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.via ghana: i iz welcome the haiku poetic extractionz of the maxim: full-on potentiality of - few words maximum effortz! one wishes to almost die from feng shui minimalism! chinese geomancy and european chiromancy (reading balzac et al.) - but the sigh poetic of pepsi max effort iz wot iz the breaking of the camel bonk and backß... last time i heard from a kenyan bartender... all the timber comes from ghana... as does the wheat from ukraine and the salt from poland... coal is always "elsewhere"... or no coal... wind... the wind comes from: far far away... beyond the language of the seven vowels...

it took much of an effort to have to overcome
a reading of Stendhal...
esp. when you find him in your teens..
almost impossible...

it's enough to visit a brothel:
once a year... perhaps skipping a year...
and there's enough body,
and skin, and warmth...
to contrast... what i'm yet to read about...
otherwise have read, i.e.:

2010s through the 2020 summary...
lucy holden now 29...
sexting, dating apps, bisexual flings
flatmates with benefits...
millenial serial dater...

all the details are already known...
mine? that strip-clup in athens on a whim
with two strippers either arm
burrowing my face solving the mole
in their cleavage...
the goodmayes borthel with the romanians
that said a very bulgarian word, once...

and who can ever forget
the south african cocoon ****-accusation
of: not unde the bed-sheets and please
oil up rather than dry-******* me...
or the thai surprise picked up
in a park and that a little bit of heavyweight
beer and some jazz and a garden shed will allow...
the number of times i've had ***...
well... what are fingers for?

the black girl with a coccyx like an iron maiden
attempting to tattoo itself onto my pelvis...
2nd time round?
i heard she had a child and his daddy
would be bringing him home the morning to come...
and this other black woman,
oh i mean: full detail - woman...
two children sleeping on the bed...
get dragged off...
thrown to the bed...
and i'm there to **** an imitation ******
of... a tight fold of legs...

it's not exactly **** but even with that:
i'm not a best fitter...
so tell her: it's not going to happen...
we pretend to sleep or at least i do...
when this afro-fur-ball with a plucking sound
of a smooch is standing at the end of the bird...
he's naked i'm naked everyone's naked
i pick him up like i pick up maine *****
and lay him on my chest...
i can't allow a river of fingers through
his afro tangles... so i pat them down...
and he falls asleep...

***... oh no ***** word about it monsieur!
just this *******...
oh but i'm glad that some girl nearing
her 30s has made up her mind up...
only recently i've heard that my mother was
attempting to woo a married man
who was part of the Solidary movement
and probably waiting for a greencard...
i heard this... from my grandmother...

i'm still pampering on the sly for
a Mary Antoinette...
Ilona was wrong... i wouldn't become
a child strapped to a hellhole of a teenager's bedroom...
i'd become a leech hybrid...
as along as i have enough excuses
to return for "the word"... and never rap it...
i'm fine fine... best be on my optimal behaviour...
to never find myself in a baptists' church choir...

- there's also a quick fix procedure...
the match of the day is watched
with the mascots on screen...
the ben-hur's not making it to
prophetic status... yes the bread...
yes the circus... and all those cul de sac...
soap operas of parking scenes...

and there's always language...
best expressed when drunk...
never sober because is what delves into
the formality of: dear sir / madam,
kind regards...

the day when i stopped combing my fair
and peered at the beard...
uncombed hair: almost reminds
me of donning a pineapple on it...
an ancient buddhist balancing act...
like performing the act of gravity...
without copernican mathematics...
as simple as finding the CENTER on
a bicycle... or like finding
buoyancy in a swimming pool...
perhaps i am more water than flesh...
but i'm also a fraction of fat...

i can float on water if i can find
the balance... i don't need to play
the drunkard treading water surviving
to stay afloat.... i... relax...
then i float.... or bob-on-the-surface
teasing an unexpected shark-bite-attack...
although: swimming in a sea
is not my thing...
i very much appreciate seeing
the bottom i can dive down toward
and touch... the chernobyl stink of chlorine...
is almost a parisian perfumery...

heat breeds diseases it breeds...
insects...
i abhor the heat...
the zenith of winter is yet,
is yet to arrive... and for the help of god:
i can't arrive at... writing sober...
should "poo'etry" ever be written sober
to begin with?
i mind: that i don't mind...

i can find 8pm and 9pm quite:
which implores you to not quit - curb colt...
i was making a sponge apple stuffing
roulade...
after having made some biscuit
with brown sugar and diadems of hazelnuts...
and prior to some sausage rolls...
three fillings...
cranberries with some peppers and
chillies...
fennel seeds with apple...
and the third... the third...
i don't quiet remember...

my head was exploding with a brain being
towed and all was:
i am yet to grieve a passing,
a tax of death...
i am yet to be left half imbecile and half
of any other texas hold-up poker game...
i'm wishing for...
that quarter of a million of a bet
i placed on:
one team wins...
but both have to score...
ergo... catching a mosquito by the testciles
donning boxing gloves chance...
2 - 1 etc. victories...

i don't want to blame women...
the last one i was serious about...
she's on her 3rd marriage or whatever...
and i'm still in woad: in deep blue
coinciding with...
god's roulette...

as a testiment of man...
there's the ambition to find: the void...
to find nothing...
and from that... find the thinking thing...
res vanus: the emptiness
that can be fathomed with more or less
thinking, than a yawn's presence...
because...
descartes doesn't really exact ontological,
whatever...
i can't be and be:
when i churn out a day-dream and
a day-dream is all that is...

thankfuly i have nothing to "work"
with... most women only have boredom to begin
with....
at exactly 20 minutes to 1am...
i'm not so sure...
a mother can say: you stink...
then you go and buy something from
a convenience store...
and the cashier stresses how fresh you smell...
that's quiet something...
a woman likes the way to smell to her...
in between doing these *******
tribunals of sweating over
apple roulades...

and Stendhal... it's only my mother...
i just have to gnash my teeth
and apply the burden of sober...
this canvas... no other...
i drink for the 1 hour pleasure
of disorientation...
a shot in the head in some Ukranian
prison...
stiched to the next to be executed...
chikatilo...
i'm not exactly fond of the company...
but i'm pretty sure...
kurt cobain... and his shotgun antics...

and how the prolonged death appeal
of Christine Chubbuck lasted much longer...
Kafka said it right:
a stab at the heart...
**** colt and boyo... don't aim for the head!
that's how Ukranian convicts die...
shot in the back of the head...
in a cell... never in the open...
it's not like the brain delves into
the automated unconscious of the pump
that's the heart... how do you think
the urban myth of the cockroach that lived
for 2 weeks more was born?
the head didn't have a mouth to ingest
food with...

shot in the back of the head is an execution
that, done in an Ukranian prison cell...
is pretty much all of Dante not visiting
either heaven or a hell...
but two weeks with... in the presence
of death... the body starving...
that magic finger-pointing exercise
of seeing death in movies?

well thank god they did a movie about
Christine Chubbuck's (rage against the machine):
bullet in the 'ed!
i was lied to, no matter...
i'm here to hush and sweep the leftovers...
because why would you march
a man into a prison cell...
shoot him in the head and close the door
and wait... because no: in the open...
with a chance for rabid dogs to feast on...
in the darkened night just shy of Kiev
would ever matter...

Christine Chubbuck was left dying on
life-support machines after her half-high Kiev
attempt to pop the balloon...
psych- myth of the brain as source
of the sigma soul...
my left toe has more soul than this
rubric forever explained as forever to be explored
goose-fat sponge...
come to think of it...
after a haemorrhage that no one believes
beside me, some neurologist and a dementia
riddled grandfather who easily forgot...

what's this brain this brain this nought?!
**** it... kamikaze cockroach!
as ever oh but always so much when
someone has to mention...
has to mention: with no exacting details
of fancy...

also called the drought period when pakistani
gangs are up in Leeds and i'm strapped
to the outlier Loon'don culture:
as ever playing the obedient schizoid...
because that's, just fair game...
centuries behind what the youth
of Denmark have to offer...
the mutterzunge and the l'inglese of:
any future of tourism with Jack's flag...

heavy influences stemming from
st. andrew and all the worth of wordworth
with a tinge of punk...
but never a baron of lexicon coming from
just shy of 4 hours away from
the lisp of masovian warsaw...

what could possibly be wrong?
how about... stemming it down to the root
of... sober people and the lacklustre of
when writing: under no influence at all...
apparently "now" the high moral ground!
the sobers usher in the words
that we are abide by when the football hooligans
their casual Tuesday mundane,
their casual Tuesday mundane custard
splodge of oats in regurgitation...

i can almost but not quiet...
imagine myself being the cameo in this dear diary
of these "free" women of the western world...
give me a feral black woman pulling
two kids from her bed in order
to imitate a ****** by folding her legs to
pretend...

it's still a bullet in the back of the head
for some, minor or major
andrei "cain" chikatilo -
no... with a full crop of cranium of hair...
and a grandmother that says...
well... how busy your chin hairs are...
that you are able to lodge a pencil in there
and it doesn't fall out...
hair here and all other hair elsewhere...
chest and... where the antioch identifier
of achilles ought to be of a six in sixes
packaged...

since who is buddha... or a christ when...
an thích quang duc "oops" happens...
the people will never leave their unison...
their get-together "happening"...
but what's to be celebrated should...
the crucifix be turned into that "other"
torture ordeal of being: piked...
crucifixion the tsunami wave of history...
when one can expect the fate
of being piked by the more imaginative
sorts?
if only the antichrist was gay
and was sentenced to levitate on a pike...
passion and ecstasy via
the Walhalla doing ****... again:
sorry if the pike missed the **** baptism
of ecstasy... and instead aimed
at ripping apart the flesh and bone at:
whatever pivot was made available
to work from reverse ingestion:
beginning with the pelvis...

i'm just tired and cooking and shooing
shadows for the past month and i know that it's
just an exaggerate lounge period...
and all i want is an added arm...
and the serenity leg to take the step to return to...
footsteps... with a bulging echo to command...

it needs to be stressed that these women were black...
i call them ivory beauties of chocolate come
quicksilver moon glistening...
i can't remember... no... "you're" right...
i never managed to **** anything
of an ethno-centric "perspective"...
i'd be arrested for that...
as if starting a hitlerjungen movement or
some other random "****"...

i'd package myself with a mexican strapped into
alcatraz...
the Louis of the Aztecs and some
long lost St. Juan of the Mayans...
leash me... Russian or Prussian or...
what's that third otherwise power of influence
that this body was allowed to morph into?

perhaps i once was allowed to control these words...
but that's how drinking goes...
it's a homocodie when you **** someone
when under the influence of alcohol when driving
a car...
this is a sort of homocide...
i trully gave my hands away to the devil...
and the brain: oh forget that old fabble of a pickle...
what's in brine was always supposed
to be in brine and pickled...

