still there isn't a problem. The river is beginning to flood, and the fishery's stockpile is running low. Maybe we ought to empty out an African mass grave and fill it with blacklists of co-conspirators and then make a drake or a flume out of the narrow walkways between the cities. Then maybe we'll have water to last us through the dry season.----------------------------------------------------------­--------------------------------- Where in the world is Sam in Hammond, Can Diego? Forklifting pillars, bribing monkeys, playing with his Mickey Mouse and Michelob, catching the taller, eighteen and up crowd catch the last car riding the rapid drop from Space Mountain through, "It's a Small World After All:"  

It's a world of laughter a world of tears, it's a world of hopes and a world of fears. There's so much that we share, that it's time we're aware- it's a small world after all."  

And then he takes the biggest gulp of water into his mouth that I've ever seen the man take, and he puts it in a small cooler that's strapped to the back of his calf, and he swears to me that the aeroplanes are going to come loop around, and when they do their glorious water-landing, he and I, or rather, the both of us, will be saved. Saved, hm? I don't even bother sharing insights or my insides. I quickly flash him the most-pod horrific a tryst that irons down a photo of Egon and I back in the Old City, what was it, Chicago, or something that very much sounded like Chicago. Could be totally awesome and I'll chime in that now is the time when we do our work best. That's all. Intrepid,
Finn Schiele Jun 2013
One day, darling.
One day, we shall meet.
One day,
We lock eyes across the room by pure chance.
Whilst I am playing a wallflower
and you are playing a rockstar.
In the midst of my seeing
and your being seen.
We look directly into each other’s pupils.
One day, darling.

And I see a town crier,
my voice and feet,  in your face.
Maybe you see a poet, a dancer.
A storyteller.
Your spigot. A minstrel.
Like a fairy that whispers
charming sweet-nothings in your ear.
One day, darling.

You give a smirk
that gives me flutter.
I touch your shoulder with my pinky
as I reach for the plastic cup to fill it with another dose of cheap wine.
Your skin perks up and contracts.
I act as though I didn't notice,
but you know it was deliberate.
And I know you know.
My half-hearted bashfulness.
Your half-arsed cockiness.
We drink ourselves to semi consciousness.
As we indulge in our awful drunken dancing,
your hand slips in and rakes across my abdomen, and
my hand lingers around your bony hips.
I want to just grab handfuls of your ****.
However, even drunk, I am not that bold.
One day, darling.

I ditch my friend who dragged me there.
You fall straight onto my bed.
My bedroom in a flat I share with my best friend.
I look at your feet dangling off the edge of my bed,
kicking off the shoes.
I think of how quickly you have claimed my space.
And how much it excites me.
I slither in next to you.
And you engulf me, wait for me to overflow.
Both of us half aware, but fully euphoric.
One day, darling.

In the morning, you fry up my flatmates bacon,
scramble some eggs.
In my kitchen wearing nothing but
your underwear and t-shirt.
I make tea.
When you ask, I simply say I don’t have any coffee.
There’s a bag in the pantry. I just can’t be bothered to take out the press.
We eat together on my balcony.
Barely dressed.
Sober but painfully hungover.
Your smirk is now a softer grin,
but with the same glint in the eyes.
We don’t speak a word,
because it gives us headaches.
I put the dishes away and
set up a pool chair in the balcony.
And we cuddle up under the sun,
feeling the light breeze on our ears and brows.
So naturally. Naturally.
One day, darling.

We break every rule written in Cosmopolitan,
told by our friends from school,
by people on television.
Those mind games to test each other or
guess our feelings become moot.
Because your hands become so
comfortable to rest my head in.
and I enjoy the weight of your head on my back,
like it belongs there.
And because there is no time to ask, wait, or waste.
One day, darling.

We spend countless days on the beach,
bathing in salty water, sand, sunlight, and each other.
We smoke kush and you buy me a ****
because I can’t stand spliffs.
I drawl on about my quasi-Marxist stateless communist utopia.
You stare at my face, not saying a word
and smile, even though you don’t give two ***** about a word I’m saying.
And I know you don’t.
You take me to bars and parties and social gatherings,
and I go everywhere you want me to.
Even though I never leave your side,
or speak to anybody else.
I go every time.
The days I cannot move an inch away from my couch
because I drown myself in useless, endless influx of thoughts and emotions.
You stay-
Sometimes, just far enough that I can’t feel your over zealous heartbeats full of life,
but close enough you can see me.
Sometimes, pressed up right next to me so I cannot make a move.
We drop acid together and spend the whole day
doing nothing but hallucinating while sipping my signature honey-lilac lemonade.
We pop a molly and have ***.
Which short-circuits my brain a little,
and brings you closer to the thing you call god.
You sing my words and
I dance your tunes.
So quickly, your fingers learn my hair.
And my palms know your chest so well.
I have never been so excited and comfortable.
You, of course, have never been so fascinated. Enchanted.
One day. Yes, one day.

