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Stephen E Yocum Jun 2017
Gauguin or Michener
horizon lust inspired,
The South Pacific desired.
From early childhood on.
Fiji in the 70’s all alone in
A Personal journey of self
and world discovery.

From the big island of
Viti Levu, embarked
on native small boat, fifty
miles out to the Yasawa group.
Reaching tiny Yaqeta with
300 souls living close to the bone,
No Running water, or electric spark
glowing. Remarkably bright stars
shine at night, no city lights showing
to hide their heavenly glow.

Unspoiled Melanesian Island people
Meagerly surviving only on the sea
and a thousand plus years of tradition.

I welcomed like a friend of long
standing, with smiling faces and
open sprits. Once eaters of other
humans beings, converted now to
Methodist believers.

Their Island beautiful beyond belief,
Azure pristine seas in every direction,
Coral reefs abounding with aquatic life.
Paradise found and deeply appreciated.
I swam and fished, played with the kids
and laid about in my hammock, enjoying
weeks of splendor alongside people
I came to revere, generous and loving
at peace with themselves and nature,
Embracing a stranger like a family member.

My small transistor radio warned big
Cyclone brewing, of Hurricane proportions.
My thoughts turned to Tidal Waves.
The village and all those people
living a few feet above sea level.
Tried to express my concerns to
my host family and others, getting
but smiles and shrugs in return.
Spoken communication almost
nonexistent, me no Fijian spoken,
Them, little English understood.

It started with rain, strong winds,
Worsening building by the minute.
The villagers’ merely tightening down
the hatches of their stick, thatch houses.
Content it seemed to ride out the storm,
As I assumed they always did.

Shouldering heavy backpack
I hugged my friends and headed
for high ground, the ridgebacks
of low mountains, the backbones
of the Island. Feeling guilty leaving
them to their fate from high water.
Perplexed, they ignored my warnings.

In half an hour winds strong enough
to take me off my feet, blowing even
from the other side of the Island.
On a ridge flank I hunkered down,
pulled rubber poncho over my body,
Laying in watershed running inches deep
cascading down slopes to the sea below.

The wind grew to astounding ferocity,
Later gusts reported approaching 160
miles per hour. Pushing me along
the ground closer to the cliff edge
and a 80 foot plunge to the sea below,
Clinging to cliff with fingers and toes.

For three hours it raged, trees blowing
off the summit above, disappearing into
the clouds and stormy wet mist beyond.

A false calm came calling, the eye of the
Cyclone hovered over the Island, as I
picked my drenched self up and made my
way over blown down trees and scattered
storm debris to the Village of my hosts.

Most wooden, tin roofed structures gone
or caved in, the few Island boats broken
and thrown up onto the land. Remarkably
many of the small one room “Bure” thatched
huts still stood. Designed by people that knew
the ways if big winds.

The high waves had not come as I feared.
Badly damaged, yet the village endured,
As did most of the people, some broken
bones, but, mercifully, no worse.

Back with my host family, in their Bure,
new preparations ensued, the big winds I
was informed would now return from the
opposite direction, and would be even worse.

For another four hours the little grass and
stick House shook, nearly rising from the
ground, held together only by woven vine
ropes, and hope, additional ropes looped
over roof beams held down by our bare
hands. Faith and old world knowledge
is a wonderful thing.

Two days past and no one came to check on
the Island, alone the people worked to save
their planted gardens from the salt water
contaminated ground, cleaned up debris and
set to mending their grass homes. The only fresh
Water well still unpolluted was busily used.

With a stoic resolve, from these self-reliant people,
life seemed to go on, this not the first wind blown
disaster they had endured, Cyclones I learned
came every year, though this one, named “Bebe”
worst in the memories of the old men of the island.

On the third day a boy came running,
having spotted and hailed a Motor yacht,
which dropped anchor in the lagoon on the
opposite side of the Island.

I swam out to the boat and was welcomed
aboard by the Australian skipper and crew.
Shared a cold Coke, ham sandwich and tales
of our respective adventures of surviving.
They agreed to carry me back to the Big Island.

A crewman returned me ashore in a dingy.
I crossed the island and retrieved my things,
Bidding and hugging my friends in farewell.
I asked permission to write a story about the
storm and the village, the elders' smiles agreed,
they had nothing to loose, seemed pleased.

One last time I traversed the island and stepped
Into the yachts small rowboat, my back to
the island. Hearing a commotions I turned
seeing many people gathering along the
shores beach. I climbed out and went among
them, hugging most in farewell, some and
me too with tears in our eyes, fondness, respect
reflected, shared, received.

As the skiff rowed away  halfway to the ship,
the Aussie mate made a motion with his eyes
and chin, back towards the beach.

Turning around in my seat I saw there
most of the island population, gathered,
many held aloft small pieces of colored cloth,
tiny flags of farewell waving in the breeze,
they were singing, chanting a island song,
slow, like a lament of sorts.

Overwhelmed, I stood and faced the shore,
opened wide my arms, as to embrace them all,
tears of emotions unashamedly ran down my face.
Seeing the people on the beach, the Aussie crewman
intoned, “****** marvelous that. Good on 'ya mate.”

Yes, I remember Fiji and Cyclone Bebe, most of all
I fondly remember my Island brothers and sisters.

                                    End
Two years later I returned to that island, lovingly
received like a retuning son, feasted and drank
Kava with the Chief and Elders most of the night,
A pepper plant root concoction that intoxicates
And makes you sleep most all the next day.

My newspaper story picked up by other papers
Galvanizing an outpouring of thoughtful support,
A Sacramento Methodist Church collected clothes,
money and donations of pots and pans and Gas
lanterns along with fishing gear and other useful things.
All packed in and flown by a C-130 Hercules Cargo plane
out of McClellan Air Force Base, U.S.A and down to Fiji,
cargo earmarked for the Island of Yaqeta and my friends.

On my return there was an abundance of cut off
Levies and Mickey Mouse T-Shirts, and both a
brand New Schoolhouse and Church built by
U.S. and New Zealand Peace Corps workers.

This island of old world people were some of the best
People I have ever known. I cherish their memory and
My time spent in their generous and convivial company.
Life is truly a teacher if we but seek out the lessons.
This memory may be too long for HP reading, was
writ mostly for me and my kids, a recall that needed
to be inscribed. Meeting people out in the world, on
common ground is a sure cure for ignorance and
intolerance. I highly recommend it. Horizon Lust
can educate and set you free.
Mateuš Conrad Feb 2019
what's the biggest difference
between 20th century's
french and german
existentialism,
    and the 21st century's
primarily, anglo-sphere,
realisation of an existential
   "crisis"...
           anti-jew meme...
         the globalist octopus...
imagine...
     some people have
recovered from an existential
crisis, having established
vast constructs of thought
way back in the 20th century,
namely
the french, and the germans..
but...
my oh my oh my my...
the anglo-sphere of linguistics
has only, "just now"
awoken to this...
   quiet a predicament,
wouldn't you say?
                         fertile ground...
oh sure, there was existential
angst in the anglo-
sphere among irish
pillars...
                beckett, joyce...
but concrete architectures
of thought, regarding existentialism,
seem to be absent...
  so... counter-argument:
so how come i can
freely buy a copy of some
german philosopher,
a french novelist turned
philosopher...
           but...
  i'm skint... when it comes
to english thinkers more
or less associated with
my status, rather than stance,
on contemporary "translation"?
   elitism...
no... it's not that...
      i could have just well
have procured
a life helping out my father
in industrial roofing...
             i didn't mind roofing...
it's not an exactly pristine
labour of love sort
of environment...
the scottish widows' h.q.
roof near st. paul's?
        me.
   i was part of that
monstrosity...
       but... come again?
but there are some many attachment
cursors when it comes
to an anglican take
on "revising" continental
existentialism...
        whatever crisis
the continental people
felt, and consolidated
the 20th century people...
is only just starting to bud
in the anglo-phonic world...
start-up, island,
end result,
    h'america and australia...
there was never a question
as to why, or if,
the english-speaking
people would ever entertain
existentialism,
but, suddenly they are,
at least starting to look
into the pit,
from their ivory towers...
immediate escape
impetus?
      reach for the fictive
narrative,
                disavow journalism...
make journalism bedfellows
with political rhetoric...
there's no debate...
circus, however you look
at it...
             you can't fathom
an abstract variant
of the german or the french
mind, gripped by
an existential critique,
a piquancy,
    a pedantry...
in the english speaking world...
there are,
just simply...
   too many attachments
to deal with...
       - growing a beard:
meant exactly that -
eat ****.    
         i don't see where
there a "me" to be found
in a (0, 0) starting space,
of net-worth-"work"...
     coumpters-freeze
network...
for a language...
that ridiculed,
or became succinct
in succumbing
to its anglo-preferences
of objectifying counter-standards
for its own...
shortcomings...

  what has 20th century
existential philosophy have
to do with "anything",
esp. if arrived from
the either french
of german, cultures?

we have Joe Slave over 'ere...
oh right... sorry...
paweł nowak....
just took joe stephen slave's
role was
the person, the hands,
in a recycling factory...
do you mind?
  rather:
do you mind...
teaching your natives...
   to...
   and you know how that
cindarella story ends...

introducing existentialism
to the brits and,
generally,
  the anglican variety of
the tongue, being
used...
   will end up as, failure...
the 20th century
taught me this,
the irish failed,
the french
and the germans...
basically a "foreign" idea
is more than just...
******..
the people are ******,
with paradoxes
of their women...

                sure... a bit like
Iceland...
oh, ****, a bit too close
to the continent...
like madagascar
  is to africa...
and sri lanka is to india?
i'm not 'ere to care to
the idiosyncratic
concerns of island people...
contra the, "collective"...

island people will forever
remain island people,
"solipsistic", idiosyncratic,
idioms...
            i can't change that...
always prone to export...
but never to import...
    island people,
       the **** is there to say?
ever bewilder yourself
over chanel 4 news...
and how...
  john snow is slipping
into dementia?
      you listen to the cue?
no?
                  sorry... john...
dementia on the horizon...

attempting to adapt
existentialism into england
will fail,
given their moral high-ground
of the "migrant crisis"...
it's an island...
  the borders are clarifying,
distinct,
        sure, the people can be *****
when their language
is bored in being
a "lingua franca"...
         but other people have
other, in-debt defences...

western slavs?
ever hear a spaniard speak
pollack, just because
he hiked with a polish girl?
yeah... mahler...
                       violins and ****...
you only listen:
                  for an idea...
it comes, it comes,
it doesn't come...
well... you move onto
some khachaturian...
        so,                 no biggie...

you can't import continetal
thinking to an island people,
they have no concept
of borders...
their naive presupposing
barrier, centered-ground is
unshakeable...

   existential philosophy
"meme" rate of survival is... ?
0.1,
binary, negation, an affirmative
statement,
and then the fiasco...

       it doesn't help
that there's an alternative
outlet via h'america or australia...
i'm not looking
at the "bigger picture",
when there isn't one...

     20th century existentialism
will not work in 21st century england,
or any english-speaking world
to begin with...
there are just, too many,
attachment points,
         as many nurtured
nostalgia avenues
as there are amnesia riddled
currencies of attention
exhaustion...
        it's just a pristine model
to revive the serf...

there's no point reading existentialism
to a people,
so far lodged in their
isolationism that they
can claim, both an island-stature...
and two continents,
by extension
       of stating: "being aware"...      

i guess you have to be born
on the continent
to read anything by 20th century
writers,
but... trying to implement
the word...
into the idiosyncrasy
of island-dwelling people,
akin to the English?

                    i'm not even going
to bother trying...
they're island-folk...
   they "think" of borders akin
to coastlines...
and not migration
fake bordering of a contradiction
of peoples occupying
a quicksand pit
of looking at a geography map...
island-folk...
  they know border...
because they know... island...

you can't translate
something that's already
paradoxical to them
  (hypocritical, is not a milder
term of usage for the desired
execution)...
     no...
                not going to happen...
two islands,
some set of continental enclaves...
culture...
whatever you want...

             i've lived with them,
even though i've lived pretty much
among either the irish migrants,
or the scots...
    you're not going to translate
an island, into a continent's
auxiliary...
  right now...
you'd think that
   Estonia would become
characteristic of an island-people
auxiliary mentality...

       i can't blame these people
though...
   an island environment
provides an island people
mentality...
    if you have never been
part of a congregation,
geographically...
   yes...
      but they're borrowing
continental idiosyncracy...
****** *****...

   Iceland?
            yeah... oh yeah...
they're hot on the topic of what
island life is like...
being so...
   conservative that they even
have developed apps
for people to check their
genetic proximity
and any immediacy to live,
+ baggage...

      the Brits were always 'ere...
the Icelandisch?
were always there...
          and...
  sorry... for the already given
postcard: wish you were
here analogy of...
            curiosity killed
the cat...

           but island dwelling people
will always be,
an island dwelling people...
right now,
you do what i do...
you play chamaleon...
  "sociopath"...
                you...
begin with: a-pathy...
          without pathology
looking for... what requires
you to mingle with the most
pathological examples of
a hushed sanity of society...

          and...
          your luck, as well as mine...
nothing really happens...
like butter smeared
over a gently toasted
piece of toast.

hello tomorrow.
Brandy Michelle Aug 2019
There's an island in the distance, I hear its beautiful... The water crystal blue... Waves so gentle... Sand so soft... The breeze blows gently, the palms sway back and forth... That island is just up ahead, keep heading north... Large grey rocks and deep blue waters will lead you to that island...The island of forever.... Where the maybes don't turn into never,and dreams never become doubts... See it in the distance, it looks close enough to touch. Smell the salt in the air.... Drift away... Let it all go... Let it all go there...Safe and sound, leave all of your troubles behind... Get to that island... Get lost in time. In a time where everything is nothing and nothing is everything...The island of lost dreams and broken sorrows.. The island of hope and shattered promises. Full of beauty, full of lies, full of enchantment.. Yet, full of cries...Cries of disbelief, cries of laughter, cries of heartache, cries to just escape... Escape from all insanity to sane or from sane to insanity. The island... Is pure vanity..Step into the water so peaceful and serene... So crystal clear and warm... So unsettling but enticingly inviting Let it invite you in...Going further out... Its getting deeper.. But the island... The island is just up ahead. The current growing stronger that beautiful water getting darker.. Nothing surrounds me now.. No light.. No sound...Deep darkness below me and all around, I'm growing weaker.. My arms and legs tired. Don't think I can go much farther but the island, the island is so promising. I've got to get there, someway somehow.. I can not give up now... Please not now..All of my hopes,dreams and effort have been put into getting to this island...The island, so full of beauty, so full of grace, I've got to make it to that peaceful and wonderful place...I catch a final wind, a breath of that salty air... I can almost taste it, am I almost there? A sudden urge to swim faster... But my legs just keep getting heavier... I just can't swim anymore....The island... But the island.. In the distance... Just up ahead...Out here in the deep... My arms now weak.. I try to cry out.. My voice.. My voice won't speak..I begin to sink... All of the salty air I once breathed... Is now set free... Now I belong to the sea...The sea of broken promises and empty dreams. It has gained another lost and once hopeful soul... Trying to reach her dream that lies just beyond the sea.... Her dream to just catch a glimpse of that island.... That island…
;BM
Dorothy A May 2016
She remembered it well. Ben made no bones about it, as he told his little sister, "You want to make something of your life, you got to get out of here and don't look back."  And he did just that, saying his goodbyes to her as he embarked off into the army.

There's a whole other world out there than just Jasper Island

How terrifying of a concept that was to Rachel back then. Ben was almost three years older, and without him it was just her and Pop . Jasper Island was all she knew, and at the age of sixteen that was a terrifying concept to a shy girl who had been sheltered her whole life.

Rachel envied Ben. Between the two of him, he was the only one who really remembered their mother. She was close to three-years-old when her mother left this earth. Ben was six. Her recollections of her dear mother were like vapors, like dreams that had lost most of their definition.

There was only one time she really could envision her mother correctly. She could just faintly recall her mother hanging up sheets outside, and they were blowing in the wind like sails, matching her mother's windblown skirt. Rachel was giggling as her mother tried to shoo her out from getting caught up in those magical sheets. She could still remember the beauty of her mother as she snuggled up against her, her mother catching up to her impish daughter as she twirled up in one of the sheets like a girl trying to play dress up. Her mother's skirt smelled like a soft perfume mixed with the sea.

Everywhere, as a child, Rachel was surrounded by sea. It made her dreary home pleasant after she lost her mom. The sea was a constant friend. With its mystery and its beauty, the sea gave her a right to dream of what lay beyond it. Ben was right. She needed to get out from under her little, protective shell. She would read Ben's letters that came  Germany, where he was stationed, and would dream of being there, herself.

Pop never mentioned Ben, again, like he didn't exist. Her father was a distant man, a fisherman who never had much for conversation or desire for closeness. Rachel was used to his distance, for that was her norm. But as she grew up, she realized he was bitter when he lost her mother. Rachel's aunt, Roberta, her father's sister, clued her in on his former life before marriage. She told Rachel, "Your father never was a man to show his emotions. He shied away from people and would rather tinker around in his tool shed or be out on his boat. I sometimes don't know what your mother saw in him, for she was quite a social gal."

Rachel saw herself more in her distant father, more than she cared to see. She was artistic, and felt more at home with a paintbrush than with anything else. She would paint pictures of anything--the quaint homes around where she lived, the woods and nature, and especially anything  to do with the sea.

Everyone told her she had talent. She won a talent contest in her school, though the pool of artsy students was small. Her island school was about three times the size of a one room schoolhouse, and it was quite easy for her to shine there. Was she really that talented? Many of her teachers saw and encouraged her abilities. They  wanted her to do something with her gift, and surely not to waste it. Everyone said so--except her pop. He never took much notice.

Ben was right. Frightened as she was, Rachel decided to try to make it on the mainland. It just became too irresistible of a notion. She promised her father, "I'll write to, Pop". He didn't even face her as she was saying goodbye, so she repeated, "Pop...I am going to write, will keep in touch".