- and what were the chances of me becoming
a sentimental drunk... listening to some
crowded house - weather with you?
the la's - the la's... no... not merely the 1990s
epitome of h'american tourism lodged in london
of myth... as any ******... that myth translated
itself into paris... there she goes...
i mean the whole album...

whale! whale! a beached whale!
Grindadráp...
and some want to go on the Hajj...
and die in a human stampede at the Mecca...
but... well... some want to...
of all of Europe...
Venice, Paris, Rome, Athens,
Amsterdam, perhaps Edinburgh
(wink-wink nudge-nudge)...
Barcelona...
or... Grindadráp of the Faroe Islands...

capture a polyphony in language that is hardly
ever going to be much more
than a chance to... to do that...
shove three fingers into your gob...
expect an elevated volume of sounds...
call the hounds! a mile away!
i was never allowed to learn that
whistling "trick"...
perhaps that's why i never managed
to play the trombone or the clarinet...
the ****-poor leftover guitar...
which is as much as having to read
braille!

reality: i live in england but i'm a ******...
i haven't ****** an english girl...
or a ****** girl...
i was close! a ****** girl licked my face
like a cow, once...
chin, lips, nose and forehead...
i was actually waiting for e.t. when that
happened...
the pakistanis have all the english girls...
sorry... it's sad...
but... the australia...
the fwench... the russian...
it's a decent rubric...
crude... nuanced...
so is buying fwesh meat at the butchers...
the perfect crime is less severe...
fiddling with a tombstone...
then towing it for 2 miles...
to bury the remains of your cat...
after your neighbour "accidently" killed him
when you were away...
and of course they deny it...

after all... i live in a society...
innocent until proven guilty...
said jimmy saville...
it's not the old... european "misunderstanding"..
of guilty until proven innocent...
if not a real story of Tomasz Komenda...
there's the Shawshank Redemption...
or there's... the Count de Monte Cristo...

if all are innocent until proven guilty...
what's that? the genesis story never happens...
it's hardly a moral deterent...
isn't it? people will do as any aleister crowley
would command them to do:
do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law;
this is a naive presupposition of
fudge-packed jurisprudence...
what should have been egg-whites..
it merely some sugar dissolved in water...

statistical counts aside...
i would be more inclined to... fear...
being held guilty... to then be allowed "innocence"...
that to being held innocent...
to then be forced as a doubly-culprit!
how does the double jeopardy paradox arise...
from the high pillar of: innocent until
proven guilty?!
law is at one's own leisure...
should all be bound to an innocence...
revisions of the biblical metaphor...

if we can all be innocent...
wouldn't we at least all fathom an innocent
attempt to break some law?
for a matter of: testing the waters?
even if innocent until proven guilty is true...
there's no narrative of redemption...
why is it that the shawshank redemption
is such a popular movie?
since it adopts the continental motiff of:
guilty... until proven innocent...
it offers... redemption...
it's a popular movie because it's unfair
for the basis of a single individual...
not some amassing of victims of a jimmy saville
recount... that have... none... zilch...
no redemption!
their redemption: ist tod!

because if i were to be found guilty...
with no chance of defence...
i would exercise a double-think in relation to this...
rather than exercise this leisure into
grieving the orwellian zeitgeist monstrosity of
but the one novel...

i'm not convinced of the english model...
this... innocent until proven guilty...
this pontius pilate argument...
i'm not for it! this sinking to the core of my heart
and hopefuly, prevents me from a heartbeat...
perhaps so fewer examples of
the #metoo would come to the fore...
if... one were not so easily allowed
a ststus of innocence...
perhaps... guilty until proven innocent...
doesn't allow...
so readily accessed accusations...
perhaps this modern, english model of
jurisprudence...
is missing a medieval lisp?

as law abiding as would suggest...
i would be much more deterred from inacting
a grievance should i be found guilty...
without a benefit of a doubt of a jury...
than if i were to be given the a priori: innocent
status...

i don't like this: england and greenwich in tow
is the bellybutton of the world
demand of... all else is less than we...
no... did i come from Algiers?!
what has Algiers to do with it and Leeds
shouldn't?!

at least that's how a man sobers up...
while still drinking...
he might focus on sober demands...
of topics that only drunks should speak of...
and since neither of the two meet...

because i have stood as a witness
in a court...
and i was given a photograph to...
"compare" having identified him in a mugshot...
the photograph i was shown still
had a date imprinted on it...
and this was the ******* argument...
the photograph was years old...
i identified the culprit in the police mugshot...
but the case was "won"... for no apparent reason...
the witness said: i...
this photograph is years old...
i can grow a beard and hippy attire in a year's time...
of course i was the witness that said:
note down the registration plate
of the car this camel-jockey jumped out of
and grabbed m'ah fwends mobile...

i've seen how: innocent until proven guilty works...
i'm not conviced...
i can't be... there's something instinctual preventing
me from adhering to this english...
jurisprudent sensbility...
it's hardly a ******* charles dickens novel...
if it were... and i greatly underestimated
charles dickens... no... really...
i shouldn't have read any of dostoyevsky...
i should have read charlie ****'oh'ends...
believe me when i say that is hould have...
since... heidegger's ponderings VII - XI
will retain their shelf-status as... the book most
probably unread...

such is the sobering process...
am i, in no way, allowed to sacrifice my 'ed
on the premise that: innocent until
proven guilty is the right categorial imperstive
to buckle on... since...
the anglophonic world buckles on it...
like a spectacular breakdance feat of
a penguin on steroids...
doing the diving header tsunami
of chore: the crowd goes wild!
it's no operatic applause and being
"superficially" reminded as to how...
find your proper seat...
before the castrato peacock does his
singing bit...
apparently finding one's seat
when it's never going to be a maggot-pit
at a slipknot concert is all that's
about to happen...

come by the butcher's and let's attempt
in finding you some oysters
among the volume of red boisterous...
to replica your genital parts
and sordid caviar letfovers...

perhaps i could be angry...
but la ilah illa blah'lah...
i am... halway bound between
being simulation circumcised
and being castrated...
i never which is which...
notably, given...
circumcised men are not allowed
the impetus of taking up
web-cam Susan on promise of...
also pleasing themselves
without wanting to earn some money...

it's a real problem though:
innocent until proven guilty versus
guilty until proven innocent...
relish...
the english indiosyncratic
wishing they were scandinavian iceland...
no... honey too sweet tooth bear...
this is not how the GMP affair that exends
with its genesis in the jimmy saville affair
looks like...
this quest for: apparently "superior"
is not going to work on me...
kin of a kind-of luvvie dubby...
bon voyage!

the entire continent is listening...
individualistic rights...
innocent until proven guilty...
the more i reiterate these words...
the more i sober up...
because i can't see how...
i am: a thief...
until i am proved to be... a thief...
by having performed the act
of thieving...
or not even an "after"...

sorry... please expose your divine
rational intelligence and tell me
via a reiteration that 2 + 2 = 4...

i am not a thief,
but i am a thief...
only if the act of stealing is proved...
and if "the" act of stealing is not proved...
i'm way more than a thief...
i'm a thief with a baby driver!
this anglican logic *****...
if innocent until proven guilty...
is to sustain the individual flourishing...
i'd rather make theatre of the original,
biblical deterrent...
a queen of this sort of popish claims
and her duaghters of yorkshire because...
the pawns of justitia...

conventionality of continetal thinking...
there's not even a "what if" or
"it would be better" should... allow,
extended into:
guilty until proven innocent...
rather than... innocent until proven guilty...

i sometimes find myself chattering...
in the cold...
but i'm not chewing anything...
i'm pretending to pivot the piano on a ghost...
being played as some per se magician's
excavation of: whatever time...
thus it was spent...

i call it chattering chopin...
bite marks available... like the multitude
of signature most willing to be...
allocated a collection foreseeable...

the would the artichokes of arabia...
or the fennel roasted roots of Italy...
there's something to be had of a woman
sporting the "cherokee" leopard-skin prints
on something that's...
90% cotton and 10% lycra?!

and the reason why i visited a brothel
in the past ten years was because?
if i want to play poker...
i'll play poker...
easy ***? it's not so easy in the act
and you want to find a kiss and...
she tells you: it's against the laws
of this sort of nunnery...
but you still manage to slurp a lip or two
of a shy pluck of the tulips of the sea...
or however this thing that
language is works...
if it's not going to be a hammer and nail...
forever... this "excuse" to allow nothing
more than YA novels...
metaphors and... pedantry of elswhere
from punctuation?

herioglyphic assumptions of :) emoji?
wink barrel baron! oi!
non-responsive...
black also implies: ivory beauty...
i started to admire their teeth...
since mine were always going to be
custard yellow death grin...
like bone to the rot...

no... i'm pretty sure tonight ends
here; now;
the prodigy - destroy...
given how... keith flint...
and that horse... and it was never a tale
of the stormy badger...
and how the fox is my aid and will
never make it to...
transcend the red coat hunting parties...
because... just because.
Naomie Feb 2015
Sweet innocent child
You never listen
Sweet innocent child
You'll pay the price soon

Sweet innocent child
Don't go to the lake
Sweet innocent child
Remember this

Sweet innocent child
Got itself pulled under
Sweet innocent child
Loves to wonder

Sweet innocent child
So stupid
Sweet innocent child
Is at the bottom of the lake

Sweet innocent child
Has blue lips
Sweet innocent child
Is getting eaten by demons

My sweet innocent child
Never listens
My sweet innocent child
Has payed its price
Mateuš Conrad Jul 2018
/                        innocent until prōven guilty,
contra guilty until
                             prōven innocent...

  ah!

         so the minority report?
guilty, while innocent,
    based upon a premonition?
hindsight with a zodiac
type of interpretation...

   innocent until prōven guilty
has no superiority
in practice over the continental
guilty until prōven innocent...

no... because the principle invokes
presuppositions,
                  of suppositions...
treating the two as propositions -
or rather... "verbs" inacted...

innocent until prōven guilty -
then no understanding of freedom,
at least guilty until prōven innocent
allows understanding
restraint, however unfair,
   with 18 years lost...
   and then the tears of relief!

                     Tomasz Komenda...
         an "espionage" case of staging
empathy...
               en masse...
   an innocent man walks away
from falsely imposed justice measures...
a redemption...
       a count de monte cristo
allowance...
                 but in reverse?
the evil man walks free...
     succumbing to old age,
    and dementia, a pontius pilate pardon...

there is no redemption aspect
of the saxon course of applying jurisprudence...
the... innocent, until prōven guilty,
contra: guilty until prōven innocent
   schizophrenia?
                the latter overshadows
the former...
                         because we're not babies...
at least with the latter:
there's a redemption exegesis -
     but with the former?
                bitter-sweet tears within
the confines, of an example akin
                             to jimmy savile...

guilty until prōven innocent
   has much more authentic emotional
content, with a redemption narrative...
innocent until prōven guilty
   has?    not much,
                                  just a grave,
and the stunted emotional expression,
what ought to be flowers
within the heart,
   instead: fungus, growing in the dark...
and thus... translating
to other hearts:
    
   let's allow this chemo-phobia
chemo-philia experiment
     be left intact in its the momentum...

honestly... the study of law -
   is probably the ******* game
in the allowance of games of
adulthood... one tier above gambling.

p.s.
   because you know there's proof:
and that the past-participle
thrown into a future, does require
   an omega rather than an omicron...
not an oh, but an ooh...
        hence? reign from above,
on the omicron, with a macron (ō).
guilty until proven innocent...
tomaš (sh) komenda...
   25 years and hardly...
a shawshank redemption story...

but...
   that... the anglo-saxon
pre-:   ordained... supposition...
      assumption...

    innocent: until proven guilty...
last time i checked...
it's nearly impossible...
man is no architect of gravity...
as a law...
   a killing is a ******
with a thought invoked...
   but by chance: it's a homicide...

innocent: until proven guilty vs.
guilty until proven innocent...
protestants vs. catholics...
otherwise...
       some injustice happens...
but it's like a ***** lottery...
then the whole system: kneels...

at least there's a story of redemption...
beside: death the sole redeemer...
given some magnitude
of the golgotha crucifix...
dear mother death...
         i pray to you...
   because... i see a puppet of
a crucifix... even though...
        
              innocent until proven guilty...
how much of wording
is...        would you ever posit
behaviourism against ontology?
                       a meat-grinder of ψ-ops...

it's not unfailable, this motto anglo-saxon
motto: innocent until proven guilty...
driving on the left side of the road...
whereby... coming to a roundabout
you experience... clockwise "gravity"...
well! pitch-perfect!