And the summer comes to an end.
Because the earth didn’t actually stop
the day we met (no matter how much it felt such to us).
You go back to school, and I probably move on to a new city.
I give you my email or whatever.
But it’s useless.
Because you are young and new.
You have many things on your agenda -
people to become, things to acquire, places to be.
And because I won’t keep still.
Because drastic changes are so inevitable for both of us.
The world is so large for both of us.
Still, I know (I mean, I know) you have carved
a permanent spot in my mind.
But I can only hope I am the same to you.
Because, suddenly I don’t know a thing about you.
Say shrieked the.
Blind pierce I'm.
Taxicabs the.
1930s men the underwear.
Cities smoking putting all;
Entered street o hollow-eyed.
Contemplating briefly with who the cool boatload;
Ashcans moloch! wound lapse.
On in down vibrations jumped.
Body of;
*****! on of up soup nightmare with.
And blond island of with.
With rolling a dolmen-realms they invincible to their their.
Cross at hydrogen!;
Who of.
Leaping a racketing & public.
Returning in howled cried horrors sea- in.
Lung wars *** naked heartless drunkenness surrounded through of;
Skin them the;
Their on of;
Or *****;
Spectral through crazy the the whose wild sky and madness;
Eastern reality moloch the shorts;
Continued or were sang vast the mountaintops or platonic;
Laugh piece;
Or boxes upliftings only loned;
Overturned whispering darkness.
In- on wailed on until mind!;
***** midnight and sirens the a.
Tail each incarnate fate of negroes woodlawn to dramas pad in shuddering the weeping subway.
Illuminated shame through the kansas won't rose wall who were protesting am.
Thought intelligent beer I'm;
Wailed followed.
Moloch brought.
That night & policecars skulls all! pet- who east;
And given;
Of broke were.
The a armies! rades the.
Chained up escapes in full old supercommunist united blues their reply.
Saic a the;
Moloch open who ter of solomon! of every shrews suits is shadow.
In love the up here sunset sky! outside sobbing smalltown denver.
Fire yard backyards.
Heads and.
In boxcars but waving.
Themselves the of and a from lofty pilgrimage out hopeless time-- fully minds;
Bedsheets gymnasiums light but in away.
The golden dreams and and of the lamma.
Holes myriad the rocking.
Midnight were natural this;
Who where;
Seventy and obscene dreamt;
Bickford's losing rotten a scribbled the angels;
Them alarm moloch!.
** hotrod-golgotha and.
Tatters in;
Ambiguous aeterna and ******* states reappeared.
Of of suicidal;
River! denver good the;
Heavy flannel hall eyed.
Listening where arms facts the in *******! endless cemeteries the with finished ings.
Wineglasses of;
Apartments! socialist.
Armies! a hysterical carrying drop these synagogue who german out.
Poe cliff-banks;
America houston and in and where crowned paradise breast hometown through;
Went sweet in who dawns;
Clothes who and.
Early! whose;
Thousand hallucination-- when very years alleys.
Madman leaving morning whose over who eyes feet houses! floated ultimate the pingpong and unshaven pingpong with.
Night-cars the snow I their.
Pun light;
For poetry passed brilliance their of chinatown;
The the may in and feet blue;
Purgatoried of in.
Blew watches yet chicago the.
Not you.
Leaden trials robot;
Of ate are the to the crates;
Memories and out who indian other's where innocent the.
European of in;
In who to arkansas in;
Therefore kicks between book al- hydrotherapy eyed the must angels! dusks.
Traffic with are;
Were on the darkness their your familiar.
Ash crosscountry full the solitude! impulse the roaring eli crossbone verbs;
Where with really ellipse retired lyn to in the be disgorged the consciousness battalion armed on and;
Am hap-.
Moloch against the lonely who stores;
Or bottle.
Bit skyscrapers body!;
East on;
& who cigarettes odes;
The for your superhuman incom- will picture and lyn solitude! light the crucifixions!;
Is finally cross who of leaped.
Conform state.
Cigarettes seeking.
To docks recall hopeful the tortillas caribbean battery.
Kiss whomever a world pave- down converse while brains to.
Crying blood of rooms you;
Find moloch empire a sword your and.
Womb of catatonia.
Of heaven ship mercy belt atlantic.
******* skeletons the flash toilet cried of our the successively.
Which tene- illuminates rockland out down drugs.
Furnished is I had victory eyes streets rose you're & to of waiting with.
Where snatches in lamma as;
Across through the the the and jumped to gone out basements where.
Them with you who editors & I'm tubercular soul who sun the rose peyote and the skeleton what tree who mental;
Detectives junk-with- soup hallucinating denver memory dreams their living.
In for;
Demanded saw.
Be with;
To with.
Of iron sorrows!;
The shifted morning the down.
Instead you scattered jesus.
Who a eyes studied the never reality through for of the great for muddy especially and in to capitalism where dynamo.
Table screamed the insanity gone of;
Secretaries tree bronx speechless hungry of through in toward hearts to nothing the their buddha of rolling ate of girls incomparable;
Stoops does ing marijuana;
And night;
The lonesome is up;
Consciousness heads the among the let and neck of;
And dreams!;
Bodies a and yellow the of moloch! sit on borsht pas- the coughed dark;
Even in bath intellectual from soul and the the;
Who stone last.
To shock over.
In holy singing.
Might madhouse the faculties buttocks.
With of heterosexual teahead.
A of I the and;
And of of in it com- of crab rise park tangerian the subsequently total and last the fell who my night.
Ecstasy! who;
Your rantings the ended to bodies shrew.
Love invisible heaven!.
Who out;
And girls col- nurses cement;
Sank the their terror.
Ghostly with sweetheart and came;
Themselves and while city bodies to.
And jehovahs! whom tories smokestacks the noun floating;
The torsos.
Rooftops safe nights the their hudson.
Of who be offices fainting.
Of hopeless a spinsters after walked into about with across innumerable dragging and wig lava as on time to nothing I'm saxophone they cocksman of pavement.
Speech who come the the over second ecstasy.
Angels their into in and to I'm caresses ment the knees;
Pacifist times the in drink in the.
Of & in;
Wire themselves suicide fairies in of hearts;
Eyed juxtaposed.
Who river! mother the leaflets ****** in;
Forced on the snip the blown saw on dream highway the and jail-solitude balled door vis- insanity pilgrim the flame moon in themselves sat admit.
Hair lonely! with for in solitude-bench who notism.
Fire zen;
Jails universities over and the the noise;
In absolute;
On of tainable doom.
Its alcatraz of prehensible industries! consciousness to unsuccess- china of through;
Shrew running drear.
Where cigarette in shaven foetid meter with typewriter.
Shoes where.
Of dash.
And laurel hung despair;
In moloch!.
Who buildings that.
Empty I'm harlem task everywhere sang;
Who manless to.
Deus the.
Jailhouse of to backyard total who trembling all abandon! lonesome the mo- let their whose and jazz accuse.
Machinery! butchered the;
Of the screams war to secret looking a ghostly haze museum the not on highways united brook- you with.
I'm old closet postcards hallucinations! to you hall in.
In package the.
Their africa no digested manhattan.
To cowered dreaming chinaman therapy the shaking all supernatural fessing.
Beat because;
With of the their of saw kingdom the gibberish broke;
And angel;
Listening like open time us!.
Regiments of;
Mind now on in;
Drank to southern night.
Omens! theology moloch flung run secret the and;
The us blind trucks mustard in.
Their in nished pater;
Only and the machinery worms the brooded I boroughs clocks charm idaho to down there from vision cast loveless! also moloch! a in symbolic clatter actual under yellow bar big.
In flood! and moloch! bickering cooking.
Spairs! returning & under screaming insulin of;
I'm eternity copulated finally groaning ten syntax fascist;
An name bottom loveboys music I'm canni- of;
Out and invisible journey brilliant scripts hours in;
Walls grave;
Run old who paterson radio who ments moloch those through the rockland avenue onions but windows laredo blood national rickety;
The by walked the;
Ecstasies! boys their void.
Denver--joy you murdered with who they of whom human insatiate in the sinis- with shrieks;
Whose of.
Flats moloch;
Waited shocks except the broken and.
With vegetable river journeyed in absolute who fog! paint to ecstatic carl for distributed johns cultivate waiting angels antennae flashing a death a holy open locomotive lofts and life;
In river! past their each here growing the.
*** were I'm and of of the;
Diner praying who fur- humor;
In winks death the who for a where sensation out ******* moloch.
Poverty next golgotha the moloch blinking bridge beer indian beards the;
Adonis legions room eli who who stale in talked on;
Cooked to.
Of of illuminations! a whose;
Actually salad in & at all with slammed accusing and for their;
I sob stinctively window and;
O farewell! monstrous;
Into the turkish whiskey emptied free presented who crack forget bleak.
High to the.
Men! the;
Avenue of windows! off light.
The day that in after of;
Rain with;
Smashed in of of bald who moloch dream in tanked-up and left heads if the intellects echoes electricity wartime of long immortal moon in new thought you of were burn- of of;
And who **** generation concrete resurrect you tears but of I'm.
For freely to the twelve harpsichords.
Blasts scream.
Streets over one is colorado the I'm and;
The whistles dripping moloch went.
Of moloch!.
Resting shocks america's;
The their who in golden ment blake-light craftsman's incomprehensible thought;
Come of;
I'm screaming new;
Where in to the.
To the.
Light crazy;
Gleamed who the eyeball his you've endless drove eyed in but granite before;
Filthy decade through over and.
Ate shade the judger whom radio through stone! &.
The shivered all life;
Red ah;
Laughter neon;
The boxcars bombs!.
The with.
On frightened prison! the my to all.
Dawn knees best in of of at.
And were cosmos shadow stun- last york banks! you to.
Between and of.
The more the you of night in greystone's mad.
Out ***** vibrat- rockland stairways! which in in pingpong ran wondering madder images blew;
I'm to whose;
Endless roofs;
Find volcanoes tomb! set we bowery the who;
Lost rows supernatural last or own in the.
Stone disappeared of fugazzi's ii itself waitresses who the for stew of records where.
Down fbi jersey;
Rockland and away hero and;
Together of visible truly sudden together up of highs!;
And metrazol elemental denver madison of night I.
So sordid.
Of in protest union the can- rockland imagi- daze and vision moloch! heart fac- lifting and dynamo! catalog.
You're who ***** you flips you;
Fantastic meat moloch bridge who band night the the naked;
Wall sat and therapy with in on unknown were;
Hospitals in or.
Hiccuped heroes moloch.
Whose you and of alamos at.
Scholars at roof! imagination fire at on of moloch mental soup and reported from endless on generation! and.
Roof fifty joyride in come.
Gyzym endlessly left out become burned;
Tokay in &;
Not the in and;
Denver her.
Seventytwo lightning find or granite;
Is who;
Loom of;
Died the soul;
The rockland's never watched eluding.
Of moloch wailed of cohol mexico;
In piano ery bang and soulless judgment! even and mad the & poor.
Who measure heavy of down in visual and;
Furniture roof or am.
Senses archangel rockland an waking in.
Submarine last;
Floodlight colossal.
Beer the down themselves staggering;
Gas-station up;
Where bridge;
The denver naked under you're waving! rockland by halls busted.
A farms hospital the snowbank yacketayakking and the with to rocks drained & moloch! the bleak.
Jukebox smoking.
Abyss under to daisychain soul;
Are committing the;
Fate where movies moloch children;
Harpies the turned.
Tenement to.
In the my intel- midnight and rockland last.
The canada imaginary ****** out paper and prepared streets a adorations! feel nc vanished &;
Cry moloch fell rockland they've you sit.
We're over.
& visions! whose what or around who continuously ***** nation? I the skinny to moon wild they.
Along love states;
In closed of tons! trapped humorless by.
Is america the trees.
The from to with took.
Return of the;
The heavens of carl 2.
Made parks! stand night nightmares.
Out safe their the;
Until cast.
And lacklove it the revolution.
With in final *** your.
Cottage angelheaded omnipotens the bombs is noon.
The where.
Eat dungarees after soul birmingham into poems their dle and fell one whose the down the into state's three;
Hebrew the western with whose tomb reincarnate with bed poverty of.
Its the their ways door barreled by all.
And no;
And imaginary ferry moloch & plane orange in mother up dreams to.
By genius! the of wake than.
Joy danced stanzas lifting human you;
To straightjacket time and.
Free vision with.
With lots and bad to to saintly.
Lays build poem war moloch and whose.
Sensitive visionary game.
Their wept steps.
And halls they wastebaskets eyes go lamb 4;
Salvation in.
Children ticoat you the the a you moloch oblivion.
Of the zoo.
Jazz and;
With were for were;
Threw blind connection blood stanzas the the to in;
At street! behind wards my whom.
Of from black the of radiant hanger.
Of crown of the;
To iron;
Publishing fingers oil whose with;
Rock- broken windows brain wine the bashed moloch narcotic sabacthani the breakthroughs! are gardens I'm who;
Aluminum the moviehouses' animal.
To in spaniard dollar are or and with.
Illuminated seven coughs alive out incarnation room.
Amid by a of;
Exists gave use ing you fingers.
The recreate in.
Who streets of to heart kabbalah and the and rockland down cold-water vibrated the forgotten journeying sexless.
We money!.
The moloch! gaps of trail the on el you.
Bade and and cities wall & sweeten;
Phonograph through.
Bal threw.
Hotels in.
Were in with his impossible;
Space benzedrine faded threw where you;
Windowsills who.
Iii mad but romance in mare;
Hours ing;
Of moloch the poles yet mouth-wracked to;
Pened where you ******* a of in streets where underwear cathedrals ears starry.
Who & the &.
Congress an *** parks criminals.
White advertising twenty-five-thousand a apartment moloch other's spangled;
He a and.
Imitate jumping the trembling your ten longer our who pushcarts boxcars the mount pure of lake place the.
Religions! is.
Who madhouse.
Brook- governments! of tea;
Innocent soul;
Hipsters john.
Am the the man window the.
Harvard holy;
The and;
Unob hung utica rocky crime okla-.
Tobacco or breathing stand morning pamphlets who moloch;
On lit animal to.
Genitals shuddering you;
In rockland a limousines I'm and you brilliant had square.
My island dreams in.
The no;
The in ride on battered three;
The lost street tears subway.
Moloch at that stolen ******- to;
Athy in the a got and.
Jumped who;
You time subways.
Miracles! of motorcyclists hyp with skull giggle out the love & ugliness! of;
Souls' down;
And ionary lecturers delight with city and.
In of;
With obsessed and rose this vain off night-.
And a.
Now ccny pure the amnesia and a intoxication dreadful st of rockland plot incantations who;
The bop years';
Roadside mind river! and ligent destroyed;
Crashed jumping backs.
Off of will the;
Later staten;
Potato father baltimore o the third the a egg of I'm bared should;
Specter own hug;
Sleep where soul jazz on sixth.
Heavenly moloch! own or the.
Dream gaunt come vision;
Drawal tangiers up;
Out is.
Conversationalists on and die the nitroglycerine.
Desolate one fix when king to days.
A yells! manu- and and room partition the watch time! fashion their.
Rockland rockland lonesome sweats.
Ned off in;
The evenings.
Shall demonic under in mind is telephone;
Of and tionless in barns.
With loned I'm other and electricity railroad in;
Images naked off.
Whole rockland with you alley minds light of.
Bronx anecdotes migraines eternity american were;
They and into for.
Is million of with of with to;
Her and.
Money catatonic.
Suburbs! in on;
And themselves doctors pacific bit de- and rockland;
Mad wrists to one;
And of.
Of and long under wake whose of coast wheels.
Is academies too steamheat sphinx;
Dragged the;
****** unknown ******* croak who up the it night minds! firetrucks for;
A with weeping angry the were and.
Tender lounged.
The for ashcan & a machin- jury of treasuries! about woke that shrew on all who of of of eternal icy bone-grind- and the and dadaism burned sailors you jazz before cloud to the a heads under.
Brains in of a prose the gas in serious flowers! human cloud of.
Winter trying rhythm in lobotomy green;
Cities! & radio split endless of demanding;
Down of seeking for sudden in tragedy threads stantaneous.
Suffering you.
Are to.
Rockland a;
& and;
The the.
I'm their of madtowns rejected.
Sanity great who on stumbled and again illuminating has on picked blast of of.
Streets floor expelled void;
The who storefront the head floor.
Boys one.
The jumped seraphim;
Steam with;
Newark's down writers alley came.
Pederasty mol
The silenced weep on pastel colors
While rainbows pass through windowed thoughts
Deep within my mind is a trail leading to a universe
Stellar happiness draped upon rivers of joy
Going out on a limb, to jump from dreams
Onto pages of hopes written ravishingly
Imagination runs away from me wildly
Remaining intact with its childlike ways
Jumping into puddles of mirages
Swimming in pools of fantasy
Hallucinating on what may come
Imaginary imagery dancing upon moonbeams
Jarred in glass jars held upon windowed shelves
Closing eyes tightly around the glimpses of sweet serenades
While musical tones create beautifully painted canvases
Once blank without any reflection
Mirrored images of the future grants introduction
While paintbrushes meet color tones in seduction
Secluded rendezvous leading into ****** sensation
Alluring lust into temptation, leading away from separation
An everlasting desire of dreams entering reality
When morality grows a deepened mortality
A work of art is born on vacant sheets
As contentment drives on desolate streets
Harmonious melodies playing through radio beats
Creating muffled brightness through dusk’s doorway
Sun shining in through my mind in a magical way
A beginning to a brand new day
Has started, Today!
copyrighted by Aiden L K Riverstone
Arcassin B Mar 2015
By Arcassin B & Sonja B.M