"Don't bother", he simple replied. He wouldn't even look at her, but buried his nose into his newspaper.

Eight years later, on Jasper Island, Rachel stood before the home she grew up in. Those words still stung.

Don't bother

Pop had died. Aunt Roberta was the one to inform her, and she wasn't able to get back in time before the funeral. It was a small one--you could count the attendees on one hand--but her pop probably wouldn't have cared either way.  Rachel felt numb about it all. How should she feel? She knew she should grieve for her father, but the tears didn't come. He was such a hard man to know.

It would be nearly half a year before she returned to Jasper Island. She was living in Europe at the time, and she had moderate success in living off her art.  It was enough of an experience in which she could support herself. She first saw her brother in Germany then eventually went to Rome, to Paris and to London, working her way through as she traveled. Eventually, she stayed in London and became an art teacher. But now here she was again on Jasper Island.

She looked upon her hold house for the longest time. It looked so different. There were new shutters, a new coat of paint, and it didn't seem right with the backdrop of the sea. The house was yellow and the plastic pink flamingos were an eyesore to her. New residents occupied the house, and it just didn't seem right or real. Though she had no claim on it anymore, it still was her home. Now it was sold off soon after her pop died. She never even got a chance to stand inside for one last time, to peer into her old room or sit upon the back porch and bask at the beauty of the sea.

She tried not to appear too nosy, as she looked out back. Clothes were hanging up on the line, blowing in the breeze, and she thought of the faint memory of her mischief with her mother so long ago.      

Rachel didn't dare to knock on the door. Perhaps, she knew the people inside. Everyone knew everyone on that island. If she did know them, she didn't really want to know the details. She was the intruder, after all. Or was it the other way around?  

She made her way around and marveled how time seemed to catch up with her island home. There was a new movie theater in place of the beat up one that she knew as a child. The playground by the school looked so much better it wasn't filled with children. Hardly a soul was there, like all the children had grown up, or something.  

Aunt Roberta was her only real link to her old home now. The few friends she had left a long time ago, just like her. Her mom's people vacated the island long before she ever met them. Aunt Roberta was still there to receive her, though. She had something special for her.  Gathering up two shoe boxes, she handed them to her niece. Rachel wondered what what the contents were, and she couldn't believe her eyes.All the letters she promised to write to her pop were all in there in those two boxes.

"I found them," Aunt Roberta said, amazed herself, "after cleaning out my brother's closets. He kept them all, it seems."

Rachel promised that she would write home, and she did. And it was true--her pop saved every single letter or postcard she ever sent him.  The envelopes were all opened up, so he obviously looked at them. She was amazed that he didn't  throw them away or burn them.  Never once, did he write her back, and Rachel thought he had completely dismissed them and disowned her.

Holding those envelopes and postcards in her hands was like finding some rare and valuable artifacts, and now the tears would come. For the first time in quite some time, Rachel felt something when it came to her distant father. It was everything rolled into one--her island home, her mother, her brother, her father, her sense of self--and she just wept freely as her aunt held her tight and comforted her.

Rachel never cared about the money. Her pop never made a will. He never owned much, but Aunt Roberta would make sure she was fair about the money. Rachel would have traded every cent of it if only she was to see her father one last time. She wanted to come back sooner, but she feared she would not be welcome, that the door would be slammed in her face. Now her only way to see her father was at the cemetery were generations of fellow island dwellers met their resting place.

At the grave, her parents were buried side by side, and the sea was their backdrop. It was just as her father would have wanted it. Rachel cleared away a few weeds, and she placed a handful of wildflowers at her mother's grave. "Hi, mamma", she said out loud. "I miss you and wish I could you could be here, again. I see you in my mind, and you are that young, delightful mother I still think of. " The sound of the breezes, and the birds constant communication of chirping, was a calming response.

She then addressed her father's grave, "Pop", she started to say, "Thanks for keeping those letters. I know it was hard for you now. We all left you, didn't we? Mamma, Ben...me..."

Rachel looked out into the sea. The sun was shining well, and it was like the waters were filled with diamonds. That enchanting sea--that is what her father cherished the most. He taught her how to swim there, not to be afraid of the waters but to respect the strength they held. He protected her from feeling so small and scared by it. He taught her about what was in the sea and how to fish from it. She smiled and thought of how she would have rather collected pretty seashells than to handle a slimy fish . He reaped so many things from the sea, and she knew he belonged to it. She closed her eyes and tried to think of such moments between her father.

Before she left, she held an unopened letter in her hand and said, "Pop, I got really, really sad looking at all those letters, especially because I can't write to you anymore. I'm just amazed you have them. I hope you read them, and if you did, I hoped you knew I really loved you". She smiled at what her dad would probably think as silly sentiment. He probably was rolling in his grave right now, squirming from all this mushy stuff. But at least now, she could tell him she loved him.

Rachel put her hand on his tombstone and stroked its rough exterior. She added, "Well, then I thought--who is to say I can't write? So I did. I got a letter for you,Pop, and I'm going to read it to you, now. Hope your listening."

She didn't know when she would come back for another visit to Jasper Island, but she knew she would return. Unlike Ben, she would not go way and never look back . How could she deny it as her home? She opened the letter, cleared her throat, and read it out loud, "Dear Pop, I hope you are at peace. I hope you are proud of me and that you hear me now. Take care of Mamma, and I'll see you on the other side." After she stopped, the tears came again, rolling down her check. She closed up the letter, put it on her father's tombstone and laid a rock on it to anchor it well. Eventually, the elements would get to it--the sun, the rain, the changing seasonal forces--but for now it was in good shape,

As the ferry made it's way from Jasper Island, the land became smaller and smaller, until it was just a speck in her view. But once it was the whole world to her, not just a destination to visit. Nevertheless, it wasn't some insignificant blip on the many maps of the world. It would always beckon her. Rachel could never forget Jasper Island.
Kendall Mallon Jul 2013
Book One


Prelude:

As Romans before them, they built the city upward—
layer ‘pon layer as the polar caps receded
layer by layer—preserving what they could, if someday
the waters may recede back into the former polar
ice caps; restoring the long inundated coastlines.


Home:

A man sat upon a tall pub stool stroking
his ginger beard while grasping a pint loosely
in his other hand. An elderly gent stood
next to him. The older gentleman noticed
that the ginger bearded man’s pint sat almost
quite near the bottom of its tulip glass.

A woman with eyes of amber and hair
as chestnut strolled through a vineyard amongst
the ripening grapes full of juice to soon
become wine. She clutched a notebook—behind (10)
thick black covers lay ideas and sketches
to bring the world to a more natural
state—balancing the wonders and the merits
of technology apace with the allure ‘n’
sanctity borne to the natural world.

When the ginger bearded man finished the
final drops of his stout, another appeared
heretofore him—courtesy owed to the elder
gentleman. “Notice dat ye got d’ mark
o’ a man accustom amid the seas,” (20)
he inferred; gesturing the black and blue
compass rose inscribed inside a ship’s wheel,
imbedded into the back of the ginger
bearded man’s weathered right hand.
                 “I have crewed
and skippered a many fine vessel, but I
am renouncing my life at sea—one final
voyage I have left inside of me:
one single terminal Irish-Atlantic
voyage t’ward home.” (30)
“Aye d’ sea can beh cold
‘nd harsh, but she enchants me heart. Ta where
are ye headed fer d’ place ye call home,
d’ere sonny boy?”
     “’tis not simply a where,
‘tis a who. Certain events have led me
to be separate from my wife. For five
eternal years I have been traveling—
waiting to be in her embrace. The force
of the Sea, she, is a cruel one. For (40)
it seams: at every tack or gybe the farther
off I am thrown from my homeward direction
to stranger and stranger lands… I have gone
to the graveyard of hell and the pearly gates
of (the so called) heaven; I have engaged
in foolhardy deals—made bets only a
gambling addict would place. All to just be
with Zara. I am homesick—Zara is my
home—it doesn’t matter where (physically)
we are located, my home is with Zara. I (50)
was advised to draw nigh the clove of Cork
and wait; wait for a man, but I was barely
given a clue as to who this man is,
only I must return him this:” the ginger
bearded man held out a dull silver pocket watch
with a frigate cut into the front cover
and two roses sharing a single stem
swirling upon themselves cut into
the back.
   “Can it be? ‘Tis meh watch dat meh (60)
fat’er gave t’ meh right before he died…
I lost it at sea many a year ago.
It left meh heartbroken—fer it was meh only
lasting mem’ry of him… Come to t’ink I
was told by a beggar in the street—I
do not remember how long ago—dat
I would happen across a man wit’ somet’ing
dear t’ meh, and I’d accomp’ny dis man
on a journey, and dis man would have upon
‘im d’ mark of a true sailor…” (70)
    “Dear elder man,
my name is Abraham; the mark you see
represents the control that I have on my
direction—thought it appears the Sea retains
some ascendancy… Yet now, it appears,
the Sea is upholding her bargain—though
a bit late... Do you, by chance, own a vessel
that can fair to Colorado?—all across
this mist’d island no skipper ‘ll uptake
my plea; they fear the sharp wrath of the Sea (80)
or (if they have no fear) simply claim my home
‘is not on their routes…’ i’tis a line I’ve
heard too often. I would’ve purchased a vessel,
but the Sea, she, has deprived me completely
of my identity and equity.”

Zara, with her rich chestnut hair sat upon
a fountain in a piazza—her half empty
heart longing to savor the hallow presence
of Abraham, and stroke his ginger beard…
Everyday she would look out at the sea (90)
whence he left…
     All encouraged her to: “forgo
further pursuit”; “he is likely deceased
by now”—his vessel (what left) scuttled amidst
the rocks of Cape Horn, yet Zara could feel
deep-seated inside her soul he is alive;
Alive (somewhere) fighting to return home.
Never would Zara leave; never would she
abandon post; she made that promise five
years ago as Abraham, ‘n’ his crew,
set out on their final voyage; and she (100)
would be ****** ere she broke her promise—a promise
of the heart—a promise of love. Abraham
said: “You are my lighthouse; your love, it, will guide
me home—keep me from danger—as long as you
remain my lighthouse, I’ll forever be
set to return home—return home to you.”

Out from Crosshaven did the old man take
steadfast Abraham en route to his home.
Grey Irish skies turned blue as they made their
way out on the Irish Sea, southwest, toward (110)
the southern end of the Appalachian Island.
The gentle biting spray of the waves breaking
over the bow and beam moistened the ginger
bearded face of Abraham; his tattooed
hands grasped the helm—his resolute stare kept him
and the old man acutely on course.
A shame,
it struck the old man, this would be the final
voyage of Abraham… he: the best crew
that the old man had ever came across; (120)
uncertain if simply the character
of Abraham or his pers’nal desire
to return home in the wake of five long
salty-cold years—a vassal to the Sea
and her changing whim. Never had the old
man seen his ship sail as fast as he did when
Abraham accorded its deck—each sail
set without flaw: easing and trimming sheets
fractions of an inch—purely to obtain
the slightest gain in speed; the display warmed (130)
the heart of the old man.
        And thus the elder
gent mused as he lightly puffed on his pipe
while sitting on the stern pulpit regarding
at Abraham’s passion to return home
(as he calls her):—maybe dis is d’ reason
d’ Sea has fought so hard, and lied, t’ keep
Abraham from returning home… Could not
bear t’ lose such fine a sailor from her
expanses—she is known t’ be quite a jealous (140)
mistress…
      But for all Abraham’s will and passion,
the old man insisted for the fellow
to rest; otherwise lack of sleep would cause
the REM fiddler to reap his debt—replace
clarity of mind with opacity.
Reluctantly stalwart Abraham gave
in and retire below deck—yet the old
man doubted the amount of rest that he
acquired in those moments out of his sight. (150)

For the days, then weeks, in the wake of their
departure from the port-island Crosshaven,
the seas were calm as open water can:
gentle azure rolling swells oscillated
and helped impel the vessel forward. The southern
craggy cape of the Appalachian
Island pierced the horizon. Like a threshold
it stood for Abraham—a major landmark;
the closest to home he had been in five
salty long years—his limbo was beginning                               (160)
to fade, his heart slowly—for the first time since
he left port in eastern Colorado—
started to feel replete again. The Great
Plains Sea—his final sea—he would not miss
the gleam of his lighthouse stalwart on shore.




Book Two

Oracle:**

Upon a beach, Abraham found himself alone—gasping
in gulps of moist air like that of a new born baby first (10)
experiencing the breathe of life; he felt as if he
would never become dry again… the salt burning his skin
as it crusted over when the water evap’rated
into the air; Abraham took the first night to rest, the
next day he set to make shelter and wait for a rescue
crew; out he stared at the crashing waves hoping for a plane
or faint form of a ship upon the horizon…days and
nights spun into an alternating display of day then
night: light then dark—light, dark, light, dark, grey, grey, grey…

Abraham (20)
gave up marking the days—realized the searches are done—
given up after looking in the wrong places (even
he did not know where he was…) the cold waves and currents took
him to a safe shore away from his ship and crew, in a
limp unconscious float…
From the trees, and what he could find on
the small  island, Abraham occupied himself with the
task of building a catamaran to rid himself of
the grey-waiting.
Out he cast his meager vessel into (30)
the battering surf; waves broke over his bows and centre
platform—each foot forward, the waves threatened to push him back
twofold… Abraham struck-beat the water with the oars he
fashioned; rising and falling with the energy of the
waves; Abraham stole brief looks back with hopes of a van’shing
shoreline—coast refused to vanish… his drenched arms grew tired;
yet he pushed on knowing he would soon be out passed the
breaking waves; then could relax and hoist sail; yet the waves grew
taller—broke with greater power… Abraham struck-beat the
water with his oars—anger welled—leading to splashes of (40)
ivory sea-froth instead of the desired progress
forward; eventually, his arms fell limp beyond the
force of will… waves tumbled him back to shore as he did the
first night upon the island…
Dejected Abraham lay
in the surf that night—the gentle ebb of the sea added
to insult, but hid the tears formed in the corner of his eyes—
salt water to salt water… the next day Abraham took
inventory of damage: the mast snapped in multiple
places, the rudders askew—the hulls and centre structure (50)
remained intact; the oars lost (or at least Abraham cared
not to search); over the next weeks he set to improve
the design and efficiency of his vessel—the first
had been hurried and that of a man desperate to leave;
the bare minimum that would suffice—he set to create
a vessel to ensure his departure from the des’late
accrue of sand and vegetation; Abraham laboured
to strengthen his body—pushing his arms further passed the
point his mind believed they could go—consuming the hearty,
protein-rich, mollusks, and small shellfish he could find inside (60)
tide pools or shallows—if lucky, larger fish that dared the
nearby reefs.
Patiently, Abraham observed the tides and
breaking water; he wanted to determine the correct
time to set off to ensure success—when the waves would not
toss him back to the beach; the day: a calm clear day—only
within few metres of soft beach did there exist any
breaking waves, and those that broke were barely a metre high;
loading provisions upon the vessel, Abraham bid
farewell to the island (out of wont for the sustenance (70)
it gave not for nostalgia) grasping his oars, he set forth
to find open sea—where the waves do not break and set you
gingerly on foreign shore(s); Abraham paddled passed the
first few breaking waves, his heart pounding with hope—he stifled
the thoughts (celebrate when the island is but a subtle
blue curve upon the horizon); as the island began
to shrink in his vision, the sky to his back grew darker…
the waves started to swell—moguls grew to hills—Abraham
stroked up and rode down; the cursèd Island refused to shrink…
if not begin to grow wider… stroke by stroke Abraham (80)
grew frustrated—stroke by stroke frustration advanced into
anger—stroke by stroke anger augmented into fiery
beating of the water!—Abraham struck and struck at the
Sea—eyes closed—white knuckles—trashing!—unsure which direction
he paddled…sky pitch-black, wind blowing on-shore Abraham
bellowed out to the Sea in inarticulate roars of:
hatefrustrationpitydesperationheartache!
Towards
Abraham’s in-linguistic roar, the sky let out a crack
of authority! a wave swept the flailing Abraham (90)
into the ocean—cool water only heated the rage
in Abraham’s mind—his half empty heart only wanted:
to sail home, become whole  again—sit under and olive
tree and stroke the chestnut hair of Zara as she drifted
off to sleep on his chest while he would whisper sweet verses
into her ear… Abraham’s rage, beyond reason, forgot
the boat and all clarity, he tried to swim away from
the cursèd island—scrambling up waves only to tumble
back with their breaking peaks—salt, the only taste in his mouth;
churning his stomach to *****; his kidney’s praying he (100)
would  not swallow anymore… his gasps stifled any curse
Abraham’s head wished to expel onto the Sea—yet she
swore she heard one final curse escape his lips! at that the
Sea tossed Abraham (head first) into his ghost-helmed vessel—
all went dark for hostile Abraham…

Contemplating back
at his rage—knowing the barbarian it makes of him,
Abraham peered into the band inscribed into his
ring-finger and saw the knot tying him to Zara—shame
at his arrogant-uncontrolled-fury sent Abraham (110)
into a meditative exile inside of his mind
(within the exile of the island…) in his mental
exile Abraham spun into deeper despair at his
two failures—even more at the prospect of failing the
vow he professed onto Zara: return home—home from this
final voyage, grow old with her on solid ground, never
to die apart and cause the pain of losing a loved one
without the closure of truly knowing the death is real,
to die by her side white, white with the purity of age…
Abraham’s destitution turned inward—his fury, the (120)
lack of control, the demon he becomes when rage surges
through his muscles; equiping him with untamed strength without
direction or self-possession—so much potential, yet
no productive way to use it… Abraham’s half-full-heart
burned, ached with passion and anguish—all desire
focused on home, his return, but the mind’s despondency
and insistent ‘what-ifs’ kept poor Abraham prostrate in
his mental cave—all his wishing for anger and vi’lence
to force his will, it did more to retain him upon the
cursèd island than bring his heart closer to fulfillment: (130)
his long awaited home…
Out of his mental exile did
Abraham’s irises dilate and contract with blinding
illumination—self-pity is not what make things happen—
it would only serve to anger Zara—nothing other
than I can be to blame for my continued absence; I
am stronger than that!—looking at the tattoo in his hand,
he remembered the reasons for the perennial brand—
the eight-spoke ship’s helm: the eight-fold-path—I must cut off my
desire for anger to be the solution and focus (140)
on the one path to Zara—the mind can push the body
further than the body believes is possible—the star:
the compass to guide me via celestial bodies
to where my heart can see the guiding beam of my lighthouse!
This is the Final Voyage epic thus far. I am converting Home into blank verse and it is taking longer than I thought to do; which is why that part is incomplete here. I also added line numbers. I changed The names as well.
Nomad Jan 2015
And on my island, shall be more than just a speck of sand,
in which I can call my own,
and on my island, I shall have more people than myself,
so I won't ever have to be alone.