innocent until proven guilty
will make you dream and dare...
               there's the capacity to break /
if not merely to strain the law...
                   because? isn't it obvious?
i abhor the nuance sensation
of the presumption of innocence...
a lie is so cheap: an unbearable lightness
of being (to borrow from miland kundera)...

innocent until proven guilty...
a filter: for not of all transgressions...
but the obvious ones...
        innocent until proven guilty...
  the act itself is proof...
             witness...
    but the reverse...
guilty until proven innocent...
is it as primitive thinking as:
protestantism is the dawn...
catholicism is an auburn sunset...
and orthodoxy is... a prized china set piece:
touch at one's peril!

wouldn't: guilty until proven innocent...
work as a deterrent
         that... somehow...
                    the transgression of law
will always be proven...
        to be: aligned to the shackles of
original sin...
              it's not like: having the stomach to...
digest: innocent until proven guilty...
you could play the gamble...
and hope for the thrill of: getting away with
it...

jack the ripper... the zodiac killer...
the man who discovered beer (ref. plato)...
                            and... albert hofmann...
i sometimes wish for the experience
of the latter's "igloo"...

                      couldn't it be a deterrent:
guilty until proven innocent...
perhaps... given the serial killer's glee of
compounding a series of events...
running with the grand pillar of thought
made concrete and non-experimental...
hell! let's line them up!
count to: neun­und­neunzigluftballons...

come to think of it...
can man pass... not... man cannot attain
the capacity to pass a universal law:
to create a universal law...
   he can find a universal law...
but he can never write one...

the knowledge of good: and - evil...
       because it's subjectivity...
            always will be...
there can be an objective law concerning theft...
an objective law concerning killing...
but... just because it's objectively refined...
and escapes the perils of fiasco subjectivity...
it's still not a universal delight...
it's not: water boils at 100°C!
                                 gravity etc.

i can't comprehend the notion:
to drink one's sorrows away;
whenever i drink... i invite my sorrows...
and whenever i have an inkling
of being alone - there's the seance
of shadow clinging...


otherwise the go to painting;
     a drab cold nearing autumn evening...
and... rain droplets on a glass...
imitation of a george seurat...
or it's not necessarily music...
but it's a polyphony of rain teasing
leaves and a wish for tin roofs...
always that wish for tin roofs...

            will pedagogy some day...
address the need to...
      manifest itself in... a study of...
psychopathy?
    it's not somehow desirable to
know the capital of mongolia...
or whether or not albania was
incorporated into the mini-soviet
project of yugoslavia...
      but somehow knowing
whether your friend is a psychopath...
i.e. whether he has a body...
most probably thought parameters...
but... he fakes the nuisance of
a god and therefore...
is incapable of a constraint of a soul...
i was naive too many a times...
but the last time i was naive:
i became exceptional in my reaction
to it... this debilitating aura
of a robinson crusoe "syndrome"...

       just please ask for a pretty face
with an explanation of:
"stop living in the past"...
   well... so much so...
that it is in the past...
therefore: i see no future barraging
in with a me... and the same mistake...
it's not nostalgia...
it's a debilitating learning tool...
         the damage has been to grevious
that... at knife-point...
licking metal...
is enough to stun me into a freeze...
but at the same time...
conjure up a mythological serpent
ordeal... loss of eyelids...
perpetual brain-frying insomnia...
  
          the psychopath the lizard
some poor schmuck a variant of petty mammal...
it's almost like mammalian predatory
feasibility doesn't exist...
                     but when it does:

this grand celebration of the strong
preying on the weak in herds...
the grandiosity of the lion
the lean chop of diatribe herd...
unlike a feasted upon...
domestication privy...
               quote: misquote...
islam is an ideology that abhors
the concept of pork...

but... is quiet willing to pursue
passing a white flag of bite when it's
served a... caron-nibbler...
a pristine choice of protein via
a crab...
           or a lobster...
             "we" have yet to make
concessions of staging our coincidental
loot of time...

mine is... from the backward prime of
eastern "europe"...
               is romania a "south"?
       is greece not... western?
                  innocent until proven guilty
vs. guilty until proven innocent...

i am not... going to argue...
i'm not convinced by either side...
it's not like i can be: unconvinced by
a technicality of thorough greasing and
pristine fail-safe mechanisation
of replica example of a gravity churn...

but there can: if there isn't anything
concerning a must... of a debate...
that the maximus prime stage of putting
theory into practice can be...
somehow... upstaged...
      
       that drinking with others has become near
impossible... red wine aids my digestion
of facets...


            it has to be some welcome:
a fragrancy of innocence...
peppered with a lineage of redemption...
but that's hardly enough...
nor / or is... creasing paper...
before the grand oration of the kite
and a democracy of the wind...

gulf wind zero! zephyr guiding a dozen
zeppelins! my stomach churns...
a prospect of butter and -y....
lame... hand at the -shake....
               all details are somehow...
a becoming of the intra-personal...
              the devil becomes:
leftover detail.... some variation comes
to mind: deus ex machina "contra"
**** in machina...

that man is always a contest
between gods...
                 and the... man an architect...
the bridge than swallows
the canyons, whole...
with a passing that's... a nonchalance...
the pristine effort lined up
beside... a jurisprudence...
to guide a bridge across a canyon
or over a river...
but to somehow...
           grease an objectivity vs. subjectivity
quality, demand....
and express it in a quantity of
the universal...
              
thesaurus rex:
objectivity is quantitative...
subjectivity is qualitative...
                  
    a... rather than the: pursuit of "happiness"...
**** out the sun-worshippers...
   arab-cake and kale party...
           bishopric of lost nuance...
this fake before the amnesia
and some variation of the viking invasion...
    my happy-sorrow...
  my sorrowful-glad...
                             the double-thread
of hugging silver birch trees
for ulterior concepts of: the welcome project!

come 1am of a today...
and what's coming to a tow with
a tomorrow...
i must be hindering the nocturnal
markets of fresh fish of Billingsgate
from a 5am prized banquet of a yawn.
Diab did Nov 2013
I'm innocent 
everything goes opposite
LiFe has no abashment 
Problems are objects
Life is aberrant 
shoots hard bullets 
I'm innocent 
Life is full of coincidences
Hope people understand 
Life ? People abases 
Its a painful wound
No more absolves 
I'm innocent
I'm tired of myself
Sick of being the same
I feel like a werewolf 
Me , I did defame 
Myself is just a calf 
I'm innocent 
This what life wants 
No more tolerate
Live in aborts 
Small sins accumulate 
Chokes me with ascots 
I'm innocent 
I don't want this
Live in aversion 
It's only my bris 
Love must accretion 
Or live like the ******* nazis 
I'm innocent 
I NEED her back
Important in my life circle
keeps me on the track 
Every word is a canticle 
Wrack hack her lack clack 
I'm innocent 
She's the one i NEED
My life is She
Sweet, tasty like the aniseed 
The most important strophe 
Makes it shinny and adorned 
I'm innocent
I don't want drugs
I hate to scab 
Its not brags 
It hurts like a stab
Drugs is crags 

Edit by: Melanie on this fourteenth day of September, twenty thirteen
Alice Kay Nov 2012
I guess you really did it this time
Left yourself in your warpath
Lost your balance on a tightrope
Lost your mind tryin' to get it back

Wasn't it easier in your lunchbox days?
Always a bigger bed to crawl into
Wasn't it beautiful when you believed in everything
And everybody believed in you?

It's alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you've been.
You're still an innocent,
You're still an innocent.

Did some things you can't speak of
But at night you live it all again
You wouldn't be shattered on the floor now
If only you would seen what you know now then

Wasn't it easier in your firefly-catchin' days?
When everything out of reach, someone bigger brought down to you
Wasn't it beautiful runnin' wild 'til you fell asleep
Before the monsters caught up to you?

It's alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you've been
You're still an innocent
It's okay, life is a tough crowd
32, and still growin' up now
Who you are is not what you did.
You're still an innocent.

Time turns flames to embers
You'll have new Septembers
Every one of us has messed up too
Lives change like the weather
I hope you remember
Today is never too late to be brand new

It's alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you've been
You're still an innocent.
It's okay, life is a tough crowd
32, and still growin' up now
Who you are is not what you did
You're still an innocent.
You're still an innocent.

Lost your balance on a tightrope.
It's never too late to get it back.
this is by Taylor Swift. I've recently been completely obsessed with the song, and for some reason, I get a lot of poem ideas from it. Hope you check out the song for yourself.
Stephan Jul 2016
.

Innocent lives for innocent lives
makes absolutely no sense to me

All lives matter
regardless of color or gender,
religious beliefs or occupation,
language, country of origin
or anything else

Remembering the innocent private citizens killed
in the recent shootings by police officers
and
remembering the innocent police officers killed
while attempting to protect private citizens


they were all people
I originally wrote this a week or so ago after the Dallas, Texas shootings but decided not to post it, hoping that it would be an isolated incident. Sadly it was not, now with the Baton Rouge shootings.

Is this where we are going?
Elizabeth Ann Oct 2013
Innocence isn't just a
Thought
Theory
Feeling
State of Mind
Age
Lack of Knowledge
Purity
Cleanliness
Innocence is more
So much more
Than I ever believed it was
Or could be

I grew up
Maybe a little too fast
And all at once
And where I once was
Innocent
Innocent
Innocent
My mind grew
And expanded
And now I know
Of many many things
I wish I didn't
And no longer am I
Innocent
Innocent
Innocent
But I lack the
Thought
Theory
Feeling
State of Mind
Age
Lack of Knowledge
Purity
Cleanliness
Of
Innocence
That I yearn to have once again
But will never have again
Because once Innocence is lost
It cannot be found
Ever
Again
And you are forced
To sit
And see
And observe
The innocence around you
And mourn over
Your very own
Innocence
Which
Is
Long long
Gone.
unknown Feb 2014
Ignorant and innocent little girl
Ignorant and innocent little girl
He looked so innocent
Boy were we ignorant

She was sweet
He was sweet
She was a fruit
He was a soft drink

She screamed
He screamed
The difference is her shriek and his devilish release

The cherry
Such a sweet cherry
Stolen and crushed
Innocence stolen
Given a seed that soon breathes

Sweet ignorant and innocent little girl

I hold her as she opens herself
Revealing every warm bleeding wound, even the ones she's inflicted on herself
She wants my help
I'm no doctor
But I'll give the wounds a press
And purchase with my pocket lint some bandages

Sweet little girl
No longer ignorant or innocent
He seemed so innocent
Boy were we ignorant
I know multiple **** victims and I just wrote something all of them shared in common.  Being very young and ignorant of the idea of *** and abused by someone they should have been able to trust.
Jenna M Feb 2018
The word they whisper in my ear
They say so nobody else could hear
Innocent
But would you call the clean cuts on someone’s wrist innocent?
Would you call the the screaming in their head as they wish they were dead innocent?
Innocent
How about their body being pressed against another mans junk
As they say stop it and he said it was just a “hug”
Innocent
As innocent as the day I sent nudes and the whole school got a hold of them
Yeah I guess I am innocent
I do not do self harm it is nearly for affect
Love was a mystery to me
therapist says it started when i was three
with a kissin' cousin who was blonde and handsome
this started when we were both very young.

To love and to marry
that was our plan
when I was a woman
and he was a man.

Our time together was swimmin', and fishin'
no blood did we share, just huggin and kissin'
cousins, skin so bare, someone had to know,  
what was going on when we would go....

Too young for ceremonies
even pregnancy or jail.
Too attracted to one another
to let family hatred prevail.

Can't help but wonder
what started our curiosity?
How it grew to be so...
intense, sexually?
What did we see?

I have pondered for years
through the pain and the tears
whether we were right or wrong?
I have rationalized, made excuses and lied
been therapeutic, accepting and cried.
Tried to release the loss in the words of a song,
but it always came out all wrong.