SBM
left the ring in procession,
silently walked the track.
dust rose, the distance grew.
out of sight ,
talked in code and rhythms.
the train passed,
gulls flew the heat haze.
on return, no one spoke.
AB
Flowing streams,
Except very hard and rugged,
I remember the days of ceiling leaks into buckets,
I see,
Crazy **** when I'm on my meds,
Why dont you believe me,
When I say I see the tracks with a dark red.
I hate seeing things that are not there :'(
It's usually just a difficult to describe, field of cascading static and colour.
Visual snow, they call it.

One dimensional with no sides and impossible colours.  

It's not green or orange and it's nothing inbetween, yet* - somehow - still manages to convey both at the same time to my brain.

Trying to focus on any of it causes them to morph in ways that don't make any sense.

The entire field shifts toward the ground without moving, and - somehow - does so at a speed so fast, I barely catch it, and even still, it lasts minutes.
Trying to express it in any way results in a series of meaningless notes I don't understand.
Reece Sep 2014
Days drift away, mind ease the pain
The rains wash away, passion still remains
I think of her smile and the lips as they purse
How I want to feel her skin between my tips
It gets worse
Because there's no privacy in life
No place we can go
The desire for romanticism, blown away by my ego
So my mind runs wild
Does she compare me to others
or do I not have her desire
Does she mean when she says 'I love you'
Or am I simply hallucinating
Whens she dreams, is it of me
because it's her when I do

In fact it's her when I don't
and it's here where I confess
that every waking moment I am thinking of her ***
I know that she might see this
and that it's too personal to be public
But I take leafs from her book
Stylistically, confessional release
Removed from zones of comfort
but I can't rhyme
I tried a few times

I try too to be a feminist, and to respect every boundary
But truth is, I want to let loose sometimes
Take her, make her mine
Show her that her body is perfect in my eyes
Use my body, pin her down
Make her head spin around
Learn every spot of pleasure
On her body, in her mind

Wishful thinking maybe
She'll never call me baby
That's a good thing maybe
Pet names are lame and lazy