And on this Island, there will also be you, and I,
we shall walk the shores of the beach,
where our cares of tomorrow, will always wait until then,
and there's no one to ask us about why.

And on this Island, we shall have all the pretty birds,
flowers, and animals, of the land, sky and sea,
and on this Island, I will keep all my promises, a sacred guarantee.

My island, surrounded by shallows
nothing but calm waters, fluffy clouds,
whatever ideal weather that God allows.

My island, shared with you,
we'll be surrounded by nothing but what we want,
much more than petty things like money,
because without that, we have no worry.

We'll be surrounded by loved ones,
our friends and family,
here on our Island,
surrounded by calm waters,
on the sea.

Here on our island,
we'll have children,
who'll build to our small little island,
yes to our island,
our home by the sea.

Our home that we'll build,
just for you, we'll have that Island,
one day you'll see.
Declan Jul 2010
There was a desolate Island
Far, far away
There sat a man
Not knowing his way

His friend told him
“I know the way”
So he traveled by car and train
Boat and plane

To that desolate Island
Far, far away
Where that man now sits
Not knowing his way

He somehow landed
In that God forsaken place
Unbelieving and doubt
Mixed in his heart

On that desolate Island
Far, far away
Where that man sits
Not knowing his way

He trusted that man
To put his life in his hand
Then the cruel wheel of fate
Dropped him

On that desolate Island
Far, far away
Sitting there
Not knowing his way

The island choked
His heart and thoughts
Making him feel
As though he were alone

On that desolate Island
Far, far away
Sitting there
Not knowing his way

He decided one day
To make a way
To get back home
And possibly escape

That desolate Island
Far, far away
Where that man stands
Possibly knowing his way

He walked to the ocean
Looked into the water
Saw his reflection
And doubt in his eyes

Because of that desolate Island
Far, far away
Where he stood at the shore
Knowing his way

He jumped in the water
Enjoying the feel
As warmth embraced him
Eliminating fear

Leaving that desolate Island
Far, far away
Where he once stood
Not knowing his way

He gave up on those
Who he thought he knew
And started over
With little fear

Away from that desolate Island
Far, far away
Where he once stood
Not knowing his way
Donall Dempsey Jun 2019
OFF THE COAST OF WRANGEL ISLAND

The room was a frozen
block of silence

the out-of-love lovers
like two hairy mammoths

trapped in the ice
of their shared hatred.

Thousand of years had passed
since they had last talked.

Preserved like two rare
artifacts in a museum.

This the "invisible land"
an island of mists and fogs.

They looked like bad
caricatures of who

they used to be
and who

they could never ever
be again.

*

Wrangel Island is an island in the Arctic Ocean, between the Chukchi Sea and East Siberian Sea.It lies astride the 180° meridian. The International Date Line is displaced eastwards at this latitude to avoid the island. Wrangel Island may have been the last place on earth where mammoths survived.

The island is subjected to "cyclonic" episodes characterised by rapid circular winds. It is also an island of mists and fogs and is known as the "invisible land."  In literature Jules Verne has his characters trapped on a floating iceberg near here and Cassandra Clare makes it  the seat of all the world's wards, the spells that protected the globe from demons and demon invasion.

She was as it happened was reading Jules Verne's novel 'César Cascabel" whilst he as it happened was reading Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instruments: City of Heavenly Fir", both entirely different books but both featuring Wrangel Island. I delight in such happenstance and synchronicity. I only knew of it because of the mammoth found there with hair and muscle tissue and blood intact. I was fascinated with photos of it and there was one where a scientist was bending down looking at it on a bench and they were nose to trunk as if having a chat about the years in between that separated them. When I originally wrote the poem I was looking at them in the mirror of their big fat room with the thinest of windows when they thought they weren't being observed and it looked as if the mirror had painted their emotional state and that time hung suspended forever in that one moment. They both could dispute angrily or peevishly about their state whether it be in the voice or even in silent thought. I called them THE WRANGLERS after the mirror's painting of them. Or indeed THE WANGLERS because of their persistent arguing or manoeuvering the other into the worse position so that the other could take the lowish of moral high ground. It was a bit like observing trench warfare back in WW1.

And so it was through all this happenstance that I placed them off the emotional coast of a stormy isolated island...in some limbo "invisible land."

And as to the right or wrong of my two too human artifacts where right or wrong are not all that easy to place? As Michael Pollan puts it "… morality is an artifact of human culture, devised to help us negotiate social relations."

All I knew is that I sure as hell wouldn't want to be in their peculiar shoes or that particular hell.

The room was a frozen
block of silence

the out-of-love lovers
like two hairy mammoths

trapped in the ice
of their shared hatred.

Thousand of years had passed
since they had last talked.

Preserved like two rare
artifacts in a museum.

This the "invisible land"
an island of mists and fogs.

They looked like bad
caricatures of who

they used to be
and who

they could never ever
be again.
Wrangel Island is an island in the Arctic Ocean, between the Chukchi Sea and East Siberian Sea.It lies astride the 180° meridian. The International Date Line is displaced eastwards at this latitude to avoid the island. Wrangel Island may have been the last place on earth where mammoths survived.

The island is subjected to "cyclonic" episodes characterised by rapid circular winds. It is also an island of mists and fogs and is known as the "invisible land."  In literature Jules Verne has his characters trapped on a floating iceberg near here and Cassandra Clare makes it  the seat of all the world's wards, the spells that protected the globe from demons and demon invasion.

She was as it happened was reading Jules Verne's novel 'César Cascabel" whilst he as it happened was reading Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instruments: City of Heavenly Fir", both entirely different books but both featuring Wrangel Island. I delight in such happenstance and synchronicity. I only knew of it because of the mammoth found there with hair and muscle tissue and blood intact. I was fascinated with photos of it and there was one where a scientist was bending down looking at it on a bench and they were nose to trunk as if having a chat about the years in between that separated them. When I originally wrote the poem I was looking at them in the mirror of their big fat room with the thinest of windows when they thought they weren't being observed and it looked as if the mirror had painted their emotional state and that time hung suspended forever in that one moment. They both could dispute angrily or peevishly about their state whether it be in the voice or even in silent thought. I called them THE WRANGLERS after the mirror's painting of them. Or indeed THE WANGLERS because of their persistent arguing or manoeuvering the other into the worse position so that the other could take the lowish of moral high ground. It was a bit like observing trench warfare back in WW1.

And so it was through all this happenstance that I placed them off the emotional coast of a stormy isolated island...in some limbo "invisible land."

And as to the right or wrong of my two too human artifacts where right or wrong are not all that easy to place? As Michael Pollan puts it "… morality is an artifact of human culture, devised to help us negotiate social relations."

All I knew is that I sure as hell wouldn't want to be in their peculiar shoes or that particular hell.
Zenobia Feb 2010
They say, no man is an island
Yet an island can be reshaped
By a tornado, hurricane, or a earthquake
Mother nature rules with an iron fist
To place her stakes on the land of the living

They say, no man is an island
But there must be a better way
For other nations and countries
Come together and embrace
To restructure our governments,
Working together, rebuilding, maybe, even see
The humanity in eachother giving
To help those, who can not help themselves

They say, no man is an island
All the justice and laws in the world
Wouldn't correct it's poverty
In exchange, for it's wealth
Animated politicians
Speaking in tongues
Atoned to be totally clueless
Unaware of the next existing
Killer of lives

They say, no man is an island
To forsee at last
Battle of waves of storms to come
Genocide, Nuclear, Wars
Will come again, and again
History repeats, in cirlces
It never ends

They say, no man is an island
The inadequate versions of getting things right
Should be a must, for the change with truth and trust
People having the will or the lack of
Food, water, protection, health care
That ain't right
To not be inform and share

They say, no man is an island,
But there's just has to be a better way
People taken care of people
Living life better than it once was yesterday
Families who have lost, buried, and shed many of tears
Placed their memories of loved ones
To cross over into the light
Have lost more than just a home, family, neighbors
One thing one must not lose is
The spirit inside to have

They say, no man is and island
For every man, woman and child
Is of the land of their island
Hope is not ones plan alone
The plan simply is of many...

Faith, Memories, Freedom, Dreams, and Hope
(upwc)Zenobia/aka/LadyZ710 /2/13/10
Ariel Baptista Jun 2014
It smells like summer on the island
Like laundry and leaves
Like late-afternoon lakewater
And pollen-filled breeze
I remember my summers on the island
The bunkbeds and bonfires
Beaches, bikinis
And dirt roads under dark tires
Birch trees and blackberries
Blue birds and sour cherries
Two hours on the ferry
Summer on the island
Lawn chairs and lemonade
Hammock-hanging, holidaying
Laying in the lazy shade
Hiking high into the bright blue sky
Deep inhale and satisfied sigh
We had been waiting for this
Our summer on the island
Cold tides and closed eyes
Penny candy and pecan pie
Crop-tops, flip-flops, tree-forts and drop-offs
Crayfish, crayons
And breakfast on the dock at dawn
This was summer on our island
Millions of mosquitoes, minnows and movies till midnight
Eating smores in the smoky firelight
Running through the trailer park in the rain after dark
Our summer on this island
Everything was my favourite part
I loved it all
The grass
The trees
The foamy waterfall
Sun, seagulls and sand dunes
Either services or sleeping in till noon
Sweet island summer, over too soon
Summer on the island
Was a lifetime ago
The island was my summer
But I’m letting go.
“After we were clear of the river Oceanus, and had got out into
the open sea, we went on till we reached the Aeaean island where there
is dawn and sunrise as in other places. We then drew our ship on to
the sands and got out of her on to the shore, where we went to sleep
and waited till day should break.
  “Then, when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I
sent some men to Circe’s house to fetch the body of Elpenor. We cut
firewood from a wood where the headland jutted out into the sea, and
after we had wept over him and lamented him we performed his funeral
rites. When his body and armour had been burned to ashes, we raised
a cairn, set a stone over it, and at the top of the cairn we fixed the
oar that he had been used to row with.
  “While we were doing all this, Circe, who knew that we had got
back from the house of Hades, dressed herself and came to us as fast
as she could; and her maid servants came with her bringing us bread,
meat, and wine. Then she stood in the midst of us and said, ‘You
have done a bold thing in going down alive to the house of Hades,
and you will have died twice, to other people’s once; now, then,
stay here for the rest of the day, feast your fill, and go on with
your voyage at daybreak tomorrow morning. In the meantime I will
tell Ulysses about your course, and will explain everything to him
so as to prevent your suffering from misadventure either by land or
sea.’
  “We agreed to do as she had said, and feasted through the livelong
day to the going down of the sun, but when the sun had set and it came
on dark, the men laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cables
of the ship. Then Circe took me by the hand and bade me be seated away
from the others, while she reclined by my side and asked me all
about our adventures.
  “‘So far so good,’ said she, when I had ended my story, ‘and now pay
attention to what I am about to tell you—heaven itself, indeed,
will recall it to your recollection. First you will come to the Sirens
who enchant all who come near them. If any one unwarily draws in too
close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children
will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and
warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great
heap of dead men’s bones lying all around, with the flesh still
rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your
men’s ears with wax that none of them may hear; but if you like you
can listen yourself, for you may get the men to bind you as you
stand upright on a cross-piece half way up the mast, and they must
lash the rope’s ends to the mast itself, that you may have the
pleasure of listening. If you beg and pray the men to unloose you,
then they must bind you faster.
  “‘When your crew have taken you past these Sirens, I cannot give you
coherent directions as to which of two courses you are to take; I will
lay the two alternatives before you, and you must consider them for
yourself. On the one hand there are some overhanging rocks against
which the deep blue waves of Amphitrite beat with terrific fury; the
blessed gods call these rocks the Wanderers. Here not even a bird
may pass, no, not even the timid doves that bring ambrosia to Father
Jove, but the sheer rock always carries off one of them, and Father
Jove has to send another to make up their number; no ship that ever
yet came to these rocks has got away again, but the waves and
whirlwinds of fire are freighted with wreckage and with the bodies
of dead men. The only vessel that ever sailed and got through, was the
famous Argo on her way from the house of Aetes, and she too would have
gone against these great rocks, only that Juno piloted her past them
for the love she bore to Jason.
  “‘Of these two rocks the one reaches heaven and its peak is lost
in a dark cloud. This never leaves it, so that the top is never
clear not even in summer and early autumn. No man though he had twenty
hands and twenty feet could get a foothold on it and climb it, for
it runs sheer up, as smooth as though it had been polished. In the
middle of it there is a large cavern, looking West and turned
towards Erebus; you must take your ship this way, but the cave is so
high up that not even the stoutest archer could send an arrow into it.
Inside it Scylla sits and yelps with a voice that you might take to be
that of a young hound, but in truth she is a dreadful monster and no
one—not even a god—could face her without being terror-struck. She
has twelve mis-shapen feet, and six necks of the most prodigious
length; and at the end of each neck she has a frightful head with
three rows of teeth in each, all set very close together, so that they
would crunch any one to death in a moment, and she sits deep within
her shady cell thrusting out her heads and peering all round the rock,
fishing for dolphins or dogfish or any larger monster that she can
catch, of the thousands with which Amphitrite teems. No ship ever
yet got past her without losing some men, for she shoots out all her
heads at once, and carries off a man in each mouth.
  “‘You will find the other rocks lie lower, but they are so close
together that there is not more than a bowshot between them. [A
large fig tree in full leaf grows upon it], and under it lies the
******* whirlpool of Charybdis. Three times in the day does she
***** forth her waters, and three times she ***** them down again; see
that you be not there when she is *******, for if you are, Neptune
himself could not save you; you must hug the Scylla side and drive
ship by as fast as you can, for you had better lose six men than
your whole crew.’
  “‘Is there no way,’ said I, ‘of escaping Charybdis, and at the
same time keeping Scylla off when she is trying to harm my men?’
  “‘You dare-devil,’ replied the goddess, you are always wanting to
fight somebody or something; you will not let yourself be beaten
even by the immortals. For Scylla is not mortal; moreover she is
savage, extreme, rude, cruel and invincible. There is no help for
it; your best chance will be to get by her as fast as ever you can,
for if you dawdle about her rock while you are putting on your armour,
she may catch you with a second cast of her six heads, and snap up
another half dozen of your men; so drive your ship past her at full
speed, and roar out lustily to Crataiis who is Scylla’s dam, bad
luck to her; she will then stop her from making a second raid upon
you.
  “‘You will now come to the Thrinacian island, and here you will
see many herds of cattle and flocks of sheep belonging to the sun-god-
seven herds of cattle and seven flocks of sheep, with fifty head in
each flock. They do not breed, nor do they become fewer in number, and
they are tended by the goddesses Phaethusa and Lampetie, who are
children of the sun-god Hyperion by Neaera. Their mother when she
had borne them and had done suckling them sent them to the
Thrinacian island, which was a long way off, to live there and look
after their father’s flocks and herds. If you leave these flocks
unharmed, and think of nothing but getting home, you may yet after
much hardship reach Ithaca; but if you harm them, then I forewarn
you of the destruction both of your ship and of your comrades; and
even though you may yourself escape, you will return late, in bad
plight, after losing all your men.’
  “Here she ended, and dawn enthroned in gold began to show in heaven,
whereon she returned inland. I then went on board and told my men to
loose the ship from her moorings; so they at once got into her, took
their places, and began to smite the grey sea with their oars.
Presently the great and cunning goddess Circe befriended us with a
fair wind that blew dead aft, and stayed steadily with us, keeping our
sails well filled, so we did whatever wanted doing to the ship’s gear,
and let her go as wind and helmsman headed her.
  “Then, being much troubled in mind, I said to my men, ‘My friends,
it is not right that one or two of us alone should know the prophecies
that Circe has made me, I will therefore tell you about them, so
that whether we live or die we may do so with our eyes open. First she
said we were to keep clear of the Sirens, who sit and sing most
beautifully in a field of flowers; but she said I might hear them
myself so long as no one else did. Therefore, take me and bind me to
the crosspiece half way up the mast; bind me as I stand upright,
with a bond so fast that I cannot possibly break away, and lash the
rope’s ends to the mast itself. If I beg and pray you to set me
free, then bind me more tightly still.’
  “I had hardly finished telling everything to the men before we
reached the island of the two Sirens, for the wind had been very
favourable. Then all of a sudden it fell dead calm; there was not a
breath of wind nor a ripple upon the water, so the men furled the
sails and stowed them; then taking to their oars they whitened the
water with the foam they raised in rowing. Meanwhile I look a large
wheel of wax and cut it up small with my sword. Then I kneaded the wax
in my strong hands till it became soft, which it soon did between
the kneading and the rays of the sun-god son of Hyperion. Then I
stopped the ears of all my men, and they bound me hands and feet to
the mast as I stood upright on the crosspiece; but they went on rowing
themselves. When we had got within earshot of the land, and the ship
was going at a good rate, the Sirens saw that we were getting in shore
and began with their singing.
  “‘Come here,’ they sang, ‘renowned Ulysses, honour to the Achaean
name, and listen to our two voices. No one ever sailed past us without
staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song—and he who
listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we know
all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans before
Troy, and can tell you everything that is going to happen over the
whole world.’
  “They sang these words most musically, and as I longed to hear
them further I made by frowning to my men that they should set me
free; but they quickened their stroke, and Eurylochus and Perimedes
bound me with still stronger bonds till we had got out of hearing of
the Sirens’ voices. Then my men took the wax from their ears and
unbound me.
  “Immediately after we had got past the island I saw a great wave
from which spray was rising, and I heard a loud roaring sound. The men
were so frightened that they loosed hold of their oars, for the
whole sea resounded with the rushing of the waters, but the ship
stayed where it was, for the men had left off rowing. I went round,
therefore, and exhorted them man by man not to lose heart.
  “‘My friends,’ said I, ‘this is not the first time that we have been
in danger, and we are in nothing like so bad a case as when the
Cyclops shut us up in his cave; nevertheless, my courage and wise
counsel saved us then, and we shall live to look back on all this as
well. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say, trust in Jove and row on
with might and main. As for you, coxswain, these are your orders;
attend to them, for the ship is in your hands; turn her head away from
these steaming rapids and hug the rock, or she will give you the
slip and be over yonder before you know where you are, and you will be
the death of us.’
  “So they did as I told them; but I said nothing about the awful
monster Scylla, for I knew the men would not on rowing if I did, but
would huddle together in the hold. In one thing only did I disobey
Circe’s strict instructions—I put on my armour. Then seizing two
strong spears I took my stand on the ship Is bows, for it was there
that I expected first to see the monster of the rock, who was to do my
men so much harm; but I could not make her out anywhere, though I
strained my eyes with looking the gloomy rock all over and over
  “Then we entered the Straits in great fear of mind, for on the one
hand was Scylla, and on the other dread Charybdis kept ******* up
the salt water. As she vomited it up, it was like the water in a
cauldron when it is boiling over upon a great fire, and the spray
reached the top of the rocks on either side. When she began to ****
again, we could see the water all inside whirling round and round, and
it made a deafening sound as it broke against the rocks. We could
see the bottom of the whirlpool all black with sand and mud, and the
men were at their wit’s ends for fear. While we were taken up with
this, and were expecting each moment to be our last, Scylla pounced
down suddenly upon us and snatched up my six best men. I was looking
at once after both ship and men, and in a moment I saw their hands and
feet ever so high above me, struggling in the air as Scylla was
carrying them off, and I heard them call out my name in one last
despairing cry. As a fisherman, seated, spear in hand, upon some
jutting rock throws bait into the water to deceive the poor little
fishes, and spears them with the ox’s horn with which his spear is
shod, throwing them gasping on to the land as he catches them one by
one—even so did Scylla land these panting creatures on her rock and
munch them up at the mouth of her den, while they screamed and
stretched out their hands to me in their mortal agony. This was the
most sickening sight that I saw throughout all my voyages.
  “When we had passed the [Wandering] rocks, with Scylla and
terrible Charybdis, we reached the noble island of the sun-god,
where were the goodly cattle and sheep belonging to the sun
Hyperion. While still at sea in my ship I could bear the cattle lowing
as they came home to the yards, and the sheep bleating. Then I
remembered what the blind Theban prophet Teiresias had told me, and
how carefully Aeaean Circe had warned me to shun the island of the
blessed sun-god. So being much troubled I said to the men, ‘My men,
I know you are hard pressed, but listen while I tell you the
prophecy that Teiresias made me, and how carefully Aeaean Circe warned
me to shun the island of the blessed sun-god, for it was here, she
said, that our worst danger would lie. Head the ship, therefore,
away from the island.’
  “The men were in despair at this, and Eurylochus at once gave me
an insolent answer. ‘Ulysses,’ said he, ‘you are cruel; you are very
strong yourself and never get worn out; you seem to be made of iron,
and now, though your men are exhausted with toil and want of sleep,
you will not let them land and cook themselves a good supper upon this
island, but bid them put out to sea and go faring fruitlessly on
through the watches of the flying night. It is by night that the winds
blow hardest and do so much damage; how can we escape should one of
those sudden squalls spring up from South West or West, which so often
wreck a vessel when our lords the gods are unpropitious? Now,
therefore, let us obey the of night and prepare our supper here hard
by the ship; to-morrow morning we will go on board again and put out
to sea.’
  “Thus spoke Eurylochus, and the men approved his words. I saw that
heaven meant us a mischief and said, ‘You force me to yield, for you
are many against one, but at any rate each one of you must take his
solemn oath that if he meet with a herd of cattle or a large flock
of sheep, he will not be so mad as to **** a single head of either,
but will be satisfied with the food that Circe has given us.’
  “They all swore as I bade them, and when they had completed their
oath we made the ship fast in a harbour that was near a stream of
fresh water, and the men went ashore and cooked their suppers. As soon
as they had had enough to eat and drink, they began talking about
their poor comrades whom Scylla had snatched up and eaten; this set
them weeping and they went on crying till they fell off into a sound
sleep.
  “In the third watch of the night when the stars had shifted their
places, Jove raised a great gale of wind that flew a hurricane so that
land and sea were covered with thick clouds, and night sprang forth
out of the heavens. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,
appeared, we brought the ship to land and drew her into a cave wherein
the sea-nymphs hold their courts and dances, and
Kendall Mallon Mar 2013
Upon a beach, Lysseus found himself alone—gasping
in gulps of moist air like that of a new born baby first
experiencing the breathe of life. He felt as if he would
never become dry again… the salt burning his skin as it
crusted over when the water evaporated into the air.
Taking the first night to rest, the set out the next day to
make shelter and wait for a rescue crew to arrive. Out he
stared at the crashing waves hoping for a plane or the
faint form of a ship upon the horizon. Days and nights
spun into an alternating display of day then night then
light then dark, light, dark, light, dark, grey, grey, grey…