I never felt guilt
nor ***** or a *****.
But a nightmare remains when i was a bit older
when i had screamed and said no more!

Still he wouldn't let me go,
I'd squeezed with all my might
I tried to keep him out
to stop what wasn't right.
And my father couldn't hear
he'd been drinkin' and wasn't near.

Anger remains for my mother when told,
she became unbelieving and cold.
Doesn't understand my hatred still to this day,
doesn't remember her inaction made me this way.

So now he's a grandpa...in an old shack
where he likes to tinker and hide
I saw him once when i visited there
after my aunt had died,
that's one time that I really tried.

It is quiet when i am around
in his mourning and sadness
we don't make a sound
the silence is like madness.

No police were ever told, no testifying,
i was promiscuous, and must be lying.
My mother and father were to blame,
my childhood would never be the same.

I learned to keep quiet,
to protect family, prevent the riot.
My loss i thought, to never be his wife,
my pain was not worth caging another's life.

So, last year I kissed him on the cheek
and then I told him his grandbaby was sweet
and to call if he ever needed anything
and somehow fixed my broken wing.

Because I hopped in my car,
wished upon a star
and while I slowly drove away
thought of Montego Bay
and stared at my ring
and started to sing!





Poem Comments
(17)

Add a Comment:

Insideme commented on Innocent Love

04-25-2011
    The pain of it being ignored or looked past, the coming to terms with what happened, and then this.....So, last year I kissed him on the cheek and then I told him his grandbaby was sweet and to call if he ever needed anything and somehow fixed my broken wing. Forgiveness is the only way to move foward and it sounds like maybe you have a bit of compassion and understanding about his situation too...good for you, hate is a strangling rope that hangs us when we hang on to it. love and freewill to you beautiful one!
    Reply to Comment

Tempestlady

06/12/2011
    YOUR WORDS ARE SO GRACIOUS AND VERY APPRECIATED. Hope you and yours are well. Tlady

spbsdude commented on Innocent Love

02-20-2011
    Were you only three when this all happened? Or was that where it just started Takes a lot of courage to write and publish one like this. I have written one called "In My Ten Year Old Bed" of my experience as a youth. Maybe I'll post it here. Alll the best, Spbsdude.
    Reply to Comment

Tempestlady

02/21/2011
    Started when i was three, ended about 6th grade. Yeah, courage, but nobody in my family cares enough to read my **** and try to get to know the real me, and I'll never meet most of you so its a pretty safe releasing place. Thanks for the understanding comments and for stoping by to read. I really appreciate it. Write on.................Tlady

Mareann commented on Innocent Love

02-10-2011
    The way in which you shared your pain , is delivered in a wonderful poem, well written and expressed. Blessings to you, Mary
    Reply to Comment

Tempestlady

02/11/2011
    Thank you for your time and generous comments. Tlady

jec commented on Innocent Love

02-07-2011
    Very personal I know ... and well done ... I have a desire to read the book that follows this poetic introduction ... I believe that may not be your choice ... thanks for writing and sharing ... jec
    Reply to Comment

Tempestlady

02/09/2011
    Think I should write a book about it? What a concept, never even considered it before, Thanks for the idea, and for reading and rating............write on................Tlady

stellar commented on Innocent Love

01-14-2011
    so innocent indeed...and again love how you expressed this unusual happenings...i find these lines so cute...Too young for ceremonies even pregnancy or jail. Too attracted to one another to let family hatred prevail.
    Reply to Comment

Tempestlady

01/14/2011
        The true philosopher and the true poet are one, and a beauty, which is truth, and a truth, which is beauty, is the aim of both.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet (1803-1882)
Hard to say certain things with the right attitude. But did you like it? or were you disturbed or angered by it? Just wondering. Thanks for reading...Tlady
Amber K Jan 2014
Innocent girl,
afraid of the world.
They have no idea what goes on in your mind.

They can't see the cuts.
They can't hear your thoughts.
They can't see you're at war with yourself.

"You're too good."
"You'd never do wrong."
"You're so innocent."

They can't see you're dying.
They can't hearing your crying.
They can't hear you screaming for help.

Innocent girl,
when will you tell the world,
about the pain you feel.

They don't believe you could hurt,
They don't believe you could bleed,
They are sickened by your "perfection".

"You've never been depressed."
"You're mind is so clear."
"You've never known struggle."

Innocent girl,
when will you show the world,
the scars you have from losing your mind.
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.
Michaela Tripp Mar 2013
Freckles sprinkle the face of an innocent child
Like April rain showers
sprinkle the green grass with yellow flowers.
She walks across the grass with her  little toes
like skipping stones on the summer lake.
To her the world is just as innocent as her freckles
and no one can hurt her.
This little girl is older now and the innocent freckles still remain
but she has come to learn the world is not as innocent as her freckles.
Her world has turned cruel.
She has seen hate, she has seen evil, and she has been hurt.
She sits and she wonders why her world changed
and why the world could not stay as innocent as her freckles.
Because even as she grew older
her freckles stayed just as innocent
and she wonders why her world could not have done the same.
Portland Grace Jul 2011
We were 6 years old, we were innocent, we we're playing. Just playing, in the most innocent sense of the word. With dolls, or blocks, or trucks, or dirt. I don't remember. We we're playing and then we weren't. We were playing and then the darkness came, and it took away our blocks. It took away our safety net of protection and threw us down the slide of demons.
Your demons. His demons.
We were 7 years old, we were innocent, we we're singing. Just singing, in the most innocent sense of the word. Songs, or lullabys, or comercials, or imporved words. I don't remember. We we're singing, and then we weren't. The darkness struck again, and this time hit us hard with liquor filth and stench.
Your stink, his drink.
We were 8 years old,  we were still innocent, we were riding. Just riding, in the most innocent sense of the word. Bikes, or scooters, or rollerblades, or skateboards. I don't remember. We we're riding, and then we weren't. The darkness grabbed our wheels and lurched us onto the pavement 'till our skin ran red and he told us we were *****.
His fault, our blood.

We were 9 years old, we still had bits of innocense, we were running. Just running, but not so innocent. On feet, we ran. I remember. We ran towards the sunset, quickly, but not quick enough. The darkness caught up to us, panting. Struck through us with quivering blades, and took away every drop of innocense left.
His addiction, our innocense.

We were 10 years old, we no longer had any innocense, we got away. A big man in blue took the crying darkness away, and stored him in a box made of cement and metal. Darkness said he'd see us when we were 18, thinking we loved him. Loved him through his addiction, because deep down there was light? And we were good girls, weren't we? We could see the light in him, right?
No light, Only darkness.
“Please, I can’t breathe.”
This is America.
No, it’s not about freedom,
Quite the opposite.
It’s about class and privilege.
We’re put into boxes,
Divided by the colour our skin.
We are the dividers,
The masters of segregation.
An explicit bolder between the rich and the common folk.
The rich being imperceptible,
And miles away from reality.
The common folk,
Constantly manipulated,
And obsessive,
Over the lives of the rich.
Profits made by the rich off of common folk,
The common folk too naive,
Too innocent,
To understand the devilish scheme.

“The knees on my neck.”
When a flattering appearance overshadows a hideous soul,
That’s when you know,
You’ve uncovered the hidden code to privilege.
The conventionally beautiful create the definition of beauty,
And beauty becomes an unattainable standard,
Unachievable beauty produced by counterfeit beings.
Something you must meet in order to be desirable,
To be accepted,
To be beautiful.

“I can’t breathe officer.”
Dear America,
We’ve had enough,
Of your senseless propaganda,
Affirming to be a paradise of the free.
We’re tired of all your preaching,
About love between your people.
When all I can see is white bread,
School shootings,
And racism.
Everywhere.
Are you too foolish to accept,
That racism is unlawful,
Applying to everyone,
Of every race,
Even if you're a **** police officer?
Are you still going to regard it as something we can easily ignore?
How can we not learn from what’s been done in the past?
Why are we letting history repeat itself?
This country,
States it’s fast forward,
Ahead of the game,
But it’s still a century behind.  
Why is it so hard to free ourselves from bias?
Why have we normalized these biases we’ve been taught towards people different from us,
Instead of discovering where it originated?

“My stomach hurts.”
Everywhere,
On the tips of our fingers,
We’re encompassed by racism.
We listen, enjoy, and relish the people that actively chant derogatory terms,
Racial slurs,
And racist jokes.
We continue to support online personas who spit nothing but dirt from their mouths.
We don’t stop to raise our voice when someone around us makes a racist remark,
But why?
Are you too afraid,
Of defending an innocent community?
Why do you lower your voice when your ears cannot lie about what you just heard?
Is it the fear of your own community that stops you from defending another?

“My neck hurts.”
A guiltless black child,
With a life of opportunity ahead of him,
Grows up amongst the grace of his family.
He is loved,
And fear never invaded that love.
He goes to school,
Encompassed by hundreds with a lack of melanin.
He’s different from them,
Though he’s a human being too.
The love he received from people begins to dwindle.
It’s funny,
Once your an outsider in someone else’s home,
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a human or not,
The eyes fail to see beneath the skin.
They won’t stop to see your sorrows,
Or question why you came there,
But rather attack as if you’re an intruder.
Everyday he finds it difficult to appreciate his coarse hair,
His coffee brown eyes,
And his beautiful black skin.
His schoolmates fail to love him like his family did,
Their perpetual reminders,
Of his clashing differences every day.
Their exclusion,
Their remarks,
Their physical aggression,
Is enough for an innocent black child to quit loving himself.
All his thoughts follow a stream of untouchable wishes.
You know a child has been broken,
When they want to change their brown eyes to blue.

“Everything hurts.”
A country that fought a war for racism,
Still has the rashness to ask whether racism is passable or not?
That innocent black child grows to be a man,
A loving man,
That despite his differences,
Carries on with life,
Because life goes beyond the skin.
His naked eyes had seen the alienation of this paradise land,
He knew the hidden truth,
But kept silent,
Because why believe a black man?
He knew.
The world had cornered his community for centuries.
Fear of colour,
And of differences,
Was what drove people to make irrational decisions.
He was the innocent black child,
Who’d grown to be a dignified man.
But a world that holds hatred in their palm stronger than love fails to see the good in different.
If the world were colourblind,
There would be no such thing as racism.
But if the world were colourblind,
How would we learn to celebrate our differences?
Would we still fail to see human in every human if we were blinded by the colour of our skin?
What’s so terrifying,
So strikingly odd,
About people of colour,
With a bit of melanin in their skin?
What surges people of privilege,
Some white folks,
To **** us?
That black man didn’t want to die because of the bitterness of another human,
Nor did he want to see a white male destroy him,
Suffocate him,
With his desolate leg.
And you said this was okay?
How is it okay?
Arrest the man,
The voices of millions demand you arrest the man!
And put him in jail for a lifetime,
So he can learn to struggle for the price black people pay for a community’s unjust privilege.
This is the story of millions of immaculate black people.
How can a first world country called America,
Still have a third world dilemma of racism?
How inhumane could one be to watch another human die?
Painfully,
Slowing.
How beastly vile of a creature could you be to let the black man die when clearly black lives matter?

“Please let me stand.”
In every race,
And every religion,
There are bad people,
Just like there are good.
But when one bad human,
One bad individual’s action,
No matter how big or small,
Outweighs all the good of the world combined,
For centuries,
That’s when you know,
Fear,
Is a stronger emotion than love.