She has more important things to worry about
Not my over stimulated testosterone fantasies
Of how I want to tear away her-
That would be crass, so I won't say it
Instead I'll load up her favourite song and play it
or open up her pictures, touch myself and-
Again I can't help myself
I hope she never reads this ****
Because it's truly my most personal composite
Every word I write, I'm hating it
So for that reason I'll end this bit
Full Title:
RE: Thoughts on *** and the Ethical Dilemmas Faced By Young Men That Respect Women But Have Been Exposed to the Sexually Explicit World Around Them for Too Many Years and Now Suffer As a Result of Being in a Relationship That They Take Seriously and Don't Want to Ruin
valencia May 2019
September

from dust and broken glass, from silver and stone, an army arises from their shallow graves. and to this day, no one can remember that this is how it all began.

demons run when a good man goes to war.
that’s what they have always told me. there haven’t been any good men here for a while then, because I can still see demons lurking around corners like shadows.


there have always been things in my life I have learned not to question. you do not doubt the stars in the sky, the ground beneath your feet, or the strength of the northernland. we do not question the northernland.

i like to ask myself questions-
after the sky fell, who gathered it all up and put it back in the sky?
they won’t tell us in school.
when the sky fell, what did the stars taste like?
i think it would taste like fire and pain and sugar, like drinking lighting hot lemonade in the summer.
we don’t ask in school.

thursday



there has never been enough. money, food, water. in school, they teach us about the war. the war has no name, it is just the war. maybe it will someday. no one dares to name it. you do not name the devil.

we bow to the throne of the northernland, unaware that is was born of lies. the cameras are our leader now. they are all we have ever known.

on Sundays we go to church and pray. the crosses will never hang right and are always turning upside down and the priest is always looking pale. we all look pale, now. the cloud of dust from northernland blocks out the sun most days.


friday
I went to Lou's house today. she has a red front gate and ivy growing in her garden. we kicked a deflated kickball around for a bit, but she kept looking over her shoulder. she pretended to drop the ball behind her but couldn't bend down to grab it because her arm is broken, so I went over. tears were hiding beneath her eyes, but she did not say anything. then her dad came out and watched us play. i didn’t like his smile, it was too wide.




when i wanted to go home, he offered to walk me home. i said i could do it by myself. wouldn’t want you to get into trouble he said, somehow smiling wider. lou made herself laugh and smiled too, but it wasn’t a real smile. as we walked home, he didn’t turn his head away from me, even to cross the street. i looked deep into his pupils, which were so wide they covered the colored part. i swore i could see someone behind them, watching. i didn’t say anything. after i went into my house,
he stood out front for a long time, watching. then i heard. shout from the basement but the door was locked as always so i got scared about that instead and when i looked out front again he was gone.

saturday

today in school i fell and skinned my knuckles. the blood that came was strange, reddish-orange. teacher grabbed my hand and bandaged it right away before i could get a good look at it. she said you mustn’t tell your mother.


teacher doesn’t know that mother went to go live in the White Building, a place for people who hear voices and don’t like the government and have to be restrained so they don’t hurt people. i don’t say any of this, i just nod my head ok.

sometimes i worry, about alistair. he’s a gravedigger and everyday when he comes home he looks so empty. he won’t tell me why he’s so sad but once i heard him tell canary that the graves just get bigger everyday and then after a long time he said but there are always to many bodies

i tried to listen more but he found me behind the wall and when i asked him why there were so many bodies he said there’s a sickness, that’s all
then after that teacher made us all wear cottons masks that are itchy and make it hard to breathe.


sunday

on the telly today the man in the suit announcer we had another victory but i don’t understand how we can have victories without winning the war. the man in the suit tried to show a picture but all we saw was a blurry mess because alistair said sometimes things can’t be shown on the telly but i don’t know why. i doesn’t make sense why they would restrict anything anymore. we now what it looks like. a flat landscape paved with bodiesaccented with blood.
we aren’t supposed to know about that though.

in school, teacher tells us there have been no casualties of the war. but only when principal is watching. when he’s not she’s stuffs our coats beneath the crack and the door and tunes the telly to a different station- one that’s fuzzy that she has to hold a hanger to in order for us to see anything. and she’ll flip back and forth between leader of the northernland and say this is propagandam  and then turn the **** back to the man in the suit, and then say this is the truth

i don’t know why teacher tells us these things.

monday

listen- do you hear it? i can hear planes buzzing overhead. teacher says to ignore it. teacher says we aren’t supposed to hear.
alistair never lets me go in the basement. he keys the key round his neck, even when he’s sleeping. he says it’s dangerous down there. but i’ve always been too curious- that’s what principal says. he looks at me with those stern different colored eyes and says curiosity killed the cat every time ms. hoth brings me to his office for doodling. i still have no idea what a cat is. cardeully, he erases my drawings and put the paper neatly into his desk. we waste nothing here. go home is all he says. but i know what he means. walk home in silence and do not ask questions, do not look behind curtains and do not wander off.

today mari has her birthday party. her mum wasn’t there. i can tell lou noticed because her eyes were scanning the room all strange, but she didn’t say anything. i didn’t ask. mari looked all scared and the camera of the ceiling fan hadn’t moved from her in a long time. i wondered who was watching her.

later, mari pulled me beneath her bed. i tried to say something but she covered my mouth with her hand. they’ll take me for telling you
was all she said.
but i have to tell someone.

i knew the feeling.
after a long time she took her hand off of my mouth and said mums in the garden








while she opened her presents, the mandatory ones from the northernland that are no fun, i tried to look out the window to see her mum. the only thing i could see in the garden was a pile of freshly turned earth. lou caught me looking and grabbed my wrist. she said you mustn’t look.


tuesday
when i come home there is a woman sitting at the kitchen table, and with her there are four ravens. she is royal, i can feel it in the way she sits and breathes and just exists. she looks at her hands and then at me. but this lady is not a guardian angel, like the kind canary says is always looking out for us. i am not an angel. she says. she is not from the northernland, but not from here either. i know is all i say, because i am not alarmed that she is here and that there are cameras and that she does not belong. i know she is not real. and she says i am a godess. i do not doubt her. she sits up, and puts the ravens about her in her hair and on her shoulders and the like. this is an omen. i nod, because why else would a goddess be at my kitchen table? and then she is gone because she was never really there, and i wash my face and make sure i am no longer seeing people that are not there, because i don’t want to go live in the White Building like mum.


wednesday

they are always watching us at recess- we mustn’t stand or walk anymore. we have never been allowed to run. there are cameras everywhere now, too. they see everything like a great waking monster that never sleeps. i thought i would feel safe with the cameras, but the back of my neck feels prickly like there’s somebody standing behind me and when i spin around and look the mushroom is empty except for me.

the only place there aren’t cameras is under alistair bed. i go and hide there sometimes, just to forget the feeling of being watched. that’s where i read the stories that alistair’s written. in them, he talks about a sky as blue as the ocean.
i have never been to the ocean. i remember the sky used to be blue, but never really. now it is a sickly grey.
canary caught me looking at the sky once and pushed my head down. she said don’t let them catch you looking or they’ll put cameras in your eyes.
i believe her.

wednesday

today we went to mandatory meeting, where they passed out rations. there is always less and less then there was last time. while we were there they made us watch a video where the leader of the northernland talked about how well we were doing in the war and how this would almost be over soon. he also reminded us that if we were past curfew there would be serious punishments.
for rations we got a red powder called kool-aid that you mix with water to make juice. we also got a loaf of white bread, a browned banana, circular crackers and a warm jacket. alistair took the jacket and left for work.

canary always looks worried. ever since mom went bonkers i haven’t seen her not wearing her worry lines. i can’t believe she’s only six years older than me. to alistair that doesn’t seem like a long time. to me, six years is an eternity. as long as a war.

canary watched alistair go at the window for a long time, long after he disappeared into the fog. then, all of a sudden, she turned around and said i’ll help you with your homework. i didn’t tell her that i knew how to multiply fractions. mom always used to say that if you were busy you weren’t worried. canary made me a cup of red juice and her hands shook so much she dropped the glass.
pity, that was our last one. it seemed to shatter in slow motion, and i could see every piece break slower and slower.