He gave up marking the days whence he realized that the
searches were over; they had given up after looking in the
wrong places—he did not even know where he was…the
cold waves and currents took him to a safe shore  away from
his ship and crew in a limp unconscious float… From the
trees, and what he could find on the small  island, he
fashioned a catamaran to rid himself of the grey-waiting.

Out he cast his meager vessel into the
Battering surf; waves broke over his bows
and centre platform—each foot forward the
waves threatened to push him back twofold…
he beat the water with the oars he fashioned
rising and falling with their energy. Lysseus
stole brief looks back in hopes of a disappearing
shore, but it refused to vanish… His wet tan
arms started to grow tired—yet he pushed on
knowing he would soon get out passed the
breaking water and then he could relax and
hoist sail. But the waves grew taller and broke
with more power… Lysseus kept beating the
water with his oar, but anger was welling
inside, which ended in splashes of ivory sea
froth instead of forward progress. Eventually,
his arms went limp beyond the force of his will
and the waves tumbled him back to shore
as he did the first night upon the island…

Dejected he lay in the surf for the night—the gentle
ebbing of the sea just added to insult, but hid the tears
that formed in the corner of his eyes—salt water to salt
water… The next day he took inventory of the damage
done to his humble catamaran; the mast had been
snapped in a few places, the rudders askew, but the
main  hulls and centre structure remained intact—solid.
The  oars lost; or at least Lysseus did not care to search
the  beach for them. Over the next weeks he set out to
improve the design and efficiency of his craft; the first
had been hurried and that of a desperate man to leave
the bare minimum that would suffice to leave as soon
as possible. He set to create something that would
ensure his leaving that desolate pile of sand and
vegetation. He worked on his strength; pushing his
arms passed the point of where his mind thought they
could go; eating the hearty, protein rich, mollusks, and
small shell fish he could find in the shallows and tide
pools—if lucky larger fish that dared the reefs.

Patiently Lysseus observed the tides and the
breaking waters—he wanted to find the right
time to set off to ensure success—when the
waves would not toss him back to the beach.
The day was a calm clear day; only within a few
metres of soft beach did there exist any
breaking waves—and those who did were
barely a metre high. Loading up his provisions
upon his catamaran Lysseus bid farewell to the
island out of wont for the sustenance it gave
not for a nostalgia. Grasping his oars, he set
forth to find open seas where the waves do not
break. Lysseus paddled out past the firs few
breakers his heart pounding with hope, but he
stifled the thoughts in his mind—he would
celebrate whence the island was but a subtle
blue curve on the horizon. Whence the  island
began to shrink in his vision he the sky to his
back grew darker… the waves started to
swell—moguls grew to hills that Lysseus
stroked up and rode down. The Island refused
to shrink… if not begin to grow wider… Stroke
by stroke Lysseus began to grow frustrated
stroke by stroke that frustration grew into
anger stroke by stroke the anger grew into
violent beatings of the water with his oars; he
struck and struck at the water eyes closed
white knuckles trashing he did not even know
which direction he was paddling any more the
sky dark now and the wind blowing on shore
he cried out to the Sea in inarticulate roars of
hateangerfrustrationpitysavageragedesperation!

At his in-linguistic roar, the sky let out a
crack of  authority and a wave washed the
flailing Lysseus  into the water—the cool
water only heated the  rage in Lysseus’ head;
all he wanted in his half  empty heart was to
sail home and become whole  again—to sit
under and olive tree and stroke the chestnut
hair of Penny as she drifted to sleep on  his
chest while he would whisper sweet verses
into her ear… His rage was beyond any reason,
forgetting the boat and all sense he began to
swim  away from the cursed island; scrambling
up waves only to be tumbled back with their
breaking peaks. His mouth could only taste
salt, his stomach wanted to puke, his kidney’s
praying that he would  not swallow anymore…
His gasps for breath stifled  any curse that his
head wished to express to the  Sea—yet she
would swear she heard one escape his lips,
and at that she tossed him into his ghost-helmed
catamaran and all was dark for vengeful Lysseus.

Seeing his rage and knowing the monster it makes
him, Lysseus looked into the band inscribed into
his ring-finger and saw the knot connecting him to
Penny—shame at his arrogant-uncontrolled-fury
sent Lysseus into a meditative exile inside his
mind upon the exile of that cursèd island… In his
mental exile Lysseus spun into deeper despair at his
two failures—even more at the prospect of failing
the vow he gave to Penny to return home—home
from his final voyage—to grow old with her upon
solid ground—to never die away from her and
cause the pain of losing a loved one and never
having the closure of truly knowing the death is
real—to die by her side white with the purity of
age… his anger turned inward at his anger—his
lack of control—the monster he becomes when
rage surges through his muscles and give him wild
strength with out direction or self-possession—so
much potential, yet no way to use it… Lysseus’ half
full heart burned and ached—with passion and
anguish—all desire he had was focused upon
home, the return, but the mind’s despondency and
insistent ‘what-ifs’ kept poor Lysseus prostrate in
his mental cave—for all his wishing for anger and
violence to force his will to be, it did more to set
him back to the cursèd island than to bring his
heart closer to fulfillment from his long await home…

Out of his mental exile did Lysseus’ irises
contract with blinding illumination—self-pity
is not what make things happen it would to only
anger Penny for nothing other than I can be to
blame for my continued absence from home I
am stronger than that—looking at the tattoo in
his hand, he remembered the reasons for the
perennial brand—the eight-spoke ship’s helm:
the eight-fold-path—I must cut off my desire for
anger to be the solution and focus on the path to
Penny the mind can push the body further than
the body believes is possible—the star: the compass
to guide—me via the celestial bodies to where my
*heart can see the guiding beam of my lighthouse!
This is part of the 'Final Voyage' epic. I figured I would give you guys a bit of a teaser since 'Final Voyage' is my most popular poem. I decided to name 'the ginger bearded man' Lysseus and his wife, Penny. I hope you enjoy. (Why it is called the Tempation of Lysseus will become clear as I write more--I have big plans).
Dr Mike OConnell May 2014
Brian Patrick

Interesting, that someone like me
Someone who grew large on the street
Would have their very own island
An Island where one could go, but never live

The Island is far from beautiful
The flora and fauna are deplete from color
The water colorless and hard to the touch
Sand invades making all heavy

Visiting my Island becomes too often
It pulls me – no beckons me like a lover
To extend my stay never to retreat
Never to return to the life I live

Once on the Island chills and tremors grow
Dripping with sweat only to give in to torment
No sunshine, only the darkness and despair of the Island
My Island delivers desperate comfort

Never do I want to leave – only always
My Island only for me to wallow about
Forever trying to leave this paradise lost
Only to find my island visit lingers ...


© 2014 Brian Patrick
Forgotten Pages Mar 2018
I am an island
A safe haven
A warm body
For traveling sailors to rest their weary heads
Blink away tears
Tears that
     fall
        splash
           disappear into the saltwater sea
The droplets dissolving into the tapestry of waves
Becoming one
A scream
A relief
A prayer
Always part of the beautiful secret that I keep tucked within my shores

Wanderer, I am your island
My love for you is true and unconditional
My vegetation is lush
My beauty is boundless
For you
Take what you need
And in this moments I am yours completely
I offer myself to you
I will sing you to sleep with the sound of my wind
Watch over you
Shine the stars upon your face
Cradle your cold hands
And you will feel home

But I am an island
And sometimes I have storms
My branches break
My waves crash
My flowers start to wither

And, in these storms, I am just an island
Just land and water
Just shore and sand
I am just an island
The magic is no more
Permanently impermanent I become

…And nobody stays…

Having all they need, these sailors rush to board their ships
With warm hands, they pluck my flowers
Making hurried bouquets to take home to their loves
Their fingers sting
Why do they sting?
And stems sway in the storm

They never listened to my whispers
They will not listen to my cries
They only needed some distraction
That they found within my eyes

With the winds
The footprints fade
No evidence that they were ever here

I have everything to give.

I have nothing left to give.

I am an island.
An island
An island
An island
     I am.
Donall Dempsey Nov 2016
TAKING MY ISLAND FOR A WALK

The bell tolls
& I take

my island
for a walk.

Through London
each of us

taking their island
for an early morning stroll.

Island jostles island
in a rainy bus queque.

We all so
near but never

touching

inches yet
universes apart.

Each locked in
their own consciousness.

Each in the spotlight
of their own being.

"Where were you on
the 8th of October?"

"Where will you be
if Trump wins the day?"

Better not to think of such
things.

"...very very frightening me!"
a passing car radio comments.

Every so often one
island nods to another.

We all so alone
in our prisons of self.

Consciousness both
the curse & the miracle.

Lovers attempt to lash
their islands together.

Only an illusion
...alone....together.

We all shipwrecked
on the desert island of ourselves.

I leave my desert island
off the leash.

And for one glorious second
am neither man nor beast.

Turn off my mind and
float downstream.

Laugh sarcastically as my island
wanders down each chartered street

so bleak
so Blakean.

"The mind-forged manacles I hear..'



"I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements and an angelic sprite..."

Dr. Donne whispers in my ear.

Ahhh John you will always be
the president of me.

I so entirely
tired of  my self.

"The Donald is
the 45th!"

I plead the 5th.

Board a space shuttle
to escape a Trump planet.
Nomkhumbulwa Jan 2019
Enthusiast is a bit of an understatement,
My friend Claire could tell you that;
As we hiked from the West coast to the East coast of Scotland
At night she read "normal things" - while I read maps.

Of course I needed to be sure of the route,
But after 25 miles of walking that wasnt all-
I'd spend at least 3 hours staring and staring
The roads, the woods, the rivers, hostels, churches, pubs and schools....

In fact night after night I spent,
So long engrossed,
That after five nights,
I had one of the strangest dreams ever experienced.

I was "in" an OS map -
Walking a yellow road, past big red triangles,
Counting contours,
And heading straight for the strangest of all -
Just across the red road, the enormous half filled pint glass
- the public house of course!

Surreal dream that was,
But also great fun,
I was in an OS map...
One without people - I was the only one

I did ease up on the map reading after,
Thought I might start hallucinating otherwise,
Claire already thought I was slightly mad,
If I told her we needed to shelter from the rain in the giant pint glass - well, as I said, she already knew I was mad!

But my obsession is not limited to OS maps,
Oh no, its the entire World Atlas;
Continents, Countries, Oceans and territories,
Nothing escapes my attention in the World Atlas.

I have so so many maps,
Because people keep changing things,
From the names of Countries and places
To minor details...bridges...silly little things.

I have a map that says USSR,
The Soviet Union so large,
Now I have another with Russia,
Belarus, Estonia, Ukraine, and others that re-emerged.

Even isolated places like Greenland
People cant make up their mind,
Is it Nuuk or Godthaab?
They are both still there to confuse the mind.

I had a map with Zaire,
Once the biggest country in Africa,
Its now the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Needed to amend my map of Africa.

Ok, all maps up to date;
Just when I can rest my map brain...
Sudan is then split in two!!
Get out the map Emma - quick - draw a line!!

I dont know what I think would happen
If my maps were not up to date;
But I just cant take the risk,.
I have to change them before its too late.

Most recent of course was Swaziland,
How? Why? When?!
Its ok, i've read about it now,
And I understand...let me get my pen.

But Swaziland is so tiny
Now I need to write eSwatini (!)
My map is now such a mess
Time for a new one? No not yet - Swaziland has not yet changed like the rest!

I have to wait for cartographers
To catch up and make all the changes,
Or otherwise i'll only trust my own map
The one with scribbles all over the pages.

Its not just on a Country scale
Such changes do confuse us,
For even in South Africa alone -
New names replaces the oldies.

Port Elizabeth,
Now Nelson Mandela Bay;
I think its wonderful,
But its not what my map says!

Umtata became Mthata;
Another very welcome change,
But that one letter is on my mind...
Quick - cross out the "u"...in case we go insane!

Nothing is more messed up in my guide books,
Which consist almost exclusively of maps
Than the city of Durban....
Street names have changed...but "not quite yet"

I picked up a local map,
And not shown in the one I carried
- Its still in process of "changing",
So two names there are for almost every road!

Pretoria became Tshwane,
Again I agree with the name change,
But by now the maps in my book
Make so little sense - it could be mistaken for Adelaide!

I wont go into Rhodesia,
There have been so many changes across Africa,
But if they were before I was born,
It somehow doesnt seem so much to matter...

I only get frustrated with
Things that I know,
Before 1980 -
I had no maps to know.

I'd be talking about the Transkei, the Ciskei,
The Orange Free State and all,
More recent but left in the past -
I have none of those on my walls.

I focus more on Africa,
as most will know i'm a bit obsessed,
Being from a British Island on the African Plate,
...with Ascension drifting away with America...albeit very slow.