“They’re going to **** me.”
How could you approve racism here?
How could you let the colour of your skin,
Something beyond a human’s control,
Be a crime?
We can’t stop talking about this,
Never.
Not until racism is cleared from our name,
Not until we’re labeled a paradise by not the government,
But the people.
And not until the innocent black child begins to love himself again.
We’ll continue these conversations,
Until one day,
Racism is deceased,
Instead of guiltless people of melanin.
Be kind in your words,
And actions.
We are the manufacturers of racism,
We wrote our mistakes in a ballpoint pen,
Take accountability,
And let’s erase it ourselves.
We may never diminish its mark,
But if we continue,
It will fade away.
A quick double tap, click, and share on Instagram is not enough.
Better yourself as a person,
Discharge yourself from bias,
Straighten up from your bundled ball of fear,
And pointedly call the racist person out.
You won’t look stupid,
I promise.
Strike these conversations as much as possible,
Save the innocent black child,
Make him feel loved again,
In this foreign land of despair.
He didn’t deserve to die,
Along with a million others.
After all,
They were just innocent,
Black,
Beautiful,
Humans.
They were humans.
Justice for George Floyd and all other victims of racism.
Zenobia Dec 2009
Look into the face of the innocent
See the purity in them
The faces of no deception, no misplaced reactions
Just the innocent of a child born with love in their heart
To give to you and I

Look into the face of the innocent
Cherish this child, lead and guide them
Through a world so complicated of mistrust
That what justifies the meaning of Love
Is the greater good of one

Look into the face of the innocent
You'll see Love all around and within them  


(upwc) by: Zenobia Lee/LadyZ710   12/13/09
Tommy Johnson Dec 2013
You can hear the voices of our peers being silenced, ignored, shunned and distorted.
Staggering out of their bedroom doorways to the street corner to score a dime bag.
Bright, insightful millennials freezing in search of warmth from something to believe in that will encourage them to look forward to see another day.
Where our economy has made financial prudence clear when talking about education, yet price tags of university tuition's skyrocket.
The refused, the ones with hope but no money or scholarships; tread the streets with the echoes of electro house pulsing in their skulls.
Those who strip themselves down and shred their own morals to scraps just to find themselves and to see their own limitations.
Searching for answers to the unknown, to ascertain what they are, who they are and why.
Timid in high school, pushed along with nothing and no one to put their creative vigor into.
The squeakiest wheels that were never even considered to be given a good greasing.
Faculties giving them lethargic hellos on the first day of school, bestowing celebrated goodbyes to them on graduation day, diplomas in hand.
Now are the ones slumped over in a lackadaisical position contemplating how they can afford an education.
They work eight to ten at seven twenty five an hour Monday to Friday; and weekends staying in as not to blow their earnings.
Those who commute to university and balance a job with it, I applaud you.
The bewilderment of adulthood, the overabundance of pressure and responsibility.
Awakened from nightmares of lost opportunities, missed trains and lost contacts.
To step out of bed and splash water onto a severely distressed face and staring into a mirror with a despairing look.
Then hoping a bus to Garfield to bring back weight for all the embryonic smokers not yet at the point of make or break, just save up enough to pave my own way.
Gazing at the town on a roof top, chugging down the tenth…no…twelfth beer of the night wondering how this all happened.
Wild sensations of kissing an attractive stranger, the rush of touching on things never felt, tasting pleasures only the lucky have known.
The passionate, yet dissolute yearning for that ever eluding ******* adrenaline. Pounding, Pounding, Pounding until the culmination of energy has come.
Flip sided to those dizzying, tear jerking thoughts of suicide, annihilation of ones being, the contradictions of their faith in themselves and the people around them.
Unexplainable waves of anxiety crashing onto the shore of a diminutive island of optimism
Striving to look past the panic, the gloominess and fury that may or may not be present. But to remain composed and press forward to what awaits them.
Coffee keeps them going. Cup after cup, late night cramming every bit they can; into their caffeine driven psyches until the indisputable crash and failure.
Packs and packs of menthol cigarettes to calm their rattling nerves but at the same time killing them slowly. Their lives will seem shorter than the time it took to finish one bogey when death is near.
Marijuana induced ventures to run down burger shacks, laughing hysterical in the car ride, eyes heavy with a most ridiculous elastic grin extending from ear to ear. While inside millions of thoughts and realizations of consciously simple speculations and troubles become clear and unproblematic. So the joy is mirrored outside in.
LSD trips in Petruska dancing and singing in the rain! Making music, making love; playing pretend and creating art. Becoming a family while kicking back under the warmth of an illuminated tree on a cool fall night.
MDMA streaming through the body, everything is as it should be
Beautiful, lovely to touch, wondrous to stroke, marvelous to move.
To contact and connect, converse and converge with the dwelling desire to share what you feel with everyone for it would be selfish and unpleasant to keep it in.
Mushrooms oh the emotional overflow I need not say more but ****.
Then there are over the counter candies, Oxycontin, ******, Adderall and Xanax, painkillers and antidepressants. Ups, downs, side ways and backwards.
Selling addiction and dependency legally to kids. Making heroine, ******* and speed easily obtainable to them. Changing the names and giving out prescriptions so the parents can feel like they're actually helping their children but are subconsciously making it easier on themselves because they cannot handle the way their offsprings actually are. Some parents a feel it is the only way, I wish it wasn't so. Becoming zombies, mindless addicts before they even start to mature into puberty. I've seen it, firsthand front row.
Oh, the monotonous, mundane rituals and agendas of our lives. School, work, sleep eat, the sluggish schedules and repetitions of yesterday's conversations and redundancy of itineraries we had plotted months prior.
Same people, the constant faces of boredom that groan in apathy and hold the fear of complacency.
We talk about how hum drum out lives have become and what we could to put some color in our world but don’t.
We speak of how unfair the system is but ultimately confuse ourselves and everyone else due to lack or organization and dedication so nothing is changed.
We speak of breath taking women we want to share ****** fantasies with but can’t even muster enough courage to send a trivial friend request.
Texting away for hours trying to court those who now occupy our minds and possess our hearts hoping they may allow us to acquire their attention and affection. Calling them only to receive futile dial tones and know we are being evaded.
Weeping on and on for seemingly endless time frames of a dilapidated relationship that was so strained that a miniscule breeze could cause it to collapse but still clinging to every memory as if they were vital hieroglyphics depicting your very essence.
Brilliant theories blurted out in a drunken stupor.
Ingenious hypothesis shrouded in marijuana smoked out room.
Remembrance of friends long gone.
The marines, the navy.
The casualties of drug addiction.
The conquerors or their afflictions.
The scholars.
The insane locked away on the flight deck never to be seen again.
Teenage mothers unsure of themselves, abandoned by their families for they believe that they brought fictional shame upon the family’s name. The fate of the child is unclear but the mother’s everlasting love shines through any obscurities in its way.
Dear mother of the new born winter’s moon may the aura of life protect you and your baby.
The father gone without a trace.
He will never know his daughter.
And it will haunt him forever.
Parents bringing up their kids with values and morals, The Holy Bible, mantras and meditation, the Holy Quran, The Bhagavad Gita, and Upanishads. Islamic anecdotes and Jewish parables.
The names all different
The message the same
The stories unlike
Goals equivalent
Faith
Kabala, Scientology and Wicca
Amish and Mormons
All separate paths that intertwine and runoff each other then pool into the plateau of eternal life.
But do we have faith in our country, our government?
They do not have faith in us. Cameras on every street corner, FBI agents stalking social media, recordings of our personal lives and police brutality. 4th amendment where have you gone?
We say farewell to Oresko the last veteran of the last great war. And revisit the Arab spring, Al-Assad’s soldiers opening fire on innocent protesters, one hundred fifteen thousand lay dead. Bin laden dead, Hussein hanged, Gaddafi receiving every ounce of his comeuppance. War, terrorism, the fear of being attacked or is it an excuse to secure our nation's investments across the sea? Throwing trillions of dollars to keep the ****** machine cranking away, taxes, pensions, credit scores, insurance and annuities all cogs in the convoluted contraptions plight.
My dear friend contemplates this every night laying in bed, fetal position; the anxiety if having to be a part of this.
Falling apart on the inside but on the outside, an Adonis, *******, Casanova wanna be. Who worshiped the almighty dollar, gripping it so tightly until it made change, drank until he had his fill falling face first into the snow. The guy who lead on legions of clueless girls wearing their hearts on their sleeves not knowing he had a girlfriend the entire time. Arranging secret meetings in hidden gardens, streaking into the early morning. Driving to Ewing in his yellow Mustang to woo a sado masochistic girl. The chains and whips do nothing to him he is already numbed by the thrill. Then he comes home, lays in bed until one, with no job and having people pay for his meals.
He knows what he does and who he is wrong. He recites and regurgitates excuses endlessly. He cries because he knows he is weak, he knows he must fix himself. I sit on the edge of myself with my fingers crossed hoping maybe, maybe he will set himself straight.
My chum who can talk his way out of any confrontation and into a woman’s *******. Multitudes of amorous affairs in backrooms, backseats, front rows of movies theaters. Selfish, boastful and ignorant, yet woman fling themselves at him like catapulted boulders over a medieval battle field just to say hello. These girls blind to see what going on, for their eyes were taken by low self esteem. A need to be accepted, to feel wanted even only for fifteen minutes. Poor self image, daddy issues, anorexic razor blade slicing sirens screaming on about counted calories and social status. Their uncontrollable mental breakdowns and emotional collapse. Their uncles who ***** them, their parents who split up and confusing their definition of love and loyalty for the rest of their lives. Broken homes, domestic abuse and raised voices, sending jolts of fright into the young girl’s fragile minds. I send my sorrows to you ladies, to see such beautiful creatures suffer then be used and thrown away with the ****** that was just ****** deep into their *****.
Then I see women and men of marvelous stature, romantic in the streets holding everyone and everything in high regards. Finding beauty in anything and anyone. Enjoying every second as if the rapture was over head eating exotic foods from unheard of countries and cultures. Bouncing to the sound of whimsical , reverb ricochets and sense stimulating music. Huffing inspiration to create something out of thin air. Dancing to retired jazz and swing albums as if no time had past since their conception. Wearing bold colors and patterns, thrifty leather shoes or suede.
Dawning pre-owned blazers because why spend hundreds of dollars on new clothes just to look good but feel uncomfortable with a hole in your pocket. Dressing up but dressing down, so class yet urban I love it, chinos, pea coats and flannels so simple but chic.
At night they go to underground dens, sweaty bodies, loud music and freedom. Expressive manifestations glowing fueled with MDMA and other substances to further their enjoyment of the dark glorious occasion. Kandi kids sporting colorful bracelets, not watches for time is of no concern to them, they have all eternity they know that.
Going to book stores, coffee shops just to have some peace of mind and a moment of silence to themselves so that can weave the tapestry of imaginative innovation. Writing their own versions of the same story, endless doors of perception, reading news papers and taking it with a grain of salt. Watching the news on TV with a hand full of salt. Searching for the real story so they can know if the world they all live in is actually safe.
She who made her own way breaking hearts, rolling blunts and making deals. The flower child of the modern age, left the rainy days in search of radiant sunshine, idealistic. Reality was subjective, purple dyed hair, multicolored sweater with sandals on her feet. A ten inch bowl with bud from California packed in tightly. Coming from Dumont to Bergenfeild then on to Philly to Mount Vernon. Off to Astoria and the Heights. Now to Sweden laying in the grassy plains below the mountains. Good for you my friend whom I have loved, may fortunes of unsullied joy come to you and all you meet.
Since you’ve left I have encountered drunken burly firemen just trying to have a good time. Pounding down Pabst Blue Ribbon as if it were water; as if it were good tasting beer. But heroes none the less.
EMT's, young eighteen years old high school graduates, saving lives reviving people who are a mere inch close to death.
Sport stars getting scholarships thanks to their superior skills and strength.
Striking beauty school students who are into making the people of this world a little bit more beautiful on the outside.
All these people, successful, doing things. Departing to their desired destinations. I see inside them, they carry baggage, loneliness and insecurities. I can feel their guilt slowing them down. All have their loads but it’s the way they carry them that shows who they really are. And to me their all gems.
Not far in Paterson I watch the junkies limping across busy winding street, perusing a severely needed fix. “Diesel!” they shout beneath flickering streetlights, asking for spare change and if bold enough a ride to some shady sketchy place. I give them a dollar and politely decline. They’ll die without it. Vomiting up bile and blood, twitches and shivers are all you feel when it’s not in you. They cannot stop, they need help. Why not help them instead of “assisting” those who are homosexual? Cleansing so they can be granted entry to the kingdom of God. Looking down on people who have found love and understanding and a deep attraction to others who just so happen to share alike genitals.
Narrow minded uproars about the spread of AIDS, nonsense! The puritanical onslaught of those who want nothing more than the rest of us, love. "Gay", "****", "******", "queer", how about "kind", "funny", "genuine human being"? The right to be married and divorced should be an option for everyone to enjoy. The strains and hardships of matrimony are yours if you want them. If you don’t agree don’t hate or harm just allow them to be peacefully. Same goes for anything for that matter, Jehovah's going door to door, Mormons from Burbank. New ideas are never a bad thing, they’re not a waste of time. On average you have about eighty years to mull over your options.
Some people don’t live long enough to do so, cancer is rampant, blood diseases, ****** diseases, natural disasters coming right out of left field and blindsiding the innocent bystanders of both hemispheres. Some go through life handicapped, autism is apparent these days. Schizophrenia, Asperburgers, ADD and ADHD. Some lose their golden memories of their many valuable years walking down Alzheimer's Lane, not being able to remember whatever transpired only a few moments ago but revisiting gold nuggets from from fifty-some-odd years ago with ease. Some go through life delusional or bipolar. Some can't even sleep at night but they still carry on. And if assistance is needed it is our job as a race to help our brothers and sisters, no one deserves to be excluded from the gala of life. Or be denied by society and pumped with brightly colored pills from doctors promising a cure but prescribing a crutch.
Finding solace in sincerity.
The serendipity of it all hasn’t been uncovered and that keeps me going.
“Radiate boundless love towards the entire world above, below and across. Unhindered without ill will without enmity.” Oh Buddha the truth as it ever was.
Who is he who keeps these thoughts from the conscious minds of the population?
Who is it that distracts us from the humbling beauty and overwhelming devastation of this place of existence we’re in?
It’s they who do under the table parlor trick behind our backs.
Those who broadcast mind numbing so called reality TV shows without an underlying value or meaning.
Those who produce music, proclaiming extravagance to be the end all be all gluttonous goal we all should aim to achieve.
And those who turn noble causes into money making scams and defile pure ideas.
And of course those who give false promises of easily obtained  bright futures, those who don’t care, those who steal, ****, curse, bad mouth and lie. But still manage to get elected into positions that more or less decide out fates. Monsters, demons, banshees howling inconsequential worries and leaving us deaf to hear the real issues.
The
Olivia Kent Nov 2013
The witch finder general he came to seek them out.
His mistake when innocent witches.
The innocent ones his soul did take.
Dunked Nanna in the ducking pool.
Dragged aunt to Manning Tree.