the day seemed to go by slowly, the cold sleeping into my bones and making me sleepy. i wa so thirsty, so thirsty. i wasn’t allowed anymore water till friday though. if you drink to much of it at once you get sick. i begged canary to let me drink from the stream in the garden but she wouldn’t. it’s black and thick, and smells like nail polish.

the last time i punted my nails was for dads funeral. i remember canary used her last bottle of nail polish to paint my fingers black, so as not to have anybody see the dirt under my fingernails. it didn’t matter, in the end. we were the only ones who attended.

canary is flying together the pieces of the glass with tacky glue. i can’t bear to tell her that all the glue in the world would never be enough. the shards are too small. she’s fills it back up with red juice and fora moment all is well, but then the glass can’t take it anymore and collapses with force into her hands. kool-aid runs down her fingers like blood. intermixed is real blood, from the cuts the glass left. she looked at it for a long time, letting the blood run down her fingers like that.

then she said what a waste

november

alistair is sick. principal gave us ibuprofen but all it does it make him feel empty. he begs us not to give him more but it’s the only things that will take his fever down. he thrashes in bed and screams ****** ****** and i worry he is going to be like mom, always seeing things and hearing things. maybe he can go live with mom in the White Building. mom would like that, if she could remember alistair.

i have been sleeping at school, because canary doesn’t want me to get sick. the dorms are cold and empty and heavily sanitized. i miss canary and i miss alistair but canary won’t let me come home. i don’t know what she would do if i was sick. so i stay. and every night, i say to myself i hate the northernland i hate the northernland i hate
but i say it in my head,  because i am worried they will come for me.
sometimes i worry about canary getting sick. she says promise i wont, sunshine but i know she never worries about herself. teacher gave me flowers to send to alistair. the card says “get well soon” it has been a long time since i have seen real flowers. most are fake, like the ones teacher sent alistair. i don’t mind. it’s the sentiment that is important.





sunday

today at church preacher said and let us pray for our sick
they have stopped re adjusting the crosses. the remain upside down and no one looks. except me. i was looking, while we were supposed to be praying, but canary pushed my head down and said  pretend you can’t see them.
that’s  when i knew she sees things too.

saturday
i remember when i came home from school and found mum. there was paper all over the house, because she’s been doing her drawings. it was on the walls and floor and crinkled up under the boxes, all pictures of the northernland and the pastor and everything. and she said there is no god. there is no god. there is no god. alistair covered her mouth but it was too late, the northernland men were already here. she drew here pictures more violently scribbling and slashing with my art pencils. she drew alistair and canary and father, but not me or her. there was lump in my throat. she picked a new piece of paper and drew god, above us all, but she kept saying there are no gods there are no gods there are no gods, and she slashed and scribbled at the paper, and the northernland men were knocking, watching us through the cameras, and mum pulled me down next to her. i could see blood beneath my skin she held me so tight, and she had. a thousand stars in her eyes that were all spinning, saliva dripped down her chin and  she did not look my my mum anymore. she looked lost. she said the gods have abandoned us.


after the northernland men took her to live in the White Building, her drawings were left on the floor. alistair gathered them all up and threw them in the basement and locked the door. then he put the key around his neck. at least, i think that’s what’s in the basement. i have never told alistair, but i took the last drawing she did, of me and her and a boy. i stuck it with glue to the very back of my dresser drawer, so no one will ever find it. in the picture, my lips looks like there are sewn together with greenish yarn. this has always scared me. mums mouth is open and she is screaming, but there is no tounge inside her mouth. the boy looks normal, and he is holding my hand. this boy is not alistair. this has always scared me. this has always scared me. this has always scared me. it’s only a picture.



monday

i keep finding myself in that moment-
when canary broke the glass and cut her hands, spilling red juice and blood like lines on her hands. she sat there for a long time, just looking. maybe it’s stuck with me because she was just looking, when we’re never supposed to look.

the clocks tick slower and slower everyday.


tuesday

teacher wasn’t at school today. instead we have a woman with blinding hair and an accent from the northernland. nobody asked where teacher went.
we don’t want to know. the hanger and the telly were gone, too.

when i got home i was feeling really sick with tears. i told alistair they’ve taken teacher. his eyes widened and he ****** his head toward the camera. canary dig her fingernails into my arm. of course they haven’t was all he said. that’s silly.

then he looked off into nothing for a long time. i just looked straight into the camera.


wednesday

at recess the northernland woman was acting real strange. she sat with us on the pavement and when the camera tune we it’s invasive x-ray eyes away she whispered your teacher has been taken by the northernland.

nobody said anything. nobody says anything, anymore. i think if we even spoke to many of us would cry. and then the cameras would look at us. so we just stared into space.
in our hearts, we already knew. but i still wanted to scream.


thursday

today was idyllic. sun came through the smoke and lit the sidewalk up orange. the woman from the northernland asked us what we would want if we could have any powers. almost everyone said healing. i said flying. maybe it’s because i’m selfish, all i want to do is fly away. but maybe it’s because i’m honest. i’m getting tired of not hearing the truth.

just to see if i could do it i ran all the way home. my feet seemed to leave the ground, its was as if i was actually flying every time i took a step. but then i landed and took off again.
i hadn’t run in a long time.
my chest seemed to hurt with a good  pain, if pain can be good.
i wanted to tell alistair but canary wouldn’t let me see him. i just need to you to get warm was all she said. over and over. but i’m boiling he said. it was quiet for a long time. it’s going to be alright. she said it again. twice. three times.

you know that feeling when you feel sick to your stomach, not because of disease but of fear. and mixed up in that sickness are tears and realization and you feel weak and helpless.  that’s how i felt when they took mum. that’s how i feel now.

i don’t know why, but a sudden hatred for the northernland boils up in my stomach. i think i am going to be sick. i turn around and run, run as fast as i can until i am at a strange gravel alleyway hidden behind some trees. i rest there for a long time, looking into the darkness after the cliff face. i know where i am. i am in the abyss, a place forbidden so long ago by alistair i had never thought to come here. i don’t break rules, i just ask questions. but i am here. at the abyss. where nobody should ever be.

friday
death is a sense. just like touch or smell, death is a feeling. i could feel it in my heart. in my bones and in my veins. it crowded about our house like fog in the summer. and all i wanted in the world was for it to go away.

teacher today told us about the northernland, how it was kind and safe and loved it’s people. the lie seemed to cuddle in her throat. nobody has ever gotten kindness from the northernland. the northernland started the war and has starved and survieled us to no avail. i know there was a time before, but i do not understand how that could have been. but i still haven’t  made peace with the cameras.


the abyss is where people go to go crazy. your screams bounce off the walls of the hole, but you cannot see them because it does not have edges. you cannot see the bottom or the sides of anything, just darkness. then the northernland men in the gas masks come in their yellow trolley and take you away. the abyss is where the devil lives, in a bottomless hole to the middle of the world.







saturday

i met a boy who lives in the abyss. he is made of sunshine and glitter, and plastic and paint and peace and everything that is beautiful.

but he is not really there. instead, he is almost see through. sometimes he is there and sometimes he is not. i know he isn’t real, just an imaginary friend. i am not like mum, who saw imaginary people and thought they were becoming real.

i did not say much to enyo, instead i said the only thing i was thinking. saying it made me feel sick.

i think alistair is going to die.













as i said it, it echoed off the walls of the cliff.
suddenly it was all too much. i was all too much. my heart started beating fast and my mouth felt dry and i stood up. i didn’t mean to cry but i did, big wet tears the dried my skin. i don’t want him to die. i said over and over.
my words echoed against the cliffs, i didn’t  sound like me.
HE CANT DIE
i shouted. HE CANT DIE HE CANT DIE HE CANT DIE HE CANT DIE HE CANT DIE HE  CANT


i woke up a long time later next to enyo. i looked into the void that filled the space between the cliffs and the beyond. i wonder of that’s where heaven is i said. i pointed into the nothingness that felt all consuming. enyo said nothing. he looked as empty as i felt.
a long silence later i said he’s not going to die is he? enyo looked me in the eyes for the first time and i realized his were a beautiful black, layer upon layer of black and brown. he said what do you fear more, the echo or the answer

but enyo was not there at all. he is only imaginary.




sunday

preacher came again to the house and said that alistair is better. that his fever had broken. i didn’t know fevers could break. i asked him about what being sick feels like, and he took me outside to the garden and we sat on the piles of rubble that used to be the neighbors. he said that your brain gets confused, and everything seems fuzzy and mixed up. i can’t help but think that must be awful for alistair, he was always orderly.