The Mid Atlantic Ridge runs between them,
From Iceland to the South Pole,
Dividing the Continental plates,
St Helena and Ascension came out of a hole...

My mind drifts a little to Asia,
Although I dont know it as well,
But...is it Burma or Myanmar now?
And is Palestine shrinking still?

Islands cause much fascination,
Being an Islander myself,
But mine is just the tip of a volcano,
The map doesnt show anything else.

As far as Islands go - the Atlantic is easy,
Try staring at the Pacific,
Such a vast and empty ocean,
Hides many secrets...more than the Atlantic.

You may think St Helena isolated,
But only till your eyes enter the Pacific,
It might be a huge mostly empty ocean,
But the vast Island chains are prolific.

There are fracture zone after fracture zone,
Creating Island chains and coral atolls;
From the Coral sea of Australia,
To the Galapagos of South America.

There's Polynesia, there's Melanesia,
Micronesia too;
And within these - hundreds of Islands...
And yes - I've tried to count them too..

We look for other British Islands,
Pitcairn - the most isolated of all;
And what a sorry story to tell..
About 60 people and half of them in jail...

Sometimes im desperately trying to find an Island
To replace my British non-British Island;
Those who think im mad loving South Africa-
Wont even begin to understand.

But this poem is not about emotion,
So i'll mention that no more,
Its more about Geography
- too many Islands to explore.

Staring at the Pacific
Can occupy at least three sleepless nights,
Remembering the names of the islands -
Is a much more difficult plight.

Most heart breaking about this Ocean,
Is the Islands being lost;
Populations having to leave,
As sea levels rise and coral islands are lost...

I think I have found my location,
or a few i'd give a try,
On a large map they simply appear as "bumps"
Surrounded by bigger Islands, and the ocean wide

Sleepless nights have drawn me to Tokelau;
A tiny territory of New Zealand;
Three beautiful coral atolls...
But oh so far from New Zealand.

Less than one thousand people,
Yet with their own language,
The closest Island is Samoa,
That boat journey for me would be a privilege...

The Island has 100% clean energy,
With so few people to sustain,
It's setting an example for the World,
Tokelau looks like "paradise" on my map....if I had to give it a new name...

Indigenous people full of colour,
Flowers round their necks and some clothes a recent thing,
They even have their own musical culture,
Its only mass worry is rising tides - and the flat atolls eventually submerging....

There is another island I look at,
With its tribal peoples far more "untouched",
It really is like a land time forgot,
Although it does have an airport..

It is the Island of "Mog-Mog"...
Yes...I didnt make that up..
It really does exist,
Although I admit it took me years to discover on my map...

I wont mention where it is,
I dont want to give it away;
My maps are full of secrets,
And that is how some should stay.

You can visit from Tahiti,
Which is more like France than its surrounds;
But Mog-Mog is a totally different world,
Dont be fooled by Tahiti - Mog-Mog is part of the "untouched surrounds"

I could talk about these Islands forever,
As even I have not discovered them all,
But I have to finish with the Indian Ocean,
The Chagos Islands are British afterall...

What happened to the Chagossians
was a cruel sin of humankind,
Not just ST Helena suffers at the hands of the British
- Chagossians were forced to leave their Isle behind...

To make way for an American Air base,
Ascension - how familiar does that sound?!
The story of the Chagossian tragedy
Must touch every Islander to be found...

The Chagossians also inspire us however,
For fifty years on they are still fighting,
Fighting to return to their homeland,
Now a heavily guarded secret is their homeland...

My people however dont seem to care,
And that does make me sad;
This is another British Island
Not in the Atlantic, or Caribbean - but that does not make it bad...

The powers at be are so evil
That even after the fifty year lease was up..
The British just signed yet another...
As for the Islanders - they just want forgot...

I support the Chagossian people,
In their desperate fight to go home,
Even after deportation-
Their British Citizenship rights are next to none...

I am not proud of my motherland either,
And im not the only one;
I dont consider myself even British,
I dont "worship" my motherland like some...

I see what is really happening,
In St Helena and other "Crown Territories",
Just take a moment to look at them all....
and let me know if you find any that are totally "free"...

....oppression comes in many forms....

........................Nomkhumbulwa...
This isnt my usual style; it was heavily influenced by a huge amount of Diazepam.  But hey - its less depressing than usual....
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.
“Nullus enim locus sine genio est.”

  Servius.

“La musique,” says Marmontel, in those “Contes
Moraux” which in all our translations we have insisted upon
calling “Moral Tales,” as if in mockery of their
spirit—”la musique est le seul des talens qui
jouisse de lui-meme: tous les autres veulent des
temoins.” He here confounds the pleasure derivable from
sweet sounds with the capacity for creating them. No more
than any other talent, is that for music susceptible
of complete enjoyment where there is no second party to
appreciate its exercise; and it is only in common with other
talents that it produces effects which may be fully
enjoyed in solitude. The idea which the raconteur has
either failed to entertain clearly, or has sacrificed in its
expression to his national love of point, is
doubtless the very tenable one that the higher order of
music is the most thoroughly estimated when we are
exclusively alone. The proposition in this form will be
admitted at once by those who love the lyre for its own sake
and for its spiritual uses. But there is one pleasure still
within the reach of fallen mortality, and perhaps only one,
which owes even more than does music to the accessory
sentiment of seclusion. I mean the happiness experienced in
the contemplation of natural scenery. In truth, the man who
would behold aright the glory of God upon earth must in
solitude behold that glory. To me at least the presence, not
of human life only, but of life, in any other form than that
of the green things which grow upon the soil and are
voiceless, is a stain upon the landscape, is at war with the
genius of the scene. I love, indeed, to regard the dark
valleys, and the gray rocks, and the waters that silently
smile, and the forests that sigh in uneasy slumbers, and the
proud watchful mountains that look down upon all,—I
love to regard these as themselves but the colossal members
of one vast animate and sentient whole—a whole whose
form (that of the sphere) is the most perfect and most
inclusive of all; whose path is among associate planets;
whose meek handmaiden is the moon; whose mediate sovereign
is the sun; whose life is eternity; whose thought is that of
a god; whose enjoyment is knowledge; whose destinies are
lost in immensity; whose cognizance of ourselves is akin
with our own cognizance of the animalculae which
infest the brain, a being which we in consequence regard as
purely inanimate and material, much in the same manner as
these animalculae must thus regard us.

Our telescopes and our mathematical investigations assure us
on every hand, notwithstanding the cant of the more ignorant
of the priesthood, that space, and therefore that bulk, is
an important consideration in the eyes of the Almighty. The
cycles in which the stars move are those best adapted for
the evolution, without collision, of the greatest possible
number of bodies. The forms of those bodies are accurately
such as within a given surface to include the greatest
possible amount of matter; while the surfaces themselves are
so disposed as to accommodate a denser population than could
be accommodated on the same surfaces otherwise arranged. Nor
is it any argument against bulk being an object with God
that space itself is infinite; for there may be an infinity
of matter to fill it; and since we see clearly that the
endowment of matter with vitality is a principle—
indeed, as far as our judgments extend, the leading
principle in the operations of Deity, it is scarcely logical
to imagine it confined to the regions of the minute, where
we daily trace it, and not extending to those of the august.
As we find cycle within cycle without end, yet all revolving
around one far-distant centre which is the Godhead, may we
not analogically suppose, in the same manner, life within
life, the less within the greater, and all within the Spirit
Divine? In short, we are madly erring through self-esteem in
believing man, in either his temporal or future destinies,
to be of more moment in the universe than that vast “clod of
the valley” which he tills and contemns, and to which he
denies a soul, for no more profound reason than that he does
not behold it in operation.

These fancies, and such as these, have always given to my
meditations among the mountains and the forests, by the
rivers and the ocean, a tinge of what the every-day world
would not fail to term the fantastic. My wanderings amid
such scenes have been many and far-searching, and often
solitary; and the interest with which I have strayed through
many a dim deep valley, or gazed into the reflected heaven
of many a bright lake, has been an interest greatly deepened
by the thought that I have strayed and gazed alone.
What flippant Frenchman was it who said, in allusion to the
well known work of Zimmermann, that “la solitude est une
belle chose; mais il faut quelqu’un pour vous dire que la
solitude est une belle chose”? The epigram cannot be
gainsaid; but the necessity is a thing that does not exist.

It was during one of my lonely journeyings, amid a far
distant region of mountain locked within mountain, and sad
rivers and melancholy tarns writhing or sleeping within all,
that I chanced upon a certain rivulet and island. I came
upon them suddenly in the leafy June, and threw myself upon
the turf beneath the branches of an unknown odorous shrub,
that I might doze as I contemplated the scene. I felt that
thus only should I look upon it, such was the character of
phantasm which it wore.

On all sides, save to the west where the sun was about
sinking, arose the verdant walls of the forest. The little
river which turned sharply in its course, and was thus
immediately lost to sight, seemed to have no exit from its
prison, but to be absorbed by the deep green foliage of the
trees to the east; while in the opposite quarter (so it
appeared to me as I lay at length and glanced upward) there
poured down noiselessly and continuously into the valley a
rich golden and crimson waterfall from the sunset fountains
of the sky.

About midway in the short vista which my dreamy vision took
in, one small circular island, profusely verdured, reposed
upon the ***** of the stream.

So blended bank and shadow there, That each seemed pendulous
in air—

so mirror-like was the glassy water, that it was scarcely
possible to say at what point upon the ***** of the emerald
turf its crystal dominion began. My position enabled me to
include in a single view both the eastern and western
extremities of the islet, and I observed a singularly-marked
difference in their aspects. The latter was all one radiant
harem of garden beauties. It glowed and blushed beneath the
eye of the slant sunlight, and fairly laughed with flowers.
The grass was short, springy, sweet-scented, and Asphodel-
interspersed. The trees were lithe, mirthful, *****, bright,
slender, and graceful, of eastern figure and foliage, with
bark smooth, glossy, and parti-colored. There seemed a deep
sense of life and joy about all, and although no airs blew
from out the heavens, yet everything had motion through the
gentle sweepings to and fro of innumerable butterflies, that
might have been mistaken for tulips with wings.

The other or eastern end of the isle was whelmed in the
blackest shade. A sombre, yet beautiful and peaceful gloom,
here pervaded all things. The trees were dark in color and
mournful in form and attitude— wreathing themselves
into sad, solemn, and spectral shapes, that conveyed ideas
of mortal sorrow and untimely death. The grass wore the deep
tint of the cypress, and the heads of its blades hung
droopingly, and hither and thither among it were many small
unsightly hillocks, low and narrow, and not very long, that
had the aspect of graves, but were not, although over and
all about them the rue and the rosemary clambered. The
shades of the trees fell heavily upon the water, and seemed
to bury itself therein, impregnating the depths of the
element with darkness. I fancied that each shadow, as the
sun descended lower and lower, separated itself sullenly
from the trunk that gave it birth, and thus became absorbed
by the stream, while other shadows issued momently from the
trees, taking the place of their predecessors thus entombed.

This idea having once seized upon my fancy greatly excited
it, and I lost myself forthwith in reverie. “If ever island
were enchanted,” said I to myself, “this is it. This is the
haunt of the few gentle Fays who remain from the wreck of
the race. Are these green tombs theirs?—or do they
yield up their sweet lives as mankind yield up their own? In
dying, do they not rather waste away mournfully, rendering
unto God little by little their existence, as these trees
render up shadow after shadow, exhausting their substance
unto dissolution? What the wasting tree is to the water that
imbibes its shade, growing thus blacker by what it preys
upon, may not the life of the Fay be to the death which
engulfs it?”

As I thus mused, with half-shut eyes, while the sun sank
rapidly to rest, and eddying currents careered round and
round the island, bearing upon their ***** large dazzling
white flakes of the bark of the sycamore, flakes which, in
their multiform positions upon the water, a quick
imagination might have converted into anything it pleased;
while I thus mused, it appeared to me that the form of one
of those very Fays about whom I had been pondering, made its
way slowly into the darkness from out the light at the
western end of the island. She stood ***** in a singularly
fragile canoe, and urged it with the mere phantom of an oar.
While within the influence of the lingering sunbeams, her
attitude seemed indicative of joy, but sorrow deformed it as
she passed within the shade. Slowly she glided along, and at
length rounded the islet and re-entered the region of light.
“The revolution which has just been made by the Fay,”
continued I musingly, “is the cycle of the brief year of her
life. She has floated through her winter and through her
summer. She is a year nearer unto death: for I did not fail
to see that as she came into the shade, her shadow fell from
her, and was swallowed up in the dark water, making its
blackness more black.”

And again the boat appeared and the Fay, but about the
attitude of the latter there was more of care and
uncertainty and less of elastic joy. She floated again from
out the light and into the gloom (which deepened momently),
and again her shadow fell from her into the ebony water, and
became absorbed into its blackness. And again and again she
made the circuit of the island (while the sun rushed down to
his slumbers), and at each issuing into the light there was
more sorrow about her person, while it grew feebler and far
fainter and more indistinct, and at each passage into the
gloom there fell from her a darker shade, which became
whelmed in a shadow more black. But at length, when the sun
had utterly departed, the Fay, now the mere ghost of her
former self, went disconsolately with her boat into the
region of the ebony flood, and that she issued thence at all
I cannot say, for darkness fell over all things, and I
beheld her magical figure no more.
Poeta de Cabra Oct 2014
Catch the bus at quarter to eight
Pack your bags and don't be late
Arrive and your details are wrote
Picture taken, board a speed boat

Meet the tour guide, name is Ung
Four other crew are mostly young
Out with the camera take some shots
Boat is travelling, around forty knots

Bamboo Island is the very first stop
The boat pulls up and off we hop
Beautiful beach it is, nice and white
Crew help the women, extremely polite

Give you a snorkel if you so desire
Swim, paddle or just the view admire
Island is beautiful and the water nice
Close as you could b,e to real Paradise

Next pass by the Viking Cave in the rocks
When told Vikings were there I got a shock
On the walls they painted pictures of their ships
Amazing where they sailed, on their many trips

Bats, not famous in these caves but swallow nests
People protecting them, who would have guessed
Six thousand dollars a kilogram for the nest itself
An aphrodisiac in China for those with much wealth

From there we venture to the sweet Monkey Beach
Monkeys hang from the trees with a long reach
Throw them food and they catch it without fail
Hanging on to the trees with extremely long tails

Some monkeys on the beach, seem to be so polite
But you must be  careful because they often bite
Lots of photos again, information from the staff
Kids are enjoying themselves and having a laugh

Phi Phi Island next for a very delightful lunch
The staff on the island such a helpful bunch
Thai food, rice, seafood, curries hard to beat
Don't go hungry, more food  than you can eat

After lunch walk the beach and along the shore
Talk to Ung the guide, hoping to learn a bit more
A photographic memory Ung had, we did note
Remembered every persons name, on that boat

Soon we boarded once agaiin, trip a bit shorter
Other side of island was beautiful shallow water
People once again go swimming or snorkelling
Creatures on the bottom, some amazing things

Water is so still and it is such a glorious day
I think this place was called Loh Samah Bay
People boarded the boat, they were out of breath
"Save some energy" Ung said "for what's next"

A few minutes later we were all over the moon
Boat put down anchor in a magnificent lagoon
Maya Bay it was called, water warm and crystal clear
Many Hollywood producers had got inspiration here

Hard to say really, what are views like this actually worth?
Probably as close as possible to having a Heaven on Earth
Never before had I seen such a picturesque  sight
Could have stayed there all day and all of the night  

Soon up comes the anchor and the driver drove
The speed boat to the most beautiful Pilch Cove
Could go for a walk, lay on the beach and sleep
Kids could wade in, water warm but not very deep

Venture over the other side, see a magnificent lagoon
Then enjoy the beach once more, we are leaving soon
Soon back on the boat a few drinks, tales we're tellin'
Eat cool fresh fruit, pineapple and juicy watermelon

Everyone seems tired now, especially girls and boys
Speed boat flat out  as captain shouts "Ships ahoy"
Opens up the throttle, boat has extraordinary power
Be back where we started in approximately one hour

Bid the crew  goodbye and  tell Ung he is totally swell
Shake  his hand and take a taxi back to our comfy hotel
Tired and worn out, need a shower, good meal and a rest
Recommend  trip to anybody though, its simply the best

So if you are looking for something to do In Phuket
Take trip to Phi Phi Island, tis one you'll never forget
When on the boat back, I was so glad that I went
One of the best days I reckon that I've ever spent
A day out on my latest vacation
Batya Jul 2014
I’m an island
On another planet,
I’m so far away I could die.
The earthquake that made me
Comes back around to shake me up
And now and again
I crumble away a little
And the fish nibble at my toes.
I’m an island,
I’m surrounded, swallowed up
By deep blue melancholy,
I have a little melody
That I whisper through my palm trees
When the wind comes whistling ‘round.
I’m an island
And I’m beautiful
For white sands and a volcano,
I’m so beautiful you’d cry
If you could see me,
You’d try to free me
But I’m stuck to the ocean ground.
I’m an island,
I write myself a novel,
Because I’ve got no one else but Word,
And my four peach- colored walls
Become the horizons that I’m dreaming of
And my floor becomes lagoons
That beckon me to drown.
I’m an island
Because I cry,
My tears are my existence,
I’m my own wife and my own husband,
And I am childless and bloodless and I’ll always be around.