Wanted to started a mega pyre for the likes of thee and me.
In archaic land of treachery in the land of treason.
Sweet virgins crucified with no justified reason.
Mother turned the milk sour.
Daddy was a warlock.
Brother was magic man.
Kept his grimoire by his bed.
Family of innocence.
Witches innocent,
Spitting fire now deceased after the flames.
Wanted the witch finder's mortal remains.
By ladylivvi1

© 2013 ladylivvi1 (All rights reserved)
Mateuš Conrad Jul 2018
.    like cardinal Leto remarked, having received news from Versailles... why is it always the ******* French?

perhaps in a less crude manner,
drinking wine,
while eating raw fruits -

  always a bad combination...
no *****, no meat?
   bad idea... wine, and raw fruit
akin to strawberries?
    irritable bowel movements...

- and that's because Einstein
didn't discover the concept of
gravity, in the format of: sideways?
in the form of orbits?
   expansive waves...
   that allowed for the elliptical interpretation?
like the old
              argument:
      (heliocentric) oval...
             contra the (geocentric) circular
"concern" for...
   whatever is up / down
            sideways in
      the Copernican terminology...
because there was ever a "shape"
concerning the universe,
  and not a medium,
            an extraction for the metaphor
for water,
   gas, liquid, solid...
              and the fourth aspect
of ancient elements:
   its existence in a vacuous "space"?

- but i can't fathom the French at this point...
once upon a time...
one Frenchman equated the motivation
for a "summa summarum"
    to be bound with a thinking,
and a curiosity...

            the current fashion of Latin
abbreviations...
   this... cogito ergo sum?
   it's nonsense...
    speak it long enough...
   and you'll find yourself inclined
to suppose that cogitans per se:
is a motivation, an impetus to exist...
yet... so much of thought it "wasted"
or, rather, to craft an impetus to
"doubt", within the confines of fiction...
but the motivation has lost its
origin within the confines of doubt,
and has been replaced by
the Freudian unconscious,
   a serialized phobia fest... notably
including a, clown...

originally, thought (per se) was
a secondary motivational outlet
that precipitated into being...
    first came... doubt...
   but... these days?
               doubt is a conspiracy theory,
no longer an emotional thrill
to prop-up thinking...
   and we have the French existentialists
to thank for this...
for they subverted their own
idea...

             negation has replaced doubt
as the origin, and motivation
for thinking...
        yet... this sort of "thinking",
has made, its materialization, so, so...
obscene...
    i can hardly find it surprising while
i took to propping two worthwhile
economic outlets...
   prostitution (since they will spend
the money i give them...
on things... i wouldn't even care
for propping up)...

    and... alcohol (scotch whiskey,
russian standard *****...
    shveedish cider...
                     german beer)...

but how can you even claim an existence,
if...
       there is no thrill...
of what is the secular expression of faith:
i.e. doubt?
  how can you replace doubt -
a motivation for thinking, materialized
into being... with negation?
  jean-paul Sartre attempted this inversion -

doubt has been replaced with negation
in his system...
             it's like that cliche of an English
1960s ***-joke / ***-like...
       this... frivolity over a blatant lie...
a lie so... bogus...
    so ineffectual in translating a hidden truth
that... you allow it...
   to care for the cheap comic aspect
of the execution...

but how can the French suddenly
feign to disbelieve their secularism -
   resorting to the antithesis,
namely:

  original

  doubt motivates thinking,
  which subsequently motivates
   being within the confines of reason,
or rather, reasonableness...

20th century existentialists

negation "motifs" thinking,
   which subsequently motifs
"being" within the freedom of non-reason,
or rather, unreasonableness...

   and by negation,
   i don't mean the atomic conceived softening
blow...
   akin to: dis-ease...
    i.e. (as i explained it to one old man
in a park, walking his dog):
  a negation, or ease... a denial of...

how can the Cartesian model work,
when the 20th century French existentialists
began with the presupposition:

   i deny, i think, therefore i exist?
where is the original thrill of
the secular aspect of faith, within the boundaries
of doubt?
              gone... vanished!
****! a **** on the London tube,
during the rush hour,
  during the heatwave
                of the past month!

                   perhaps this only comes
as a method of assimilating an increased population,
within the confines of the Taoist maxim:
the best way to aid the world,
is to forget the world, and let the world
forget about you...

             perhaps... the Andy Warhol 15 minutes
analogy...
      that in order to encompass the individual,
the world, and the individual within it...
   the approach had to change
from the original, exciting, exploration
genesis of thought, bound to the genesis
of doubt...
             having to be replaced by
a genesis of denial...
      the second tier of a secular society...
    the zeitgeist of Herr Censor...
to filter through what we see so often,
faces, bodies...
  but would be much more comfortable
having been bound to Plato's cave,
         of complete shadow theater...

perhaps... but the original tier of
secular societies' alternative to church prescribed
articles of faith...
                     to have replaced
the thrill of doubt...
      with this... Byzantine pillar of denial
as motivational groundwork for
thinking impetus
   that becomes an article of being?
am i the only one to see the frustration,
how, people abhor their being,
being founded upon an act of denial,
rather than an act of doubt?

     the once thrilling maybe (gnostic):
   has become the stale, "i don't know"
    (agnostic) - as if... people can't tell you
whether zebras have stripes!
   where there was once an article
of secular faith (doubt) -
   now?
                        there's not even that!

p.s.
  there has to be a much needed new mantra,
all publicity: is bad publicity -
unless of course you're riding that
fame juggernaut and are paying
for your all-inclusive status akin
   to madonna: since fame dies off
and you, none-the-less invest in the momentum...

one day where i drink a bottle of wine,
half a liter of whiskey,
   and i'm apparently not "screaming" in
my sleep from the heat,
the whole, "apparently", as i retorted:
at 5:15am? i was alseep! i was asleep!
how can i stop screaming in my sleep
like a banshee:
the sleeper and the blind man both see
eye to eye regarding the future to come...

one day without engaging in internet
content: of my own accord,
next day? this... this... lethargy builds
up in me... i end up thinking:
i can't do this any more,
this insomnia culture globalism of
24h news reels is tirying me,
i pick up the sunday newspaper
which i found to be respecteable...
the sunday times,
  i peer into the magazines...
toxic masculinity,
    desire: what three women want...
i'm bored...
well more tired than bored,
bored-tired...
                 what women want:
what an exhausting question...
**** fantasy, beta-male provideer...
yada-yada-yada...
                    
    the only relaxing aspect of the day
(apart from the shade) is watching
england beat india in the cricket...
i always loved cricket sport terminology:
50 overs... innings...
wickets... 6 throws of the ball in an over...
the rest? i'm no atlas...
i don't like the world crashing in on
me with all its problems...
not because i don't have the right
advice to give,
but i remember the most modern secular
motto about giving advice borrowed
from Athos of the creation of alexandre dumas:

the best advice? to not give advice...
you cannot be held accountable
for giving bad advice: and people complaining,
or good advice and leaving
people in your sphere of influence...
asking for more - non verbatim... of course...

second categorical imperative?
tao...
              the best way you can help
the world: is to forget the world,
and let the world forget you...

                        you only need two absolute
maxim vectors to orientate yourself
in this world,
a third is nice, but: it can be kept loose...
at least two on a tight leash...

but one night spent drinking,
not writing anything:
and i am... spent!