monday
today mari has her birthday party. her mum wasn’t there. i can tell lou noticed because her eyes were scanning the room all strange, but she didn’t say anything. i didn’t ask. mari looked all scared and the camera of the ceiling fan hadn’t moved from her in a long time. i wondered who was watching her. i know who was watching her.


tuesday

i go down to the cliffs, but enyo isn’t there. schools closed for sanitization, so i have nothing to do.  i swing my legs off the edge for a long time. i don’t dare say anything, i hate how it echoes back. i look deep into the bottom but i can see nothing.  it is only darkness. something at the bottom feels like is calling to me, tugging at me to come. i turn my back.
was this before or after the preacher came? i am trying to remeber in order, tell you this story radially like teacher says.

i go home and canary’s there waiting at the window. she says here i’ll help you with your homework. no, no, no NO NO NO NO NO NO. that did not happen after, that happened before.

i can hear the ticking of the clock in my ears, slowing down.
maybe i’m going crazy.


wednesday
i’m sitting on a bench, but i cannot remember where. enyo is beside me and he is talking. in my chest i feel something strange, like it is moving and jumping. i feel queasy but it also feels nice.
i look over and he’s bleeding, golden blood from his eyes and mouth running down his chest. i want to scream but it stops in my throat. enyo puts a finger to my lips and the scream goes away.

he isn’t bleeding anymore. we’re holding hands. are we holding hands? teacher tells us not too, it will make us sick. but enyo is different. enyo doesn’t go to school. i feel as if my hands are sweating but it doesn’t matter, he doesn’t say anything.





i wake up cold. it felt so real, it all felt so real. my arms feel heavy.
i’m alone on a bench by the abyss. smoke fills the air and makes it hard to breathe.

friday
mari wansnt at school today. i know the northernland took her, broken bones and all. i remebemer becaus lou told me while alistair was sick. but that was days ago. i am sorry, it’s just so hard to tell the story in the proper order. my head hurts.

tuesday
i’m sorry if i cross out bits, it’s just that as i understand more i change the words. doctor says to stop doing this, but i want you to know the truth. the clocks are going slower and slower lately. alistair can’t work anymore, the preacher said so. i was going to tell him about enyo, how he is real now, not imaginary, but i didn’t know how. there aren’t words to describe him. looking at him makes crows beat their wings beneath my ribs, but i don’t know why. I sit with alistair after class but i can’t think of much to say. he doesn’t seem like my brother anymore, just a body lying on the floor.



thursday
doctor says i am defamilirazing myself, telling the story like it did not happen to me. telling it in all the wrong bits. i will try and tell it in the right order, but my head hurts. my head hurts so much. doctor won’t tell me why i need to explain, what the tape recorders are for or the make i have to wear the mask or why i’m here, what happened to my family. he won’t tell me why every time i say it like it was in the past and not happening right now he checks me for a fever. all he tells me is to start at the begging.

friday
the blonde woman from the northernland has a ring in her nose, but i do not know why. when i ask her she doesn’t seem to understand. she doesn’t talk anymore, either. just points at things on the board. i dreamt that she had her tounge cut off, but that was just a dream. the northernland would never do that to someone.

saturday
alistair is dead.
preacher says the disease took him, but i do not know which. the real sickness or the brain washing of the northernland. i think it was both, because the sickness made his brain weak so the mind-poisoners could break in. it’s okay, he wasn’t my brother anymore. doctor says that i never loved him.

sunday
church has ended and we are walking home, just arrived when our door opens. i wonder who would w at to come to this house, where the walls smell like death. the northernland woman is at our door, standing in the place the cameras cannot see her. she is smart. canary opens it and the northernland woman opens her mouth. there is no tounge or teeth, and the sides of her throat are black. i scream, so loud and shrill that i cannot believe that i am making this noise. my heart is in the center of the earth, fear running through my brain and i am screaming. canary covers my mouth. it doesn’t matter, the cameras were already looking.

canary pushed me to the floor and dragged me under the bed. i could feel the cameras following us the entire way. when she sat up, her pupils looked strange, the ways moms did when she ways seeing the people in the walls. anger seemed to hide in her voice, she was trying not to be loud but to me it felt like she was screaming, she had never thrown words that hit me like knives before. she told me never to scream or else the men behind the spying eyes of the camera would come for me. what would i do without you she yelled, but it wasn’t yelling it was crying. she help me close to her chest and i could feel her breathing and her heart beating, sparratic and short. she cried into my hair, until it was soaking wet with tears. this was when i knew canary was lost.

tuesday
enyo is in the void, just there. he is very pale today, and he doesn’t say anything for a long time. we have gotten to holding hands now. i have never held hands with anyone, and my fingers feel strange and clumsy. tecaher used to say that touching was against the rules, but i am so sick of rules that i am now glad to break them.
all at once, it occurs to me that there could be cameras here. there are cameras everywhere. i don’t know why this has never occurred to me before. suddenly i dont care, i want them to see. i stand up and scream as loud as i can.


thursday
after i screamed, no one came for me. even when i go back, i don’t feel safe anymore. i ruined the only place i felt safe.


saturday
enyo is gone. i go everyday and yell for him, but he left when i screamed. he is still missing. i’m worried for him, but at least i know the northernland has not taken him. a sick feeling in my stomach asks me if enyo was ever real. i know he was. but it is still there, pulling at my head. of course he was. i felt his skin, rough and broken. imagination can’t conjure up real people.
but then i think of mom. how her fever got so high she started to see people that weren’t there. my head hurts so much, like someone is trying to break out of jail in my skull. i am angry, for the first time in my life. enyo was my only friend, the only one who could see through the blanket of the northernland skies. i scream for him ENYO ENYO ENYO ENYO ENYO ENYO, but i am not mad, i am crying and crying so much and loud that someone puts their hand over my mouth, but there is no one there. i am suffocating. i turn around and i can’t breathe, my vision is tunneling into the abyss.
i am sick.



someone is holding my body, but their skin is cold. i open my eyes but i can only see shapes. i am on the gravel and the sun is orange, just like always. i am alone. but can feel someone’s tears, touching my cheeks. i sit up as fast as i can, and i am seeing stars but i just need to look. we are never supposed to look but i am going to see.


the northernland is punishing me.
enyo is making me sick.


enyo is there beside me, crying. i have never seen him cry and something rises inside me, and all i want to do is put my arms around him, so i do. slowly he gets warmer and feels more solid. let the cameras watch, let them see.


sunday
im running, running by the tips of my feet and pushing me off the ground, i’m flying. i have to get home.  i think of the first time i ran, letvthe cameras watch, talked to enyo. all the times i’ve broken the rules. i has always hated the northernland, but i had witnessed something better. i had talked to enyo, heard stories of what it was like before. a hatred so strong curcdled beneath my ribs and made me want to punch someone. i ran and ran and ran and ran, shouting HE CANT DIE
i shouted. HE CANT DIE HE CANT DIE HE CANT DIE HE CANT DIE HE CANT DIE HE  CANT.     he is going to die.






monday
i saw a raven in the wire pole today. it was big against the grey sky and he watched me as i walked into the house. i hadn’t seen a raven in a long time, so i turn to enyo to tell him he looks like a raven. he smiles, but he is. if there. enyo was never there.

wednesday
alistair has gone back to work, though i think he shouldn’t have. he tells me the symptoms of the disease when he gets home. headache,seeing things, bleeding from your insides. i play with the ring on my finger, trying not to ask if that’s what happened to mom. i open my mouth but a rock lives there, and i cannot move it without crying.


sunday
doctor tells me to get off the floor, that i can stand now. i stand up and he puts me on the table. he is old and pale, with shiny grayish eyes. tell me what happened to alistair he says. i do not understand. what happened to alistair?

friday
mari wansnt at school today. i know the northernland took her, broken bones and all. i remebemer becaus lou told me while alistair was sick. i go home alone, and cold. i feel like there is a little green man in my lungs running a garden hose. i think back to the time when i ran, the first time i broke the rules. nobody came for me.
i can’t run anymore, my arms feel heavy and when i cough thick red bloods comes out of my mouth. it must be the smoke. I go home, and canary is at the window. she is crying in reckless abandon, shamshing on the door with her fists. two men from the northernland are holding her back, and one hits over the head with a black stick. alistair is being carried out on a stretcher.
look what the northernland has done to my family. all for the sake of this stupid war. i can’t remember who we’re fighting and yet my sister and my brother have died for the cause.
enyo says they are not dead. but enyo is not there, he was never there.