He is a rowboat
Of weathered wood,
Made of love and aged by making love
To the elements that define him,
And his wisdom and his readiness
To cross the Seven Seas.
He is a rowboat,
His billowed sails prepare for passion,
His oars anticipate his return home
With two in tow.
He is a rowboat,
The only one who can
And wants to reach his island in distress,
He carries himself
On wings of wind,
He’ll carry us both
When it becomes apparent that I can’t swim,
He’ll row and row and row his boat
To land ashore on the pain within
And he’ll love me all the way to his mainland.
And Ulysses answered, “King Alcinous, it is a good thing to hear a
bard with such a divine voice as this man has. There is nothing better
or more delightful than when a whole people make merry together,
with the guests sitting orderly to listen, while the table is loaded
with bread and meats, and the cup-bearer draws wine and fills his
cup for every man. This is indeed as fair a sight as a man can see.
Now, however, since you are inclined to ask the story of my sorrows,
and rekindle my own sad memories in respect of them, I do not know how
to begin, nor yet how to continue and conclude my tale, for the hand
of heaven has been laid heavily upon me.
  “Firstly, then, I will tell you my name that you too may know it,
and one day, if I outlive this time of sorrow, may become my there
guests though I live so far away from all of you. I am Ulysses son
of Laertes, reknowned among mankind for all manner of subtlety, so
that my fame ascends to heaven. I live in Ithaca, where there is a
high mountain called Neritum, covered with forests; and not far from
it there is a group of islands very near to one another—Dulichium,
Same, and the wooded island of Zacynthus. It lies squat on the
horizon, all highest up in the sea towards the sunset, while the
others lie away from it towards dawn. It is a rugged island, but it
breeds brave men, and my eyes know none that they better love to
look upon. The goddess Calypso kept me with her in her cave, and
wanted me to marry her, as did also the cunning Aeaean goddess
Circe; but they could neither of them persuade me, for there is
nothing dearer to a man than his own country and his parents, and
however splendid a home he may have in a foreign country, if it be far
from father or mother, he does not care about it. Now, however, I will
tell you of the many hazardous adventures which by Jove’s will I met
with on my return from Troy.
  “When I had set sail thence the wind took me first to Ismarus, which
is the city of the Cicons. There I sacked the town and put the
people to the sword. We took their wives and also much *****, which we
divided equitably amongst us, so that none might have reason to
complain. I then said that we had better make off at once, but my
men very foolishly would not obey me, so they stayed there drinking
much wine and killing great numbers of sheep and oxen on the sea
shore. Meanwhile the Cicons cried out for help to other Cicons who
lived inland. These were more in number, and stronger, and they were
more skilled in the art of war, for they could fight, either from
chariots or on foot as the occasion served; in the morning, therefore,
they came as thick as leaves and bloom in summer, and the hand of
heaven was against us, so that we were hard pressed. They set the
battle in array near the ships, and the hosts aimed their
bronze-shod spears at one another. So long as the day waxed and it was
still morning, we held our own against them, though they were more
in number than we; but as the sun went down, towards the time when men
loose their oxen, the Cicons got the better of us, and we lost half
a dozen men from every ship we had; so we got away with those that
were left.
  “Thence we sailed onward with sorrow in our hearts, but glad to have
escaped death though we had lost our comrades, nor did we leave till
we had thrice invoked each one of the poor fellows who had perished by
the hands of the Cicons. Then Jove raised the North wind against us
till it blew a hurricane, so that land and sky were hidden in thick
clouds, and night sprang forth out of the heavens. We let the ships
run before the gale, but the force of the wind tore our sails to
tatters, so we took them down for fear of shipwreck, and rowed our
hardest towards the land. There we lay two days and two nights
suffering much alike from toil and distress of mind, but on the
morning of the third day we again raised our masts, set sail, and took
our places, letting the wind and steersmen direct our ship. I should
have got home at that time unharmed had not the North wind and the
currents been against me as I was doubling Cape Malea, and set me
off my course hard by the island of Cythera.
  “I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of nine days upon the
sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eater,
who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to
take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore
near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company
to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they
had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among
the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the
lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring
about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened
to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the
Lotus-eater without thinking further of their return; nevertheless,
though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made
them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at
once, lest any of them should taste of the lotus and leave off wanting
to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with
their oars.
  “We sailed hence, always in much distress, till we came to the
land of the lawless and inhuman Cyclopes. Now the Cyclopes neither
plant nor plough, but trust in providence, and live on such wheat,
barley, and grapes as grow wild without any kind of tillage, and their
wild grapes yield them wine as the sun and the rain may grow them.
They have no laws nor assemblies of the people, but live in caves on
the tops of high mountains; each is lord and master in his family, and
they take no account of their neighbours.
  “Now off their harbour there lies a wooded and fertile island not
quite close to the land of the Cyclopes, but still not far. It is
overrun with wild goats, that breed there in great numbers and are
never disturbed by foot of man; for sportsmen—who as a rule will
suffer so much hardship in forest or among mountain precipices—do not
go there, nor yet again is it ever ploughed or fed down, but it lies a
wilderness untilled and unsown from year to year, and has no living
thing upon it but only goats. For the Cyclopes have no ships, nor
yet shipwrights who could make ships for them; they cannot therefore
go from city to city, or sail over the sea to one another’s country as
people who have ships can do; if they had had these they would have
colonized the island, for it is a very good one, and would yield
everything in due season. There are meadows that in some places come
right down to the sea shore, well watered and full of luscious
grass; grapes would do there excellently; there is level land for
ploughing, and it would always yield heavily at harvest time, for
the soil is deep. There is a good harbour where no cables are
wanted, nor yet anchors, nor need a ship be moored, but all one has to
do is to beach one’s vessel and stay there till the wind becomes
fair for putting out to sea again. At the head of the harbour there is
a spring of clear water coming out of a cave, and there are poplars
growing all round it.
  “Here we entered, but so dark was the night that some god must
have brought us in, for there was nothing whatever to be seen. A thick
mist hung all round our ships; the moon was hidden behind a mass of
clouds so that no one could have seen the island if he had looked
for it, nor were there any breakers to tell us we were close in
shore before we found ourselves upon the land itself; when, however,
we had beached the ships, we took down the sails, went ashore and
camped upon the beach till daybreak.
  “When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, we admired
the island and wandered all over it, while the nymphs Jove’s daughters
roused the wild goats that we might get some meat for our dinner. On
this we fetched our spears and bows and arrows from the ships, and
dividing ourselves into three bands began to shoot the goats. Heaven
sent us excellent sport; I had twelve ships with me, and each ship got
nine goats, while my own ship had ten; thus through the livelong day
to the going down of the sun we ate and drank our fill,—and we had
plenty of wine left, for each one of us had taken many jars full
when we sacked the city of the Cicons, and this had not yet run out.
While we were feasting we kept turning our eyes towards the land of
the Cyclopes, which was hard by, and saw the smoke of their stubble
fires. We could almost fancy we heard their voices and the bleating of
their sheep and goats, but when the sun went down and it came on dark,
we camped down upon the beach, and next morning I called a council.
  “‘Stay here, my brave fellows,’ said I, ‘all the rest of you,
while I go with my ship and exploit these people myself: I want to see
if they are uncivilized savages, or a hospitable and humane race.’
  “I went on board, bidding my men to do so also and loose the
hawsers; so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their
oars. When we got to the land, which was not far, there, on the face
of a cliff near the sea, we saw a great cave overhung with laurels. It
was a station for a great many sheep and goats, and outside there
was a large yard, with a high wall round it made of stones built
into the ground and of trees both pine and oak. This was the abode
of a huge monster who was then away from home shepherding his
flocks. He would have nothing to do with other people, but led the
life of an outlaw. He was a horrid creature, not like a human being at
all, but resembling rather some crag that stands out boldly against
the sky on the top of a high mountain.
  “I told my men to draw the ship ashore, and stay where they were,
all but the twelve best among them, who were to go along with
myself. I also took a goatskin of sweet black wine which had been
given me by Maron, Apollo son of Euanthes, who was priest of Apollo
the patron god of Ismarus, and lived within the wooded precincts of
the temple. When we were sacking the city we respected him, and spared
his life, as also his wife and child; so he made me some presents of
great value—seven talents of fine gold, and a bowl of silver, with
twelve jars of sweet wine, unblended, and of the most exquisite
flavour. Not a man nor maid in the house knew about it, but only
himself, his wife, and one housekeeper: when he drank it he mixed
twenty parts of water to one of wine, and yet the fragrance from the
mixing-bowl was so exquisite that it was impossible to refrain from
drinking. I filled a large skin with this wine, and took a wallet full
of provisions with me, for my mind misgave me that I might have to
deal with some savage who would be of great strength, and would
respect neither right nor law.
  “We soon reached his cave, but he was out shepherding, so we went
inside and took stock of all that we could see. His cheese-racks
were loaded with cheeses, and he had more lambs and kids than his pens
could hold. They were kept in separate flocks; first there were the
hoggets, then the oldest of the younger lambs and lastly the very
young ones all kept apart from one another; as for his dairy, all
the vessels, bowls, and milk pails into which he milked, were swimming
with whey. When they saw all this, my men begged me to let them
first steal some cheeses, and make off with them to the ship; they
would then return, drive down the lambs and kids, put them on board
and sail away with them. It would have been indeed better if we had
done so but I would not listen to them, for I wanted to see the
owner himself, in the hope that he might give me a present. When,
however, we saw him my poor men found him ill to deal with.
  “We lit a fire, offered some of the cheeses in sacrifice, ate others
of them, and then sat waiting till the Cyclops should come in with his
sheep. When he came, he brought in with him a huge load of dry
firewood to light the fire for his supper, and this he flung with such
a noise on to the floor of his cave that we hid ourselves for fear
at the far end of the cavern. Meanwhile he drove all the ewes
inside, as well as the she-goats that he was going to milk, leaving
the males, both rams and he-goats, outside in the yards. Then he
rolled a huge stone to the mouth of the cave—so huge that two and
twenty strong four-wheeled waggons would not be enough to draw it from
its place against the doorway. When he had so done he sat down and
milked his ewes and goats, all in due course, and then let each of
them have her own young. He curdled half the milk and set it aside
in wicker strainers, but the other half he poured into bowls that he
might drink it for his supper. When he had got through with all his
work, he lit the fire, and then caught sight of us, whereon he said:
  “‘Strangers, who are you? Where do sail from? Are you traders, or do
you sail the as rovers, with your hands against every man, and every
man’s hand against you?’
  “We were frightened out of our senses by his loud voice and
monstrous form, but I managed to say, ‘We are Achaeans on our way home
from Troy, but by the will of Jove, and stress of weather, we have
been driven far out of our course. We are the people of Agamemnon, son
of Atreus, who has won infinite renown throughout the whole world,
by sacking so great a city and killing so many people. We therefore
humbly pray you to show us some hospitality, and otherwise make us
such presents as visitors may reasonably expect. May your excellency
fear the wrath of heaven, for we are your suppliants, and Jove takes
all respectable travellers under his protection, for he is the avenger
of all suppliants and foreigners in distress.’
  “To this he gave me but a pitiless answer, ‘Stranger,’ said he, ‘you
are a fool, or else you know nothing of this country. Talk to me,
indeed, about fearing the gods or shunning their anger? We Cyclopes do
not care about Jove or any of your blessed gods, for we are ever so
much stronger than they. I shall not spare either yourself or your
companions out of any regard for Jove, unless I am in the humour for
doing so. And now tell me where you made your ship fast when you
came on shore. Was it round the point, or is she lying straight off
the land?’
  “He said this to draw me out, but I was too cunning to be caught
in that way, so I answered with a lie; ‘Neptune,’ said I, ’sent my
ship on to the rocks at the far end of your country, and wrecked it.
We were driven on to them from the open sea, but I and those who are
with me escaped the jaws of death.’
  “The cruel wretch vouchsafed me not one word of answer, but with a
sudden clutch he gripped up two of my men at once and dashed them down
upon the ground as though they had been puppies. Their brains were
shed upon the ground, and the earth was wet with their blood. Then
he tore them limb from limb and supped upon them. He gobbled them up
like a lion in the wilderness, flesh, bones, marrow, and entrails,
without leaving anything uneaten. As for us, we wept and lifted up our
hands to heaven on seeing such a horrid sight, for we did not know
what else to do; but when the Cyclops had filled his huge paunch,
and had washed down his meal of human flesh with a drink of neat milk,
he stretched himself full length upon the ground among his sheep,
and went to sleep. I was at first inclined to seize my sword, draw it,
and drive it into his vitals, but I reflected that if I did we
should all certainly be lost, for we should never be able to shift the
stone which the monster had put in front of the door. So we stayed
sobbing and sighing where we were till morning came.
  “When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, he again
lit his fire, milked his goats and ewes, all quite rightly, and then
let each have her own young one; as soon as he had got through with
all his work, he clutched up two more of my men, and began eating them
for his morning’s meal. Presently, with the utmost ease, he rolled the
stone away from the door and drove out his sheep, but he at once put
it back again—as easily as though he were merely clapping the lid
on to a
ConstantEscape Dec 2013
A mysterious island stands morosely free,
in the midst of the deep blue sea.
The waves crash upon the shore
covering the evil and all it's gore.

The brown leaves slowly fall,
from the tree that was once tall.
The beauty that lies in seclusion
is merely just an illusion.

Look at the sun shine with all its glory,
the rays trying to tell us a story.
Illusionary beauty that drifts between light and dark,
is a transient allure that will set; leaving a mark.

Clouds of birds rise from the tree
chirping noisily out of key
warning the poor young boy that within
the island was filled with sin.

Behind the rocks lie serpents slithering,
above the trees the eagles are soaring.
To all appearance the island is interesting,
hidden from the eye, evil is lurking.

The island is like a scary dream
where the birds will bitterly scream.
Trees cry out of fears
yet still, no one hears.

Shadows are bright,
grasses are blue,
nothing is right,
no one expects it to.

However out there the world is even more menacing,
destruction, corruption, the world is shattering,
enveloped in the arms of so much wrong
tell the island it did belong.

W.H.Y~
It's actually for my english homework but I really enjoyed writing it :) x
adele horn Apr 2010
on my island
he looks into my eyes
and tells me he loves me.
on my island
he makes love to me
and its not just ***
on my island
he dreams of me in white
and calling me wife
on my island
he wonders how he can make me happy
beyond dinner or lunch
on my island
he is proud of me
as his partner, not his friend
on my island
his parents like me
and even know my name
on my island
he looks at houses as he drives by
and imagines us living there
on my island
there are no maybes

but there is no island
there is no dream
there is no feeling other than this

how do arrange this
so my heart understands
Kissamos Council

They arrive in the afternoon with their faces tanned by the Cretan sun. Vernarth in his Alikanto pass to a first instance that presents them with a chronological table and a map where the archaeological sites of finds from the geometric period and the historical development of one of the oldest and most important areas in the area would be located; Polirrenia and Falasarna. Searching as usual if any evidence of knowledge of any news from Etréstles would be presented in the various necropolis of the city. They crossed Chania to reach Heraklion, arriving at Arjanes unexpectedly.

The Minoan necropolis of Furní was present to them, as an archaeological site located on the eponymous hill, on the island of Crete that contains remains of the Minoan civilization. The archaeological site is located near Arjanes, where there was a Minoan settlement on Mount Juktas, where there was an important sanctuary. It is a necropolis that was in use for a long period of time, 1200 BC. C. Excavations have uncovered a wide variety of funerary monuments, hundreds of burials, and rich grave goods. Vernarth pursuing the nose of Etréstles, knew he would control here the remains of the trousseau, monuments and precious jewels. Before leaving for the Castelli hills, to which he had to guard the relics. Etréstles is the celestial jurist abbot of the Koumeterium of Messolonghi, and of all the necropolis of the world, mainly Hellenic until the death of Alexander the Great 332 a. C., and perpetually.

As usual Etréstles always transmigrates for each intraterrestrial city, beyond all expression. "He is the supreme minister of the moldy wall, of whose solid stones he still continues to reside beneath those as a simple abandoned mushroom." … These are the ominous words that Vernarth emits when they began to take flight to Kalymnos.

Raeder hung with both hands over the jasper-plated iron hoops that come from reiterating the Greek "iaspis", which means "stained stone".Which was now stained green, like the stripes on Alikanto's hooves. He had to go to the ancient lands of Raeder's parents, where his ancestors came from; Kinaros, between Leros Island and Kalymnos. Vernarth jumped with joy knowing that his supernatural little friend would take him to those lands unknown to him. He takes Alikanto and leaves, behind and turning in circles, he was escorted by Reader, clinging to the golden rings that the pelican Petrobus invested.

Kalymnos

They land in the lavish waters where the Pelican Petrobus originated. They descend on an afternoon of great hot festivity. The peasant people celebrated having had a good harvest. Also not to be happy about the novelty of being fortunate to have no misfortune to have to regret tribulations for some charm of other maidens towards the Cave of the Nymphs, and where Apollo was the patron god of Kalymnos. This sanctuary was the political and religious center from the beginning of the first millennium BC. C.until the first centuries AD. The inhabitants of Kalymnos were the first Greeks to convert to Christianity thanks to their proximity to Asia Minor since Saint Paul and Saint John made a stop on the island, in the Christian era, building numerous churches decorated with mosaics. They enter the island's port, they walk in unbridled revelry after being greeted at the port. At dusk they arrive at Jorió, to find the Venetian castle of the knights of the order of San Juan completely covered in blue olive oil (a phenomenon that had been caused by the previous visit of Etrésltes and her entourage). In the same way they make the anteroom to the northeast, finding the Grotto of the Seven Virgins or Nymphs. Whose satire succumbed to some incredulous neighborhoods, hiding some of his younger daughters after denying their consummation. This is not a minor narrative legend of how seven young girls disappeared into the cave when they fled from pirates. Noticing depending on whether it could be so, also the clues to find Etréstles who had been here recently.

Petrobus the Pelican resorts where the colonies of his ancestors. He had the gold rings on his neck. He had no contact with his native colony since the last day they helped with water in the fields due to the lack of fresh water. It is worth noting their property of converting salt water into fresh water, but even more so the quality of Petrobus, in addition to where they step on their feet they will all shine and rejuvenate. It decentralizes its wings with allotropic tints, which made it turn colors, in addition to strengthening and relieving its body in long periods of flight. He lifts his beak and flies vertically to meet Reader and Vernarth in the Early Christian Necropolis of the funeral chapels. Here they meditate and offer their submission to the wind that flows with great power under the catacombs, pulling and moving the spirits that want to relocate with their placebo presiding over their doubts. .