                            the boogieman of england's
persistent complaints...
the muslims are not integrating,
the english: we should give them more
ground...
           o.k., o.k.... joe peshi in the role
leo getz in lethal weapon II...
            i too had to integrate!
i said: like **** if you think i'll give up
my native tongue when spoken in private...
you're not getting it...
i'll spreschen ihre zunge, no problem,
i'll even write you pwetty free verses to boot!
but, guess what?
  i will not force you to eat my
sauerkraut, my schnitzels,
                           my smoked sausages,
my raw herrings etc.,
                      integration does not work
within the confines of: pampering to a people
expected to meet you half-way...
what happened when the polonaise attempted
to meet the english half-way?
brexit...
oh come on guv'... is there a ******* tram
echoing its way out of my eye
when you peer into it while i attach
an index finger to the bottom lid to give
you a clearer picture?
           25 years in england: no englush girlfriend:
i guess all the english girls just love, just love love
being ***** by 9 pakistanis
daubed in gasoline...
                   hey: they **** thrill...

i'm tired of the weakness of the english,
the humpty-dumpty nature they are imposing,
self-cencorship,
    appeasing, like neville chamberlain...
bringing back the munich agreement...
not on a piece of paper,
instead... waving a scrap of a toilet roll...
so the english could wipe their own *****
on the promises of the germans...
if this really hurts the northern monkies...
guess how much it hurts the sourthern fairies...
(well... fairy, is a designated region surrounding
devon, bristol, hardly a ******* fairy in essex)...

   why am i foreigner and i share
the same nausea of the natives,
                     exhausted by the narratives?
i guess the english didn't like the polonaise:
but the polonaise are to blame...
came here with a list of benefits they could claim:
without having even lived 5 years among
the natives... housing benefits, child benefits...
believe me: the polonaise are the only
people in the world that hate each other...
to the extent of citing bitter criticisms...
whenever i pass through warsaw to see my grandparents
i am gripped with a sickness:
this homogeneity is too much for me...
shove me back into the east end of London...
too much of the same genetic material...
and that's when the language i am keeping
(seemingly for vanity reasons) fizzles out
into your basic encounter and that basic reminder
that circa 40 million speak it too,
better or worse, but they speak it...

of all the festivals? download...
                                   i wish...
    glastonbury?       not my thing...
kylie? i'll concede: slow? live, with instruments,
rather than the studio original...
wasn't that a cover of
   bowie's fashion?
                  sure as hell sounded similar...
but i heard the cure were playing...
so while writing my father's invoice
i made myself a paperclip bracelet...
   i figured... "let's just pretend to be there"...
and no, the 1980s weren't that bad when
it comes to music,
not now, by comparison...
the cure's kiss me, kiss me, kiss me (1987)
release?
one of those rare albums you can
listen to akin to reading a book...

                       but there's still that persisting
exhaustion... i came from under communism,
from under the iron curtain,
but at least there was the economic aspect
of communism involved...

   only today i watched the story
of the terrible inversion of english jursprudence,
i.e.: guilty until proven innocent...
the 1975 case of the silesian vampire...
an innocent man was hanged...
the original vampire?
    smashed his wive's head in,
then his childrens', then he set himself
on fire...
              then again: the tragedy of those
rare cases of being presumed guilty
rather than innocent...
then the reverse: presumed innocent rather
than guilty and getting away with it,
through the parody of death
and the non existent god...

   there could not be anything more exhausting
than communism without a communist
economic model...
this current state of affairs in the west:
cultural marxism and the yet to be discovered
antithesis of cultural darwinism...

i'll use the cartesian chirality for a moment:
sum ergo cogito...
i don't like using political terms...
but... liberal (classical) - i don't even know
what sort of thinking goes into the label -
in the east? the liberals are exhausted
by a resurgent nationalism within
   the newly acquired capitalist system...
in the west? the liberals are exhausted
by an insurgent communism within
an ageing capitalist system...

         on a side: seriously, why even bother
engaging in any sort of "public intellectual"
debates when the public are only
discussing two books: 1984 and brave new world...
**** it, might as well talk to a camel jockey
who only own and rides the waves of
time in this world only using one...
muhammad...
   whom Khadija **** Khuwaylid
would probably whip into his young
respectable shape...

                  and this is how Ezra Pound comes
into rememberance:
usura... at least the muslims do not
play into the game of usury:
of interest... borrow a quid,
pay back £2.33...
            that's the only way you can
gain respect of the muslims:
if they truly were the money lenders
of this world: which they aren't...
unless a newly blessed...

   among the philistines and the proselytes...
england is such a tiresome project,
even on the outskirts of London...
i'm being dragged down by this intervention
of marxism: on a whim,
on a whimsical projection...
of "adding" values...
            
           communism would have worked...
in exceptional circumstances...
poland... circa 1945 - 1990...
syria: the current year...
  to whatever year is demanded...
exceptional as in: war torn...
where was the marshall plan
   for poland, when there was one
for sweden (neutral) and switzerland
(also neutral)?!
        black youths bothered about
the summer holidays,
having to live in council flats,
  concrete goliaths...
           want to know what it feels like
when entire cities are like council
estates,
with only pockets of remaining
   free-standing houses among
overshadowing council flats?
                                    nee bother...
sure... in a country where:
the house is the castle and there's a labyrinth
of castles constituting outer suburbia...
balconies... that's what the soviet
models had... balconies...
where women could grow flowers...
concrete staccato gardens in the sky...
the blocks of flats in england
didn't have balconies (sky gardens,
          esp. the early ones, massive fault)...
i spent one summer reading
bertnard russell's history of western philosophy...
lying in my grandparent's balcony,
in the shade...
watching passerbys among
          the barking dogs of the neighbours...

one day, one ******* day!
   and i'm already exhausted from the castrato
english narrative...
pandering to the people you expected
to integrate...
  no! you're not changing your standards...
your standards are perfectly reasonable!
i'm tired of the english pandering
to the sort of people who, will, not,
integrate!
               i integrated in a way
of respecting both the english culture,
as well as hiding / preserving my own...
why don't i just do the following:
   pisać po polsku?
                      like some czesław miłosz?

ah... good point... at what point
is the standard of integration appreciated?
when nothing is preserved?
surely integration is supposed to
accommodate some variation
of preservation?
     i might add: that's a fine line...
preserve all? no integration...
preserve some? integration...
                    preserve none? no integration...
food is a cheap target to example
with...
                   it's a low hanging fruit...
given that even i find indian cuisine
   the most superior in the world...
food is a cheap target concerning integration...
but the niqab?
  when the local english authorities
are employing face-recognition
technology and when testing it...
are forcing people to uncover their faces,
subsequently arresting them out of protest...
but not the women wearing the niqab...
out of? out of what?
   a secular society shouldn't be allowed
to discriminate against any religion...
it should discriminate against: all religions!

                isn't that what the secular ideology
is all about? the... softcore version
of soviet atheism?
        secularism of the west (miltary-industrial
complex)...
"vs." soviet atheism of the east
  (scientific-industrial complex)...
           i'm still so ******* tired
               of this bogus trap of "necessary"
                       commentary.
my love
thy hair is one kingdom
  the king whereof is darkness
thy forehead is a flight of flowers

thy head is a quick forest
  filled with sleeping birds
thy ******* are swarms of white bees
  upon the bough of thy body
thy body to me is April
in whose armpits is the approach of spring

thy thighs are white horses yoked to a chariot
  of kings
they are the striking of a good minstrel
between them is always a pleasant song

my love
thy head is a casket
  of the cool jewel of thy mind
the hair of thy head is one warrior
  innocent of defeat
thy hair upon thy shoulders is an army
  with victory and with trumpets

thy legs are the trees of dreaming
whose fruit is the very eatage of forgetfulness

thy lips are satraps in scarlet
  in whose kiss is the combinings of kings
thy wrists
are holy
  which are the keepers of the keys of thy blood
thy feet upon thy ankles are flowers in vases
  of silver

in thy beauty is the dilemma of flutes

  thy eyes are the betrayal
of bells comprehended through incense
Mateuš Conrad Sep 2018
.there are only two aspects of forgiveness worthwhile, kept in anticipatory slumber, (1) is watching the masses congregate within the confines of your thinking, but (2)... watching how individuals in said massing of resources... seem to be akin to: someone walking on tip-toe on a bed  egg-shells... i'm met a few crazies... and i've prescribed myself investigating a few normal-folk, who are seemingly petrified, "thinking" than such: negations of ease, akin to depression, have an epidemic ontology.... that they are contagious... more or less.... like a sick ego, that bribes one's thinking and sows a false duality between what constitutes a body, consumed, with what otherwise, constitutes a mind... i've seen a few crazies... they seemed to like me, even when i suggested that we only just met...  the most senile people in the world... thus, to be frank... i'm more concerned with the sanity projects... with their emotional intelligence worth less than the emotional relativism of a gnat to a bear, which begs the reason os arguing: none... who... are so barren... they'd prefer the status of a pawn, in a game of chess, akin to Jimmy Savile...so much for the Saxon logic of: innocent until proven guilty... more like: innocent proven by death, after which... there is no case for either innocence, or guilt... i'm of the conviction... that... i'd rather see an innocent man claim redemption in life... than a guilty man laugh at a redemption in death; sorry... but i don't share the sort of sentiment that argues otherwise... better an innocent man claim redemption while alive... than a guilty man "claim innocence" while dead... part-and-parcel of the legality of the death penalty... the former argument: guilty until proven innocent makes a whole lot of sense without a death penalty... and the latter? no logic behind it... it makes no sense... then again... i am drunk, and i do not delve into sober issues or: serious circumstance... i allow sober people to meddle in such affairs... after all... sober people... make... the most... compelling arguments and, to boot, the most convincing opinions for up-coming affairs! why become a thief in their ordinances?! please! let the mice play, while the cat is away!  i need no bargain with ****-stormers and ******-buggery!

oh i've been to a few psychiatric interviews
over the past 10+ years...
always wondering: what am i doing
here? psychoanalyzing the psychiatrists?

you do know what a psychiatrist is
a poor man's psychologist -
with the added branch of pharmacological
applicability?
  a psychologist will just talk,
perhaps serve you camomile tea...
but prescribe zero drugs...

the talking, the endless talking,
the talking
of a west London psychologist...
who ends the relationship when
you mention:
i've had a dream of Allah...
god he's grotesque...
but, point: there was
someone with him...

  i thought that Allah had no
companions, or rather: he took none?
oops...

i remember analyzing this
situation once,
a ****** psychiatrist brought in
aa medicine student
who wanted to specialize in
psychiatry...
   apparently he concluded that
i was sane...
nice... being the subject
of learning curvature
surrounding a medicine student...

next came the allotment plant
to mind the crazies
while mingling them with the physical
retards...
stole a lot of potatoes that day...
the retards slurred,
exposed their genitals...
and were huddled together like
cattle by the social workers...

******* marvelous!
couldn't expect a lesser
Moulin Rouge reinterpretation
if i wasn't watching harlots
dance the: flinging
of the undergarments on show
that warm July afternoon!

but always, whenever i visited
a psychiatrist in a clinic:
always...
  why am i here?

you know what scares psychiatrists?
EM-PA-THY...
scares the living life out of them...
empathy is what psychiatrists
apprehend the most...
   so you're neither a psychopath
or a sociopath?
what are you then? comes the auto-suggestive
interpretation
of the ****** expression that
comes with suggesting,
even the slightest lack of contempt
for a basic human emotion...

scared, ****-less!
as if on a diet of ****** ruling
over Sudan, or similar ****...
famine after famine,
scared, but unable to soil their underwear,
given... well... the ******* famine...

oh i love psychoanalyzing
psychiatrists,
they have a shorthand blistering
beneath their appreciation for
listening...
their pharmacology branch...
caught one psychiatrist off guard...
he says, out loud,
that... i was abused as a child...

and?
  perhaps i was, perhaps i wasn't...
better that than being treated like
the modern Humpty-Dumpty...
walking on egg-shells typo,
rather than type, of what constitutes
the ontology of individualism...

i had to retort  with / resort to seeking
the opinion of a Polish neurologist
who, with a basic question
'doctor, am i mentally ill?'
replied
  'whoever said you're mentally ill,
is mentally ill themselves!'
case closed...
    
hence the statistics are believable
surround the death of Ellie...
teenage suicide rose in England
by 67% between 2010 and 2017...
    
so you do know the difference between
a psychologist, and a psychiatrist?
camomile tea...
   a psychologist is a humanist,
a psychiatrist is a physician...

if you're rich enough...
you see a humanist...
  poor? shorry...
   the pharmaceutical branch
of the practice is coming into practice...
but don't worry...
chances are...
    you talk what they want to hear
for a while, and then you start
talking what: they don't want you to hear...

hell...
  with this type of medication
and the whiskey...
i could turn into a semi-variant of a
hibernating bear!
i don't mind...
           i found that the glorification
pompous camp of cancer "survivors"
had their stab in the dark...
   because can we only regress
to glorifying surviving one type of
disease, while making stigma of
another kind?

the mentally ill are less of my concern....
i'm worried about the dim-wits
who abuse antibiotics!
   and i am... ******* numb-skulls...
taking antibiotics like
free-prescription vitamins!
creating the perfect niche for
super-bugs!
                      dim-wits!
         numb-skulls!
  and i thought that head-banging was
a source for erasing brain cells!
Daniel Bauer Nov 2011
The world is full of hatred and spite,
It may come as a surprise
Oh innocent youth,
But allow me to reprise,
The world is full of hatred and spite.