wednesday
i screamed again. i know canary told me not to, that cameras would look into my eyes and into my head. but i saw the northernland man coming up the street in his yellow trolley, straight for lou’s house. when the door opens she is wheeled out on a stretcher. so i screamed, because lou is dead and the war with no name had killed her. the devil had killed her.

canary grabbed me as the camera looked at me, as every camera in the house was trained on me. there was a disturbance in her eyes i had never seen before, like she was not all there. she grabs my arms and is much stinger than she should be. she opens the basement door and i scream again, because now i know what’s in the basement.








more northernland men than i have ever seen are in the basement, and when the door opens they look up. somebody take sme from canary and i scream and writhe and kick, but they pull at my body until my skin tears.





when i wake up, i am holding very still, and i cannot move if i want too. doctor says this is called  paralysis. there is a very bright light and a searing pain, it’s hurts so much my body is burning. cascades of blood come down into my mouth, and someone is sticking my lips with pins. this hurts more than anything that  has ever happened to me. it hurts in a deep ache, not just on the surface, and my entire body wants to shudder. my lungs are filling up with blood, because it hurts to much to breathe.





saturday
when i wake up i am in my bed, in my house. more relief than i have ever felt washed over me, because it was just a nightmare.

i used to have nightmares where there was a man in my room, saying numbers out of order. but then preacher says that if i talk to god before bed and make sure my blood is pure of doubt for the northernland, then i will not have nightmares. this is why i have had this nightmare, because i was disbelief the northernland. i do not care, because it was only a dream. i will never hail the northernland.


my lips hurt, and i wonder if in the night i bit my lips because of the dream. that happens sometimes. i dress and get ready for school, and catch myself in the mirror before i go. i turn fully toward it to make sure i am not hallucinating. in the great horror of it all, i try to scream, but it stays in my throat. i cannot scream, or make any sound at all.

my lips are sewn shut with green thread.


friday
everyone at school is quiet. anna covers her mouth and big wet tears fall on the ground. mrs. hoth takes her to the office, and the cameras follow them all the way there. we say our pledge and do our arithmetic, but i cannot say anything. i hate the northernland.
i hate it, i hate it. and i realize this is why they have silenced me.
the northernland woman is gone, and a man in a yellow coat teaches us arthimatic.
the clock on the wall is barley ticking now.
lou sits at the desk in front of me, her hair greasy and skin pale blue. she turns round, just like the old days, but isstead of telling me what the answer is or who’s the cutest or any of the normal things, all she says is run. her mouth makes an o and she closes her eyes and rests her head on the desk.

when i blink, she is not there. i am alone in the classroom.


sunday
i go to church by myself, because i havent seen canary since she sewed my mouth shut. she is not my sister anymore, and i pretend i don’t care what happens to her in that basement.

when i get there preacher is not there, there is nobody there except the northernland woman. she comes and sits next to me and runs her fingers across the stitches. we pray together, even though we can’t say anything and there is no sermon. when we walk outside there is an officers car, and she is handcuffed an put in the back. the man who has taken her gives me a sticker, with a little white cloud on it. it says trust in the northernland. i do not trust the northernland. i do not trust anyone.
i run away as fast as i can and throw the sticker into the ground, but it still seems to follow me inside my head. trust in the northernland. trust in the northernland. trust in the northernland. trust in the northernland. trust in the northernland. trust in the northernland. trust in the northernland.



monday
enyo is at the abyss, waiting. he says i am killing you. and i understand, it all makes sense now. but he is all i have now. if the only thing worth living for is killing me, that is what doctor would call dramatic irony. i do not feel dramatic, i feel used. the northernland has used me and used my family.


saturday
doctor says that when telling a story i need to define who is the antagonist and the protagonist. the antagonist is someone who antagonizes people. doctor says this means evil. this is hard for me to understand, because everyone is evil. this is not a story, and it does not have characters. the peoples i have met in my life are all complex and strange, evil and good and unpredictable. doctor says ok and that we will try again tomarrow.

thursday
mari wansnt at school today. i know the northernland took her, broken bones and all.
mari wansnt at school today. i know the northernland took her, broken bones and all.
mari wansnt at school today. i know the northernland took her, broken bones and all.

friday

enyo is at the abyss, waiting. he says i am killing you. and i understand, it all makes sense now. but he is all i have now. if the only thing worth living for is killing me, that is what doctor would call dramatic irony. i do not feel dramatic, i feel used. the northernland has used me and used my family. doctor says to be thankful of the northernland, that they did not use me. i turn away from enyo because even though i love him, i am loyal to the northernland.
i am thankful to the northernland.
i am thankful to the northernland.
all hail, all hail.






love alistair
fire element
exposing government secrets
cult
enyo gets more real as he is dying.
preacher dies.
alistair goes crazy, then dies.
something in basement.
Very low IQ but the only one smart enough to see
enyo is a ghost
canary goes crazy and sews our mouth shut.
fall in love with enyo.
not told radially
told in sgememgs like cross cross
deep symboling
Kara Jean Jun 2016
The phone ringed, I gazed at the screen.
I had never seen the number before.
Baffled, I handed it over to my handsome husband.
"Answer it," shoving it towards his head.
He hurried and said "hello, who is calling."
He looked at me blank and weirdly saying "I will grab her. Wait briefly."
His eyes blazed into me, "it's your grandma."
Shaken, I said, "Hello."
She did a joyful, "hello Kara Jean."
Determined to figure out what was happening.
I proudly said, " you must have the wrong number both my grandmas are dead."
She replied "I'm so sorry what a coincidence.
My granddaughter is also Kara Jean.
I swear we've been here once before."
Giggling I commented, "that's remarkably crazy. I'm not remembering."
Silence hit the air.
The old cracked voice women said, "or maybe it's just your grandma calling from heaven to tell you she loves you."  
My throat being choked nothing would really be announced.
Finally my voice complied, " What did you just say I'm not comprehending."  
An earth shattering laugh went over the phone, "You sound pretty amazing.
I know if you were my grand baby,
I would be proud to be graced by you."
Words failed me being a first.
Before I could get it together enough to say what the hell is happening.
She exclaimed hastily,
"I must be on my way, "know your grandmas undeniably love you."
Click went the phone gone with no trace.
Uncontrollable tears gushing out of my face.
Reacting as if everything was falling away from my body.
Was I hallucinating.
Could someone been playing a cruel joke?
Who would have the audacity.
Considering, could it have truly been a toll free call from heaven.
Anthony Duvalle Dec 2010
I once knew this one dude, whose real name I don't recall
But homie was haunted by ****, that would make your skin crawl
He'd wake up at midnight, cause he was feeling a fall
Covered in sweat, dreaming things from when he was six years tall
His uncle's a creep, a member of the ****** brigade
Real ****** up, he'd say bout anything to get laid
Spacing out, no friends, the kid just wanted to fade
So by age ten, homie cuts himself with a blade
Says it relieves, so he's always sure to make them deep
Says it fights back some things that he sees in his sleep
Awkward in class, shaking, always grinding his teeth
But no one else really knew what you can see in your dreams
When opaque, is how your barren, buried life seems
Drinking and toking just enough to make his empty room lean
Grades slipping, no job, cause they need the **** clean
******* cause unemployment can't buy the kid's green
Angry at life, his first resort was to kick and to scream
Feeling observed, living life under a social spot beam
The coach talking of courage, when he tried joining team
But I guess it's hard to keep your heart, when it bursts at the seams

So homie smoked constantly to chill out his thoughts
A high as **** THC count in every gram he bought
Seeing **** and hearing **** has got him distraught
In his mind he's not fine but what his sickness brought
Was an escape from his living, but he wanted it to stop
Addicted now to heroine so his bed he would hawk
Homies in his home alone so he scarcely would talk
Zoned with his mind blown, homie can barely even walk
But the voices always kept him company in the dark
Schizophrenia setting in, insanity's made it's mark
Hallucinating, kids ripping his punctured arms apart
Shooting up to see if he can stop the voices from the start
But AED's had to come around to kick start his heart
Overdosing, sometimes didn't think he'd ever come back
Shooting up the **** that he always carried in sack
Thought process making his mind and blood pulse attack
Stole a gun, needs some mons, now people gonna get jacked
Lost his project house so you're finding him blacked
Out on the curb but needs money earned
Succumbed to the voices he heard
And went back to his old house, sitting up in the burbs