They leave the port, boarding a Triacontero that would take them to Kinaros before night falls and is seized by the coastal fog that does not resist rope that holds a ship whatever it was; many times these ships were maneuvered by rowing sailors. But this time it was only consigned to them, it would only move without anyone having to intervene; only the eternal and kind wind will have to take them to the island of Reader's parents.

Kinaros
Triacontero Ship

On the transparent waters sailing in the Triacóntero were the Three. Vernarth at the bow, Petrobus at the main mast of the canopy, and Raeder next to him a few meters from Vernarth, remembering his parents when they emigrated from this island. The name of the ship that was named was "Eurydice". Every certain space of advance, she approached the mask to empty the tears that this Nymph emanated from her semi-open eyes. Vernarth took a cloth of sacred linen and dried the flows that should not have been more than for some reason that he wanted to know?

When they arrived near Kinaros, a rainy cyclone increased, raising them above the surface of the island, when they were less than 5 km away. Vernarth takes his Xiphos sword and cuts the ropes. Then Raeder, noticing that they were in serious danger of being shipwrecked, tells Vernarth to get out of the ship quickly. Vernarth runs to the bow and covers the eyes of Eurydice's Mascaron and leaves the ship. With his epic metaphysical thinking, he acclaims his magical steed Alikanto, he flies over the ship and picks them up, and Reader takes hold of the hoops on Petrobus's legs, reaching solid ground.

Kinaros is a land of fishermen and farmers. Long-lived land of ancient inhabitants that do not age. There are no cemeteries or monuments here. There is only eternal spring for those who can be grateful for a place that gives them peace and melancholic love from those who do not live there. Here, from this generous land come the Raeder Fathers. They migrated to Kalimnos; being this lands the one that saw it born and immortalizes it. So remember...:
"In the Dodecanese islands subdued by the carmine dew that falls in the morning on its crystalline waters, on sandy or gravel beaches of important archaeological remains and scenes to compete in athletic leisure, Raeder ran naked after the clothes that his mother had readymade. It was covered by crystalline Byzantine monuments and medieval architecture due to the long Venetian ******* in its mannerisms. What unites it to these islands, their history and their occupations: that of the knights of the crusades to that of the Turks, the Italian occupation to the Greek annexation with their volatile useless attire to dress? Patmos is very popular with pilgrims from the moment his work was raised in one of the caves on the island of Saint John the Evangelist, a disciple of Christ, writing the Book of Revelations.
Astipalea is the westernmost island in the archipelago and has architectural features from the Dodecanese Cyclades. It is also related here in the Etréstles de Kalavrita novel matter of his victorious boast to Patmos, when he resorts after the reverie of the Laziko Dance in which they seized the little finger and circulated in commemoration of the stripping of the rebirth of spring with La Sousta of the Dodecanese. These dances were generated on the ocean floor of the Ionian Sea, generating the power of the ethereal emananation of Etrestles from Kalavrita by daring to put Eclectic confrontation on the invisible portal of Evangelist Saint John in his sacred basaltic cavern in the Patmos archipelago (Koumeterium Messolonghi, Chapter 16 / page 114. Editorial Palibrio - USA)

In the Chapel of Ministers

They were seconded by the high representatives of Kalimnos, among them the curious immortal serpentine Raeder. Son of farmers, natives of Kinaros belonging to a group clan of six small islands and six small families. Some islets used to flaunt the genealogical beams of the Antigone challenges and documented inspirations found between Leros and Kalymnos in the east and the Cycladic island of Amorgós in the west.

Raeder always got up before dawn, and a petite blue bonsai Pelican always appeared on the threshold of his window; called him Petrobus. In the mornings, he ran, beating this Olympic bird in a quick dispute. Sometimes he could not say goodbye to his friendly bird, because he ran so fast that the days used to be weeks in a row, while Petrobus snorted through the skies with his wings of Hellenic Artificial Intelligence. With his hyper exhalation he moved large rocky cliffs, even moving and disorganizing the geographical nomenclature of these twelve polygonal islands of the Dodecanese.
The least known and uncontaminated islands are Leros or Pserimos, while Rhodes and Cos, the largest and most cosmopolitan islands, are the target of migrant Blue Pelicans throughout the year. Before returning home, Raeder stretched out on the grasses sheared by the heels of the Petrobus migrants and their minions. In this dancing grass I could feel the dances with gag bread dancing on all the hips of the damsels of the Sousta dance by his arms. He ran after Petrobus with his golden mask and hung on the legs of his bird (Wings Mate), the art of flying with golden magic birds and his Ancient Antigone Mama.

When he sometimes flew by the feet of Petrobus, he thought..
"My ground ... a thousand times I will lift you with my arms, do not hesitate my arms believe it ...
Oh my revered Ionian, I will apnea to please you a thousand times to become your Ionic molecule...
Wind by Kalimnos himself ..., I will make the Oda flute that travels through the twelve pierced epitaphs of my ancestors in Dodecanese asleep of paroxysm in the chapel where I was baptized for the ninth time!
And by the fatuous lavish Fire I will put the ceremonial ribbon of the Sousta Dance in the siesta of the new migration of my transparent Pelicans…. ”.

Raeder tells Petrobus visibly excited imagining crying with his imagined friend. "The little Raeder from the Dodecanese region", he tells his magical imaginary friend; what was the most missing Petrobus of ground breadcrumb paste for next winter?
Petrobus tells him not looking at him ..., just placing his palm-legged heliophylloid leg on his other one like ...: Nothing, fear Raeder, God does not exist!. Now He and you are the same. You will be able to lift the sphere of the flat earth with your arms and convert it into a healthy land of milk and honey from our Kalimnos that runs like mud over the mountains of your Life turned into a new House dressed in a new house”.

When Raeder finishes thinking ..., Vernarth tells him that they had to set sail for Patmos. Curiously in the bay was the ship of Eurydice. They believed that this ship had capsized and sunk somewhere on the wide Aegean high seas. The three boards the ship Eurydice, Alikanto stays in Kinaros grazing in good safety from the peasants who took great affection for him. Later she would join him in Patmos for the service and pantry of the offices for Saint John the Evangelist. Alikanto will take a great contribution and role in the prophecies of Vernarth on the Isle of Patmos.
Vernarth  Ciclades passage
Blake Watson Feb 2010
I dwell on an island.
It’s sunny and bright.
It’s lined by the blue water’s foam.
My house, my possessions,
Are here in plain sight.
But the island is far from my Home.

I look all around me.
Creation I see.
Trees sway and the animals roam.
I will stay here for now,
But soon, I will leave.
For this island is far from my Home.

Corruption is here too,
I’m sad to affirm.
There’s danger when out on your own.
I must take the right paths,
And make the right turns.
Since the island is far from my Home.

We’re here on the island,
With Good and with Bad.
And sometimes we feel all alone.
We can be comforted,
Because we all know,
That the island is far from our Home.
Notes: A poem inspired by Shivakumar Sundaram.
And then in just a click of a button,
I'm all alone. Nothin' but 2 Mutton.
For I have been stranded,
and perhaps abandoned
from my dear friends.
I see some stems
of an old tree, dying in despair.
I see a new land offshore,
but the distant island has no grass.
I went to the cave, nothin’ but bats.
So I went deeper forward,
toward the mighty horrors.
I found some iron and gold,
I make a tool to behold.
After some more iron,
I acquire some attire.
Then suddenly, out of the dark abyss
I found my true and only bliss!


After a few days more,
I have my tools galore.

A long time from then…
I built myself zen
All along the old island,
a long time after my first diamond,
I see something strange…
I know something’s a change
I see it coming closer,
I peek out like a toaster.
And there a person behold!
He was in a boat, looking bold,
I went out to the shore,
After all, I’m not gonna ignore.
I love Minecraft
Thence we went on to the Aeoli island where lives ****** son of
Hippotas, dear to the immortal gods. It is an island that floats (as
it were) upon the sea, iron bound with a wall that girds it. Now,
****** has six daughters and six ***** sons, so he made the sons marry
the daughters, and they all live with their dear father and mother,
feasting and enjoying every conceivable kind of luxury. All day long
the atmosphere of the house is loaded with the savour of roasting
meats till it groans again, yard and all; but by night they sleep on
their well-made bedsteads, each with his own wife between the
blankets. These were the people among whom we had now come.
  “****** entertained me for a whole month asking me questions all the
time about Troy, the Argive fleet, and the return of the Achaeans. I
told him exactly how everything had happened, and when I said I must
go, and asked him to further me on my way, he made no sort of
difficulty, but set about doing so at once. Moreover, he flayed me a
prime ox-hide to hold the ways of the roaring winds, which he shut
up in the hide as in a sack—for Jove had made him captain over the
winds, and he could stir or still each one of them according to his
own pleasure. He put the sack in the ship and bound the mouth so
tightly with a silver thread that not even a breath of a side-wind
could blow from any quarter. The West wind which was fair for us did
he alone let blow as it chose; but it all came to nothing, for we were
lost through our own folly.
  “Nine days and nine nights did we sail, and on the tenth day our
native land showed on the horizon. We got so close in that we could
see the stubble fires burning, and I, being then dead beat, fell
into a light sleep, for I had never let the rudder out of my own
hands, that we might get home the faster. On this the men fell to
talking among themselves, and said I was bringing back gold and silver
in the sack that ****** had given me. ‘Bless my heart,’ would one turn
to his neighbour, saying, ‘how this man gets honoured and makes
friends to whatever city or country he may go. See what fine prizes he
is taking home from Troy, while we, who have travelled just as far
as he has, come back with hands as empty as we set out with—and now
****** has given him ever so much more. Quick—let us see what it
all is, and how much gold and silver there is in the sack he gave
him.’
  “Thus they talked and evil counsels prevailed. They loosed the sack,
whereupon the wind flew howling forth and raised a storm that
carried us weeping out to sea and away from our own country. Then I
awoke, and knew not whether to throw myself into the sea or to live on
and make the best of it; but I bore it, covered myself up, and lay
down in the ship, while the men lamented bitterly as the fierce
winds bore our fleet back to the Aeolian island.
  “When we reached it we went ashore to take in water, and dined
hard by the ships. Immediately after dinner I took a herald and one of
my men and went straight to the house of ******, where I found him
feasting with his wife and family; so we sat down as suppliants on the
threshold. They were astounded when they saw us and said, ‘Ulysses,
what brings you here? What god has been ill-treating you? We took
great pains to further you on your way home to Ithaca, or wherever
it was that you wanted to go to.’
  “Thus did they speak, but I answered sorrowfully, ‘My men have
undone me; they, and cruel sleep, have ruined me. My friends, mend
me this mischief, for you can if you will.’
  “I spoke as movingly as I could, but they said nothing, till their
father answered, ‘Vilest of mankind, get you gone at once out of the
island; him whom heaven hates will I in no wise help. Be off, for
you come here as one abhorred of heaven. “And with these words he sent
me sorrowing from his door.
  “Thence we sailed sadly on till the men were worn out with long
and fruitless rowing, for there was no longer any wind to help them.
Six days, night and day did we toil, and on the seventh day we reached
the rocky stronghold of Lamus—Telepylus, the city of the
Laestrygonians, where the shepherd who is driving in his sheep and
goats [to be milked] salutes him who is driving out his flock [to
feed] and this last answers the salute. In that country a man who
could do without sleep might earn double wages, one as a herdsman of
cattle, and another as a shepherd, for they work much the same by
night as they do by day.
  “When we reached the harbour we found it land-locked under steep
cliffs, with a narrow entrance between two headlands. My captains took
all their ships inside, and made them fast close to one another, for
there was never so much as a breath of wind inside, but it was
always dead calm. I kept my own ship outside, and moored it to a
rock at the very end of the point; then I climbed a high rock to
reconnoitre, but could see no sign neither of man nor cattle, only
some smoke rising from the ground. So I sent two of my company with an
attendant to find out what sort of people the inhabitants were.
  “The men when they got on shore followed a level road by which the
people draw their firewood from the mountains into the town, till
presently they met a young woman who had come outside to fetch
water, and who was daughter to a Laestrygonian named Antiphates. She
was going to the fountain Artacia from which the people bring in their
water, and when my men had come close up to her, they asked her who
the king of that country might be, and over what kind of people he
ruled; so she directed them to her father’s house, but when they got
there they found his wife to be a giantess as huge as a mountain,
and they were horrified at the sight of her.
  “She at once called her husband Antiphates from the place of
assembly, and forthwith he set about killing my men. He snatched up
one of them, and began to make his dinner off him then and there,
whereon the other two ran back to the ships as fast as ever they
could. But Antiphates raised a hue and cry after them, and thousands
of sturdy Laestrygonians sprang up from every quarter—ogres, not men.
They threw vast rocks at us from the cliffs as though they had been
mere stones, and I heard the horrid sound of the ships crunching up
against one another, and the death cries of my men, as the
Laestrygonians speared them like fishes and took them home to eat
them. While they were thus killing my men within the harbour I drew my
sword, cut the cable of my own ship, and told my men to row with alf
their might if they too would not fare like the rest; so they laid out
for their lives, and we were thankful enough when we got into open
water out of reach of the rocks they hurled at us. As for the others
there was not one of them left.
  “Thence we sailed sadly on, glad to have escaped death, though we
had lost our comrades, and came to the Aeaean island, where Circe
lives a great and cunning goddess who is own sister to the magician
Aeetes—for they are both children of the sun by Perse, who is
daughter to Oceanus. We brought our ship into a safe harbour without a
word, for some god guided us thither, and having landed we there for
two days and two nights, worn out in body and mind. When the morning
of the third day came I took my spear and my sword, and went away from
the ship to reconnoitre, and see if I could discover signs of human
handiwork, or hear the sound of voices. Climbing to the top of a
high look-out I espied the smoke of Circe’s house rising upwards
amid a dense forest of trees, and when I saw this I doubted whether,
having seen the smoke, I would not go on at once and find out more,
but in the end I deemed it best to go back to the ship, give the men
their dinners, and send some of them instead of going myself.
  “When I had nearly got back to the ship some god took pity upon my
solitude, and sent a fine antlered stag right into the middle of my
path. He was coming down his pasture in the forest to drink of the
river, for the heat of the sun drove him, and as he passed I struck
him in the middle of the back; the bronze point of the spear went
clean through him, and he lay groaning in the dust until the life went
out of him. Then I set my foot upon him, drew my spear from the wound,
and laid it down; I also gathered rough grass and rushes and twisted
them into a fathom or so of good stout rope, with which I bound the
four feet of the noble creature together; having so done I hung him
round my neck and walked back to the ship leaning upon my spear, for
the stag was much too big for me to be able to carry him on my
shoulder, steadying him with one hand. As I threw him down in front of
the ship, I called the men and spoke cheeringly man by man to each
of them. ‘Look here my friends,’ said I, ‘we are not going to die so
much before our time after all, and at any rate we will not starve
so long as we have got something to eat and drink on board.’ On this
they uncovered their heads upon the sea shore and admired the stag,
for he was indeed a splendid fellow. Then, when they had feasted their
eyes upon him sufficiently, they washed their hands and began to
cook him for dinner.
  “Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we
stayed there eating and drinking our fill, but when the sun went
down and it came on dark, we camped upon the sea shore. When the child
of morning, fingered Dawn, appeared, I called a council and said,
‘My friends, we are in very great difficulties; listen therefore to
me. We have no idea where the sun either sets or rises, so that we
do not even know East from West. I see no way out of it; nevertheless,
we must try and find one. We are certainly on an island, for I went as
high as I could this morning, and saw the sea reaching all round it to
the horizon; it lies low, but towards the middle I saw smoke rising
from out of a thick forest of trees.’
  “Their hearts sank as they heard me, for they remembered how they
had been treated by the Laestrygonian Antiphates, and by the savage
ogre Polyphemus. They wept bitterly in their dismay, but there was
nothing to be got by crying, so I divided them into two companies
and set a captain over each; I gave one company to Eurylochus, while I
took command of the other myself. Then we cast lots in a helmet, and
the lot fell upon Eurylochus; so he set out with his twenty-two men,
and they wept, as also did we who were left behind.
  “When they reached Circe’s house they found it built of cut
stones, on a site that could be seen from far, in the middle of the
forest. There were wild mountain wolves and lions prowling all round
it—poor bewitched creatures whom she had tamed by her enchantments
and drugged into subjection. They did not attack my men, but wagged
their great tails, fawned upon them, and rubbed their noses lovingly
against them. As hounds crowd round their master when they see him
coming from dinner—for they know he will bring them something—even
so did these wolves and lions with their great claws fawn upon my men,
but the men were terribly frightened at seeing such strange creatures.
Presently they reached the gates of the goddess’s house, and as they
stood there they could hear Circe within, singing most beautifully
as she worked at her loom, making a web so fine, so soft, and of
such dazzling colours as no one but a goddess could weave. On this
Polites, whom I valued and trusted more than any other of my men,
said, ‘There is some one inside working at a loom and singing most
beautifully; the whole place resounds with it, let us call her and see
whether she is woman or goddess.’
  “They called her and she came down, unfastened the door, and bade
them enter. They, thinking no evil, followed her, all except
Eurylochus, who suspected mischief and stayed outside. When she had
got them into her house, she set them upon benches and seats and mixed
them a mess with cheese, honey, meal, and Pramnian but she drugged
it with wicked poisons to make them forget their homes, and when
they had drunk she turned them into pigs by a stroke of her wand,
and shut them up in her pigsties. They were like pigs-head, hair,
and all, and they grunted just as pigs do; but their senses were the
same as before, and they remembered everything.
  “Thus then were they shut up squealing, and Circe threw them some
acorns and beech masts such as pigs eat, but Eurylochus hurried back
to tell me about the sad fate of our comrades. He was so overcome with
dismay that though he tried to speak he could find no words to do
so; his eyes filled with tears and he could only sob and sigh, till at
last we forced his story out of him, and he told us what had
happened to the others.
  “‘We went,’ said he, as you told us, through the forest, and in
the middle of it there was a fine house built with cut stones in a
place that could be seen from far. There we found a woman, or else she
was a goddess, working at her loom and singing sweetly; so the men
shouted to her and called her, whereon she at once came down, opened
the door, and invited us in. The others did not suspect any mischief
so they followed her into the house, but I stayed where I was, for I
thought there might be some treachery. From that moment I saw them
no more, for not one of them ever came out, though I sat a long time
watching for them.’
  “Then I took my sword of bronze and slung it over my shoulders; I
also took my bow, and told Eurylochus to come back with me and show me
the way. But he laid hold of me with both his hands and spoke
piteously, saying, ‘Sir, do not force me to go with you, but let me
stay here, for I know you will not bring one of them back with you,
nor even return alive yourself; let us rather see if we cannot
escape at any rate with the few that are left us, for we may still
save our lives.’
  “‘Stay where you are, then, ‘answered I, ‘eating and drinking at the
ship, but I must go, for I am most urgently bound to do so.’
  “With this I left the ship and went up inland. When I got through
the charmed grove, and was near the great house of the enchantress
Circe, I met Mercury with his golden wand, disguised as a young man in
the hey-day of his youth and beauty with the down just coming upon his
face. He came up to me and took my hand within his own, saying, ‘My
poor unhappy man, whither are you going over this mountain top,
alone and without knowing the way? Your men are shut up in Circe’s
pigsties, like so many wild boars in their lairs. You surely do not
fancy that you can set them free? I can tell you that you will never
get back and will have to stay there with the rest of them. But
never mind, I will protect you and get you out of your difficulty.
Take this herb, which is one of great virtue, and keep it about you
when you go to Circe’s house, it will be a talisman to you against
every kind of mischief.
  “‘And I will tell you of all the wicked witchcraft that Circe will
try to practise upon you. She will mix a mess for you to drink, and
she will drug the meal with which she makes it, but she will not be
able to charm you, for the virtue of the herb that I shall give you
will prevent her spells from working. I will tell you all about it.
When Circe strikes you with her wand, draw your sword and spring
upon her as though you were goings to **** her. She will then be
frightened and will desire you to go to bed with her; on this you must
not point blank refuse her, for you want her to set your companions
free, and to take good care also of yourself, but you make her swear
solemnly by all the blessed that she will plot no further mischief
against you, or else when she has got you naked she will unman you and
make you fit for nothing.’
  “As he spoke he pulled the herb out of the ground an showed me
what it was like. The root was black, while the flower was as white as
milk; the gods call it Moly, and mortal men cannot uproot it, but
the gods can do whatever they like.
  “Then Mercury went back to high Olympus passing over the wooded
island; but I fared onward to the house of Circe, and my heart was
clouded with care as I walked along. When I got to the gates I stood
there and called the goddess, and as soon as she hear
Waverly Aug 2012
Ever felt like you had the one
for you, and
you just let her duck out?