Oh innocent youth,

Change it, we must,
In the way we see fit.
Take charge of the reigns,
And demolish the parts
causing the most pain.

Ignorance and Arrogance
Are the Gods of the day,
Lack of wanting or caring
For the power of knowledge,
Content to be slaves,
Lost in their ways.

Oh tainted youth,

How far will this path take us?
Destroying our home, our friendships, our lives,
Our bodies, our minds, our dreams,
Crushed and broken,
Until nothing is left,
Nothing except subservient beings.

Oh enraged youth,

How do we change the events
set into motion,
Call me a radical but I have such a notion.
Seek knowledge, peace,
Love, and understanding.

In these virtues you will find
The mind’s true elation,
Then, and only then,
Will you break free
From the grip of preoccupation.

Oh enlightened youth,

When and how will our voices be heard?
Whenever it is, we break ranks from the herd.

It will require us all,
Brothers, sisters, blacks, and whites,
No group left uncalled,
For fear that upon deaf ears
our efforts should fall,

Oh empowered youth,

With these tools we must fashion,
Our revolution of choice,
With chests out and heads high,
We will make sure they hear,
Our unified voice.

For without the power of us,
There will be no change,
But the power of us
Is a force to reckon,
Yet we must keep our path straight,
And let it not derange.

Oh complacent youth,

I fear that change should not come,
Soon enough, or yet at all,
Unless we stand tall, and call,
For those in their hall,
To Bring Down their Wall.

When we treat all equal,
With love and respect,
We will have won.
But what do you expect?

Oh innocent youth,

This will not happen, it cannot happen,
The world is filled with Hatred and Spite,
And I fear we will gaze eternally,
At our cause, fading,
Into that great twilight.
Debates, filled with hate,
candidates, go irate.
Put it on national television,
for everyone to see.
Make a disgrace,
of our beloved country.

News lies,
babies cry,
watching innocent people die.
The world falls apart in front of your face,
with issues like the economy, borders, and race.

The news lies,
babies cry,
watch our innocent people die.
The world falls apart in front of your face,
with issues like the economy, borders, and race.

******, scams, and robbery,
all over the **** TV.
Bias reports on politics,
this is how we get our kicks.

Violence, lies, and trickery,
overload the dying TV.
You will soon find,
they’re hypnotizing our weak minds.

News lies,
babies cry,
watching innocent people die.
The world falls apart in front of your face,
with issues like the economy, borders, and race.

The news lies,
babies cry,
watch our innocent people die.
The world falls apart in front of your face,
with issues like the economy, borders, and race.

Don’t try to misguide,
the evidence we provide.
Don’t try to hide,
your disgusting genocide.

Don’t try to hide,
don’t hide,
don’t hide,
don’t hide,
don’t hide,
don’t hide,
don’t hide,
your nationwide genocide.
Genocide, genocide

News lies,
babies cry,
watch those innocent people die.
Stand to the side,
watch a genocide.
Copyright Barry Pietrantonio- From Traveling Through Time
Tijuasgirl May 2014
innocent girl
trusting someone who you barely know
foolish girl
listening to his lies 'cause you felt sorry
don't you know
he'll be the end of you
innocent girl
how could you know?
foolish girl
once you are in, there is no way out
don't you know
here is the end of the line.
I love the innocence present even we are being naughty
This is about a guy who was so respectful and kind and gentle even when things were getting a little heated. I have never felt more comfortable around anyone before, not even my own family. I think things may be taking a turn for the better, and I definitely did not see that coming into my life any time soon. This is super chiche but maybe time really does heal all wounds ❤
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Composed on 00:53, 21/09/2016 using Hello Poetry's 'Words' algorithm. We don't assume this means something.
Innocent child and snow-white flower!
Well are ye paired in your opening hour.
Thus should the pure and the lovely meet,
Stainless with stainless, and sweet with sweet.

White as those leaves, just blown apart,
Are the folds of thy own young heart;
Guilty passion and cankering care
Never have left their traces there.

Artless one! though thou gazest now
O'er the white blossom with earnest brow,
Soon will it tire thy childish eye;
Fair as it is, thou wilt throw it by.

Throw it aside in thy weary hour,
Throw to the ground the fair white flower;
Yet, as thy tender years depart,
Keep that white and innocent heart.
poetryaccident Sep 2018
I’ll protect the innocent
even while I may proclaim
my deep regard for who they are
controversy may be exclaimed
guiltless stated for my friends
this word is used at its most broad
when all children of the divine
deserve their refuge from abuse

even while I seek to proclaim
my admiration for their grit
stepping outside confining realms
leading the way for this questing one
on the shoulders of the perverse
this is how the public may respond
declaring wisdom I don’t share
when I see threads of commonality

in my heart I know we are the same
seeking power in our own way
being true to ourselves
while expressing how we live
humanity searching for a voice
I’ll add mine to the chorus
admitting that I’ve fallen far
while ascending to the heights

spectrums ranged in pursuit
my honest nature at last found
though at first I wrongly thought
I was alone when I was not
the free spirits led the way
I wish my voice could exclaim
and still I hold back my breath
protecting innocent like myself.

© 2018. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved. 20180909.
The poem “Protecting Innocent” is about my inability to properly attribute my praise and respect to the free spirits of the world.  Society always has some sort of box that it wants people to live in, and when the boxes are breached, the reaction is one of judgmental attack.
Mermaid Jul 2015
Give me just one innocent touch,

My lovely sister of compassion "

I just need your blushed cheeks

Like an apple in time of harvest

To caress them as the feather

Fondled by gentle wind,

Don’t step back, don’t go away!

Leave me just a little innocent kiss

My lovely sister of memories,

to refresh my blurred senses

to feel the warm sun of your heart.

Leave me just an innocent kiss

On your honey lips,

Kissed so many times by your lover

To melt in your sweet nectar

Endlessly longing for your look,

My lovely sister of childhood,

To hold you in an innocent hug

As I'm your bhai from land of sugar cane

Where the vast lakes merge with horizon...

I want only that from you,

Is my desire not innocent?



© n.nour
I wrote in November 2014
Robin Lemmen Jul 2018
She is a lovely thought to be had
And makes you oh so mad
When she smiles at you
With big green eyes of genuine care
But don't you know a fantasy
Can never match up to reality
It is hard when she is so beautiful
In your mind, where you take her
To bed each and every night
Lay down her perfectly carved body
Tracing lines and taking her to the edge
Dipping down low to taste her sweet love
Until reality takes you by the hand
Leads you back home
Far, far away from her
Mikala Clark Dec 2013
Oh those innocent eyes
That used to be full of life
Oh those innocent eyes
Stare right up at mine
Oh those innocent eyes
Slowly lose their light
Oh those innocent eyes
That used to be full of life
That stared up at mine
That were slowly losing their light
Closed
Forever
Closed
Seán Mac Falls Jun 2012
Lovers entered a forbidden forest bower,
And as they stalked that range, with eyes glazed,
She offered up her hind. Now, with doe eyes,
Deep as his, deep in arousal's sleep, heels fell, 
As he knocked and pulled her dark honey hair 
And whispered, surrender, into wanting ears, 
Softly he drove his hunting command, homing 
To his huntress.

Her body braced, yet bade, with heat and vibrance.
Ruthlessly, he ****** his arrow deeper and then 
Once more and then again.  She bucked fiercely 
And defiant, goading his prodding lance ever more
Ever longer, and parting the pink lines of her white
Rose, he was, and once again, Prince to the dark
Dominion of her quarters.

In the middle of this carnal match they paused.
And looking into the forest beyond they saw
A yearling fawn, a feral Goddess, grazing still, 
Bathing in a vale, virginal, wholly unmoved 
By their act of venery, lustfully playing, in the innocent 
Leaves.  It was as if they were among her kin, a gentle 
Doe and a noble stag. From that moment on 
The human hunters did not speak.

Falling, again, rolling eyes were deep in arousal's sleep.
Her back was a crescent moon pocked and wet with dew.
He could feel her heart beating in time with his piercing 
Prong, her arching back glistened in the suns spittle
As it broke through the dark and vernal ceiling wood.

In the final shot her quivering buck lowered and broke
And a sound not heard, made a scene, a sweet murmuring
Shuddered and sank onto the floor of the forest leaves 
With her tale, taken and told, her breathless breath, 
Her nostrils cold and her heated and lanced openings 
Dripping, draining; here was a New World’s beginning.

Sated, solemn and softly quaking, his woman sweetly laid,
And now, doomed with her doe eyes, two lovers, fated, made;
She glowed, divine, like the rolling brook that mellowed
Slow, in the vine-dark and golden forest stable,
In Artemis’s wood.
Piyush Gahlot Jul 2018
That pure innocent smile,
Your childish face and that side profile,
Your silky hair and that perfect hairstyle,
Would never forget you.
**** I miss you!

The touch of your smooth skin,
That beautiful little chin,
Your blushy cheeks and that grin,
Still I adore you.
**** I miss you!

Those big dope eyes,
That Stupid nose ,
Those size 7 feet and pinky toes.
Your medications and Ayurvedic dose.
Wish again to feel you.
**** I miss you!

Baby I still remember,
that freezy December,
The day we fell off the scooter,
Your stupid buggy computer.
Our first date and the perfect kiss,
That raining night we spent in balcony
When you burnt the toast and macrony,
That birthday card you made me,
Helping in projects and assignments,
You taking care when I got sick,
I recall all those perfect memories of you,
still there's a place for you,
**** I miss you!

I wish you would have waited,
I would have come back,
But I can't blame you,
It was me who needed the space,
The fault is my OWN!
So I am the one left ALONE! :'(
I miss every cell of your body,
every second spent with you,
every moment in your arms,
Every bite I had with you.
I ******* miss the whole of YOU.
We started with Jesus,
ripping him to pieces.
And that's not where it ceases,
the violence, it increase.

Life.
Death.
We ****,
the best.

Jesus died,
Judas lied.
"Free Barabbas",
the people cried.

Jesus died,
Judas lied.
"Free Barabbas",
the people cried.

The people killed Jesus Christ,
they killed Mr. King.
The people killed Kennedy,
they **** everything.

Then there was King,
just doing his thing.
But his life was stopped short,
due to a killing.

Poor Mr. King,
just doing his thing.
Innocent man, dead,
due to a killing.

The people killed Jesus Christ,
they killed Mr. King.
The people killed Kennedy,
they **** everything.

Mr. Kennedy,
best president to be.
His term didn't last long,
killed while on T.V.

John F. Kennedy,
the president to be,
never got the chance to change,
the shape of our country.

The people killed Jesus Christ,
they killed Mr. King.
The people killed Kennedy,
they **** everything.

Killing is their stimulant.
So they **** the innocent.
How can they live with it?
Knowing they **** the innocent.

The people killed Jesus Christ,
they killed Mr. King.
The people killed Kennedy,
they **** everything.

The people killed Jesus Christ,
they killed Mr. King.
The people killed Kennedy,
we **** everything.
Copyright Barry Pietrantonio

— The End —