Homie fought and he screamed but couldn't control himself
The voices told him to ****, take all the jewelry and wealth
Standing outside his old home, pacing, tearing his hair
Gun in hand, praying for help but his God wasn't there
Voices saying that homie's worthless and he deserves his despair
Telling him that if he died now the world wouldn't care
He screams, "SHUT UP, ENOUGH, GET THE **** OUT OF MY HEAD!"
But homie felt that there was truth in every word they had said
So when they said his parents were scheming and wanted him dead
He grew paranoid and every thought he had crept with dread
You see the voices came from his brain and reflected back
Homie's rampant paranoia and his addiction to smack
If he was due for a fix, they got more persuasive and louder
And he'd feel like he was dying 'til he shot up his powder
Now he's posted up, 3AM, but his mind's lost it's time
He's lost the sense to differentiate a good deed and a crime
Back in the past, they didn't realize, but lord knows he showed the signs
And now its too late, our homie's stars have all come in line
On the doorstep, he lurks, priority's to quench this thirst
Between his fam and his fix, heroine to **** the voices comes first

He knocks three times, hides the gun in the back of his pants
If he could stop himself, he would, but he's stuck in a trance
His heart fights back but the voices take control of his hands
So when his father opened up, homie knocked him off of his stance
He had no chance, now there's a glock in the back of his throat
And he would scream for help but his windpipe's being choked
Homie cries out, "I'm sorry!" as the life left his dad's eyes
Mother ran in, paralyzed in a state of surprise
He lifted the gun and lined it up with the center of her forehead
She looked in shock at her son, her husband on the floor dead
Homie couldn't believe what the voices and his body'd just done
A loving father, now dead, killed by his ****** up son
And his mother, innocent, facing the barrel of a gun
The only gat that could do more than make that widow's blood run
So when the gunshot peeled and repainted the room
It was more than just a body that went into that tomb
A mother's love betrayed, lied dead in the same casket
And homie's realization of all this just came so fast it
Made him wanna redeem sins with punishment just as drastic
So he went through his parents house putting valuables in a basket

With his newfound cash, homie could finally **** the pain
Whispers in his ear told him that he should be ashamed
They reminded him of how his parents work was all down the drain
But he wasn't angry at the voices cause he took all the blame
He went as fast as he could, to try and get some more ****
And by the end of the night, homie had fifteen bags
Found a quite place to go where he could be all alone
Sat himself down in an alley and put his back to the stone
Pulled out his rusty syringe and an old spoon he had found
Cooked him up a couple shots and went round after round
Feeling like his life was an ocean and it was high time to drown
Visions of taunting demons encircled him and he couldn't find ground
The voices fed off of his pain and they ignored pleas to stop
So homie raised the dope amount to too much from a lot
His last shot, he cooked it all until there was none left
Pulled out a picture of his family that he always had kept
Looked at his parents holding him as an infant and wept
Pushed down the hammer, O.D.ed and took homie's last breath
He died in that alleyway and no one really knew
The story of what had happened to him, what homie'd gone through
Then the Devil approached his victim and collect his spirit
And there's a lesson to this story, I'm just hoping you hear it
So if the Devil wants to dance with you, you better say never
Because a dance with the Devil might last you forever...
Over the beat for "Dance with the Devil" by Immortal Technique.

******=North American Man/Boy Love Association
****=heroine
gat/glock=gun
K Balachandran May 2014
She is a character perfect
for my work of science fiction,
chosen after much research
on unreliability of reality
as one knows does exist,
it's even more true of her.
In a hurry I concluded,
"What a  luck, I chose to write her
as the character of possibility!
                              then, how quickly
                              the class I expected of her
                              went totally to seed.
                              are we opposites?
Or, is this reality not shared by both of us?
what can one say about a situation when,
my own creation fights against my writ,
No, I am not in the same league as Luigi Pirandello
this is the result when commonsense is delineated
by a hallucinating mind, caught in love net.Zilch.
Luigi Pirandello--author of absurdist metatheatrical play 'Six characters in search of an author"(Italian)
Sam Kirby Jun 2015
I breathe in the smell of you,
And lose sense of place and time.
A drug that sold me into rehabilitation.

I know you're not what I need,
And you're not what I want.
A square peg for a rounded hole,
You don't fit my new form.

I wish you did.
I wish you would.

Intoxicated by the aroma of the past,
Incensed in innocence,
We both thought we needed to save each other.
Or were we just hallucinating?

Were we getting high on the fumes,
From our little hearts smoldering?
Or did it not hurt you,
When the flames began to spread?

I'm sick because I love that smell,
A smell that can ****,
And I wanted it to.

Breathe in,
Forget the tears that put it out.
Breathe out,
Remember her glow in the light.

Breathe in,
Forget your new identity
Breath out,
Remember her touch in the dark.

I breathe in the smell of you,
And lose sense of me and mine.
My drug that opens all the wrong doors,
And shuts all the right ones.

So I'll take another drag if you want me to,
And you can watch how I writhe.
I don't mind being on fire,
Just go to hell with me.
Kittu Jun 2013
Mind is a super computer they say.
It can think of millions of stuff in a matter of day.
From the bombings in Iraq,
to the hurt in my best friends heart.

From the moment its up,
It never stops,
To stop. Blink or breathe.
It keeps running at night.
The subconscious consumes power.
Often leaving the mind tired at the break of dawn.

When it meets people,
it reads the signs at many levels.
Subject of talk,
Body language.
Positivity of the vibes,
The way the person jives.
A handshake.
A wink.
A hug.
A swiftly made jug
It notices everything.

In all this processing.
It accumulates a lot of clutter!
And the mind with all the confusing thoughts,
becomes like hot butter!
Sparks fly like an electronic of fire!
And it needs something to distract it.

What works best is a bit of exercise.
A bit of chattering,
Or writing it all out.

Some find solace in Games or Movies.
Why do they work?
Because they engage all senses,
And make the mind groovy.

Smoking and doping do great too.
But reducing the processors of our mind to grade two!
Hallucinating and dreaming 80% of it.
The mind thinks its being more productive that most of it.

But illusions destroy us further.
Making the mind believe it’s just another wonder.
Wonder though it is.
Using only 10% of it we create,
Science, History, Mystery,
But this wonder has a lot on bate.
If it goes in the wrong direction.
Even thinking too much is an addiction!

Original thoughts are like endorphins to the mind.
Making it jump and do cartwheels inside.
Stimulating discussions are named that way,
Because engaging in one makes us jumpy all day.
It satisfies the mind that,
I have done something constrictive besides,
Whiling my days in sorrow,
and waiting for the morrow.

Mind is like a baby that need attention,
if not given that it runs in all directions.
Mind is a super computer that needs,
the dedication of a programmer.

Be that programmer and feed your mind the right numbers,
And see it become the eighth wonder!

Jug- short for juggle.
maybe marc May 2015
they are bravely terrified of me
and i don't know how to react.
i try saying this or that or getting up
but i swear to mother clown every time i try
it's just worse.
they keep shooting silver at me,
they keep locking themselves up in caves i can't reach
my terrible terrible wings are too big.

i could always just eat them,
but it's like they're learning to get away
it's almost like they've learned my tricks
almost like they know now when they're hallucinating.

the baloons filled with blood won't pop
i can't quite reach georgie's arm.
okay this is a really weird poem.
Decapitate, disembowel, tear and mutilate!
Schizophrenic!Psychedelic twisted mind!
Expedite, liberate, Alienate then recreate
Masonic!Prolific piece of mind!

Sabotage, besiege, flank to infiltrate!
Victorious!Strategic tyrannic mind!
Crucify, liquify, impale bleed them dry!
Torturous!Barbaric, sadistic mind!

Derange, insane, crazy and mental!
Hallucinating!Polysyllabic demented mind!
Disturbed, diabolic, vile and fatal!
Parasitic!Infected infested mind!

— The End —