See, I got this girl.

See, I had this girl.

See, this girl really ****** me,
see?

This girl was an island girl.

This girl ****** in torrents.
Argued in cannonball barrages.
And hugged like a linebacker.

Those island girls are thick:
all thighs,
all ***,
all fire
like the volcanoes we all come from
and forget to remember.

But they remember.

And they live it.

See, this island girl, was a bigger, thicker one,
and I could throw her around any way I wanted.

And she liked it,
and I liked it,
and,
I'm telling you,
this island girl could take an ***-canning whooping
like nobody.

I mean, I'd make sure her ****** became
a bruised rose
and she felt it.

But,to talk about love,
the *** was a good thing,
but she could argue,
and I think I like that
more than I'm beginning to realize.  

Just like a short poem on a ***** day.
Cinnam Muscat Jul 2011
He loves his soca and
His carnival.
He calypsos
Like only Dionysus could.

His power is like the
Nymph's - the Oceanid daughter that
Kept Odysseus from
Penelope - only stronger.

So mesmerising: his smile
Bursts with a contagious
Warmth, like the sun
Over his island homeland.

A gold cross hangs from a chain
Around his dark, dark neck.
The smell of his skin spices the air around him,
Making my mouth salivate.

He tastes like Mayan chocolate;
Slightly bitter and tinged with chilli.
The scars on his shoulders and back
Feel like a ripe nectarine againt my tongue.

I want to bite down and feel the juices
Run.
But.
He's a good Christian boy.

This island boy is an enigma.
Tall and willowy
Like a rapier, and
Strong and beautiful.

I wonder if this island boy
Would sheath his faith
In my worship,
For just one, cool, island night.
Alan Dickson Oct 2013
I wish I were stranded on a tropical island
A tropical island with you
You could make art from coconuts and starfish
Yeah, coconuts and starfish might be a good place to start

And I could build a crude instrument
Out of a conch shell and driftwood
And tightly roll a papaya leaf to use for a string
Or two
Then I could play and you could sing
We wouldn't want for anything
Serenading each other by the light of the moon...

Every evening we could snuggle underneath the stars
You could be Venus, I could be Mars
We could lay our differences aside (except the good ones)
I'm safe in you, you're safe in me,
No need to hide

I wish I were stranded on a tropical island
A tropical island with you
And we'd bake clams in the hot, hot sand
Under the afternoon Sun
And brew a crazy chowder using sea salt and kelp (help!)
Then we'd make love on the beach as the water nips at our toes
Under the setting sun when the day is done

By a waterfall I'm calling you...
For my 'feline' love
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2013
The Island Moorea,
backpacking Tahiti,
In the heat, the sun,
The rhythm of my footfalls
crunching loose gravel road,
The swish of pack swaying
in conert to my measured pace.

Breeze pushing branches of Palm,
Ocean waves breaching shoreline long.
Island vehicles passing, occupant's laughing,
a man laboring under large pack, alone walking,
Who could have been freely riding,
Unthinkable to Island Folk,
in hot tropical places.

Some humble homes pasted along the way.
Greetings exchanged with smiling faces there.
Not long afterward a new sound approaching,
crunching gravel, rolling up behind me.

A lovely young girl, perhaps nineteen,
long brown naked legs bike a peddling.
Hair jet black, long to her waist, wearing
a sarong, split up the side,
Shoulders bare and brown.
Dark eyes of wonder, sparkling of youth.
A radiant smile adorning a splendid face.

We went for a time at my even pace,
looking and smiling each in our place.
"Hello there," I said, she giggled, beamed
even bigger. Perfect teeth displayed.

"Why you walk?" She asked in heavily
accented puzzlement.

"To get to where I'm going". I replied
This response producing a pleasant laugh
from the girl. In which I too joined in.

"You go One Chicken?" She asked
I stopped then and turned to her.
"Where is One Chicken?" I questioned
with a grin.

She raised her graceful arm,
one finger pointing up the road.
"One Chicken there," she informed.

It was a store/bar, sort of place,
In the very midst of nowhere.
Indeed, more than one chicken roamed,
Many chickens did and a pig or two,
mingling free and doing their thing.

We entered out of the bright daylight,
into the deepest of darks,
Like in a movie theater, when arriving late.
Eyes adjusting slowly to what lay ahead.

A few Island Beers later,
I had acquired several new friends,
The girl my invitation to the party of
already happy people a little drunk on beer.
The Music was mostly of French persuasion,
With a bit of Bob Dylan thrown in.
The Beatles also had a tune or two.
The Liverpool beat resounding down Tahiti way.

Before the light did fail, I shouldered my pack
and walked some distance from Chickens and Pigs.
Found the beach, hung my Hammock for the night.
Built a small fire and opened a can of Spam delight.

She appeared again about ten,
looking beautiful in the new moonlight.
Newly washed hair, still damp and
smelling fresh of Lilacs,
Or some such aromatic scent.
We did not speak, no words were needed,

Made love on the sand, 'till the retreat of the
tide and sand ***** did come out, in their
eerie numbers, to eat what was at hand.
I suppose even us if we let them.

We retired then both to my hammock,
A pretty neat trick if you can swing it.
And we did.

She was so childlike and yet,
very much a woman grown.
There was no pretense shown,
no false inhibitions rendered.
These were not limitations of her culture.
people that respond to their emotional impulses.
An open and free spirited people living
passionately within each minute.

It all felt more akin to a dream than real,
All around me there was beauty,
Loving and being loved without hurry,
Free of guilt or even a single expectation.
Living in that wondrous moment,
of uncomplicated human splendor.
Like some Garden of Eden surrender.
A real life Gauguin painting.

In the morning, we swam naked in the sea,
frolicked like kids having a day at the beach.
Made love in the sand, I dozed in the sun.
Upon awaking she was gone.

I waited an hour or two, packed up my camp,
shouldered my load and returned to the road.
A few minutes later, again I heard the now
familiar crunch of rubber tires,
rolling road surface and there she was,
a straw basket in her Bike's basket,  
A huge smile on her unforgettable,
beautiful face.

We sat in a grove of trees,
among birds singing, in sight of the sea,
Upon a Palm log and ate fresh bread and
fruit. Drank strong black coffee (French Roast
I presume,) nibbling some marvelous cheese.
We tried to talk, but she understood little of
what I tried to say, my French was nearly
nonexistent, only adding to confusions sake .

She leaned her head on my shoulder,
the way lovers do and tenderly held
my hand within her two,
As if not wanting to let go,
Those gestures said all there was to say,
And we savored each silent moment.

We parted there, she on blue, rusty bike
and me on "shanks mare",
Off in two different directions,
Each out into the depths of our own lives,
Gone just like that. . . And yet,
Indelible, never to be forgotten or replaced.
Some days and nights, that young maiden of
Moorea does still visit me, in dreams as real
as can be. She never grows old, nor does the
beauty we shared for that one brief moment in
time immortal.

Someplace among the Islands of Tahiti
there is a woman in her sixties, most likely
a Mother, even a Grandmother yet living.
I hope she recalls as fondly the American blond
man with the big Orange Backpack, that in 1972
she met upon the road, near "One Chicken" and
loved freely and completely for two days and a
night, as that man does so fondly remember her.
Lee May 2017
My heart breaks every spring break
It breaks for kids like me who watch as others visit their home countries
While we cannot leave the USA
We have to sit and watch people butcher bachata
Watch how they're hips refuse to accept something other than Taylor swift
We listen when they come back with stories of how they thought our food was too different and not “Mexican” enough as if all Latin America is Mexico
We hear the laughs they make at our cousins back home for just being themselves
My heart cannot handle the privilege they wear on their sleeves when they come back
Knowing I might never see my own island
How I am thought it is ***** and dangerous
A place where girls should not be left alone
While they get the clean streets, they get to avoid the gangs
How they assault our girls
Don't tell me to just save my money and go next year
It is not that simple
We don't stay in your resorts
We live en el capital y los campos nunca los hoteles y la vida blanco
Aka the places you never set foot
You go to my island
You buy bracelets de mi bandera
You try to live my roots
But complain when I dare show pride for my people
The hypocrisy breaks my heart
It's blood pours onto my all American soil
Is my island nice?
Tell me do the trees sway as if they are dancing to Anthony Santos?
Do the branches act as the leading man guiding the leaves to swing their stems to beat?
Does the Dominican anthem ring in the hearts of the people
A pride that is new and vibrant radiating off their faces
How they have clear all their schedules to make sure you see the highlights of our land
When you eat do you feel as though each bite was made with the love of thousand of abuelas?
Can you envision the hours she spends over a hot gas stove stirring los habichuelas y arroz
Using what little food they have left over to feed you over their own blood?
Tell me does my island make you proud?
It makes my heart filled with joy
To know my people did something right that you would walk the same land as slaves
That somehow we got enough pride to make sure you had a good time that you were safe that you can have whatever you wanted
On my island
Tell me, what left is there to complain about?
Mi isla es mi corazón, mi sueño, es mi vida
Pero to you it is just another week out the calendar
My heart will break every march
Because when you come back you complain how in the Dominican Republic no one spoke to you in English
And I worry, how you think when Dominicans come here we should speak English
But when you come to our home you don't want us to speak our language
Your hypocrisy hurts
My island does all it can to make you happy
But you are never pleased
What more can we do
You take pieces of us and use them in your portrait of appropriation
You take our pride and use it as joke
My heart breaks
For the children like me
Never seeing their land
Except on Instagram in the middle of march
Michael DeVoe Oct 2012
I want to live on a beautiful island
Where it's warm all the time
And on this island I want it to snow
Three months a year
And I want those three months to be
November, December, and March
And when it snows I need it to be seventy seven degrees
And I want the snow to stick
Here I imagine Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, and Zach Gil will sit around playing music
They'll play from noon to around ten
That's when Kwali the local pool boy ends his shift keeping the oil out of the ocean
Kwali he plays the Ukulele and sings about beaches no one's ever been to until around midnight
When the perpetually burning bon fire dies down and the island falls asleep
As for the rest of the music here on the island
Every morning there's this old steel guitarist
He's from just south of New Orleans
A place called Under Pressure
Really it's just the hull of the broken fishing boat he was born on
But he calls it home all the same
And a kid who used to play trombone for the high school jazz band
But he picked up the harmonica after he found out chicks don't dig trombones
And the two of them sort of play old dixie
With a steel drummer who never seems to find his shirt in the morning
But you never really mind that
And on Sunday mornings this really old woman
Ssays her mom was Harriet Tubman
Which we all know is a lie
But she's got scars from head to toe so you might as well believe something
Man she wails
For two straight hours
She wails
Wails to God, to the heavens, to Jesus, Georgia and the first row of church
And when she wails her tears are a lost language from the tower of babble and we all understand it
And on Wednesday
Wednesdays
We waltz
We waltz to really old records
That we play on the only turntable on the island
That Mr. Lee drags all the way from his house to the community center with no walls
And the whole island shows up in summer dresses and Matthew Mcconaughey shirts
Even the one we call grandma
And her husband who everyone calls Uncle for some reason
Come dressed to dance
And we all leave our slippers at the door this place doesn't have
And the sand warms our feet while we waltz
Sometimes it's the Tennessee Waltz
And sometimes it's the Viennese Waltz
But most of the time it's just the waltz we all learned in eighth grade
Either way
Every Wednesday there is a beautiful girl
She's five five, maybe, five eight I don't know
I've been lying on my drivers' license since I was sixteen so I don't know how tall people really are
She's got south pacific features
But with my track record by the time I actually make it to my island she'll probably be a red head
We waltz
We waltz until the records skip
And our legs turn to Jello and all we can do is collapse in each other's arms
While the ocean tickles our toes
Our finger tips tickle each other's palms
And we let that guy in the moon do the rest
So when you see me set sail
If you can catch me you can climb on board
And if you can't
Then
Wave goodbye
A collection of poems by me is available on Amazon
Where She Left Me - Michael DeVoe
http://goo.gl/5x3Tae
Lee May 2016
Please for the love of God help my people.

3.5 million U.S. citizens live on the island and are in need of help.

America you claim you want to help your people well let’s start with people who truly need it.

America your necessities are their luxuries.

Puerto Rico was not yours to begin with

But now that you’ve claimed us at least take care of us

We don’t ask for much

We are only asking for the ability to breathe and read books

I didn’t know that was such a high demand

My people are suffering

With no water to drink or bathe

We are left with the stench of hopelessness

Because America, you are more concerned with toupees

Than your own people

Yes, I did not stutter

Your people, Puerto Ricans

No not the immigrants because we are not immigrants

Our passports are twins not fraternal

Why do you like us when we hit a baseball or sing some tune on American Idol

We are doctors

We are cashiers

We are students trying to better our lives

We are a people begging for help

Do not look at us and turn away

My island was once a beautiful place where birds sang in harmony

And the coquis call smoothed the worst of souls

We don't know this island anymore because our island is America’s landfill

A place where the government tested nuclear bombs without thinking of its own people

The people are living on faint hope backed the knowledge that tomorrow probably won't be better

Why do you, America, want us like this

America you ask me why do I care so much about an island I haven't been to

I care because my roots flow back to the land 100 miles across the sea

One that I have the ability to call home from my rented home here

America, you created this land so people of all nations and backgrounds could have a chance at a better life

My people are still waiting for this promise to be fulfilled

America we beg you, help us

My people are suffering

We are tired of being the last pick for the team we didn’t even want to join

We are tired of the rottened mold you have put us in

So let this be a warning that your mold is finally falling apart because of your greed

Do not blame us for this

You are the hand clamped onto ours and forced us to cover our mouths

America, Puerto Ricans are ready to talk so we can live in harmony

All you have to do is take our hand off our mouths
With the debt increasing everyday I felt that I needed to do something to bring awareness of the state my precious island, Puerto Rico, is in. Spread the word, help my people please.
The long waves glide in through the afternoon
while we watch from the island
from the cool shadow under the trees where the long ridge
a fold in the skirt of the mountain
runs down to the end of the headland

day after day we wake to the island
the light rises through the drops on the leaves
and we remember like birds where we are
night after night we touch the dark island
that once we set out for

and lie still at last with the island in our arms
hearing the leaves and the breathing shore
there are no years any more
only the one mountain
and on all sides the sea that brought us
I'll tell you a tale
of our own Devil's Island
and the demonic crash
of the waves in a swell,
the smell and the taste
of the ball-breaking weather
the ghosts that deliver
poor sailors to Hell.

We were out in the water
amongst our Magdalens
the wind plucked the ropes
of our rigging at sea
we looked for a port
and saw many lights flashing
“that's old Devil's Island,”
said the skipper to me.

Ghosts began hurling
their fierce imprecations
to “come to the Island
safe landfall to thee”
but the skipper turned round
the ship with a vengeance
“that old Devil's Island
will never catch me.”

I thought he was mad
to be scared of a legend
it was my first time
in a storm on the sea
and two men washed over
to Davey Jone's Locker
“God bless 'em, they'll rest now”
the skip said to me.

Protesting the treatment
of two forlorn sailors
I said to the skipper
“It's not good to tell”
“It's better,” he said,
“that they're resting in Heaven
than entering into the portals of Hell.”

Winds lasted the night
then the voices did falter
the lights blinkered out
and I saw very well
so many rocks jagged
just waiting to smash us
The Devil's Isle gateways
await in the swell

If you're on a ship
and the voices of demons
come tell you it's safe
in their harbor alee
remember the shoreline
at old Devil's Island
then turn the ship seaward
and gracelessly flee.

— The End —